Tag Archives: Institute

IEA think tank representative humiliated on live television

The far-right Institute of Economic Affairs think tank has been accused of influencing successive Conservative governments – most particularly the disastrous short-lived administration of Liz Truss.

It is therefore welcome that IEA representative Emily Carver was absolutely destroyed by Labour’s Angela Eagle on the BBC’s Politics Live on Wednesday, November 2.

I actually saw this when it was broadcast and made a mental note to write something about it – but Maximilien Robespierre has beaten me to it and said what I would have, if I’d had the chance.

Watch:

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Economists are losing their minds over Truss and Kwarteng – and look who’s advising them!

Proved correct: this was an accurate prediction, as we can see from the revelation about who is advising Liz Truss – and the reactions of economists to what they have done together.

The Tory government led by Liz Truss is being advised by shady right-wing think tanks like the Institute for Economic Affairs, which seems to exist purely to eliminate so-called ‘big’ government and remove restrictions on business like workers’ rights and environmental protections.

Nobody knows everything about who funds the IEA. But one of its lunatics – I mean representatives – appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain to show us all how crazy his organisation is. Take a look:

Meanwhile, professional economists are going absolutely crazy about the disaster that Kwasi Kwarteng has triggered, on the advice of these far-right think tanks (apparently).

Have a listen to what they have to say:

There is a lesson to learn from this:

The Conservatives are NOT the party to trust with the UK economy.

Not now, and never again.

It’s no wonder that Truss and Kwarteng seem to have given up on trying to run the country and are instead abusing their position to funnel money to their richest friends – presumably in the hope that this will give them an escape route when the whole house of cards collapses.

Let’s hope some more Tory MPs grow a backbone and eject them before the damage becomes irreversible.

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Tax cuts proposed by both Truss and Sunak are unfunded. How are they affordable?

Grinning idiots: the tax cuts both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have promised will worsen the cost of living crisis and make it impossible for them to fund relief measures for struggling families, a leading think tank has said.

Oh dear, oh dear, it looks like neither Liz Truss nor Rishi Sunak have bothered to think how they will make their tax cuts work.

The politically-independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has said large, permanent tax cuts could make some spending unaffordable as the UK slips into the recession that Tory policies have triggered.

The claim seems to be based on a discredited economic model that says our taxes pay for public spending, meaning if taxes are cut, equivalent cuts must be made in spending.

That’s not true; governments spend according to their priorities and then borrow from the private sector and/or tax appropriately in order to prevent inflation from exceeding targets they have set.

In this case, the end result is the same: if Sunak or Truss is to cut taxes, spending will have to come down or inflation will rise above even the current high level.

And Carl Emmerson, deputy director of the IFS, warned that spending will probably have to increase if the government intends to support families that will not be able to cope with the increasing cost of living and sky-high energy bills.

Truss has pledged to scrap April’s National Insurance rise to help households and cancel a planned rise in corporation tax, while Sunak as promised to reduce VAT on domestic energy bills from five per cent to nothing, and to cut 3p off income tax by late 2029.

Neither has explained how they will deliver this cuts without adding to inflation, although Sunak has said he will not implement his plan until the current inflation crisis has been brought under control.

So it seems they have been building castles in the air, rather than taking the grounded outlook on the economy that the UK needs. It is impossible to bankrupt an economy like ours, that can create its own money – but it seems both Tory candidates are going to try.

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Beergate: Starmer fuels ‘running scared’ gossip by pulling out of keynote speech

Keir Starmer: we like to use this image when it seems he has made another mistake. And who can say we’re wrong this time?

Aides of Labour’s right-wing leader are scrabbling to cover for him after he pulled out of a major speech ahead of the State Opening of Parliament.

Starmer had been due to make a speech and take questions at an event on “challenges the country faces” organised by the Institute for Government think tank, but pulled out without explanation after Durham Police announced it would re-investigate the alleged Beergate affair.

This alleges that Starmer attended an event in Durham in April last year, when he drank beer and ate a curry with colleagues. At the time, Covid-19 social distancing rules meant it was illegal for people in England to socialise indoors with people from outside their household or support bubble, although there was an exemption for “work purposes”

Starmer had claimed that it was a work event, and food and drink had been consumed in between doing work – but the police investigation was reopened after a leaked memo obtained by the Mail of Sunday revealed it was in fact pre-planned, with time scheduled for “dinner” after which the event would conclude.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting tried to dismiss the matter when he was challenged over it on BBC Breakfast: “I have no idea why he cancelled the event and I certainly didn’t ask before I came on because I think it’s such a trivial issue.

“The idea that Keir is somehow ducking scrutiny is simply not true.”

Shadow “levelling-up”, housing and communities secretary Lisa Nandy fared a little better when she said, “It is frankly absurd of the Tories to claim that this in any way equates to a prime minister who was under investigation by the police for 12 separate gatherings which included karaoke parties, bring your own bottle parties, pub quizzes, suitcases full of wine being smuggled through the back door.”

But then she ruined it by adding, “This is a guy who self-isolated six times during the pandemic.” That’s not altogether vindicating as some of us suggested he was running away from scrutiny some of those times as well.

And Labour is not united on this matter; the issue has re-awakened splits between factions on the left and right of the party.

Diane Abbott said yesterday Starmer would have to “consider his position” if police hand him a fine.

Emily Ferguson in the I newspaper said this could be the least of Starmer’s troubles:

Even if police decide not to issue him a fine, officers could still brand the event as a minor breach of rules – as they did with former No 10 aide Dominic Cummings’ infamous Barnard Castle trip.

Such a scenario would leave Sir Keir in limbo and vulnerable to a coup from Labour MPs unhappy that he may have jeopardised the party’s hopes of returning to government.

The allegation and incriminating photo will linger in voters’ minds. In the eyes of the public his image is tainted and for some, Sir Keir can no longer hold the moral high ground of being the Opposition leader who fiercely followed Covid rules throughout.

[Starmer] has his work cut out over the next few months as he will need to keep a lid on internal disputes and prevent the fractious divides within Labour from re-emerging, convince voters he is capable of leading the country, all whilst holding the Government to account on the cost-of-living crisis.

On the basis of today’s (non-)performance, he’s not going to manage it.

People will see his withdrawal from a major event – without explanation – as exactly what it is:

Running away.

Source: Sir Keir Starmer pulls out of keynote speech as pressure mounts over beergate

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Will Starmer’s latest relaunch be undermined – by Jeremy Corbyn? [Also in the news]

Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn: in this image, Starmer was preparing to stab Corbyn in the back (metaphorically). Now it seems grassroots Labour members have found a way to do the same to Starmer.

Keir Starmer’s bid to “reinvigorate” his leadership of the Labour Party at this autumn’s conference could be torpedoed by grassroots members – and Jeremy Corbyn.

The party rank-and-files that Starmer has spent the last year trying to marginalise are circulating a motion to give final say on disciplinary action against MPs to the membership at large.

It’s a terrific idea because it would ensure that the leadership couldn’t influence decisions in favour of its favoured (right-wing) members… if ever that should seem attractive to Starmer and his cronies.

But more crippling for Starmer will be the fact that his decision to exclude Corbyn from the Parliamentary Labour Party could be reversed – by the members he hates, ruining his “reinvigoration”:

Also in the news today:

1. Dido Harding will stand down as NHS Improvement boss in October.

It means the organisation’s title may finally stop being a contradiction in terms.

But what part of the national infrastructure will Harding try to blight with her presence next?

2. Thousands of ESA claimants are to receive thousands of pounds in back payments

A four-year review of ESA claims has ended, with thousands of people receiving thousands of pounds.

And the families of many more who have died will receive a £3,000 payout.

But here’s the problem: if they had received that money when they were alive, would they still have died?

3. David Cameron allegedly made millions by cashing in his shares in Greensill before it collapsed.

He had tried to get his former colleagues in the Tory government to invest in the company’s loans, before it collapsed when its insurer refused to renew cover for the same loans.

By that time, we’re told, Cameron had cashed in his own shares in the company, making £7.2 million.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, eh?

4. NHS hospital wards may have been filled with toxins because the government ignored SAGE

Several NHS hospitals have trialled air purification products that could produce dangerous levels of toxins after the government ignored advice from its Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to implement new guidelines for air purification systems.

Sage’s environmental modelling group in November urged the Government to draw up “impartial guidance” on air purifiers following a spike in sales during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sage’s advice was repeatedly ignored. Business minister Paul Scully told MPs eight months later, in July, that current trading regulations are adequate to keep consumers safe.

Industry figures raised concerns after several NHS hospitals trialled air purification systems made by decontamination technology firm Airora that could generate potentially dangerous levels of formaldehyde and ozone.

5. The government’s new disability strategy is to carry on pushing people off benefits

“The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Shaping Future Support: the health and disability green paper, released a week before the NDS, confirmed that it has no intention of easing up on its attempts to push disabled people off benefits.”

This is embarrassing for the Tories as it undermines anything in the NDS – or it would, if there was anything to undermine.

The strategy itself seems to be to award empty “accessibility promotion” job titles to non-disabled people.

The issues of most importance to people with disabilities – benefits and social care support – are conspicuous by their absence.

6. DWP is handing Universal Credit information to local councils – to undermine the vulnerable?

Consider this:

… and have them evicted?

7. Right-wing think tank loses complaint over radio comments

This is unfortunate – for the Institute of Economic Affairs:

Am I right in thinking we can all now say that the IEA is a politically-biased hard-right lobby group of questionable provenance, with dubious ideas and validity?

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After private firm linked to Gove & Cummings helped cause ‘A’ level disaster, will new health ‘Institute’ go the same way?

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Dido Harding: Isn’t it funny how McKinsey was hired to work on an organisation fronted by a former McKinsey consultant? Did I type “funny”? I meant “sickening”.

Were you aware that the disastrous strategy to deprive lower-class students of their higher ‘A’ level grades was devised by a firm of consultants, apparently hired because of links to Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings?

I mention this because the same criteria seem to have been used to get advice about the “vision, purpose and narrative” of Matt Hancock’s new public health “institute”.

Public First, a policy and research firm owned by James Frayne and Rachel Wolf, who both formerly worked for Gove, was involved on the project with Ofqual since June after being granted a contract that was not put out to competitive tender.

Details of the contract have not been made public and Ofqual declined to say how much public money had been spent hiring the firm of Tory cronies.

The collaboration led to the result we all know:

The algorithm used by Ofqual downgraded 40% of the A-level grades assessed by teachers under the process set after the exams were cancelled, leading to a storm of protest from students, parents, school leaders and teachers, that culminated in a complete government U-turn on Monday and the system being scrapped.

Most of us would expect the Tories to be coming out with the usual “lessons will be learned” speech right now – but they can’t, because they haven’t.

The Johnson government has already hired McKinsey – under the same “exceptional circumstances” rules used to award the Ofqual contract to Public First – to play the same role.

And guess what? According to the Financial Times, the new National Institute for Health Protection’s boss – Dido Harding – is a former McKinsey consultant.

What a cosy, cronyist world they all inhabit.

There is one difference between the NIHP situation and Ofqual. We know how much of our money McKinsey has been paid: £563,400. At a time when the national debt has just topped £2 trillion, the Johnson government has shovelled another half a million of borrowed cash into private, profit-grubbing hands.

That’s a lot of money for something that I’m happy to bet will be a worse travesty than the ‘A’ level debacle.

Source: Firm linked to Gove and Cummings hired to work with Ofqual on A-levels | Education | The Guardian

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For once, Johnson was right – it takes ‘world-beating’ incompetence to screw up the health service mid-pandemic crisis

Matt Hancock: one look in those eyes and you know nobody’s home.

Matt Hancock has secured his position in the top rank of Tory chumps alongside Boris ‘holibobs’ Johnson, Chris ‘failing’ Grayling and Gavin ‘algorithm’ Williamson – by announcing a huge reorganisation of the health service in the middle of a health crisis.

He’s handing control of the UK’s response to pandemic threats over to a new ‘agency’ that will partner the government with private firms, even though every single partnership with private businesses over the handling of Covid-19 has resulted in failure and chaos.

Hancock seems to think he can hide the facts by denying them, hence his comment that partnering up with corporate giants is “the best way through”.

He actually said: “We couldn’t have expanded testing in the way that we did.” That system failed.

He actually said: “We couldn’t have expanded contact tracing in the way that we did.” That system failed.

But he was right in this: “The truth is we couldn’t have done this without the private sector.”

He is right – in that the private sector should take equal responsibility with the government that employed it for causing the preventable deaths of nearly 70,000 UK citizens.

Because believe me, that is the sum total of all that has been achieved by the Conservative government in its Covid-19 strategy that involved partnership with the private sector.

Expert advice is that closing Public Health England and replacing it with a privatised lash-up is a “major misstep”.

Nigel Edwards, the chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, [said]: “The government risks making a major misstep by dismantling its own public health agency at such a crucial time, creating a huge distraction for staff who should be dedicating themselves to the next stage of the pandemic.

“There is no clear argument as to why this rebranding and reshuffling will solve some of the problems highlighted by the secretary of state today.”

It is certain to cause huge distraction – at a time when that’s the last thing the health service needs:

Independent SAGE, the independent group of scientists providing advice about the Covid-19 pandemic, offered its own opinion here:

This is particularly telling [bolding mine]:

“Independent SAGE does not agree with the course that the government appears to be taking and is concerned that it will further destroy the confidence of public health staff. The changes are of such magnitude and importance that they should be the subject of close parliamentary scrutiny. However, if the government makes a decision to proceed down this path Independent SAGE advises as follows:

Any new organisation needs to be operating under trained, qualified and experienced public-health leadership.

So why the hell has he put his good friend, former jockey Dido Harding, in the job?

Why did she get the job? I think Carole Cadwallader has an inkling:

If that looks like corruption to you, you’re unlikely to be alone!

What a good thing the government has measures in place to prevent corruption from happening.

Take a look! Oh dear…

Last word in this article can go to Melanie Melvin, who puts this whole affair in perspective. We could have had a proper response to Covid-19 if we’d had a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn – but too many right-wing cuckoos had worked themselves into the party and did too much damage to his reputation for that to happen.

That is why Matt Hancock is health secretary now. It’s why he has been able to dismantle even more of the public health service and replace it with private asset-strippers – under a blatant lie that the best-working part of the UK’s Covid-19 tragedy was these profiteers and their blithering incompetence.

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Coronavirus-prompted benefit boost won’t help families who are crushed by the Cap

We all thought it was so wonderful when Boris Johnson and his pals told us they were making the benefit system more generous because of the coronavirus.

It turns out the generosity went a very short distance.

For example, the 76,000 families who are subject to the Benefit Cap won’t get a penny more than £20,000 a year (if they’re outside Greater London) or £23,000 a year (if they’re within that boundary.

The Benefit Cap hasn’t been lifted, you see.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has raised this with the government, as reported by Rightsnet:

the IFS says that, due to the current benefit cap, some families are not reached by the temporary increase in the safety net, including most of the 76,000 families already subject to the cap, and those people who have moved from work without having been continuously employed for 12 months prior to that (and who therefore don’t qualify for a 39-week exemption from the cap).

Commenting on the issue, IFS deputy Director Robert Joyce said –

‘The government has implemented a substantial temporary increase in the generosity of the welfare safety net. But the overall cap on how much a working-age family can receive in benefits will mean that those increases will not benefit most of the around 76,000 families who were already capped on the eve of the crisis, as well as a small fraction of the large number who appear to have lost employment during the crisis. At the present time encouraging families to move into paid work, or to cheaper housing, is less of a priority. The government should therefore temporarily raise or remove the cap.’

For more information, see If the cap doesn’t fit? from ifs.org.uk

Will the government accede to the request? Don’t you believe it!

Source: Government should temporarily raise or remove the benefit cap, says Institute for Fiscal Studies – Rightsnet

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Coronavirus: Intensive care guidance discriminates against disabled people

Not enough ventilators: it seems Boris Johnson really is using the fact that he deliberately chose not to stock up on these vital items of equipment as an excuse to ensure that disabled people die of coronavirus.


Yes – official guidance on medical care really does discriminate against people with disabilities.

This Writer has received criticism from commenters after a previous article. They claimed I was publishing nonsense.

Fortunately there’s plenty of evidence so let’s consider the guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Here’s Disability News Service:

The guidance … says that all adult COVID-19 patients should be assessed for “frailty” when admitted to hospital, and that “comorbidities and underlying health conditions” should be taken into account.

[It] has heightened fears among activists that many disabled people will be refused life-saving treatment if they are admitted to hospital.

The guideline said that decisions to admit patients for “critical care” should be based on how likely they were to recover.

There you have it – with a link to the actual guideline itself.

And there’s a comment from a campaigner to support the evidence:

\Disabled actor and activist Liz Carr … said on Twitter that the guideline suggested she and many other disabled people would be “pretty much denied [the] same access to ventilation/critical care support as non-disabled people based on the fact we require some assistance in our daily life, because we’re disabled”.

She said this was “terrifying and discriminating”.

Other groups representing disabled people have voiced similar sentiments.

So the concern is real and people are in danger – from a government that has a history of persecuting those with disabilities.

Source: Coronavirus: Anger over ‘terrifying and discriminating’ intensive care guidance – Disability News Service

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Study shows Tory policies are keeping homeless people from social housing

You see the way the Conservatives manipulate housing associations and local authorities to victimise the people they want to target?

By cutting the amount of social housing available – via the sale of council housing and strictures on the number of new houses that can be built – the Tories can ensure that nobody who is considered a financial risk can get a place.

Replacing perfectly workable benefits with Universal Credit – which is now known to further impoverish those in need – allowed the Tories to spread their net further.

People without families have been ruled out because of the Bedroom Tax – social landlords don’t want to rent out two-or-three-bedroom homes to single occupants who would lose money merely by living there.

But large families may also be a risk, due to the benefit cap.

And the Tories starve other services of funds – such as the NHS and local authority housing support – in order to prevent people with mental illnesses or other problems from qualifying.

Why?

One reason might be to “gentrify” certain areas – pushing up housing prices. Could it be that some Conservative Party members – or even MPs – are landlords in such housing zones?

Another may be more sinister: it is easy to let homeless people drop off government statistics. Then who cares if a tramp dies on the streets?

Or, indeed, if many do so.

Homeless people are being denied access to affordable housing because social landlords are routinely excluding prospective tenants who are deemed too poor or vulnerable to pay the rent, a study has revealed.

Research by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) found that “screening out” of homeless applicants nominated for newly available lets was widespread, as housing associations and local authorities increasingly ration their shrinking stocks of social homes.

In many cases nominees were refused a home because of the likelihood they would accrue major rent arrears after moving on to universal credit, because of the probability they would be hit by the bedroom tax or because the benefit cap had made them a financial risk.

Others were rejected after social landlords identified they had unmet mental health or addiction problems, often because of cuts to local NHS and housing support services. Individuals with unmet support needs were regarded as “too high a risk to tenancy sustainment”, the CIH said.

Toryism – what a disgusting, gangrenous, poisonous form of government.

Source: Homeless denied social housing for being too poor, study says | Society | The Guardian

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