Tag Archives: Institute

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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Tax and spend pledges show neither Johnson nor Hunt can be trusted with our money

Johnson and Hunt: I wanted to use the image someone mocked up of them as ‘Dumb and Dumber’ but I couldn’t find it.

Has the Tory leadership election degenerated into a contest about who can lie the most blatantly and get away with it?

If their tax-and-spend pledges are any yardstick, it has.

Jeremy Hunt wants to spend £20 billion from Brexit “war chest” that will only exist if the UK manages an exit deal with the EU – and that would only be available for a year. That’s not enough for permanent changes.

And Boris Johnson promised public sector pay rises that were coming anyway as the years-long Tory-imposed pay freeze finally comes to an end.

According to Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, both candidates were really saying that they are willing to borrow more money.

This means they are happy to continue racking up the highest national debt in the UK’s history – something for which the Conservatives used to blame Labour at every opportunity.

Labour, meanwhile, is having a great time mocking both candidates’ “reckless spending commitments”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party went to great lengths to disprove claims that its own spending plans were unfunded during the 2017 election campaign, when Theresa May proved unable to do the same.

Now it seems both Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt are unable to do their maths.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have been accused of misleading the public with “extraordinary” tax-and-spending pledges, as leading economists and senior Tories unite in criticism.

The two Tory leadership candidates came under fire after Mr Hunt unveiled a no-deal Brexit spending splurge worth almost £20bn – while a Johnson ally promised big public sector pay rises if the favourite wins.

The spending race provoked alarm from Conservatives, including Philip Hammond, the chancellor, and the former leadership contender Rory Stewart, who warned that such promises would make it impossible to attack Jeremy Corbyn for his “unfunded” pledges.

The head of the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) went further, saying the two candidates were misleading voters in claiming they could dip into a £27bn “war chest”.

Paul Johnson pointed out it was a figure for one year only, so could not be used for permanent tax-and-spending changes – and it would not be available at all if the UK crashes out of the EU.

“There have been some extraordinary pledges – they add up into the tens of billions of pounds,” the IFS director said.

“They claim, somehow, that these will be paid for from this so-called Brexit war chest. Well, they are not going to be.

“First, that is only available in the event of no deal not happening. And, in any case, what they are just saying is they are willing to borrow more.”

Mr Hunt, as he set a new deadline of 30 September for a no deal becoming inevitable, pledged £6bn to compensate some industries from tariffs – claiming £1 trillion had been spent to bail out the banks.

But Mr Johnson said: “It is simply not true that, in any real sense, we spent £1 trillion bailing out the banks in the same way that he’s referring to potentially finding £6bn for the farmers and fishermen.”

And, on public-sector pay, he pointed out the freeze was over anyway – arguing the cash now being spent would be in jeopardy from a no-deal Brexit because “the economy will grow less quickly”.

Source: Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt accused of duping the public with ‘extraordinary’ tax-and-spending pledges | The Independent

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Anti-NHS think tank that funds the Tories – hugely – is itself funded by ‘Big Tobacco’

Kate Andrews: This woman – and the IEA think tank she represents – is bad for your health.

Think about the British Medical Journal‘s findings: Tobacco and food firms whose products are harmful to health have been secretly funding the Conservative Party, through the think tank known as the Institute for Economic Affairs.

So next time the odious Kate Andrews appears on Question Time, or Politics Live, or The Andrew Marr Show saying the NHS should be scrapped, bear in mind she’s speaking for British American Tobacco…

And she’s giving the Conservative government instructions.

A secretive think tank which called for the NHS to be scrapped while its heads pour millions into the Conservative Party – and its MPs’ – coffers is being funded by big tobacco, an investigation has found.

British American Tobacco is one of the groups funding the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a free market think tank which is notoriously close-lipped about its donors.

The IEA has been an outspoken critic of public health measures for tackling smoking, obesity and harmful drinking, and past funders include organisations affiliated with gambling, alcohol, sugar and soft drinks industries.

Health experts said the findings, in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), raise the prospect of a future Conservative leader aligning with big business at the expense of the public’s health.

Source: Big tobacco secretly bankrolling anti-NHS think tank whose bosses donate thousands to Tory leadership contenders, an investigation reveals | The Independent

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The Tories could end austerity now – but you can bet they’ll use Brexit fears as an excuse not to

“End austerity? Me? But Brexit!” That’s what Philip Hammond would say.

The Conservative government could use £15 billion to end austerity policies after a surprise boost to the public finances – but you’d be a fool to think that will happen.

That’s the view of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, whose director Paul Johnson urged Philip Hammond to make good on the promises the Tories have been making for the past few months.

You see, it’s all very well saying austerity is over, but if the services the Tories have destroyed haven’t been restored, then it isn’t.

But even Mr Johnson admitted the Tories would be in a better position to boost public services if not for uncertainty over Brexit.

“There is a consensus that the economy would have been about 2 per cent bigger had the Brexit vote not occurred,” he said.

“In those circumstances the deficit would have been smaller still and the fiscal room for manoeuvre greater. The end of austerity could already have been rather more decisively with us.”

The IFS warned that the chancellor’s Spring Statement deferred crucial spending decisions in areas such as social care, public service funding and benefits which will put him under pressure to raise taxes further down the line.

The Treasury said on Wednesday that the “headroom” built up by the chancellor could go towards government priorities such as keeping tax low, reducing debt, public service spending and capital investment, so long as it is not soaked up coping with a no-deal Brexit.

Of course we should remember that George Osborne (remember him?) said on becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2010 that the public finances would be restored to health by 2015 – nearly four years ago.

We may reasonably conclude only one thing:

Tories will use any excuse to continue squeezing public spending – they’ve used a fictitious crisis in the public finances; they’re currently using Brexit. It will be something else in the future.

Source: Government has enough money to end austerity if it wants to, IFS report concludes | The Independent


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How can we trust the Tory government when its ministers behave like this?

 

Puppet: Matt Hancock mouths the words – but who wrote them? Him? The press barons? Or the IEA?

Matt Hancock is a naughty boy, isn’t he?

It seems his fat ministerial salary isn’t enough for naughty Matt, and he’s been taking donations – from a think tank dedicated to the end of the National Health Service.

And he’s the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

The Independent reports that after becoming an MP in 2010, Mr Hancock has received regular donations of between £2,000 and £4,000 from millionaire currency manager and Conservative Party donor Neil Record.

Mr Record heads the board of free market group the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).

That organisation has claimed that opponents of its plan to privatise the NHS are really opposed to patients having a choice.

In fact, privatisation would force patients into insurance schemes that are unlikely ever to pay out, meaning patients would end up with no choice at all.

The IEA is a firm fan of such insurance schemes.

And our Health Secretary takes its bribes cash.

We’ll need to watch this one carefully. Will he try to use Brexit to put through his real paymasters’ plan?

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