Tag Archives: interview

‘Australia deal’ or ‘no deal’? It’s all semantics, says Sharma

Alok Sharma: I’ve cartoonised the pic of him so he doesn’t look too contagious. The alternative would have been an image of a pilchard.

Alok Sharma – what a gift to satire.

Today (October 19) he was on the radio, gifting us with his interpretation of the kind of Brexit trade deal Boris Johnson is likely to hand British businesses:

No deal. But he tried to dress it up by calling it an “Australia-style” deal.

How did he think he’d get away with it?

Nick Ferrari on LBC made him look the fool he is:

“It’s a question of semantics”!

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, semantics is the branch of language and logic concerned with meaning; Sharma was admitting that an “Australia-type” deal and “no deal” are the same.

He was just – desperately – trying to dress it up to pretend that it wasn’t; a last-ditch bid to fool the less attentive or less well-read among the radio audience.

I don’t think it worked:

You’d probably get a better answer from a pilchard.

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Michael #Gove in lengthy #Marr interview. This member of the public destroys him with one tweet

Michael Gove – oh no! Sorry – it’s the Spitting Image dummy of Gove. I have a terrible feeling it talks more sense than he does.

If you saw Michael Gove blathering on the Andrew Marr Show today, This Writer sympathises. What a terrible waste of time.

Personally, I don’t care what he said about Brexit, or Manchester, or the amount of money paid on contact tracing; he’ll be saying something different tomorrow, if it suits him.

Here’s the reason:

Yes. It is Johnson’s Conservatives who are incoherent. They say whatever they think we want to hear.

So you must judge them on what they do. And what a catalogue of failure that provides!

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If PIP assessments are now being audio recorded, can claimants have copies?

Days after This Site noted that the Department for Work and Pensions is running trials of video assessments for Personal Independence Payment – and other benefit – claims, we find that the Tories are already recording telephone assessment interviews.

This is very interesting because the recording of assessments has been a roasting-hot potato ever since it was first suggested.

The most recent statement of the situation was that, in order to have an assessment recorded, a claimant needed to bring a piece of tape-recording equipment worth around £1,400 to the interview, capable of recording on two tapes at the same time, with one to be held by the interviewer and one by the interviewee.

The DWP – and by extension, assessors at Atos and Capita – has a small number of these devices, but their scarcity meant it was hard to be sure of securing one for an interview.

This led to some charitable people buying the equipment in order to lend it to benefit claimants who needed it. I’m sure it also led to less charitable people renting the same equipment out for money.

With the announcement that Atos is recording telephone assessments, though, hasn’t that situation changed?

If the assessment company is making recordings unilaterally, does it still have to use the same equipment as in previous stipulations?

Will it have to provide claimants with copies?

If it doesn’t have to use the prescribed equipment, why not? And does this mean claimants don’t have to use it either and can make their own recordings? If not, why not? There must be a level playing-field for these matters.

Here’s Benefits and Work on this:

IAS (Atos) have begun recording telephone assessments for personal independence payment (PIP) Therese Coffey, secretary of state for work and pensions, told the Work and Pensions Committee on Wednesday 30 September.

Coffey told the committee that IAS had begun recording the assessments on 21 September.*

“But that has not yet started with Capita. That is under, I can assure you, active management to get Capita going quickly on this

claimants must ask to have their assessment recorded, it will not be done automatically.

You are likely to need to arrange this in advance. The earlier you request a recording the better, as a new appointment may need to be arranged.

I note that the website’s authors say the DWP will not give permission for claimants to make their own recordings – and say they should do it themselves, clandestinely, if they feel they need to:

You may still consider it sensible to record the assessment yourself just in case the DWPs recording goes astray. Though you will need to do this covertly as the DWP will not give permission.

We would still strongly recommend that claimants consider making a covert recording of their assessment, just in case the DWP’s copy goes astray when you challenge a decision.

The suggestion that copies of assessors’ audio recordings can go “astray” indicates that the DWP and its privately-contracted assessors are as untrustworthy as ever (75 per cent of benefit refusals are now being overturned at appeal).

This is worth chasing up. I’ll ask the DWP what’s going on and let you know the answer.

Source: PIP assessments now being audio recorded

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Restless public holds up Jon Snow monstering of ‘death minister’ Hancock as example of how media should hold Tories to account

People are getting tired of the BBC and other Tory-supporting media letting Boris Johnson’s government get away with its mistakes.

That’s why this drubbing of Tory “death minister” Matt Hancock by Channel 4’s Jon Snow – carried out while Parliament was deadlocked over Brexit last year – has suddenly become hugely popular on Twitter.

Snow? It’s more like a blizzard:

People haven’t been holding back in their criticisms of certain hacks in the mainstream media:

Will it do any good? Of course not.

As I type this, the BBC’s Politics Live has been discussing Chris Bryant’s nomination of US Presidential candidate Joe Biden for the Nobel Peace Prize rather than any of the disasters that the Tories are bringing to the UK.

Perhaps they’ll get around to the Tory cowards who are abstaining on the Internal Market Bill that plans to break international law and return violence to Northern Ireland later but I doubt it.

Oh look! They’re discussing Boris Johnson’s daft speech about re-skilling people for the post-Covid economy as if he knows what he’s talking about.

Perhaps we should all just adopt the Jon Snow ‘blizzard’ approach whenever we see our own Tory MPs instead.

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Andrew Bridgen destroys his government’s credibility on EU trade talks

Andrew Bridgen: winner of this week’s “Inverse Genius” award.


Everyone with any political nous in the UK has been laughing at eurosceptic Andrew Bridgen after he swallowed both feet (metaphorically) in a Channel 4 News interview.

Discussing his Fuhrer Boris Johnson’s plan to renege on the EU withdrawal agreement that he signed in January, Bridgen said – well, see for yourself:

The reaction on Twitter has been universal:

https://twitter.com/cbailiss/status/1303110907732602883

What a… typical Conservative MP.

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Cynical: Tories pilot 30-minute phone appointments for ‘claimant commitment’ interviews – to impose sanctions quicker?

Isn’t it amazing how the Tories can go straight into action on some plans, while others take forever?

So we see them testing fast-track phone interviews lasting a brief 30 minutes to get up-to-date claimant commitments for Universal Credit claimants.

This is because the Tories promised not to sanction anybody’s Universal Credit payments until up-to-date claimant commitments were established.

They had suspended conditions attached to receipt of Universal Credit during March, meaning that the millions who have claimed the so-called benefit since then have never been subjected to the sanctions that have so badly harmed the finances of so many poverty-lashed claimants.

Well, they’re about to find out what it’s like!

You can tell that the haste with which this measure has been imposed means the Tories are just itching to start taking food out of the mouths of needy people who they can label as undeserving.

In its Coronavirus Touchbase Special, the Department for Work and Pensions promised that nobody would be asked to do anything “unreasonable”, particularly “claimants who are shielding, have childcare responsibilities because of COVID restrictions, etc.” – so you know that these people will definitely be asked to do unreasonable things.

Times may have changed but the Tory-run DWP remains the same.

Source: DWP confirms that it is testing 30 minute telephone appointments for claimant commitment interviews – Rightsnet

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Racist historian dropped by publisher and university after shocking interview remarks

[This is one of three connected articles. This Site is also examining the responses of Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer to Black Lives Matter; none of them come out smelling of roses.]

Racist historian David Starkey has been dropped like a hot coal by his publisher and university after expressing “abhorrent” views in an interview on the far-right YouTube channel Reasoned.

HarperCollins will no longer publish the historian and Canterbury Christ Church University has terminated his role after he said “slavery was not genocide”.

Starkey told right-wing commentator Darren Grimes: “Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain would there? You know, an awful lot of them survived.”

According to The Guardian:

HarperCollins UK said it would not be publishing any further books by Starkey.

“The views expressed by David Starkey in his recent interview are abhorrent and we unreservedly condemn them,” said the publisher. “Our last book with the author was in 2010, and we will not be publishing further books with him. We are reviewing his existing backlist in light of his comments and views.”

Starkey was signed by HarperCollins in a four-book deal in 2006, publishing titles including Monarchy: Behind the Royal Mask from the Tudors to the Present, and Henry: Virtuous Prince, the first in a planned two-part biography of Henry VIII. It is understood that the other two titles in the deal, which included the second part of Starkey’s biography, will no longer be published by HarperCollins. The book is currently listed online as coming out in September.

A spokesperson for Hodder & Stoughton, which published Starkey’s 2015 book Magna Carta, said it would also not publish him again: “We unequivocally condemn racism in any form. We published a book by David Starkey in 2015 as a one off project to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta to coincide with a TV documentary. We will not be publishing any further books by him.”

We’ll come to Canterbury Christ Church presently.

If you haven’t seen Starkey’s interview, here’s the offending extract:

Now, for balance, take a look at Aaron Bastani’s criticism:

There are several pertinent points there, including this:

Probably more pertinent still is this, from Kerry-Anne Mendoza: “I’m descended from the indigenous people of the Caribbean: the Kalinago. You’ve likely not heard of us. We were virtually annihilated during the first waves of slavery, which is when the Slavers moved on to importing Black Africans to the Caribbean. So f*** you, David.”

Starkey doesn’t stop there. Take a look at this:

Yes indeed. But it seems times are changing.

Lefty columnist Owen Jones tweeted: “This is gratuitous, unashamed racism. It is uttered by one of the most famous historians in the country, a regular on panel shows. It is nodded at by a prominent Tory commentator.”

Here‘s Twitter’s Tom London: “The scandal about this odious, vile man is that he is given airtime and space in newspapers and treated with respect by the Establishment.”

Well, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge – which is about as ‘Establishment’ as one can be, has had enough:

The decision to ditch Starkey has been greeted with applause:

Canterbury Christ Church University didn’t even offer him the chance to resign, it seems. Here’s that organisation’s tweet, with appropriate comment by Ms Mendoza:

Even Darren Grimes, the rising star of the right-wing media, has tried to distance himself from the storm he help to whip up – unsuccessfully, in the light of his own comments.

For example, after Grimes tweeted this about the interview…

… the following apology seemed to lack sincerity:

He stated: “Hand on heart, I wasn’t engaged enough in this interview as I should’ve been. It goes without saying that Reasoned UK does not support or condone Dr David Starkey’s words.

“I am very new to being the interviewer rather than the interviewee and I should have robustly questioned Dr Starkey about his comments.

“However, whether it’s on the BBC, ITV, Sky News or on YouTube, no interviewer is responsible for the views expressed by their guests.

“At Reasoned UK you’ll always find unfiltered opinions, allowing the audience to make up their own minds – that said, in future – I can promise that there will be a host who is much more willing to challenge those opinions.”

Responses mocked Grimes:

They also pointed out that he played a far greater role in getting the offending words out to the public than just being the interviewer.

As Lewis Parker tweeted: “You didn’t just interview a racist. You interviewed him, nodded your head in agreement, edited the video, posted the video, and then promoted it. Also, the video is still up on your YouTube channel. What a sad sad excuse.”

There’s this, too:

Note that Grimes hasn’t lost his job.

Still, public opinion seems to believe Starkey still has one port of refuge in this storm – the BBC:

Jackie Walker, the anti-racism campaigner who has often spoken about the genocide of black people caused by the US/Caribbean slave trade tweeted: “Just let what he’s saying sink in, then ask how come the BBC/media allow this man to comment on history.”

This Site’s friend Cornish Damo added: “He’s one of the most hate-filled, bile-inducing blowhards the BBC continue to employ. Now he can add massive racist to this extremely selective ‘historian’. What say you Beeb & anyone else who uses him? Will you stop wheeling this white supremacist out to lecture us now?”

The BBC has been aware that Starkey’s views are poison for many years – former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted his shock at Newsnight broadcasting his racist views, way back in 2011:

Here’s the reason he got away with it, courtesy of another David – Schneider: “Never mind the ignorance about genocide, that “damn blacks” isn’t just a shocking indictment of Starkey. It shows a confidence that you can say that because every time you have done in the past the people you’re with nod along in agreement.”

Craig Murray agrees:

So what will the Corporation do? Will it follow this advice…

… or will it adhere to form?

Of course, there is an alternative, should the BBC wish to take it:

I have no idea about the rest of Ms Lipscomb’s politics but if she isn’t a racist, at least that’s one step out of the cesspit.

Source: David Starkey dropped by publisher and university after racist remarks | Culture | The Guardian

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PIP claimants: don’t believe DWP reps – you CAN have a witness in telephone assessments

Here’s some good news – unless you’re a DWP Personal Independence Payment advisor:

The Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, has confirmed that PIP claimants have the right to have someone else sitting in on their telephone assessment.

He told the Commons Work and Pensions Committee on April 23: “If you are having a telephone assessment, we are allowing your friend, family, trusted partner to be part of that process which is something we introduced a few years ago for face-to-face assessments which has made a huge difference to the quality of the outcome of the assessments.”

The website Benefits and Work has reported that PIP claimants have been told that nobody else can take part – even when they can’t speak for themselves.

Well, now we’ve had it from the minister.

If anybody from the DWP tries to tell you otherwise, they’re wrong and you can demand the extra participant.

Source: Minister confirms right to have someone join you for PIP assessment call

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The BBC’s Andrew Neil has thrown down the gauntlet to Boris Johnson – but there’s a problem

Boris Johnson: Was this his answer to Andrew Neil?

Boris Johnson is a coward.

Having seen Andrew Neil laying into Nicola Sturgeon, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson, he has run away to take selfies with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby rather than face the same fate.

So Mr Neil laid down a direct challenge to him, live on air.

Here it is:

Powerful stuff?

There’s just one problem – as This Writer explained in a tweet to Mr Neil:

It’s a reasonable question, I think. Did any of the other political leaders Mr Neil has interviewed have prior notice of what they would be asked?

I have had no answer.

It seems Mr Johnson isn’t the only one running away from scrutiny.

Source: General election 2019: Full text of Andrew Neil’s challenge to Johnson – BBC News

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Terrified Tories are running from media scrutiny

If the people of Peterborough return a Conservative to Parliament after this display, I would be very surprised.

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