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Media reporters have DEFINITELY been hiding evidence of #DowningStreetParties. And what else?

Slack by name: if he was a proper reporter, James Slack would have published a story about the Downing Street parties as soon as he went back to work at The Sun. He didn’t – for reasons that, while obvious, are unacceptable.

Well, there it is. There can’t be any doubt that the media have been suppressing evidence of the lockdown-busting parties at Downing Street now, because one of them was for the current deputy editor-in-chief of The Sun – who attended it.

James Slack’s first duty as a news reporter would have been to report that the prime minister was allowing such parties to take place, in contempt of the rules that he had imposed on everybody else.

Reporters have a duty to act in the public interest.

He didn’t – for perfectly understandable but entirely unacceptable reasons: he was at the party on the night of April 16-17, 2021 (it was his leaving party), and he was at the party of May 15 the year before (he appears in the photograph that has been released to the press.

Considering the networks of contacts that all political reporters in Westminster must have, it seems highly unlikely to This Writer that others were kept unaware of it. I doubt the party organisers would have been able to do so and, to be honest, I think it is highly likely that they were invited – especially to an event for somebody who is an industry colleague.

So people like Laura Kuenssberg and Robert Peston should be asked where they were that night, too. Peston in particular, because of course he worked with Allegra Stratton, the former Downing Street press secretary who resigned after a video clip was publicised showing her laughing about an alleged party there on December 18, 2020.

And we, the public, need to examine their reports now with extreme scepticism.

Slack himself joins Johnson as another two-faced liar who has only apologised because his transgression has been revealed to us. If it had not, then he would have merrily kept it hidden for the rest of his career. Instead, he tells us: “This event should not have happened at the time that it did. I am deeply sorry, and take full responsibility.” Weasel words.

The other party was for someone described as one of Johnson’s personal photographers. It is alleged that staff were sent out to a nearby shop carrying a suitcase, and brought it back filled with bottles of wine.

The party in the Downing Street basement, with a laptop computer blaring out music from atop a photocopier, is said to have linked up with the event for Slack, continuing until well after midnight.

At the time, England was under “Step Two” restrictions, meaning that people were banned from socialising indoors with those from other households. Indoor gatherings and gatherings of more than six people outdoors were unlawful, unless “reasonably necessary for work”. There were also fixed penalty notices of up to £10,000 for individuals organising unlawful gatherings of more than 30 people.

This information has been released to us now because somebody has decided it is to their advantage. I would suggest that this person would be somebody in the Conservative government who sees an opportunity to grab power from Johnson.

We certainly should not believe that anybody is innocent of such machinations if they speak up in support of Johnson now; it is entirely possible for a person to be supportive in public while stabbing somebody in the back privately.

The current revelations are doubly offensive to the Queen, of course. Firstly, there is the clear offence that two events, in which people partied, laughed and joked in close contact with each other, took place at a time of national mourning, the day before she had to sit alone at the socially-distanced funeral of her husband of 73 years.

Secondly, though, this is the second time prime minister Boris Johnson has made a fool of her; the first was when he persuaded her to prorogue Parliament on the basis of a lie he told so he could bypass an obstacle to his (now revealed to be entirely useless) Brexit deal.

If she doesn’t absolutely hate Johnson by now, she must be superhuman indeed.

It is said that Johnson was not at the parties of April 2021 – but you’d have to be a fool to think he wasn’t aware of them, after all the others.

Today’s revelations bring the current total number of parties being investigated by civil servant Sue Gray – who is, let’s remember, an employee of Boris Johnson and not an independent investigator at all – to 12.

One has to question whether there is another strategy here – to leak new information about parties out at intervals, so Ms Gray’s investigation can never be concluded.

To those of us watching from outside, it’s beginning to seem as though Downing Street was a party venue from the moment the first lockdown began, right up to last Christmas, at the very least.

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After #BorisJohnson denied #DowningStreetParty, we find he’s been raving it up since #Covid started

Next time I get to “have a drink” – you know, “after a busy working day” – it’s going to be a bacchanalian orgy. Who’s up for it?

(Make sure you’re Covid-tested first, mind. The Tories might be incapable of keeping us safe from Covid-19, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t safeguard ourselves.)

Clearly we deserve it, and there’s no moral authority that Johnson, his government or his police can exert on us because the first two have clearly been partying in defiance of their own rules since the start of the very first Covid-19 lockdown, and the cops – by refusing to investigate/arrest/prosecute them – have shown us they are in the pockets of the politicians.

We know the Tories have been partying it up since at least May 2020 because – after Johnson insisted that he had followed all his own rules, despite evidence of him participating in rule-busting parties last December – a photo has now emerged of him at a rule-busting party in May 2020 – seven months earlier.

Clearly he and the other Tories have been at it all the time.

The image in question is at the top of the article – I’m using a version that has been labelled with the names of some of the participants so we can all see that Johnson was there with his wife Carrie and son Wilfred, Dominic Cummings (this was before they fell out), Matt Hancock and James Slack (then an advisor to the prime minister and now deputy editor of The Sun).

Challenged to justify the scene in the image, Tory government figures couldn’t even get their story straight.

Johnson himself claimed, “Those were people at work, talking about work.”

If it was a work meeting, where were the laptop computers? Where were the notepads and pens? Can you see a whiteboard anywhere? I can’t!

can see wine, cheese, Johnson’s wife and his baby son.

But Dominic Raab had already claimed that the image was taken after any work had been done. He told BBC Breakfast: “Sometimes after a busy working day people have a drink – that was not against the regulations.”

He was lying; it was. In that same lockdown a care worker who had just finished her shift was fined £200 for sitting alone in her car at a local beauty spot (according to Nadia Whittome).

There’s also this:

Indeed:

And Adil Ray made mincemeat of Raab on ITV’s Good Morning Britain:

Crucially, Johnson was in the wrong, no matter which story was right:

If this was an official government business meeting, then he had brought his wife – an unforgivable breach of the Official Secrets Act.

If it was a social gathering – in May 2020 – then it was a breach of the lockdown Johnson had imposed on the whole of the UK at that time.

Either way, Johnson and Raab both lied – Johnson about what was going on, Raab about the conditions under which it was happening:

It would be entirely appropriate to humiliate Johnson and Raab (and all the other Tory liars and rule-breakers who have been endangering us all and laughing about it) with stories of people who have suffered and died while following the demands that they ignored:

Personally, I think a better humiliation is humour; we should be mocking these entitled Tories who think they’re better than us but whose behaviour falls so far below our own standard.

Oh wait – that might have actually been a serious claim. Okay – try these:

Getting back to the point I was making at the top of this article: while I’m not about to embark on any life-threatening binges, I feel sure many may.

That’s right. Johnson has betrayed us and none of us – not even Tory voters! – can afford to give him even the slightest bit of trust.

He has to go.

And he needs to take his entire cabinet with him because they’re still backing him to the hilt and that means we can’t trust them either.

ONE MORE THING:

This is absolutely right. James Slack from The Sun, for example. He was at the May 2020 Downing Street garden party and never mentioned it – the revelation had to come from another source.

People like him aren’t news reporters. Their function isn’t to tell you what’s being done by our leaders and how it affects you.

It is to keep you under control so they can carry on doing – well, what Johnson and his cronies were doing in that picture. It’s working well, too – after all, Johnson’s still prime minister, isn’t he?

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Labour is so shifty it won’t commit to help anybody

Clueless: when Starmer was talking up Labour’s barely-scraped-together win in the Batley and Spen by-election, who knew that this gesture was his explanation of his policies – a shrug.

Isn’t it the job of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition Party to say what it would do if it was running the UK?

Here’s Labour’s Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury – also known as James Murray – taking nearly two minutes to avoid giving a straight answer to a straight question: whether Keir Starmer’s newly right-wing party would reinstate the £20/week Universal Credit uplift:

He said: “I’ve been really clear.. it’s really important to be clear about this.”

Then he said three times that Labour opposed the cut, but he wouldn’t say if the party would reinstate it. That’s shifty, not clear.

His problem is that Labour is now sympathetic to the miserly billionaires who store all their cash in offshore tax havens, and this means it has no tax option to fund the £6 billion/year that would be needed to make it viable.*

For the same reason, Labour can’t commit to a higher-than-inflation public sector pay rise after Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that he was ending the current pay freeze:

Weak.

It makes Labour look like the Tories poorer little sister – unable to offer even a more imaginative alternative to big brother’s failed plans.

*We all know that the UK government can use the Bank of England to create as much money as it needs, but to be responsible it must prevent inflation via tax, right? Labour’s normal policy is to redistribute the nation’s funds (all money belongs to the government via the Bank of England, remember) by taxing the rich to pay for large-scale public services, but Keir Starmer wants to change that to a Conservative approach, and this means no cash for badly-needed social changes.

See:

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These Tory MPs aren’t even hiding their racism any more

James Gray: warned about racism

This Writer doesn’t approve of offensive language but Super Tanskiii, below, hits it on the head with this one:

It would be funny if it wasn’t about racism because it’s a Tory undermining his own party’s ministers.

As it is, though, it seems James Gray really should be forced out of his role as St John Ambulance “commander of charity” after – at a reception to honour that charity on September 8 – confusing then-Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, and then (allegedly) saying, “They all look the same to me.”

Whether he said those last words or not, it seems St John Ambulance chiefs made it clear to him that the organisation does not tolerate racism at all – and that he has been asked to stand down from all activity related to the charity.

Typically, the racist Tory Party let him off with a warning.

But what interests me is the fact that Labour leader Keir Starmer was among the guests at the event, and he said nothing about the incident at the time.

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Bethell sacked – for destroying evidence in ‘government by personal email’ scandal?

Lord Bethell: he previously claimed he never used his private accounts for official business. Now he has been sacked by the Tory Government – as This Site suggested. Is he about to face court action too?

Before we start, it should be made clear that Boris Johnson has given no reason for sacking Lord Bethell as a health minister in his Cabinet reshuffle.

That being said, Bethell is a key figure in a major – ongoing – scandal in which government decisions may have been made using personal email and/or WhatsApp accounts in order to avoid public scrutiny.

Bethell had claimed that he never used his private email or telephone accounts for official business – but then replaced his mobile phone before it could be searched for information relevant to £85m of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) deals that are subject to a legal challenge.

The government is expected to disclose Bethell’s correspondence on those matters – by email, WhatsApp and SMS – as part of legal proceedings issued by the Good Law Project.

The Health Secretary has a responsibility to preserve and search documents for information relevant to the case from the point at which judicial review proceedings were issued in late 2020, under the government’s “duty of candour” – and the phone was replaced in early 2021.

The government has admitted it made no effort to issue Bethell with a preservation notice requiring him to save documents, claiming that ministers’ official correspondence was routinely saved as a matter of course. However, this did not cover government business conducted by private means.

It seems Bethell has not reactivated his WhatsApp, SMS and private email accounts from that phone, although there is nothing to stop him from doing so. Efforts are being made to recover information in those accounts from his mobile phone provider.

I wonder if those efforts have borne fruit and Bethell’s departure from government is happening ahead of more serious proceedings in the courts.

Whatever happens there, this development indicates that Boris Johnson’s government is not as immune to public scrutiny as he has previously tried to suggest.

The prime minister has often shrugged off criticism after serious complaints were made about his own misbehaviour and that of his ministers, but at least three of the worst offenders – Gavin Williamson, Robert Jenrick and now Bethell – have been ejected in the reshuffle.

Is Johnson going for plausible deniability – putting distance between himself and Bethell so he won’t be caught in the backlash if serious wrongdoing is exposed?

Why is James Cleverly refusing to talk about UK weapons being used against Palestinians?

James Cleverly: He was once described as “the Tories’ go-to eejit when they need someone to tweet absolute nonsense or defend the indefensible”. Now it seems he’s not even bothering to say anything at all.

Here’s another story that should be all over the BBC’s prime-time news but, for some reason, seems to have been missed by the mostly-Tory news team there.

The information comes from Declassified UK, an independent investigative site run by Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis. This Writer follows Kennard on Twitter and I am impressed by the information he provides and the opinions he puts forward. Therefore I think his site is trustworthy.

Here’s what it says:

Middle East Minister James Cleverly may be breaking the Ministerial Code by failing to answer questions put to him in the House of Commons. The Code demands that ministers have a duty to “be as open as possible with parliament” and to “give accurate and truthful information”.

The questions were about whether military equipment from the UK was used in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in May – which killed 66 Palestinian children.

The best response anybody appears to have received – to 14 questions that Declassified has identified – is that the UK “takes its export control responsibilities very seriously”. That is not an adequate answer.

There is an obvious conclusion to be drawn from this – and I’m sure you don’t need me to spell it out for you.

But Cleverly certainly won’t spell out the facts for all of us unless he is forced to do so.

And, given the huge prominence the Israel-Palestine conflict received in the news during May, the absence of such pressure from mainstream media outlets like the BBC is deeply disturbing.

Britain’s Middle East minister James Cleverly is regularly refusing to provide answers to written questions posed to him by members of parliament, especially on UK arms exports to Israel, contravening House of Commons rules.

Source: Foreign minister James Cleverly accused of breaking UK…

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Johnson didn’t have power to change tax rules for Dyson, says former Attorney-General. Was Major Corruption lying AGAIN?

Boris Johnson: he should hang his head in shame. Sadly, he doesn’t have the self-awareness – this shot is just of him checking his notes at a prime ministerial broadcast.

Boris Johnson’s claim that he arranged a tax break for James Dyson was impossible because he doesn’t have the power, according to former Attorney-General (the government’s top lawyer) Dominic Grieve.

Johnson defended himself during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday (April 21) after evidence emerged that Dyson had contacted him by texting his personal telephone, asking for tax breaks so Dyson staff who had relocated to Singapore after Brexit could return to the UK and build ventilators to tackle Covid-19 without paying tax penalties.

Johnson’s responses are shown in this tweet:

His responses in PMQs were that he refused to accept criticism for doing everything he could to ensure that the UK had the equipment it needed to fight the Covid crisis.

(This is risible when we remember that successive Conservative governments including Johnson’s had systematically weakened the nation’s ability to respond to a pandemic crisis, including selling PPE to China.)

In the end, Dyson provided no ventilators at all.

On the BBC’s Newsnight, former A-G Dominic Grieve made the legal situation abundantly clear:

So either Boris Johnson corruptly and illegally influenced the tax system so this industrialist, who campaigned for Brexit and then scarpered abroad to escape the consequences, could profit from a crisis…

… or everything he can do to secure help for the UK in a crisis is in fact nothing at all.

Major Corruption has shot himself in the foot, it seems.

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Lobbying corruption: Johnson caught promising Covid tax breaks to Dyson – who then provided NOTHING

Boris Johnson and James Dyson: could any of us have won tax breaks from the prime minister, if only we’d had his personal phone number?

Boris Johnson offered to “fix” the tax status of Dyson staff so they could work in the UK to provide ventilators in last year’s Covid-19 crisis – after Dyson sent a text message to the prime minister’s personal phone.

Dyson went on to provide absolutely no ventilators at all. Did his employees still get preferential tax status?

That is just one of the important questions that Johnson didn’t answer during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.

The revelation is the latest development in the lobbying-related corruption scandal that began when former PM David Cameron’s activities on behalf of now-collapsed financier Greensill Capital came to light.

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg reported that

the PM assured businessman Sir James Dyson that his employees would not have to pay extra tax if they came to the UK to make ventilators during the pandemic.

Sir James, whose firm is now based in Singapore, wrote to the Treasury to ask for no change in tax status for staff.

But the BBC has seen text messages sent in March 2020 that show Sir James then went directly to the PM, with Mr Johnson replying: “I will fix it.”

She added, in an opinion piece on the subject,

There are thousands of different circumstances in which having those discussions is perfectly valid.

What about however, when the most powerful politician in the country sends a direct message to an influential businessman promising: “I will fix it tomo”?

A good question – and one that Johnson was asked (if not in so many words) by Keir Starmer shortly after midday yesterday (April 21).

He asked: “What is the right thing to do if he receives a text from a billionaire Conservative supporter asking him to fix tax rules.”

Johnson replied: “I make absolutely no apology for doing everything I could to secure ventilators for the people of this country.”

The trouble is, of course, that he didn’t secure any ventilators, despite having fixed tax rules for his supporter.

He said he had done “everything I could” so we may conclude that he did change the rules for Dyson employees.

But – I reiterate – Dyson did not provide any ventilators:

So we need to know what Dyson did with the tax breaks his firm received and whether he still benefits from them now, despite not having done what he promised to do.

Or did Johnson lie about doing “everything” he could?

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Elections 2021: Labour’s gutlessness and treachery is all-too clear in this tale of two representatives

Alex Sobel: he’s just the latest in a long line of Labour members to be stabbed in the back by Keir Starmer.

It seems Keir Starmer’s Parliamentary Labour Party will leave no depth unplumbed in its relentless quest to alienate the whole UK electorate.

The latest travesty is the case of Shadow Tourism Minister Alex Sobel, who said in a podcast that, after being initially unwilling to talk with big businesses, he had swallowed his prejudices and started dialogues over climate change.

He went on to say that several of the companies he has met have “seen the way the wind is blowing” on climate, and “the private sector is ahead of the UK government”.

Then The Sun got hold of the story and twisted his words, claiming that he said businesspeople are “the enemy” now. This is the opposite of what he was saying; he actually stated that the private sector was advanced in its thinking and it is the government that is holding progress back.

And then Keir Starmer and his Labour leadership stepped in with their enormous jackboots and well and truly messed matters up.

It seems Starmer demanded an apology from Sobel. Then he went to the press and came out with this blood-curdling claptrap:

“Under my leadership, I’ve been very, very clear that the Labour party is pro-business,” Starmer said. “We’re more than pro-business, we want a partnership with business.”

He added: “Alex Sobel knows what he said was wrong. He has apologised. He’s apologised to me. The Labour party, under my leadership, is very clearly pro-business. We want a partnership with business. And Alex Sobel understands that.”

Labour says no pressure was put on Sobel, but This Writer can’t see any way he would have apologised otherwise; he had no reason to.

It is, however, very much “in character” for a Labour leadership that would apologise to its own shadow (if it ever stepped out of the shadows long enough to see one).

The obvious howler is the anti-Semitism “crisis” that Starmer spent months whipping up again after it had gone quiet.

Rather than stand up for his MPs, candidates and members who have been falsely accused, he persecuted them wholesale, while apologising to the world for them every having been allowed into the party.

Not a scrap of evidence ever seemed to be on display.

Contrast this with the way the Tories react when one of theirs is criticised… Priti Patel, for example.

Among her many transgressions is the way she shattered the Ministerial Code by bullying civil servants, not only at the Home Office but in the Departments for Work and Pensions and of International Development.

She should have been forced to resign. That is the rule. But Boris Johnson stuck by her and demanded that she had done nothing wrong and must keep her job.

So she did.

See the difference? Labour apologises and punishes its own at the slightest opportunity; the Tories stick together (until they start falling in the polls, of course, but that’s another story).

Smart minds in the Labour Party have spotted this and are making the only choice available to them.

So let us applaud James Osben, twice Labour’s general election candidate in Newton Abbot, who has not only resigned his membership but issued an open letter to Keir Starmer, explaining his reasons in no uncertain terms.

Here are some of the highlights:

“I am saddened, deeply disappointed and extremely troubled by the Labour Party’s current behaviour and actions in suspending hundreds of members from multiple CLPs.

“I stood as the Parliamentary Candidate in Newton Abbot in 2017 and 2019. Labour came second for the first time ever in this constituency in 2017… I and my friends and colleagues within the Party felt proud of what we achieved and we had hope, like never before, of achieving so much more for our local community.

“Any hope of this being achieved via the Labour party is now gone. You have suspended most of the Newton Abbot CLP officers and many have already resigned.

“Like my friends I will continue with community projects, supporting people who need help but I can no longer do this under the Labour banner when the Labour Party is failing to represent these people.

“I no longer feel that the Labour Party is representing me and the millions of people who need a government that is on their side.

“For the first time ever, I have felt uncomfortable, unsafe and unrepresented in the Labour Party. Why is this? My values have not changed nor have my principles. As Tony Benn once said, we should be signposts and not weathercocks. What has changed within the Labour Party?

“Why are members feeling unsafe, intimidated and fearful? Why does there appear to be a disturbing clampdown on democracy and free speech within the party?

“Thousands of members have resigned. You have suspended hundreds more. What is your aim? What is your purpose? What are your objectives?

“The Labour Party in Newton Abbot has now been severely crippled in the run-up to the May 2021 elections because of the actions of Keir Starmer and David Evans.

“Is it your aim to ensure a Labour Government isn’t elected in 2024? It certainly seems so.”

It’s a long letter and you can read it in full over on Skwawkbox.

This Writer can do nothing but endorse the sentiments Mr Osben expresses. They mirror many of my own feelings; long-term readers will know that I often refer to Tony Benn’s signposts and weathercocks comparison.

He also makes good points about the psychological harm being done to Labour Party members by Starmer’s totalitarian leadership.

Put this together with the treatment of Alex Sobel and we see a Labour Party that won’t even stand up for its own MPs and candidates.

And, in the run-up to the local elections in May, there is no reason to believe that Labour will stand up for any voters either.

Source: Labour MP apologises for saying he once saw business as ‘the enemy’ | Labour | The Guardian

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Johnson’s media buddies try to deny similarities between him and Trump

Donald Trump and Boris Johnson: one hides in a bunker, the other once hid in a fridge. Check out the body language. And those are just tips of the iceberg [Composite: Laura Tisdale/Twitter].

We said they would do this:

The Times was just the first to actually get there.

It shouldn’t be a surprise. As James Foster states, the author of the piece, one James Forsyth, is the husband of Allegra Stratton, Johnson’s press secretary.

Do you think it’s a coincidence that he’s the one writing the first propaganda piece asserting that Boris Johnson isn’t politically aligned with Donald Trump, after Trump whipped up his far-right followers in the United States to riot against his presidential election defeat?

I don’t.

Nor do many other people, by all appearances:

And people are queuing up to remind us all of the similarities:

Feel free to bookmark this article, should you need to be reminded of Johnson’s character at some time in the future.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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