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Outrage after Tory agent on BBC board sabotaged job appointment for political reasons

[Image: Sketchaganda].

It was never going to work.

Boris Johnson’s Conservative government put its man Robbie Gibb on the board of the BBC as a non-executive director and he has tried to block the appointment of a news boss on political grounds.

The irony is that non-executive directors are responsible for “upholding and protecting” the BBC’s independence – not to make demands on the behalf of their political leaders.

Gibb used to be Theresa May’s communications director when she was prime minister. Before that, he was a BBC journalist and he started his career as a Tory aide – so it seems likely that his politics has coloured much of his work.

The BBC has often been criticised as the propaganda wing of the Tory Party and this intervention will only strengthen that impression among members of the public. It proves that attempts to rig decisions of organisations like the BBC by stuffing their ruling bodies with Tories can only backfire.

What did he do?

He sent a message to the Corporation’s director of news and current affairs, Fran Unsworth, warning her not to appoint Jess Brammar to a new post of BBC executive news editor, saying it would shatter the relationship between the BBC and the Tory government.

It is clearly a political intervention. Brammar’s career is now being trashed by other Tory propaganda mouthpieces:

What could this “borderline fake news lefty clickbait website” be? It seems an odd way to describe HuffPost UK, and This Writer looks forward to seeing that organisation’s reaction to the smear.

Previously, Brammar had been deputy editor of Newsnight.

According to the Financial TimesGibb’s message to Unsworth said she “cannot make this appointment” and the government’s “fragile trust in the BBC will be shattered” if she went ahead. One of his cronies has apparently denied the claim.

The recruitment process has now stalled. Gibb’s message was allegedly sent on June 22 and the post has yet to be filled.

Apparently the Corporation is going through Brammar’s past statements, in public and on the social media. To see if it can find some dirt on her that would invalidate her application?

It’s alleged that Gibb would want her defence of HuffPost journalist Nadine White to count against her – but if so, natural justice would demand that he be disappointed.

White was attacked by Tory minister Kemi Badenoch, who claimed she was “creepy and bizarre” in asking questions about a Covid-19 vaccines video that Badenoch branded unnecessary.

In response, Brammar filed a former complaint to the Cabinet Office, stating that “this characterisation of a journalist asking questions as somehow undermining a public health message or fostering misinformation should alarm anyone working in journalism or anyone who believes its job is to hold power to account.”

Realistically, the vetting process is unlikely to provide any reason to reject Brammar because Gibb’s intervention has forced the BBC’s hand.

Turning her away would indicate that the Corporation is vulnerable to political pressure – the kiss of death for an organisation that has long had to defend itself against such accusations.

And there is another possible reason for Gibb to have intervened now.

Awkward

The BBC is currently negotiating a five-year financial settlement with Boris Johnson’s Tory government.

Still-newly-appointed director general Tim Davie – himself a dyed-in-the-wool Tory – has spent a lot of time, and used up a considerable amount of his own credibility, steadying relations with the government in the midst of aggressive (some would say unreasonable) criticism.

Doesn’t it seem likely that Gibb’s claim about Brammar may be just the excuse Johnson needs to cut BBC funding further than previous Tory governments already have?

Whatever happens, the public response has been a PR disaster for the Tories:

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Has Sajid Javid ditched his extra-Parliamentary jobs or is he breaking the rules too?

Sajid Javid: look at that blank-eyed stare and ask yourself whether his appointment is good for the UK – or good for the banks who employed him?

Sajid Javid is going to have to try a lot harder if he wants us to think he can do the Health Secretary job better than Matt Hancock.

He has made a a ham-fist of it by trying to put down a vital question over conflict of interest between his new Cabinet role and his extra-Parliamentary jobs with JP Morgan bank and… who’s the other one with? – by failing to answer it.

In the Commons, Labour backbencher Richard Burgon asked – well, see for yourself, along with Javid’s ridiculous non-answer:

Yes, the Daily Express loved it, but that just shows the depths to which national journalistic standards have fallen.

It is perfectly reasonable to want to know whether a Cabinet minister is giving up jobs that might conflict with his duty to the nation.

I want to know if Javid is going to blab government secrets to JP Morgan and I want to know if he’s going to give away information – against the national interest – to his other employer.

That is, after all, the most likely reason they employed him.

He was warned by ACOBA – the Advisory Committee On Business Appointments – that there were “potential risks” that he could provide “privileged information” that would give his employer an unfair advantage over its competitors, in spring last year when he took the JP Morgan job.

ACOBA provided advice on how to avoid “potential risks” but it is easy to circumvent them. The only way to ensure that former ministers don’t blab is to forbid them from taking jobs until any information they had is out of date and useless.

Two years has been suggested as a reasonable period of delay but Javid took his jobs straight away and at the time of writing, the suggested period has still not expired.

It has been suggestted that Javid has already given up his outside jobs.

But if that’s true, where’s the evidence? We cannot rely on his say-so because he belongs to an organisation of liars, headed by a liar. We simply cannot trust him.

And that is the reason MPs – and commentators like This Site – are demanding full disclosure, as you can see from the following representative sample on Twitter:

Of course there are also serious questions to be answered about the decision to appoint Javid to the Health portfolio, considering his extremely shady history:

As far as his actual ability to do the Health Secretary job is concerned, Javid has already disgraced himself. But that’s another story…

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Greensill: civil servants told to declare unauthorised second jobs while independent inquiry move is rejected

David Cameron: he could almost be saying, “Don’t look at me! There’s a civil servant over there who stacks shelves at a supermarket because I froze her pay in 2011!”

The latest developments in the Greensill scandal show typical Tory attitudes – one rule for them and a different rule for the ‘help’.

So – as predicted by This Site – Conservative MPs have rejected a Labour plan for a full Parliamentary inquiry into lobbying by former MPs on behalf of their current employers. Instead, the government has commissioned a review, to be run by a friend of the Tories. It will be a whitewash.

Meanwhile, civil servants are being ordered to declare second jobs they have that “might conflict” with their rules. This is after repeated assertions that former procurement chief Bill Crothers’s second job with Greensill was thoroughly vetted and above-board.

It seems to This Writer that Boris Johnson is looking for someone to blame; trying to take the heat off his school chum and former colleague, David Cameron.

Of course, civil servants shouldn’t have second jobs at all, let alone second jobs that may create a conflict of interests with their duties in the interests of the nation.

But I wonder how anyone has the time. And it also seems to me that if they have managed to get away with this, then we still have to question the behaviour of government ministers who devised the rules on outside employment.

So if any civil servants – especially those in top jobs – are found to have broken the rules… and if serious conflicts of interest are discovered… then Boris Johnson is still going to have a lot of explaining to do.

Source: Greensill row: Civil servants ordered to declare second jobs – BBC News

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Now nurses are being told many would envy their job security – by a HEREDITARY PEER

This is the reason some fascist put the above – unacceptable – query to the BBC’s Question Time on Thursday (March 11), it seems:

Tory Lord Bethell said it was reasonable to saddle nurses with a below-inflation pay rise (a de facto pay cut) because they have “secure jobs” that many would “envy”.

If that’s true, then why are there 80,000 job vacancies in the NHS? Could it possibly be because they are subjected to a huge amount of stress – more than the vast majority of other jobs – and aren’t paid enough to be able to cover their bills and the weekly grocery shop?

I think it could.

Meanwhile, let’s look at Bethell himself.

He’s a hereditary peer – a member of the House of Lords who receives more than £300 per day, just to turn up. He could spend the whole day asleep and he would still receive that payment.

Because the 1999 House of Lords Act removed all but 92 hereditary peers, he did not have an automatic right to sit in the Lords but gained it in 2018 after a vacancy arose due to death, retirement, resignation or exclusion (I don’t care which).

He was chosen by a group of current Tory hereditary peers, from an official list of aristocrats, who are overwhelmingly men, and won the by-election with 26 votes from a total electorate of 47.

So much for democracy.

Bethell said:

“There are millions of people out of work out of the back of this pandemic.

“There are lots of people who have had an extremely tough time and who face a period of unemployment. Nurses are well-paid for the job. They have a secure job and they have other benefits.

“There are many people in this country who look upon professional jobs within the NHS with some envy and we shouldn’t forget the fact that some public sector jobs are, in fact, extremely well-paid.”

Perhaps he hasn’t noticed, but many of the employment problems have been caused, not by the pandemic itself so much as by his party’s cack-handed handling of it.

Of course it can’t be argued that some public sector jobs are indeed extremely well-paid – Bethell would know because he has one of them.

But nursing isn’t on that select list.

Oh, and here‘s another damning fact about Bethell: he tried to blame poor people for their own deaths from Covid-19, on the grounds that they died because of their own poor decisions.

He said there were “behavioural reasons” for these deaths, listing “the decisions that people make about social distancing, about their own health decisions” – all of which were influenced by his Tory government’s messages!

Source: Tory hereditary peer says nurses have job security that many would ‘envy’ – Mirror Online

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Is Department for Transport planning ‘all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions’?

Two-fingered salute: Boris Johnson’s message of thanks to transport workers who kept groceries, other goods and medical supplies moving during the Covid-19 crisis. His government is apparently planning to attack their jobs, pay and pensions as soon as it can.

The Tory government is planning to reward key transport workers who kept the UK running through the Covid crisis – with a kick in the teeth, it seems.

The Department for Transport is hoping to employ a “union-buster” to take on workers in an “all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions”, according to the RMT union.

And where the DfT leads, will other government departments follow in a renewed effort to destroy workers’ representation once and for all and begin a new dark age for the people of the UK?

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Employees (RMT) reports that the DfT is recruiting for a Rail Pensions and Workforce Director who will be a member of a new-created team of 15 workers.

An advertisement in The Guardian states that the successful applicant “will shape and define the future of pensions and workforce in the rail sector”, operating in a “politically sensitive environment”.

Welfare Journal quotes RMT general secretary Mick Cash:

RMT has been warning that the Government and the employers would be gearing up for a post-COVID assault on our members across the transport sector and here they are headhunting a dedicated hitman or woman.

It would be a scandal if the essential transport workers who have kept key staff and freight moving throughout the pandemic were rewarded with a kick in the teeth on jobs, pay and pensions.

And why not?

Matt Hancock has already slapped NHS employees in the face with his refusal to reward doctors, nurses and support staff for all their dedication, working to keep thousands of people alive in the face of indifference from their political employers who failed to source appropriate equipment.

So why shouldn’t the government tell the people who transported all the supplies – including, no doubt, the medical gear that we all needed (when it finally turned up) – that their contribution is not appreciated at all and that they will be punished rather than rewarded for it?

What did these people expect from selfish, ignorant, entitled toffs?

And what can you expect in the future? You know the Tories will get around to attacking you as soon as they’re able – don’t you?

Source: Government ‘gearing up for an all-out assault on jobs, pay and pensions’ | Welfare Journal

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Is the lockdown an excuse for the Tories to force mothers out of work and into the home?

The headline says it all.

It needs more research, but…

Tory policies have hit women hardest since they got back into office in 2010.

They are institutionally sexist.

So I was not surprised to see this:

I wonder if we’ll ever see any outrage about it, though. It seems too easy to silence protest in the UK now.

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Looking after their chums: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s business partner gets senior trade role

Rees-Mogg: one of his business chums just landed a job in the government, for no very good reason.

Isn’t it strange how Tories say they hate socialism – but practise it all the time, albeit limited to just themselves and their chums.

We’ve got seriously straitened times coming, and the Tory response has been to hand billions of pounds, that was intended to cope with Coronavirus, to their friends under false pretences.

And those chums to whom they couldn’t hand over massive gobbets of public cash got public jobs instead – like this one:

Abusiness partner of Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is also a former vice-chair of the Conservative Party, has been appointed to a senior role at the Department for International Trade.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced that Dominic Johnson, CEO of Somerset Capital Management, will be joining the DIT non-executive board, and will chair the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee.

It seems this Johnson’s qualification for the job is knowing Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Can you imagine the fuss they would make if anybody else adopted these corrupt practices?

Source: Chumocracy: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Business Partner Appointed to Senior Trade Role – Byline Times

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Sunak announces furlough scheme replacement. Is it any good?

After he served up this little howler – and pushed up Covid-19 infections massively, Rishi Sunak needs to make a good impression with his plan to replace the furlough scheme for jobs affected by Covid-19. Has he managed it?

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new “job support scheme” to replace the “furlough” programme he has been running since lockdown began in March.

This new scheme will run for another six months until the end of April 2021.

What is it?

A six-month scheme starting on November 1.

To be eligible, employees must work a minimum of 33 per cent of their normal hours.

For the remaining hours not worked, the government and employer pay one-third of the wages each.

So employees working 33 per cent of their hours will receive at least 77 per cent of their pay.

Where will employers get the extra money?

According to BBC News:

Sunak announced a “pay as you grow” scheme for businesses which took government guaranteed loans during the crisis.

“Loans can now be extended from six to ten years nearly halving the average monthly repayment,” he said.

They can also move to interest only payments or suspend payments if they are “in real trouble” for up to six months.

He said no credit rating will be affected.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans will also be extended for up to 10 years.

There will also be a new loan scheme in January, the chancellor says.

He is also extending the scheme for self-employment on “similar terms” to the existing job support scheme.

The scheme is mainly for small and medium-sized firms. Only large firms that can prove they have been harmed by Covid will be eligible for the Job Support Scheme.

What about VAT?

Sunak is also cancelling the planned increase of VAT from five per cent to 20 per cent, which was due to come into effect in January.

Instead, the lower rate of five per cent will remain until 31 March next year.

Viable jobs?

Sunak said the new scheme is intended to support “viable” jobs only – and that should ring alarm bells:

Of course – Tories being Tories – certain extremely rich people are enjoying the continuation of their own subsidies at the same level:

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Now the Covid crisis is being used to lever working disabled people out of their jobs

It seems people with disabilities have no safety net when threatened with losing their job because of measures they’re told to take, just to protect themselves from Covid-19.

Was there an underlying prejudice against people with disabilities all along, or did the Tories put it on the national agenda?

Until 2010, This Writer thought the UK was moving in the right direction, discarding discrimination against ethnic minorities and people with physical impediments.

But racism and disablism have skyrocketed since the Tories came back into office and I don’t know whether they have instigated it or merely allowed bigots across the UK to express what they felt all along.

Covid-19 seems to have brought this ugliness into its own.

The latest outrage is the revelation that a quarter of working people with disabilities are likely to lose their job – because of safety measures they have been told to take, to avoid infection.

This rises to 37 per cent of those who said their disability had a large impact on their day-to-day life.

And half of those shielding because of extreme vulnerability to the coronavirus risk redundancy.

It seems employers see people with disabilities as an easy cut to make – especially in an atmosphere where unfair dismissals are more likely to go unremarked.

And people with disabilities going onto benefits face an uphill struggle getting benefits – even if they’re not claiming sickness/disability benefits.

The five-week wait for Universal Credit is bad enough for able-bodied people, remember.

The Tory government isn’t particularly bothered. Anyone can seek an employment tribunal against unfair dismissal.

But how long is that going to take? And what will they do in the meantime?

Source: Parents, carers and disabled people in UK ‘twice as likely to lose job’ | World news | The Guardian

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The Tory disablist double-bind: risk your life at work – or risk it by being denied benefits


Isn’t this the Conservative government turning the screw on people with disabilities – and on parents – yet again?

People could be forced to take on work that places their health at risk or face losing their benefits as the government’s suspension to job-seeking requirements for benefit claimants is set to come to an end within days.

The government announced in March that the requirement for people receiving universal credit to prove that they are looking for work – which would currently apply to more than 2 million people on the benefit – would be paused for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This suspension is set to end next Tuesday, meaning millions of people will need to prove they are actively seeking work or face being sanctioned and losing their financial support.

Charities are concerned that people who are shielding or suffer from underlying health conditions would face an “uphill struggle” to find suitable work – and may potentially accept jobs that place their health at risk in order to avoid benefit sanctions.

There are also mounting concerns that ongoing disruption to schools and childcare options mean people may need to care for their children during the time they could otherwise spend working or applying for jobs, which could result in them being sanctioned.

It’s a classic double-bind.

Either people with disabilities put their health – possibly their lives – at risk in work that could even lead to their deaths…

Or they forfeit their chance to get state benefits, putting their health – possibly their lives – at risk.

Disablism in action.

Source: People could be forced to take on jobs that place health at risk as suspension on benefit sanctions set to end | The Independent

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