Tag Archives: letter

Conservatives complain about #ToryScum label – but refuse to apologise for behaviour that fits it

Priti scummy: home secretary Priti Patel tweeted abuse against “do gooder” “activist lawyers” that allegedly led to a knife attack in one such solicitors office but none of the Tories complaining about being called “scum” have lifted their voice to complain about this scummy behaviour.

Cognitive dissonance: it seems 113 Conservative MPs have written to Labour leader Keir Starmer, complaining that they, their families and staff have been abused by members of the public after Angela Rayner referred to Christopher Clarkson as “scum” in a Commons debate.

Ms Rayner has already apologised for the “language” she used “in a heated debate”.

The letter, written by Conservative Party co-chairman Amanda Milling, states: “I am sure that you agree that whilst targeting MPs in this way is clearly unacceptable, it is even worse that their relatives and staff members (many of whom are young and beginning their careers) should find themselves becoming targets.”

That depends on the circumstances in which those people attracted such comments, doesn’t it? As my late grandmother said to some other mother complaining on her doorstep about some transgression of my father (a boy at the time): “Ah. And what did THY boy do?”

“Sadly, this is not the first occasion in which the Honourable Member for Ashton-under-Lyne has used such language to describe Conservatives, nor the first time she has behaved with the standards expected of a Member of Parliament.”

I suspect this is a Freudian slip. It is a welcome surprise that the co-chair of the Conservatives accepts that calling her fellow MPs “scum” conforms with the standards expected of an MP.

“When you became Leader, you stated that you would put aside the divisive and combative politics that caused such bitter division in our nation, engaging ‘constructively’, not scoring party political points. We do not believe that this language, Labour’s recent actions in the House of the stream of the abuse this incident has resulted in, delivers on this promise.”

Hypocrisy. Every week the Conservative leader – I believe his name may be Boris Johnson – tries to score party political points against Labour during Prime Minister’s Questions. Starmer’s promise was an attempt to lift that Parliamentary debate above that and Johnson’s behaviour shows that it has failed. So there is no point in continuing. The Conservatives have set the bar low and they should not complain if Labour supporters follow their example.

Worse still, these Tories seem to be suffering from selective memory loss.

Have they all forgotten the Twitter outburst by their own Home Secretary, Priti Patel, against “do-gooder” “activist lawyers” that led to an actual knife attack in one such lawyer’s office?

Where was their indignation against Patel, who brought their whole organisation into disrepute by inciting violent attack against immigration lawyers?

Nowhere to be seen.

And Patel has been at it again.

This time, she tweeted information that could prejudice a major criminal trial. She has deleted it, fearing criminal action against her for contempt of court.

You should note that she is already facing possible prosecution for contempt of court over a previous case.

I won’t be sharing the tweet because

I await contact from Ms Patel’s own lawyers, who may actually try to revise history by claiming that she didn’t do it. That is the level of denial we are seeing from Conservatives at the moment.

It is certainly the level of denial we are seeing from Milling and the 112 colleagues who signed her letter to Keir Starmer.

You see, they are all forgetting – or denying – one simple fact that explains (if not justifies) the abuse they have received.

I haven’t checked, but I think it is reasonable to believe that all 113 signatories voted to deny free school meals to poverty-stricken English children in a debate last week (not the debate in which the “scum” remark was made but one immediately thereafter). Feel free to do some checking yourself, if you like.

I also think it is reasonable to believe that any abuse from the general public will arise from their choice to ensure that hungry children starve – over Christmas, as I understand it.

So it seems to me:

If they don’t want to be called scum, they should not behave like scum.

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MPs from all parties say failure to release Russia report is ‘affront to democracy’

Bosom buddies: Boris Johnson with Russian industrialist Alexander Temerko.

If a week in politics is a long time, how would you describe eight months? An eternity?

That’s the length of time Boris Johnson has been sitting on the report into Russian interference in UK democracy.

He says it cannot be released because the UK’s Intelligence and Security Committee has not been reconvened since it was dissolved for the December 2019 general election and has no members.

But this is a feeble excuse when one realises that the only reason for this is, Boris Johnson nominates everybody on this committee – and he hasn’t bothered to do so.

It is the only committee that Parliament has yet to appoint, and it is extremely unusual for a Parliament to fail to appoint it for six months – one-tenth of its term.

If Johnson wanted, this committee could meet on Monday and the report could be out on Tuesday (June 23).

He simply doesn’t want to – and now a cross-party group of MPs have slammed his inaction as an affront to democracy. They’re absolutely right:

MPs on Tuesday wrote to the UK prime minister to tell him it “is untenable for you to continue to block the publication of the Russia report,” adding that “the situation is an affront to democracy.”

The letter… tells Johnson “your refusal to allow publication of this crucial document raises serious concerns and questions about the transparency and integrity of our democratic process.”

Johnson faces fresh pressure to publish the report after the Electoral Commission last week published new data showing continued financial support for the Conservative party from the wife of a former minister in Vladimir Putin’s Russian government.

The letter to Johnson says this new information highlighted “the party’s deep connections to Russian oligarchs,” and “further questions as to why you are so reluctant to reconstitute the Intelligence and Security Committee.”

Source: Boris Johnson failure to release Russia report an affront to democracy – Business Insider

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Statistics supremo slams misleading Tory Covid-19 test figures

Next time you watch a news report showing Tory statistics on the number of Covid-19 tests published out per day, bear in mind that the numbers are deliberately wrong – and that comes from the highest authority in the United Kingdom.

The Tories are hiding the facts about Covid-19 testing by blurring their definition of  test, in order to maximise the number of tests they can report. This comes from Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority.

This Writer has corresponded with the UKSA on several previous occasions and you can take it from me: if the UKSA is saying something, you can be sure it is right.

He’s saying the way the Tories present their results is deliberately obstructing the purpose for which they are supposed to be carried out.

“Statistics on testing perhaps serve two main purposes,” he writes.

“The first is to help us understand the epidemic, alongside the ONS survey, showing us how many people are infected, or not, and their relevant characteristics.

“The second purpose is to help manage the test programme, to ensure there are enough tests, that they are carried out or sent where they are needed and that they are being used as effectively as possible. The data should tell the public how effectively the testing programme is being managed.”

He continues: “The way the data are analysed and presented currently gives them limited value for the first purpose. The aim seems to be to show the largest possible number of tests, even at the expense of understanding.

“It is also hard to believe the statistics work to support the testing programme itself.”

Of course the obvious problem gets an airing: “The headline total of tests adds together the tests carried out with tests posted out… There are no data on how many of the tests posted out are in fact then successfully completed.”

And this has also been brought to public attention: “The notes to the daily slides rightly say that some people may be tested more than once and it has been widely reported that swabs carried out simultaneously on a single patient are counted as multiple tests. But it is not clear from the published data how often that is the case.”

Moving on to the way the tests are presented to the public, Sir David reveals that “this presentation gives an artificially-low impression of the proportion of tests returning a positive diagnosis” – because the number of tests carried out has been artificially inflated, you see.

“More generally the testing figures are presented in a way that is difficult to understand. Many of the key numbers make little sense without recourse to the technical notes which are themselves sometimes hard to follow… Supporting spreadsheets… make it difficult to extract even basic trends.”

Perhaps crucially, Sir David moves on to criticise information that is omitted from test reports: “How many people in what circumstances are infected? Where do they live?

“Test results should include for example key types of employment (e.g. medical staff, care staff), age, sex and location (by geography and place, such as care homes).”

The implication is clear: figures derived from the testing programme are no good at all.

And Sir David lays down a serious warning about the new “Test and Trace” scheme: “Statistics will need to be capable of being related to the wider testing data and readily understood by the public, through for example population-adjusted maps of hotspots.

“The testing statistics still fall well short of… expectations. It is not surprising that, given their inadequacy, data on testing are so widely criticised and often mistrusted.

Here’s Sir David’s letter:

The letter has prompted a strong response – including from some former Conservatives:

Will the Tories pay attention?

I think they probably will.

This is criticism from an incorruptible authority on statistics and, should an inquiry take place into government handling of Covid-19 (and I think one will), the Tories will need the UK Statistics Authority on their side.

If they don’t get that support, then they’ll be in serious trouble.

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UK electors flood MPs with criticism of Dominic Cummings scandal

Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson: we expect a higher standard from government than this shifty pair.

Congratulations to the Great British (and Northern Irish?) public for refusing to meekly accept the unacceptable from Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings.

They – we – expect a higher standard from our elected representatives.

If you haven’t written to your MP already – or if you have and fancy adding a bit more – you can do so by visiting Write To Them.

The furore over Dominic Cummings’ breach of lockdown rules has prompted tens of thousands of people to flood their MPs’ inboxes in what some described as the biggest outpouring since Brexit, a Guardian analysis has found.

As Boris Johnson tried to draw a line under the crisis involving his chief adviser, constituents across the country sent missives to their MPs, with many sharing stories of their own lockdown hardships.

A Guardian analysis covering 117 MPs found they have received a total of 31,738 emails since a joint Guardian and Daily Mirror investigation a week ago divulged that Cummings had travelled to County Durham and taken a trip to a beauty spot with his family after suffering coronavirus symptoms.

If that level of correspondence was reflected across all 650 MPs, it would suggest the revelations may have sparked as many as 180,000 items of correspondence. The numbers were either provided in response to the Guardian’s request for figures, or in statements MPs had released to constituents.

Source: Constituents bombard MPs with tens of thousands of emails over Dominic Cummings | Politics | The Guardian

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Coronavirus – a small victory: NHS hospitals and GPs are warned against blanket ‘Do Not Revive’ policies

What some health workers wanted to prevent: a vulnerable elderly person using a ventilator while being treated for coronavirus.

This is a step in the right direction.

GP surgeries in south Wales and Brighton have both been reported to have issued letters telling multiple patients that their health conditions make them unlikely to be treated with a ventilator if they contract the coronavirus.

The letters advise that patients sign “Do Not Attempt Resuscitation” orders – in effect, their own death warrants.

But now, England’s chief nurse Ruth May and NHS England’s medical director Stephen Powis have told hospitals, GPs and NHS managers not to issue such letters.

This Site has already reported on a statement by the British Medical Association, Care Quality Commission and others, warning that blanket approaches are wrong.

And the Independent reports (see below) that legal advice shows such an approach would be unlawful.

The joint letter states: “The NHS constitution is clear that we should deliver care and support in a way that achieves dignity and compassion for each and every person we serve. We should be cognisant of the principle of equity of access for those who could benefit from treatment escalation, and the principle of support for autonomy for those who want to be involved in decisions.

“Even under pressure we strive for the delivery of personalised care and high standards of patient experience.”

So that’s that – we should hope.

Anybody who persists in foisting such alternative death warrants on vulnerable people should face the force of the law from now on.

Source: Coronavirus: England’s chief nurse and top doctor warn hospitals and GPs against imposing blanket do not resuscitate orders | The Independent

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Johnson’s ‘vital update’ about coronavirus has turned up. It’s old news

Many a true word in jest: Boris Johnson is now in hospital with the coronavirus – if he really did lick all the envelopes (impossible) he could have infected millions more.

Guess what flopped through my letterbox yesterday!

Boris Johnson’s £5.8 million letter, updating us all on what we need to do about the coronavirus!

It was only an entire week late.

The envelope itself was bitterly amusing, before I got anywhere near the contents:

This is a vital update from the Government about Coronavirus”

Really?

Doesn’t that just tell us everything we need to know about the Tories’ lackadaisical attitude to this crisis – that a “vital update” took seven days to arrive?

No wonder there are no PPE (personal protective equipment) or ventilators!

I skimmed through it.

Paragraph one: flannel.

Paragraph two: flannel.

Paragraph three: flannel.

Paragraph four: “If too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to cope. This will cost lives. We must slow the spread of the disease, and reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment in order to save as many lives as possible.” An admission that the Tories have starved the NHS to a point where the slightest extra exertion could overwhelm it completely.

And it’s also an admission that the “herd immunity” idea that Johnson originally championed was utterly, imbecilically stupid. The contagion would have hit the NHS like a tidal wave – swept it away.

Paragraph five: an instruction! “You must stay at home.” I knew that!

Somebody gave me the very same instruction, something like two weeks ago. It was Boris Johnson!

Well, he did turn out to have the coronavirus himself. Perhaps it affected his memory.

Paragraph six: “Do not pass go. Do not collect £200. Go straight to jail.” Well, nearly. We’ve certainly had this instruction many times between the day this letter was announced (when was that? Back in the mists of time) and the day it turned up.

Paragraph seven: More instructions that we’ve all seen on TV, down the shops… everywhere.

Paragraph eight: You’ll be fined if you don’t comply. I suppose some people might have known that.

I’m now at the bottom of the page, and so bored that I don’t know if I can be bothered to turn over. So this letter could be very dangerous.

Suppose there’s really important information overleaf that everybody needs to take in – but nobody bothers to read it because everything on the first page has been drummed into us so mercilessly.

Who’s going to read it?

(Bet you just looked!)

(If you’ve received it, that is…)

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Supermarket and superstar donate cash for coronavirus causes; Johnson remains a super-dud

James McAvoy: his contribution will help medical staff treat thousands of people.

Remember when B&M donated £1 million to food banks to bridge the supply gap caused by coronavirus?

We all praised that company to the hilt.

So let’s give at least as much praise to Morrisons for donating 10 times as much to food banks – in fresh food from its bakery, egg and fruit & vegetable packing sites.

And the supermarket firm is also encouraging donations by converting its now-closed in-store cafes into donation hubs.

And let’s also praise movie star James McAvoy, who has donated £275,000 of his own money to a crowdfunding campaign set up by doctors to raise money for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, visors and gloves.

Despite a claim by the government that there was no shortage of PPE, this has proved to be untrue. Three NHS doctors have died of coronavirus (so far) and we must ascribe some of those deaths to the fact that they have been treating people who have the disease – without the benefit of this vital equipment. Medical staff have likened the situation to “going to war without armour and protection”.

Mr McAvoy’s donation has hugely boosted the fund, which original had a target of £200,000 – only a fraction of his own donation. His contribution brought the total to £440,000 and it seems likely to hit its new target of half a million pounds.

The equipment this will buy will be a huge boost to the NHS – not just for the protection it will provide but also for the morale of medical staff.

Contrast this with the behaviour of Boris Johnson – who is spaffing £5.8 million on a letter to every UK household, telling us things we know already.

The letter has been well-trailed by the media. This Writer’s impression was that the only way it would do any good is if it was printed on paper that is soft, strong and absorbent (if you take my meaning).

Johnson would have served the public better by using the cash to buy more of the equipment we need to beat the virus.

Sadly, we have a prime minister who is more concerned with public relations than public service.

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Jamaica deportation: will the Tories go ahead after appeal court decision?

Doing a runner: Priti Patel leaving the Commons to avoid a question about the Windrush-style deportation of people to Jamaica (not really, but she did run like a coward when David Lammy asked her about it).

The Court of Appeal has advised the Tory government not to deport 50 people to Jamaica until it has confirmed they have all had access to advice from lawyers.

But will Boris Johnson and his bandits accept that advice?

Consider the way Priti Patel swanned out of the Commons chamber, while David Lammy was asking her an urgent question on the subject.

Former Labour leadership candidate Clive Lewis also demanded that the flight should be stopped.

It is racism, if their convictions are suspect and they haven’t had access to a lawyer. And if the Home Secretary can’t answer a simple question about it.

But as I write this, it seems unlikely the Tories will stop the flight. They think they can do whatever they like, to anyone they feel like. Are they right?

Source: Jamaica deportation: Appeal court issues order over phone access – BBC News

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Johnson insists on deportation of Caribbean nationals despite claims they’re NOT ‘serious criminals’

Nazi overtones: Hitler deported Jews from Germany, before deciding to murder them instead; now it seems Boris Johnson is picking on people of Caribbean descent. What next?

Exactly why is the Tory government insisting on deporting people of Caribbean origin who have been UK residents for many years?

He says they’re “serious criminals”. But are they? Let’s remember, the Tories have been wrong about their deportations before, but still insisted on causing misery to thousands of innocent people.

(And the UK electorate then insisted on returning them to office. I suppose it’s true that some people only care when they’re the ones being persecuted.)

All 50 of those being deported are said to be convicted criminals, but here’s the catch: they have all served UK prison terms for those crimes.

They have already paid the required price for their crimes and it would be perverse to punish them again. Isn’t this simply more Tory racism?

The Home Office says the flight is “specifically for removing foreign criminals” and includes “people convicted of manslaughter, rape, violent crime and dealing Class A drugs”. Number 10 has said all the people on the flight have sentences of 12 months or more.

But a law firm representing some of the people on the flight has put forward a different view – that they are “potential victims of trafficking, groomed as children by drugs gangs running county lines networks and later pursued in the criminal justice system as serious offenders”.

And why is this flight scheduled to happen before the ‘Lessons Learned’ review of the Windrush Scandal is published? That event showed that the Tories had wrongly detained and deported thousands of people, forcing then-prime minister Theresa May to apologise for the suffering she had caused as the Home Secretary who approved it.

But at least one person on tomorrow’s (February 11) flight has been found to have been convicted falsely under an unlawful interpretation of the ‘joint enterprise’ rule. He served only two months in prison and has a heart condition which means he may not survive the stress that Mr Johnson is forcing him to undergo.

This would tally with the legal challenge against the deportations.

More than 170 MPs have signed a letter organised by Labour MP Nadia Whittome, demanding that the flight be cancelled, or at least delayed until after publication of the ‘Lessons Learned’ report:

A draft of the report in June 2019 said: “Government should review its policy and approach to FNOs [foreign national offenders], if necessary through primary legislation. It should consider ending all deportation of FNOs where they arrived in the UK as children (say, before age of 13).

“Alternatively, deportation should only be considered in the most severe cases.”

Source: Boris Johnson insists first deportation of Caribbean nationals since Windrush scandal must go ahead | The Independent

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MS sufferer nails problems with PIP – and delivers petition to put them right

As seen on Twitter: there’s many a truth told in jest.

Ashley Arundale understands the Personal Independence Payment better than most ministers at the DWP, it seems.

Not only has the multiple sclerosis sufferer delivered a letter to Downing Street demanding changes to the administration of PIP, but she has written an article explaining exactly what is wrong with it.

She describes the claim process as an “indignity I never expected”:

Firstly, the form itself is incredibly complex – not ideal for anyone with cognitive issues, experienced by up to 60 per cent of us living with MS. And you don’t really get advice on how to fill it in.

But an even bigger – and very common – worry is the lack of knowledge from assessors. My assessor did not seem to understand MS at all, and gave me no chance to explain it. In fact when I suggested it would be helpful for me to give some information about my condition, she seemed to get pretty annoyed.

The assessor’s total lack of knowledge was alarming.

Worse still is the fact that the assessment report that comes back is more likely to be a work of fiction than a medical record:

It was full of contradictions and inaccurate information. For example it claimed my condition could improve with specialist input – but treatment does not make MS better, it just tries to stop it getting worse.

The report also said I was observed walking with no difficulties and a normal gait. But the assessor never observed me walking, and I definitely don’t have a normal gait!

The DWP refuses to acknowledge fluctuating conditions, in which the symptoms are sometimes worse than normal, either. And what did it mean?

These informal observations were used to determine my financial future.

Anything that was inconvenient to the DWP’s version of me was either ignored or rewritten.

That’s the so-called “Atos [or Maximus] Miracle”, of course – the mythical ability of unqualified assessors to magically cure people of long-term, debilitating and progressive conditions, simply by pretending they don’t exist.

And, of course, such miracle cures can only cause harm in the end – often fatal harm, as we have seen in far too many cases.

At least one in four people with MS have had their PIP reduced or cut altogether – often incorrectly.

Figures from the MS Society revealed 83 per cent of people with MS who appealed their PIP decision after moving from the old benefit, Disability Living Allowance (DLA), won their case at tribunal.

We know this rings true too – and it suggests that people with MS have a better chance than those with other disabilities.

But the problem is getting people to appeal. Ms Arundale didn’t:

I thought about appealing but was afraid of making a fuss and losing the award altogether, which I know has happened to others. Right now I don’t feel supported by the system at all, just scared and exhausted.

The Tories have promised improvements – a minimum reassessment period and the scrapping of unnecessary reviews for pensioners and those with the highest needs. But there have been reports of difficulties.

And talk of the money that’s being spent isn’t encouraging. What’s the point of saying £84 million more is being spent on disability benefits, if it’s not going to the right people?

As Ms Arundale states:

For years the Government has been dragging its heels, with various politicians promising improvements to PIP, and that we will have a benefits process we can trust. But what’s taking them so long? Why are they leaving thousands of people like me struggling to get by?

Because they like it, of course. Because they want fewer disabled people using the public purse to live a decent life.

Because they want fewer disabled people.

I think they call it “culling the stock”.

Source: Living with MS is painful but I’ve never felt indignity like a PIP assessment | inews

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