Tag Archives: local

Tory MPs are breaking Covid rules so quickly, Johnson is taking to TV to announce more

Tory ministers like Matt Hancock are breaking even the current complicated Covid-19 restrictions so fast that Boris Johnson is to announce a new, more complicated system in the hope of stopping them.

That’s how it seems to This Writer, anyway.

But then, I’ve lost interest in the restrictions. Instead of being a way of keeping safe, Johnson has turned them into an attempt to distract us from his failure to address the proliferation of the pandemic with threats of huge fines if we don’t do as we’re told!

That’s why he hasn’t been able to provide any evidence to support his edict that pubs must close at 10pm. There isn’t any. It’s just a way to divert attention.

If Matt Hancock knew that, it would certainly explain why he was (allegedly) in a Parliamentary bar until long after the curfew was imposed one night last week.

Alternatively, I think it’s possible that Johnson is trying to address the shortage of new TV material with an idea for a new game show format.

I’ll explain below but first, let’s consider what he’s expected to announce in his own TV appearance later today (Monday, October 12):

England’s three-tier system… will be called Local Covid Alert Levels with England placed into “medium”, “high” and “very high” alert levels.

There is no detail yet on which area of England will be placed in which tier.

Millions of people could be banned from travelling outside their areas or mixing indoors with other households.

According to The Guardian,

Areas with relatively low infection levels will be placed in what is being described as tier 1. Only national restrictions such as the rule of six, the 10pm curfew on restaurants and pubs and existing rules on masks and social distancing will apply.

The next tier is likely to include bans on home visits and indoor socialising with other households in bars or restaurants.

In areas under the toughest tier 3 restrictions – including Merseyside, Manchester and Newcastle – bars and pubs are expected to be forced to close.

None of the above will make a scrap of difference to infection and death rates, of course, because they do not propose lockdowns in education or in the workplace – the main drivers of the current wave of the disease.

But what about that new TV format I mentioned?

It’s simple: after Johnson announces the new “Local Covid Alert Levels”, I expect an enterprising producer to devise a new game show in which members of the public are contacted at random and asked to provide accurate details of the Covid-related restrictions currently in place where they live.

If they get it right, they get a prize; get it wrong and they get a stern talking-to!

Do you think it’ll catch on?

Source: Boris Johnson to give live TV address to unveil new coronavirus lockdown system – Mirror Online

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After This Site suggested it, Tories are letting experts tackle Covid-19 instead of their chums

I know. It’s just a coincidence.

But isn’t it interesting that, the day after This Site asked, “Don’t you agree that giving control of the response to Coronavirus back to people who actually know what they’re doing might turn the tide?” the Tories are talking about doing just that?

I had suggested, “Let’s see the Tories reopen the contract system to multiple tenders, with assignments of Covid-related contracts going to the firms best-suited for the work. Or – indeed – to the public organisations and authorities best-placed to handle it.”

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick made the admission that this will happen on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today (October 11): “People who know their own community… are bound to be better than Whitehall or national contact tracers.”

Here’s the clip:

There’s an obvious question to be answered here:

Yes – why weren’t they used in the first place?

The obvious answer is that individuals within the Johnson government have corruptly and opportunistically used the pandemic as a chance to funnel cash to their fellow-Tory friends. Certainly there is a movement now to find out how much money has been wasted on so-called services that haven’t worked at all:

That question of wasted time is crucial because many people have died.

What happens if we find that those deaths happened because the Tories were giving money to their friends – for nothing – rather than to people who could actually keep that death toll down?

Will there be any accountability?

Or will Boris Johnson just shrug his shoulders, say “Now is not the time,” and forget about it?

For further information, here‘s the Mirror‘s piece.

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Leaked report warns of Covid-Brexit “horror show” – remember THIS IS WHAT BORIS JOHNSON WANTS

Two-fingered salute: the UK might fall into lawlessness and chaos because of Boris Johnson but he doesn’t care, as long as he gets what he wants.

A Cabinet Office “reasonable worst-case” report on the effects of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit combining with another wave of Covid-19 has laid out exactly what Boris Johnson wanted for the UK when he became PM.

Johnson, you’ll remember, did not want any trade deals with the European Union after the UK leaves that bloc.

It was widely believed that this is because the hedge fund managers who supported his bid to be Tory leader have bet heavily on the UK going into recession, with many big-name firms going out of business. The claim was that they could make £8 billion out of it.

Of course, none of these multi-billionaires care a fig about the rest of us. If the country falls into chaos they’ll be off to their holiday homes in the sun, with their cash safely stowed in a tax haven.

Meanwhile, back in Blighty, you will be left to deal with food, fuel and power shortages, illness and deaths caused by flood, flu and Covid-19, and incursions into the country from outside such as EU boats coming into our fishing waters.

And, as may reasonably be expected from his government’s failures so far on Covid-19 – the school reopening furore, school meals, exam results, care home deaths, PPE procurement, face mask procurement, test and trace, contract nepotism… the list goes on and on – on flooding (remember that?) and on any other subject you care to mention, the Johnson government has not planned any response to this at all.

The article goes on to state:

  • One in 20 Town Halls could go bust in a second Covid wave, sparking social care chaos.
  • The economic impact of the virus and Brexit could cause public disorder, shortages and price hikes.
  • Troops may have to be drafted on to the streets to help the police in the worst-case scenario — 1,500 are already on stand by.
  • Social distancing measures and masks will have to continue until 2021 regardless.
  • Supplies of food and fuel are all under threat this Christmas if Dover becomes blocked.

The planners warned that “pandemic influenza, severe flooding, a Covid second wave and an unruly exit from the EU transition period could cause a systemic economic crisis with major impact on ­disposable incomes, unemployment, business activity, international trade and market stability.”

It could be combined with likely “coordinated industrial action” as well as shortages risking public disorder and a mental health crisis that will hit the poorest hardest.

Nobody in a Tory government is going to worry about a mental health crisis that harms poor people, of course.

And the attitude by leading Tories to this frankly terrifying report seems to be that if they ignore it, it will go away.

Michael Gove is quoted as babbling: “We got Brexit done with a great deal in January.

“A brighter future awaits as we forge our own path.”

A government spokesperson did add that this was a “reasonable worst case” scenario.

But on the Johnson ministry’s record so far, it is stretching the facts to breaking point to suggest that the government is “ensuring we are ready for all eventualities”.

That simply is not going to happen. On the evidence of the last 12 months, it would be irresponsible to believe anything Johnson, his ministers or his spokespeople say about it.

But there’s one more matter to remember:

If this disaster happens, then there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, other than to prepare as well as you can (because the Tories simply won’t).

I anticipate another stockpiling splurge, worse than the rush for toilet roll in March, at the very least.

Obviously the worst-case will be social unrest and violence – and I’m not ruling that out, either.

Whatever happens, if we end up with no deal and any of the feared outcomes are triggered, you must remember (because he’ll lie about it):

It is what Boris Johnson wanted all along.

Source: Leaked document reveals Cabinet’s emergency plans for perfect storm of No Deal Brexit and coronavirus second wave

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Automated benefit decisions: Councils are already using machines to persecute benefit claimants

Days after we discovered the DWP is developing Artificial Intelligence to decide whether vulnerable claimants receive benefits – possibly whether they get to live or die – it turns out local councils have been buying similar systems from commercial businesses.

And there’s a serious problem: they don’t work.

According to The Guardian, companies including the US credit-rating businesses Experian and TransUnion, as well as the outsourcing specialist Capita and Palantir, a data-mining firm co-founded by the Trump-supporting billionaire Peter Thiel, are selling machine-learning packages to local authorities that are under pressure to save money.

It seems 140 of 408 councils – more than one-third – have invested in these systems, at great cost. One must presume they expect the savings to come over time.

They provide automated guidance on benefit claims, prevent child abuse and allocate school places.

But concerns have been raised about privacy and data security, the ability of council officials to understand how some of the systems work, and the difficulty for citizens in challenging automated decisions.

North Tyneside council has dropped TransUnion, after payments were wrongly delayed by the computer’s “predictive analytics”.

It automatically processed data about claimants for housing and council tax benefit to determine the likelihood it was fraudulent – “risk based verification”. But benefit claims were wrongly delayed.

Hackney council in east London has dropped Xantura, another company, from a project to predict child abuse and intervene before it happens, saying it did not deliver the expected benefits.

And Sunderland city council has not renewed a £4.5m data analytics contract for an “intelligence hub” provided by Palantir.

These experiences are leading to increasing concern that the use of algorithms – computerised instructions intended to solve problems (or in this case make decisions) is leaving vulnerable people at the whim of automated decisions they do not understand and therefore cannot challenge.

Local authority bosses do not understand how these systems work either, it seems.

And so the injustices creep into the system.

The DWP has told parliament it gathers data from private credit reference agencies, the police, the Valuation Office Agency, the Land Registry and the National Fraud Initiative, which gather information from public and private bodies – but is now declining to update the list, claiming it would “compromise the usefulness of that data”.

So, as public participation charity Involve claims, there is a risk to citizens’ privacy and data security, and the potential for seriously harmful wrong decisions.

Suppose someone falls foul of a wrong decision on their Housing Benefit claim, made by a computer at their local authority.

Wouldn’t the computer at the DWP pick it up and use it against the same claimant in order to invalidate a claim for – say – Employment and Support Allowance?

If so, these machines could put innocent people deeply out-of-pocket – with no explanation and no accountability.

It is a program that can have only one result – disaster. Somebody will die – if they haven’t already.

Source: One in three councils using algorithms to make welfare decisions | Society | The Guardian

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Study shows Tory policies are keeping homeless people from social housing

You see the way the Conservatives manipulate housing associations and local authorities to victimise the people they want to target?

By cutting the amount of social housing available – via the sale of council housing and strictures on the number of new houses that can be built – the Tories can ensure that nobody who is considered a financial risk can get a place.

Replacing perfectly workable benefits with Universal Credit – which is now known to further impoverish those in need – allowed the Tories to spread their net further.

People without families have been ruled out because of the Bedroom Tax – social landlords don’t want to rent out two-or-three-bedroom homes to single occupants who would lose money merely by living there.

But large families may also be a risk, due to the benefit cap.

And the Tories starve other services of funds – such as the NHS and local authority housing support – in order to prevent people with mental illnesses or other problems from qualifying.

Why?

One reason might be to “gentrify” certain areas – pushing up housing prices. Could it be that some Conservative Party members – or even MPs – are landlords in such housing zones?

Another may be more sinister: it is easy to let homeless people drop off government statistics. Then who cares if a tramp dies on the streets?

Or, indeed, if many do so.

Homeless people are being denied access to affordable housing because social landlords are routinely excluding prospective tenants who are deemed too poor or vulnerable to pay the rent, a study has revealed.

Research by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) found that “screening out” of homeless applicants nominated for newly available lets was widespread, as housing associations and local authorities increasingly ration their shrinking stocks of social homes.

In many cases nominees were refused a home because of the likelihood they would accrue major rent arrears after moving on to universal credit, because of the probability they would be hit by the bedroom tax or because the benefit cap had made them a financial risk.

Others were rejected after social landlords identified they had unmet mental health or addiction problems, often because of cuts to local NHS and housing support services. Individuals with unmet support needs were regarded as “too high a risk to tenancy sustainment”, the CIH said.

Toryism – what a disgusting, gangrenous, poisonous form of government.

Source: Homeless denied social housing for being too poor, study says | Society | The Guardian

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Never mind Metro and the BBC – the DWP has been pushing Universal Credit propaganda already

Amber Rudd: The Work and Pensions secretary is facing demands for answers about a multi-million-pound propaganda campaign involving the Metro newspaper and the BBC – but what about all the “puff” pieces in the local papers?

It’s nice that MPs are finally beginning to realise that the DWP is filling the media with disinformation to make people think Universal Credit is a good thing.

Yes, that’s right – finally.

It seems the local papers have been filling up with this nonsense for a while. Consider the following, from one of Vox Political‘s longest-standing readers:

“They’ve been doing a PR campaign in the local rags – DWP press releases masquerading as local news to reassure nervous Tory MPs, some with small majorities, who fear that Universal Credit is another poll tax.

“[It is] so contrived and patronising – tame staff parroting off the official line word for word, bordering on Maoist, or hostage, statements in a despotic banana republic.

“Most of the articles are more or less the same with the odd bit added here and there.

“The line is that [the news stories about people being forced to food banks, or dying, because of Universal Credit are] only troublemakers telling tales out of class to the papers.

“It’s a very, very regimented, top-down and corporate style of management. I have experienced it before; you can read it like an open book.

“Everything is to a pre-determined outcome and purely to impress someone more senior – all singing from the same hymn sheet in a crackpot religious sect church. They’ll only hear what they want to hear.”

He named some of the newspapers participating:

The Plymouth Herald (“Johnny Mercenary who apparently went or threatened to go on strike – the irony!”)

The Birmingham Mail (“The West Midlands has a few Tory pockets.”)

The Middlesbrough Evening Gazette (“Simon Clarke – a swivel-eyed Brexiteer.”)

Derby Telegraph (“Pauline Latham, Patrick McLoughlin.”)

There was a puff PR piece in the Leicester Mercury too.

“However this G4S UKJCP security guard is parroting off the Victorian ‘feckless and irresponsible poor’ line for the DWP.”

“I’m afraid some people will have to learn the hard way. No loyalty is given; none is expected.”

Here’s another such article:

And here’s the Leicester Mercury piece:

Local newspapers are struggling – I know; I spent decades working for them. But taking the Tory shilling to spread tattle isn’t the way to survive. Any paper that does so should be boycotted by readers and advertisers alike.

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What were our expert commentators saying about a ‘Brexit backlash’ against Labour, again?

It turns out everyone who said that Labour, as well as the Conservatives, suffered a loss of votes at the local elections last week because of its Brexit policy… was wrong.

This is a day of revelations. Read the findings, courtesy of the most reliable UK polling company, Survation:

“On balance, there does not appear to have been a major Brexit backlash against Labour in Remain areas or in Leave areas.

“A range of other factors will significantly affect voting in local elections, regional elections, general elections, and European elections.”

The Survation report states: “For every 1% higher the Leave vote was within a local authority in 2016, in 2019 Labour received 0.08% fewer votes within the local authority than in 2015.”

This shows that Labour experienced a decline in vote share in Leave areas – but the Brexit effect was not “major” according to the report.

I seem to recall a commentator in the social media saying last week that disgruntlement over Brexit had a negligible effect on the election results, and that other issues were far more likely to have comee into play.

Who was that, again? Oh yes…

It was me.

Source: Exclusive: No “major Brexit backlash” for Labour in locals, new analysis shows – LabourList

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Don’t believe the spin – the local elections were NOT all about Brexit

Why should Brexit be the dominant factor in the election of people who won’t have anything to do with it?

And why should anybody think the result has any bearing on that matter?

Just at the moment I’m hearing Remainers saying it must be about a swing towards staying in the EU because the main Brexit-supporting parties lost 1,561 councillors in the English council areas affected, and Leavers saying it must be about Leaving because Brexit-supporting parties still have 5,585 councillors in those places – the vast majority.

The others – including Independents who may very well be former UKIP members disillusioned with that party’s swing to the far-right – totalled 2,825. That’s about half of the main parties’ total.

Notice also that the mainstream media commentators are reluctant to talk about how these results relate to the way people voted in the 2016 EU referendum. Is there any correlation at all between so-called ‘Remain’ constituencies and the way electors voted on May 2?

How many councillors – for any party – stayed in place because voters in their wards traditionally support one party over the others?

How many were voted in because of local issues like the fact that the Tories are cutting £1.3 billion from local authority budgets?

Did the Liberal Democrats enjoy a bounce because voters who abandoned them in 2015, due to their complicity with the Conservatives at Westminster, had decided they had suffered enough and shifted their vote back?

Taken as a whole, one thing is clear:

Only a fool would relate the local election result to a single issue like Brexit. Among the mainstream media commentators, the only reason for doing so would be to mislead.

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Tory leadership hopeful tweets LIE that he voted in local elections. Who votes for these fools?

Boris Johnson is a former Mayor of London and is currently a resident of the UK’s capital city. He should be well-informed about its electoral arrangements.

So it must have come as a considerable surprise to his fellow Londoners when he tweeted a claim that he had voted in this year’s local government elections:

The tweet was deleted very quickly – most probably after somebody pointed out to Mr Johnson that there weren’t any local elections in London this year.

Mr Johnson is a favourite to take the leadership of the Conservative Party after Theresa May is finally levered out of 10 Downing Street.

But somebody should ask the Tories the obvious question:

Do you really think it will help anyone to have a lying fool like BoJob in a position of power?

Source: Deleted tweet from Boris Johnson (Conservative) – Politwoops

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Media spin makes it seem Tories and Labour were hit equally hard in local elections. NOT TRUE

Not my image: Somebody else made this – indicating that concerns over the BBC’s claim to impartiality are well-founded.

Look at the state of this. The Conservatives have lost almost ten times as many seats as Labour, but the mainstream media have lumped them together to make it seem they have been equally hit:

The Conservatives and Labour have faced a backlash at the ballot box over the Brexit deadlock, with smaller parties and independents winning seats.

In England so far, the Tories have lost almost 800 seats and 28 councils overall, while the Liberal Democrats have gained more than 450 seats.

Labour has lost more than 80 seats.

At the time of writing, the Tories have lost 848 seats, and Labour is 90 behind its previous total.

Labour’s performance has not been wonderful, especially in the context of previous elections in these council areas. In 2015 the party under previous leader Ed Miliband lost 203 council seats.

But the Conservative collapse has been catastrophic, when judged by the same yardstick. In 2015, that party gained 541 seats.

This year’s result has wiped out those gains and seems likely to take away from the party almost as many seats again – possibly even more.

The MSM are also discussing each party’s share of the vote, saying Labour and the Tories are tied on 28 per cent. That’s just one per cent lower than in 2015 for Labour…

But it represents a massive seven per cent plunge for the Conservatives.

Oh, and the Liberal Democrats who are crowing about their 503 gains?

It simply means they’ve gained back the ground they lost in 2015, when 411 seats went to other parties in a reaction against the hated ConDem coalition of 2010-2015, with a few extra that may be attributed to the main parties’ lack of progress on Brexit.

Source: Local elections: Tories and Labour hit by Brexit backlash in polls – BBC News

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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