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Johnson’s popularity hits record low – but Bercow says he won’t quit as he’s not ‘accountable’

Speaking out: John Bercow (here piectured at the Bingham Lecture), one of the straight-talkers of recent Parliamentary history.

Boris Johnson won’t quit as prime minister because he leads a government that doesn’t believe in accountability for its failures.

That’s the verdict from former Commons Speaker John Bercow after a poll of Conservative Party members put him second to last among cabinet figures with a record low satisfaction rating of -10.3:

The prime minister recorded a net satisfaction rating of -10.3 in a survey of party members, coming in second to last among cabinet figures.

The prime minister recorded -10.3 in ConservativeHome’s latest cabinet league table, coming in second to last among cabinet figures.

His rating was better only than that of his education secretary Gavin Williamson, who scored -43.1.

I have to include this bit:

Johnson’s rating is likely to be dipping in part because of his initial handling of the pandemic and the number of deaths the UK has suffered.

The urge to be sarcastic and say, “Oh really? Well I never!” is very strong. Of course it’s because he has failed in the principle duty of government which is to protect the people of the United Kingdom.

@RussInCheshire has been brutally funny about it in his regular The Week In Tory tweets:

I’ve quoted some extra tweets in the thread because they support the idea that Johnson doesn’t believe in accountability for himself or his government: he treats us with contempt by repeating a promise that he has already broken; he failed to punish a man (again) for breaking Covid-19 restriction because it was his dad; he treated the deadly threat of Covid-19 as though it was nothing to get het up about; and his own MPs – who are het up about it – turned on him in an expression of frustration at their utter inability to instil in him any sense of responsibility at all.

So we come to former Commons Speaker John Bercow’s appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain today (October 6), in which he delivered the home truth we all knew but nobody else seemed willing to say:

(Death Secretary = Matt Hancock, if you didn’t know.)

As if to prove Mr Bercow’s point, Rishi Sunak turned up on Tory mouthpiece BBC Breakfast to sell a load of old tripe to us about Covid-19 tests. He was not challenged on his lie and was therefore not held accountable for it:

Ultimately, the fault for the government lies with us, the people of the UK.

With every new disaster I am reminded of the Joseph de Maistre line, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.”

The UK had a chance to elect a government that would have been much better than Johnson’s, and didn’t.

I’m thinking particularly of the former “Red Wall” constituencies who switched to Johnson because a majority of people there wanted Brexit at any cost.

Well, they’re getting it. I wonder how many people have to die before they accept that the cost is too high, and their current defiance means my guess is that they will probably have to lose some of their own relatives, or face a risk to their own lives, before the message sinks in.

Source: Boris Johnson’s popularity falls to record low among Tory members

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One in eight childcare workers in England earns much less than the minimum wage

We thought this window-writing was by a child in care. It seems it might have been by a carer instead.

This research shows all the hallmarks of Tory employment policy: early years workers – predominantly female – are considered to be of low worth and paid less than the minimum wage, and have few career options – and the Covid crisis is likely to make matters worse.

It’s Conservative policy, remember: they have victimised women since they got back into office in 2010, with the so-called austerity policies attacking women far more than men.

One in eight childcare workers in England earn less than £5 an hour, according to new research which warns that low pay, high workload and a lack of career development are having an adverse effect on the sector.

The Social Mobility Commission (SMC) report says… as many as 13% of childcare workers are paid under £5 an hour.

The workforce included apprentices, students on placement, volunteers as well as childminders, hence the low hourly rates.

Staff turnover is high at 13%, with one in six leaving their posts within a year, and 37% quitting within two years.

The report also highlights a lack of training opportunities for those who enter the workforce, which is 96% female, with just 17% of early years workers in receipt of job-related training.

Workload is high and the job carries considerable responsibility – more than one in 10 (11%) full-time early years workers reported working more than 42 hours per week, compared to 3% of retail workers.

It’s cognitive dissonance; the job is clearly highly-responsible and stressful, yet the remuneration is pitiful and there are no associated benefits.

Does this not indicate a political decision by the Tories?

That party’s notorious “nudge unit” has long been tasked with pushing people into particular decisions by making the alternative unacceptable.

Apparently they don’t want children to have professional care while we go to work.

Clearly we’ll all have to stay at home instead – or stop having children so we can go to work.

But if we stay home, what will happen to the economy?

And if we stop having children, well, there aren’t enough people working in the economy to support the current number of senior citizens, and that will only get worse if the working population diminishes – as it must in that eventuality.

So it seems that, by allowing childcare workers to be treated so badly, the Tories are deliberately trying to trash the UK economy.

And some of us voted them into office with a landslide in order to do that.

Were these voters ill, or insane, or suffering mass hysteria?

Source: One in eight childcare workers in England earn less than £5 an hour | Childcare | The Guardian

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Propaganda: DWP sweet-talks mainstream news media about low Universal Credit pay

This is a blatant bid to manipulate the media.

It’s also fixing the barn door after the horse has bolted. The DWP’s Universal Credit supremo, Neil Couling, already gave the game away to Disability News Service on April 16.

So we know that the Tory government has adopted a hard line with people claiming UC because they have lost their job or their income due to the coronavirus lockdown.

As This Site already reported, he told DNS firstly that there is no way he’s going to speed the automatic processing of UC claims and they’ll all have to wait five weeks from the moment they claim, before they get any cash.

The system is designed to bleed you dry, weeks before you get any payments. Then you have to beg for a loan, and then you spend months trying to pay off that loan, while the lowered payments you get because you took the loan mean you go further into debt.

In the Torygraph today, Mr Couling is quoted, warning new claimants to brace themselves for the fact that their payments won’t be as high as they expect.

Look at the state of this reporting:

Director General Neil Couling counselled a “little bit of caution” over Universal Credit sums, saying that people may be “confused” about what they are entitled to.

He said: “People will get their result and they’ll say, ‘Hang on, that’s not what I was expecting’.

“There will be a few confused people out there for the first couple of weeks because they have not had experience of how Universal Credit works before.”

There are fears that new claimants will take home substantially less than they had anticipated because they received a redundancy payment in the past month or declared earnings from self-employment.

What a way to describe the financial enslavement of 1.4 million people!

Meanwhile, I hope you noticed that the Conservative government’s ministers have refused to take a voluntary pay cut, in solidarity with the working people whose income has been decimated by the lockdown:

Matt Hancock today flatly dismissed the idea ministers should take a pay cut in solidarity with millions of workers facing coronavirus hardship.

So much for us being all in it together!

Source: Coronavirus benefit claimants could be ‘surprised’ by low payments, DWP warns

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The Johnson conjunction: Boris’s Brexit drives the pound down so businessman brother Max can clean up

Cashing in: Max Johnson, brother of Boris.

The plausible deniability of this is breathtaking.

Here in the UK, Boris Johnson has been pushing the threat of “no deal” Brexit hard, forcing the value of the pound to plunge.

In Hong Kong, his brother Max is planning a hotel investment fund targeting rich Asian individuals and pension funds who he expects to be attracted by the weakness of the pound.

Yeah, I know – coincidence.

Plausible deniability.

Boris Johnson’s “do-or-die” strategy to take Britain out of the European Union could work, said his youngest half-brother Max, who plans to launch a £1 billion (US$1.2 billion) real estate fund targeting Asian investors.

Johnson, 34, is in advanced talks to co-found a hotel investment fund targeting Asian high net worth individuals and pension funds. He expects the sterling, which has weakened 6.2 per cent against the US dollar in the past six months, to be a big draw for foreign investors. It has fallen 11.7 per cent since the referendum in June 2016.

According to the article (link below), Max Johnson said he could see himself going into politics like his brothers Boris and Jo – but there were “enough Johnsons in politics” at the moment.

Considering what a “johnson” is in American euphemistic slang, I couldn’t agree more.

Source: Boris Johnson’s brother in Hong Kong backs Brexit strategy as he plans UK hotel fund targeting Asian investors

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Did ‘body parts stockpile’ firm come unstuck because of an unrealistically-low bid for the contract?

Skwawkbox found this report, suggesting the contractor’s bid was too low.

Fellow left media site Skwawkbox has uncovered a new aspect of the ‘body parts stockpile’ scandal – that private firm Healthcare Environmental Services’ bid for the contract was unrealistically low.

It would be easy to lay all the blame for the current situation on the company – but if it is a money problem, it really is just another symptom of the Conservative government’s mania for providing public services on the cheap, no matter how bad the service then turns out to be.

Private companies make their bids artificially low – because they know the lowest bid will get the contract.

And then the contractor fails to do the job because the money it requested isn’t enough.

You’d have thought the Tories would have learned their lesson from Carillion.

They should have reviewed all private contracts after that fiasco.

If they didn’t, this scandal is less the fault of the company than the government.

ADDITIONAL: It seems a criminal investigation has been launched into the behaviour of Healthcare Environmental Services after the Environment Agency said the company had breached environmental permits.

It seems I was right: The Tory government is trying to blame the contractor for a scandal they caused themselves.

A private firm with a public contract for disposing of clinical waste has been unable to execute its contract in a ‘timely’ fashion, leading to a ‘pile up‘ of hundreds of tonnes of human body parts and other waste.

But the Department of Health’s management organisation for the English NHS, NHS England (NHSE), was told well over a year ago that the price bid by the winning contractor, Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) was ‘abnormally low‘ – and it went to court to defeat a legal bid to overturn the contract award.

Another firm that competed in the tender, Stericycle (then called SRCL), lodged a complaint that the winning bidder had put in a price that was unrealistically low. Stericycle’s legal action was an attempt to overturn the award – but was defeated in the High Court in July.

Source: Govt was warned body-parts firm’s bid was unrealistically low | The SKWAWKBOX

Welsh petitioners lead the way with plan for a low-pollution, NON-NUCLEAR energy policy

Artist’s impression of a six-mile sea-wall with turbines to generate low-carbon electricity at Swansea Bay, south Wales. The Conservative Government wants to ring Wales with nuclear waste instead. [Image: Tidal Lagoon Power].

Why does a certain kind of politician have to try to destroy our natural resources? What is this fascination they have with trashing our homes? And what can we do about it?

While the first two of those questions remain subjects for debate, an organisation in Wales may have the answer to the third.

Much of Wales remains startlingly unspoiled after nearly three centuries of industrialisation across the United Kingdom, but current plans by the Conservative Government would ring that country of the UK with the worst kind of polluters.

The Tories are keen to flood the UK with the nuclear waste generated by no less than 13 nuclear power plant rebuilds, including eight which will impact on the western coast of Britain: two at Hinkley in Somerset, two at Oldbury in the Severn estuary, two on Anglesey, three planned at Moorside, Cumbria, plus a recently-announced plan to build a Small Medium Reactor inland at Trawsfynydd.

There is also the issue of radioactive mud from the Hinkley A and B reactors being dumped in the sea just off Cardiff, and the rejection by Westminster of the Swansea Tidal lagoon – a renewable energy scheme that could have powered the equivalent of 155,000 Welsh homes.

And let’s not forget the attempt to bribe communities anywhere in Wales to host radioactive waste burial sites – literally sitting on some of the most toxic substances known to humanity.

The plan, it seems, is to cut back on renewable energy and increase nuclear pollution – at huge expense to the taxpayer.

So not only do they want to poison us – they want to make us pay for them to do it. Charming!

The Westminster government’s policy conflicts (deliberately?) with that of the Labour-run Welsh Government, which has three objectives:

  • Reduce the amount of energy used in Wales.
  • Reduce Welsh reliance on energy generated from fossil fuels.
  • Actively manage the transition to a low-carbon economy.

This plan means nuclear energy should be cut as it is neither low-carbon nor renewable. Considerable amounts of carbon are released in the mining, milling and separation of the Uranium which powers nuclear plants from the ore in which it is found – and then it has to be transported. So in the case of Hinkley C, for example, 50g of carbon dioxide are likely to be released for every unit of electricity generated – breaching the Climate Change Committee’s recommended limit for new sources of power generation beyond 2030.

And, of course, supplies of Uranium are limited. This means poorer ores would be processed as supplies run out, increasing the amount of CO2 generated by the process and, once the supply is depleted, we will have prevented future generations from using it in new – and maybe less harmful – ways in the future.

So the Welsh Government should be utterly opposed to the Westminster government’s plan – right?

Of course it isn’t as easy as that. Energy is not a devolved issue, meaning Westminster still has full control over the policy – across the UK.

But the Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance has devised a way of getting around that problem:

The organisation has launched a petition, on the National Assembly for Wales website. It does not call for opposition to the Westminster government’s policy because this would be pointless.

It calls for the Welsh Government to take action that will make nuclear power proliferation unnecessary.

The petition asks the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to invest in green renewable energy sources, thus reducing the need for fossil fuels and nuclear energy in Wales. Specifically, this means:

• Supporting emerging low carbon technologies that could put Wales at the forefront of renewable energies and help to slow climate change; and
• Investing in energy sources that do not leave a legacy of radioactive waste, spoil heaps and damage to health and the environment.

If the Welsh Government was able to show Westminster that it was actively engaging in such activity, it may be possible to persuade the political polluters to put away their plans. Remember, these are long-term schemes and it is possible to demonstrate that one course of action may make another unnecessary.

Here’s what you can do:

Sign the petition.

You don’t have to live in Wales; anyone can sign and the numbers will count towards those needed for a debate in the Welsh Assembly.

Get in touch with your friends and relatives, and get them to sign the petition.

And share the petition – or at least share this article – and urge anybody who may read it to sign.

This is a major opportunity – not just to oppose a hugely dangerous plan to pollute one of the UK’s great natural landscapes but also to become a world-leader in the development and exercise of non-polluting, renewable energy supplies.

Let’s take it.


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Conservatives run up other people’s bills – unlike socialists, who always pay theirs

Voting for Theresa May’s minimum-wage Tories is like trying to dig your way out of a hole; they will only put you deeper into debt.

Yes – the headline paraphrases the late, unlamented Margaret Thatcher, but reverses her claim in the name of accuracy.

Here’s her original comment, in an infographic from Twitter – but pay attention to the weblink attached to it:

Read the article and the reason I edited the late Blue Baroness’s claim should be clear:

Companies in the UK are paying their workers so little that the taxpayer has to top up wages to the tune of £11bn a year. The four big supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons) alone are costing just under £1bn a year in tax credits and extra benefits payments.

This is a direct transfer from the rest of society to some of the largest businesses in the country. To put the figure in perspective, the total cost of benefit fraud last year was just £1bn. Corporate scrounging costs 11 times that.

Worse, this is a direct subsidy for poverty pay. If supermarkets and other low-paying employers know they can secure work even at derisory wages, since pay will be topped up by the state, they have no incentive to offer higher wages.

None of this makes sense. We are all, in effect, paying a huge sum of money so that we can continue to underpay the 22% of workers who are earning below the Living Wage – the level at which it is possible to live without government subsidies. The only possible beneficiaries are business owners.

So you can see very clearly that big businesses – which are predominantly run by people who vote Conservative, are members of the Conservative Party or are donors to the Conservative Party – are clearly refusing to pay their bills. As employers they have a duty to pay a reasonable amount to their workers.

Libertarians will undoubtedly be heading for the ‘Comment’ box to claim that all contracts are valid as employees have freely entered into them – but this of course ignores the fact that people are effectively coerced into accepting unfair wage offers because government policy on unemployment benefits forces them to accept any offers given to them, and this provides an incentive for businesses to keep those offers low.

So there is an argument that none of these contracts are valid as they are not entered into by people in equal positions. Hmm…

Socialists of course expect people to fully fund everything that benefits them. So, for example, the NHS was founded on the principle that everybody pays a little towards the health service, to ensure that all those who need its care will benefit from it. From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. It’s an insurance policy – but, strangely, capitalists approve of private insurance but criticise the system that funds public services. Odd people.

Consider also their willingness to use systems and services that are publicly-funded, while taking advantage of tax avoidance schemes to ensure that they don’t have to pay for them. That’s fraud and theft, isn’t it?

We may conclude that Mrs Thatcher was lying – and so is anybody who echoes her words or their meaning.

Also that the Conservative government is acting against contract law by forcing people into unfair employment conditions.

And that businesses are unfairly profiting from these harmful contracts.

I could go on to explain how this damages the UK economy by reducing the flow of cash through it, but you should be aware of this fact already – in practice.

It won’t change under a Conservative government because Conservatives are greedy and do not understand economics. So we need to end Conservative government.

Spread the word.


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What is the REAL reason more older people are working?

older-workersThe Conservative Government slipped out an insidious little press release over the weekend, claiming the number of people aged 50-65 who have found paid work has hit a record high.

Apparently, more than 8.2 million people in that age group are now in work – almost as many as those aged 25-49. The Tories are keen to claim that this is a good thing, but is it?

How much of this figure is the result of fewer people taking early retirement because they have found they cannot afford it? How much is the result of more people staying on in self-employment because they cannot afford to stop, rather than starting new employment with government help?

The figures provided by the Office for National Statistics (covering the period between April and June this year) don’t tell us much that is helpful.

They say the overall number of people in self-employment has risen by 8,000 in the last three months – but the number of employees has dropped by 54,000.

Looking at the different age groups, the difference between employees and the self-employed is not recorded, but the 50,000 more people working in the 50-64 age group is offset by a drop of 22,000 in the 34-49 age group.

Isn’t it likely that these people have simply passed the age of 50 while keeping the jobs they already had?

No figures are provided for the number of people who retired during these three months.

From what we see, it is entirely possible that the 50,000 ‘extra’ workers are entirely composed of people who have kept their current jobs, people who are self-employed and people who have decided not to retire – in the last two categories, probably because they can’t afford it!

Now look at the Conservative Government’s press release:

“The government is committed to changing perceptions of older workers amongst employers and promoting the business benefits of maintaining an age-diverse workforce.”

That’s changing perceptions of older workers – not actually putting them into work.

“These efforts are part of a wider determination to give working people across the UK the chance to get on at every stage of their life and ensure everyone has the opportunity to achieve the dignity of a job, the security of a pay cheque, and a comfortable retirement.”

Oh, the Tories are determined to give older people a chance, are they? That doesn’t mean they’re actually doing anything.

“Pensions Minister Baroness Altmann said: ‘Record numbers of older people are bringing their skills, talents and experience into the UK workplace, which is good news for people’s incomes, their future pensions, and the overall economy.'”

There’s nothing in this to suggest that the Conservative Government had a part in it.

“‘But with 735,000 vacancies in the economy today, businesses are still not making the most of the opportunities that this huge pool of talent has to offer.'”

No indeed – it seems more likely that they are continuing to ignore those opportunities, and the increased in-work figure is due to entirely different reasons.

“‘As part of our one nation approach, this government wants to see employers do even more to eradicate outdated misconceptions and age discrimination, so that employers realise the benefits when they retain, retrain and recruit staff who are over the age of 50.'”

“Wants to see.” That translates as “isn’t actually doing anything”.

The whole story stinks worse than an abandoned fish market.

It reminds This Writer of an article published here in October 2014, based on the findings of our friends at Flip Chart Fairy Tales. The conclusion was: “What we’re seeing, then, is a huge rise in the number of people who find themselves unable to retire because they won’t have enough income to support themselves.”

And the Tory press release?

Part of the philosophy of The Big Lie that the Conservative have taken back from the Nazi Party in Germany during the 1930s and 40s is the principle of staying with the lie so that, if it isn’t believed at first, constant repetition will hammer down the resistance of the masses until they accept what they are fed:

“The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”

The man who said those words was Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.

They could easily be applied to Baroness Altmann.

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RBS shares go to hedge funds – quelle surprise

RBS

This Blog was saying hedge funds would be the main beneficiaries of George Osborne’s cheap and tacky share sale – how sad (in this instance) to have been proven right.

Perhaps someone can remind us all of how well that worked in the case of the Royal Mail?

The Guardian reports: “George Osborne has tried to justify a £1bn loss on the first sale of shares in Royal Bank of Scotland in the face of criticism from politicians and City analysts by saying it was the right thing to do for the British taxpayer.

“The chancellor sanctioned the first sale of the stake in RBS, announced on Monday night, to cut the taxpayer shareholding from 79% to just below 73%. Slightly more shares than expected were sold after the stock market closed on Monday, crystallising a loss for the taxpayer after £45bn was ploughed into the bank to rescue it amid the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

“Around 60% of the shares were bought by hedge funds.”

The shares were sold at 300p – 37p less than they were worth at the close of business yesterday (Monday). The total loss, if all shares were sold at this price, would be £15 billion – £2 billion more than predicted previously – meaning that Osborne really is determined to pile the burden on the taxpayer while rewarding – apparently – the bosses of hedge funds.

Didn’t hedge funds play a part in the financial crisis that forced the UK government to buy most of RBS in the first place?

The sale also comes at a time when share prices are at a low point. Comparisons with Gordon Brown’s sale of the UK’s gold reserves – much-lambasted by the Conservative Party because the price of gold was low at the time – should be inevitable.

Anybody who doesn’t smell a rat probably has their proboscis rammed up their posterior.

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60 per cent of new jobs for women since 2010 are low paid – Independent

What were the Tories saying about creating more – and better-paid – jobs, again? Here’s Jane Merrick in The Independent:

The number of women in low-paid jobs has increased since the last election, figures have revealed. Since 2010, nearly 60 per cent of new jobs for women have come from low-paying industries, compared with 39 per cent of new jobs for men.

Fifty-nine per cent of jobs paying at most the minimum wage are held by women; and 27 per cent of jobs held by women pay below the living wage, against 17 per cent for men, the Commons Library figures show.

Read the rest on The Independent‘s website.

Want to know where the money’s really going? Here’s a graph that will show you:

wealthtransfer

It seems clear that the money has been drained off by the self-serving rich – helped by their friends in the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition Government.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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