Tag Archives: Mark

Mark Drakeford attacked for speaking at ‘Trot jamboree’ – to bring UBI into disrepute?

Mark Drakeford: Wales’ First Minister is far more successful at elections than Keir Starmer. Is this the reason he is under attack?

Right-wing headbangers have been laying into the UK’s most successful Labour politician – because he is to attend a discussion of a favourite project at a Labour Conference fringe event.

He will be speaking at Where next for Universal Basic Income? Turning a Transformative Policy into Action: UBI pilot in Wales alongside Welsh Labour MP Beth Winter and co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network, Guy Standing – neither of whom have attracted any criticism at all.

Yet again, the weapon being used is guilt by association; the event is to be attended by people who have been falsely smeared as anti-Semites so the loony right is using this as an excuse to smear Drakeford.

Perhaps they’re just jealous because Drakeford actually wins elections while Keir Starmer’s record in that area is singularly lacking.

So we see Eluned Anderson, a regional ambassador of the Holocaust Educational Trust, saying, “The First Minister of Wales should not be sharing a platform with members who have been expelled from the party. The damn state of this.”

Yes indeed – look at the “damn state” of her comment. A man goes to an event to raise the profile of an idea that will improve the lives of millions and she’s bleating because somebody else will be somewhere nearby. Pathetic.

Then there’s swivel-eyed John Haywood, a Labour councillor for Ringwood North in Hampshire, which is nowhere near Wales so we may conclude that he doesn’t know Drakeford or have any qualification to comment on him.

He’s the origin of the catchphrase “Trot jamboree” that has been taken up by the press: “Very very disappointed that Mark Drakeford is on the bill at Twit Festival, which is basically a Trot jamboree taking place in Brighton at the same time as UK Labour party conference.“

For the record, not a single Trotskyist person or organisation has been invited to the event.

Next up: Wales Against Antisemitism: “Why does Mark Drakeford, as First Minister of Wales, think it appropriate to speak at this event, given antisemitism controversies involving many of his fellow speakers?”

I wonder whether this straightforward guilt-by-association smear would provide enough grounds for Ms Winter and Mr Standing to sue for libel.

These attacks are repellant and so are the people making them. They are indicative of the worst kind of political opportunism – accusing people, not because of something they have done, but because of unsubstantiated accusations against completely different people who won’t even be at the event.

(Or at least, we have no reason to believe that Jeremy Corbyn or Ken Loach will be at the talk. It would be nice if they were, though.)

Of course there has been an online backlash from people who seem to be more mentally-balanced.

Here’s a very pertinent comment:

How do the creepy extremists listed above feel about Starmer and Nandy attending a “Trots convention” alongside people who may have been excluded from the party since they were there.

That’s enough reason for Starmer and Nandy to be excluded, isn’t it? According to current Labour disciplinary practices, that is.

Ah, but here’s a possible explanation of why that is unlikely to happen:

Well we certainly can’t accuse Starmer or Nandy of socialism!

There has also been a lot of straightforward support for Drakeford, from people who want to hear what he has to say:

Yes indeed.

Ultimately, this could be interpreted, not as an attack on people who have been accused of holding controversial views – but an attempt to silence a progressive idea.

In attacking Drakeford, these swivel-eyed loons are dragging the idea of Universal Basic Income into disrepute – again, by “guilt through association”. Is that the real agenda?

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Welsh Secretary is whining because he read about UBI experiment online. But is that it, really?

Why so sad, Simon? The Tory Secretary of State for Wales is upset that Universal Basic Income might be tried out in Wales. What if – God forbid – it’s a success?

Simon Hart has made a big mistake, shouting about the Welsh Government’s Universal Basic Income experiment too soon.

He’s all upset because Wales’s First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has announced that the Welsh Government will run a pilot scheme.

He reckons Drakeford jumped the gun by announcing it in a story he read online (this one?*) before talking to the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions, which runs state benefits.

In fact, it seems to This Writer, Hart is the one who’s jumping the gun.

Drakeford, a long-term supporter of UBI, realised before this year’s local elections that he could end up leading an Assembly in which a significant number of members also support it.

In the event, counting himself, 26 of the 60-strong Welsh Assembly want UBI trials.

So he has begun research into that possibility. It clearly hasn’t gone very far because when I ran the story he was seeking expressions of interest from unitary authorities and now he’s talking about giving it to people leaving care.

It is far too early to be talking with the Treasury, DWP or any other official organisations about this because it might not come to anything, despite the good intentions of all concerned.

But being premature isn’t the big mistake I think Simon Hart has made.

His big mistake was showing how much he hates the idea of UBI:

Mr Hart said he agreed with previous comments made by the Welsh economy minister Vaughan Gething in 2018 – when he was health minister – that the idea was “out of touch”.

The UK government, which controls benefits, has said it did not think it would be an incentive to work.

The problem, for Tories, is that in many cases the only incentive to work at the moment is the avoidance of extreme poverty and the threat of death due to benefit deprivation according to – guess what? – Tory rules.

Universal Basic Income scheme would take away that threat, but would still leave people living at subsistence level.

The difference is that, rather than forcing the worst possible pay and conditions on possible employees and saying, “take it or leave it,” employers would have to start offering genuine incentives for people to take their jobs.

That is anathema to Tories. It means they and their business-oriented friends would end up taking a smaller cut of their firms’ profits, because employees would be able to demand what they’re actually worth.

That’s what Simon Hart revealed to us: he isn’t opposed to UBI because it’s “out of touch” or because of any inter-governmental lack of manners; he hates it because it offers dignity to working people.

And to those without jobs, come to think of it.

*I doubt it, although the tweet that I used came from a source that was new to me. Why can’t the BBC credit social/online media sources that published stories first? Is it some weird neurosis – worry that someone else is doing better news reporting?

Source: Universal basic income: UK government ‘not told’ about Welsh plans – BBC News

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Universal Basic Income pilot scheme to be launched in Wales. May I suggest Powys?

Money: a Universal Basic Income scheme guarantees that people receive enough money to support them, at all times. Some claim that this discourages them from working, but this is nonsense. Everyone wants more than the bare minimum, right? Or is the problem that employers only offer the bare minimum?

This is great news.

The Labour-run Welsh government was softly suggesting that it might support a Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot scheme before the local elections.

But the election result has put 25 AMs in Cardiff Bay who signed a pledge promising to put pressure on governments and councils to launch trials.

That seems to have been enough to encourage Mark Drakeford to green-light projects in Wales, to be organised by new Social Justice minister Jane Hutt:

This Writer has had contact with Jane Hutt. I asked her for advice on a matter involving an acquaintance of mine and she took the time to provide a very full and helpful response. I think she is an effective and responsible public servant and that this project is in good hands with her.

The Guardian‘s article suggests that Rhondda Cynon Taff is among several Welsh councils that have expressed an interest in running a UBI pilot. I hope that my own home county – Powys – has also done so.

Powys is the biggest and most rural county in Wales, with many employment problems associated with having a sparse population. UBI could hugely help people here by removing the threat of sanction associated with the current benefit system and allowing people to concentrate on tackling local issues in a creative and adaptive way.

And it would be a real feather in Mr Drakeford’s cap to be able to say he’d managed to make UBI work across an entire quarter of Wales.

Source: Wales to launch pilot universal basic income scheme | Universal basic income | The Guardian

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Labour wins historic SIXTH term in succession in Welsh government – and may consider independence vote

Mark Drakeford: Wales’ First Minister has described the Tory government in Westminster as “utterly shambolic”.

Has any UK-based government won six successive terms? That’s what Labour just achieved in Wales.

It shows the advantage that sitting governments can use, when they actually deliver on their promises and do their best to help the population.

The mainstream media have been unforgivably quiet about it. Perhaps the London-based hacks think Wales doesn’t matter. They certainly pay more attention to Scotland, where the SNP has won only its fourth successive term.

That could all change very soon, with both devolved governments likely to support independence referenda if proposals are put before them.

I know Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to make it happen. The surprise here is that Mark Drakeford has said he will support an independence referendum in Wales, if there is a majority in the Senedd for holding one.

The contrast with Labour’s performance in England could not be more extreme – as social media commenters have merrily pointed out:

The lesson was very clearly put by Simon de Jever: “Drakeford is a left wing Corbyn supporting leader. Starmer is a Corbyn bashing centrist. Drakeford has had a spectacular win even in Brexit areas and Starmer has reduced the Labour vote to 29%.”

And Andrew Feinstein added: “Makes you think Starmer’s purge of the left and massive shift to the right might have been a mistake!”

 

 

Ya think?

The victory creates huge problems for Keir Starmer because his failure will be measured against Drakeford’s success. Some are already laying bets that Drakeford’s suspension from the Labour Party is already in the mail.

But if Drakeford is serious about permitting an independence referendum, it could create a monumental problem for Boris Johnson.

He can’t refuse permission for such a poll on the basis that we’ve had one recently (as in Scotland) because we haven’t.

He can’t rely on Wales rejecting independence because he knows his government has been so appallingly useless that many Welsh people may consider going it alone to be preferable – even if it means a few lean years in the immediate future. We’ll have hardship under the Tories indefinitely.

And it means he could be in line for a double dose of shame as the prime minister who presided over the end of the United Kingdom.

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Riley libel case: her lawyers have attacked Mike with ‘hidden assets’ claim

Mrs Mike thinks this is turning into harassment.

Today (February 16) may be the first working day since my application to appeal was lodged last Wednesday, when I don’t receive an aggravating piece of correspondence from Rachel Riley’s solicitors.

I submitted a witness statement with the appeal application, pointing out that I am far from rich, because Mark Lewis was seeking to enforce an expected decision by the High Court judge to award £27,000 in costs to his client. I am disputing this amount in my appeal as it is far too much, according to the rules by which Lewis is supposed to work.

On February 11, Lewis informed my own legal team that he believes my statement of means (as it’s known) was misleading because I had not mentioned the current position of my crowdfunding efforts; he wanted to get his hands on the cash raised by my CrowdJustice site.

In a further communication the following day, it seems Lewis expanded his interest to include cash raised by donations direct to me.

The CrowdJustice money is nothing to do with me. People donate it direct to CrowdJustice, who pass it on to my legal team, and they take cash from that fund to pay my costs as they come up. I simply don’t know how much is in that account at any time.

Donations direct to my site are passed into the CrowdJustice fund – by me – whenever there is an amount available that makes it worthwhile. The account I keep open to receive those donations contains very little cash as it is simply a conduit for money that goes elsewhere.

So I haven’t misled anybody.

I have instructed my solicitor to ask Lewis to produce any material he has that may show that my statement is inaccurate. If not, he is invited to desist from making wholly inaccurate – and serious – allegations about me.

Meanwhile, dear reader, you are invited to continue contributing to the CrowdJustice fund, in the knowledge that the cash will only be used to support my court case against Riley and will not be used to enrich her in any way. Here are the instructions:

Consider making a donation yourself, if you can afford it, via the CrowdJustice page.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

After three weeks of extreme strain, both raising funds for the appeal and dealing with its grounds – while Riley’s legal team threatened to send the bailiffs round to enforce a costs order that still hasn’t been made, I think we can all sympathise with my partner’s belief that Lewis is piling on the pressure purely to cause grief.

Mrs Mike (as she has become known on Vox Political ) is the unseen other victim of Riley’s libel case against me. She has had to endure every stage of this trumped-up and unreasonable court process with me. For a woman with long-term illnesses and disabilities, who has suffered mental illness in the past, it has not been easy.

She has been hugely supportive – and it is a bitter blow to see her becoming upset by something that amounts to nothing more than playground bullying.

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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Senior Tories including ‘Brexit Steve’ Baker demand continuation of Covid death spiral

The image above may not be the most sophisticated graphic This Site has ever published, but it is accurate all the same.

The Tory rabble who have been pushing for more deaths in a bid to keep the economy going and their paymasters in big business happy have been pressuring Boris Johnson for another early end to the restrictions he has (laughably) encouraged us all to call a lockdown.

The infection and death rates are back at pre-‘lockdown’ levels, they say, so he she start easing us all back into work at the beginning of March.

Shockingly, arch-Brexiteer Steve Baker, clearly believing he hasn’t done enough to wreck the nation, has been traipsing around the broadcast media today, claiming that we need to give Covid-19 a chance at a third wave, for the sake of the poorest in society.

“Think of the poor!” How disgusting.

As the infographic above points out, he couldn’t care less when he voted against letting the poor keep the Universal Credit uplift they need to get by.

In this light, he seems clearly revealed as the kind of opportunist who says whatever he thinks will get him what he wants.

And he isn’t the only one:

Lockdown-sceptic Tories have piled pressure on Boris Johnson, calling on him to commit to a timetable for lifting coronavirus restrictions with a complete end to controls by the end of April.

In a letter to the prime minister, the leaders of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) said the “tremendous pace” of the vaccination rollout meant restrictions should begin easing from early March.

They said ministers must produce a cost-benefit analysis to justify any controls that remain in place after that date, with a “roadmap” stating when they would be removed.

The letter was organised by the CRG chair and deputy chair, Mark Harper and Steve Baker, and was said to have the backing of 63 Conservative MPs in all. However, scientists advising the government are warning that lifting restrictions too quickly risks another wave of the disease as big as the current one.

Of course, 63 Tory MPs in rebellion isn’t enough to bother Johnson – the Tory majority in Parliament is 80 – but it might be enough to rattle his cage, reminding him that he needs to keep his members happy.

He has already said he hopes to map out a “cautious” route out of lockdown on February 22 – next Monday.

The CRG people, led by Baker and Mark Harper, reckon they can dictate its pace – demanding that schools reopen by March 8 and hospitality businesses by Easter.

So we’ll be well on the way to another surge by Whitsun, then.

Source: Tory MPs tell Johnson to commit to lifting Covid restrictions by end of April | World news | The Guardian

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Now Boris Johnson is self-isolating, can he read and release the report on Priti Patel’s bullying?

Priti Patel: her smile in this image means she had probably just done somebody some harm.

Boris Johnson has been sitting on the report on whether Priti Patel bullied civil servants in three different government departments, according to former Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill.

I know he reckons he’s working, with the benefit of Zoom or whatever video calling system he prefers, but it seems clear that he’ll have the time to flick through this report now.

Perhaps he’ll even get around to – finally! – giving the thumbs-up for its release.

Hope springs eternal.

I mean, the investigation was launched in the spring, after Sir Philip Rutnam quit as Permanent Secretary to the Home Office alleging a “vicious and orchestrated campaign” against him.

Lord Sedwill said the report had been with Mr Johnson since before he left his post in September.

So for two months now, then.

Say what you like about Labour but it managed to complete an investigation into a high-profile member within 19 days.

So what’s the hold-up?

According to The Mirror, Downing Street said:

“It’s an ongoing process.

“Once we are in a position to make public the PM’s conclusions then we will do so.”

Doesn’t it seem increasingly that the report is damning and Johnson is trying to find a way of pretending that his crony isn’t a wrong ‘un?

Source: Boris Johnson ‘has sat on Priti Patel bullying inquiry report for months’ – Mirror Online

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Rees-Mogg’s hypocrisy over England-Wales travel ban is borderline schizoid

Rees-Mogg: doesn’t he look properly psychotic in this image? Little did we know that it reflects his actual personality. Or did we..?

See what I did there? No? Allow me to explain:

Jacob Rees-Mogg has supported to the hilt plans that would put permanent borders within the United Kingdom – in the middle of the Irish Sea and on the inland border of Kent.

But he reckons a plan by Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford to ban entry into that country by people from other areas of the UK with higher Covid-19 lockdown restrictions is “unconstitutional”.

It isn’t; it simply puts those other parts of the UK in the same situation as those parts of Wales that are under more stringent restrictions and Drakeford is well within his rights to impose this temporary rule.

It seems, regarding internal borders, Rees-Mogg is schizoid – he is literally of two minds.

Here’s Nation.Cymru:

Jacob Rees Mogg replied: “What would you expect of a hard-left Labour Government?

“The approach to putting a border between England and Wales is unconstitutional and will place the police in an invidious position considering that they serve the whole of the United Kingdom.

“We are one single United Kingdom and we should not have… borders between different parts of the United Kingdom.

“And I’m afraid that is what you get when you vote for socialists.”

He did not offer any evidence that the Welsh Government’s plan was unconstitutional. Health is a devolved issue in Wales and can be legislated upon by the Welsh Parliament.

Police are not devolved but organised on an England and Wales, Scottish, and Northern Irish basis.

The measures regarding people coming to Wales from England are the same as those that exist between Welsh authorities.

You can see him making his comment here:

Phew, what a loony!

“Hard-left Labour government”? Rees-Mogg’s own constituency of Bath and North-East Somerset is very close to Wales. All he has to do is cross a bridge to realise that this is not a country full of Bolshevik revolutionaries.

Drakeford himself always struck me as being more of the ‘New Labour’ persuasion than a socialist. Perhaps he’ll take the hint from Rees-Mogg and adopt a more left-wing policy from now on (that would be welcome).

Realistically, we could suggest that Rees-Mogg’s attitude is that of the spoilt boy who finds that someone else has been playing with his toys; perhaps he thought nobody else was allowed to do as Drakeford has – now he knows better.

Alternatively, he’s mad as a bag of cats.

Our friends in the social media have an opinion about that, of course:

Come to that, so do a few people from Wales itself:

Of course it is perfectly permissible to travel out of Wales in order to give Rees-Mogg a verbal battering.

And if you don’t travel through any English Covid hotspots, it’s perfectly permissible to travel back in again.

The only people under any restrictions are those who should not be travelling anyway.

So this Tory fool is making a fuss about nothing.

Source: Rees-Mogg incorrectly claims new Welsh Covid-19 restrictions are ‘unconstitutional’ – Nation.Cymru

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This Tory had 1,500 indecent images of children including BESTIALITY and TORTURE. Why was he not jailed?

What the blazes is wrong with our courts?

Former Tory campaign manager Mark Lerigo was convicted of possessing more than 1,500 indecent images of children.

This was really depraved stuff including images of bestiality – sex with animals – and torture.

But he walked free from Warwick Crown Court, with nothing but a suspended jail term and an order to do just 150 hours’ community work.

That’s even though the judge made it perfectly clear that “any consumer of this dreadful material causes others to make it”.

So Lerigo was as responsible for the torture of the children in the images as the people who made them… but he didn’t deserve jail. That does not make any sense at all.

He had been judged not to pose a high risk to children. But if, by consuming this material, he caused others to make it, then that is not true.

Not only do the children involved suffer during the creation of the images, but they go on to suffer for the rest of their lives. The effects – both psychological and physical – last forever. Was that not taken into account?

I am left to wonder why this former Conservative campaigner got off so lightly – and to suggest that the courts review their advice on sentencing these cases, which is clearly contradictory.

Source: Former Tory campaign manager spared jail over indecent images of children | The Independent | Independent

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The corruption behind the Tory freight deal with a shipping company that has no ships

Ramsgate ferry terminal: Would it be able to cope with the kind of use required by the Seaborne contract?

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has scored a real hit with his appointment of Seaborne Freight to charter ferries in the event of a no-deal Brexit (at a cost of £13,800,000 to the taxpayer).

The company – if it really is a company at all – has no ships, no trading history, has not previously operated a ferry service and is not planning to do so until close to the UK’s scheduled departure date.

The service would run from Ramsgate to Ostend, although questions have been asked about the Kent town’s ability to accommodate it, as well as the company’s fitness for the job.

When I heard about this, the first thing that came to mind was the company that won the contract to supply Kentucky Fried Chicken with, well, chicken – and then utterly failed to provide anything like enough. Its bosses simply had no idea.

But of course, this particular silliness has turned up at a time of multiple Tory government-related sillinesses:

The announcement has been met with widespread scepticism:

Andy McDonald MP described the situation as “Farcical and desperate: No ships, no experience- just the type of company Chris Grayling would choose to keep vital trade channels open.”

And Clare Hepworth OBE pointed out what everybody was thinking – and I have no doubt the pun was intended: “There is something very very fishy about this!”

Yes indeed, as Conservative councillor for Ramsgate, Paul Messenger, pointed out, it seems clear the government has not carried out due diligence – sufficient checks to ensure that Seaborne can do the job.

Perhaps this is the reason:

https://twitter.com/THEmrschomsky/status/1079650878825644032

If Seaborne really is owned by the brother of a huge donor to the Conservative party, it would be serious corruption.

The contract is one of three agreements worth a total of £107.7m signed by the government without a tendering process to help ease “severe congestion” at Dover by securing extra lorry capacity.

DFDS of Denmark is getting £42.3m and the French firm Brittany Ferries is getting £46.6m.

Oh, and while the Department for Transport says the tender was “competitive and open to a wide range of operators”, the Official Journal of the European Union, which logs government procurement contracts, says the awards were made after a “negotiated procedure without a call for competition”.

So there wasn’t even any competition for the contract – Mr Grayling just handed £13.8 million of our cash to a family of Tory donors for a job they can’t do.

Faced with this blatant government corruption, some have resorted to humour…

https://twitter.com/Pur16Martin/status/1080108453098676224

But the fact remains that the Conservatives – who insist that there is no money available to provide essential services for the well-being of the general public – are giving away millions of pounds to their friends for services they are unlikely to provide.

It’s blatant corruption. And I’m wondering why it’s happening now. Are the Tories rewarding their buddies now, because they expect a major defeat soon?

Note: Since writing this article I have been contacted by colleagues who believe there is no connection between Seaborne’s owners and Tory donors. That may be so, but the questions remain: Why did the Conservatives award a huge shipping contract to a firm that shows no ability to do the job? And why did they do this without any attempt at finding the best operator for the job?

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