Tag Archives: November

Today’s news headlines – what should they really be?

As a sort of intellectual exercise, I’ve just been through Twitter looking at what the main talking-points were, and comparing them with the BBC’s headlines.

It seems to me that the headlines should be:

  • Keir Starmer has provoked Labour groups across the UK to launch ‘no confidence’ votes in his leadership after banning discussion of the way he has mistreated Jeremy Corbyn.
  • Rishi Sunak dubbed “Richie” after it was revealed his wife is richer than the Queen and he omitted this from his list of financial interests.
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg declares that the government is using taxpayers’ money to boost the economy, while failing to declare the income of his own business or to pay taxes on its profits (he has based it in a tax haven).
  • Nadia Whittome, an apparently left-wing Labour MP, criticised for verbally attacking left-wingers in her own constituency party.

But the BBC reckons they are:

  • Hospitals are warning that they could be overwhelmed without a stronger ‘tier’ system to define Covid-19 risk in England. (Isn’t this a story about Boris Johnson’s lockdown failing?)
  • Michel Barnier arrives in the UK for facemask-to-facemask Brexit talks.
  • Public sector urged to be open about its use of computer modelling algorithms.
  • Boris Johnson appoints new chief of staff.

Some of those BBC reports are of fairly wide importance but shouldn’t the BBC be reporting what interests people, too? Is Auntie trying to divert us away from the problems of Labour’s right-wing would-be-dictator and the corruption inherent in Conservative ministers?

What do you think?

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It’s November 5 – and ‘V for Vendetta Day’ has never been more relevant

Talk about life imitating art!

It is November 5, 2020 – and This Writer half expects to hear of a man in a Guy Fawkes mask setting off an explosion that destroys Parliament later this evening.

That is what happens in the movie version of V for Vendetta, Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s seminal graphic novel. And there are more similarities…

In the movie, Britain is under the control of a ruthless fascist dictatorship that offers security but not freedom. Does this seem familiar to you?

This administration has used a viral pandemic to seize power and keep the people of Britain under control. Does this remind you of a situation in the real world?

(Just to hammer the point home, the first dialogue in the first episode of the graphic novel includes these words: “The Brixton and Streatham areas are quarantine zones as of today. It is suggested that these areas be avoided for reasons of health and safety.” The locations may be different but that’s not too far from what’s happening today.)

The country is kept under curfew, enforced by a brutal police force known as “Fingermen”. As England goes into lockdown for a second time, do you remember Boris Johnson’s plan to give special enforcement powers to a select few people, to ensure that we all follow his rules?

It seems plenty of people do:

The situation in the real world – now – demonstrates the point the film – and the original graphic novel that was originally serialised from 1982 onwards – made:

This Writer was among the first people to read V for VendettaI was 12 years old at the time, and an avid consumer of Alan Moore’s stories.

The thought of living in a country like that, frankly, terrified me. But I could see its roots spreading, in the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher and the so-called “surveillance society” she created.

So could Moore. In the introduction to the 1988 serialisation of V, he wrote: “The new riot police wear black visors, as do their horses, and their vans have rotating video cameras mounted on top… one can only speculate as to which minority will be the next legislated against.

“Goodnight England. Goodnight Home Service and V for Victory.

“Hello the Voice of Fate and V for Vendetta.”

All very grim.

But the story ends on a hopeful note, and so will this article – because the message that has resonated with the public today is this:

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” I hope Boris Johnson hears those words today.

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#Lockdown2 highlights the Tory way: lie in haste – deny at leisure

Robert Jenrick: every time he turns up he’s telling a different story.

The Johnson government’s promises about its November lockdown in England – and the effect it will have on the other UK countries – are falling apart. Quelle surprise.

It should be clear to even the most casual spectator that it is now the Tory way to make wild promises alongside a major announcement of this kind, in order to put people off their guard.

They then renege on those promises in the days following the announcement – if they aren’t called out on the falsehoods first.

So here we see Boris Johnson telling the House of Commons that there will be funding to keep employees in furlough – across the UK, even in countries where lockdown does not coincide exactly with that in England…

… and Robert Jenrick, not 24 hours later, confirming that it won’t.

Kay Burley’s response to Jenrick is well worth preserving here:

“Don’t worry about repeating yourself, it’s very important to the people of Scotland. It might make the difference between being able to feed their families and not.”

That also applies to Wales; it applies to Northern Ireland.

Water off a duck’s back to Jenrick, though. He genuinely couldn’t care less if your kids starve.

The lie was told by Boris Johnson to the leader of the Scottish Tories, Douglas Ross – but people all over Scotland will be harmed because of it:

Perhaps less critically-important is the ability to play tennis and golf.

Michael Gove said on Sunday that tennis courts and golf courses would be open during the lockdown. Jenrick then merrily told BBC Breakfast News that they wouldn’t:

Worst of it all is that we can’t trust a word that Jenrick said – and I’m not referring to the fact that, in terms of corruption, he’s as bent as a nine-pound note.

Consider the knot into which he tied himself when talking about the new plan to test everybody in Liverpool for Covid-19:

Oh, really?

So how many tests are available to Liverpool, then?

He didn’t know.

It’s another test, track and trace disaster-in-the-making – and another Tory lie.

I don’t think any UK country will get furlough cash after December 2; Johnson just said that to keep us all quiet.

I don’t particularly care about tennis courts and golf courses but I’m sure those who do will be upset that they must close. In fact, all sporting facilities, including local gyms (for example) perform a vital function for not just physical but also mental health, and there is a strong argument for keeping them open that the Johnson government won’t hear, because it isn’t actually interested in our health at all.

And I certainly don’t think a Labour city like Liverpool is going to get the benefit of a decent Covid-19 testing system when the Tories haven’t managed it anywhere else in the UK!

The tactic is clear: say what people want to hear – because the line can always be changed tomorrow.

Next week the Tories and their Twitter trolls will be denying that they ever misled us – and that will be another lie to add to the list.

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There’s a good reason we shouldn’t all take vaccines that have Tony Blair’s support!

Tony Blair: He might look tight-lipped in this image but when he opens his mouth, he’s dangerous.

New Labour has-been and alleged war criminal Tony Blair has been trying to be relevant again.

His fan club has been singing his praises after he announced an outline plan of what Boris Johnson’s government should be doing during it’s four-week November lockdown in England.

And fair play to him – at least he has a plan. Johnson’s will be to give even more of your money to private-enterprise ‘test, track and trace’ snake-oil charlatans who won’t deliver anything and wait for herd immunity to kick in, no matter how many people die before it does.

Here’s Blair’s plan:

What a shame it falls down in the details!

You see, the vaccines he wants to deploy have not been proven safe – or even particularly effective – yet, and look at the kind of people supporting him on it:

(Tom Harwood writes for the odious Guido Fawkes Tory-support blog. If he’s supporting Tony Blair, what does that make Blair?)

This is Blair’s perennial problem. He comes out with these grand overarching schemes, but the minutiae let him down.

For instance, do you remember when he said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)?

In fact, Iraq destroyed its chemical weapons stockpile and halted its biological and nuclear weapon programs in 1991, more than a decade before Blair made the speech quoted above.

But the UK still went to war in Iraq – and that’s why many of us want to see Blair tried in The Hague for war crimes.

Looking at it objectively, would you put your health in the hands of this reckless cowboy?

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Tory economic failure: Government borrowing in November is worse than forecast


Here’s yet another lump of coal for the Conservative Government’s Christmas stocking.

With borrowing up to £66.9 billion for the year – by November – it seems unlikely that the Office of Budget Irresponsibility’s prediction that only another £2 billion will be borrowed between now and March will come true.

In fact, the BBC’s story is so full of excuses for the Tory government that it seems the Corporation is no longer even trying to deny allegations that it is now nothing more than an apologist mouthpiece for the Conservatives.

Even if Osborne succeeds in cutting borrowing, but not by the amount he predicted, then he will fail to raise the amounts he claimed in his Autumn Statement – sums on which he is relying, in order to keep his other promises.

And the borrowing figure quoted today doesn’t include support for public sector banks and housing associations. Of course, one might wonder why these organisations need support at all – the Tories are always talking about selling off the public’s share in the banks (to their friends, on the cheap) and the housing associations were not – to This Writer’s knowledge – making a loss.

OBR chairman Robert Chote is quoted with a mealy-mouthed excuse about contributions to the EU and the World Bank – contributions whose timing would have been known well in advance and which should, therefore, have been accommodated.

And a Treasury spokesman is quoted with a frankly incredible claim that George Osborne’s plan is working. Do these people ever feel even a twinge of embarrassment when they peddle this nonsense?

The only message to draw from the figures is that Tory economics doesn’t work.

Government borrowing figures were worse than expected in November, casting doubts over whether the chancellor will meet forecasts for this financial year.

Borrowing for the month was £14.2bn, up by £1.3bn compared with November 2014.

The Office for National Statistics said the figure for November last year was boosted by a one-off gain of £1.1bn in fines for foreign exchange rigging.

Total borrowing for the financial year to date is now £66.9bn, down £6.6bn from the same point last year.

The independent Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates that borrowing for the whole of the financial year 2015-16 will be £68.9bn – excluding support for public sector banks, and also excluding new changes to the treatment of housing associations.

That is below last year’s £90.1bn, which would mean Chancellor George Osborne would have achieved his aim of cutting government borrowing.

Source: Government borrowing worse than forecast in November – BBC News

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