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Outrage after Tory agent on BBC board sabotaged job appointment for political reasons

[Image: Sketchaganda].

It was never going to work.

Boris Johnson’s Conservative government put its man Robbie Gibb on the board of the BBC as a non-executive director and he has tried to block the appointment of a news boss on political grounds.

The irony is that non-executive directors are responsible for “upholding and protecting” the BBC’s independence – not to make demands on the behalf of their political leaders.

Gibb used to be Theresa May’s communications director when she was prime minister. Before that, he was a BBC journalist and he started his career as a Tory aide – so it seems likely that his politics has coloured much of his work.

The BBC has often been criticised as the propaganda wing of the Tory Party and this intervention will only strengthen that impression among members of the public. It proves that attempts to rig decisions of organisations like the BBC by stuffing their ruling bodies with Tories can only backfire.

What did he do?

He sent a message to the Corporation’s director of news and current affairs, Fran Unsworth, warning her not to appoint Jess Brammar to a new post of BBC executive news editor, saying it would shatter the relationship between the BBC and the Tory government.

It is clearly a political intervention. Brammar’s career is now being trashed by other Tory propaganda mouthpieces:

What could this “borderline fake news lefty clickbait website” be? It seems an odd way to describe HuffPost UK, and This Writer looks forward to seeing that organisation’s reaction to the smear.

Previously, Brammar had been deputy editor of Newsnight.

According to the Financial TimesGibb’s message to Unsworth said she “cannot make this appointment” and the government’s “fragile trust in the BBC will be shattered” if she went ahead. One of his cronies has apparently denied the claim.

The recruitment process has now stalled. Gibb’s message was allegedly sent on June 22 and the post has yet to be filled.

Apparently the Corporation is going through Brammar’s past statements, in public and on the social media. To see if it can find some dirt on her that would invalidate her application?

It’s alleged that Gibb would want her defence of HuffPost journalist Nadine White to count against her – but if so, natural justice would demand that he be disappointed.

White was attacked by Tory minister Kemi Badenoch, who claimed she was “creepy and bizarre” in asking questions about a Covid-19 vaccines video that Badenoch branded unnecessary.

In response, Brammar filed a former complaint to the Cabinet Office, stating that “this characterisation of a journalist asking questions as somehow undermining a public health message or fostering misinformation should alarm anyone working in journalism or anyone who believes its job is to hold power to account.”

Realistically, the vetting process is unlikely to provide any reason to reject Brammar because Gibb’s intervention has forced the BBC’s hand.

Turning her away would indicate that the Corporation is vulnerable to political pressure – the kiss of death for an organisation that has long had to defend itself against such accusations.

And there is another possible reason for Gibb to have intervened now.

Awkward

The BBC is currently negotiating a five-year financial settlement with Boris Johnson’s Tory government.

Still-newly-appointed director general Tim Davie – himself a dyed-in-the-wool Tory – has spent a lot of time, and used up a considerable amount of his own credibility, steadying relations with the government in the midst of aggressive (some would say unreasonable) criticism.

Doesn’t it seem likely that Gibb’s claim about Brammar may be just the excuse Johnson needs to cut BBC funding further than previous Tory governments already have?

Whatever happens, the public response has been a PR disaster for the Tories:

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The people want a windfall tax on big firms’ pandemic profits. Why is Keir Starmer getting in the way?

Keir Starmer: yet another own goal.

I bet certain commentators will be doing their best to muddy this issue so let’s make it clear:

There are moves to increase Corporation Tax, forcing companies to pay more when they could be investing that money in (for example) employment of people who desperately need a regular paycheque. This is a bad idea.

There are also moves to levy a windfall tax on firms and individuals who have profited from the Covid-19 pandemic – such as Amazon and all those Tory cronies who won huge Covid-related contracts. This is a good idea and is supported by 70 per cent of the population, according to a Survation poll.

Keir Starmer and his Zombie Labour party oppose any increase in taxation for businesses.

There will be voters who are shocked that anybody claiming to be a Labour Party representative should plead against taxing corporations, and while there are good reasons for leaving Corporation Tax low at the moment, although it is likely that firms will need further incentives to keep them on the straight and narrow, there is no reason at all to back away from a windfall tax.

This decision is spitting in the faces of the voters – at a time when Starmer desperately needs to get them on-side.

Labour is falling increasingly further behind, at a time when – we were told – the party should be at least 20 points ahead of anybody else, having dumped Jeremy Corbyn.

Is it time his supporters’ club admitted that this wasn’t true and Starmer is a non-starter?

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Don’t be fooled by Johnson’s pose on MPs’ pay rise. Why didn’t he oppose it sooner?

Isn’t it curious that Boris Johnson has taken so many weeks to come out in opposition to the planned basic-rate pay rise of £3,300 for MPs?

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority announced in October that MPs could be entitled to the rise, starting next April.

Johnson said nothing at the time. If he genuinely believed that it was not appropriate for MPs to have the extra cash, at a time when the rest of us have been forced to tighten our collective belts due to the Covid crisis and his government’s calamitous response, he would have mentioned it then.

By a curious… coincidence?… the time period between that October announcement and now is roughly the length of time one would expect a focus group to report back to Johnson on whether such a pay rise was likely to affect his popularity.

Is that the real reason for his sudden piety?

It isn’t that long since we were all being told he was complaining about being poorly paid.

We all know Johnson is two-faced; I wouldn’t place much value on the face he’s showing us now.

Source: Boris Johnson against MPs’ pay rise, says No 10 – BBC News

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Did £150k-salaried Boris Johnson oppose #FreeSchoolMeals because he has to buy food for his own kids?

Rolling in it: Boris Johnson has received enormous amounts in donations related to his work as a member of Parliament. But now, as prime minister, he complains about having to pay for his own food and that of four of his six children, while denying free school meals to people earning less than £6 per hour.

Sour grapes from the UK’s prime minister?

In this case it seems likely.

Boris Johnson was one of the 322 Conservative MPs who voted against free school meals for children whose families have fallen below the poverty line, either because of 10 years of Conservative-fuelled wage depression or because the Covid-19 crisis is forcing them to live on a fraction of their normal income.

His choice to starve poverty-stricken children came only weeks after it was revealed that he is “complaining about money” because he is having to use his £150,402 prime ministerial salary to feed himself, his paramour and four of his six children. At least his accommodation is provided by the state, though!

Was his vote fuelled by resentment?

Well, it is a possible interpretation. It doesn’t present the prime minister in a very good light but, if people complain when you mention this to them, just remind them that they voted for him.

Of course, Johnson does receive a certain number of donations from pro-Tory sources. These seem to have dried up since he became prime minister but I note from the register of members’ financial interests that he has received two “gift hampers” worth a total of £1,100, that he registered in May.

Could the contents of those not have helped him out?

And the £14,672 he has made from his various books since the current Parliament began last year should also ease the burden a little, This Writer would have thought.

Come to think of it, some of the money donated to him in previous years might come in handy, considering the huge amounts he received.

For example, in 2019 he received from polling and market research company CTF Partners Ltd,  £3,000 and an interest-free loan of £20,000 for office and staffing costs.

From JC Bamford Excavators Ltd, of Uttoxeter (Constituency: Burton and Uttoxeter; MP: Kate Griffiths (Con)): £64,000.

From “general secondary education” firm RTC Education 2 Ltd (Constituency: Harrow West; MP: Gareth Thomas (Lab)): £10,000.

From First Corporate Shipping Ltd (trading as The Bristol Port Company) (Constituency: Cities of London and Westminster; MP: Nickie Aiken (Con)): £25,000.

From “holding company” IPGL Ltd (Constituency: Kensington; MP: Felicity Buchan (Con)): £20,000.

From real estate trader Countywide Developments plc (Constituency: Warwick and Leamington; MP: Matt Western (Lab)): £10,000.

From bookkeepers MET Trading Ltd (Constituency: Leeds North East; MP: Fabian Hamilton (Lab)): £5,000

From investment firm Killik & Co LLP (Constituency: Cities of London and Westminster; MP: Nickie Aiken (Con)): £10,000.

From Audley Ltd (for whom Companies House failed to provide the nature of the business) (Constituency: Cities of London and Westminster; MP: Nickie Aiken (Con)): £5,000.

From “business support services” firm Albion Agencies Ltd (Constituency: Cities of London and Westminster; MP: Nickie Aiken (Con)): £5,000.

From Dow Investments plc (Constituency: Edinburgh North and Leith; MP: Deidre Brock (SNP)): £10,000.

And from private donors: an eye-watering £633,900!

And a prime minister who has recently received this kind of wealth begrudges free school meals to children whose parents are living on £5.80 an hour.

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Disgraced Tory seeking re-election as MP has dodgy hunting history

Department of kicking-them-when-they’re-down: The Hunt Saboteurs Association has commented on the upcoming Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, saying that disgraced Tory Chris Davies is a former hunt master who implicated himself in the flouting of the hunting ban when it was imposed by Labour in 2004.

Mr Davies was master of the Banwen miners’ hunt in the Swansea Valley from 1993-99, before moving on to the Golden Valley Hunt on the Welsh borders in 2000.

In 2004 he told the BBC that members of his hunt would break the then-new hunt ban, imposed by the New Labour government – and it was clear that he did not intend to lift a finger to remind them of their legal obligations.

“They are upstanding members of the community who are being turned into criminals. It’s absolutely ludicrous,” he told the BBC at the time.

“These people have probably never even had a parking fine in their lives.”

In 2015 he supported Tory plans for a statutory instrument to weaken the provisions of the Hunting Act, relaxing the law to allow foxes to be hunted by packs of dogs in England and Wales to protect livestock, game birds and wild birds, while “having regard to the terrain” and provided it is “carried out as efficiently as possible”. It was ripe for abuse and David Cameron withdrew it when he realised he could not get enough support in a free vote.

Hunt Saboteurs Association spokesperson Lee Moon said: “It’s hard to think of a less useful member of society than an ex-hunt master, corrupt Tory MP. We hate to kick a man while he’s down but we’ll make an exception in this case.

“Davies is clearly a man who can’t be trusted.

“Whilst master of the Golden Valley Hunt he implicated himself in flouting the Hunting ban and now as a public servant he has deliberately falsified accounts to rip off the public purse.

“It’s testament to the low moral standards of the Conservative Party that they’ve re-selected him for the upcoming by-election and we wanted the Brecon and Radnorshire electorate to know the type of man they’re potentially voting for.”

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Parliament has voted against Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement AGAIN. Will she resign?

MPs have voted against Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, with 286 votes in favour and 344 votes against it.

The zombie prime minister has been defeated yet again.

Mrs May says the legal default is that the UK leaves the EU on April 12 – not enough time to ratify a deal, and Parliament will not countenance leaving without a deal.

The UK will now most likely go into a longer extension of Article 50, and be required to take part in European Parliament elections in May.

The inertia dogging the UK will continue to hold us in its grip for many months to come, it seems.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Opposition, has demanded Mrs May’s immediate resignation and a general election to break the deadlock. He has been supported in this call by Ian Blackford, leader of the SNP in the House of Commons.

She won’t do it, because as a Tory she would never accept the possibility of losing power. But until she does, the UK will not have a functioning government.

The conclusion is obvious:

The problem is Theresa May. No progress will be made as long as she stays in Downing Street and denies democracy.


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Raab resigns, McVey quits: May’s Brexit ‘deal’ throws her government over a cliff

Theresa May: Staring over the edge of the cliff.

It should have been a moment of triumph – the announcement of an agreement with the 27 nations remaining in the EU over the manner of the UK’s departure from that bloc. Instead, Theresa May’s government is on the point of collapse.

Dominic Raab.

Dominic Raab – the man who, as Brexit Secretary, admitted he had no idea how important the Dover-Calais crossing was to the UK’s trade – resigned this morning (November 15), saying the deal agreed by Mrs May – not by him – could lead to the break-up of the UK as it offers Northern Ireland special treatment, and makes it impossible to negotiate trade deals with other countries as we will remain in a customs union with the EU indefinitely.

Esther McVey: She was probably glad to have an excuse to quit as Work and Pensions secretary.

Esther McVey has also quit, saying the deal does not offer the Brexit that the Conservative government had promised.

And condemnation of the deal in Parliament – when Mrs May tried to persuade MPs to support it – was almost universal.

Labour opposes it because it does not meet any of that party’s six tests.

Labour’s pro-Brexit rebels won’t support it because they see it as a capitulation to all of the EU’s demands.

The DUP can’t support it because of the way it addresses the Northern Ireland border issue – creating fears of a reunification vote with the Republic of Ireland.

The SNP won’t support it because the deal doesn’t mention Scotland once.

Tory Brexiters won’t support it because they say Mrs May lied about what the deal would do – she has betrayed them.

Jacob Rees-Mogg even voiced an intention to trigger a “no confidence” vote against Theresa May during the debate in the Commons – in harsh contrast to her own appeal for support.

And government resignations are still happening. Three MPs in minor positions have also resigned, including Suella Braverman, who had been vociferous in support of the Tory government’s Brexit policy. Northern Ireland office junior minister Shailesh Vara has also gone.

Mrs May is now in an impossible position.

Her deal with the EU has been agreed – she can’t go back on it.

But the Parliamentary numbers are against her. She cannot win the vote.

Her own leadership is at issue and she may face a challenge within days.

And her government’s ability to act in the national interest has been trashed. It may not last beyond the vote on the deal.

Mrs May, the Conservatives and the Brexit process are standing on the edge of a cliff. Is this the end – for all of them?

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Labour to vote against Brexit deal, Emily Thornberry says – but will Tories really rebel?

Emily Thornberry: This is the image the FT chose to accompany its story – with the shadow Foreign Secretary apparently raising two fingers to Mrs May.

Haven’t we been here before?

While it seems likely that all Labour MPs – even the Brexiters – may follow the party whip in a bid to force a general election, I’m not sure they can rely on the so-called Tory rebels to do the same.

Conservatives are notorious for being spineless when faced with a choice between standing up for their principles and hanging on to power.

The task for Labour is to convince the Conservatives who oppose Mrs May’s ‘Chequers’ plan that Brexit under a Labour government is likely to offer better prospects for them – personally – in the long term.

Is that achievable?

The UK’s opposition Labour party is set to vote against Theresa May’s Brexit deal, according to one of Jeremy Corbyn’s most senior colleagues, who predicts that the lack of a viable exit from the EU would lead to the prime minister being forced from office before Christmas.

Emily Thornberry, shadow foreign secretary, told the Financial Times that a workable deal was “just not going to happen” under Mrs May.

She said there would need to be a general election within months given the likelihood that the prime minister would be defeated on the crucial vote on any Brexit deal.

Labour’s opposition to the deal means that it would require as few as 10 Tory MPs — from either the party’s hardline Eurosceptic or pro-EU wings — to defeat the government.

Some Labour Brexiters could still swing behind Mrs May but few would want to avoid a chance to bring down the government.

Already 25 Conservative MPs have pledged to defeat Mrs May’s Chequers blueprint for the UK’s relations with the EU post-Brexit, while several Europhile Conservatives have backed a second Brexit referendum.

Many MPs argue that the prime minister could not survive a defeat on her Brexit deal, which has become the centrepiece of her two years in office.

“It all depends on what Labour does,” said one minister. “If they are going to vote against us then that means she really is in trouble.”

Source: Labour to vote against Brexit deal, Emily Thornberry says | Financial Times

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Netanyahu’s Israel is victimising Jews who don’t support his apartheid regime

Victimised: Simone Zimmerman.

In the words of Jewdas: “The irony of Israel recently crowning itself as the ‘Jewish Nation-State’ at the same time as it is turning away increasing numbers of Jews due to their political views should not be lost on anyone.”

American Jews have good reason to be afraid. Recent interrogations, harassment, and deportation of left-wing Jewish American activists over their political beliefs and activities have ushered in a new political moment in the relationship between Israel and diaspora Jewish communities.

No longer is Jewish identity enough to protect American activists from the reach of the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency. Jewish privilege is no longer enough to guarantee entry into the Jewish state should one’s ideology or political views contradict those of the Israeli government.

When Simone Zimmerman and Abby Kirschbaum were detained and interrogated on their way back from a weekend in Sinai, the Shin Bet and border authority interrogators were almost exclusively interested in why the two wanted to work with Palestinians. They wanted to know about their politics.

A week earlier, when Israeli-American author Moriel Zecher-Rothman was held by the Shin Bet at the airport, an agent warned him against going down a “slippery slope” of anti-occupation activism and demanded he provide intelligence on fellow left-wing activists.

Source: In Israel, American Jews can kiss their privilege goodbye | +972 Magazine

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Redwood warns business leaders: You no longer have a right to free speech over Brexit

John Redwood: To him, Brexit is about YOU doing what you’re told. So much for taking back our freedom.

How kind of John Redwood to give us all a glimpse of the kind of despotism Tories want to inflict on us all – by trying to inflict it on business bosses first.

He has told company executives that they will pay a “very dear economic and financial price” if they dare to criticise the decision to leave the European Union.

So I’d like to encourage the same bosses to do the exact opposite – starting by exposing Redwood as the windbag he is.

As for the rest of us – let’s ask prime minister Theresa May the question posed on Twitter by Professor Ian Donald: “How is it acceptable for one of your MPs to threaten people with losing their jobs if they are pro-EU? Do you ignore the appalling behaviour of back benchers too?”

We know, now, that Leave only won with the help of vote-rigging internet companies, so people like Redwood have absolutely no business trying to bully anyone.

Let’s all look into ways we can do to him what he’s threatening to do to us.

John Redwood has vowed to punish businesses who speak out in favour of Britain remaining in the European Union.

Mr Redwood, one the most senior Tory Eurosceptics, said companies who did not stay silent on the country’s EU membership would pay a “very dear economic and financial price”.

Chief executives who decide to take a corporate position on the issue could lose their jobs while those campaigning against membership would ensure there were financial consequences, Mr Redwood warned.

The former Welsh secretary demanded firms “keep out” of the debate and “beware” not to “meddle in politics”.

Mr Redwood told a fringe event about Britain’s place in the EU that “the only answer for all concerned is for big business to keep out and not express a corporate view”.

Source: Businesses that speak out for Britain’s EU membership will be punished, vows John Redwood – Telegraph


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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