Tag Archives: out

Johnson threatens to remove Tory whip from MPs voting against his Brexit Bill. Deja vu?

Dominic Grieve: here’s a former Attorney General from whom Boris Johnson removed the Conservative whip. Now Geoffrey Cox is facing the same – along with any other Tory MPs who may defy Johnson’s plan to u-turn against his previous policy, breaking international law in the process.

It is indeed reminiscent of last year – but back then, Boris Johnson was trying to coerce his colleagues into voting to uphold his EU Withdrawal Agreement. Now he’s trying to coerce them into voting against it.

What a vacillating political vacuum he is.

He’s gambling on enough of the 2019 Parliamentary intake being so stupid that they think loyalty to their leader is more valuable than loyalty to the law. It isn’t.

The fact is that anybody voting to break international law will have a stain on their reputation for the rest of their life. It will seriously harm their career but Johnson won’t tell them that because he’s too busy forcing them to give him what he wants.

So when Downing Street does this…

… the correct response (and I’m amazed that I’m using this person to present the argument) is this:

I wonder how many of Johnson’s 363 MPs (he is the 364th) actually realise this?

The situation has created contradiction after contradiction:

Plus, of course, if he starts expelling his own MPs, Johnson will make his own position weaker; he won’t have as large a majority in the House of Commons and he will have betrayed the trust of his ministers and backbenchers, who may reasonably expect him to take account of their concerns rather than threatening them.

But in all honesty, it may be too much to ask for enough Tories to defy Johnson’s tyrannical whip.

It would need a minimum of 47 Tories to rebel, and I think they’re too easily-herded.

So this seems likely:

That’s only a stop-gap solution, of course. The Lords cannot stop a Bill becoming law – especially in the face of government with a large Commons majority.

But if they delay it, other developments may render it moot. Trade negotiations are ongoing, and so is the debate within the Conservative Party.

The result of the first vote – today, September 14 – may determine the pattern of future events.

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Should we have any sympathy for Leave-voting farmers facing bankruptcy after ‘No Deal’ Brexit?

Sheep: British farmers voted for Brexit like herds of sheep driven on by the dog. If they had thought for themselves, perhaps they wouldn’t now be facing bankruptcy.

A former chief economist for the National Farmers’ Union has said one in three farms could be driven out of business within five years if Brexit continues without a trade deal with the EU.

According to Farmers Weekly:

Sean Rickard said half of all farms were already unprofitable – and would be even less so after the government phased out direct payments to growers and livestock producers.

The situation would deteriorate further with no deal, he added.

Didn’t these people all vote for Brexit?

This Writer remembers attending pre-referendum meetings here in Mid Wales, with rooms full of Welsh farmers clamouring for the UK to leave the EU as soon as possible.

My recollection is that this was the pattern across the UK.

So it seems to me that they are getting exactly what they wanted.

Source: Farms could fold in no-deal Brexit, warns top economist – Farmers Weekly

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Was ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ really meant to help super-rich Tories get cheap meals at the taxpayer’s expense?

Nadhim Zahawi: this image from a few years ago highlighted his choice to strip people with disabilities of much-needed benefits while guzzling taxpayers’ money in expenses claims. Now fat Nadhim is using our money to guzzle cheap restaurant meals too.

It seems the chief beneficiaries of Rishi Sunak’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme are… his fellow Conservative MPs.

Here’s a tweet from multi-millionaire Jeremy Hunt, confirming that he has been using public money to subsidise a meal:

For all we know, he may have claimed the rest of the cost on expenses…

Also vowing to take full advantage of the public – I mean, public money being put up for the scheme – was another Tory multi-millionaire, Nadhim Zahawi, who told BBC Breakfast:

“I’m looking forward to going out and using the Eat Out to Help Out scheme to make sure me and my family enjoy a nice meal over those few days.”

Asked if he will be having a half price meal, Mr Zahawi said: “I’ll be going out and helping those restaurants in Stratford-on-Avon, in London, wherever I can, of course. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Asked if he could choose to pay full price, he replied: “Well… It’s worth all of us going out and if the Government is supporting the sector, why not?”

It’s exactly as some of us predicted – while poor people starve under the privations forced on them by the Tories’ ridiculous Covid-19 policies, the super-rich are stuffing themselves silly and charging it to the taxpayer.

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Theresa May rules out second referendum despite 700,000 taking to the streets to demand ‘people’s vote’

Worst negotiation: This placard-creator has a point, don’t you think?

I don’t want to say “I told you so”, but…

Theresa May rebuffed demands for a second EU referendum last nightdespite 700,000 protesters taking to the streets demanding a “people’s vote”.

The Prime Minister rejected calls for a fresh poll 48 hours after placard-waving campaigners swarmed on London urging a re-run.

She also raised the possibility of staying tied to EU rules – including freedom of movement – until 2022.

Source: Theresa May rules out second referendum despite 700,000 taking to the streets to demand ‘people’s vote’ – Mirror Online

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Voter ID harms democracy so the Conservatives WILL roll it out, never mind the £20 million cost


It doesn’t matter how many organisations make common-sense arguments to stop the roll-out of voter ID checks.

The Conservatives are in trouble at the ballot box; they’re losing votes badly and need to stop Labour voters having a chance to exercise what should be their democratic right.

That is the reason the Tories have been claiming the voter ID pilot tests during the local elections in May were a glorious success, despite the fact that thousands of legitimate voters were denied access to democracy.

At just five constituencies, 3,981 voters were turned away. The total number of allegations of voter fraud in 2017 – out of a total of 45 million votes cast – was just 28.

There is no way of proving that there was anything wrong with the 3,981 voters who were turned away, so we can only accept that 28 possible instances of voter fraud are known to us.

This means that, at £20 million to roll it out across the UK, the cost to the taxpayer is £700,000 per allegation.

Considering the cost, and the effect on democracy, it’s no wonder the details were released right before Parliament went into summer recess, in a (failed, as usual) bid to hide the plan from the general public.

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, Cat Smith, made the situation perfectly clear: “Wasting tens of millions of pounds on trying to make it harder for people to vote has got to be one of the most stupid ideas ever.”

It is stupid, but only because the Tories have been caught red-handed. But they are unlikely to care because it is unlikely that anybody else will be able to do anything about it.

… I wonder how this would affect the DUP’s vote, if rolled out in Northern Ireland? If it isn’t, of course, the corruption should be obvious to everybody.

Back to Ms Smith: “At a time when our public services are in crisis and thousands of families are having to rely on foodbanks to stave off hunger, it is staggering that the Tories think that they can justify these undemocratic and unaffordable plans,” she added.

“Local authority election teams are already facing huge financial pressures after eight years of extreme Tory cuts and the government has no plans to address these concerns.”

All true.

Back in May, when I wrote about this following the local elections, I stated: “If the Conservatives go ahead with this, based on the evidence we’ve seen, we’ll know they are trying to nobble democracy.”

And we do know, don’t we?

Ministers are facing calls to ditch plans for nationwide voter ID checks as it emerged introducing them at a general election could cost up to £20m – even though there were only 28 cases of polling station impersonations alleged in 2017.

The government has been urged to abandon the contentious proposals, with the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) pointing out that at this rate, the cost could equate to £700,000 per fraud allegation.

Labour has claimed the moves are in danger of locking people out of the democratic process, and critics fear it could disproportionately affect ethnic minorities and the poorest.

It comes after ministers vowed to press ahead with plans to extend trials of the scheme, despite hundreds of people being turned away from the ballot box during tests in several locations during May’s local elections.

Details of the potential cost, which includes the price of hiring and training extra staff to carry out the identification checks, were set out with little fanfare in a Cabinet Office paper released ahead of the summer recess.

Source: Ministers urged to abandon Voter ID as rollout at general election estimated to cost up to £20m | The Independent

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Guardian article reveals scale of Labour prejudice against those accused of anti-Semitism

Jeremy Corbyn: He seems to be the only member of the Labour Party who is immune from false allegations of anti-Semitism.

As This Writer warned, it is now clear that one only has to be accused of anti-Semitism to be “kicked out” of the Labour Party, thanks to the hysteria whipped up by those who see advantage in it.

Jessica Elgot’s recent article in The Guardian referred to “cases” that are “pending” – not people who have been found to be anti-Semites; just those who have been accused. And look at the reaction.

A “party source” is quoted as saying the “antisemitism subgroup” of Labour’s National Executive Committee means “we have the potential to kick people out super fast”. Apparently justice is not a concern.

What kind of person makes such a suggestion?

And what kind of newspaper publishes it as evidence that Labour is taking appropriate action?

The corruption in this system is clear. Allegations of anti-Semitism are being made dishonestly – not to rid Labour of racists but to “kick out” members their accusers simply do not like.

Why else would the NEC have included, in its sheet of charges against me, a directive for the panel hearing my case to find me guilty, no matter what the evidence says?

I have now sent my defence to the Labour Party – all 194 pages of it – and there will be a hearing at some point in the future. I have absolutely no confidence that the interests of justice will be served by it.

That is one reason I am crowdfunding for legal action in a genuine court. I believe this is the only way the facts of the matter will be revealed.

I have a JustGiving page and you are invited to visit it and contribute to the cause.

The Labour Party deserves better than the fake justice its members are being offered.

Leaked Labour disciplinary papers have laid bare the scale of the challenge the party’s governing body faces in tackling antisemitism.

Around 70 cases are believed to be pending. However, the papers reveal only a minority were considered by the NEC because of time constraints.

Another party source said action would ramp up considerably within weeks. “The new code of conduct means we will not have to go to the full NEC disputes committee, but a smaller antisemitism subgroup. It will mean we have the potential to kick people out super fast, instead of waiting months for a full disputes meeting and just getting through 11 of 70.”

Source: Leaked Labour papers reveal scale of challenge to tackle antisemitism | Politics | The Guardian

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The Conservatives are now the Party of Upskirting

Selfie-centred: This has never happened (thank goodness) but it is exactly the kind of thing Sir Christopher Chope was supporting.

The practice of taking photographs of female celebrities’ private parts by pointing a camera up their skirts or dresses has won a ringing endorsement from Conservative backbencher Sir Christopher Chope and his ever-willing henchman Phillip Davies.

Mr Chope filibustered a private members’ bill calling for upskirting to be criminalised. Along with his supporters, he spoke for a total of four hours in order to prevent the legislation from progressing through Parliament.

He has defended this indefensible behaviour by saying he hates private members’ bills – shurely shome mishtake as he has tabled dozens of them himself:

Mr Davies is on the record as a supporter of men’s rights, which he believes are being eroded by feminists. Does he believe men have a right to examine the quality of a lady’s underwear if she doesn’t agree to it?

Prime minister Theresa May has expressed her own dissatisfaction with the outcome:

But she was lying again, I expect. If Mrs May was all that upset about it, she would have punished her errant MPs, perhaps by withdrawing the Tory whip from them.

But that would mean losing her majority in Parliament.

So her hands are tied.

And for all her fine words, her actions show tacit support for what her MPs did.

The official Conservative Party twitter feed also tried to de-legitimise the backbenchers’ point of view as an expression of Tory taste…

… and failed:

On Twitter, some of the usual suspects have been having a fine time satirising the sexists on the Tory benches:

One has to ask, though – why defend this intrusive and demeaning behaviour?

Other than perversion for its own sake, what exactly is the point of upskirting?

What do the paps who profane themselves with this practice possibly hope to find?

A long-lost masterpiece by Van Gogh?

The Titanic sailing back into harbour at long last?

Extraterrestrial life?

No.

The best they can hope to see, no matter how many such photos they take…

… is what Christopher Chope sees every time he looks in a mirror.

Blind man sanctioned because he couldn’t read DWP letter – as Tory minister talks out anti-sanctions Bill

Damian Hinds, defending a sanctions regime that removed disability benefit from a man because he was incapable of reading the instructions the DWP sent him [Image: BBC].

Damian Hinds, defending a sanctions regime that removed disability benefit from a man because he was incapable of reading the instructions the DWP sent him [Image: BBC].

Oh, Britain. Look what you elected.

Yesterday we found out the following:

A severely disabled man had his benefits cut because he didn’t respond to a letter even though he is blind.

Alan Moody, 60, was declared unfit to work by his GP 10 years ago after being diagnosed with cerebellar atazia – a rare genetic brain condition.

Despite this, Alan – from Stanley, Co Durham – was summoned to a Department for Work and Pensions’ work capability assessment to qualify to receive Employment and Support Allowance of around £450 a month.

One of the effects of his condition is blindness and because of this he did not read the letter sent to him by the DWP.

As a result of his non-reply the DWP took the decision… to stop paying the allowance.

On the very same day we learned about the sanction system’s spectacular failure, a DWP minister was telling Parliament there was nothing wrong with it.

Work and Pensions Minister Damian Hinds, answering the second reading debate on the Benefit Claimants Sanctions (Required Assessment) Bill, talked it out, meaning there was no time for a vote and the Bill was not allowed to progress:

Evidence does show that sanctions have a positive effect, he says.

The government ensures that claimants are made aware of the availability of hardship payments, and that these are made within three days, he says.

Mr Hinds says the existing legislation refers to “causes” rather than “reasonable causes” so that discretion can be used to assess whether a person has failed to comply with a condition of their benefits.

As he launches into a line by line response to the bill, the Deputy Speaker calls the debate to order.

Debate on the bill ceases at this point, and although Ms Black asks debate to resume in February, it is unlikely there will be any private members’ time left to return to the bill.

The Bill had been tabled by the SNP’s Mhairi Black, and was supported by Labour – whose Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams spoke in support of it.

She said the sanctions system was a “nonsense” and a “punitive regime”.

Others acquitted themselves much more poorly, like Tory David Nuttall, who allegedly shouted out that benefit claimants were “terrified they might get a job”, then proved less-than-courageous himself by refusing to defend the claim after being challenged over it.

Put it together and any fool can see that the Conservative Government is a national embarrassment that defends incompetence and punishes the worthy. Why did you elect it, Britain?

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Sheffield tree fiasco highlights everything that is bad about contracted-out services

A ‘save me’ sign on tree cut down in Rustlings Road, Sheffield [Image: Danny Lawson/PA].

A ‘save me’ sign on tree cut down in Rustlings Road, Sheffield [Image: Danny Lawson/PA].


No, Nick Clegg, the fight for Sheffield’s trees is not like “something you’d expect to see in Putin’s Russia” – unless you’ve been to Russia recently and know something we don’t.

TV viewers who watched the documentary Who’s Spending Britain’s Billions will know that Sheffield’s Labour-run council has contracted private firm Amey to maintain the city’s roads.

Apparently, Amey promised the contract would “see Sheffield’s roads transformed from some of the worst in the country to the best in the country within the first five years”.

But protesters say this is a front for a plan to chop down as many trees as possible, in order to spend most of the 25-year contract period with much lower maintenance bills than if they had been left in place.

They say the trees are invaluable flood defences and are vital in countering air pollution – but that hasn’t stopped Amey from felling 4,000 trees since the contract was signed, working without proper consultation and motivated by profit.

The council says many of the trees are diseased and that their roots have ruined pavements, making them impassible for wheelchair users and buggies.

For shifty councillors, the joy of a contract with a private company is they never have to divulge the details to members of the public who submit Freedom of Information requests.

But the tactic can backfire. Members of the city’s Labour Party are deserting it in big numbers, quoting the attack on the city’s trees and the council’s devotion to its contract with a company out to profit from it as the reason.

Labour will suffer serious damage in Sheffield if its councillors are allowed to press on with this debacle.

It doesn’t just reflect badly on them; it reflects on the Labour Party as a whole.

What are they thinking?

And now UKIP has a new leader whose stated aim is to invade Labour heartlands, this Labour council is offering Paul Nuttall a ripe and juicy target.

Of course, Nuttall and his party are nothing but a gang of single-issue sub-fascists who are lucky enough to have been able to attract the attention of the BBC and a few other gullible news providers/right-wing media moguls. They won’t win anywhere.

But why erode confidence in Labour when there are possible threats around?

The attitude of Sheffield’s Labour councillors is utterly unfathomable.

Perhaps they need a telephone call from national Labour leaders, to remind them that they owe loyalty to the people – not profit.

Council contractors and police had descended on a particularly desirable street … under the cover of darkness, “dragged” people out of bed to move their cars and detained peaceful protesters – “all to chop down eight trees”, he wrote in a local paper.

So far five people have been arrested in relation to a long-running and increasingly bitter battle over the fate of Sheffield’s trees, including a 70-year old emeritus professor and a 71-year-old retired teacher, both women. On Thursday two men will become the first of the city’s tree protesters to appear in court, charged under trade union legislation, following a protest on 2 November.

One of them, the author and university lecturer Simon Crump, 56, a local Green party member, said he was arrested for protecting a 100-year-old London plane tree on Marden Road in Nether Edge. He said he was locked in a cell for eight hours and that he would have been released sooner but, he claimed, officers could not find the offence he had allegedly committed on the police computer. “It was quite Kafkaesque. I was being imprisoned because they couldn’t work out what to charge me with,” said Crump.

He was subsequently charged under Section 241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, which criminalises anyone who persistently stops someone from carrying out lawful work – in this case tree surgeons contracted by Amey, an outsourcing company, to chop down trees under a controversial contract with the city council.

Source: Sheffield trees dispute prompts ‘scenes you’d expect in Putin’s Russia’ | UK news | The Guardian

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Unrepentant IDS will persecute the sick no matter what the death statistics say

ids-auschwitz-meme

The publication of the DWP’s damped-down death statistics (we’ll be given ratios because the actual number of deaths is too inflammatory, we’re told) will be a victory for those of us who have campaigned for the facts, no matter what they actually say.

If you didn’t know already, the DWP only announced that it would publish these figures on Thursday (August 27) after This Writer supplied his submission to the Information Tribunal on the DWP’s appeal against providing the actual numbers – a submission which included a request to have the appeal struck out on the grounds that it is an abuse of process.

Suddenly the date of publication went from being “before the end of autumn” (according to Priti Patel) to August 27. Clearly the DWP was terrified that it would lose control of events and the public would get accurate information, and acted accordingly.

In short: IDS and his department fell apart like a paper bag in a thunderstorm.

It is impossible to say what the statistics will reveal, when they are finally published (at 9.30am on Thursday, it seems). Perhaps they will provide exhaustive information on the deaths that have taken place, broken down into the groups requested by This Writer and others (it is said to be in response to FoI requests), and also providing information on the causes of the deaths, with appendices containing the raw data used to produce the report.

Alternatively, we could get a dumbed-down piece of fluff that provides as little as possible that can be used to find out the extent of the carnage, but can be waved at us by Iain Duncan Smith as evidence that he has given us what we wanted… and as evidence that any figures demanded by the Information Tribunal are of little consequence.

That is the aim – damage limitation. To make it seem that nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Plausible deniability.

The DWP already believes it has plausible deniability for every dodgy death on its books; no DWP representative can be said to be directly responsible for any of the deaths – they were a consequence of claimants’ illnesses, right? Even the suicides can be claimed as indicative of claimants’ poor mental health – except we know that anyone confessing suicidal thoughts at a work capability assessment is immediately asked why they haven’t already killed themselves.

Not conclusive? Maybe not. But then, that isn’t the only evidence available. It’s all part of a bigger picture.

In December last year, This Blog published a series of articles (here’s one) explaining how the DWP’s behaviour may be equated with the Nazi ‘chequebook euthanasia’ programme that eventually became known as Aktion T4 – a programme that caused the deaths of 70,000 German people with (among other problems) mental illnesses, before its methods were used against entire races the Nazis considered undesirable, in the extermination camps.

“It could be argued that the Coalition Government doesn’t have any blood on its hands. Nobody goes around the United Kingdom subjecting the sick and disabled to so-called ‘mercy’ killings, after all,” I wrote.

“They just subject people – who are already in an unstable frame of mind – to a highly pressurised ‘fitness’ test and then demand to know why, considering their condition, they haven’t killed themselves yet. Then they let those people do all the work themselves.”

On Thursday, it’s just possible that we might find out how successful they’ve been. If there have been more than 70,273 deaths in the last few years, the Conservative Party will have beaten the Nazis.

And Iain Duncan Smith intends to continue. Only this week, he announced a new plan to purge the Employment and Support Allowance benefit bill of mentally ill claimants. He told us “Work is good for your health”.

In fact, if you have a mental illness, work can drive you to an early death via a combination of (among others) stress, anxiety, depression and paranoia.

Duncan Smith’s claim that “Work is good for your health” may therefore be seen as a lie – almost as great a lie as the slogan from which it was adapted.

You’ll be familiar with it: “Work makes you free” – it hangs in its more familiar form of “Arbeit macht frei” over the gates of the Auschwitz extermination camp that Duncan Smith visited in 2009.

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