Tag Archives: Parliament

Will Parliament have the guts to debate this petition to criminalise lying by MPs?

Duper’s delight: This is the smile Boris Johnson wears when he is lying.

One month after Dawn Butler was ejected from Parliament for pointing out – rightly – that prime minister Boris Johnson has lied to MPs “time and time again”, this happens:

A petition calling for dishonesty within the Houses of Parliament to be made a criminal offence has reached the 100,000 signature threshold required for a debate in the House of Commons.

But will the Tory government – whose prime minister is the most prominent liar on the Green Benches – have the guts to host it?

The petition states: “The Government should introduce legislation to make lying in the House of Commons a criminal offence. This would mean that all MPs, including Ministers, would face a serious penalty for knowingly making false statements in the House of Commons, as is the case in a court of law.

“We believe false statements have been made in the House and, although regarded as a “serious offence” in principle, options to challenge this are extremely limited as accusing a member of lying is forbidden in the House.

“Truth in the House of Commons is every bit as important as truth in a court of law and breaches should be treated in a similar way to perjury and carry similar penalties.”

The government has already provided a response, which is mandatory after any petition passes 10,000 signatures: “The Government does not intend to introduce legislation of this nature. MPs must abide by the Code of Conduct and conduct in the Chamber is a matter for the Speaker.

“It is an important principle of the UK Parliament that Members of Parliament are accountable to those who elect them. It is absolutely right that all MPs are fully accountable to their constituents for what they say and do and this is ultimately reflected at the ballot box.”

But MPs are elected only by voters in their constituency – and then go on to disgrace the entire country. We need a mechanism by which anybody – not just local electors – can hold MPs to account and the criminal law should be it. And how, exactly, do constituents hold their representatives accountable?

“Freedom of speech in Parliament is an essential part of our democracy. It is a right that enables Parliament to function freely and fully, ensuring that MPs are able to speak their minds in debates, and to represent their constituents’ views without fear or favour.

“Parliamentary privilege, which includes freedom of speech and the right of both Houses of Parliament to regulate their own affairs, grants certain legal immunities to Members of both Houses to allow them to perform their duties without outside interference.”

Nobody is denying MPs these rights, of course. But freedom of speech is not freedom to lie. And legal immunities do not stretch to immunity from telling the truth.

The simple fact is that, time and time again (as Ms Butler rightly put it), MPs including the prime minister have deliberately and knowingly lied to Parliament and the nation – and they have been allowed to get away with it by a weak regulatory system and a weaker Commons Speaker.

We, the people, require a means by which we may directly hold our representatives to account.

If the petition calling for legislation to install such a means is refused, then Parliament will be admitting that it is corrupt, and that its members should be denied permission to make laws governing the rest of us; they will be demonstrating that they rule for themselves, not the nation.

This Writer would urge you to write to your own MP, demanding they support the demands of the petition and seek the introduction of strong legislation during the next Parliamentary session, to hold all Parliamentarians to account for their lies.

Let’s see how they all try to squirm out of it.

Source: Petition to make lying in parliament a criminal offence passes threshold to be debated by MPs | NationalWorld

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Starmer out-politicked over Johnson’s lies by new Labour recruit Bercow

John Bercow: more imagination and intelligence than Keir Starmer.

Keir Starmer has been trumped in the row over Boris Johnson repeatedly lying to Parliament – by the new recruit he so warmly welcomed only recently.

John Bercow, the former Commons Speaker, said Labour backbencher Dawn Butler was right to claim the prime minister had lied – and called for “absurd” parliamentary rules to be changed so MPs can accuse one another of lying in the chamber.

In a joint article, written with Ms Butler for The Times, he wrote:

“The glaring weakness of the system is that someone lying to tens of millions of citizens knows he or she is protected by an ancient rule.

“They face no sanction. By contrast, an MP with the guts to tell the truth is judged to be in disgrace. It is absurd.”

Contrast this with party leader Starmer’s response, which was to say he agreed with what Ms Butler had said – but then to insist that Acting Deputy Speaker Judith Cummins was right to order the Labour MP to leave:

“In fairness to the temporary Speaker, Judith Cummins, who was there – she did the right thing, she followed the rules, because parliament doesn’t allow you to call other parliamentarians liars in the chamber. So I don’t criticise the deputy speaker for what she did.”

And not a word of support for changing the system.

This is just more evidence that Starmer is not fit to lead the Labour Party.

He simply doesn’t have the imagination to realise that rules are not immutable and may be changed – despite the fact that he works in a place where the rules that govern the whole of the UK are changed on a daily basis.

Ms Butler’s claims were factually accurate, by the way – the organisation Full Fact has checked them and supported them.

And just to blow my own trumpet, This Writer got there before either Starmer or Bercow: I wrote to the Speaker’s Office last week, telling current Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle the rule must be changed and that he should spend the summer devising a reasonable replacement.

I have yet to receive a reply, which should explain much about the state of the Speaker’s Office under Hoyle.

Meanwhile Bercow – by making the point that has been obvious to six-year-old chldren – has set himself up, already, as a potential leadership challenger from the right of the Labour Party.

He would be far more likely to succeed than a left-winger,under more ridiculous rules that demand a challenger must have a certain percentage of fellow MPs in support before a ballot can take place.

I don’t think he will challenge – at least, not yet – but this was a positive first step, and right-wingers in the Parliamentary Labour Party will have taken notice.

They won’t have been able to avoid noticing that the leader they backed only 15 months ago, and continued to support with nonsense claims ever since… is useless.

Source: Change ‘absurd’ rules so MPs can accuse each other of lying, says John Bercow | The Independent

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Atkins falsehoods are quietly edited out of Hansard. Will she now be dragged to the Commons to apologise?

Speaker: Lindsay Hoyle in action. He looks fierce in this image – but will he be quite so fierce in defending the reputation of the House of Commons, that Victoria Atkins has so casually besmirched?

After This Site highlighted the fact that the official record of Parliamentary proceedings had been ‘doctored’ to misrepresent Home Office minister Victoria Atkins’s smear against Jeremy Corbyn, we learn today that it has been quietly edited again.

Now the record presents her words as she said them, as this tweet from Leftworks shows:

Sadly, this has been done without a word of apology or explanation from the authorities, and this is not acceptable.

Furthermore, Atkins’s speech means she knowingly lied to Parliament – she misrepresented Jeremy Corbyn as a racist, wrongly using the EHRC investigation of the Labour Party as supporting evidence.

Lying to Parliament is a serious offence, and it is also considered extremely poor behaviour to accuse another member of Parliament in the way Ms Atkins has.

She should be dragged back to the Commons to apologise for her speech and explain why she thought it was acceptable to lie that Jeremy Corbyn was a racist in the same debate where she defended Boris Johnson, the prime minister, against the same charge, despite the many known occasions where he has exhibited such behaviour.

I have written to Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to that effect. Here’s the text of my letter:

I published an article on my website Vox Political yesterday, referring to surreptitious editing of Hansard to misrepresent the debate on the Urgent Question about racism in the social media, in the Commons on July 14.

In that debate, Home Office minister Victoria Atkins stated, “I remind the House of the findings of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission under his [Jeremy Corbyn’s] watch: Labour ‘unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish’.”

This was edited in Hansard with three words added as follows (I have capitalised them for ease of identification): “I remind the House of the findings of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission under his [Jeremy Corbyn’s] watch, TO DETERMINE WHETHER Labour ‘unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish’.”

In the debate, Ms Atkins went on to say, “I will listen to many people about tackling racism and I will work with pretty much anyone, but I will take a long spoon with which to sup with this particular member.”

The effect of her speech as a whole was to falsely present Mr Corbyn, a lifelong campaigner against racism and discrimination of any kind – as I am sure you, being a Labour Party member, are awre – as a racist.

The effect of the editing of Hansard was to corruptly mitigate that falsehood in the record, making it seem she said Labour was only investigated by the EHRC when in fact she presented Labour, and Corbyn, as having been found to have committed the offence stated.

I notice that Hansard has now been surreptitiously edited for a second time, with the offending words removed. I welcome this, although I believe the people of the UK deserve an explanation as to why the falsehoods appeared in the official record in the first place. In fact, I am writing to demand one. How many other falsehoods have been edited into Hansard, unnoticed?

Additionally, the new version makes Ms Atkins’s false claim against Mr Corbyn clear again. It is unacceptable and hypocritical for a UK government minister, who defended the prime minister against allegations of racism in the face of documented historical records of it, to also falsely accuse a former Labour leader of racism in the way she has.

In addition to my demand for an explanation of the editing-in of falsehoods into Hansard, I am therefore also writing to demand that Ms Atkins be brought back to the Commons to apologise for smearing another member of Parliament in the despicable way she has.

Let me make myself clear: I am not requesting these things – I am demanding them. Ms Atkins’s behaviour has seriously harmed the reputation of the House of Commons and if you fail to act, that institution will suffer further reputational harm.

I await your confirmation that you will comply with my wishes and look forward to seeing them carried out.

I don’t expect Hoyle to comply with my demands.

Like all tribes, MPs tend to stick together when they perceive they are being attacked by someone else.

But he knows that this offence has been seen, and he’ll have to record that he received a complaint about it.

Whatever happens next, I think we should all follow some of the prime minister’s advice, and be vigilant.

Let’s make it clear to our MPs that we’re sick of their antics. They were elected to represent us in a responsible way – not to engage in playground insults and lie about it afterwards.

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Why is James Cleverly refusing to talk about UK weapons being used against Palestinians?

James Cleverly: He was once described as “the Tories’ go-to eejit when they need someone to tweet absolute nonsense or defend the indefensible”. Now it seems he’s not even bothering to say anything at all.

Here’s another story that should be all over the BBC’s prime-time news but, for some reason, seems to have been missed by the mostly-Tory news team there.

The information comes from Declassified UK, an independent investigative site run by Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis. This Writer follows Kennard on Twitter and I am impressed by the information he provides and the opinions he puts forward. Therefore I think his site is trustworthy.

Here’s what it says:

Middle East Minister James Cleverly may be breaking the Ministerial Code by failing to answer questions put to him in the House of Commons. The Code demands that ministers have a duty to “be as open as possible with parliament” and to “give accurate and truthful information”.

The questions were about whether military equipment from the UK was used in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in May – which killed 66 Palestinian children.

The best response anybody appears to have received – to 14 questions that Declassified has identified – is that the UK “takes its export control responsibilities very seriously”. That is not an adequate answer.

There is an obvious conclusion to be drawn from this – and I’m sure you don’t need me to spell it out for you.

But Cleverly certainly won’t spell out the facts for all of us unless he is forced to do so.

And, given the huge prominence the Israel-Palestine conflict received in the news during May, the absence of such pressure from mainstream media outlets like the BBC is deeply disturbing.

Britain’s Middle East minister James Cleverly is regularly refusing to provide answers to written questions posed to him by members of parliament, especially on UK arms exports to Israel, contravening House of Commons rules.

Source: Foreign minister James Cleverly accused of breaking UK…

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Is aid cut a Tory bid to inflict avoidable megadeaths on foreigners?

RIP democracy: Boris Johnson cut aid to foreign countries without offering MPs a chance to vote on it. His claim that the law allows such a move is highly debatable. 

The message This Writer took from MPs’ failure to force a vote on reversing foreign aid cuts is that it means there will be hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths in affected countries.

That was said by Tory Andrew Mitchell, who seems to have come a long way since the “BikeGate” controversy.

And the really offensive part was that the decision to cut foreign aid from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of National Income (do they mean Gross Domestic Product?) was taken without allowing Parliament to vote on it.

It was an offence against democracy, because Boris Johnson’s Tory government believes in dictatorship instead.

And (obviously) it believes in finding ways to ensure that as many people as possible die.

Ministers have said it is possible to vary the amount spent without changing the 2015 law that makes the target binding.

But the decision to make the change unilaterally means there is no deadline for restoring that target – meaning the government could leave the cut in place indefinitely.

Isn’t there a more important question to be answered, about what’s being done with this aid money?

Isn’t it important that it should be used to ensure that the nations receiving the money need less and less of it in the future?

Has that been happening? How can we check?

There are many questions to be answered about foreign aid and This Writer hopes the debate on Tuesday (June 8) provides some of the answers.

The joy of it is that the Tory government has shot itself in the foot, whatever happens.

It has already garnered bad publicity over this in the week before the UK hosts the G7 summit.

It will receive more bad publicity with the debate.

And Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has said he wants a substantive vote, which means if Boris Johnson refuses to grant it, he’ll have even more bad publicity.

Source: Foreign aid: Rebel Tories blocked in bid to reverse cuts – BBC News

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Defending the indefensible: Hancock responds to Cummings allegations – with LIES

Liar: Matt Hancock is so incompetent that the web of lies and half-truths he spun before Parliament, in response to Dominic Cummings’s allegations about him, is easily shredded.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been trying to defend himself against claims by former Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings that he should have been sacked for dishonesty and incompetence in the early weeks of the Covid-19 crisis.

It isn’t going well!

Cummings said he called for Matt Hancock to be sacked “almost every day” due to alleged “criminal” behaviour but claimed Boris Johnson was advised to retain the health secretary because “he’s the person you fire when an inquiry comes along”.

He said Hancock should have been fired for “at least 15 to 20 things – including lying to everybody on multiple occasions”.

And he implied that Hancock should face charges of corporate manslaughter for allowing unnecessary deaths.

Cummings accused Hancock of being obsessed with meeting a “stupid” target he set himself to offer 100,000 Covid tests a day and of diverting officials’ attention away from the task Cummings had set them to build a test-and-trace scheme from scratch capable of processing 1m tests a day.

Recalling a major battle in Whitehall, Cummings said he had to call around and tell people “do not do what Hancock says, build the thing properly for the medium-term”. Meanwhile Hancock was telling them to “down tools on this” and “hold tests back so that I can hit my target” in order for him to crow about his success in TV interviews.

Cummings also said he warned the prime minister in February and March that if Hancock was not fired, “we are going to kill people and it’s going to be a catastrophe”.

Turning to the times Cummings said Hancock lied, he recalled that the health secretary blamed Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, for a shortage of personal protective equipment, claiming they had “blocked approvals”. Cummings said he asked Sedwill to investigate to find out if that was correct, and that Sedwill later told him it was “completely untrue”, meaning he had “lost confidence in the secretary of state’s honesty in these meetings”.

Asked if he made a note of Sedwill’s findings, Cummings said yes and promised to supply proof to the two committees quizzing him.

He said there were numerous other examples, also citing Hancock claiming over the summer that “everyone who needed treatment got the treatment they required”.

Cummings claimed: “He knew that was a lie because he’d been briefed by the chief scientific adviser [Sir Patrick Vallance] and the chief medical officer [Prof Chis Whitty] himself about the first peak, and we were told explicitly people did not get the treatment they deserved. Many people were left to die in horrific circumstances.”

It seems Tory MPs leapt to Hancock’s defence, even though it is unlikely they knew any of the facts:

Hancock himself said he didn’t watch Cummings’ testimony because he was busy “saving lives” – attracting a huge amount of ridicule, of which the following is just a part.

We know some of the facts:

Fact-checking by The Guardian states that Dominic Cummings’ claim – that Matt Hancock had said a protective shield would be put around care homes but that this was nonsense – was true.

Responding to MPs’ questions in the House of Commons today, Hancock started by saying the government had met every goal it had set. This is clearly nonsense.

Did the government reach its goal of testing 100,000 people a week by May 1? No – and Hancock lied about it. This Site reported the facts at the time.

Other lies included the claim that Covid-19 vaccines only won swift approval in the UK because the UK is no longer part of the European Union. In fact, the approvals were granted according to EU rules. This Site reported the facts at the time.

He lied that suicides had decreased during the pandemic. This Site reported the facts at the time.

And as late as February this year, he lied that there had never been a national shortage of personal protective equipment. Again, This Site reported the facts at the time.

So his evidence to the Commons didn’t get off to a good start: consciously lying to Parliament is a sacking offence.

He said the government had been straight with MPs and the people. Judging from the evidence above, this is clearly another lie.

He said scientific developments had been followed by ministers – but this is another lie. Boris Johnson admitted lying about “following the science” in February.

He has dodged questions about the “test and trace” fiasco. The government launched a privatised scheme and threw £37 billion at it. Nearly a year later, it still doesn’t work.

He has been asked why there was no national plan for the pandemic, and said that the government has been learning how to respond by dealing with Covid-19. This is dissembling. The Tories do have a national plan for dealing with a pandemic emergency – but it was last updated in 2011 and was hopelessly out-of-date when Covid hit the UK.

This appearance has been a tissue of lies and evasions which even the most cursory fact-check can tear apart with ease.

Hancock was clearly trying to hide the fact that he has failed to handle the Covid-19 crisis with anything like the competence expected of a government minister.

He was also trying to hide the fact that he has lied to Parliament and to the nation on dozens of occasions – by lying yet again.

He has to go. More to the point, the prime minister who protected him has to go as well. When will Boris Johnson face a similar interrogation?

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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Queen’s Speech confirms it: Boris Johnson is renewing his attack on your freedom – because it’s what Britain wanted

Manifesto commitment: the Conservatives made their plan to end democracy clear in their 2019 election manifesto. Every Conservative voter demanded an end to democracy and a slide into dictatorship.

Boris Johnson is getting back to business after the Covid crisis – and his business is stripping you of the liberties and freedoms your ancestors fought hard to win over the last several hundred years.

Be in no doubt: you will have lost most of your rights by the end of this Parliamentary term, and you can thank your Tory-voting neighbour for making it happen.

Included in the Queen’s Speech were announcements that all three main planks of the attack on democracy – listed on Page 48 of the Conservatives’ 2019 manifesto, so everybody who voted Tory absolutely supported them – are still going forward. They are:

  • Removing your right to protest so they can use the police and armed forces to put down any dissent.

  • Imposing dictatorship by ensuring that the courts cannot stop the Tories from breaking the law.

  • Imposing indefinite Conservative government.

The only one of these that has been given prominence by the mainstream media is the last – the planned repeal of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. This has been reported as meaning that Johnson would be able to call elections before his Parliament has served its full five-year term.

But it could also mean that he will allow himself to delay elections indefinitely.

The FTP Act repealed the previous electoral law that allowed prime ministers to call elections at any time during their five-year term, but demanded that they must call an election to be held after five years, no matter what.

So repealing the FTP Act means that unscrupulous prime ministers like Johnson would be able to call elections whenever they liked – or simply neglect to call them at all and remain in power indefinitely.

This is what will happen unless he specifically writes new limitations on Parliamentary terms into his new law. And why would a corrupt liar like Johnson do that when he has a majority of 80 seats in the Commons and can currently do whatever he likes without fear of punishment?

Worse still, the new legislative programme includes more attacks on democracy, the most important being the planned limitation of the right to vote to those who can afford to show the proper photographic identification.

This, Johnson claims, is to stop electoral fraud. You may assume that this is a rampant problem across the UK, but in fact it is practically nonexistent. His plan will strip the vote from around two million people:

Here’s a graph showing the scale of voter fraud as a percentage of all votes cast:

You see the picture?

Further information is available below:

The plan will strip votes from people who are poor and young – in other words, people who will not vote for the Conservatives at the next election. It is corrupt Tory gerrymandering to prevent the voice of the people from being heard at elections.

Typically of the current Tory government, its MPs tried to justify the planned law by lying to us about it. Gillian Keegan, whoever she is, claimed you need photo ID to pick up a parcel from the Post Office – and was put straight in no uncertain terms by fact-checking site Full Fact:

Many of us think valuable Parliamentary time would be better spent preventing the kind of corruption that allowed Tory cronies to gain multi-million pound contracts to provide vital supplies in the fight against Covid-19, that they were totally unable to fulfil. What happened to all that money?

Finally, shall we consider the misplaced priorities of these entitled Tories who have spent more than a decade manslaughtering benefit claimants without feeling any need to reform the system?

Come to that, why isn’t the government introducing plans to end tax evasion? I mention this because the deaths of disabled benefit claimants are linked to the Tory clampdown on claims – the so-called “magic cures” that claimed hundreds of thousands of people were not disabled at all, despite volumes of medical evidence showing they were. These people were unceremoniously stripped of their benefits and many of them subsequently died. The figure of 120,000, quoted above, is a very low estimate.

The Tories spend huge amounts of money every year on their campaign to strip disabled people of their ability to survive. It is a campaign of persecution that has been more successful in eliminating the disabled than the infamous Nazi “Aktion T4” in 1930s and 1940s Germany. In comparison, they spend hardly anything on tracking the rich Tories – let’s not deny it – who have evaded their tax responsibilities in order to squirrel away trillions of pounds in tax havens abroad.

Absent from the new legislative programme are any plans to support the rights of workers with promised reforms to zero-hours contracts and the gig economy, and an end to the practice of “fire and rehire” – terminating workers’ contracts and then demanding they take new contracts with lower pay and fewer privileges:

“Fire and rehire” is a key element of Howard Beckett’s campaign to lead the UK’s largest union, Unite. He was in London to campaign about it while the Queen was delivering her speech:

He has also made the very obvious point that the currrent Labour leadership has no interest in looking after the interests of British workers – because Keir Starmer actually refused to oppose “fire and rehire”.

The oppression goes on and on:

Long-awaited plans for reform of social care – promised by the Tories years ago – went undiscussed. There is no plan for such reforms in the current Parliamentary term.

Admittedly, Andy Burnham is right to say all parties are responsible for allowing social care to fall into the disrepair we have today; New Labour failed to do anything about it too.

And Death Health Secretary Matt Hancock has claimed the government is committed to social care reforms this year – 2021:

He spent the whole of 2020 lying about the severity of Covid-19 and justifying his decisions to award government contracts worth billions of pounds to Tory cronies who couldn’t fulfil them. What are his words worth?

Oh, and before anyone suggests that plans to address the climate crisis show at least some hope for the Tories, they don’t:

For a more detailed attack on the new legislative programme, take a look at Unite’s response (under current leader Len McCluskey). I’m sure other critiques are also available.

Last word can go to Smokey, below, who makes an excellent point despite their inability to spell the word “speech”:

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MPs demand inquiry into Boris Johnson’s ‘failure to be honest’

Opposition parties in the House of Commons are demanding that Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle allow a vote on an inquiry into Boris Johnson’s “consistent failure to be honest” in statements to MPs.

They have no chance of actually securing such an inquiry – the huge Tory(/fascist) majority in Parliament will kill it – but the debate will be hugely embarrassing to a prime minister who lies habitually.

And of course, deliberately lying at the Dispatch Box is Contempt of Parliament – for which the highest penalty is expulsion.

It occurs to This Writer that a viral video by Peter Stefanovic may have something to do with this move, having been viewed more than 11.5 million times.

Here it is – let’s give it a few more:

The letter was organised by the Green MP Caroline Lucas and it has been signed by five other parliamentary party leaders: Ian Blackford (Scottish National party), Sir Ed Davey (Liberal Democrats), Liz Saville Roberts (Plaid Cymru), Colum Eastwood (SDLP) and Stephen Farry (Alliance).

One name is significant for being missing from the list:

The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, was invited to sign the letter, but declined. A party source said Labour did not normally sign up to initiatives launched by other parties.

This is typical Starmerism. He won’t sign up to any good Opposition ideas unless he can claim they come from him – although he has been quite happy to support Johnson’s government policies, no matter how daft.

Perhaps it’s time for genuine Opposition parties to resurrect an old US presidential campaign slogan from 1964, and say: We want a choice, not an echo.

As for Johnson, I can only echo the sentiment voiced by Billy Connolly, above. The Big Yin has always been able to spot a wrong ‘un.

Of course, it means most of the Tories who follow Johnson know exactly what he is and don’t care. Otherwise, they would be admitting they need psychiatric treatment and should not be in their current jobs…

(… although let’s be honest, they probably consider being an MP their second or third job, behind representing whichever private firm has them lobbying the government on its behalf!)

To Billy’s pronouncement, let’s add another piece of advice, for those whose sense of humour encompasses this kind of wit:

Source: Parties call for inquiry into Boris Johnson’s ‘failure to be honest’ | Politics | The Guardian

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Tory corruption is here to stay, judging by the people involved in the Greensill scandal

Snout in the trough (all right – bucket): perhaps the Conservatives should rename themselves the Corruption Party?

A lobbyist is running the Tory government’s inquiry into the Greensill scandal.

A lobbyist is running Parliament’s watchdog on lobbying.

And more people in public life are being identified as employees of the collapsed finance firm Greensill Capital, meaning their loyalties were divided between working for the public good and making profits for this private company. And this is just one firm. How many other MPs, former MPs and people in charge of other public organisations are also enmired in this corruption?

Consider this:

For those who can’t read images well, it says the government review of lobbying is being headed by Nigel Boardman, a consultant with law firm Slaughter & May – which lobbied against tightening lobbying laws.

It seems clear that the ‘fix’ is in – anyone who works for a firm that wants more freedom to lobby the government won’t find any corruption in David Cameron’s activities for Greensill, right?

Now let’s look at how Parliament got into a position where a former prime minister was able to insinuate himself into the corridors of power on behalf of his new employer and influence current ministers to provide Greensill with huge amounts of public money. Why didn’t the lobbying watchdog spot it and put a stop to it?

Here‘s iNews:

A senior member of the Government’s own lobbying watchdog runs his own firm advertising his access to ministers at the highest echelons of power.

Andrew Cumpsty sits on the Government’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), and boasts of his access to Cabinet ministers.

Do you think that might have something to do with how the rot has set in so far?

And then there’s this:

Hogan-Howe – now a Lord, and therefore well-placed to put in a good word for his employers – has only been discovered because of the focus on Greensill.

But how many other firms have their fingers in government pies via members of Parliament they just happen to have in their pockets?

And how much are our MPs and former MPs earning from second (or third, or fourth, or however many) jobs with these organisations?

Yes, there’s a Parliamentary inquiry happening, independently of Boris Johnson’s Slaughter & May-led whitewash, but that won’t go far enough either.

We need a full investigation into the current employment situations of all former MPs. Do they work for firms that have government contracts and, if so, how were those contracts secured?

Let’s find out how deep the rot has set in.

Because if we don’t – and if we don’t then clear it all out – then we may as well accept that Tory corruption is here to stay; it isn’t only part of the fabric of political life – it is the heart of the UK’s politics.

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Every new MP receives briefing on how Tory social security reforms have harmed us – so they can’t say they don’t know

Long-term readers of This Site will remember Mo Stewart, the researcher into the harm being caused to claimants of sickness and disability benefits by successive Conservative governments’ determination to convert the social security system to a for-profit insurance scheme.

Mo spent 10 years researching and writing a book on this subject: Cash Not Care – The Planned Demolition of the UK Welfare State.

After the 2019 general election, she became concerned that the huge new influx of Conservative MPs – along with those from other political parties – were ignorant of the harm that government policies had caused.

So she wrote a briefing paper specifically addressing the issue and sent it to all of them.

Labour’s John McDonnell has apparently offered to arrange a debate on the subject, if possible.

Whether or not that happens, Mo has provided me with a copy of the document so we all have a record of what these MPs should know – and so they won’t be able to plead ignorance.

And here it is:

Social Policy Abused:
The Creation Of Preventable Harm

Executive Summary

The Preventable Harm Project (the Project) ran for ten years and closed in November 2019, with the evidence identified within the Project findings widely promoted during 2019/20. The Project identified the bipartisan political ambition to eventually remove the UK welfare state, to be replaced by private income replacement health insurance. In order to remove the welfare state, it was first necessary to remove the psychological security provided by the welfare state. This was achieved by the adoption of a flawed disability assessment model, and the manipulation of the general public aided by the tabloid press, that successfully demonised claimants of disability benefit(s). Large numbers of suicides linked to the adoption of the Work Capability Assessment are overlooked by the Department for Work and Pensions, and successive Rule 43 ‘prevention of future deaths’ Coroners’ reports, highlighting the link between the Work Capability Assessment and suicides, have also been disregarded. The Work Capability Assessment was fatally flawed by design and should be abolished, and the departmental intimidation of disability benefit claimants should be outlawed.

Introduction: The Creation of Preventable Harm

1. Introduced in 2008 to restrict access to the new Employment and Support Allowance long-term out-of-work disability benefit, the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is a ‘non-medical functional assessment’ that disregards all clinical opinion. Since 2010, the WCA has been linked to the deaths of thousands of chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants who applied for state financial support when unable to work, yet were deemed to be ‘fit for work’ by the fatally flawed WCA.

2. Twelve years since the adoption of the WCA there is an identified and growing mental health crisis within the UK linked to claimants of disability benefit(s), and a disturbing increase in suicides directly linked to the WCA, as identified by published academic research but dismissed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

“The worst thing, I find, is realising that I am forced into looking for a life that I want but have no chance of having. I seriously feel I may kill myself because being sick, having next to no money, no life, no future, no cure, constant pain and constant disapproval defeats me.”

An extract from the ‘Fulfilling Potential? ESA and the fate of the Work-Related Activity Group’ project, conducted by Catherine Hale and published by MIND and the Centre for Welfare Reform.

3. In both 2006 and 2007 the government’s own expert medical panel warned the administration not to adopt the WCA, advising that it was ‘not fit for purpose’ due to the predictable negative impact on public mental health. The expert panel’s clinical opinion was disregarded by the DWP. The removal of clinical opinion from disability assessment using the WCA guaranteed that many of those in greatest need were destined to die, as the state removed the financial and the psychological security of a guaranteed income when unfit to work.

4. There have been two official Rule 43 ‘prevention of future deaths’ Coroners’ reports linking the WCA to suicides, with other Coroners expressing concern at inquests due to the identified enforced suffering of the deceased by the DWP. Coroners’ official Rule 43 reports and identified concerns are disregarded by the DWP, whose social policy reforms since 2010 created preventable harm to those in greatest need linked to intimidation. The constant threat of sanctions, which removes all disability benefit income, leaves the chronically ill and disabled community in need of state financial support living in fear of the DWP.

5. Regardless of the Jobcentre being advised that a claimant is unable to attend an interview due to ill health, disabled claimants are routinely met with an ‘institutional reluctance’ to meet their needs, as identified in Coroner’s reports. Jobcentre staff’s decisions to sanction a claimant can cause death by starvation, in C21st UK, when all income is removed for a period of weeks or months. No-one is held to account when some of those in greatest need are starved to death by the state.

6. The WCA is used to limit access to all state disability funding including the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Universal Credit and the War Pensions for older working-age disabled veterans, which is a military medical pension not an out-of-work benefit.

7. The WCA is regularly and inappropriately referred to as a ‘medical assessment’ by the DWP, MPs, academics, policy advisers and journalists. The WCA is not a medical assessment and is totally unrelated to clinical opinion. The adoption of the WCA is identified as being attributed to psychocoercion by successive administrations, to remove what once was the psychological security of the welfare state for anyone who is unfit to work.

8. Identified in 2008 by the American Association of Justice as being the second worst insurance company in America, the corporate insurance giant Unum (Provident) Insurance have been advisers to the UK government since 1992, and were appointed as the official UK government consultants for ‘welfare claims management’ from 1994. Concerned by the increase in various conditions that could not be confirmed by blood tests or x-rays, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, Unum Insurance adopted a biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability assessment, which disregards all clinical opinion.

9. Unum advised the UK government as to how to adopt a similar BPS assessment model in the UK, and funded an assessment centre at Cardiff University for this purpose. The DWP adopted the discredited Waddell-Aylward BPS model of assessment for the WCA, which disregards diagnosis, prognosis, past medical history and prescribed medicines. The human consequences of using the WCA is that many of those in greatest need would die, with many driven to suicide with a common perception that anyone claiming to be unfit to work, and in need of state financial support, will be persecuted by the DWP. The Waddell-Aylward BPS model of assessment failed all academic scrutiny.

Policy recommendations

• Since 2009 every clinical authority in the UK have demanded that the WCA should be abolished. This includes the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Nurses and the British Psychological Society. Introduced by the private health insurance industry, disregarding clinical opinion was always dangerous. The WCA is fatally flawed and should be abolished without further delay, to be replaced with a disability assessment that considers clinical opinion, with many assessments being paper-based, so that the chronically ill and disabled community are no longer intimidated by the DWP.

Research findings
• In order to remove the past psychological security provided by the welfare state it was necessary to discredit vast numbers of disability benefit claimants, aided by the tabloid press, which helped to manipulate the British public.
• Social policies were adopted with a fiscal priority whilst disregarding health and wellbeing, which policymakers failed to take into account when recommending policies which were harmful.
• Since 2010 the social policy reforms, and the additional austerity measures, were destined to have a catastrophic and often fatal consequence for many of those in greatest need. Thousands of chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants have died when ‘killed by the state,’ with a 2014 NHS Digital Adult Psychiatry Morbidity Survey report that identified that almost 50 percent of ESA disability benefit claimants had attempted suicide at some point.
• Prosecuted disability hate crimes, including murder, increased by 213 percent between 2010-2016, during the coalition government’s term in office.
• The relationship between physical health and mental health is well documented. The numbers of benefit claimants who have perished due to social policies since 2010 will never be known.
• Published in September 2016 ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’ provides the results of the first six years of independent disability studies research for the Preventable Harm Project. The book is now recommended reading for various social policy, health and legal courses at universities in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

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