Tag Archives: political

Sink, Britain, Sink: The Tories had six years to fix the UK’s flood defences and failed

Builth Wells: This mid-Powys town stood at a relatively high altitude – and under a considerable amount of water in February 2020.

The Environment Agency will have to resort to pumps and temporary flood barriers to ensure thousands of homes are protected this winter, it has been revealed.

According to the National Audit Office,

the Government awarded the Environment Agency £120m extra funding to repair [last year’s] damage, but the Agency will only complete 80 per cent of the work before the end of this year.

This means

one in five damaged flood defences will not be repaired in time for this winter’s stormy weather.

Oh, I know. There’s been a huge crisis to do with a pandemic disease called Covid-19 since the last floods, and it has been taking all the cash that’s available and slowing down maintenance work such as this.

That would be a good excuse.

But the simple fact is that successive Tory governments have had more than six years to stop our homes from flooding and they simply couldn’t be bothered.

To them, it’s a waste of money to take preventative action – even though the cost of fixing the damage is, cumulatively, far more.

I explained the problem in This Site, waaaaaaay back in 2014 [boldings mine, at time of writing this]:

This is a result of bad planning – by water and sewerage companies that have failed to implement successful drainage schemes or to divert floodwater from rivers in order to prevent overflow, and by planning authorities that have allowed housing to be built in the wrong place.

We live in a country where management of the water supply went into private hands several decades ago. When that happened, it became impossible to have any kind of integrated plan to deal with the supply of water, droughts, floods and storage. Water supply became a commodity to be bought and sold by rich people according to the golden rules of capitalism: Invest the minimum; charge the maximum.

So reservoirs have been sold off to foreign water companies, meaning we have no adequate response to droughts. None have been built, meaning we have no adequate response to floods. Concerns about river flooding have been neglected. There has not been the investment in extraction and storage of floodwater that repeated incidents over the last few years have demanded.

The government is reducing its budget for handling these issues. Not only that, but it is delaying implementation of a new policy on drainage.

In short, there is no joined-up thinking.

There will be no joined-up thinking in the future, either – unless the situation is changed radically.

Meanwhile, the cost racked up by the damage is huge – in ruined farmland, in ruined homes and possessions, and blighted lives. And what about the risk of disease that floodwater brings with it? The NHS in England is ill-equipped to deal with any outbreaks, being seriously weakened by the government-sponsored incursions of private, cheap-and-simple health firms.

Something has to give beneath the weight of all this floodwater. Change is vital – from commercial competition to co-operation and co-ordination.

Privatisation of water has failed. It’s time to bring it back under public control.

Is anyone opposed?

It turns out that a majority were not. Reversing the privatisation of water and restoring a joined-up policy is supported by most of the UK’s voting population, according to polls.

In 2012, it was said that 71 per cent of voters wanted renationalisation. By 2018 this had risen to 83 per cent.

But millions of people voted Conservative at the ballot box so water has remained in private hands and the government has refused to stump up the cash to pay for what has become an annual – and therefore predictable – disaster.

The Environment Agency reckons it has a strategy to “build up the resilience of millions more homes and businesses” in the coming years.

What happens if the Tories strip away the funding for it?

Source: Damaged flood defences won’t be repaired in time for this winter’s storms

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Rayner defies EHRC by threatening to suspend ‘thousands’ of Labour members

Angela Rayner (here with her boss Keir Starmer): hypocrites – and very possibly anti-Semites without acknowledging it.

Note to Sienna Rodgers at LabourList: the headline on your report is wrong. It should have read Angela Rayner is a big ol’ hypocrite.

In the article, Rayner states that the findings of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party are not open to debate:

There’s no debating what the EHRC said.

LabourList also reported another statement she made to the Jewish Labour Movement’s conference – insultingly held on the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinians – that she and Keir Starmer attended rather than support the Palestine solidarity event:

If I have to suspend thousands and thousands of members, we will do that.

The two comments are mutually exclusive. The report clearly states that

We have concluded that the practice of political interference was unlawful… The Labour Party should… implement clear rules and guidance that prohibit and sanction political interference in the complaints process.

Her threat to suspend thousands – a warning that the leadership is planning to purge the party of anybody who dissents against its dictatorship – is itself political interference in the process, as it is an attempt to suppress complaints by members against the actions of the leadership of which she is a member. Therefore she is not only debating the legitimacy of the EHRC’s finding; she is ignoring it altogether.

Remember that this is all about the attack on Jeremy Corbyn by Keir Starmer, party general secretary David Evans, and others at the very top of the Labour leadership including Rayner herself, despite the fact that she once said this:

She went from that position to saying that the truth is “unacceptable”:

She is a hypocrite. She has revealed her true colours. She cannot be trusted. She should be ejected from her position of power.

This will be hard because the Labour Party leadership has a well-known track record of rejecting any complaints against its own members and friends, no matter how well-justified they may be.

But we have all seen this behaviour and we are talking about it:

And organisations that formerly wanted Rayner’s support and endorsement are now rejecting her. To be honest, I don’t know if the following tweet was connected with what she said on LabourList, but I anticipate that this is the soft footfall that precedes a stampede:

Oh, and by the way, Labour is not completely irredeemable. Members across the UK did come out in support of Palestine, unlike their treacherous leader and deputy leader. Here’s a tweet from Wales:

Let’s remember that Rayner – and her vile boss Starmer – are saying that they are taking all this action against the good members of their own party because of hurt, harm and injury done to Jewish people in the UK.

What about the harm done to Jewish people who agree with the viewpoint Rayner, Starmer and the others are attacking?

That’s right. These Jews feel that Rayner, Starmer and the others are attacking them. And Rayner, Starmer et al treat them as though they don’t even exist.

Isn’t that attitude a little… you know… anti-Semitic?

Finally, Labour’s deplorable leaders need to acknowledge that this confrontation between them and party members arose because the EHRC found that the leadership had been interfering in investigations of anti-Semitism complaints in order to make it seem that there were more anti-Semites in the party than was the case.

A court found only last week that the process of investigating accusations against This Writer – me, Mike Sivier – was perverted in order to produce a false finding against me.

Labour failed to follow its own investigation procedure. It did not adequately inform me of the nature of the allegations against me (in fact, the party changed those claims as it went on, in order to ‘fix’ the result), and a party officer leaked false claims about me – including a lie that I was a Holocaust denier – to The Sunday Times (which subsequently had to publish a lengthy correction).

And I’m not the only one who has suffered this treatment. The EHRC report found that, of the investigations it examined, no fewer than 60 per cent suffered from bias calculated to discriminate against the respondent – against the person accused of anti-Semitism.

Where are the apologies for lying and smearing us? I still receive abusive messages accusing me of anti-Semitism, even now. It may be that I will continue receiving them for the rest of my life. The Labour Party is to blame for that. Where is the contrition? Where is the apology for that?

Zahawi appointed minister for Covid vaccine deployment – so it’ll be a disaster

Do you really want a National Health Service profiteer and expenses cheat running the deployment of Covid-19 vaccines?

Nadhim Zahawi was among 24 Tory MPs and lords who were found to have links with 15 private healthcare firms that received £1.5 billion of NHS money due to privatisation, between 2012 and 2014.

Before that, in November 2013, it was reported that he had claimed £5,822 expenses for electricity for his riding school stables and a yard manager’s mobile home.

In 2015, he helped ensure that energy companies would not have to pass on price cuts to consumers when wholesale prices fall – meaning your bills stayed high, inflating profits for the bosses of our privatised energy firms.

There’s more – see the image above (which was created several years ago) for some of it.

This is the Tory that Boris Johnson wants to run the vaccination scheme.

He’ll probably have a private company providing the jabs (one in which he has a financial interest, perhaps?) and demand that we pay for them.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg thinks UK citizens are subjects of the Tory government. Not since 1948, baby!

Rees-Mogg: this cartoon makes him look like a fictional character. If he was, he still wouldn’t be acceptable.

The Leader of the House of Commons – Jacob Rees-Mogg – thinks that the rest of the UK’s population are his subjects.

The revelation in a tweet today (November 28), says much about this Tory’s twisted ideology.

And people are right to be angry about it:

The difference is very important because a subject is a person who is under the power of another; Rees-Mogg thinks you are under his power.

A citizen – which is what you actually are – is a member of a mass of free people who, collectively, possess sovereignty. We choose who represents us in Parliament, therefore we are the masters.

Many people believe that UK citizens are subjects – that we must all look up to a master – because it has been said that we are subjects of our monarchy. But this was changed by the 1948 British Nationality Act, which altered our status from “British Subjects” to “Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies”. The definition was further changed in 1981.

Perhaps Rees-Mogg thinks he is above us because we pay tax and he doesn’t – or at least, he hasn’t so far – on the profits of his firm.

His 15 per cent holding of Somerset Capital Management – an investment firm that is working on profiteering on the Covid crisis by buying devalued shares in firms that have struggled as a result of the pandemic but are expected to recover – may have earned him £15 million over the last five years.

But This Writer is told it doesn’t pay Corporation Tax because it is a partnership, meaning the partners (including Rees-Mogg) directly benefit from the profits, and bear the losses. The firm is based in the tax haven of Singapore, however, meaning it has not been required to provide information on its profits to HM Revenue and Customs in the past.

That has changed recently; changes in EU tax law that have been adopted into UK law mean Singapore is now providing that information to HMRC, which will have to decide whether to demand tax from those firms in the future.

But for the time being, Rees-Mogg has been making a killing.

Most of us are not in a position to hold shares in a partnership based in a tax haven, so it seems reasonable to suggest that this is where Rees-Mogg vests his belief in his own superiority.

There, and in his own boneheaded ignorance.

Are you sure you want somebody as vile as this to have any say in your life?

*For clarity, I should make it clear that I know UK citizens have never been subjects of their government. The 1948 Act seemed a handy hook on which to hang Rees-Mogg’s mistake.

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Starmer’s hollow politics: he wanted another referendum last year – now he’ll accept any rotten Brexit

Keir Starmer: hollow man.

What’s wrong with this?

How strange.

Only last year, Starmer was the one who came up with the Brexit policy that lost Labour the 2019 general election, when he demanded that the party must support another referendum on whether to stay in or leave the European Union.

Now – according to a report in The Guardian (I won’t go to The Sun if I can possibly help it),

Keir Starmer is preparing to risk a party rift by throwing Labour’s weight behind a Brexit deal if last-minute negotiations succeed in the coming days.

In what he hopes will be a signal to “red wall” voters that the party has heard them, multiple Labour sources said Starmer, and Cabinet Office shadow minister, Rachel Reeves – who has been liaising with backbenchers on the issue – are minded to impose a three-line whip in support of a deal, subject to the detail.

They have rejected the idea of abstaining or giving MPs a free vote, fearing it would suggest Labour has failed to absorb the lessons of the pasting it took in last December’s general election.

Tony Benn’s immortal comment about weathercocks and signposts springs to mind.

The late, great Benn said some politicians are like signposts – you always know what they stand for and in which direction they want to travel, politically. Others are like weathercocks; they blow with the wind of public opinion.

Starmer is, therefore, a cock.

His current Brexit dilemma could have been avoided if he – and others in Labour – had only worked out an appropriate Labour Party position on the possibility of leaving the European Union before the 2016 referendum but they didn’t.

For more than four years, these creatures have been “triangulating” – trying to work out what policy would be most popular with the voting public in order to pretend that it was what they genuinely believed.

Last year the position may have been slightly more complicated, as it is entirely possible that Starmer had an eye on bidding for the Labour leadership if the party failed to win an election with Jeremy Corbyn as leader, and his decision to demand a referendum may have had something to do with that.

Yes, I wrote it. Somebody had to, and I’m not the only one thinking it:

Now, it seems he is definitely back to triangulating, pretending he wants the same thing as the general public (in this cse the so-called Red Wall voters who defected to the Tories in the face of Starmer’s election Brexit policy.

And we all know it:

Sadly, those of us with an ounce of intelligence know that Starmer is simply leading Labour into another trap. An endorsement of a Tory Brexit will swap long-term harm to the party for an uncertain short-term election gain, and it will signal a capitulation to the Tory narrative on Brexit.

And there’s no need for any of that. Consider:

The smart choice is to abstain:

Even this is unpalatable for Starmer because of his recent behaviour towards votes on Tory government policy, that earned him the nickname “Keir Abstainer”.

Wise observers will take away just one message: that Starmer and his so-called “Centrist” friends are political frauds:

They simply don’t have any policies other than gaining power for themselves. Once they have it, they won’t know what to do with it.

I can demonstrate this with reference to the following:

Well, Starmer now has power within the Labour Party – for the time being, at least. He obtained it by stabbing Jeremy Corbyn in the back over Brexit, and now he doesn’t know what to do with it.

He is a hollowed-out politician – a fraud. He’ll say anything he thinks can advance him and he doesn’t have any political beliefs of his own at all.

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What is the point of Remembrance Day when the government lets down our veterans so badly?

Contempt: at the national Remembrance Day commemoration service in 2019, Boris Johnson showed contempt for our Armed Forces by laying his wreath face-down. Is this merely symptomatic of the Tory government’s attitude to veterans generally?

I pass this on without comment. Do I need to amplify it further?

Disabled ex-armed forces personnel are being let down by the welfare system, with many experiencing stress and anxiety brought on by the struggle to access social security benefits, according to the Royal British Legion.

The charity said frontline Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff were insufficiently aware of their obligations under the armed forces covenant, which requires public services to give special consideration to injured ex-service personnel.

Among the difficulties reported by veterans to a Royal British Legion survey was the failure of benefits officials to understand post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when carrying out and scoring health assessments for disability benefits.

study by a Salford University academic published last year found many armed forces veterans with complex needs reported overwhelmingly negative experiences of universal credit, disability benefits assessments and benefit sanctions.

Source: Disabled veterans being let down by benefits system – Royal British Legion | Benefits | The Guardian

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

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

It seems to me that the headlines should be:

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

But the BBC reckons they are:

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

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

What do you think?

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Labour leader Starmer thought party rules are his toys for coercing the membership; he is badly wrong

We all learned a lot after This Writer’s court victory over the Labour Party on Tuesday, didn’t we?

Yes, I said victory – even though the case was dismissed. I gained more than Labour did.

The court found that Labour had deliberately ignored its own procedures in order to run an investigation that discriminated against me.

We may therefore conclude that Labour’s finding against me in that investigation also discriminated against me, and that the Vox Political articles that the party complained about were not detrimental to the Labour Party, nor were they anti-Semitic in any way.

In other words, any claim that the party ran its complaints system in good faith is utterly discredited.

Furthermore, the court found that this abuse of its own procedures was fully consistent with Labour Party rules – which says to This Writer that the rule book is not fit to be used and should be re-written, preferably by a committee of constituency-based members, with the help of lawyers hired with party funds. No member of Labour’s ruling elite should be allowed to get their fingers into it.

Further evidence of this came on Wednesday (November 25) when it was revealed that Keir Starmer’s Labour elite have tried to pretend there is a rule allowing him to stifle debate on the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn from the Parliamentary Labour Party. There isn’t.

None of the rules specifically forbid the expression of solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn or criticism of the leadership’s political decisions.

A letter from Fraser Welsh (who?), head of internal governance (oh), states: “The Labour Party disciplinary case against the former Leader has now concluded… However… motions around this issue… are providing a flashpoint for the expression of views that undermine the Labour Party’s ability to provide a safe and welcoming space for all members, in particular our Jewish members. Therefore all motions which touch on these issues must be ruled out of order.

“We are aware that this ruling will be questioned, so the following explanation of the powers exercised by the General Secretary, as well as the rationale for this decision may be helpful:

“The Labour Party’s Code of Conduct: Antisemitism and other forms of racism states (Appendix 9 in the Rule Book): “The Labour Party will ensure the party is a welcoming home to members of all communities, with no place for any prejudice or discrimination based on race, ethnicity or religion.”

“Chapter 1 VIII.3.A tasks the NEC to “to uphold and enforce the constitution, rules and standing orders of the Party and to take any action it deems necessary for such purpose…

“Chapter 1 VIII.5 states: “All powers of the NEC may be exercised as the NEC deems appropriate through its elected officers, committees, sub-committees, the General Secretary and other national and regional officials and designated representatives appointed by the NEC or the General Secretary. For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby declared that the NEC shall have the power to delegate its powers to such officers and committees and subcommittees of the NEC and upon such terms as from time to time it shall see fit. Further, it shall be deemed always to have had such power.”

None of the rules mentioned specifically forbid the expression of solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn or criticism of the leadership’s political decisions. And Mr Welsh – deliberately? – omits any evidence in support of his wild claims from his letter, meaning local party leaders have no reason to believe him.

Having just won a court case on the basis that its rules don’t mean Labour has to follow any procedure that isn’t specifically codified in the rule book, the party’s leaders can hardly insist that, in this instance, they do.

And it is encouraging to see so many local parties overruling the diktat from party HQ in order to continuing expressing their support for Jeremy Corbyn, for free speech and for democracy. I’ve been monitoring Twitter and here is a taste of what’s been happening:

Opposition to Starmer’s power grab has extended to the unions, which are not governed by Labour Party rules and can say and do what they like:

It seems the whole Labour movement is turning on Starmer:

Sadly, the Conservatives are doing very well out of the civil war that Starmer has stirred up – and will continue to profit in any forthcoming elections, as long as Starmer and his elites have any power in the Labour Party. Here’s the reason:

The longer this continues, the worse it will get. Labour Party members across the UK have made it clear that they do not accept Starmer’s dictatorship and while the dissent is only a whisper at the moment, it will soon become a roar.

Starmer has put himself in an impossible position. Having abused party rules in a vain attempt to assert dictatorial authority, he is unlikely to accept the democratic decision of members to deny him that authority.

I think, therefore, that Labour members will have to consider what other steps they can take to have him removed. Potential left-wing challengers for the leadership position should start generating support – but should wait until large numbers of CLPs have registered their opposition to Starmer’s activities before demanding an election.

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Sunak’s spending review shows some common sense. But has he put enough cash into it?

Rishi Sunak looking nervous: is he being honest with us? Does he even know?

There were no surprises in the announcements that formed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spending review – but it did mark a major change.

Sunak has abandoned the failed “starve the beast” economic model that was favoured by George Osborne and that caused such economic havoc between 2010 and 2015.

Instead of forcing austerity on the UK by cutting investment, thereby restricting the amount of money passing through the UK economy and shrinking it, creating a spiral of steadily decreasing funds, Sunak has reverted to a tried, tested and effective model.

He has elected to borrow money and use it to pump fresh blood into the economic veins of the country. The question is: can a Tory ever put enough cash into the system?

This Writer was on Twitter during the Chancellor’s speech, and provided my own commentary throughout. I reproduce it here, along with other comments I’ve picked up:

We should all remember that announcements mean nothing; Labour has announced that it will implement all the recommendations of an EHRC review of the way the party handles anti-Semitism complaints but it seems this is because it won’t make any difference to what the party does.

So we need to watch what the Tories do, and check not only the amounts of money they hand out – but who gets it.

The so-called “chumocracy” has had far too much of our money lately and This Writer, for one, fears that they haven’t finished slurping up the blood that keeps our economy alive, vampires that they are.

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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Remember the vaccine that was 90 per cent effective, we were told? That was a MISTAKE

It had to be too good to be true. It was an announcement by Boris Johnson.

The finding that a vaccine developed in Oxford was 90 per cent effective was a mistake caused by a dosing error, it has been revealed:

In the spring, scientists were left baffled as to why participants were experiencing much milder side effects than expected.

When they checked, they found participants had received just half the dose given to 500 adults in earlier safety trials.

Instead of restarting the trial, researchers at Oxford University boosted the initial participants with a full dose while everyone who enrolled later received the full amount.

The so-called “correct” vaccine does was just 62 per cent effective.

Fortunately, it seems to have been a lucky mistake as a lower dose appears to be more effective.

But we’re dealing with Tories here. Let’s not take anything at face value until the Covid crisis is very far behind us.

Source: Dosing error in trials led to Oxford vaccine’s 90 per cent efficacy by accident, say scientists

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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