Tag Archives: public

Boris Johnson broke ministerial code on by-election trip – because he can?

He loves it: the overgrown schoolboy that some of us put in charge of the country thinks it’s a terrific wheeze that he can flout the rules in our faces and get away with it.

This is typical of Boris Johnson and his government.

They deliberately break the rules by which we all have to live, just to show us that they can.

If Boris Johnson wrongly used public funds to make a party political visit to Hartlepool ahead of this year’s by-election there, it wasn’t an accident.

Of course, a row has sprung up after the Conservative Party’s spending return did not include the cost of the trip – which was by private jet, let’s all remember:

Johnson flew by private jet from London Stansted to Teesside International Airport, travelling in a motorcade to Middlesbrough, where he conducted official government business promoting a rise in the minimum wage at the DIY store B&Q.

He was then driven to Hartlepool, where he met with the Conservative candidate Jill Mortimer for a visit to the local company Hart Biologicals, supporting her campaign in the constituency.

The pair then visited a nearby housing estate for doorknocking, leafleting, and speaking to residents, the Hartlepool Mail reported.

That afternoon, Johnson flew back from Teesside International Airport to Stansted.

None of the costs of Johnson’s travel by plane or car appear to be included in the spending return, which says the candidate spent nothing on transport.

The Labour Party has demanded an inquiry into the breach of spending rules, which is also a breach of the Ministerial Code (government ministers must not use public money for party political business).

This Writer doesn’t understand why she didn’t take it straight to the police – unless this is tacit acknowledgement that MPs are above the law and the police simply wouldn’t lift a finger.

I wonder also why the Electoral Commission has not become involved, as election spending is a matter for that organisation and failure to declare it properly is also a criminal offence.

Perhaps this is a reason Labour is going so easy on the matter:

That Jeremy Corbyn. How dare he show everybody else up by being honest!

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Why aren’t private health employers already paying MORE than the NHS?

A hospital ward: the NHS employs workers in many more areas than merely medical care – many from private firms. Why aren’t they all on compatible pay rates and why should public funds support pay rises in private firms?

The trade union Unison has said that workers employed by private health companies – that work within the NHS – should not miss out on the three per cent pay rise the government is providing.

I have a problem with this.

We have been told for years that private health firms should be allowed to provide NHS services because they can do so, better than if the NHS offered them in-house.

Surely that should also extend to pay?

If not – as appears to be the case – then doesn’t this prove that privatisation is just a backdoor means of inappropriately funnelling cash to bosses and shareholders, that should be used on health treatments?

Also, if pay rates aren’t equal, then doesn’t this make it possible for employers to set private and public-sector workers against each other?

Finally, if private firms match the pay rise, won’t the money actually come from the UK Treasury – so the increase will be funded by the public, rather than by the private shareholders who should be providing it?

Unison has opened a huge can of worms here. Can anybody think of a solution to these problems?

Source: Union calls on private NHS employers to match public-sector pay rises | NHS | The Guardian

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Johnson’s crony Con club: his government ignored 171 other candidates to employ his chum

Laughing at us: Boris Johnson appointed his former Bullingdon Club colleague to Parliament’s sleaze watchdog, over 171 other applicants. It seems clear he did it to ensure that he would never be found guilty of the many corruption accusations made against him.

We all screamed “foul” when it was revealed that Boris Johnson’s government had appointed his Bullingdon Club chum Ewen Fergusson to Parliament’s sleaze watchdog.

Was he put in the Committee on Standards in Public Life to rubber-stamp Johnson’s offences as being within reasonable standards of behaviour, we asked (or at least, This Writer did).

Now we have more evidence, and it suggests that he was.

Why else would Johnson’s government have appointed his friend over 171 other applicants who were not directly and personally linked to him – in the face of objections that the connection should disqualify Fergusson altogether?

As The Independent puts it,

The longtime friend of the prime minister was appointed to scrutinise him.

By the way: final say on who got the job went to Boris Johnson. He chose his friend for the position.

If you wanted an honest verdict on your own actions, would you appoint a personal friend to provide it? I wouldn’t. My friends would tell me if they thought I was going wrong, but they’d never voluntarily say so to strangers.

And this was pointed out by the Labour Party (even though it shouldn’t have to be):

Labour said friends of the prime minister should be disqualified from the role on the Committee on Standards In Public Life, given the nature of its job scrutinising members of the government, including Mr Johnson.

“Being Boris Johnson’s chum from the Bullingdon Club does not qualify you to sit on the watchdog that is supposed to crack down on sleaze and cronyism in our politics. In fact, it should disqualify you,” deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner told The Independent.

“This appointment is an utter joke, and out of 173 applicants of course the Bullingdon Boy fits the job description of marking the prime minister’s homework.

It is a joke. And next time Johnson gets accused of corruption, and his Bullingdon chum green-lights it, he’ll be the one laughing at all of us.

Source: Government passed over 171 candidates to pick Bullingdon Club ‘chum’ of Boris Johnson for sleaze watchdog role | The Independent

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Why did the Tory government use public money for polls about Opposition politicians?

Dominic Cummings (left): when he was chums with Boris Johnson (right), he ordered civil servants to spend public money on party political polling that should have been funded by the Conservatives, not the nation.

More Tory crony contracts: Ex-Vote Leave boss Dominic Cummings and ex-Vote Leave Downing Street colleague Ben Warner pressurised civil servants to give more than £1.3 million in contracts to polling firm Hanbury Strategy, run by ex-Vote Leave comms chief Paul Stephenson.

Your money was frittered away on Cummings’s Vote Leave friends. And for what?

For party political polling on Labour leader Keir Starmer and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

And emails show Cummings pressuring officials by saying anybody who would “whine” about it should be told the order came from prime minister Boris Johnson.

The emails, published by the Good Law Project (GLP), show civil servants were uncomfortable about the polling, with one saying in May 2020: “Hanbury measure attitudes towards political figures, which they shouldn’t do using government money, but they’ve been asked to and it’s a battle that I think is hard to fight.”

Mr Cummings wrote: “Pls sign off immediately so Paul S can get our large scale polls into field TODAY. Anybody in [the Cabinet Office] whines tell them I ordered it from PM.”

A civil servant wrote: “This all makes me really uncomfortable. Ben Warner wants us to spend £110k of public money per month with the agency who were behind Vote Leave who have no mainstream polling experience.

“And he wants to be in on the call/talking to Hanbury directly. Q is what do we do?”

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner is no angel, as we’ve all discovered, but This Writer thinks she was right when she said, “This has the hallmarks of a racket, not a government acting in the national interest during a pandemic.

“Taxpayers’ money that has been abused in this way should be paid back by the Conservative Party.

“Taxpayers’ money is not the personal cashpoint of Conservative Ministers to dish out to their mates.”

Source: Government used public money for polls about Keir Starmer and Sadiq Khan – Mirror Online

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Tory cronyism: Johnson appoints Bullingdon chum to ethics committee. Contradiction?

Two-fingered salute:: Boris Johnson’s answer to those of us who accuse him of cronyism.

We point out their corruption by taking them to court for giving cash to their cronies, and the Tories simply shrug and do it again.

Boris Johnson has appointed a former Bullingdon Club colleague, Ewen Fergusson, to sit on Whitehall’s “sleaze” watchdog – the Committee on Standards in Public Life.

Is this so his friend can rubber-stamp all Johnson’s own offences as being well within reasonable standards of behaviour?

Questions have already been raised about the appointment, which was approved by Johnson, as you can read in this Guardian article.

And the reaction outside the Tory bubble has been… as one might expect:

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Government appeals court ruling that contract with Gove cronies Public First was unlawful

Backhander: if you know the circumstances of the court case against the government over its contract with Public First, then you will know why I’m using this picture. If not, follow the link in the story to read the details.

After spending half a million pounds defending a decision to give a contract worth only slightly more to friends of Tory minister Michael Gove – and losing – the government intends to spend even more on an appeal.

In June, the High Court ruled that a Tory government decision to award a £560,000 contract to Public First gave rise to “apparent bias” and was unlawful.

Mrs Justice O’Farrell said: “The claimant is entitled to a declaration that the decision of 5 June 2020 to award the contract to Public First gave rise to apparent bias and was unlawful.”

You can read the details of the case here.

Now the Good Law Project – which brought the case to court – has revealed that the government is appealing against the ruling, although the exact grounds for the appeal do not seem clear.

“We think his decision to spend more public money on an appeal is likely to be driven by a desire to postpone a further embarrassing loss in a separate challenge we are bringing,” a statement by the Good Law Project claims.

“We are challenging another lucrative contract awarded to allies of Michael Gove, this time to a company called Hanbury. It was due to be heard later this month but will now be delayed.

“However, the appeal gives us a chance to revivify the arguments … that there was time for a proper competitive tender process and/or no need to give such a long and valuable contract without any tender process.

“All of that having been said, we have to recognise Government spent an extraordinary £500,000+ on a one day hearing below – approximately twice what we managed to raise to fight and win the case. With that in mind, we have decided to reopen our crowdfunding page.”

If you are in a position to donate, you can do so here.

Source: Government is appealing – Good Law Project

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The sordid reason the PUBLIC has been made to pay for Priti Patel’s bullying

Yes, again: I know you’ve seen this image of Patel a lot over the last few days but it’s my favourite at the moment and it sums her up very well.

The Home Office has admitted that it used £370,000 of your money to pay off Sir Philip Rutnam after he took legal action over bullying by Priti Patel.

We know she did engage in bullying because we have Sir Alex Allan’s report to prove it. The now-former government adviser on ministerial standards stated clearly that Priti Patel was guilty of bullying civil servants while a minister in three government departments.

I state that he’s the “now-former” government advisor because – as we all know – prime minister Boris Johnson spat in Allan’s face by overruling his finding, lying that Patel had not broken ministerial standards, and saying she could continue in her job (she should have been sacked).

Meanwhile, Sir Philip had launched court proceedings for constructive dismissal – but against the Home Office rather than Patel.

Perhaps he thought he’d get more money that way. We’ve certainly paid £340,000 plus a £30,000 contribution to his costs.

Patel – the bully who caused all the trouble – has got off free as a bird.

Isn’t it time Tory ministers were made to pay for their own offences?

Source: Home Office spent £370,000 settling Patel bullying claim by top civil servant | The Independent

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Fact-checker: Gove LIED about government contract with his cronies at Public First

Sneaky little critter: Tory liar Michael Gove.

Vox Political vindicated again: This Site stated that the government’s £560,000 contracts with Public First were unlawful and the government was lying about the High Court’s decision, back in June.

Now we have the finding of fact-checker Full Fact to support that conclusion.

As Dorset Eye (and you really should be reading Dorset Eye) wrote:

“During an appearance on Sky News, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove was asked about a recent ruling at the High Court on the government’s decision to award a £560,000 contract to marketing agency Public First during the pandemic. The agency is run by former colleagues of both Mr Gove and Dominic Cummings, the former chief adviser to the Prime Minister.

“In the interview, Mr Gove claimed that “the court found that there was no actual bias in the decision that was taken by others to award this contract […] there was no breach of the ministerial code.”

“That’s wrong. Michael Gove was moving the goalposts in talking about actual bias. The court was asked to determine whether the award of the contract was unlawful because of apparent bias.

“The judge held that the decision making process which led to the award of the contract did give rise to apparent bias, and so was unlawful.”

Tory liars like Gove are sneaky little critters and you have to watch out for these little deceptions.

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Could Boris Johnson be prosecuted under HIS OWN police Bill?

Don’t get your hopes up: remember that government ministers in the UK are automatically above the law and will never be prosecuted for breaking it. There is no rule explicitly saying this but just try to get the police to put one of them in jail.

Wouldn’t it be typically weird of Boris Johnson if he passed an Act of Parliament by which he himself could be imprisoned?

Take a look at this:

So according to Johnson’s own Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, anyone – at all – who commits an act that causes serious harm to the public or a section of the public, recklessly as to whether it will have such a consequence, could be sent to jail for up to 10 years?

Wouldn’t the catalogue of mistakes that has caused at least 150,000 deaths due to Covid-19 qualify as such an act?

Oh, but wait.

Johnson and all his Cabinet ministers are above the law and need never fear prosecution by the police services they own.

(Sorry. I forgot that for a moment.)

What? You thought nobody in the UK is above the law? Think again.

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Crony contract to Tory friends was ‘unlawful’ – but government is lying about the decision

Backhander: the Tory government is still claiming there was nothing wrong with the Public First contract but the High Court’s ruling is final – it was not legal.

The High Court has ruled that a Tory government decision to award a £560,000 contract to friends of a Tory minister and advisor gave rise to “apparent bias” and was unlawful.

The Tories are already trying to spin this by saying there was no suggestion of “actual” bias, and the contract was not awarded due to personal or professional connections between Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings and their friends in Public First, Rachel Wolf and James Frayne. She co-wrote the Conservatives’ 2019 election manifesto and he worked on the campaign to leave the European Union with Cummings.

I don’t know what the Cabinet Office is trying to achieve by saying that. The judge’s ruling is crystal clear: the government broke the law:

Delivering her ruling, Mrs Justice O’Farrell said: “The claimant is entitled to a declaration that the decision of 5 June 2020 to award the contract to Public First gave rise to apparent bias and was unlawful.”

Nothing else matters. Public First and the Cabinet Office can say what they like but the decision to award the contract to Tory cronies was not permitted within the law and that is the end of the matter.

This Site has been reporting on it since July last year, when the contract first became public knowledge.

I wrote at the time: “It’s jobs for the boys, the Old School Tie, and every other example of favouritism you can imagine in the Tory government during the Covid crisis!

“They’re using emergency regulations, that allow services to be commissioned quickly, to pass huge amounts of money to their friends.

“And apparently there’s a conflict of interest as it seems to involve Eurosceptics working on focus group research related to Brexit – parts of the work contracted involved research on public attitudes to Brexit, which is dodgy in a Eurosceptic firm – although a Cabinet Office spokesman said this was a bookkeeping issue. Do you believe that?

“The Tories are using the Covid-19 crisis to funnel public money away from vital services and into their friends’ bank accounts.”

And I quoted The Guardian‘s report which is interesting in that it states the contract was worth £840,000. It’s curious that these amounts always fall when people are in trouble over them – and always rise when public money is being used to pay.

One piece of information that should have been a dead giveaway was the fact that Public First’s registered office is a residential address – a house – in Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire.

Public First was also behind the disastrous plan to bias (there’s that word again) ‘A’ level results against students who didn’t go to Public Schools like Eton.

The collaboration led to the result we all know:

The algorithm used by Ofqual downgraded 40% of the A-level grades assessed by teachers under the process set after the exams were cancelled, leading to a storm of protest from students, parents, school leaders and teachers, that culminated in a complete government U-turn on Monday and the system being scrapped.

Details of this contract were not made public and Ofqual declined to say how much public money had been spent hiring the firm of Tory cronies. It was only later that the organisation had to admit handing over £49,000 of your money to buy poorer results for your children.

Ofqual’s boss at the time, Sally Collier, later resigned – apparently in shame at having given Public First the contract, and at what that firm did with it.

So now here’s the big question: if the contract to Public First was not legal, shouldn’t that money be paid back?

And if so – by whom?

Say what you like about Public First; the work was carried out. Whether it was carried out to an acceptable standard has not been recorded (and the Ofqual experience casts doubt on that) but somebody did the work that was contracted, and we may expect that it was done in good faith.

So, shouldn’t the government minister(s), who broke the law by awarding the contract wrongly, now pay back into public funds at least the £560,000 quoted in the High Court’s judgement?

Matt Hancock, maybe? Or Boris Johnson?

Source: Government acted unlawfully over firm’s £560,000 Covid contract – BBC News

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