Tag Archives: questions

PMQs: Starmer misses Johnson’s gaping-open goal, allowing the Tory to make a fool of him

Johnson and Starmer: we have a PM for whom the initials more appropriately refer to him as a Performing Monkey, but the ‘forensic’ former Attorney General is incapable of beating him, despite his incompetence.

Keir Starmer’s protestations of support for Tory government anti-Covid policies came back to bite him on the arse in Prime Minister’s Questions.

Two weeks after supporting the government in its decision to close pubs at 10pm, Starmer u-turned, demanding an explanation of the science behind it. He gave Johnson a perfect opportunity to land a knockout blow – and launch a new anti-Labour soundbite:

I was dismayed:

Sadly, that was the way of it for the whole of this week’s PMQs – as I had feared at the outset:

Look at the rest of my commentary on the confrontation:

He didn’t. But Johnson picked up on that failure and it led to the knockout later on.

As I write this, Jo Coburn on the BBC’s Politics Live is suggesting to Labour’s Stephen Doughty that Starmer wrote Johnson “a blank cheque” by offering his support “whatever restrictions are in place”.

That failure – that lack of closure – seems to have given Johnson the confidence to launch his own attack.

I could have done better:

Starmer is under attack at the moment, for his failures to lead an effective Opposition against the Johnson government.

On Twitter, the general public are at each other’s throats with many attacking him under the #StarmerOut hashtag, while others have tried to subvert that with an opposing line, #StarmerOutstanding.

In the real world, the union Unite has withdrawn 10 per cent of its funding because Starmer “isn’t listening” on matters of major importance (I’ll make more of this in a separate article).

If he can’t respond to these criticisms – as he failed to protect himself from Johnson soundbiting him into shreds – then he must seriously reconsider his position.

He is leading Labour into irrelevance.

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Peston’s client journalism: his fawning tweet about ‘saddened’ Johnson gets short shrift

Johnson and Starmer: political hack Robert Peston managed to get between them during PMQs with an ill-judged remark that has singled him out as a client journalist for the PM.

Sometimes you can tell how a nation feels by the way it reacts to the reporting of the news.

That’s what Robert Peston has been discovering after a particularly ill-advised tweet toadying to Boris Johnson. Here it is:

Johnson wasn’t saddened. He was annoyed that Labour leader Keir Starmer was asking pertinent questions about the failure of the Tory Test and Trace system and was desperate to deflect attention away from that failure.

We all saw it – those of us who were watching Prime Minister’s Questions. And some of us had a few sharp responses:

No – it’s client journalism. Peston was working in Johnson’s favour, trying to make the performing monkey PM look better than he is.

It’s a moment’s work that has been particularly damaging for Peston himself:

And it hasn’t done Johnson any favours either:

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‘Desperate’? Boris Johnson is clutching at straws as his party loses faith

Impotent rage: Boris Johnson is losing his grip on his party, as his incompetence as a leader becomes increasingly apparent.

Remember the old adage that repeating an action and expecting a different result is a sign of madness? It seems Boris Johnson hasn’t.

But then we already knew his grip on reality is tenuous at best.

The Observer is reporting that he is furious at the failure of his attempt to smear Labour leader Keir Starmer by connecting him with the IRA.

But rather than finding an alternative, he has instead reprimanded his advisers for leaving him under-prepared – and demanded more attack lines on Starmer, doubling down on criticism of his legal record.

It hasn’t worked; it won’t work.

Even where Starmer may be criticised, he knows those weaknesses and will have answers.

And of course Johnson will be laying himself open to analysis of his own past career – which consists of multiple claims of dishonesty and at least one high-profile sacking.

That won’t play well when he lays himself open to an airing of his faults at PMQs.

Meanwhile, his colleagues in the Conservative Party will be doing what they always do when they see a leader sinking; they’re sharpening their knives. Here’s The Observer:

There is evidence that the wider Tory party is losing faith in Johnson’s ability to lead them against Starmer – and signs that the chancellor Rishi Sunak has become the new favourite of the Conservative grassroots.

According to the latest survey of Tory members by ConservativeHome, the website for party activists, Johnson is now in the bottom third of cabinet ministers in the satisfaction ratings – having been the runaway leader nine months ago.

Johnson has slumped to 19th place, below Baroness Evans, the leader of the House of Lords, with a rating of plus 24.6%. Sunak meanwhile is out in front on plus 82.5%.

The verdict among the Twitterati is that Johnson is self-destructing:

You get the idea.

Who said Johnson would be gone by Christmas?

It seems likely he might be out a lot sooner.

Source: Desperate Boris Johnson to step up personal attacks on Keir Starmer | Politics | The Guardian

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PMQs: here’s how Badmouther Boris got from his exams failure to accusing Keir Starmer of IRA sympathy

Johnson v Starmer: in the PMQs battle-of-words, Starmer came out the clear winner against a prime minister that didn’t seem to know what question he was being asked to answer – let alone how to do it.

Prime ministerial failure Boris Johnson showed us all he had no answers about the ‘A’ level results scandal when he wandered off in the middle of PMQs and started accusing Keir Starmer of sympathising with the IRA – by proxy.

The Labour leader had asked a reasonable question – when did Johnson know that there was a problem with the algorithm used by Ofqual and the Department for Education to produce results, as exams hadn’t taken place?

Johnson’s response was not only an insult to everybody whose results were tainted by the system that upgraded private school pupils and marked down those at state schools – it was a direct attack on Starmer, with no reason.

He was clearly off-balance; he did not know what to say about the exams fiasco – so he groped for an attack on the Labour leader that he (or more likely his team) had clearly prepared in advance.

See for yourself:

This is Johnson’s tactic, it seems: if he’s asked a tricky question, he’ll throw a dead cat on the table.

The barb about supporting the IRA had nothing to do with anything at all – particularly not Keir Starmer who, as he said, prosecuted many terrorists in his former role as a lawyer and as Director of Public Prosecutions.

It was simply a means of distracting attention away from the fact that his government failed ‘A’ level students across the country and he did not have an excuse.

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What was the object Boris Johnson had in his ear during Prime Minister’s Questions?

The offending article: it isn’t a shadow – it’s a device. Was somebody feeding Boris Johnson answers via this earphone [Image from the eagle-eyed Skwawkbox]?

Was Boris Johnson wearing an earphone in his right ear during Prime Minister’s Questions today (June 3)?

If so, who was on the other end and what were they saying to him?

Mechanical aids are forbidden to the PM when he is taking his questions from other members of Parliament. He is expected to be fully briefed before he enters the Commons Chamber – not while proceedings are taking place.

The people of the UK should certainly expect the Speaker’s Office to carry out an investigation into the nature of the device and the purpose to which it was put.

If Johnson needed help, then it shows he isn’t even capable of carrying out the most basic duties of a prime minister.

In that case, it will be time for a vote of ‘no confidence’.

Source: Breaking: Johnson caught using ‘earpiece’ in PMQs – SKWAWKBOX

UPDATE: Skwawkbox is now showing video evidence which suggests Johnson was not wearing a device in his ear. It seems the appearance of a dark object in his right ear, in the image above, is only indicative of the void between it and his left ear after all. But what do you think?

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The BBC’s Andrew Neil has thrown down the gauntlet to Boris Johnson – but there’s a problem

Boris Johnson: Was this his answer to Andrew Neil?

Boris Johnson is a coward.

Having seen Andrew Neil laying into Nicola Sturgeon, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson, he has run away to take selfies with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby rather than face the same fate.

So Mr Neil laid down a direct challenge to him, live on air.

Here it is:

Powerful stuff?

There’s just one problem – as This Writer explained in a tweet to Mr Neil:

It’s a reasonable question, I think. Did any of the other political leaders Mr Neil has interviewed have prior notice of what they would be asked?

I have had no answer.

It seems Mr Johnson isn’t the only one running away from scrutiny.

Source: General election 2019: Full text of Andrew Neil’s challenge to Johnson – BBC News

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Let’s use this yardstick to judge the EHRC’s inquiry into alleged Labour anti-Semitism

 

We should all be indebted to Richard Snell on Facebook.

He has come up with a series of questions the Equality and Human Rights Commission needs to answer, if its investigation into allegations of institutionalised anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is to be given any credence.

The original post can be found here but I’ve pasted it below for posterity:

This is the letter I have sent to David Isaac, Chair of the EHRC:

Dear David Isaac,
I am writing to you in your capacity as Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
I am writing on my own behalf and do not represent any group or organisation.
I understand that the EHRC is now investigating allegations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party. I read that the EHRC will investigate among other things ‘whether unlawful acts have been committed by the Party or its employees or agents.’
That being so, may I hope that it bases its inquiry on the historical definition of anti-Semitism which is a hatred of all Jews and of the whole of Jewish religion and culture, a definition which does not concern itself with any one state and does not discriminate between the different denominations or branches of the Jewish people?
I point this out because the allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party are being made by certain of its members who wish to protect Israel from the criticisms which have followed on from its actions in Palestine. These see fit to associate in the public mind the contemporary and specific criticisms of the modern state of Israel with the long tradition of anti-Semitism which I have described above.
It was to ensure that this equation was regularised that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism was formulated.
I feel therefore it is vital that the EHRC ignores the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism in this context as being politically-motivated, permitting the suppression of criticism of Israel and diverting attention away from the genuine problems many Jews face as they have always faced regardless of their allegiance or lack of it to Israel.
I am myself a Jew, and feel this strongly.
All this being said, then may I also hope that the EHRC asks the following questions in the course of its investigation, questions inspired by the kinds of actions historically taken against Jews by those who oppose them simply because they are Jews, i.e. by genuine anti-Semites?

1. Have any Jews been required to identify themselves as Jews in their application to join the Party?

2. Have any Jews been excluded from the Party on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?

3. Have any Jews been required by the Party to carry or wear something which specifically identifies them as being Jewish?

4. Have any Jews been denied access to meetings, committees or conferences on the sole grounds that they are Jews?

5. Have any Jews been denied the right to stand as officers for, speak at, or in any other way contribute to meetings, committees or conferences, on the sole grounds they are Jews?

6. Have any Jewish officers been denied promotion within the Labour Party on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?

7. Have any Jews been denied membership of the NEC on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?

8. Have any Jews been denied the right to stand as Parliamentary candidates on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?

9. Have any Jews been denied the right to cabinet status on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?

10. Have any Jews ever been denied the right to stand for the Party leadership on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?

11. Is there any part of the Party’s constitution which includes Jews among those social classes of which the Labour Party is critical?

12. Are there any rules in the Party’s rule-book which are specific to Jews, both regarding how they must or must not behave and what kinds of discriminatory actions should be taken against them?

13. Have any representatives of the Party been permitted by the Party to speak or write against Jews in any public forum, or in so doing have claimed that they are speaking on the Party’s behalf?

I am strongly of the opinion that these questions must be asked and answered if the desire of the EHRC is genuinely one of establishing whether or not there is real anti-Semitism in the Party, as against anti-Zionism, which relates only to the state of Israel, does not reflect on the Jewish people as a whole, and is the accepted position of many Jews, including Jewish members of the Labour Party.
Thank you for your consideration,
Yours sincerely,
Richard Snell

While we’re at it, it seems the EHRC has also been asked to investigate Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

How’s that going?

https://twitter.com/LeeFromSwindon/status/1151503332768387074

While I’d need more evidence to agree that Pinsent Masons is a Conservative law firm, I do wonder…

Why is it taking so long for this investigation to get started?

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Grilling for DWP boss over Universal Credit – ‘the most error-riddled of all benefits’

After the DWP’s recent propaganda campaign on Universal Credit “myth-busting”, is it planning to run another, warning about fraud?

That is one of the questions sent to Peter Schofield, the senior civil servant at the Department for Work and Pensions after it was revealed that tens of millions of pounds are being fraudulently claimed in Universal Credit loans.

According to the Parliament.uk website, error and fraud at the DWP are now at their highest levels since records began – according to its own 2018-19 accounts.

Frank Field, chair of the Commons Work and Pensions committee, has written to Mr Schofield with a series of questions about this matter and the revelations behind it.

He said: “In the Department’s fantastical predictions, Universal Credit was supposed to reduce error. Instead it is the most error-riddled of all benefits, and it’s only getting worse.

“DWP wasted billions of pounds of public money on error last year alone but that doesn’t begin to count the human cost. When will DWP get a grip on this escalating problem?”

The letter itself asks:

  • How much money the DWP has paid out in fraudulent Universal Credit advances – and how much it has recovered.
  • When Mr Schofield became aware of concerns about this fraud from frontline staff.
  • What actions his department has taken to prevent this fraud – and what he plans to do in the future.
  • Whether he is satisfied that the department does enough to listen to the concerns of staff and act on them promptly.

And he also raises a question about unfair treatment of the victims of this type of scam.

He writes: “Even when the department is informed that a claim for Universal Credit was fraudulent and made without the claimant’s knowledge or consent, it seems that claimants are being prevented from returning to their legacy benefits—even if they are worse off on Universal Credit.

“What operational guidance do you give to your staff about the handling of cases in which a claim for Universal Credit is made fraudulently, without the claimant’s knowledge or consent?

“What is the legal basis for refusing to allow claimants whose legacy benefits have been stopped because a fraudulent Universal Credit claim has been made in their name from returning to their legacy benefits?”

Tricky questions!

I’m sure we all look forward to Mr Schofield’s answers.

Source: Chair questions DWP on reports of UC fraud – News from Parliament – UK Parliament

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Will Tory MPs still vote for Boris Johnson after he was named a racist in Prime Minister’s Questions?

You bet they will!

That’s right, isn’t it, Tory MPs? You all heard Ian Blackford – correctly – reminding Theresa May that Boris Johnson published a poem stating that the Scottish people are a “verminous” race that should be placed in ghettos and exterminated.

Mr Blackford continued: “Well, of course, words matter and actions matter. The Prime Minister thought that the man who published those words in his magazine was fit for the office of our top diplomat, and he has not stopped there. He has said that Scots should be banned from being Prime Minister—banned from being Prime Minister, Mr Speaker—and that £1 spent in Croydon was worth more than £1 spend in Strathclyde. This is a man who is not fit for office. It has been said, “The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy.” This is a time of challenge, so does the Prime Minister realise that not only is the Member racist, but he is stoking division in communities and has a record of dishonesty?

“He has called Muslim women “letter boxes”, described African people as having “watermelon smiles” and another disgusting slur that I would never dignify by repeating. If that is not racist, I do not know what is. Does the Prime Minister honestly believe that this man is fit for the office of Prime Minister?”

All of the factual information in his questions was accurate.

And although Mr Blackford was accused of using un-Parliamentary language, Commons Speaker John Bercow restricted himself to saying Mr Blackford should have notified Mr Johnson of his intention to make this accusation in advance (he said he had). Later, in response to a point of order, Mr Bercow added: “I think it would be wise for colleagues to bear in mind the general principle that one does not impute dishonour to another Member. That is the first point.

“I think it would be appropriate, in the remaining weeks before the summer recess and before a new leader of the governing party takes office, to have some regard to that for which the Prime Minister is responsible. She is responsible for her own policies and for the conduct of her Government and their administration of their affairs, and it is important that questions should be put with that overarching consideration and ambit of responsibility in mind.”

These are all fair points, with regard to Parliamentary procedure. But the question had been asked – in front of packed Conservative benches – and Theresa May could only answer that “I believe that any future Conservative Prime Minister will be better for Scotland than the Scottish Nationalist Party”.

So, if Mr Johnson does become prime minister, his racism has already won endorsement from his immediate forerunner.

And what about all those Conservatives who heard the question and were then called to vote in the third round of their party’s leader election? More than one-third of these MPs voted for Mr Johnson yesterday (June 18), but could reasonably have excused themselves from any accusation of endorsing racism by saying they did not know about Mr Johnson’s actions.

Today they will have no such excuse.

So, if Mr Johnson wins as many votes in the third round, anyone wishing to accuse a Conservative MP of endorsing racism will have at least a one-in-three chance of being right. It wouldn’t be more accurate because it is, of course, a secret ballot.

But the more votes Mr Johnson gets, the more likely a Conservative MP is to be tarred as a supporter of racism and racist comments.

So the results – when they are announced – should make interesting reading!

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Umunna’s lie gave Theresa May a way to attack Labour. He must resign – or be forced out

Chuka Umunna.

Chuka Umunna must have been giggling behind his hand when Theresa May came out with the following at Prime Minister’s Questions. But who will have the last laugh?

It is clear that Mrs May was using Mr Umunna’s entirely false claim that the Labour Party is “institutionally racist” to attack Labour – at a time when she had no other defence against Jeremy Corbyn’s criticisms of her policies (in this case, Universal Credit).

We all know he’s responsible – and he deserves to be punished.

But Mr Umunna probably thinks he’s free as a bird; as a Labour MP, he gets to say anything he likes and get away with it – it is only Labour members who are censured according to the party rules.

Well, that’s changing.

The whole point of Theresa May’s comment about Labour MPs facing ‘no confidence’ votes is that the party’s members can now censure their MPs (and clearly she thinks this is a bad idea. Conservative Party members should note that this means she favours the ‘top-down’ view of party organisation in which the leaders decide everything and the members show blind obedience at all times).

It is well past time the MP for Streatham was reminded that he represents the Labour Party, and is bound by Labour Party rules.

Rule 2.1.8 clearly states: “No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party.”

I would say lying that the party is “institutionally racist” is prejudicial. I would say helping the Conservative prime minister to attack the Labour Party is grossly detrimental.

If you are a member of Streatham Constituency Labour Party, I would strongly urge you to call for a motion of “no confidence” in Mr Umunna, with a vote to take place at the earliest opportunity. I would suggest you call for the Labour whip to be removed from him and for him to be deselected, so that he may no longer stand as a Parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party.

If you are a Labour Party member who is not in Streatham CLP, I would urge you to email [email protected] and call for Mr Umunna’s suspension pending a full and rigorous investigation of his conduct, past and present, with a view to his possible expulsion under the rule listed above.

Be polite, but remind party officers that behaviour of the kind shown by Mr Umunna has no place in the Labour Party – or in politics.

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