Tag Archives: raid

Sunak threatens tax raid in yet another Tory u-turn

Rishi Sunak: I like this shot because he looks nervous. If I was in his position, asking Tory backbenchers to raise taxes, I’d be nervous too.

This won’t play well with the Tory backbenchers: after u-turn after u-turn over Covid-19 and schools, their government is promising yet another u-turn – over tax.

Tories pride themselves on being a tax-cutting party. But Rishi Sunak is said to be threatening not just one but several tax hikes:

And to add insult to injury, the planned policy change means the Conservatives will be mirroring a policy planned by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in its 2019 election manifesto:

And if the voters don’t like it – and they don’t:

… What are Johnson’s already-disgruntled backbenchers going to do?

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Why haven’t police arrested Britain First thugs who raided migrant-housing hotel?

Proud of it: the banner seems to set out the Britain First agenda clearly – racism.

Did Theresa May intend our police to be toothless, back when she cut law enforcement numbers by more than 20,000 in 2016 or thereabouts?

Coppers in the UK now seem far more interested in prosecuting parking and speeding offences than in investigating crimes of violence perpetrated against human beings.

How else could one explain the inability of police services across the UK to stop people who are exempt from wearing face masks in shops from being assaulted by their fellow shoppers, who have no right to do so?

And how else could one explain the ability of Britain First “activists” (read: racists) to raid a hotel housing asylum seekers with impunity?

Cheshire Police were called but by the time anybody turned up, the perpetrators of the harassment had long since departed.

The incursion into the privacy and dignity of the people at the hotel has been roundly condemned by right-thinking people – for example:

But it seems clear that people like the Britain First thugs will feel empowered by the fact that they got away with it – and are likely to get away with it if they do it again.

Apparently the Johnson government has offered protection to hotels housing asylum seekers, but can we really believe that?

It is the jingoistic rhetoric of these Tories – and the Tory governments that came before them – that has made these racists feel entitled to stick their faces where they don’t belong.

And look at the recent behaviour of the Home Office, regarding asylum seekers and the people who stand up for them.

It seems likely that Britain First’s “activists” have been doing exactly what the Johnson government wants.

* I’ve put “activists” in quotation marks because it is interesting to note the way the word is being used. The Home Office attacked “activist lawyers” in a hastily-deleted video tweet last week, and now we see the word again here. What are we to conclude from this use of language?

Source: Far-right Britain First activists branded ‘disgusting’ for raiding hotel housing migrants | London Evening Standard

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Nearly 60,000 dead in UK because of Covid-19 – and Johnson wants to penalise healthcare staff

Read it and weep. First the bad news:

The image above is (according to Chris Giles – economics editor of the Financial Times – on Twitter) a cautious estimate of the number of excess deaths in the UK.

He says the total – as of yesterday – was 59,700. Of these, 51,000 have happened and 8,700 are estimates bringing the official data up to date using evidence from hospitals.

That’s nearly twice as many as the 32,000 or so claimed by your Tory government. And even that figure is appalling because the Tories should have ensured our health service was prepared for it, and didn’t bother.

His report in the FT states:

The official figures from the UK’s statistical agencies are much higher than the daily announcement from the Department of Health and Social Care, which stands at 32,065.

The FT model now estimates that slightly more than 60,000 more people will have died than normal from the start of the outbreak to May 11, based on the excess deaths to date and the latest daily figures from hospital deaths.

At present this is the highest absolute level of excess deaths in Europe, although figures for Italy are not yet comparable because they are only available to the end of March.

Now the ugly news:

Your Tory government is considering freezing the pay of public sector workers – that means doctors and nurses among all the others – in order to pay the £300 billion cost of the coronavirus crisis that its MPs could have prevented if they had made the proper preparations for it over the last few years.

Other proposed measures include tax hikes – so doctors and nurses will be doubly-hit – and a raid on the national pension fund.

Here’s The Independent:

A confidential treasury assessment cited by The Daily Telegraph is reported to say the UK’s deficit could reach heights of £337bn this year due to the government’s attempts to keep the economy afloat during the crisis.

The paper added that the government document said measures including income tax hikes, a public sector pay freeze and the end of the triple lock on pensions may be required to fund the debt.

Proposing to end the triple lock, a guarantee to increase to the state pension every year based on whatever is highest out of inflation, average earnings or a minimum of 2.5 per cent, has proved controversial in the past – with many citing it as a catastrophic moment in the run up to Theresa May’s underwhelming 2017 election performance.

And a freeze to the public sector pay – potentially impacting the healthcare workers who have been on the front lines of the response to the virus – is also likely to cause consternation from the public and across the political spectrum.

How do you feel about this plan by the Tories to make healthcare staff and pensioners pay for the Tories’ mistakes?

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It’s time the Tories gave up the billions they’ve been creaming from the miners’ pension fund

MPs are demanding a new settlement for the miners’ pension fund [Image: Getty].


We can all tell the 1990s deal was written by a Conservative government, can’t we?

Of course it’s scandalous that the government is taking so much from miners’ pension pot – and you can bet ministers will claim the state needs the money.

Meanwhile the government has plans to cut Corporation Tax and higher-rate Income Tax – and you can bet ministers will claim that the state doesn’t need the money.

Because, you see, the state only needs poor people’s money.

Sickening. The Tories brutalised the miners in the 1980s and they’ve been doing it ever since. Let’s get a better deal.

MPs will tomorrow call on Business Secretary Greg Clark to give former miners a fair share of their pension fund .

Mr Clark will asked to end the “scandal” that has seen the Government receive nearly £3.4billion from the Mineworkers’ pension scheme.

Under an arrangement struck when British Coal was privatised in the 1990s any surplus in the fund is split 50-50 between the scheme’s members and the government.

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Just to be awkward, Russia is bombing Syria

This is about the least-distressing image I could find to describe the situation in Syria.

This is about the least-distressing image I could find to describe the situation in Syria [Image: BBC].

Russia is bombing parts of Syria in raids that appear to have been planned, not to relieve the suffering of innocent people there, but to cause logistical and diplomatic problems for the USA and its allies.

According to the BBC, Russia has claimed it is targeting Islamic State, but a US official has said none of the targets appear to be in IS-held territory. War planes have attacked what appears to be territory held by rebels against Syrian President Assad in the Homs and Hama provinces.

This has created serious complications in what are already seriously-complicated hostilities.

Russia gave the US an hour’s notice that it would be launching air strikes, along with a demand that America and its allies, in effect, get out of the way – but we don’t know who the targets are.

America is, in its usual bullish manner, saying it won’t halt any of the operations it has already planned with its own allies.

This makes it possible that US and Russian forces will end up shooting each other – even if they say they don’t mean to. Americans have an extremely poor record in this regards – as their British allies in the Second Gulf War learned to their cost.

In the midst of all this, the UK’s damned-fool Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, has asserted that this country will continue bombing IS, in Syria, for “as long as it takes” – even though the Conservative Government has no Parliamentary mandate to do anything of the kind.

MPs rejected military action in Syria, almost exactly two years ago. They have since approved strikes against IS in Iraq, but the ban on raids in Syria is technically still in force. Our personnel should not be there.

In the light of the new development, there is even more reason for the UK to pull out of Syria – but of course our Defence Secretary is a damned fool.

This is a situation that could escalate into a shooting war between America and Russia, if damned fools like him are allowed to continue running around like bulls in front of red rags. That should be the last thing anybody wants – but do you see anybody trying to stop it?

And what about the innocent parties in all this – the Syrian citizens who just want to be left in peace? Nobody seems to care about them, even though the addition of Russia into this apocalyptic mess means even more refugees streaming into Europe.

If anybody has any ideas about how to restore sanity, could they please make those ideas known – before we’re all blown to smithereens?

It all makes the fuss over Jeremy Corbyn saying he would not launch a nuclear missile look a bit silly, doesn’t it?

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Are the paedophilia probes getting too close to the Tories?

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Blocked for 11 months: The Mail on Sunday describes how the Conservative-run Cabinet Office tried to hide information about paedophilia in the corridors of power.

According to Labour’s Simon Danczuk, the government is refusing to publish at least four files on historic child abuse because it is worried about what information may be revealed ahead of May’s general election.

Oh really? This suggests that the facts must be more damaging than any speculation. We all know that leading Conservative MPs, including at least one cabinet minister from the Thatcher era, have been implicated in the ongoing paedophile investigation.

Yesterday we learned that then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had been told about child abuse allegations relating to the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith, but still gave him a knighthood in 1988.

And the Daily Mirror, together with investigative news site Exaro, has revealed that police have raided the London and North Yorkshire homes of the late Leon Brittan as part of Operation Midland – set up to ­investigate historic claims of child abuse by a group of powerful men.

The Mail on Sunday report states that the Cabinet Office – run by Conservative Francis Maude – repeatedly blocked attempts to see documents about Cyril Smith, and only relented under threat of High Court action.

It said David Cameron and Nick Clegg have both been accused of colluding in the cover-up.

Mr Danczuk told the paper: “Nick Clegg and David Cameron have colluded in covering this up. It involves their people and we should not have to learn about this piecemeal because of journalists pestering for information.

“Both men need to come clean and make a personal commitment to revealing everything that is now held by Government departments.

“The Prime Minister promised there would be no stone unturned into the inquiry of historic sex abuse in Westminster. But the Cabinet Office seems to be doing the opposite.

“Clegg, who sits in this department, has already written to me refusing to carry out an investigation into who knew what about Cyril Smith in his party and it’s disappointing to see the Cabinet Office continuing this unhelpful approach.”

This is not the only information being withheld by the government prior to the general election. It is known that Jeremy Hunt is holding back a highly critical report on NHS management – apparently for political reasons.

Iain Duncan Smith is withholding information on the full cost of his disastrous Universal Credit vanity project until after the election.

And of course the government is refusing to reveal how many sick and disabled people its vicious ‘welfare reforms’ have killed off – as reported in this blog last month, and many times in the past.

Didn’t David Cameron say his would be the most open government ever, ushering in a new era of transparency? Yes he did.

What a shame this most evasive of all governments is working so hard to hide the information people need, if they are to make the right choice at the general election.

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The Tories have run out of momentum, ideas and even arguments

Old Labour: Oversaw the longest periods of economic growth in British history and DIDN'T cause the biggest crash (that was neoliberalism, beloved of Conservatives). There is nothing wrong with it.

Old Labour: Oversaw the longest periods of economic growth in British history and DIDN’T cause the biggest crash (that was neoliberalism, beloved of Conservatives). There is nothing wrong with it.

Dear old Fraser Nelson has been trying to generate some momentum against Ed Miliband’s plans for a Labour government.

But, bless ‘im, not only did he hit the nail on the head when he wrote (in The Spectator), “Tories seem to have lost interest in ideas”, he might just as well have been talking about the Tory press because – other than the parts in which he praises Miliband for his political acumen and perception, Fraser has nothing new to say at all.

“Why, if he is such a joke, has Labour led in the opinion polls for three years solidly? And why has he been the bookmakers’ favourite to win the next general election for even longer?” These are the questions Fraser asks, and then goes on to answer in the most glowing terms possible.

“His agenda is clear, radical, populist and … popular. His speeches are intellectually coherent, and clearly address the new problems of inequality,” writes Fraser.

“His analysis is potent because he correctly identifies the problem. There is [a] major problem with the recovery, he says, in that the spoils are going to the richest, and it’s time to act… George Osborne does not talk about this. He prefers to avoid the wider issue of inequality. This leaves one of the most interesting debates of our times entirely open to Miliband.”

All of the above is a gift to the Labour leadership. Fraser has scored a huge own-goal by admitting the Labour leader – far from being “a joke”, has correctly identified the problem and can say what he likes because the Tories won’t even discuss it!

Worse still (for Fraser), he seems to think that telling us Ed Miliband is mining Labour’s past policies to get future success will put us off.

Hasn’t anybody told Fraser – yet – that it is current neoliberal policies, as practised by both Labour and the Tories, that caused the crash of 2007 onwards? With that as our context, why not go back and resurrect policies that offer a plausible alternative?

As a Conservative, Fraser should appreciate the irony that it is Labour who are now looking at the past to create the future.

“The philosophical underpinning is rehabilitated: that the free enterprise system does not work, and should be put under greater government control,” writes Fraser. “That companies, bankers and markets have buggered up Britain — and it’s time for people, through Big Government, to fight back.” Who could argue with that?

Then Fraser goes into some of those policies, like the plan to revive the 50 per cent tax rate. “But Miliband isn’t taxing for revenue. He’s taxing for the applause of the electorate and he calculates that the more he beats up on bankers and the rich, the louder the masses will cheer.” The answer to that is yes! What’s wrong with that? The Coalition came into office on a ticket that said bankers would pay for the damage they caused, and yet bankers have been among the principal beneficiaries of the ongoing raid on the public finances that the Coalition calls its “long-term economic plan”. In the face of dishonesty on that scale, Fraser should be more surprised that the North hasn’t invaded the Square Mile and strung anybody in a suit up on a lamppost – yet.

Next up, Fraser tries to attack Miliband’s proposed revival of a Kinnock plan for a state-run ‘British Investment Bank’ and two new high street bank chains. To this writer, the prospect of two new, state-run and regulated, banks is a brilliant idea! No more rip-off charges for services that should be free! Investment in growth, rather than short-term profit! And all run the way banks should be run – prudently and with the interests of the customer – rather than the shareholder – at heart. How can Fraser (bless ‘im) argue with that?

Argue he does. He writes: “As Simon Walker, head of the Institute of Directors, put it: ‘The last time the government told a bank what to do, Lloyds was ordered to sell branches to the Co-op’s Reverend Flowers. And we all know how that ended.’ Wrong. European regulators ordered the government (then principle shareholder in Lloyds) to sell the branches, and it happened on the Coalition government’s watch. In fact, George Osborne welcomed the deal. That’s an argument against Conservative mismanagement.

Fraser goes on to claim that Miliband doesn’t care how his bank project will work out – he just wants it done. He’s on an ideological crusade. Again, this provokes comparisons with the Tories that are (for the Tories) extremely uncomfortable. The Tories (and their little yellow Tory Democrat friends) have spent the last four years on an ideological crusade that has robbed the poorest people in the UK of almost everything they have, and are now starting to attack people who are better off (but still not posh enough) – they can hardly criticise Labour for having an ideology of its own.

The line about green policies which cost nine jobs for every four created – in Spain – is risible. Fraser has chosen a country where green policies have not worked well. How are they managing in Scandinavia?

Fraser says Labour’s energy price freeze “magically” makes good a 1983 pledge for everyone to afford adequate heat and light at home – without commenting on the fact that energy companies have been ripping us all off for many years and failing to invest in the future of power generation; they are an example of the worst kind of industrial privatisation.

Fraser says Labour has revived a 1983 demand for “a supply of appropriately qualified teachers” as though that is a bad idea (it isn’t. Bringing in unqualified people to act as teachers in Michael Gove’s silly ‘free schools’ sandpit was the bad idea). Note he says Labour wants “union-approved” qualified teachers – depending on mention of the unions to get a knee-jerk reaction from his readers, no doubt.

Fraser says Miliband attacks “predator” companies – moneylenders who offer short-term loans; people who make fixed-odds betting machines; landowners who stand accused of hoarding and thwarting housebuilding. “When Miliband talks about the future, he says very little about what he’d do with government. He talks about what he’d do to British business. All this amounts to a blitz of regulation, edicts and interference,” he writes.

This is to suggest that “regulation” is a dirty word – a synonym for “interference”. Let’s help Fraser out by suggesting a word he can use instead of “regulation” or “interference”.

That word is “help” – and it exemplifies what regulation is, in fact, about – helping companies to provide the best service possible, with the least possible corruption or profiteering, to ensure that customers get what they want and are happy to come back – boosting prosperity for everybody.

Substitute that word for the others and Fraser’s remaining rhetoric looks very different:

“All this amounts to a blitz of help” evokes the response, about time too!

“[Tristram] Hunt does not pretend that help at this level is being attempted in any free country” begs the question, why not?

While Fraser may have set out to write an assassination piece on Ed Miliband’s Labour, there can be no doubt that he ended up doing the exact opposite. It wasn’t his intention – look at his final few lines: “Miliband is bold enough to think that, in a country midway through the worst recovery in history, there may be a market for all this now. And most terrifyingly of all, he might be right.”

This botched attempt at scaremongering only exposes right-wing ideology for what it is: Out-argued, outclassed and badly out-of-step with the thoughts of the British people.

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