Tag Archives: redecoration

Tory hypocrisy: they can’t sort out fire safety in your flat after Grenfell, but support huge payments to redecorate Johnson’s

Grenfell: this is what happens when inflammable cladding on tower blocks catches fire. Tenants in many more blocks have had this stuff inflicted on them, and the Tories want to force them to pay to get rid of it.

Isn’t it typical of the Tories that they’re happy to nod through possibly corrupt funding of Boris Johnson’s flat redecoration, but won’t protect people in blocks of flats from fires like that at Grenfell Tower?

They have just been knocked back – yet again – by the House of Lords, who have voted to shield residents of tower blocks from fire safety costs.

MPs had rejected the Lords amendment but, after their fourth defeat on this subject, it will now be reinserted into the bill.

The bill modifies a previous law to clarify that building owners must manage and reduce the risk of fire in their properties.

However, last week the House of Lords added an amendment which sought to ensure building owners do not pass on the costs to leaseholders and tenants until a support scheme is in place.

Housing minister Chris Pincher described the amendment as “ineffective and defective”, claiming that it would prevent any remediation costs from being passed to the leaseholder, even in instances where the cost was very minor – such as replacing a smoke alarm.

As a tenant in a rented property myself, I can inform Mr Pincher that my landlord pays for the cost of replacing the smoke alarm here as a matter of course.

It should not be used as an excuse to continue denying tower block tenants improvements that could save their lives.

And it could – because there are only hours left before the end of the current Parliamentary session, when the Bill will be dropped – unless the Tories decide to carry it over to the next session (which seems unlikely to This Writer).

All of this takes place in the shadow of the row over prime minister Boris Johnson’s own flat. Who pays to replace the smoke alarm there?

Tory MPs would have been happy to let £200,000 be paid, just to redecorate the rooms above 11 Downing Street, with no questions asked.

But members of the public have pointed out that this means they are happier for huge amounts to be paid on a single person’s flat – if that person happens to be one of them – than for cash to be spent on potentially life-saving work for many people.

That’s not a good attitude to have with an election next week.

Source: Grenfell: Government defeated on fire safety costs bill – BBC News

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Let the ridicule pile high: social media destroy Boris Johnson over Downing Street flat redecoration

Loadsamoney: the controversy over Boris Johnson’s flat has concentrated attention on the fact that Tories always find cash for their own benefit, while depriving members of the general public of the funding that a proper government should provide to them.

The Electoral Commission has announced that it is investigating the funding of redecoration work on Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat, saying it has “reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”.

And our friends on the social media have gone into satire overdrive.

Today they have targeted the prime ministerial consort, Carrie Symonds, under the hashtag #CarrieAntoinette – on the grounds that she was the driving force behind the astonishingly-expensive changes.

So we see this:

And, indeed, this:

The claim that Symonds demanded the use of wallpaper costing £840 per roll has been particularly inflammatory:

Many have pointed out the hypocrisy of being funded with huge amounts of cash to pay for the redecoration of a Tory prime minister’s flat, while the Tory government still refuses to fund safety improvements to blocks of flats afflicted with inflammable cladding that makes them as likely to go up in flames as Grenfell Tower (due to decisions by Tories, most likely):

But possibly the best snipe of the lot came from department store chain John Lewis:

The image is of a John Lewis van outside the gates of Downing Street.

The way events are moving, in a few days we’ll be seeing a removal van there.

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Incredible sulk: and Johnson will have a lot to sulk about if MPs tighten rules on lying

Temper, temper: Boris Johnson lost his rag in PMQs over repeated accusations of dishonesty and sleaze. Trouble is, his outburst contained at least one more false claim.

It had to happen at a Prime Minister’s Questions that This Writer didn’t see.

For once, Labour leader Keir Starmer had a good week – but then, with the kind of ammunition he has been provided over the last few days, he could hardly go wrong.

He spent most of his time on the financing of renovations to Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat. Questions over the origin of £60,000 of funding were asked months ago and not answered.

Now, Starmer asked directly whether the money – now pegged at £58,000 – was put up by Lord Brownlow – and Johnson failed to answer directly.

Rather than saying whether Brownlow had any involvement, he simply asserted – repeatedly – that he himself had “covered the cost”.

It would be entirely possible for Johnson to have “covered the cost” after receiving the money from a third party – and the fact that he did not flatly deny any involvement by Brownlow means his claim is meaningless.

But it may be Starmer’s first question that turns out to have been the bigger bear-trap. He asked whether it was true that Johnson had said he would rather have “bodies piled high” than implement another lockdown.

Johnson answered with a categorical “no”, coupled with a demand for Starmer to bring forward any evidence he had.

That may seem fairly straightforward.

But then Starmer said he would follow up on his question in the future.

And then the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford waded into the fray. Acknowledging that MPs aren’t allowed to directly accuse each other of dishonesty, he simply asked Johnson to say whether he is a liar or not.

And Johnson wouldn’t:

As you can see from the clip, first he tried to worm out of answering by querying whether the question was in order – it was.

Then he (again) questioned the evidence of him having done as Blackford (and Starmer) had suggested.

And then he responded that he had not said those words (leading us all to conclude that they may be a close paraphrase of whatever he really said).

Under this kind of pressure, perhaps it should come as no surprise that, while responding to Starmer’s claim that he was “Major Sleaze”*, Johnson underwent what might be described as a “sulk-out” – a two-minute rant that failed to address what he had been asked…

… including another false claim – that Starmer had voted against the Tory government’s Brexit deal.

And this is important, because…

As a result of all these accusations of dishonesty, Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has supported a plan to enforce the rules on misleading Parliament.

Amid a fresh row over the prime minister’s “lies” to MPs, Lindsay Hoyle supported a proposal for the cross-party Commons Procedure Committee to look into “how perceived inaccuracies could be corrected” as quickly as possible.

This could create serious difficulties for Johnson, whose serial lies were mentioned on This Site very recently.

You see, Starmer is right – any minister who knowingly misleads Parliament – including the Prime Minister – is expected to offer their resignation.

If the Procedure Committee puts this expectation on a more formal basis – and Starmer produced the evidence that Johnson did make a comment to the effect that he would rather see multiple deaths than impose a lockdown – then that would signal the end of his premiership.

And it wouldn’t be a day too soon.

*That should be Major Corruption, as reported a few days ago by This Site (and others) – but perhaps Starmer was restricted from saying as much by Parliamentary rules (again).

Source: Boris Johnson Facing Tough New Rules To Force Him To Correct ‘Lies’ To Parliament | HuffPost UK

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Who gave Boris Johnson the money to pay for Downing Street renovation?

Cheese Queen Liz Truss made a very interesting revelation to Andrew Marr about the renovation of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat.

But it wasn’t in what she said – it was in what she didn’t.

Referring to a claim by former prime ministerial advisor Dominic Cummings that Johnson encouraged Tory donors to help pay for the redecoration, she said he had funded the changes himself.

This is entirely in line with what Cummings stated. He said Johnson had planned “to have donors secretly pay for the renovation”. What better way for them to do so than by giving money to Johnson, which he could then pay towards the changes as if the cash had come from him?

You see, when This Site reported on the funding of the redecoration job last month, the issue was why Johnson had not declared the money that had been spent on it. I wrote:

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has been accused of having misled Parliament by failing to provide details of funding for renovations to his official Downing Street flat.

The allegation is that private donations to the Conservative Party totalling £60,000 have been used as part of £200,000 worth of refurbishments to the flat.

If so, it should have been reported to the Electoral Commission, because the Ministerial Code demands that “a statement covering relevant Ministers’ interests will be published twice yearly”. The last such statement appeared last July, eight months ago.

I went on to say it seemed clear that Johnson had knowingly breached the Code in failing to declare the sources of funding for the flat.

That in itself, for MPs, is a resignation-level offence.

If donors had provided the money for this purpose, that would also have put Johnson in breach of the Ministerial Code because it isn’t allowed.

But how would Johnson have been able to afford it, otherwise?

It isn’t very long since we heard Johnson was complaining that his prime ministerial salary wasn’t enough to pay for all his outgoings:

And he suddenly had enough in his back pocket to fork out (allegedly) £60,000 to wallpaper a government-owned flat?

Don’t mock my intelligence, Cheesy Liz.

Source: Boris Johnson covered Downing Street flat renovation from his own pocket, says Liz Truss – BBC News

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Anyone who knowingly misleads Parliament should resign. So why hasn’t Johnson gone?

The double-standards in this story are atrocious.

On one side, we see Nicola Sturgeon. The First Minister of Scotland has been found to have misled Parliament by giving an inaccurate account of meetings with Alex Salmond in 2018.

If an inquiry finds that she knowingly uttered falsehoods, then that is a resignation offence for an elected minister of any government, according to the Ministerial Code, and she should go – without question.

On the other side, we see Boris Johnson. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has been accused of having misled Parliament by failing to provide details of funding for renovations to his official Downing Street flat.

The allegation is that private donations to the Conservative Party totalling £60,000 have been used as part of £200,000 worth of refurbishments to the flat.

If so, it should have been reported to the Electoral Commission, because the Ministerial Code demands that “a statement covering relevant Ministers’ interests will be published twice yearly”. The last such statement appeared last July, eight months ago.

It seems clear that Johnson has knowingly breached the Code in failing to declare the sources of funding for the flat.

So he should resign – right?

But within Parliament there has been no pressure for him to do so, while Tory calls for Sturgeon to take a hike have been punitive in their decibel level.

Labour’s Keir Starmer, despite being a lawyer, has claimed Sturgeon should go whether she knowingly misled Parliament or not – which is another indication that he should not be in politics, let alone running a political party.

10 Downing Street says all appropriate codes were followed, but this rings hollow. What does Allegra Stratton, Johnson’s press secretary, mean by “appropriate”? Something different from the dictionary definition, one would guess.

That’s how Downing Street has explained the other ways Johnson has recently misled Parliament, as I mentioned in a previous article:

After he said there would be no funding cut for the body tasked with improving transport in the north (he’s taking away 40 per cent of its funding), Downing Street tried to suggest he had been talking about transport generally for the north of England.

And after he claimed all Covid-19 contracts had been published and were “on the record” – only to be contradicted by the High Court – a minister said all CANs – Contract Award Notices – had been published. They are not the same thing.

Today’s howler was his claim, in Prime Minister’s Questions, that Keir Starmer had voted against a promise of a 2.1 per cent pay rise for nurses – that his own government is breaking.

The plan was in the NHS Funding Bill last year – which passed without a formal vote because all the main parties supported it. Starmer didn’t need to vote, but if he had, he would have supported the Bill.

Johnson (or rather, Stratton – he’d done his usual runner) eventually came out with a claim that he had been saying Starmer voted against the Queen’s Speech – but the plan wasn’t mentioned in it.

The document Starmer had been waving around at PMQs – and to which he had been referring – was the NHS long-term plan, which was a policy document and not a piece of legislation on which he could have voted.

So it seems clear that Johnson had knowingly misled Parliament but the issue also seems to have gone away because nobody is calling for his resignation over it.

If you’re wondering who did fund the renovation, here‘s openDemocracy:

The Daily Mail has reported that Downing Street allegedly sought to plug the gap in the six-figure refurbishment of the prime ministerial flat using Conservative Party funds. After the party initially paid for part of the refurb, the Mail reports, Conservative Party donor Lord Brownlow gave it £60,000 last autumn to make up the difference.

The Mail also claims that party officials have since been looking for ways to keep the donation anonymous by returning it, and then repeating it through a new ‘Downing Street Trust’ that would conceal the original source.

Lord Brownlow, who served as vice-chairman of the Tory party in 2017-20 and was made a peer in 2019 by Theresa May, is expected to head up this new non-charitable trust.

So the person who allegedly provided this dodgy donation is set to head the organisation dedicated to hushing it up. More corrupt cronyism?

Let’s face it: nobody involved in this is going to come out smelling of roses.

It’s just that Boris Johnson, more than anybody else, is going to be smelling of faeces.

And it will take more than a Union Flag to wipe them away.

Source: Election watchdog quizzes Tory party over funding of PM’s flat makeover – BBC News

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Prepare to sift the substance from the sewage in the Chance(llo)r’s Autumn Statement

131203autumnstatement

[Picture: Vox Political reader Al Reading]

How long has it been since Labour was deemed the party with no policies and no direction? Now it seems the Conservatives have taken up this undesirable label and applied it to themselves (excuse the choice of words) liberally.

Labour’s stand on energy prices sent the Tories scurrying away to find an answer, after they finally realised that baldly claiming nothing could be done was not going to cut any ice.

When they finally came up with something, their answer was to “Cut the green crap” and reduce the environmental levy on energy firms – a u-turn within a u-turn for the party that once proclaimed to the nation, “Vote Blue – Go Green”.

This week they have also u-turned on cigarette packaging – for a second time within a matter of months. Before the summer, the Conservative vision was to safeguard children from smoking by removing packaging for cigarette packets. Then – after coincidentally hiring fag-company lobbyist Lynton Crosby to run their campaigns for them – they decided that the packaging could stay. Now – in the face of a possibly Lords rebellion – they are reversing their position yet again.

This is the context in which Boy Chancellor George Osborne will make his Autumn Statement – and he has already put himself on a sticky wicket before going in to bat.

Remember David Cameron’s massive error of judgement at the Lord Mayor’s banquet a few weeks ago, when he stood behind a gold-plated lectern that could easily be sold off or melted down to help pay of the interest on his government’s ever-increasing borrowing burden, and said austerity was here to stay?

It seems Gideon was eager to follow in his master’s footsteps, stumping up £10.2 MILLION (including VAT at the 20 per cent level that he imposed on us all in 2010) on new furnishings for his Whitehall HQ, from exclusive designers Panik, Ferrious and Senator. One Treasury insider, according to the Daily Mirror, wondered “why we couldn’t have just bought new furniture from Ikea”.

Good question! It is also one that is especially pertinent after it was revealed that Osborne has been calling for last-minute spending cuts from the Home Office and the departments of Justice, Defence, Business and Work and Pensions (yet again), because he will not be able to fund the £2 billion of giveaways announced during the conference season without them.

These include scrapping a rise in petrol duty of almost 2p per litre, free school meals for pupils aged five-to-seven and rewarding marriage in the tax system.

It seems clear that these measures were all unfunded when they were announced, putting the lie to Conservative claims that they have any kind of plan – and ruining their claim that Osborne’s schoolboy-economist austerity idiocy has done anything to improve the UK economy.

Like him or loathe him, Will Hutton in The Guardian had it right when he wrote: “The recovery is the result of the upward swing of the economic cycle finally asserting itself, aided by policies informed by the opposite of what Osborne purports to believe.”

Hutton went on to state that Osborne decided to “borrow from the Keynesian economic locker… never admitting the scale of the philosophic shift, and then claimed victory”. In other words, Osborne is the biggest hypocrite in Westminster (and that’s a huge achievement, considering the state of them all)!

Result: “The public is misinformed – told that austerity worked and, as importantly, the philosophy behind it works too… Thus the Conservative party can be protected from the awful truth that Thatcherism fails.”

Labour MP Michael Meacher is much more scathing (if such a thing is possible). In a Parliamentary debate, quoted in his blog, he told us: “We do have a recovery of sorts, but one that has been generated in exactly the wrong way. It has been generated by consumer borrowing and an incipient bubble, and it is not — I repeat, not — a real, sustainable recovery.”

In other words, the – as Hutton describes it – “eclectic and spatchcocked Keynesianism” employed by Osborne, while superficially useful in the short-term, will cause immense damage over a longer period because he doesn’t understand it and only used it in desperation.

Both Hutton and Meacher agree that a sustainable recovery can only come from what Meacher describes as “rising investment, increasing productivity, growing wages and healthy exports”, none of which are supported by Osborne’s current behaviour.

And yet, according to the Daily Telegraph, Osborne will fulfil another of this blog’s long-standing prophecies on Thursday by telling us all that “Britain can no longer afford the welfare state”.

From a member of the most profligate snout-in-trough overspenders ever to worm their way into public office and then inflict a harm-the-defenceless agenda on the nation, that will be the biggest lie of all.

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