Tag Archives: reduce

Boris Johnson said he would take control of energy prices. Another lie?

Duper’s delight yet again: was this the look on Boris Johnson’s face when he announced his new energy strategy that won’t reduce your bill or help you in any way at all?

Boris Johnson has short-changed the people of the United Kingdom yet again with his hopeless “energy strategy”.

I put the words “energy strategy” in quotation marks above because very little of it makes strategic sense and neither is it in any way energetic.

How is building hugely expensive and polluting nuclear power stations, that won’t be ready until 2050, going to reduce my energy bill today? It isn’t.

How is building offshore wind farms by 2030 going to reduce my energy bill today? It isn’t.

And when is Johnson going to order the privatised energy firms to cut their bills? Never.

That’s right – never.

If he had any intention of helping reduce your bills, his “strategy” would have started with a plan to insulate everybody’s home so that we wouldn’t have to use as much electricity and gas as we do now.

We’re told the Treasury has blocked such ideas but if Johnson really wanted to help us, he would have told Rishi Rich where to stuff his objections.

The fact is that, by his inaction, Johnson has condemned us to endure high energy costs for years, if not decades, to come. It’s what he wants.

It makes a nonsense of his claim that “we’re setting out bold plans to scale up and accelerate affordable, clean and secure energy made in Britain, for Britain… so we can enjoy greater energy self-sufficiency with cheaper bills.”

The people of the UK need cheaper bills now, not in 10 or 20 years time when other costs will have increased, when the energy company executives have become even more greedy and therefore when it won’t make a scrap of difference.

And why is nobody mentioning the elephant in the room – that if Johnson re-nationalised the energy firms, he could wipe away the unnecessary costs of making profits for their (mostly foreign) shareholders at a stroke?

For all the hot air he has spouted, Johnson isn’t helping you at all. He’s helping himself and his fatcat friends with a grotesque lie.

Source: PM promises to take back control of energy costs in long-awaited strategy | Evening Standard

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Is this really what the Tories call URGENT action to curb river pollution?

Boris Johnson’s Britain: “one of the most effluent nations in the world” as Dr Louise Raw put it when she tweeted this image.

How can the Tory government claim to be taking “urgent” action to curb river pollution when its targets are 13 and 28 years away?

Are we all expected to put up with being hip-deep in human waste in the meantime?

According to Environment Secretary George “Useless” Eustice, he’s taking “urgent” action to cut the “most damaging” overflows into rivers and the sea by 75 per cent – by 2035, with all discharges cut by 80 per cent by 2050.

If that’s “urgent” action, I’d hate to think what “Useless” describes as inconsequential!

Eustice said the government was investing £7 billion until 2025 to upgrade sewage infrastructure but admitted water bills will rise by about £12 a year to cover costs beyond that.

Didn’t the Thatcher Tory government of the 1980s, in its push to privatise water, say that bills would be cheaper and private firms would upgrade infrastructure using their profits? Yes, it did.

So why are we paying for it, in money provided by the government and directly through our own bills?

Some background: last autumn, the Tory government gave polluters the green light to dump risky sewage that has not been properly cleaned into rivers and the sea, after it turned out that Brexit had closed the UK’s borders to chemicals that are used to treat effluent.

The Conservatives followed this up by defeating Lords Amendment 45 to the then Environment Bill, which would have placed a legal duty on water companies in England and Wales “to make improvements to their sewerage systems and demonstrate progressive reductions in the harm caused by discharges of untreated sewage.

One Conservative, This Writer’s MP Fay Jones, said the amendment would have forced taxpayers to stump up £600 billion to “dig up” and modernise the UK’s sewer system, that has remained unchanged since Victorian times (apparently).

She then blocked responses that requested a breakdown of the figures. Considering her party is now saying £7 billion will cover the work, with an increase in bills to fund further costs, I think it’s fair to say that she overinflated the figures somewhat.

Mind you, she’s not the only one who seems to have – inadvertently? – misled the public. On October 25 last year, The Big Issue published a tweet, and an article, reporting that the water companies were saying they did not know how much sewage they were dumping into England’s rivers because the technology did not exist to monitor it.

But new data released on Thursday showed that in 2021, there were more than 372,000 spill events from from storm overflows, which release untreated sewage and rainwater into the environment to ease pressure on the system.

The Environment Agency said it has made water companies fit monitors to their storm overflows in order to capture information on how they are performing. 2021 was the second year the organisation published figures so it seems the firms were being economical with the facts.

And the facts are that we are being forced to live in our own effluent – along with muck imported from the Netherlands, due to EU restrictions on what can be dumped there – while water companies that are mostly owned by foreign governments coin it in.

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Priti Patel takes herself too seriously and that’s why this blunder is so satisfying

Gone is the trademark smirk: perhaps Ms Patel doesn’t think it’s funny when she makes a stupid mistake.

This is so funny I can’t let it pass by.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, announced over the weekend…

Without the slightest hint of self-consciousness, This Writer should add…

That shoplifting in the UK has fallen, when compared with the same time last year.

It seems she had forgotten a small detail:

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Labour lowers requirement to trigger selection of new Parliamentary candidates

Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee has reduced the required number of votes needed to trigger the selection of new Parliamentary candidates.

The decision means constituency Labour parties may more easily rid themselves of MPs who members feel no longer have the good of the party at heart.

This may include those who have spoken out against party leader Jeremy Corbyn because they do not share his political views, rather than over any wrong-doing he may be perceived to have carried out.

It may also include those who have deliberately attempted to hinder Labour’s electoral chances while Mr Corbyn is leader.

But the rule change also means members of the party’s right-wing may take advantage too – in order to remove supporters of Mr Corbyn and/or his policies.

Skwawkbox (quoted below) suggests that all those who wish to ensure the Parliamentary Labour Party more adequately resembles its left-wing membership need to get organised now, contacting their CLP secretaries to ensure they can make the necessary arrangements, and This Writer agrees.

The full procedures document can be downloaded here.

Labour members eager for the opportunity to choose a new parliamentary representative now have a green light to start the ‘trigger’ process – and some will face a lower hurdle to successfully force a full selection contest, after the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) agreed a change to the application of the ‘one in three branches’ trigger threshold.

In Labour’s new trigger rules, one in three member branches must vote for a selection contest in order to ‘trigger’ one.

However, the total from which ‘one in three’ will be calculated will be of those branches participating in the vote’, not of all branches in the CLP. Moribund branches therefore cannot be used by supporters of MPs hoping to avoid a selection contest to raise the bar.

Source: Excl: green light for triggers as Labour NEC lowers bar further | The SKWAWKBOX

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Labour retains Newport West – with lower proportion of the vote, triggering media hysteria. Deservedly?

Smiling: Labour’s Ruth Jones [Image from The Guardian‘s coverage of the Newport West by-election].

No.

Labour’s Ruth Jones has taken the Newport West Parliamentary seat in a by-election prompted by the death of the hugely popular Paul Flynn, but fewer people turned out to vote, Labour’s share of the vote fell, and all parties reported unrest over Brexit on the doorstep.

It doesn’t mean Labour is losing popularity, and it is possible that the result shows support for the party’s policy on Brexit, but media spin may suggest otherwise (especially if you caught the BBC’s Politics Live today (April 5).

I tried to encourage a debate about it on Twitter, and the responses were revealing.

My first tweet was deliberately provocative:

And I followed it up with another that was intended to prompt response, claiming: “It’s pretty close to the most recent opinion polls!”

I was referring to polls that put Labour ahead of the Conservatives, with 41 per cent against the Tories’ 36, according to DeltaPollUK, and you can see that I exaggerated slightly.

Some of the responses took that on board:

https://twitter.com/architectishly/status/1114132499100258306

I took a different tack, pointing out that the seat had been held by veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn for 32 years until his death, and that he had huge personal support – and one response showed up the failings in the arguments above:

So there we are: The result is consistent with previous polls on Newport West, with 2017 being an exception – perhaps a response to the pathetic Conservative campaign and Theresa May’s then-complacent belief that she would win a huge majority against Jeremy Corbyn, allowing her to bulldoze her (as we were to learn) dire Brexit plan over us all.

Newport West is a Labour heartland, and the weather did put some of the electorate off voting. The uptick in percentage support for the smaller parties may be a reflection of the lower turnout.

But the result broadly upheld the findings of recent national opinion polls, and suggests that Labour’s Brexit policy is not a vote-loser.

The big question now is, what kind of Labour MP will Ruth Jones be?

Initial evidence is positive – she opposes Tory austerity that has taken £1 billion in investment away from Wales; she opposes Universal Credit and the huge financial harm it represents to her constituents; and Tory cuts mean fear of crime in her city is rising. On top of that, there is huge controversy over plans to build a new motorway in Newport.

Ms Jones said she regretted the low turnout but was hoping to engage with all voters to ensure their voices are heard and that they re-engage with politics.

That could be difficult, considering the bad publicity that has been attracted by Labour’s own treatment of its members recently.

The National Constitutional Committee, which handles disputes involving Labour members, has been dubbed a “National Kangaroo Court”, and the party has been accused of pandering to its critics, rather than listening to members. The most obvious example is the response to often-spurious claims of anti-Semitism against members who are then automatically treated as guilty before any inquiry takes place, with the results of the disciplinary process pre-determined to support the prejudicial behaviour.

Will Ruth Jones support changes that could restore justice to that process? Or will she keep her head down and allow the wrongs to continue – because supporting justice may create adverse publicity?

We’ll be watching.

Could this exhibition challenge dehumanisation and abuse of the homeless?

Real people: The exhibition combines images of formerly-homeless people with a line of text describing their character.

This is a terrific idea because it reminds us that homeless people are human too.

It is easy to de-humanise the people sleeping rough or begging – to view them as obstacles to be passed or ignored.

That seems an easy route to the kind of behaviour that has been connected to the deaths of rough sleepers recently.

But the Inspirational Voices exhibition at Manchester’s Piccadilly railway station will present huge portraits of people who have been homeless, along with a label chosen by the model to represent their personality.

Homelessness charity The Booth Centre, which provides advice on finding accommodation, education and training as well as helping to secure long-term employment, is to be praised for this idea.

And Greater Manchester is leading the way in its monitoring of what happens to the homeless. Labour mayor Andy Burnham has launched an initiative to record the deaths of homeless people after the Westminster government showed it couldn’t care less.

The exhibition will take place in the railway station’s concourse from November 12-18, and will then move to Media City for a week. It would be welcome if we saw it on television, then.

No doubt most people will walk past this exhibition without giving it a second thought.

But if even a minority are influenced by it, some good will have been done.

Huge portraits of former rough sleepers and homeless people will take pride of place at Manchester’s biggest train station.

The Inspirational Voices exhibition aims to challenge misconceptions of homelessness by capturing each person’s individual achievements and hopes.

Source: Huge portraits of homeless people will be put on display at Piccadilly – with an important message – Manchester Evening News

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The DWP has been silencing news stories that criticise its policies – here’s the proof

The DWP closely monitors media output, and compiles a “sentiment of articles” chart every month to make sure that they receive positive coverage.

The DWP closely monitors media output, and compiles a “sentiment of articles” chart every month to make sure that they receive positive coverage.

Ministers have been doing their best to pretend that they never do anything wrong – and have then done their best to hide the fact that this is what they’re doing.

Doesn’t that tell you everything you need to know about the DWP?

Officers for the Department claimed that the information was “commercially sensitive”, of all things.

That just leads one to ask why. What commercial contracts would this information prejudice?

Clearly the Information Commissioner was not convinced by whatever argument the DWP produced, because we have our information now.

This Blog is one of the social media sources that offers almost exclusively negative coverage of the Department for Work and Pensions, and it is interesting to note how the DWP treated one of my biggest stories.

In August 2015 the DWP “proactively briefed” the media about the long-awaited statistics which showed the amount of ESA claimants who had died after being found fit for work.

I had no way of knowing this at the time, but this action was successful in ‘spiking’ coverage in the FT (whose editors should have known better), the Express (this is more understandable) and on ITV.

The DWP’s commentary stated that the most critical initial coverage of the statistics misrepresented their details. This was because the DWP had done its best to present them in a manner that would be misunderstood. Still, it was able to secure corrections in the Grauniad and the Mirror which weakened the story.

We are left with a clear message: The DWP is more concerned with distorting the facts – or preventing them from being known at all – than with the facts themselves.

It does not matter to Conservative ministers that their policies have killed thousands of people.

They just want to make sure nobody finds out about it.

Following a 13 month battle, the DWP have finally been forced to release secret documents illustrating the tactics they use to control and manipulate the media.

The documents reveal that the DWP monitors and analyses both mainstream and social media to reduce and manage negative coverage.

And even more worryingly, the documents show the DWP have managed to kill hundreds of stories by making sure that they are not reported.

Almost every month since March 2014 the DWP communications team has produced “Media Evaluation Reports” detailing the ways and methods that the DWP controls negative stories about them in the media.

The reports give valuable insight into a department that is unhealthily focused on the press coverage [it receives].

The fact that they have managed to kill so many stories that they don’t approve of raises serious questions as to how the department is exercising its influence over the free press.

The role of journalism is to bring people the truth behind the DWP’s rhetoric, not to act as the chief mouthpiece for it.

Source: Secret DWP Documents Prove They Silenced The Media From Running Stories They Didn’t Approve Of | EvolvePolitics.com

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Conservative Government attacks BBC; BBC responds defiantly

The BBC has responded to plans by the Conservative Government to reduce its ability to cater for all licence-payers, with a short statement of defiance. Good for Auntie!

At long last, Corporation executives have realised that the conciliatory position they have held for so long – adopting a broadly pro-Conservative stance in its news reporting, for example – simply won’t stop the Tories from trying to dismantle public service broadcasting in favour of the kind of trash served up by moguls like their friend Rupert Murdoch.

(Isn’t he back trying to buy the rest of Sky TV again, now that the Tories are free to be completely corrupt about it?)

The Tories were set to bring out a Green Paper filled with proposals to cut back the range of services offered by the BBC – for reasons that don’t seem to make any sense at all. For example, George Osborne said the BBC website should be scaled down because it is “crowding out” national newspapers.

This is clearly rubbish. Osborne represents the Party of the Marketplace. It is clear that, if the BBC is more popular than the right-wing newspapers owned by his friends, then it is those papers that should change, to make themselves more acceptable – not the BBC website. That’s the law of the market.

By seeking to hobble the BBC instead, Osborne merely highlights the corruption at the heart of Conservative Government.

Other plans include de-criminalising non-payment of the licence fee, to make it harder for the BBC to collect its funding. Only recently, Auntie agreed to take on the cost of providing free licences for people aged over 75, despite it being a political policy that has nothing to do with the Corporation. The cost is around £650 million – almost as much as that of all the BBC’s radio services combined (£653 million).

Here’s the BBC’s statement:

150716BBCgreenpaperresponse

It looks like the BBC is planning a consultation. Will you take part?

If you’re wondering what’s really behind the Tory plan, let’s add the following, for clarification:

150601-chomsky-privatisation1

Are you getting a clear picture?

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Poll: Votes for 16-year-olds

Abby Tomlinson: The teenage founder of 'Milifandom' is a strong supporter of reducing the voting age.

Abby Tomlinson: The teenage founder of ‘Milifandom’ is a strong supporter of reducing the voting age.

David Cameron has said MPs will be able to vote on whether people aged 16 and 17 should be able to vote in the EU referendum.

Let’s have a poll on it now!

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Tory economic policy has cost every household at least £4,000 – and aims to take more

Bottom of the class: George Osborne based his 'Long-Term Economic Plan' on a spreadsheet error by American economists. [Image: Gaianeconomics]

Bottom of the class: George Osborne based his ‘Long-Term Economic Plan’ on a spreadsheet error by American economists. [Image: Gaianeconomics]

If you’re thinking, “That headline isn’t news”, you’re right.

It is, however, the main point troubling Professor Simon Wren-Lewis in his latest Mainly Macro blog article. He states that Tory chancellor George Osborne started out in a similar position and with a relatively similar policy to Labour’s Gordon Brown, but caused huge damage to household finances, whereas Brown did not.

“The answer, of course, is that the … contexts were different,” writes the learned professor. “Osborne’s austerity happened when the economy was just starting a recovery from a deep recession, and interest rates were at their then Zero Lower Bound (ZLB) of 0.5%… When interest rates are at the ZLB, monetary policy cannot counteract the negative impact of fiscal austerity on output.”

In other words, with austerity shrinking the economy, nothing else Osborne did would have stopped your wages from shrinking too. It is entirely possible that Osborne was perfectly aware of this.

This is how George Osborne probably looked after the fire in his pants caused by his incessant lying about the EU’s £1.7bn bill burned away the rest of his suit. Note that his briefcase is still empty of policies and all he has to offer us is the carrot of false promises [Image: Kaya Mar www.kayamarart.com].

George Osborne: His briefcase is still empty of policies and all he has to offer us is the carrot of false promises [Image: Kaya Mar www.kayamarart.com].

Yet he is planning an even bigger austerity squeeze on your incomes if the Conservatives form a government after this year’s election.

Professor Wren-Lewis dismisses the possibility that Osborne does not understand what he has been doing: “A much more plausible explanation for his actions were that the macroeconomic risks were understood, but were put to one side for political and ideological reasons.

“First the possibility of hitting Labour with a populist concern about the deficit was too great a temptation to resist for a Chancellor for whom political tactics are everything. Second, austerity was a means of implementing an unpopular policy of reducing the size of the state by the back door.”

He adds: “Now you may cynically say that in a contest between economics and politics/ideology, politicians will always choose the latter. However much that is true or false, when that choice costs each household at least £4,000, it would be very strange if that politician survived the judgement of the electorate.”

Perhaps so – but he and his party are banking on the electorate being too ignorant of the facts to realise this. That’s why I put it in the headline.

Campaigning in the centre of a small Mid Wales town yesterday, This Writer asked one group of young people (in their twenties or thereabouts), who quite clearly had limited means, which way they were going to vote. They ignored the question and walked on for several paces, then one turned around and, raising his fist to the air, yelled, “Conservative all the way!”

George Osborne is relying on people like this for his party’s survival.

We have to foil him by educating them.

It is a task that won’t end after the election; in fact, it is a task that may not end in our lifetimes.

But it is the only way to protect ourselves from continual exploitation by an entitled class of layabouts who expect us to do all the work while they have all the privileges handed to them on a plate.

Please share this article if you agree.

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The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook