Tag Archives: replace

How will minister be punished for replacing phone before it could be searched?

Lord Bethell: he previously claimed he never used his private accounts for official business so we know he’s a liar. Shouldn’t he be sacked by the Tory government?

The answer is that Lord Bethell probably won’t be punished at all.

But if he were involved in a criminal investigation (and he might as well be – as the awarding of many deals for supply of Personal Protective Equipment to Tory chums and/or donors who were incapable of providing it seems extremely crooked) and he ditched the evidence, he would be charged with a crime.

Here are the facts:

Labour has called for an inquiry into the use of WhatsApp within the government, after it emerged a health minister replaced his mobile phone before it could be searched for information relevant to £85m of deals that are subject to a legal challenge.

James Bethell, who oversaw the award of Covid contracts, is one of those under scrutiny over the way deals for personal protective equipment (PPE) and tests were allocated at the height of the pandemic.

As part of legal proceedings issued by the Good Law Project, the government is expected to disclose Lord Bethell’s correspondence including by email, WhatsApp and SMS relating to the award of £85m of contracts for antibody tests to Abingdon Health.

The secretary of state has a responsibility to preserve and search documents for information relevant to the case from the point at which judicial review proceedings were issued in late 2020, under the government’s “duty of candour”.

However, a witness statement from a government lawyer revealed Bethell replaced his phone in early 2021 and it may no longer be possible to retrieve the information about his dealings with Abingdon, although efforts are being made to recover them from his mobile phone provider.

The statement said Bethell had used his official email account as well as his private email account to send and receive emails relevant to the contracts, and that he had also used his mobile phone for SMS and WhatsApp messages. But it said Bethell had confirmed that about six months ago his phone was broken and replaced and that his new phone did not contain the phone data.

Government lawyers revealed Bethell had not been issued with a “preservation notice” requiring him to save documents because ministers’ official correspondence was routinely saved as a matter of course. However, this did not cover government business conducted by private means.

What does he have to hide?

When they’re under an investigation with legal consequences, people with nothing to fear don’t destroy the evidence.

And Bethell must know that the information will be available by other means – although logically there shouldn’t be anything to stop him from reactivating his WhatsApp, SMS and private email accounts. Why hasn’t he done so?

The fact that government preservation notices don’t cover business conducted by private means, while government ministers are allowed to carry out government business in that way and are trusted to duplicate it into the public system, is a huge opening for corruption.

And it seems clear that this particular minister has exploited it.

Maybe I’m wrong – and I’ll be happy to apologise of Lord Bethell can provide clear proof that he was not responsible for any wrongdoing.

But I won’t hold my breath waiting for it.

Source: Covid contracts: minister replaced phone before it could be searched | Health policy | The Guardian

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Tory plan to save tower block residents from cost of fixing unsafe cladding is to charge EVERYBODY

The ruin of Grenfell Tower: thousands of other tower blocks are covered in cladding that is just as flammable, endangering many thousands of people’s lives. Their owners bought it because it was cheap. Now, it seems the same owners will dodge the cost of rectifying their potentially fatal mistake. Why should they?

What spectacular stupidity.

Many thousands of flat owners and tenants are facing huge bills for fire safety work to replace cladding on their buildings, after the Grenfell Tower blaze of nearly four years ago.

Despite the fact that they did not commission the unsafe cladding, residents are likely to have to pay to have it removed and replaced – at huge cost – under current conditions.

The cost is likely to run to billions of pounds.

The Labour Party rightly said that leaseholders and taxpayers should be protected from the cost, and the government should pursue those who were actually responsible for the “cladding crisis”.

Its Commons motion to that effect passed unopposed because the Tories didn’t turn up. We may conclude that Boris Johnson feared another public relations disaster if he opposed it. The result is not binding on the government.

But the last thing the Tories want to do is force businesses to pay for the problems they have caused. They have spent more than three years trying to protect them from that.

So now the plan is to force the taxpayer – everybody in the UK – to pay for the fatal cost-cutting of a few greedy businesses by stumping up government money for the work.

The government has decided to allocate extra funding, possibly running into billions of pounds, to speed up the removal of unsafe cladding.

An announcement is expected within weeks as negotiations between the housing ministry and Treasury are reaching a conclusion.

Something needs to be done, obviously. People have been living in unsafe housing for three and a half years since the Grenfell fire killed so many people – and other fires caused by flammable cladding have happened in the meantime (fortunately with no fatalities).

But we have a government that simply won’t lay blame where it is due.

Instead, these gutless Tories would rather force everybody else to pay the price, even though we never incurred it.

Unjust.

Source: Ministers plan extra cash to remove unsafe cladding – BBC News

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Public Health England to be axed as Matt Hancock desperately blame-shifts

Matt Hancock: he was a Covid-19 super-spreader so it should be no surprise that the private organisation he wants to create, replacing Public Health England, is likely to do nothing to prevent the resurgence of the disease across the UK.

Failed Health Secretary Matt Hancock is set to scrap Public Health England (PHE) this week, we’re told, in an attempt to blame somebody else for his failure to control Covid-19 in the UK.

The trouble is, he’s planning to replace it with something worse.

Public Health England, as an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care, exists to protect the general health and well-being of English people – in any circumstance. But Hancock wants to replace it with an organisation dedicated only to handling pandemic threats.

And he plans to do this by merging the pandemic response work of PHE with Serco Test and Trace – the privatised ‘test and trace’ system that has already proved itself to be a humiliating failure for the government, and for its plans to privatise NHS services.

What a fiasco.

It means that Hancock is planning to replace a system that he has decided has failed with something that we all know is a failure, for the sake of the Tories’ Holy Grail of NHS privatisation.

And the devil take public health and safety.

Let us also remember that, as a wholly-owned executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care, PHE’s failure are entirely the responsibility of one man: Matt Hancock. It seems he is hoping that he can hide his incompetence by dissolving the organisation that contains the evidence.

It doesn’t work that way. The evidence is already public knowledge. Take a look at this article if you need to be convinced.

And we all know where the blame lies:

It’s true. The BMJ article (link above) states that public health funding has fallen by 25 per cent per person in the last five years alone.

Worse still, the rumour mill has it that the new, privatised organisation that will be tasked with protecting us from pandemic infections (but only if it can make a profit from doing it, of course) will be headed by another failure: Dido Harding:

This may be another example of Tories giving jobs to their friends, rather than to anybody who actually knows what they are doing:

It’s interesting also to take note of the fellow-travellers who have sprung up to support Hancock’s plan. These are Tory propagandists who should never be trusted on any subject at all.

Here’s an obvious example: Julia Hartley-Doodah.

Rest assured that nothing good will come of this. Hancock will not succeed in shifting the blame away from himself; his decision can only result in more infections and deaths as Serco continues to take our money while failing to do anything to prevent Covid-19 infections from spreading.

We know this is the wrong decision and it will only worsen a Tory-engineered national disaster.

But there is nothing we can do to prevent it. We lost that opportunity on December 13, 2019.

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Why are we learning about Trident replacement plan from the Pentagon, not Parliament?

Buddies: Johnson and Donald Trump seem to have shaken hands on a deal to replace Trident, without bothering with trifling matters like… I don’t know… democracy.

When did Parliament approve the plan to buy new nuclear warheads, replacing Trident, from the Pentagon?

I don’t remember that vote!

And if the UK’s MPs haven’t decided on it, then the decision hasn’t been made, and the United States government has no right to say it has.

That wouldn’t stop Boris Johnson telling them it had, though.

What do you reckon? That Johnson has done a secret deal – unilaterally – with the US?

That he intends to place it before Parliament as a fait accompli – a done deal that the UK now has to honour – probably under threat of losing trade deals with the US in the future?

So much for democracy!

Johnson’s Parliamentary majority is such that he would have had the decision he wanted if he had put the deal before MPs in the proper way.

So why did he do it like this?

To show that he can do what he wants? That he is, now, the UK’s dictator?

Britain has committed itself to buying a new generation of nuclear warheads to replace Trident, which will be based on US technology. The decision was revealed by Pentagon officials who disclosed it before an official announcement has been made by the government.

The revelation has dismayed MPs and experts who question why they have learned of the move – which will cost the UK billions of pounds – only after the decision has apparently been made. It has also raised questions about the UK’s commitment to staunching nuclear proliferation and the country’s reliance on the US for a central plank of its defence strategy.

Source: Pentagon reveals deal with Britain to replace Trident | UK news | The Guardian

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From bad to rotten: Sajid Javid appointed as new Home Secretary

Grin and bear it: Being Home Secretary is like taking a poisoned chalice but Sajid Javid has accepted the job.

The man responsible for cocking up the Tory government’s response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy has been appointed as the new Home Secretary by flailing prime minister Theresa May.

Perhaps she hopes Sajid Javid will be as bad at restoring their rights to the Windrush Generation as he has been at restoring homes to the survivors of Grenfell.

How long did Theresa May say it would be before the Tories re-housed them? Three weeks?

And how long have most of them been in temporary accommodation? Nearly a year.

Pathetic.

And what about his time as Business Secretary, when he ignored the advice of senior civil servant Edward Bell in order to keep granting export licences for weapons being sent to Saudi Arabia, despite allegations of war crimes in Yemen?

But when Tata announced it was selling its UK steelworks, Mr Javid was off on a jolly to Australia. And he spurned a crisis conference with Welsh Labour MPs to attend a business event organised by a right-wing American think tank instead.

We may conclude that this is a man who is happy to deal out destruction to foreigners while delivering destitution to people here in the UK.

There’s more:

And this is Theresa May’s choice to replace disgraced serial liar Amber Rudd.

Her record of appallingly bad decision-making continues unabated.

Was she looking for another human shield, rather than someone able to do the job?


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Why should Tories split over whether to sack Johnson or Hammond? Ditch them both!

Conservative MPs are split between wanting Thereas May to sack Boris Johnson or Philip Hammond [Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA].

There are plenty of would-be cabinet stars churning around the Parliamentary Conservative Party who would love to replace Boris Johnson or Philip Hammond – or at least take other cabinet places in a reshuffle.

But Theresa May is too scared to act.

Isn’t it the truth that she doesn’t move anybody new into prominent positions because the public would then see exactly how talentless and clueless modern Tories really are – especially the younger generation?

Conservative MPs are split between Brexiters who want Philip Hammond sacked and remainers who would like to see Boris Johnson out of a job, but believe the prime minister may be too weak to get rid of either of them in a reshuffle in the coming weeks.

In conversations with dozens of Tories, the Guardian found MPs divided along their views on the EU referendum over whether they would like to see Johnson or Hammond given the boot.

Theresa May has hinted she could conduct a reshuffle after her trip to Brussels at the end of next week, as she comes under pressure from new MPs in her party to bring fresh talent into the cabinet after a moribund Conservative party conference.

Since then, a handful of remainers, including Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan, have called for Johnson to lose his job over his interventions setting out his own personal blueprint for an optimistic Brexit. On the other side, leavers including Nigel Lawson and Nadine Dorries have urged May to get rid of the chancellor for being too gloomy.

Source: Conservatives split on whether May should sack Johnson or Hammond | Politics | The Guardian


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When Theresa May is ousted, it won’t matter who replaces her – unless it is a Labour PM

[Image from Twitter.]

This is very pertinent, from Labour’s Richard Burgon: The problems with a Conservative government don’t lie solely with the choice of prime minister.

When Theresa May finally accepts her P45 – for real – it will most likely be for a Conservative to replace her. That means the government will be the same as before.

The same policies of impoverishment for workers and enrichment for the idle elite.

The same policies of genocide against the sick and disabled.

The same arrogance when dealing with the European Union and other foreign countries/organisations.

The same hypocrisy.

The same lies.

The same abuse.

It’s not acceptable.

When Mrs May goes, we – the citizens of the UK – need to make it clear that her government has failed.

That it does not have any legitimacy.

That it never had any.

And that we want a new government, from a better political party – now.

The main problem with the Conservative Party Conference wasn’t that the Prime Minister’s speech ended up like an excruciating scene from Peep Show or The Office. The main problem was the Conservative Party’s mask of decency slipping on a number of occasions and a complete lack of policy, vision and hope.

The ethos and agenda of the Conservative Party is no laughing matter. And that was very clearly revealed in the Foreign Secretary’s statement to an audience in a conference meeting that there’s big profits to be made in Libya if you just “clear the dead bodies away.”

I believe that the Foreign Secretary’s statement wasn’t a “gaffe” as some have called it — it was a window into the worldview of top Tories.

His recitation of a colonial song while in Burma and his callous call to “clear the dead bodies away” in a bomb-blasted Libya that his government helped to make more dangerous, more unsafe and more unstable are true to born-to-rule Bullingdon-boy type.

The truth is, we can’t trust the Conservatives to do the right thing in terms of Britain’s role in the world — and the Prime Minister’s fawning over a president who threatens to “totally destroy” an entire country, her politically motivated refusal to do what even her Conservative predecessors did and commit to the principle of a world free from nuclear weapons and the Foreign Secretary’s reference to the corpses his government’s disastrous intervention helped to create in Libya as barriers to business and profit are further proof of this.

Much has been made of the idea that in response to Corbyn and socialist Labour’s huge advance in the battle of ideas, the Conservative government has “stolen” Labour’s policies.

If only. Rather than adopting Labour’s policies, the Conservative government has — in pure desperation — produced pale imitations of Labour’s policies in an attempt to dupe a public that is more fed up to the back teeth with them with each day that passes.

The task of our movement is not just the removal of a prime minister or even just the removal of a government. The task of our movement is to secure a Labour government which will remove a system that is rigged against working people.

Source: Morning Star :: The nasty party’s mask comes off | The People’s Daily


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A Parliamentary Bill to replace Theresa May? Tories don’t have much faith in her, do they?

Look at this:

Peter Bone is a Conservative. What does he think he knows about Theresa May’s health?

Is it about her mental health?

Or what?


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Right-to-buy scheme WILL deplete social housing; Tories are taking us for fools

These Tories are trying to take us all for fools.

Communities secretary Greg Clark (who?) reckons councils will have to replace any housing association property that is sold under the Conservative Government’s latest plan.

But this won’t work, because the plan is to offer a discount on the purchase of each property, of up to 70 per cent.

That means councils, who are being starved of money by – guess who? – the Conservative Government, will be either unable to replace 70 per cent of the lost accommodation or will be forced into serious debt.

Don’t be deceived by this blatant lie – it’s all part of the Tory plan to deplete social housing.

The new communities secretary, Greg Clark, has insisted government plans to provide a right to buy for 1.3 million housing association tenants will not lead to a fall in overall provision of social housing in England.

The measure is due to be included in the Queen’s speech on Wednesday and Clark defended the policy saying “consistently, over many years, nearly 86% want to own their home and just because you have signed a social tenancy should not mean you sign away your aspiration to own your own home”.

Ministers have insisted that social housing will not fall because councils will be expected to replace any housing association property that is sold. The new properties are due to be provided by the enforced sale of more expensive council-owned property when the tenancy falls vacant. Housing association tenants who have lived in a property for three years will be entitled to seek a discount on the purchase of the property of up to 70%.

Clark said there would not be a net fall in affordable property. “Where the flat is sold to the existing tenant it is not lost, it does not evaporate, and it is sold to someone that has means to pay for it, so then what is released in terms of the sale can then build an extra home – so it is adding to the housing stock. Every housing association property that is sold will be replaced one for one for a new property, so it is not only allowing people to meet their housing aspiration, but to increase the housing stock as well.”

Source: Right-to-buy scheme ‘will not deplete social housing stock’ | Society | The Guardian

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Labour launches plan to attack political corruption

westminsterfromwater

If there’s one area of British life that needs reform, it’s politics.

Every day, Vox Political receives at least one comment from somebody saying that the system is corrupt and desperately needs an overhaul. Today (Tuesday, March 3), Labour is due to announce its plans for tackling this very issue.

The trouble is, of course, that many people are saying Labour is part of the problem.

The claim is that the party and its high-level members have a vested financial interest in keeping the system as it is – and the gravy train rolling along. How will Labour combat these?

Well…

There are plans to consult on new powers for the Speaker to tackle the worst and repeated instances of rowdy behaviour in the Chamber with a so-called ‘sin bin’.

Former Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans described the idea as “rubbish”, pointing out that the speaker already has the ability to remove MPs in certain circumstances and has lots of discretion at present.

But the Speaker himself, John Bercow, has given a cautious welcome to the suggestion that MPs face a rugby-style “yellow-card” temporary ban for bad behaviour in the Chamber. Answering questions at a Hansard Society event at Westminster, Mr Bercow said: “I think there is merit in it, it’s not for me to decide, it’s for the House to decide.”

Other measures will be revealed at an event in Parliament, by Shadow Leader of the Commons Angela Eagle. They include:

  • Overhauling elections with measures including introducing votes at 16 and trialling online voting
  • Changing how Parliament works with a Prime Minister’s Questions for the public and a new process for law-making that gives people a say
  • Tackling vested interests by regulating MPs’ 2nd jobs and creating compulsory rules for lobbyists, and
  • Devolving power across the UK and replacing the Lords with a ‘Senate of the Nations and Regions’.

Some of these measures have already been trailed, like votes for 16-year-olds, public PMQs and regulation of MPs’ second jobs. One has been claimed by the Conservative Party, although Labour’s Austin Mitchell describes the plan for devolution to Greater Manchester as a “deathbed repentance by a government which had centralised continuously in a country that is over-centralised already”. He claimed that a concentration of power in London and the south-east of England “needs to be reversed so the rest of us can have a chance”.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Angela Eagle said: “The recent debate over MPs’ second jobs reminds us that so much needs to change in Westminster. When trust in politics and politicians is already at a record low, only radical reform will restore faith in our political process.

“Labour’s plan will deliver the reform our politics needs. We will reform the Commons to strengthen its ability to hold the government to account. And we will ensure our political system always puts people before rich and powerful vested interests.

“Our politics works on an adversarial system, but sometimes MPs take it too far and it turns the public off. A Labour government will consult on new powers for the Speaker to curb the worst forms of repeated barracking.”

This writer is particularly keen on online voting. It is to be hoped that the trials go well, so that this may help restore interest – and confidence – in democracy.

Does it go far enough? Undoubtedly people will say it does not – but at least, it seems, Labour will do something to arrest the corruption that seems to have seeped into the very bones of the Palace of Westminster (the building will be unusable within 20 years, it seems, unless expensive restoration work is undertaken).

What would you do?

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