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Philippa Day was right to distrust DWP. Coroner’s report suggests she was DELIBERATELY driven to take her own life

Inquest: Philippa Day took an insulin overdose after benefit assessment provider Capita cut her benefits and demanded that she attend an assessment centre – which was impossible due to her disability.

Philippa Day believed her benefit claim would be mishandled before she made it – and she was right. A coroner found 28 “mistakes” were made before she took the insulin overdose that ended her life.

But were they mistakes or was Gordon Clow, the coroner who reported on the case, simply unable to attribute “malign” intent?

Ms Day, who suffered from mental ill-health, certainly believed that the Department for Work and Pensions had no intention of treating her fairly, as evidenced by Mr Clow’s report.

He said she

was predisposed by her mental health problems to wrongly imagine malign motives on the part of those administering her claim

– but was she wrong?

The coroner stated [boldings mine]:

The administration of Philippa Day’s benefits claim was characterised by multiple errors, some of which occurred repeatedly throughout the period of her claim.

As a result of errors made, Philippa Day’s income from benefits more than halved for a period of several months, causing her severe financial hardship.

To try to cope with the cash shortfall, Ms Day took out high interest loans, creating a financial problem that she did not have the means to solve – and attacking her mental health.

DWP officers – and private PIP assessors – must have known that this was likely but it seems that either they did not care or they wanted it to happen. It seems to This Writer that there is a question not put by the coroner, possibly because it does not fall within his scope. It does fall within mine:

Why would a government officer deliberately push a benefit claimant into severe financial pressure, mental ill-health, and self-harm*?

That is what we see here. There was nothing accidental about it. The officials involved knew what they were doing because they had all the relevant information. The coroner stated as much in his report:

[The] risk was implicit in the information held in connection with the benefits claim and explicit in advice given to those processing her claim by Philippa Day’s community psychiatric nurse shortly prior to Philippa’s overdose.

This information was ignored.

The coroner described the result in his report:

A decision was made in June 2019 to require Philippa Day to attend an assessment at an assessment centre.

No assessment was in fact required in order to determine her claim and there was clear and abundant medical evidence that an assessment outside of the home would exacerbate her mental health against a background of two recent overdoses. The requirement for her to attend this appointment created a risk of a mental health crisis resulting in
an overdose.

Although the error in decision making was drawn to the attention of those administering the claim on more than one occasion, it was not rectified as it should have been.

The DWP made a deliberate decision to ignore the risk of a suicide attempt. And the coroner clearly argued that it was this decision that led to Ms Day’s overdose:

The failure to administer the claim in such a way as to avoid exacerbating Philippa Day’s pre-existing mental health problems was the predominant factor, save for her severe mental illness, affecting a decision taken by Philippa Day to take an overdose of her prescribed insulin on the 7th or 8th August 2019.

The distress caused by the administration of Philippa Day’s welfare benefits claim led to Philippa Day suffering acute distress and exacerbated many of her other chronic stressors.

Were it not for these problems, it is unlikely that Philippa Day would have taken an overdose of her prescribed insulin on 7th or 8th August 2019.

The coroner stated – accurately – that “it is not possible to determine on the available evidence whether or not it was her intention to thereby end her life”.

But attempts to revive her failed and she passed away on October 16, 2019.

Mr Clow’s report went on to raise “matters of concern” that give him reason to believe that further deaths will happen due to deliberate, intentional behaviour by DWP officers.

He stated:

Call handlers [at] the DWP had not received, in their preparatory course prior to commencing work taking calls from claimants, specific training as to how best to interact with persons suffering from mental ill health in such a way as to avoid inadvertently exacerbating the difficulties experienced in progressing claims for benefits by such persons.

If true, this is a deliberate choice by the DWP’s bosses – to withhold training that could prevent deaths.

Records of calls handled were very brief and, at times, inaccurate. The records did not facilitate accurate decision making or enable queries to be dealt with efficiently and without inadvertently exacerbating the difficulties experienced by Philippa Day in progressing her benefits claims .

The word that sticks out like a sore thumb here is “inadvertently”. It seems Mr Clows included it because he had no evidence that the decisions “exacerbating the difficulties experienced by Philippa Day” were deliberate. But there must have been deliberate decisions to make inaccurate reports of calls handled – leading to the consequent failures that pushed Ms Day to her overdose?

(As a reporter, I have to make choices about what information I include in stories and what I leave out. Those choices are dictated by my judgement regarding what is relevant to the article. In this article, for example, I have omitted details of Ms Day’s mental health problems; it is known that she had a mental illness so there is no need to go into the details on this occasion. As benefit assessment officers, it seems to me, those responsible for handling her claim at the DWP had a similar responsibility – to include all relevant information – but they did not. That is a deliberate choice.)

The change of assessment process did not allow for a decision, which was incorrect, to be rectified without evidence of a subsequent change of circumstances.

That must have been a deliberate decision by whoever drafted the regulations controlling this process.

In addition, when a change of review process was appropriate, there was no means by which upcoming appointments could be cancelled without causing prejudice to Philippa Day.

Again, the regulations are drafted by people who know the consequences of the actions they require – and the consequences of the actions they forbid. The government has been providing state benefits for nearly a century and it is unrealistic to believe that cases similar to Philippa Day’s have not been handled before. In fact, the evidence of other deaths suggests that hundreds take place every year.

A misleading letter was sent which led Philippa Day to consider that her benefits would be stopped if she did not attend the upcoming appointment.

This is really vile. Knowing that an assessment outside her home would harm her mental health, DWP officers deliberately put her in fear of losing her benefits if she did not attend one. That is deliberate psychological torture.

Add it all up and we see deliberate decisions that mounted up into a force that pushed Philippa Day towards the overdose that ended her life.

But not one person involved in those decisions will face any penalty for having caused the death of another human being. Not one.

Information from previous reports shows that the identities of those responsible are known, but no action is being taken against them.

Meanwhile,

Analysis carried out by the Disability News Service suggests that there could have been as many as 750 benefit claimants of working age who took their lives in 2018.

I stated at the time that “the total number since the Tories introduced PIP – let alone the harsher benefit qualification laws brought in after they came into office in 2010 – is likely to be in the tens of thousands, if not, indeed, hundreds of thousands.”

It is worse than Aktion T4 – the cull of people with disabilities in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 1940s.

So I repeat my comments at the end of a previous report:

How many benefit assessors from Capita (and fellow private contractor Atos) have contributed to those deaths?

How many officials from the Department for Work and Pensions?

How many Conservative ministers, who imposed the legislation, and backbenchers, who supported it?

And I ask:

When will they be brought to account for the deaths they have caused?

*Not suicide – the coroner’s report showed that Ms Day’s motives cannot be deduced from the evidence available; her overdose could have been a classic “cry for help”.

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Forde inquiry into leaked Labour anti-Semitism report delayed – but does it matter?

Jeremy Corbyn: the Forde Inquiry could have exonerated him from any implications of support for anti-Semitism but it seems to have been gagged from doing so.

Martin Forde QC’s report on the leaked report into the way anti-Semitism was handled by Labour Party officers has been delayed. But does it really matter after its focus was watered down to almost nothing?

Mr Forde told Labour’s National Executive Committee he was delaying his report to avoid prejudicing an inquiry by the Information Commissioner’s Office into whether the leak breached data protection laws.

But is this really likely, considering that the Forde Inquiry is apparently now focused only on examining “the structure, culture and practices of the Labour Party”.

It had originally been charged with some much more interesting and worthwhile purposes.

But in an all-but-ignored announcement last summer, Mr Forde announced that he would not, after all, “investigate and report on the truth or otherwise of the main allegations in the report”.

This was the inquiry’s most important purpose. The report had produced a mountain of evidence which, if true, cleared Corbyn of claims that he had been complacent on anti-Semitism.

Instead, it implicated party officials who had been among his fiercest critics with claims that they actively worked to prevent the party as led by Corbyn from winning a general election.

If the claims were found to be true, then claims that Corbyn and his supporters were soft on – or even supported – anti-Semitism would have been exposed as primarily a witch-hunt.

But now, nobody is checking the basic accuracy of the report at all.

Also ditched was the requirement to investigate why the report was written and how it was leaked.

So it seems there is little point in being concerned about when the Forde Report will be released. It simply won’t provide any information worth waiting for.

Source: Labour: Report into anti-Semitism dossier leak delayed – BBC News

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Court says Corbyn can’t have Labour documents – it doesn’t mean his case is over!

Have the news media given up on reporting court proceedings properly?

I lost when Rachel Riley applied to strike out my defence against her libel case and everybody thought it meant I had lost the whole case. I haven’t.

Now Jeremy Corbyn has lost a court application to make the Labour Party disclose documents that he said would show that Labour had gone back on an agreement to fully reinstate his suspended membership as a result of “political interference” and some media types are acting as though he has lost his case too. He hasn’t either!

According to The Independent, Labour has attacked Corbyn for wasting “the court’s time and our members’ money”. Strangely, Riley’s supporters have been trying to stop people from supporting my CrowdJustice site with similar claims.

It is understood that Labour will also seek to recover its court costs from Mr Corbyn personally.

Judge Lisa Sullivan made it clear that the case could continue without Labour documents being passed to Corbyn: “In terms of Mr Corbyn’s ability to properly plead his case, I do not accept that he would suffer significant prejudice without pre-action disclosure.”

So it’s clear the case will continue.

But look at The Independent‘s headline: Labour attacks Jeremy Corbyn for ‘wasting time and money’ after court defeat over suspension from party. Doesn’t that make it seem that he lost?

So, just on an anecdotal level, it seems clear that certain elements in the press have lost their impartiality altogether when it comes to reporting the courts.

Or perhaps, going back to a theme we’ve discussed recently, they’re just prejudiced when it comes to Corbyn and his supporters.

Source: Jeremy Corbyn: Setback for ex-party leader in Labour suspension fight – BBC News

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Court challenge against EHRC anti-Semitism claims about Livingstone and Bromley

Ken Livingstone: he is appealing for donations to help him mount a judicial review against questionable accusations made against him by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The basis in which the Equality and Human Rights Commission said the Labour Party committed unlawful harassment of Jewish people is to be challenged in court.

The long-delayed EHRC report on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, when it finally appeared in late October last year, stated that it could find only two instances in which Labour members had broken the law – involving Ken Livingstone and Pam Bromley.

The report claims that Livingstone committed unlawful harassment in April 2016 when he pointed to a “smear campaign by ‘the Israel lobby’ to stigmatize critics of Israel as anti-Semitic, as well as being aimed at undermining and disrupting the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn,” in his defence of Labour MP Naz Shah.

The EHRC report said Shah had posted an image to Facebook “suggesting that Israel should be relocated to the United States” and a second post “in which she appeared to liken Israeli policies to those of Hitler.”

(For clarity: the first image was a satirical response to moves within Israel to forcibly remove all Palestinians from within the borders claimed by the Israeli government to neighbouring Arab states; the claim about the second was even more disgusting – the text, stating that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal, was pointing out that an act can be legal and still be wrong, as stated by the black man depicted in the image… probably the 20th century’s most-celebrated anti-racism campaigner, Martin Luther King. I notice EHRC does not appear to have mentioned that small but important fact.)

Shah admitted anti-Semitic intent in posting the images, although they are not inherently anti-Semitic in themselves. The third tweet mentioned in accusations against her – a claim that “the Jews are rallying” in response to a poll on whether Israel should stop bombing Palestinians to oblivion during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 – was anti-Semitic (it would have been accurate if it had said “pro-Israelis” instead of Jews).

Livingstone has always denied saying anything anti-Semitic. He says the draft EHRC report had not been sent to him before publication, which means he had not been given the opportunity to correct the record.

Livingstone’s defense of Shah included a BBC radio interview in which he accurately pointed out that in the early 1930s when he first came to power, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler “was supporting Zionism.” This was perverted by critics including former Labour MP John Mann into a false claim that Livingstone was saying Hitler himself was a Zionist. That was never true; his aims and those of German Zionists coincided for a brief period, that is all.

The EHRC report does not mention the radio interview comment – which was what led to Livingstone’s suspension from the Labour Party and eventual forced resignation.

Instead it states that, merely by denying that Shah’s posts were anti-Semitic, Livingstone was guilty of “unwanted conduct related to Jewish ethnicity,” which “had the effect of harassing members of the Labour Party.”

But the anti-Semitic intent of the image posts was not apparent in the posts themselves; Shah had to admit it for it to be considered true.

This Writer is less familiar with the case against Bromley so I shall not comment on it here.

In a press release announcing the launch of the case Livingstone said,

“The EHRC’s investigation into the Labour Party was a politically-motivated attack aimed at derailing Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. The Commission cobbled together a half-baked case against me, justified by a flawed legal analysis.

“This judicial review will be a vital step in correcting the record and in fighting back against a McCarthyite smear campaign which has been waged against the British Left over the past five years.”

And Bromley added,

“The EHRC Report and its dubious legal analysis will have knock-on effects for freedom of expression. The right of pro-Palestine campaigners to criticise the State of Israel and its apartheid policies is being actively suppressed.

“This judicial review will not only help to clear mine and Ken’s names, it will ensure that the EHRC Report can’t be used as a tool to bludgeon activists who dare to speak up for Palestinians.”

The judicial review is supported by the Left Legal Fighting Fund, which was set up by left-wing former Labour MP Chris Williamson, using the proceeds of a legal win against the Labour Party in 2019.

The fund is hoping to raise £40,000 towards legal costs.

Further details and information on how to donate are available from the Left Legal Fighting Fund here.

Today’s (January 14) announcement must be another blow for hard-right-wing Labour leader Keir Starmer, who welcomed the report and used it to attack former leader Jeremy Corbyn.

He keeps saying he wants to put Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis to rest – but his own activities are prolonging it.

Source: Ken Livingstone to challenge EHRC in court | The Electronic Intifada

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Damning: Parliament reports on Johnson government’s Covid-19 response – and pulls no punches

 

Boris Johnson’s government has failed to address the Covid-19 crisis in any reasonable way, according to a new report by his fellow MPs.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus published its interim report today and it is scathing in its criticism of Johnson and his cronies.

At 91 pages’ length, there is far too much material for me to publish an in-depth analysis so soon – but I don’t have to. The introductory conclusions are damning enough. Here are some highlights:

The UK government’s approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic has been based on the
false choice between saving lives or saving jobs and the economy.

The centralised and outsourced Test and Trace system operating in England is not working. It
has consistently failed to meet the required target of 80% of contacts traced to be effective.

The UK government has prioritised arbitrary testing targets over a coordinated testing
strategy.

The UK government’s outsourced tracing service has consistently traced only 60% of contacts,
well below the required 80% target. Local contact tracing services have been much more
successful, regularly tracing 90% of the contacts.

Without adequate financial support and general assistance to isolate, the requirement to
isolate is not being complied with by a significant proportion of cases. As a result, the chains
of transmission are not being broken, and cases continue to rise.

Lockdowns have become the UK Government’s only solution to bringing down the incidence
of Covid-19 in England, because it does not have a locally led Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and
Support system in place throughout the country.

The inability for local authorities to access the precise real-time data has significantly impaired their ability to work effectively at a local level to contain outbreaks.

Centralised identification of, and communication with, those shielding has not been
consistent or clear.

Councils need clarification on the resumption of the policy of ‘everyone in’ (ensuring
accommodation for all homeless people).

UK government advice and guidance on shielding and on visiting those in residential care has
been inconsistent and unclear.

UK government public health messaging has been inconsistent and unclear.

Testing

Access to testing for frontline NHS and social care staff has been unsatisfactory, resulting in
staff being absent from their role while they or their family members wait for test results. This
impacts on the ability of the NHS and social care sector to provide care.

The international standard for the turnaround time of tests is 24 hours. The APPG
recommends that the UK government improves turnaround time for tests, such that all
results are accessible within 24 hours.

The APPG finds that there has been inadequate coordination between Pillar 1 (NHS) and Pillar
2 (commercial) laboratories, which has detrimentally affected testing capacity, information
flows and management decisions.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the capacity deficiencies in the UK’s public health
laboratory capability: existing public health laboratories did not have the capacity to meet
the surge in demand posed by Covid-19.

The recently announced proposals for testing at airports are not sufficient.

Personal Protection Equipment

There was an insufficient supply of PPE for those in the social care sector
and NHS.

Public Health England

The reorganisation of Public Health England would be detrimental to UK’s ability to respond
to the coronavirus pandemic.

Support for the NHS

Before the coronavirus pandemic, NHS England had around 106,000 FTE vacancies including
nearly 44,000 nurses and more than 9,000 doctors.

Support for the Social Care sector

The social care sector did not receive sufficient support in terms of PPE, guidance, testing or
quarantining provisions for those coming from the NHS into social care settings.

At the outbreak of the pandemic, there was a shortage of 100,000 social care staff.

Oversight of the social care sector was stopped in March 2020 due to a lack of testing
availability for Care Quality Commission inspectors.

Isolation is having a devastating impact on those in social care. All people living in care or
supported living need to be safely reconnected with their support networks for the crucial
emotional and practical support that friends and families provide.

Inequalities

NHS staff, and in particular those from BAME backgrounds, have experienced bullying and discrimination in the workplace when raising questions of workplace safety and lack of PPE.

The impact [of the Covid-19 crisis] has been particularly detrimental on those living in areas of high deprivation, on people from BAME communities, on older people, men, those with a learning disability and others with protected characteristics.

Long Covid

As a medical condition, Long Covid has not yet received full recognition, sufficient research
funding or adequate rehabilitation support.

There are insufficient guidelines for employers and GPs on recognising and managing Long
Covid.

The UK government is not counting the number of individuals who are left with long-lasting
effects of Covid-19 as a measure of the severity and impact of the pandemic.

Mental Health

Covid-19 has had severe impact on the mental health of a significant proportion of society. This may be because of isolation, loss of income, or loss of daily routine.

There has been an increase in demand for mental health support services, with many individuals seeking help for the first time. The APPG also finds that those suffering from mental health issues, including addictions, have seen their condition worsen over the course of the pandemic.

International Comparisons

The UK government has failed to look to or learn from other countries in their handling of the
pandemic. The APPG notes the experience of Norway and Finland, who built up their Find,
Test, Trace, Isolate and Support systems over the Summer, as well as those countries who
instigated testing and quarantine measures at airports early on, such as South Korea,
Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

That last comment is particularly telling – that the UK has failed in comparison with other countries – on the day that Gavin Williamson was telling radio audiences that Britain is best. What a bad joke.

You can see that this report pulls no punches. This Writer only regrets the fact that the parts quoted above fail to mention the number of fatalities.

I will try to go into depth in the near future.

In the meantime, I look forward to hearing Boris Johnson attempt to justify his inactions in the face of this substantial criticism.

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Less than a week after the EHRC damned the Tories over the Windrush scandal, deportations continue

The Empire Windrush brought many people to the UK to help rebuild the country after World War II. If it had still been in service a couple of years ago, the Tories would have been trying to use it to deport them all again.

It is ironic that the Conservative government’s own review of its behaviour in the Windrush Scandal was called Lessons Learned, considering its plan for a mass deportation to Jamaica tomorrow (December 2) shows that the Tories have learned nothing.

The Home Office failed to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) under the Equality Act 2010 when implementing Theresa May’s “hostile environment” strategy, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

May’s plan, which commenced in 2012, was originally intended to make staying in the UK as difficult as possible for illegal immigrants – people who do not have leave to remain, in the hope that they would leave of their own accord.

But the policy’s severe harm to members of the so-called Windrush generation – whose documents showing that they were allowed to stay in the UK were destroyed by May’s Home Office shortly after she took over responsibility for it in 2010 – was ignored, dismissed and disregarded, despite the fact that the Home Office was warned about it repeatedly.

Perhaps part of the responsibility for this lies in the fact that the Tory government, obsessed with outsourcing work to private, profit-making firms, told landlords, banks, doctors and employers to carry out ID checks and report people who lacked adequate documentation.

As a result, thousands of people – yes, thousands – were denied access to health care, benefits and housing, before being deported illegally.

Engagement with representatives of the Windrush generation – people who came to the UK, mostly from Jamaica, to help rebuild the country after World War Two, after the government of the day promised to allow them to settle here (see the 1948 Nationality Act) – was limited.

Most of the government’s Windrush victims are still awaiting compensation.

Some have died before receiving it.

The EHRC report said the consequences – which have included several deaths – were “foreseeable and avoidable” and the organisation’s interim chair, Caroline Waters, said the treatment of the Windrush Generation was “a shameful stain on British history”.

This Counterfire article is damning in its condemnation of the policy:

Dehumanisation and discrimination are built into the very concept of the ‘hostile environment’. For the Tories, the purpose of the policy was twofold: to divert growing anger at their austerity policies and to undercut the rise of far-right rivals like Ukip by appropriating their unabashedly dehumanising and racist ideology.

That’s right – the Tories under Theresa May adopted a deliberately racist ideology. And the policy of dehumanising victims was taken directly from the Nazi playbook, as Jews know very well from bitter experience.

Counterfire continues:

The lives of migrants and ethnic minorities are routinely exploited and endangered for the political gain of those in power in this way. This is not recognised in the EHRC report, which is only able to recommend a set of vague rectifications that rely heavily on the government’s good will, such as the recommendation for the Home Office to ‘prioritise and act early’ on its Equality Act duties.

The Home Office under current Home Secretary Priti Patel has made a public commitment to avoid any similar events occurring.

So it is strange that Ms Patel is determined to force as many as 50 more people out of the UK – including another member of the Windrush generation – in a specially-chartered flight tomorrow:

Immediately after it was revealed that the flight was taking place, no fewer than 82 BAME celebrities wrote to six airlines known to have carried out such flights, begging them to reject contracts to carry out any more. It is not known which airline has been engaged to carry out tomorrow’s flight.

Signatories included the author Bernardine Evaristo, model Naomi Campbell, historian David Olusoga and actors Naomie Harris and Thandie Newton, as well as lawyers, broadcasters and NGO chiefs. Leading Windrush campaigners including Michael Braithwaite and Elwaldo Romeo also signed.

And now – better late than never – 70 MPs and peers have also written to Patel, demanding that the flight must be cancelled:

The letter, co-ordinated by Labour’s Clive Lewis, states:

You have previously committed to ‘righting the wrongs’ concerning the Windrush scandal. But eight months after the Windrush Lessons Learned Review was published, the recommendations have still not been fully implemented, it adds.

“Planning a pre-Christmas deportation flight demonstrates that the Home Office has so far failed to learn any lessons.”

The letter also highlights the threat posed by Covid-19 to anybody being forcibly deported:

“The conditions of deportation, such as shackling detainees to ushers for long journeys in potentially cramped conditions, risk exposing people to the virus,” the letter reads, adding that Black people are already at an increased risk of contracting coronavirus.

And there is the more tangible threat of deportees suffering harm or death at the hands of the authorities when they arrive at their destination:

“We know that five UK deportees were killed between 2018 and 2019. Some people in detention have scars from past abuse in Jamaica, or siblings who have been murdered.”

Strangely, Labour leader Keir Starmer has not signed the letter – nor have 12 of his front benchers. They are: Angela Rayner, Anneliese Dodds, Nick Thomas-Symonds, Lisa Nandy, Ed Miliband, Jon Ashworth, Rosena Allin-Khan, David Lammy, Jess Phillips, Rachel Reeves, Wes Streeting and Yvette Cooper. Are we to conclude that these MPs approve of the Tories’ racism?

On the other hand, one of the signatories is former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn:

There is absolutely no doubt that the Conservative government’s racist deportations of people who have every right to remain in the UK should stop. This Writer also has absolutely no doubt that they won’t.

Priti Patel’s record marks her out as a vicious racist who delights in dehumanising and tormenting others.

It is sad to see that she faces no opposition from the so-called Opposition front bench.

But we should remember that the people who have opposed this obscenity are those who have been vilified by the Tory Establishment and their lackeys in the mainstream media. They have lied to us; they are not to be trusted.

And we need to find better ways to oppose them.

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Sink, Britain, Sink: The Tories had six years to fix the UK’s flood defences and failed

Builth Wells: This mid-Powys town stood at a relatively high altitude – and under a considerable amount of water in February 2020.

The Environment Agency will have to resort to pumps and temporary flood barriers to ensure thousands of homes are protected this winter, it has been revealed.

According to the National Audit Office,

the Government awarded the Environment Agency £120m extra funding to repair [last year’s] damage, but the Agency will only complete 80 per cent of the work before the end of this year.

This means

one in five damaged flood defences will not be repaired in time for this winter’s stormy weather.

Oh, I know. There’s been a huge crisis to do with a pandemic disease called Covid-19 since the last floods, and it has been taking all the cash that’s available and slowing down maintenance work such as this.

That would be a good excuse.

But the simple fact is that successive Tory governments have had more than six years to stop our homes from flooding and they simply couldn’t be bothered.

To them, it’s a waste of money to take preventative action – even though the cost of fixing the damage is, cumulatively, far more.

I explained the problem in This Site, waaaaaaay back in 2014 [boldings mine, at time of writing this]:

This is a result of bad planning – by water and sewerage companies that have failed to implement successful drainage schemes or to divert floodwater from rivers in order to prevent overflow, and by planning authorities that have allowed housing to be built in the wrong place.

We live in a country where management of the water supply went into private hands several decades ago. When that happened, it became impossible to have any kind of integrated plan to deal with the supply of water, droughts, floods and storage. Water supply became a commodity to be bought and sold by rich people according to the golden rules of capitalism: Invest the minimum; charge the maximum.

So reservoirs have been sold off to foreign water companies, meaning we have no adequate response to droughts. None have been built, meaning we have no adequate response to floods. Concerns about river flooding have been neglected. There has not been the investment in extraction and storage of floodwater that repeated incidents over the last few years have demanded.

The government is reducing its budget for handling these issues. Not only that, but it is delaying implementation of a new policy on drainage.

In short, there is no joined-up thinking.

There will be no joined-up thinking in the future, either – unless the situation is changed radically.

Meanwhile, the cost racked up by the damage is huge – in ruined farmland, in ruined homes and possessions, and blighted lives. And what about the risk of disease that floodwater brings with it? The NHS in England is ill-equipped to deal with any outbreaks, being seriously weakened by the government-sponsored incursions of private, cheap-and-simple health firms.

Something has to give beneath the weight of all this floodwater. Change is vital – from commercial competition to co-operation and co-ordination.

Privatisation of water has failed. It’s time to bring it back under public control.

Is anyone opposed?

It turns out that a majority were not. Reversing the privatisation of water and restoring a joined-up policy is supported by most of the UK’s voting population, according to polls.

In 2012, it was said that 71 per cent of voters wanted renationalisation. By 2018 this had risen to 83 per cent.

But millions of people voted Conservative at the ballot box so water has remained in private hands and the government has refused to stump up the cash to pay for what has become an annual – and therefore predictable – disaster.

The Environment Agency reckons it has a strategy to “build up the resilience of millions more homes and businesses” in the coming years.

What happens if the Tories strip away the funding for it?

Source: Damaged flood defences won’t be repaired in time for this winter’s storms

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Rayner defies EHRC by threatening to suspend ‘thousands’ of Labour members

Angela Rayner (here with her boss Keir Starmer): hypocrites – and very possibly anti-Semites without acknowledging it.

Note to Sienna Rodgers at LabourList: the headline on your report is wrong. It should have read Angela Rayner is a big ol’ hypocrite.

In the article, Rayner states that the findings of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party are not open to debate:

There’s no debating what the EHRC said.

LabourList also reported another statement she made to the Jewish Labour Movement’s conference – insultingly held on the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinians – that she and Keir Starmer attended rather than support the Palestine solidarity event:

If I have to suspend thousands and thousands of members, we will do that.

The two comments are mutually exclusive. The report clearly states that

We have concluded that the practice of political interference was unlawful… The Labour Party should… implement clear rules and guidance that prohibit and sanction political interference in the complaints process.

Her threat to suspend thousands – a warning that the leadership is planning to purge the party of anybody who dissents against its dictatorship – is itself political interference in the process, as it is an attempt to suppress complaints by members against the actions of the leadership of which she is a member. Therefore she is not only debating the legitimacy of the EHRC’s finding; she is ignoring it altogether.

Remember that this is all about the attack on Jeremy Corbyn by Keir Starmer, party general secretary David Evans, and others at the very top of the Labour leadership including Rayner herself, despite the fact that she once said this:

She went from that position to saying that the truth is “unacceptable”:

She is a hypocrite. She has revealed her true colours. She cannot be trusted. She should be ejected from her position of power.

This will be hard because the Labour Party leadership has a well-known track record of rejecting any complaints against its own members and friends, no matter how well-justified they may be.

But we have all seen this behaviour and we are talking about it:

And organisations that formerly wanted Rayner’s support and endorsement are now rejecting her. To be honest, I don’t know if the following tweet was connected with what she said on LabourList, but I anticipate that this is the soft footfall that precedes a stampede:

Oh, and by the way, Labour is not completely irredeemable. Members across the UK did come out in support of Palestine, unlike their treacherous leader and deputy leader. Here’s a tweet from Wales:

Let’s remember that Rayner – and her vile boss Starmer – are saying that they are taking all this action against the good members of their own party because of hurt, harm and injury done to Jewish people in the UK.

What about the harm done to Jewish people who agree with the viewpoint Rayner, Starmer and the others are attacking?

That’s right. These Jews feel that Rayner, Starmer and the others are attacking them. And Rayner, Starmer et al treat them as though they don’t even exist.

Isn’t that attitude a little… you know… anti-Semitic?

Finally, Labour’s deplorable leaders need to acknowledge that this confrontation between them and party members arose because the EHRC found that the leadership had been interfering in investigations of anti-Semitism complaints in order to make it seem that there were more anti-Semites in the party than was the case.

A court found only last week that the process of investigating accusations against This Writer – me, Mike Sivier – was perverted in order to produce a false finding against me.

Labour failed to follow its own investigation procedure. It did not adequately inform me of the nature of the allegations against me (in fact, the party changed those claims as it went on, in order to ‘fix’ the result), and a party officer leaked false claims about me – including a lie that I was a Holocaust denier – to The Sunday Times (which subsequently had to publish a lengthy correction).

And I’m not the only one who has suffered this treatment. The EHRC report found that, of the investigations it examined, no fewer than 60 per cent suffered from bias calculated to discriminate against the respondent – against the person accused of anti-Semitism.

Where are the apologies for lying and smearing us? I still receive abusive messages accusing me of anti-Semitism, even now. It may be that I will continue receiving them for the rest of my life. The Labour Party is to blame for that. Where is the contrition? Where is the apology for that?

Web of lies around Priti Patel bullying report: why is she protected if she pushes people to suicide?

I don’t like it when people in my government lie to me.

I have a feeling I share that opinion with many people.

Priti Patel seized on the part of Alex Allan’s report into bullying allegations against her, that said she had not been warned that her behaviour towards civil service employees exceeded the bounds of acceptability.

But it seems that this was because Sir Alex was prevented from interviewing Sir Philip Rutnam, the former Permanent Secretary to the Home Office, who is suing the government for constructive dismissal.

According to The Guardian,

sources say Allan was informed he could not interview Rutnam because of the legal action. Allan, however, felt that his inquiry was being denied potentially crucial evidence.

Rutnam… said she was clearly advised not to shout and swear at staff the month after her appointment in 2019 and that he told her to treat staff with respect “on further occasions”.

The indication that Sir Alex was prevented from interviewing Sir Philip suggests that his claim is correct. Priti Patel – as the person who was given the advice – would therefore have known she had it.

So it seems she lied, in order to make herself look better. That in itself is despicable.

Worse still, we hear that the prime minister – Boris Johnson – himself asked for the report on Patel to be “palatable”. Doesn’t this suggest that he didn’t want the facts – just something he could use to deflect criticism?

Is it any wonder that Sir Alex resigned after Johnson ignored even the findings of his report as it eventually appeared?

Finally, there is the odious spectacle of Tory MPs and ministers rallying to support Patel – a colleague whose loathsome behaviour appears to have pushed one employee into attempting suicide:

Mr Khan attempted to endorse it because his boss told him to help “form a square around the Prittster”.

So now we have an increasing number of Conservative MPs – and, presumably, other Tories – trying to deceive us all into accepting that there’s no reason for Priti Patel to be removed from office.

It seems one bad apple really can spoil the whole barrel. Or were they already spoiled and this episode just showed us the extent of it?

Source: Boris Johnson ‘asked for Patel report to be palatable’, source claims – BBC News

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Slap in the face for civil service as Boris Johnson endorses Priti Patel’s bullying

Priti Patel and Boris Johnson: you’re probably sick of this image but I’ve now associated it firmly with the ongoing Patel bullying story. She and Johnson appear to be very firm buddies and he has joined demonstrated that he is happy to trash the ministerial code to keep her in his government.

Alex Allan was right to resign after Boris Johnson metaphorically spat in his face – and in the faces of every civil servant who has ever been abused by an ignorant, self-important MP.

The report on bullying allegations by the now-former government adviser on ministerial standards stated clearly that Priti Patel was guilty of bullying civil servants while a minister in three government departments.

Under current Parliamentary rules, this means she has broken the ministerial code and must resign.

But Johnson has abused his position as prime minister – and therefore the ultimate judge of whether the code has been broken or not. In the face of the evidence, he has ruled that she did not break the code and may continue as Home Secretary.

Standards chief Sir Alex Allan found that Ms Patel had broken the code governing ministers’ behaviour.

But the PM rejected his findings, saying he did not think Ms Patel was a bully and had “full confidence” in her.

Perhaps we should not be surprised that Johnson rejected the report. It seems he had been trying to rally support for Patel, on the quiet, for some time:

It … emerged that he had urged Tory MPs, in a WhatsApp message, to “form a square around the Prittster”.

That approach seems to have worked in the case of Tory nodding dog Matt Hancock – who of course says anything he’s told to say:

Another block in the “wall around the Prittster was Dehenna Davison, who the people of Bishop Auckland – in a moment of madness – seem to have elected as their first Conservative MP.

Her tweet is nothing but whataboutery and she deserved the put-down she received:

Mention of John Bercow puts the seal on the matter, as far as the reliability of her fellow MPs’ comments goes:

And there’s a big difference between allegations about Bercow and those about Patel:

Patel herself has seized on part of the Allan report that said “no feedback was given to the home secretary of the impact of her behaviour, which meant she was unaware of issues that she could otherwise have addressed”.

She has apologised for upsetting people in any way, saying it was “completely unintentional”.

It makes a nice story.

But Sir Philip Rutnam, who resigned as Permanent Secretary to the Home Office earlier this year, said the report was inaccurate on this point and that

Patel was advised not to “swear and shout” at staff last year.

In a statement issued by the FDA union, Sir Philip said: “I have a high regard for Sir Alex Allan and regret his resignation, but I was at no stage asked to contribute evidence to the Cabinet Office investigation which gave rise to his advice to the Prime Minister.

“The advice states that no feedback was given to the Home Secretary and that she was therefore unaware of issues that she might otherwise have addressed. This is not correct.

“As early as August 2019, the month after her appointment, she was advised that she must not shout and swear at staff. I advised her on a number of further occasions between September 2019 and February 2020 about the need to treat staff with respect, and to make changes to protect health, safety and wellbeing.”

So the report did not contain all the information but still found that Patel was a bully – and that was not enough for Boris Johnson to have her removed.

The only conclusion is that Boris Johnson does not care if his MPs mistreat the staff of their government departments.

This means civil servants are not safe in their work and may be subjected to abuse by Conservative MPs at any time – and now know that they may not rely on fair treatment from the Conservative government if this happens.

If any such abuse happens in the future, there’s only one course of action for them to take: the same course as Alex Allan.

Perhaps a mass exodus of expertise will teach Johnson the error of being a bully-supporting bonehead.

But I doubt it.

Source: Priti Patel: Bullying inquiry head quits as PM backs home secretary – BBC News

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