Tag Archives: Richard

Starmer ‘rule breach’ looks like Tory mud-slinging ahead of local vote

Keir and the beer: but isn’t the real question what the person who took the image thought they were doing? VoyeurGate, anybody?

Did Keir Starmer have a bottle of beer in a Durham MP’s constituency office last year?

Yes.

Was it against the rules at the time?

Probably not. There isn’t really enough information to be sure.

Skwawkbox has provided a handy list of the rules here – and that site considers Starmer to have broken the rules.

But the BBC takes a more nuanced view.

Labour itself says Starmer was at the office of City of Durham MP Mary Foy for an online event ahead of the Hartlepool by-election – a neighbouring constituency. As pubs were closed, getting take-out food was the logical course of action.

Rules in force at the time said people should work from home if they could. It could be argued that this was an occasion in which working from home was not possible – and there was an exemption for “work purposes”. There were no specific rules for meals at work events or for socialising at them.

Durham police have investigated and said they were satisfied that no rules were broken.

That wasn’t enough for North West Durham Tory MP Richard Holden. He argued that “this location was not the usual workplace” of Sir Keir, and there was “no necessity” for him to attend the event.

Really? If it was billed as an online rally with Keir Starmer and Mary Foy, then it was probably reasonable for him to attend, and if it was organised by Ms Foy’s constituency party, then it was probably reasonable for him to attend it there.

And now there’s a question about Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner attending – which, again, is probably neither here nor there, considering the restrictions described above.

So on balance, This Site tends to agree (for possibly the first time!) with Starmer: “We’re a few days away from local elections, and Conservative MPs are trying to throw as much mud as possible.”

There isn’t any correspondence with the so-called Partygate scandal because the Downing Street gatherings were social events. Boris Johnson was fined for attending a party, not a work event.

So this issue is nothing more than a distraction – and a shot in the foot for the Tories.

That’s because, by concentrating on alleged lockdown rule-breaking, the Tories are focusing attention on their own wrongdoing more than anybody else’s. Their prime minister has been caught breaking those rules; Starmer is only accused.

And the simple there are far worse failings in Keir Starmer’s Labour Party that the Tories could be exploiting.

What surprises This Writer is that either party is anywhere at all in the polls. Other political organisations should be walking all over them while they squabble about this.

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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe wins Magnitsky Award for bravery. British media ignore it

Free Nazanin: Richard Ratcliffe (right) with his and Nazanin’s daughter Gabriella – and their message. What a shame neither the UK government nor its client media are listening.

Why did This Writer have to find this news item on Euronews (whatever that is) rather than a UK news website like the BBC? Because the Tory government is embarrassed at its own lack of action?

(In fairness, I did see a line about it on the BBC News tickertape yesterday evening, November 18. Why has there been no full story, though?)

We all know the background, at least – don’t we?

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was imprisoned in Iran in 2016, on false charges. When, as Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson tried to intervene, he made matters worse by mistakenly saying she had done the act of which she had been accused.

Since then, Johnson has allowed Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations between the UK and Iran over more than £400 million owed to the Middle East country in an arms deal that fell through after the revolution there in the 1970s.

Tory former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt made an impassioned speech, demanding the return of that cash, earlier this week. But he probably knew that he was just blowing hot air into the Parliamentary atmosphere.

A more substantial contribution to the campaign for Nazanin was Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on the need for her to be freed, along with other prisoners in a similar situation in Iran:

One would have expected Nazanin winning a major human rights award would have been an even stronger contribution to her cause. Clearly the UK news media – like the Tory government – aren’t interested in human rights.

The Magnitsky Awards recognise “brave journalists, politicians and activists in the field of human rights and anticorruption”. They are named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was killed in Russian police custody in 2009 after exposing government corruption.

She won the award for Courage Under Fire.

It was accepted on her behalf by her daughter Gabriella, who read out a statement from her mother (which I reproduce in two parts because these are the video clips available to me):

Sadly the lack of interest in Nazanin’s case suggests that she is still facing an indefinite wait.

Her husband Richard recently ended a 21-day hunger strike outside the Foreign Office in London. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss – and, it is understood, Johnson himself – walked past him without even acknowledging his existence.

And now we see only minimal interest from the national press, who seem far more interested in attempting to help Johnson distance himself from the corruption in which he and his government are mired.

It isn’t good enough. Current affairs are not a soap opera. Real lives are in the balance.

Real news reporters don’t brush those facts under the carpet.

Source: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Iran detainee wins Magnitsky Award for bravery | Euronews

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Richard Ratcliffe ends hunger strike for Nazanin after government pays no attention at all

Action not words: and Boris Johnson’s government has done absolutely nothing.

This Writer is relieved. If he had gone on any longer, who knows how badly his body could have been damaged?

Richard Ratcliffe has ended his hunger strike to highlight the plight of his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, after 21 days.

Nazanin has been imprisoned under false charges in Iran since 2016.

Boris Johnson famously mistook the accusation against her for what she did, providing the Iranian authorities with justification, not only for having jailed her, but for jailing her for an indefinite period to come.

then Johnson turned Nazanin’s freedom into a bargaining chip in an argument between the UK and Iran over around £450 million owed to the Middle East country since the Shah was overthrown in the late 1970s.

That gave the Iranians reason enough to find another charge on which to keep her imprisoned for another year.

Mr Ratcliffe, after having entrusted his wife’s well-being into the hands of the worst clown ever to hold high office, may have started his hunger strike in the belief that nothing will change unless there is a genuine threat to health and life.

But he has discovered that the Conservatives don’t even care about that. Current Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will have passed him on the street (he was camped outside the Foreign Office) to attend Parliamentary votes. She never even asked how he was.

He said he had started to get pains in his feet overnight and after discussion with his doctor he ended the hunger strike.

According to the BBC, he said he “didn’t want to go out in an ambulance”.

“I want to walk out with my head held high,” he said.

He was likely to have caused permanent damage to his body from the 15th day of the hunger strike onwards.

So the end of this hunger strike is a good thing. It wasn’t changing any Tory minds because they simply didn’t care whether Mr Ratcliffe lived or died. Their only interest in his wife is as a bargaining chip in negotiations over money.

This is not a defeat for Richard Ratcliffe. It is disgrace for Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and the pathetic excuse for a government that they front.

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Richard Ratcliffe hunger strike: Nazanin’s husband is risking permanent harm but the Tories don’t care

We’re 16 days into Richard Ratcliffe’s hunger strike outside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and none of the Tory government could care less.

We shouldn’t be surprised.

Since Mr Ratcliffe’s wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was first imprisoned under false charges in Iran, the UK government has only worsened her situation.

Boris Johnson famously mistook the accusation against her for what she did, providing the Iranian authorities with justification, not only for having jailed her, but for jailing her for an indefinite period to come.

And then Johnson turned Nazanin’s freedom into a bargaining chip in an argument between the UK and Iran over around £450 million owed to the Middle East country since the Shah was overthrown in the late 1970s.

That gave the Iranians reason enough to find another charge on which to keep her imprisoned for another year.

But it won’t do any good because Johnson and the Tories couldn’t care less what happens to anybody who isn’t one of them.

Mr Ratcliffe, after having entrusted his wife’s well-being into the hands of the worst clown ever to hold high office, has realised that nothing will change unless there is a genuine threat to health and life.

So he started his hunger strike, more than two weeks ago – and is now in danger of suffering permanent harm to his health.

And nobody in the government has paid a blind bit of attention.

Liz Truss, the current Foreign Secretary, has probably walked past Mr Ratcliffe – on her way to vote in support of corrupt Owen Paterson last Wednesday, for example – without a first glance, let alone a second.

Mr Ratcliffe is receiving his fair share of celebrity visitors who are raising whatever publicity they can give him – but it’s not doing any good, for the reason I state below:

Then again, how many people in the UK even know that the husband of a woman who is wrongly imprisoned because of the prime minister is even on hunger strike at all?

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Nazanin’s husband goes on hunger strike for second time, due to Tory inaction

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: this image is now many years old. Is she still able to smile?

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has gone on hunger strike for a second time in two years.

He’s hoping to push the Tory government out of its current “couldn’t care less” attitude and into renewed efforts to bring her home.

Here’s the story:

Richard Ratcliffe will sleep in a tent outside the Foreign Office in London after his wife lost her latest appeal in Iran last week.

He said the UK government’s strategy was “broken”, adding: “It does feel like a policy of waiting and we can’t wait forever.

“I had a conversation with the British foreign secretary, Liz Truss, to ask her what she was going to do and she still said, well we are going to talk to the Iranians and there will be consequences if Nazanin goes back. That’s too late.

“Hunger strike is an extreme act and it’s always a bit precarious at the beginning,” he told Sky News.

He continued: “I have to say, I thought that would be a unique experience and that when the prime minister came into office he would resolve our case and keep his word.”

Mr Ratcliffe’s Labour MP, Tulip Siddiq, tweeted in his support – with similarly harsh criticism of the Conservative government:

This Site has been covering Nazanin’s story since Boris Johnson’s initial – disastrous – intervention and it is well worth covering the saga of Tory government ineptitude that has progressed since then:

The case was brought to the UK’s Foreign Secretary – at the time, Boris Johnson – in November 2017. And the first thing he did was make the situation worse.

He said Nazanin had been arrested because she had been “teaching journalism”. In fact, that was the reason for her arrest – a reason that she denies (the Iranian authorities related it to activism against the state).

He later tried to claim that his words had not been clear and he had meant even if she had been teaching journalism, that would not have justified her arrest. But this was not true – one of many lies he has spoken on his way to the top.

The Iranian authorities said they would use Johnson’s words against Nazanin, but he refused to apologise for worsening the situation.

Next it was rumoured that Johnson was going to pay Iran £450 million owed to that country but unpaid due to international sanctions, in return for Nazanin’s freedom…

Then it was said that he had put the brakes on that scheme for fear of upsetting US President Trump.

Nazanin went on hunger strike. While she starved, Johnson (now prime minister) was working on his suntan, on the billionaires’ playground island of Mustique.

She appeared in court on March 14 this year, on a new charge of propaganda against the regime – apparently based on allegations that she took part in a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in London 12 years ago and gave an interview to the BBC Persian service.

She was later sentenced to a further year in prison and a one-year travel ban after being found guilty of propaganda against the regime in Iran.

Mr Ratcliffe now believes that Nazanin is a pawn in negotiations over the £400 million+ owed by the UK to Iran. The current issue seems to be about interest payable on the debt. Johnson doesn’t want to pay the figure demanded by Iran, one expects.

This Writer’s opinion is that Johnson doesn’t care what happens to Nazanin – he’d rather keep the cash. That’s a very odd way to behave, when one considers all the money he has splashed around to Tory donors and friends during the Covid-19 crisis.

But then, this is a man who (allegedly) said of Covid, “Let the bodies pile up in their thousands” – and they have. And now he is inflicting cholera on us all by allowing foreign-owned privatised water firms to dump raw sewage in our rivers.

With a prime minister responsible for that scale of barbarity, how could anybody expect him to lift a finger for one dual-nationality woman?

Source: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Husband on hunger strike outside Foreign Office for second time in two years | UK News | Sky News

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Labour constituency chairman quits with excoriating letter to Starmer

Fair comment: Keir Hardie must be spinning in his grave at the depth to which the party he originally led has been brought, by a man who claims to have been named after him.

This is dynamite from Skwawkbox, which reports that the chairman of Labour’s Colchester constituency party has quit, explaining his reasons in a letter that has been released to the public.

And it’s red hot.

Read Richard Hill’s letter for yourself [boldings by Skwawkbox]:

“As one of over 100,000 people to leave under your tenure I doubt my decision will give you pause for thought but I write anyway as after donating thousands of hours of my time over the last 5 years I feel I have enough skin in the game to express my immense disappointment in you. Your pitch to members was unity, authority and integrity. You are certainly an authoritarian. Unity and integrity seem to be sadly lacking. I’ve never wanted one faction to control our party, I value respect, plurality, robust debate and consensus-building. These are values I’m not sure we share.

“Another of your strengths that was lauded in the leadership campaign was your “electability”. That’s a meaningless notion in my view, and certainly not true in your case. You are 10 points behind an utterly corrupt and incompetent government that has decimated public services over the last 11 years. In recent elections the Labour vote has tanked, Hartlepool, Chesham & Amersham and the loss of 300 council seats aren’t indicators of “electability”, quite the opposite. The sight of you crowing after Batley & Spen was especially distasteful after Labour scraped a win with a massively reduced majority. Your triumphalism was pure delusion, if the Greens had stood, Labour would have lost.

“Perhaps winning elections isn’t what motivates you? It seems that punching left, controlled opposition and narrowing the political discourse matters more. This was not the vision you sold to party members. You promised not to trash previous leaders and to offer radicalism. You have removed the whip without grounds from Jeremy Corbyn and offered no policies whatsoever (barely even stating NHS workers deserve more than a 3% raise simply isn’t good enough). The blueprint for electoral success was written in 2017; a radical manifesto that understood how ordinary people were badly treated by a rigged system and offered a genuine alternative that would serve them better. This saw the largest increase in vote share for Labour since 1945. You have rejected that and played along with a narrative that it wasn’t appealing to voters, this can only be for ideological rather than pragmatic reasons. Young people and left behind communities, those with little power to change things, don’t agree and want and deserve a lot more.

“Labour is more than a party, it is a movement. You had half a million people, ready to campaign with you to undo decades of neoliberalism, rebuild our public services and build a better, more equal future. You’ve squandered that goodwill and with it your opportunity to become Prime Minister. I can only conclude you aren’t serious about winning power.

“Of all your failings and the endless excuses for them, the worst is giving approval to this criminally inept government’s handling of the pandemic. You could have challenged the obvious incompetence and corruption and maybe save lives but instead chose to “back the government”. Thousands died unnecessarily but you decided it wasn’t the time to challenge their actions for fear of negative Daily Mail headlines. You waved everything through, cowardice dressed as cunning is just weakness. 

“I think it’s my own bloody-mindedness or idealism that kept me staying a member so long, under FPTP Labour is the only show in town after all. When you paid off Labour staffers in a case in-house lawyers advised you’d win, with the endless delays in publishing the Forde Report, when you lied about Rebecca Long-Bailey sharing an antisemitic trope, withholding the whip from Jeremy Corbyn and the general contempt you seem to hold [for] members. All of these should have been enough to send me packing. I held on in hope of the unity and radical vision you promised.

“It is with much sadness that I leave Colchester CLP. The fantastic members are like all across the country demonised and seem an inconvenience to you, this goes against everything the Labour party should be. My comrades aren’t hard left extremists, they’re ordinary, committed people who give their energy and enthusiasm in the hope of a better country and a better world.

“They deserve better than your empty rhetoric, endless relaunches and the slide towards irrelevance you are overseeing.”

The letter comes as Starmer’s victimisation of left-wing party members with false accusations of anti-Semitism has again come under the spotlight with a complaint to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission from Jewish organisation Jewish Voice for Labour.

This Site reported on this yesterday and Skwawkbox has started highlighting individual cases with that of National Constitutional Committee member Stephen Marks, who has been suspended from the party on charges that are shockingly flimsy”

The evidence adduced consists of 3 public documents which date from July 2016, April 2017 and April 2918 where Mr Marks’ name is to be found.

The first was signed by 43 Jewish members of the Labour Party, asking Chuka Umunna to “Stop using antisemitism smears against Corbyn”; the second by 145 members of the Labour Party a substantial number of whom are Jewish, argued that such incidents of antisemitism as there were in the Party were infrequent and not systematic and that antisemitism accusations were being used to undermine the right to criticise Israel; the third a petition which garnered 7,689 signatories (including that of Noam Chomsky).

This petition started with an unabashed condemnation of all forms of racism, says that “we know anti-Semitism exists in society and needs to be combatted”, but worried about the development of “a chilling culture of fear, self-censorship, of members afraid to openly ask questions and learn, particularly on social media”.

The accusations certainly support Richard Hill’s opinion that Keir Starmer, is authoritarian, punches left, and demonises Labour members across the UK who he treats as an inconvenience.

But we live in disturbing times when political leaders have managed to make themselves unaccountable to their party members and the public at large.

This Writer is certain that Richard Hill is right and that neither his resignation nor JVL’s complaint to the EHRC will give Starmer pause for thought.

If Starmer really is about controlled opposition and isn’t serious about winning power, then he will take this as evidence that his persecution policies are working.

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‘Rotten to the core’: Labour’s Burgon calls out #ToryCorruption in the Covid crisis

Snout in the trough (all right – bucket) again: I’ve suggested the Conservatives should rename themselves the Corruption Party – and, judging by their reaction to Burgon’s speech, it seems clear they know what they are.

Every word spoken by Richard Burgon in this speech is right.

Listen to the complaining noises coming from the Tory benches while he’s saying them (they know he’s right).

This is a man the Starmerites in Labour say should not have the chance to lead their party.

But he is exactly the kind of leader the UK needs.

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Here’s why a DECENT NHS pay rise will help us all

Paying NHS staff more money will improve the UK’s economy massively.

That’s the educated opinion of Tax Research UK’s Richard Murphy, and who are we to argue with him?

In his latest video clip, Mr Murphy explains that the Tory government’s decision to offer only a derisory one per cent pay increase – less than the rate of inflation – is actually harmful to its own hope of economic recovery.

The Tories have based their offer on a false belief that the NHS does not contribute to the economy. This is easily disproved because a person who is fit and healthy is clearly more able to create profit than somebody who is ill or injured.

The benefit to the economy provided by the NHS has actually been measured and it seems that for every £1 invested in the health service, the economy benefits by between £2 and £4.

That’s a hell of a markup!

Think about it. Most supermarkets operate on the basis of profits between – what – five and 15 per cent, if I recall correctly. This is a profit of up to four HUNDRED per cent.

In a nation that badly needs to re-establish its economy after Covid-19 – not to mention Brexit – that’s not to be sniffed at, but sniffing at it is exactly what Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak and the other Tories are doing.

At the moment there are 80,000 staff vacancies in the health service because the wages aren’t enough to compensate for the long hours, stress and heartbreak involved.

This, along with the ongoing effects of Covid-19, means that patients aren’t getting the treatment – even the routine work – they need and there is a knock-on effect for the economy because they are being prevented from getting back into it and producing the content of work they should be able to provide at the standard they are expected to.

“It’s as much as we can give,” said Boris Johnson. But this is sheer short-sightedness. A five per cent pay rise, as suggested by Mr Murphy, would pay for itself as the benefits spread through the economy.

This Writer is left wondering whether Johnson is deliberately sabotaging the health service in order to make privatisation more acceptable; if it can’t recruit staff, then perhaps it should be handed over to private firms.

The trouble with that is, private firms won’t pay any better because they’ll be busily grubbing for profits for their shareholders.

And they won’t provide the service the NHS offers because most people simply won’t be able to afford their prices.

So the economy will suffer a much greater downturn as increasing numbers of people fall into illnesses from which they simply won’t be able to get up.

It is economic idiocy.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Mr Murphy:

One part of the clip that I don’t understand is where he says the NHS is perceived to be free. It isn’t and never has been.

Originally, the cost of the service was said to be paid by National Insurance. Nowadays I think that is not true – or certainly not as true as in the past. Much of the cost is now said to come from general taxation (although we know that tax doesn’t actually work like that; the money taken back by the government is more correctly said to be recycled into use to pay for the NHS).

Either way, the NHS is at least partially supported with payments from the general public. It isn’t free and never has been.

Isn’t it funny how that disappears from the minds of politicians whenever it becomes convenient?

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Sunak’s Budget is ‘for the fairies’ because it assumes that Covid is over

His next job: because Sunak has just served up a Budget ‘for the fairies’ that is likely to fall flat on its face in a few short months.

It seems the phrase du jour is ‘for the fairies’.

Some daft Tory MP said nurses’ calls for pay increases were “for the fairies” – see my earlier story on that.

Now I see Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has used the same phrase to describe Rishi Sunak’s budget.

He also said the Johnson government is “firing blanks” at every level.

And that Sunak is likely to be back at the Dispatch Box in a very short time with emergency measures to cope with the disastrous failure of all his Budget predictions.

He says these things with confidence because of one simple fact: Covid-19 has not agreed to follow Boris Johnson’s “roadmap” (it’s actually a timetable but you can’t expect a numbskull like your prime minister to understand the English language) out of lockdown.

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s Mr Murphy:

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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The Budget-related press interview you WON’T be hearing today

Rishi Sunak: he’s about to claim we need cuts to pay for the Covid-19 pandemic but that will just stop money from flowing through the economy, making it impossible. And in any case, it is unnecessary as he has already paid for it!

As the Tories continue to pretend we have to pay the cost of Covid-19 twice, it’s clear we’re going to hear a lot of double-talk in today’s (March 3) Budget speech.

Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has released a video of the kind of media interview he’d like to hear, with a politician who doesn’t mind telling the facts as they are, rather than as Rishi Sunak would like to pretend.

Here it is:

It won’t happen because too many people are supporting the lie – for reasons already mentioned on This Site and elsewhere.

But it needs to be said – and you need to hear it before Sunak pumps his nonsense into all our heads.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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