Matt Hancock tried to pretend he was tearing up at the sight of a gentleman named William Shakespeare (no kidding; I think they must have searched him out for the photo opportunity) being among the first to get the new Covid-19 vaccination.
Instead he made it seem that he was laughing at us all.
That’s a dangerous thing for a government minister to do, after presiding over tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths due to poor preparation and tens of thousands more after giving away billions of pounds to fellow Conservatives who claimed they were running companies that could help but turned out to be liars in expensive suits.
Still, some of us managed to laugh at him…
WHAT Shakepeare was quoted to make this man cry? WAS IT this from King Lear?
Meanwhile, 616 more people were reported to have died of the virus yesterday, meaning the death rate has maintained its level of more than 600 per day, despite Hancock’s (claimed) efforts to get it down. His English lockdown achieved nothing.
616 further tragic Covid-19 deaths today.
It feels like we have been normalised to this avoidable devastation.
Hancock should be weeping for these victims, not pretending to cry on the Telly.
The total number of cases increased by 12,282 – down slightly from 14,718 cases recorded on Monday.
The total number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus is now 62,033 (according to the new recording system. The actual number of Covid-19-related deaths is much higher).
The total number of people to test positive for the virus in the last seven days has reached 107,158.
And since the pandemic started, there have been 1,750,241 confirmed Covid-19 infections in the UK.
It has now been revealed that London emerged from Boris Johnson’s second lockdown with more Covid-19 cases than when it started, with rates still rising across three quarters of the city’s 32 boroughs in the week to 3 December.
Public Health England data shows that there were 174.1 infections per 100,000 London residents in the seven days to 3 December – up from 154.5 a week earlier.
Analysis by The Independent found this figure to be higher than dozens of areas in Tier 3, including Middlesbrough (170), Manchester (166), Nottingham (152), Leeds (150), Bristol (141) and Newcastle-upon-Tyne (128).
London is in Tier 2.
But that’s as much of an amateur theatrical show as Hancock’s fake tears.
Not only has Boris Johnson’s response to coronavirus sparked ridicule around the world, but he is also being pilloried for failing to do anything to prepare for it.
It seems to validate criticisms that he was hoping the pandemic would simply kill off all the so-called “useless eaters” – people on benefits with illnesses or disabilities that make them vulnerable to Covid-19 – meaning that his government wouldn’t have to support them any more.
According to the Huffington Post, the Cabinet Office has been producing a National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies – a list of possible disasters that may face the UK – along with plans to deal with them.
Every such document – every single one – has listed pandemic flu as the most probable and devastating threat to the UK.
The government knew it was coming – but the strategy to deal with it was written in 2011 and is therefore many years out-of-date.
Also out of date is the government’s UK Pandemic Influenza Communications Strategy, the crucial document for getting the right messages across to the public. It was written in 2012 and is wildly inaccurate in its assumptions about how and where people now get their information.
The HuffPost‘s claim that Johnson had been trying to catch up because his party had rid itself of all its own useful guidance is borne out by The Guardian‘s sources:
Politicians, scientists and commentators greeted the prime minister’s U-turn on Monday night, when he ordered a UK-wide lockdown, as a belated but welcome decision to join the rest of Europe, and much of the world, in a necessary strategy.
The mystery is why it took so long.
After the prime minister’s sudden reversal, one official in Dublin expressed relief. “The Brits were doing their own thing and it looked like we were going to have to live with it. They got there in the end.”
It was a variation of an observation attributed to Winston Churchill about America doing the right thing after exhausting all other options.
Last week the prime minister made an initial concession to physical distancing – a key tactic to slow contagion – by asking people to avoid pubs. But he did not close them and many people, including his own father, Stanley, cheerily said they still planned to go out for a drink. Nevertheless, Johnson expressed confidence such limited measures were working and could “turn the tide” within 12 weeks.
Many outsiders were aghast. The pandemic was out of control in Italy and Spain, killing thousands, and surging across the globe, prompting a scramble to emulate Chinese-style lockdowns.
Others worried about the fate of friends and relatives in Britain. Giorgio Gori, the mayor of Bergamo, the city hardest hit by Italy’s coronavirus outbreak, flew his two daughters out of the UK, deeming them safer at home.
Let that sink in.
Italy is the country hardest-hit by coronavirus, and the mayor of the Italian city that was hardest-hit flew his own children back there, because he thought they would be safer there than in the UK.
Looking at all the evidence, doesn’t he have a point?
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.
The Conservative Party seems to be getting desperate.
Its press office resorted to the dirty trick of pretending to be a ‘fact check’ organisation during the ITV leaders’ debate – presumably so it could tweet a (false) claim that Boris Johnson won the confrontation.
Not only did people take extreme offence at the pretense…
So, let’s get this straight…in this election campaign, journalists have to engage with a Tory press office that thought it was ok to pretend to be a fact checking service to deceive members of the public on twitter during an election debate. https://t.co/nKG1dLLwzI
The Conservative Press Office would never appear to be something it isn’t in order to spread disinformation. We resent the accusation. Also Boris Johnson has loads of kids but won’t say how many. https://t.co/CKWpvnUex7
Way to go, Tories. Not only did your man mess up his big TV appearance…
But you’ve also ensured that nobody will believe another word to come out of your publicity machine.
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.
[Image from Pride’s Purge, using material from Terry Craven’s Facebook page.]
I was shocked when I saw the images above – as I expect you may be, if you are seeing them here for the first time.
They are of a 64-year-old man living in Birkenhead, here in the UK. He had been left to starve by the Conservative government’s barbaric mockery of a benefit system until, at the time these images were taken (Christmas Eve, 2018), he weighed just six stone, had contracted pneumonia and was “at death’s door”.
“Please spare a thought for this 64 year old severely disabled client of mine? Please share this post to see if we can garner a response from the Tories although I doubt we will.
“My client was thrown off ESA by ATOS 18 months ago. Since then, he has been expected to sign on. Obviously, he’s been sanctioned and forced to go hungry. so much so he weighs 6 stone. On Friday [December 21], not surprisingly he was at death’s door with pneumonia. Fortunately, I was able to get him into hospital. Evidently, his left lung was full of fluid with his right not much better. He’s now on the mend.
“He has been unable to heat or look after his home properly because his health has deteriorated which I suggest is obvious from the photographs. He lives in one room of his 3 bedroom house he rents from a private landlord. It is rat infested, he cannot use the toilet nor is he strong enough to put water in a kettle. He relies on bottled water. I am making efforts to have him rehoused in sheltered accommodation. However, I think he may have to go into a nursing/residential home in the interim.
“Birkenhead Benefits Centre has ignored my continuous pleas for help, heartless bastards!
“Well here’s wishing May, IDS, Esther McVey a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. The one thing which is certain is my client will not have one thanks to their evil, Dickensian policies. I hope they all rot in hell for the sickness, death and hunger the Tories have heaped on disabled people since 2010. My Christmas wish is for a general election and a Corbyn/McDonell government.”
By now, you may be even more appalled than when you saw the images. But there is an even more horrifying aspect to this story – the reaction of some members of the public.
Initial responses were as one might have expected from members of the public faced with such a shocking revelation of the reality of Conservative benefit policies:
Apparently he’s stronger, still sanctioned and still 6 stone😞. I shared this on Facebook on Christmas and no one batted an eyelid, then yesterday my husband shared it again! I saw rage when I noticed people where not reading the story or looking at the photograph! So sad & angry
How about the abhorrent attitude of “Crantastic”, here?
You don’t get it. If you can look at those appalling images of a living man and react as you just did, you too have been severely damaged by the Tories. You might be comfortable and well fed, but you have been destroyed as a human.
I tend to agree with Ezzie Wilfred. Anyone reacting with such a lack of simple human compassion has been damaged by the Conservatives too – just not in a way that is as visible as the 64-year-old in the photographs, who is another victim of attempted Tory chequebook euthanasia.
The constant drip-feeding of Tory propaganda against benefit claimants, the sick and the old has desensitised these people. I would say they may even be suffering from a form of sociopathic disorder.
Or they may be trolls who have been paid to tweet poison at us, in order to “nudge” public opinion into line with what the Tories want. Judging by the fact that both the offensive accounts mentioned above have been around for many years but neither has many followers, this seems likely.
The best thing to do when encountering accounts like these is to block them.
Theresa May announced a crackdown on social media abuse in February last year, but these people are still here.
You may come to a conclusion about the reason for that. I could not possibly comment.
Extreme flatulence: According to JVLWatch, this is a sign that Hitler is being portrayed as a superhero. How many superheroes do YOU know who have the farts?
If anti-Semitism is rife in the Labour Party, why are the accusers having to lie about it?
This morning (November 1), I woke up to an email from a friend, as follows: “Mike just letting you know this lot on Twitter appear to be targeting individuals who have donated to your crowd fund.”
“This lot” would be a new name on the fake anti-Semitism bandwagon, JVLWatch on Twitter (joined September 2017). I have no doubt that the same old liars are behind it, though.
Who knows – they may even be connected with the right-wing ‘anti-Semitism’ troll that Skwawkbox has exposed for promoting a fake anti-Semitic Twitter account and then inventing a biography for the same nonexistent person. Read about it here.
You may be aware that This Writer has been falsely accused of anti-Semitism, and I have launched a crowdfunding campaign to take my accusers to court for defamation.
JVLWatch appears to be attacking people who are contributing to my JustGiving site, who happen to be members of Jewish Voice for Labour.
The claim refers to a comic strip I wrote for a small-press publication called Violent! which I created in 1999. Violent! was a tribute to the 1970s comics legend Action. I created a series for it entitled Hard-Boiled Hitler.
The strip parodies Hitler’s career using themes common to superhero comics – but there I part company with JVLWatch, whose authors have either never read the story or are deliberately trying to mislead the public.
In HBH, Hitler is the recipient of superhuman abilities in a similar manner to that of Captain America – but he steals the syringe containing the serum that gives him these powers and shoots up in a filthy toilet. A superhero? Perhaps not!
The scene referenced in the tweet, in which “Hitler punches through gas clouds, using the Nazi phrase to justify aryan supremacy & extermination of Jews” is, of course, nothing of the sort.
It may interest you to know that The Sun and The Sunday Times tried to use this strip as justification of their claim that I was an anti-Semite, to the press regulator IPSO. After reading my response, the regulator dismissed the claim out of hand.
Here’s what I wrote:
“I find it interesting that the representative mentions the humorous – yes it was! – comic strip I wrote, ‘Hard-BoiledHitler‘. From the way it is mentioned, I would have suggested that nobody involved with The Sunday Times has read it, or they would have realised that it in no way supports Hitler or the Nazis, and is in no way anti-Semitic.
“The whole idea was to ridicule the man, his ideas, and the political party that promoted them – and to warn that, unless the people are vigilant, it can be easy for such people to gain power, no matter how silly they really are.
“I was going to raise the issue of anti-Semitism in the strip: The intention was to have veiled references to something going on in the background – as I recall, the Allies had no idea what was going on for most of the war – until I reached an appropriate time in the narrative for the liberation of a concentration camp. Then, I think the appropriate metaphor is, the other shoe drops – it would have become apparent that, while this ridiculous character was behaving in the ridiculous ways chronicled in the previous episodes, he had also been carrying out the genocides for which the real Hitler is justly infamous.
“The point would have been that even the most clownish of people may be capable of the most heinous of crimes. Nowadays I would connect that to the behaviour of real people in power at the moment, around the world, but I wasn’t as politically-motivated at the time. Unfortunately, the series was cut short by the premature death of the artist.
“Nobody who worked on it considered it to be anti-Semitic – if it was, one might as well suggest that every war comic published since 1945 was anti-Semitic too, because most of them don’t even mention the Holocaust. How could they miss out something so central to our understanding of that conflict? But of course they are not. I have no reason to believe that any of the readers considered it to be anti-Semitic either – certainly nobody ever contacted us to express such concerns.
“I am therefore drawn to the conclusion that The Sunday Times – and anybody else who wants to use the strip to support their position – is rather desperately scrabbling for anything that can be reinterpreted to support its claims, in the hope that people seeing the strip after being exposed to the publication’s interpretation of it will be influenced to accept those claims.”
On that last point – shall we find out?
Below is the episode of Hard-Boiled Hitler containing the image JVLWatch mentioned: The Orator. Did it show him punching through gas clouds, “using the Nazi phrase to justify aryan supremacy and extermination of Jews” – or did it portray him as a flatulent git?
No anti-Semitism there – it’s simply a swastika-smashing send-up.
So JVLWatch – and all those who join it in accusing the innocent – are a gang of liars.
And the best way to teach them the error of their ways is to do exactly what they don’t want.
So, please, if you haven’t donated to the crowdfunding page before (or even if you have), please visit it and give what you can. Attempts to mislead the public in this way are nothing less than evil.
For a start, they were using an image from Internet pre-history to attract young people – something likely to appeal only to their target audience’s dad. Then there’s – oh, please, do I have to explain the sheer awfulness of it?
You'll need a damn sight more than Star Wars references to lure uk youth to the dark side 😂
The Twitter address on the #meme is wrong, by the way – it’s @ActivateBritain now. @Activate.UK.Net was vacated and subsequently adopted by a satirist who has been having great fun with the name.
Activate has a website, where it proudly proclaims: “Activate is an independent national grassroots campaign organisation that seeks to actively engage young people in the right of centre politics, make a case for what conservatism can offer and provide a platform to enable their voices to be heard.
“We intend to reclaim the voice of young people in politics, bringing together individuals and groups in our education system, workplaces and communities. We will campaign and organise to ensure that issues that are important to them are heard, discussed and addressed.”
Fine, if you like that sort of thing. It’s just that the public turns out not to.
The first sign of trouble is on the parts of the website relating to money – membership and donations. Full member, aged 25 and over, are encouraged to spend anything between £10 and £500 – yes, really! – on their membership. This Writer has no idea how many people have signed up to that, but as a possible indicator, let’s look at the “Donations” page, where we see the most that has been offered so far is £2.06, from a person with the unlikely name “Theresa May is wildly incompetent”.
Other donors at the time of writing include “Harold Shipman”, “Jimmy Savile” and “Communism Will Win”.
So it seems the public has not taken Activate seriously…
Perhaps they have taken their cue from the Conservative Party – one glance at the “People” section of the website showedthat it is not a grassroots campaign at all, but run by old-hand Tory apparatchiks. I say “showed” because that page has disappeared from the website for some strange reason – teething troubles, perhaps?
Yes. To complete the science fiction comparison, Activate has now become the Tory equivalent of The Black Hole, attracting all comment into its self-parodying gravity well. Even this (mocking) query about tax avoidance couldn’t escape the inevitable:
Hi @ActivateBritain could you please publish your business company/charity number. We sincerely hope you're registered & aren't avoiding tax
This Writer hopes that Activate enjoys a long life on the Internet and beyond. I also enjoy a good laugh. But I fear that this may be a phenomenon without enough momentum (ha ha!) to last until the end of the week.
Steve Bell’s response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings – ridiculing the attackers because they don’t deserve anything else (yes, there is an expletive and VP usually blacks them out… Not this time).
It’s understandable, but it isn’t the answer.
It seems that, following the attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo and the killing of 12 people by terrorists claiming to be Muslims, at least one mosque has been attacked along with other places – in retaliation?
NDTVcarried the story: “Three blank grenades were thrown at the mosque shortly after midnight in the city of Le Mans, west of Paris; shots were also fired in the direction of a Muslim prayer hall shortly after evening prayers in the Port-la-Nouvelle district near Narbonne in southern France.
“An explosion at a kebab shop near a mosque in the eastern French town of Villefranche-sur-Saone on Thursday morning also left no casualties.”
This is, of course, exactly what the terrorists wanted. Terrorists always want to set people against each other, for the wrong reasons. The vast majority of Muslims are likely to have been as horrified at the terror attack as everyone else – but what are they supposed to think, now that innocent Muslims are being attacked by idiots?
Here’s the real voice of Islam, in the words of Vox Political commenter ‘Nightentity’ yesterday: “Those that believe these so-called Imams are ignorant of their faith and will believe anything they hear that makes them seem intelligent and all knowing to the other ignorant [people].
“Terrorism is not Islamic, you don’t cause suffering to the aged, the weak and the innocent, you don’t hide behind masks and scarves, you stand like a man and fight a man’s battle. These terrorists are cowards and weaklings for they hide behind a faith that does not condone what they do.
“These terrorists are only out for power and control, they are not true Muslims in any sense of the word.” [Bolding mine]
Meanwhile, the world’s political (and other) cartoonists have responded to the attack. Here’s Lew Stringer:
And Uderzo, the artist responsible for Asterix cartoons, paid respect to the deceased:
Here in the UK, cartoonist (and friend of Vox Political) Martin Rowson responded to the atrocity in a Guardian comment piece. Under the headline We must not stop laughing at these murderous clowns, he wrote: “We’re very, very good at laughing at those who place themselves above us, either as our leaders or intending to impose their beliefs to make everyone else exactly like them. However much they may identify themselves as victims of mockery, those cartoonists’ murderers have clearly also identified themselves as on the side of the power.
“Don’t forget that demanding either respect or silence from everyone else is one of the most common abuses of power going. But don’t fool yourselves that this is about Islam… The British cartoonists’ names filling the Gestapo Death List were just another manifestation, throughout history, of how hateful laughter is to despots.
“Which is why, now more than ever, we mustn’t stop laughing this latest bunch of murderous clowns to scorn.”
I have complained to the BBC and the UK Statistics Authority about this disgrace.
Today (January 25) the BBC published a scurrilous little screed claiming that “nearly a million people who applied for sickness benefit have been found fit for work”. Needless to say, the figures come from the Department for Work and Pensions and aren’t worth the time it took to type them in.
The story states: “The DWP claims 980,400 people – 32% of new applicants for Employment and Support Allowance – were judged capable of work between 2008 and March 2013.
“More than a million others withdrew their claims after interviews, it adds.”
It goes on to say that disability campaigners had stated that the work capability assessment tests were “ridiculously harsh and extremely unfair”, but says nothing about the fact that an almost-identical story was withdrawn last year after it was found to be riddled with inaccuracies – if not outright lies.
Even more bizarre is the fact that the story does provide the factual reason for claims being withdrawn. They “either returned to work, recovered or claimed a benefit “more appropriate to their situation”.
In other words, these people used the system in exactly the right way, yet the DWP – and the BBC – are pretending that they were trying to fiddle it in some way.
To explain what happened last year, let’s look at a letter from Sheila Gilmore MP to Andrew Dilnot, head of the UK Statistics Authority, and his response. You can find it on page 39 of the DPAC report on DWP abuse of statistics.
The letter from Sheila Gilmore states: “On 30 March 2013 an article by Patrick Hennessy entitled ‘900,000 choose to come off sickness benefit ahead of tests’ was published in the Sunday Telegraph. Please find a copy enclosed. I believe that the headline and the subsequent story are fundamentally misleading because they conflate two related but separate sets of statistics. I would be grateful if you could confirm that my interpretation of what has happened is correct.
“The sickness benefit in question is Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). People have been able to make new claims for ESA since October 2008, but those in receipt of the benefits it replaced – Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, and Income Support on the grounds of disability – only started migrating across in April 2011.
“The article implied that many of this latter group were dropping their claim rather than having to go through a face-to-face assessment, with the implication that they were never really ill in the first place and had been ‘playing the system’.
“However I have checked the figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions and it would appear that the figure of 900,000 actually refers to all those who have made new claims for ESA since its introduction over four years ago, but who have since withdrawn their application before undergoing a face-to-face assessment. These people were not claiming the benefit before and generally drop out of the system for perfectly innocent reasons – often people become ill, apply as a precaution, but withdraw when they get better.
“Of the 600,000 people who have been migrated from Incapacity Benefit over the past two years, only 19,700 have dropped their claim. This is the figure that should have featured in the headline, but the 900,000 figure was used instead.”
Mr Dilnot replied: “Having reviewed the article and the relevant figures, we have concluded that these statements appear to conflate official statistics relating to new claimants of the ESA with official statistics on recipients of the incapacity
benefit (IB) who are being migrated across to the ESA.
“According to official statistics published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in January 2013, a total of 603,600 recipients of IB were referred for reassessment as part of the migration across to ESA between March 2011 and May 2012. Of these, 19,700 claims were closed prior to a work capability assessment in the period to May 2012.
“The figure of “nearly 900,000” referenced in the article appears to refer to the cumulative total of 878,300 new claims for the ESA (i.e. not pre-existing IB recipients) which were closed before undergoing assessment in the period from October 2008 to May 2012.
“In your letter, you also expressed concern about the apparent implication in the Sunday Telegraph article that claims for ESA had been dropped because the individuals were never really ill in the first place. The statistical release does not address the issue of why cases were closed in great depth, but it does point to research undertaken by DWP which suggests that ‘an important reason why ESA claims in this sample were withdrawn or closed before they were fully assessed was because the person recovered and either returned to work, or claimed a benefit more appropriate to their situation’.”
What he was saying, in his officialese way, was that the Conservatives had wrongly ‘conflated’ monthly figures into a cumulative total; they had misled the press about the figures’ significance; and the press release (which then mysteriously disappeared) ignored a clear caveat in the DWP’s own report that the reason the claims were dropped each month had nothing to do with fear of medical assessment but were because people recovered and went back to work, or else were switched to another benefit deemed more suitable to their circumstances.
Now the BBC has resurrected this story, with brand new, larger numbers that add in the totals for 2013 without telling you whether these were all new claims, or repeat claims, or a mixture; they are all treated as new.
The claim that 980,400 people had been found fit for work after medical tests – the feared Atos work capability assessments – is also extremely questionable – as the BBC well knows.
Its own Panorama programme, ‘Disabled or Faking It?’, investigated whether the DWP was knocking people off-benefit in order to hit financial targets – in essence, making people destitute in order to show a budget saving. A Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, ‘Britain on the Sick’, proved that this was happening. Both were shown at the end of July 2012.
I have complained to the BBC and to Mr Dilnot about the deeply offensive and defamatory way in which these lies have been resurrected, in order to encourage the general public to hold people who are genuinely ill in hatred, ridicule and contempt. If you believe this cause is just, go thou and do likewise.
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