Tag Archives: Robert Peston

Coronavirus UK: Are the Tories deliberately trying to increase the hysteria?

Only one element unifies the constant babble about coronavirus from the UK’s Tory government at the moment: it is contradictory, confusing and seems designed to increase hysteria, rather than reduce it.

For a start: what’s with the policy of drip-feeding information via individuals or single media sites, rather than broadcasting updates to everyone in regular press conferences and on the government website?

Today we see Matt Hancock – behind a paywall – on the Torygraph website, contradicting the government’s announcement last week that the Tories would be seeking to establish ‘herd immunity’ by allowing us all to be infected, thereby condemning the oldest and weakest of us to death.

Here is that article in full. The Telegraph‘s owners should be run out of the country for putting profit before lives:

That previous announcement was made by scientific advisor Patrick Vallance. His latest advice is in The Sun. I haven’t seen it because I won’t willingly visit that paper’s website and the physical copies are only good to be snapped up by people who need toilet paper as a result of the government-induced panic-buying we’ve all seen.

Robert Peston has been parrotting information he’s been given. Did he even know it was accurate before he repeated it? My understanding is no.

Is it, as Carole Cadwalladr suggests, an attempt to avoid these leaks being attributed to individual ministers who can then be questioned over the validity of their decisions?

Worse still is the claim that people attacking this strategy are “politicising” the corona crisis.

We had this after This Site pointed out the political implications of the Grenfell Tower inferno, back in 2017. I was vindicated, of course – Grenfell has been a scandal that has rumbled on to this very day.

The simple fact is that coronavirus is already political. As Grace Blakely points out here, people have already died as a result of political decisions and the only question is whether those decisions can reduce the toll.

At the moment, it seems that Boris Johnson and his government, by flip-flopping through the crisis, adopting one strategy for a couple of days and then denying it in favour of another, are doing everything they can to create chaos, boost hysteria and ramp up the human cost.

Consider South Korea, the country generally accepted to have got the best grip on the spread of coronavirus. Here’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha explaining to Andrew Marr that testing people for the virus is vital… followed by a tweet showing that the UK government has abandoned that vital testing:

Is this a death sentence for old and vulnerable people?

Oh – and apparently the old and vulnerable could be arrested if they don’t quarantine themselves:

So it seems we’re being faced with a situation in which the people most vulnerable to the virus are being told to hide themselves away from society for weeks at a time.

What happens then? Will we see government vans roaming our streets and suburbs, calling for you to “Bring out your dead”?

There will be a knock-on effect again food banks, most of which have already been harmed by the panic-buying spree:

So the “Bring out your dead” vans will remain gainfully employed, picking up the bodies of the underpaid workers whose wages the Tories have been sitting on for so many years.

Evidence is piling up to show that the National Health Service – weakened to a constant crisis point by 10 years of Tory underfunding – is simply unable to cope with the extra workload of thousands (if not millions) of COVID-19 patients. This is the opinion of the British Medical Association, as you can see here.

Already Hancock has admitted that the service doesn’t have enough ventilators:

So he’s trying to buy some more, or get manufacturers to make them:

But it’s an ill wind that blows no good to anybody: the Tories’ friends in private medicine are set to rake in £2.4 million every day, loaning out 8,000 beds to the NHS.

That’s more than 3,000 fewer beds than the Tories closed between 2010 and 2017 (I have yet to find figures leading up to the present day)!

Meanwhile, the crisis is revealing hard truths about ourselves:

There is only one conclusion to draw from the above: Don’t trust the Tory government. You’ll be putting your life in the hands of people who simply couldn’t care less.

I think it was Tim Fenton, on his Zelo Street blog, who said Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings and their cronies simply aren’t equipped to provide information; they offer information warfare – strong on falsehood and misinformation. And they can’t seem to stop.

Call me a raging conspiracy theorist if you like, but the thought has crossed my mind that everything we’re experiencing right now could be a sign of Johnson putting those eugenics ideas into practise – you know, the ideas about cleaning the gene pool of weaknesses and impurities for which Andrew Sabisky had to resign his job as a government advisor. We have enough evidence to conclude that Johnson supports those views, as does Cummings.

So we can’t trust the government.

How about relying on something we’ve had a lot longer.

Where’s our common sense? People have had to cope with disease epidemics – of this very kind – for centuries. Why not go back to tried-and-trusted remedies, at least while the politicians and the medics try to sort themselves out?

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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History lesson for Peston (and backstabbers) on Labour anti-Semitism

Vindicated: John McDonnell was lectured by Labour colleagues Lisa Nandy and Wes Streeting on Robert Peston’s ITV talk show – but he was right and they were not.

A bid to backstab Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell backfired in the faces of Lisa Nandy and Wes Streeting after all three appeared on Robert Peston’s ITV chat show yesterday (February 27).

Ms Nandy and Mr Streeting were keen to suggest their own party had failed to act appropriately in the early days of anti-Semitism accusation against members, citing the case of their colleague Naz Shah as an example.

But Mr McDonnell contradicted them, saying he had intimate knowledge of that matter as Ms Shah was his Personal Private Secretary (PPS) at the time.

Here’s part of the discussion – and note how Peston describes it:

The impression you are intended to get is that Mr McDonnell was in the wrong. But he was right.

James Mills is a former director of communications for Mr McDonnell and the Shadow Treasury Team (STT). He tweeted his recollection of events to put the record straight:

Isn’t it interesting that we can see the same pattern here as faced Diane Abbott on the BBC’s Question Time a few weeks ago, when she rightly said that Labour was doing well in the opinion polls but other panellists – and even host Fiona Bruce – ganged up on her and gaslighted her with false claims that she was mistaken?

We can learn several things from this:

Firstly, the backstabbers in the Parliamentary Labour Party are now lining up to make their treacherous intentions known to the general public. Wes Streeting was already on my list; now we can add Lisa Nandy (unless she wants to plead stupidity; this is doubtful as she argued with Mr Mills on Twitter, pushing a claim that he was wrong). They probably thought they could get away with this story because the sequence of events was not reported when Ms Shah was accused in 2016. More fool them.

Secondly, we should also be making a list of mainstream news reporters who can’t be trusted to report events fairly and accurately. Again, I have to say that Robert Peston was already on my own list.

Finally, the reason this was being discussed is a claim by Ms Nandy and Mr Streeting that nothing has changed in the nearly three years since Ms Shah was accused. Their story was that the Labour leadership had to be challenged before any action was taken – as it was in the case of Chris Williamson yesterday.

But Chris Williamson’s case is different from that of Naz Shah. Ms Shah admitted that she had made a series of Twitter posts with anti-Semitic intent as a reaction to the deaths of many Palestinians during “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014, after the tweets were brought to light by the Guido Fawkes blog two years later. In contrast, Mr Williamson has made it abundantly clear that he opposes anti-Semitism; his statement that Labour has been “too apologetic” over accusations arose from a desire to support innocent party members who have been wrongly accused.

And that is the heart of the matter. For some reason, some MPs and officers of the Labour Party are desperate to hide the fact that party members – and former party members, like myself, who have been wrongly expelled – have been treated unfairly.

That is why they keep telling these tall stories.

It is also why they keep coming unstuck. Please draw your own conclusions regarding what this means about Chris Williamson, Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’s “anti-Semitism” row.


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Mainstream news reporters: If you can’t provide evidence for claims, then those claims are FALSE

Prove it: If you see a political claim being put forward without evidence – in the social or mainstream media – feel free to post this in response, so everyone knows.

It’s past time we put an end to un-evidenced claims from so-called news reporters who are politically biased.

Claims attributed to “a source” or “an official” have as much authority as claims attributed to Merlin, Darth Vader or Robin Hood and it’s time we stopped putting up with them.

The latest I’ve seen is from Robert Peston, who quotes an “official with access to internal figures” to claim the Labour Party has lost 150,000 members since its peak.

Who is this official? How do they have access to the figures? Has Mr Peston obtained – or even sought – corroboration of the claim?

We don’t know. So we must conclude that the official doesn’t exist and the claim is false.

Furthermore, we have access to information from a named official who we know has access to the figures – Labour general secretary Jennie Formby – and who says the claim is not true. She did it in response to recent claims in the Mail:

I’ve created a little banner (above) that you can use to highlight unevidenced claims when they appear in the mainstream or social media. Feel free to use it.

Let’s swing the spotlight to point out the fakers.


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No, Robert Peston, Osborne was WRONG to impose austerity. Stop distorting the facts!

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The BBC’s Tory economics editor Robert Peston is clutching at straws again.

He’s trying to persuade us all that everything we thought we knew about the UK’s economy during the Coalition Parliament was wrong, and that growth was much stronger than we thought. He is being economical with the truth, it seems.

He writes: “The ONS … says that the economy grew 1.5% in the general election year of 2010, then 2% after austerity bit in 2011 – revised up by the ONS from 1.6% – and then 1.2% in 2012, when the eurozone’s economic crisis imposed maximum pain on us.

“The previous picture, of austerity reducing growth from 1.9% in 2010, to 1.6% in 2011, to 0.7% in 2012, has been magicked away by the official statisticians.

“And they have also revised up their estimate of growth for 2013 from 1.7% to 2.2%.

“If these statistics are more reliable than the last lot, a particular school of Keynesian economists may choose to re-examine their contention that only a fool or a liar would say there is a legitimate debate about whether George Osborne’s policies were good or bad for the recovery.”

One of that school of Keynesian economists has hit back – hard. According to Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, Mr Peston’s argument is “just nonsense: complete and utter nonsense.”

He responds: “This ‘particular school’ has never based their assessment on observing what is still the weakest UK recovery since anyone can remember and looking for something to blame. They based it on what macro theory and the great majority of empirical studies tell us would be the impact of the fiscal austerity that happened. At the conservative end of such assessments is the OBR, who calculate austerity reduced GDP growth by 1% in each of the financial years 2011 and 2012. Estimates of this kind are completely independent of data revisions for one period in one country. We might doubt such estimates if they implied that without austerity we would have had implausibly rapid growth, but for this recovery they do not.”

This means that it doesn’t matter how well the ONS or Mr Peston says the economy performed – the simple fact that George Osborne had imposed austerity on the UK (unnecessarily) means growth was restricted by at least one per cent in the years he mentions.

Prof Wren-Lewis goes on to point out that the UK’s growth performance – even with these revisions – is still terrible because Peston has not taken population growth due to inward migration into account: “You really have to look at GDP per head to make comparative statements about this recovery.

As the ONS point out, this new data still shows that only in this year has GDP per head exceeded its pre-recession peak. Assuming recent data revisions have not changed this, average growth in GDP per head between 1955 and 2008 was about 2.25%. Any recovery from such a deep recession should have seen growth rates well in excess of this.

“Instead the revised data give us 1.1% growth in 2011, 0.5% in 2012, 1.5% in 2013. Only by 2014 had we got near the long term average growth rate. This is still an absolutely terrible performance for a recovery.”

Prof Wren-Lewis goes on to suggest that Peston might be saying as much himself if the Tory Government were not “breathing down the BBC’s neck”. The point that BBC political coverage is being distorted by Tory influence is a very good one, as anybody who has seen Question Time recently will know.

In fairness to Peston, he does point out that any extra economic growth did not translate into higher tax revenues for the government. Where did that money go (if it doesn’t exist only in the minds of ONS statisticians and Mr Peston)?

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