I stated: “Farms used to take on a lot of seasonal workers from EU countries before Brexit but that opportunity isn’t open to them now, partly because the UK has left the EU and partly because movement between countries has been stopped because of the pandemic.
“So now farmers are calling for help, saying the work should appeal to students, jobseekers and anyone who has been laid off work due to the impact of coronavirus.”
And I pointed out: “Certain unscrupulous farmers should not expect to pay native Brits the same pittances they foisted on foreign nationals just because they could.
“But most of all – the glaring issue that seems to have gone straight over their heads – there’s this: Coronavirus demands that we stay away from each other. How are they going to ensure that workers stay safe?”
It seems many Brits felt the same way: a “feed the nation” appeal by the government flopped badly.
So much for the so-called “land army”.
Instead, the government has opened the UK’s borders to allow Romanian workers into the country to carry out the work. So much for Brexit.
And of course, any checks for illness are being carried out at the Bucharest end of the flights. Has the UK ever imposed checks on people coming into the country?
So much for the coronavirus.
All in all, it really makes a mockery of the Tory government’s efforts to sustain agriculture.
At this rate, who knows what sort of harvest we’ll get?
Romanian workers are being flown in to help feed Britain amid a continuing recruitment crisis in the agriculture sector.
Special charter flights have started flying into the UK from Bucharest with desperately needed workers for British farms that risk losing their crop of early summer fruit and vegetables because of the coronavirus lockdown.
One plane was due to land in Stansted airport on Wednesday afternoon, with another landing on Thursday with 150 people onboard.
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.
Bizarrely, this is one instance of UKIP getting something right: The image by UKIP’s youth branch, Young Independence, makes it clear that the party is opposed by the NUS. There is no mention of a ban.
Our friends at UKIP have been at it again.
What follows is mainly from the A Liberal Life blog, detailing UKIP’s attempt to claim the National Union of Students voted to ban the party from standing for election within that organisation, when in fact all the union did was declare that it formally opposed UKIP.
Daniel Stevens, NUS International Students’ Officer, explained the decision on the NUS website. He said UKIP made the arrival of Romania and Bulgaria in the European Union a central focus of its 2013 election campaign, “using fear, misinformation and xenophobic language. They claimed the move would [lead] to an influx of 350,000 to 400,000 Romanians and Bulgarians a year, claimed that it would have an enormous impact on public services and went as far as to say it would lead to a ‘gateway for organised crime’… I have met Romanian students at UK universities and colleges who have been absolutely demoralised in the way their country has been stereotyped and portrayed by UKIP. One student went as far as to say that they now felt ashamed to be Romanian in Britain. There is something fundamentally wrong and blatantly xenophobic about a party that is willing to demonise and stereotype an entire country for its own political devices.”
Moving on to immigration, he pointed out that the NUS represents more than half a million international students, and that he spoke to members of that group every week “who are incredibly fearful of what UKIP represents, and I don’t blame them. Along with UKIP’s entire manifesto, its policies on immigration are currently undergoing a review. Whilst it stresses that it wants a non-discriminatory immigration policy, there is no indication of what that might look like. What’s clear is that UKIP [is] content to use xenophobic language to get their point across. Its previous manifesto stated that ‘multiculturalism has split our society’ and ‘our traditional values have been undermined’. Its new poster strongly implies that 26 million unemployed Europeans are after British jobs. UKIP’s entire campaign is based on immigration policies. The language it uses is an ‘us vs them’ mentality. Farage has suggested that parts of the country have been ‘taken over’ by foreigners and claiming that this has come at a ‘financial’ and ‘social price’. UKIP [has] repeatedly refused to create policies, or in fact a campaign, based on verified evidence of the impact of immigration. Instead [it uses] negative buzz-words that play on people’s emotions to drive an agenda of division.”
Finally, he pointed to what he called UKIP’s “problematic membership”. He stated: “Whilst UKIP will defend itself as not being racist, almost each week brings another case of a party member standing for a position that harbours racist, islamophobic, disablist or homophobic views”. For example:
• The star of UKIP’s TV ad dismissed Ed Miliband as “a Pole,” tweeted islamophobic messages and said Africans should be left “to kill themselves.”
• A UKIP candidate called for Lenry Henry to “emigrate to a black country.”
• An MEP called for British Muslims to sign a non-violence charter.
• A UKIP candidate in Enfield sent messages saying gay marriage sickens people and made misogynistic comments about a female councillor.
• A UKIP candidate in Leeds listed Nazi war criminals as individuals who inspire him.
“These examples are just from a two week period.”
He concluded that some had claimed that NUS passing policy that opposed UKIP contravened free speech. “On the contrary. Students across the country have democratically voted to hold UKIP accountable [for] its actions and views,” he stated. “We must always be suspicious and vigilant against the politics of fear and any political party that is willing to use xenophobia to gain political influence.”
He made it clear that if anyone else from UKIP wanted to run for office in the NUS next year, they would still be entitled to do so.
Now you know the background, let’s get back to the dodgy dealings on A Liberal Life, where we are told that yesterday (August 3), UKIP “community spokesperson” Suzanne Evans tweeted that the NUS was a “leftie dictatorship” for “not allowing UKIP candidates to stand for election”.
Faced with the fact that no such ban exists, the response was, “Debate impossible with LiberalIsland [that’s the author of the blog] – clearly believes it’s fine to ban party that won last nationwide election.”
Then some supporters of this lady jumped in to, well, support her. None of them had an answer to the main point of fact and the best they could manage was a lame “the opposition is equivalent to a ban”.
This is the face of UKIP today. Yr Obdt Srvt has been enjoying (if that’s the word) a debate over UKIP’s opposition to a European Parliament resolution calling on member states to legislate against domestic violence including marital rape. The latest UKIP position is that they were right to oppose the EU resolution because the European Parliament is undemocratic (so does this mean their election win is not valid?) but it would be inconsistent with UKIP’s intent to regain democratic self-government to oppose the Welsh Government’s planned law on the subject.
Apparently the safety of women in the home is of no interest whatever. In fact, the correspondent made this clear by stating: “I suspect that the practicalities of enforcement will largely vitiate a well-intentioned measure. Rape and assault outside the home are not prevented by laws criminalising them.”
Clearly UKIP is perfectly happy to justify its inconsistencies by playing with words.
Friends in right-wing places: Nigel Farage with (among others) US right-wingers Ron Paul and James Beeland Rogers Jr. [Image swiped from Pride’s Purge.]
LBC radio interviewer James O’Brien’s encounter with Nigel Farage has been gaining attention and approval up and down the UK, after it became clear that the charismatic UKIP leader wasn’t just defeated on many issues – he was routed.
Considering Farage’s own win against Nick Clegg in the televised debates earlier this year, it seems we’ve come to a lamentable situation in this country, where politicians can lose a battle of wits with anyone who has taken the time to do a little research.
That being said, if anyone were to ask who you would prefer to have running the country, it’s unlikely that either profession would figure in the top two.
The interviewer confirmed the findings of many social media bloggers over the past few days, starting with reference to two more UKIP members who had shown their true homophobic and hypocritical colours.
He quoted former UKIP council candidate John Lyndon Sullivan, who tweeted: “I rather often wonder, if we shot one poofter, whether the next 99 would decide on balance that they weren’t after all. We might then conclude that it’s not a matter of genetics but rather more a matter of education.”
And UKIP’s small business spokesman has employed seven illegal immigrants in the last year, said Mr O’Brien.
Farage employed the usual UKIP tactic, which is to demand that the questioner find out “what’s going on in the other parties”. O’Brien put him straight by pointing out that the other parties weren’t the issue at hand.
Later in the interview, he added: “The reason it doesn’t possess the same urgency as the UKIP conversation does is – (a) – the question of quantity; there is simply not the avalanche of bigotry emerging from other parties that emerges from yours, and – (b) – … the opinion polls do not report significant swathes of the country who are fearful that your party represents deeply divisive and racist ideas.”
He was saying it is possible that UKIP is influencing people into adopting those anti-immigrant and racist ideas themselves – and this theory has been borne out by some of the pro-UKIP comments on the Vox Political Facebook page (but you have to catch them quickly, before the perpetrators realise they’ve erred and remove them).
Regarding JL Sullivan, Farage said he wasn’t a councillor but a council candidate, then contradicted himself by saying he had not heard of that gentleman’s name. If that were true, how would Farage know whether he was a councillor or a candidate?
Farage’s assertion that he would face a disciplinary charge on whether he had brought the party into disrepute was punctured by the revelation that his tweet was made in February.
On the illegal immigrants, Farage’s defence was holed by the revelation that his small business spokesman resigned as a company director three days after the immigration raid.
A conversation about Farage’s discomfort, sitting in a train carriage in which nobody else spoke English, was surreal. When I was a student I had the unique pleasure of sharing a carriage with a crowd of French schoolchildren. That was uncomfortable too, but I didn’t attach any unreasonable baggage to it – it wasn’t an indication that French kids were overrunning Britain and it didn’t show that the French were all loud and overexcitable. It was one train carriage and Farage should have more of a sense of proportion.
O’Brien put his finger on the nerve and pressed hard: “The point you’re making is that schools in the East End are filled with children who cannot speak English. .. That’s not true… Children who are typified as speaking English as a second language would include your own daughters… Perhaps [if we checked] we would realise that most bilingual children in this country are children like yours?”
He continued, highlighting accusations of bigotry and hypocrisy: “What the caller asked you was why so many people think you’re racist… and… you talk about children who can’t speak English as a first language without mentioning it includes your own children.”
There was an implication that Farage, who has banned former members of the BNP from joining UKIP in an effort to protect the party from adverse publicity, has himself associated with the far-right organisation; and a question over the far-right parties with which UKIP sits in the European Parliament. Farage said UKIP would not sit with people who didn’t have a reasonable point of view but O’Brien flagged up a member of the group who had said the ideas of Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer, Islamophobe, Anti-Semite and anti-feminist, were “in defence of Western civilisation”.
Farage’s paper-thin defence was that the European political discourse was very different to the UK, (again) an admission that his party had encountered problems with “one or two members”, and a reference to problems in other parties (the Conservatives, on this occasion)
O’Brien leapt on this: “Your defence so far is that you’re no different from any other political party and yet your unique selling point … is that you are different.” In addition, he pointed out that Farage refers to “members of the political class and their friends in the media”, while writing columns for the Independent and Express newspapers every week and appearing on the BBC’s Question Time more often than anyone apart from David Dimbleby.
Farage should count himself lucky he was not also asked about his connections with American right-wingers, including Ron Paul (Godfather of the Tea Party) and James Beeland Rogers Jr who, together with George Soros, engineered the British economic crash of 1992.
Farage tried to defend his way of equating Romanians with criminality by saying that Roma people in other countries have been forced into a situation where crime is their only option – and then was forced into a corner when O’Brien mentioned UKIP’s fearmongering poster, that claims millions of potential immigrants are after the jobs of British people. Wasn’t he demonising foreigners by saying they will take all the jobs and push crime up?
“I’m not demonising anyone,” said Farage, then contradicted himself: “I’m demonising a political class that has allowed us to have an open door that allowed things like this to happen.”
“So when I say Romanian and you start talking about people traffickers, why don’t you say people are perfectly entitled to feel uncomfortable about living next door to people traffickers, wherever they’re from?” asked Mr O’Brien. “Why do you say ‘Romanians’?”
Get ready for another contradiction: “I didn’t say Romanians; I was asked… if a group of Romanian men moved in next door to you, would you be concerned, and if you lived in London I think you would be.”
It was while Farage was being questioned on his expenses that Patrick O’Flynn, UKIP’s director of communications and former Daily Express political commentator, stepped in (claiming that O’Brien was over-running, 19 minutes into a 20-minute interview). Mr O’Brien’s response: “Is this a friend in the media or a member of the political class?”
Homophobia, racism, hypocrisy, and an incitement for others to display the same characteristics.
Does this country really need that kind of alternative to mainstream politics?
Columnist Jill Filipovic hit the nail on the head when she wrote: “I can already hear your objections: ‘But the area under my boobs doesn’t stink!’ or ‘What kind of marketing genius not only came up with the term “swoob,” but actually thought half the world’s population might be dumb enough to buy into it?’ or simply, ‘This is a dumb product aimed at inventing an insecurity and then claiming to cure it.’
“You would be correct on all three points.
“In fact, inventing problems with women’s bodies and then offering a cure – if you pay up – is the primary purpose of the multi-billion dollar beauty industry.”
The simple fact is that you don’t really need to worry about smells down there – a good old soapy flannel will cure any such problems.
That’s not the point, though. The aim is to get you thinking about it and devoting your energy to it, rather than to other matters.
Now let’s translate that to politics.
We already know that all the scaremongering about Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants storming the country from January 1 was a crock. That bastion of good statistics, The Now Show, told us last week that the total number of Bulgarian immigrants in the last couple of weeks was “around two dozen so far”, according to their ambassador. In the first three months after our borders were opened to Croatians, 174 turned up.
Yet the government wanted you to believe they would flood our immigration service in their millions, “taking benefits and yet simultaneously also taking all the jobs”.
My use of language such as “storming” and “flood” is not accidental. By far the more serious threat to the UK in the early days of 2014 was the weather – and, guess what, not only was the government unprepared for the ferocity of the storms that swept our islands, the Coalition was in fact in the process of cutting funding for flood defence.
This would have gone unnoticed if the weather had behaved itself, because we would all have been distracted by the single Romanian immigrant who was ensnared by Keith Vaz in a ring of TV cameras at Heathrow Airport.
Now the Tories are telling us that our take-home pay is finally on the rise for all but the top 10 per cent of earners, with the rest of us seeing our wages rise by at least 2.5 per cent.
The government made its claims (up) by taking into account only cuts to income tax and national insurance, using data leading up to April last year, according to the BBC News website.
“The data used … takes no account of the large benefit cuts introduced by the coalition, such as the real-terms cut in child benefit, the uprating of benefits in line with CPI inflation rather than RPI, and the cuts to tax credits,” writes the Statesman‘s George Eaton.”
He also pointed out that other major cuts such as the bedroom tax, the benefit cap, and the 10 per cent cut in council tax support were introduced after April 2013 and were not included in the Coalition figures.
Once all tax and benefit changes are taken into account, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has shown that almost all families are worse off – and the Coalition also appears to have forgotten the five million low-paid workers who don’t earn enough to benefit from the increase in the personal allowance.
Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock compounded the mistake in an exchange on Twitter with Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR). Asked why his analysis “ignores more than four million people in work (the self-employed)”, Mr Hancock tweeted: “Analysis based on ONS ASHE survey of household earnings data”.
Wrong – as Mr Portes was quick to show: “Don’t you know the difference between household and individual earnings?”
Apparently not. ASHE (Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings) is a survey of employed individuals using their National Insurance numbers – not of households or the self-employed.
So the Coalition – and particularly the Tories – were trying to make us all feel good about the amount we earn.
That’s the distraction. What are we supposed to be ignoring?
Or is it the growing threat of a rise in interest rates, which may be triggered when official unemployment figures – which have been fiddled by increased sanctions on jobseekers, rigged reassessments of benefit claimants, a new scheme to increase the number of people and time spent on Workfare, and the fake economic upturn created by George Osborne’s housing bubble – drop to seven per cent?
It seems possible that the government – especially the Tory part of it – would want to keep people from considering the implications of an interest rate rise that is based on false figures.
As Vox Political commenter Jonathan Wilson wrote yesterday: “If the BOE bases its decisions on incorrect manipulated data that presents a false ‘good news’ analysis then potentially it could do something based on it that would have catastrophic consequences.
“For example if its unemployment rate test is reached, and wages were going up by X per cent against a Y per cent inflation rate which predicted that an interest rate rise of Z per cent would have no general effect and not impact on house prices nor significantly increase repossessions (when X per cent is over-inflated by the top 1 per cent of earners, Y per cent is unrealistically low due to, say, the 50 quid green reduction and/or shops massively discounting to inflate purchases/turnover and not profit) and when it does, instead of tapping on the breaks lightly it slams the gears into reverse while still traveling forward… repossessions go up hugely, house prices suffer a major downward re-evaluation (due to tens of thousands of repossessions hitting the auction rooms) debt rates hit the roof, people stop buying white goods and make do with last year’s iPad/phone/tv/sofa, major retail goes tits up, Amazon goes to the wall, the delivery market and post collapses… etc etc.
“And all because the government fiddled the figures.”
Perhaps Mr Cameron doesn’t want us thinking about that when we could be deodorising our breasts instead.
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