Tag Archives: scandal

Prejudiced Tories are unfairly denying benefits to people whose relatives die of Covid-19

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Sanction centre: it isn’t a sanction as such, but anyone receiving compensation for the death of a relative due to Covid-19 will be automatically denied state benefits.

Doesn’t this show how sly, sneaky and underhanded Boris Johnson and his Tory friends are?

If any low-paid frontline NHS and social care workers die of Covid-19, their relatives are entitled to claim a £60,000 lump sum under a Tory compensation scheme.

But if they are already claiming benefits and they do this, they will lose their entitlement to those benefits, meaning they could not claim Universal Credit, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit.

Some of you might think that’s fair; £60,000 is a lot of money, after all.

But this is at a time when Boris Johnson has been dishing out huge sums – £563,400 to consulting firm McKinsey for ‘advice’ that is likely to see the new National Institute for Health Protection sink without a trace, £150 million on face masks that can’t be used, an unspecified amount to Public First for the ‘A’ level results fiasco. Why should benefit claimants lose out when these fat Tories are making such a killing?

Perhaps more to the point, other compensation schemes such as those for the Windrush scandal and the Grenfell Tower fire do not affect entitlement to state benefits. Why should this be different?

The Tories have no answer to this question. Their spokesman is quoted as saying, “It has always been one the central principles of Universal Credit that decisions on awarding the benefit should take into account individuals’ existing ability to meet their basic needs, so that we maintain our focus on supporting families in most need.”

But the Windrush and Grenfell schemes are exempt from being taken into account.

It seems the Tories have created a hierarchy of merit – and relatives of Covid-19 victims have been ruled undeserving, even while ministers’ cronies are mopping up the last coppers from the Treasury that Johnson has emptied.

Source: UK families bereaved by Covid-19 lose eligibility for welfare benefits | Universal credit | The Guardian

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Gavin Williamson’s bigotry has endangered the futures of thousands of people – and the UK as a whole

Promoted beyond his abilities: Gavin Williamson was fired as Defence Secretary last year after… someone… leaked information about Chinese firm Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G system (and look how that story has developed). Now he has messed up the hopes of thousands of ‘A’ level students.

What a fiasco – and all to create an artificial impression that privately-educated school pupils are better than those in the state system.

We all knew that school pupils taken their GCSE and ‘A’ level exams have been seriously disrupted this year, with schools being closed from late March.

This meant it was impossible for their exams to go ahead in the normal way, with knock-on effects for the future of candidates as they apply to move into a career or further education.

There are ways to make fairly accurate predictions of each pupils’ likely achievements, based on their mock examination results and their term work.

But Education Secretary Gavin Williamson couldn’t be bothered with all of that, so this year’s results are estimates – figures plucked from some apparatchik’s rear end.

The results he has produced show a clear bias in favour of privately-educated pupils that is unlikely to stand up to scrutiny; it seems Williamson has simply promoted the children of rich Tory voters above everybody else.

Picture the scene if you can: Williamson in his office, looking at students’ details.

WILLIAMSON: “Julian Huntley Farquar – studying at Harrowton*. Predicted grades are C, C and… C. We’ll give you an A, A* and, oh, I think another A. Well done, Julian for going to the right school!

“Now, who’s this? Billy Tozer. Factorytown Comprehensive. Predicted A, A and A*! That’ll never do. You can have a D, U and D, Billy – and that’ll teach you not to be born to poor, working-class parents next time!”

(Who’s the real DUD in this vignette, by the way?)

Result: Bedlam.

People are right to be outraged. These seems to be another clear example of the Tories using the Covid-19 crisis to hammer anybody who doesn’t have a million quid in the bank.

Look at these examples of deliberate downgrading:

And how has the Education Secretary responded?

Not only has he said (through Ofqual) that appealing against these false, imposed grades would harm other pupils in the appellant’s school…

But changing the grades would promote pupils “beyond their abilities”:

https://twitter.com/Independent/status/1293870590642851841

I think I speak for the entire United Kingdom when I say that this fiasco has certainly shown how one person has been promoted beyond his abilities – that person being Gavin Williamson.

Williamson should resign – or be sacked again. By downgrading pupils who didn’t go to posh, expensive schools he is harming the future of the whole of the United Kingdom.

Given the right opportunities, those students could go on to become captains of business, industry, science and the arts, leading the nation forward into a brighter future.

But now those opportunities will go to dim Julian who hasn’t got a clue – just because he went to the right school.

It is a crime against the nation.

Oh… the official leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer, has said something about this, but it isn’t even worth repeating.

I will repeat some of the responses to him, though:

From Rachael Swindon: “Why aren’t you calling for Gavin Williamson to go immediately? STOP HELPING THE TORIES FFS.”

And from Raphael Dogg: “Criticise. The. Fucking. Government.”

If either of those tweeters is a Labour Party member, I have no doubt that Mr Starmer will be having them expelled as soon as possible.

*Feeble attempt to concoct a fictional public school name.

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Child benefit scandal: a million more children in poverty, 900 women forced to disclose rape

The Scottish National Party seems to have taken over what used to be Labour’s job as guardian of vulnerable benefit claimants.

(And it’s a good thing; Keir Starmer seems to think he is better-occupied persecuting innocent party members with trumped-up anti-Semitism accusations.)

So we have the SNP to thank for revealing the latest scandalous details of the Tory government’s decision to deprive parents of child benefit if they have more than two children – and to force mothers to relive details of rape as the price of having that benefit restored for additional children.

Here’s the headline:

New figures published by the UK government have revealed that 911,190 children have lost access to vital financial support since April 2017, while 900 women have been forced to disclose that their child was conceived of rape in order to access vital funds.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss first discovered the two-child cap and the so-called “rape clause” in George Osborne’s 2015 Budget and has been a vocal opponent of the policy since its inception.

The MP has challenged the Prime Minister to scrap the abhorrent policy, describing the figures as “a horrific legacy for any government”.

She said: “The UK Tory government’s own data reveals the devastating impact of their two-child limit on families across the UK. Approaching one million children are now suffering financial hardship, the majority of them in families where their parents are working.

“This is a horrific legacy for any government. It’s time for Boris Johnson to wake up to this reality, signal a change of direction on welfare and scrap this pernicious Tory policy.

“Most shocking of all, 900 women have been forced to go through the process of claiming for an exception due to a non-consensual conception. Every single one of these women has been put in a position where they’ve had to fill in a form to prove their child was conceived as a result of rape or coercion, just to make ends meet.

“The UK Government has no place to hide in the face of these damning statistics. Covid-19 has exposed the gaps in the social security safety net – I urge the new Prime Minister to do the right thing and scrap the two-child limit for everyone”.

But this is Boris Johnson she’s talking about. Do you honestly think he could care less?

Source: NEARLY 1 MILLION CHILDREN INTO POVERTY, 900 WOMEN FORCED TO DISCLOSE RAPE – Welfare Weekly

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EU citizen registration scheme isn’t risking another Windrush scandal – the first one isn’t over!

Bumi Thomas: this jazz musician’s citizenship of the UK is in the balance and the government has already tried to deport her.

EU citizens living in the UK may find themselves the focus of another Windrush-style scandal if they fail to apply for “settled status” – but it seems the first Windrush scandal isn’t over and people are still being deported.

According to The Independent:

EU nationals are in danger of slipping through the cracks of the government’s Brexit registration scheme and turning into another Windrush-style scandal, citizens’ groups have warned.

MPs on the EU future relationship committee were told by community groups that there was simply no way to tell whether how many people had been left out of the scheme because there were no accurate figures for how many were eligible.

EU nationals in the UK have been expected to sign up for “settled status” because of Brexit bringing an end to free movement, but campaigners have complained that the scheme is poorly designed and will leave some people behind.

There are concerns that some EU nationals – particularly vulnerable people – may not realise they need to register, and may find themselves being removed from the UK without understanding why.

This raises uncomfortable parallels with the Windrush scandal, in which documents showing that people had emigrated to the UK and had every right to be here were destroyed by the Conservative government.

The Tories then contacted these people, demanding proof of a right to live in the UK. When they could not produce it, they were deported.

And they still are.

Yes, government representatives have apologised; yes, they said it would not happen again. Either those Tories were mistaken or they were lying.

So we see twin brothers Darren and Darrell Roberts being threatened with deportation to two different countries after completing prison sentences because – despite having been born in the UK – the Tories say they have no legal status here.

Darren, 24, is being sent to Grenada because that’s where his mother was born; brother Darrell will go to the Dominican Republic in one of the errors for which the Home Office under the Tories is justly infamous – he has no family there because his father was born in Dominica, which is a completely different nation.

All children born in the UK are eligible for citizenship but there is an application process with attached costs, which have risen enormously in recent years. Some might argue that this has happened alongside the rise of overt racism in the UK’s government.

The correspondence received by Darrell is certainly racist; it offers him a financial incentive to “return home” – implying that his home must be a foreign country because he is black. This is a young man who was born in London and has lived in the UK for his entire life, remember.

Legally, the government will undoubtedly say it is well within its rights as neither brother has citizenship. But they were still minors when they were imprisoned and their childhood has been described as “traumatic”, so it may be unsurprising that no citizenship applications were completed for them.

Windrush was about sending black people “home” because they couldn’t prove they belonged in the UK. This is no different.

And what about jazz musician Bumi Thomas, who was born in 1983, after the Tory government of Margaret Thatcher passed their British Nationality Act that stripped automatic citizenship from children born to parents from UK colonies?

Despite having been born in Glasgow in 1983 and living in the UK solidly since 2000, she found herself fighting a -crowdfunded – legal battle to remain in the country of her birth.

An immigration tribunal judge has ruled in favour of withdrawing the threat of deportation, but she must wait two years before she can apply for British citizenship. Her status is still at the mercy of a divisive immigration policy – meaning her application may be turned down and she might have to go through this process all over again.

So it seems to This Writer that we should not be discussing the EU nationals’ registration scheme as “another Windrush”. The Windrush scandal is still going on.

EU nationals are merely in danger of joining the Windrush generations as victims of a racist UK government.

Source: Brexit: EU citizen registration scheme risks another Windrush scandal, MPs warned | The Independent

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Is Robert Jenrick safe from the sack because Boris Johnson is implicated in Westferry corruption scandal?

Jenrick and Johnson: both have personal connections with property developer Richard Desmond, so why have they been interfering in the determination of his planning applications?

Here’s an interesting kink on the Westferry planning scandal:

Let’s assume there’s something in what John Stevens – and Henry Mance – are saying and that Richard Desmond, the man behind the Westferry development plan, had a considerable amount of contact with Boris Johnson. That would create cause for concern, and we would certainly be justified in wanting to know the nature of any communications.

Now consider this:

A key player in the controversial Westferry Printworks development can be revealed as an investment firm owned by a super-rich Tory donor and crony of Boris Johnson.

The “development manager” is a company which has donated £200,000 to the Tories.

[The planning application] was made by a company owned by Mr Desmond but the developer was London and Regional Properties, a firm behind £9billion of building projects owned by [Ian] Livingstone and brother Richard. It is unclear if LRP is still involved, but Westferry Printworks is listed as a development on its website.

The company donated nearly £202,000 to the Tories between 2005 and 2012.

It is run by [Mr] Livingstone, who the Prime Minister appointed to the board of his Mayor’s Fund for London.

Mr Johnson approved the original plans for the East London site during his final days as Mayor of the capital.

So now this “cash for favours” row has a strong connection with Boris Johnson and Downing Street.

Also suspicious is the Tories’ apparent desperation to distance themselves from any interest in Mr Desmond and his firm – for example, by banning the BBC from using photographs of Mr Desmond and Robert Jenrick together at a Conservative Party fundraising event:

The Conservatives have banned the BBC from publishing pictures of Robert Jenrick and Richard Desmond at a party fundraising dinner.

The pictures are owned by Conservative Party, with the BBC saying it was prevented from publishing them. A spokeswoman for the corporation told Yahoo News UK on Thursday: “We didn’t use them for legal reasons.”

The same article states that Johnson is standing by his minister:

Downing Street said on Thursday that the prime minister still has “full confidence” in Jenrick, adding Johnson had spoken to the embattled minister in recent days and “considers the matter closed”.

Isn’t that what a prime minister would say if he was unable to fire his underling – for example, because the flunky was only doing what the PM had told him to do?

I ask merely rhetorically.

Meanwhile, it seems Jenrick is now embroiled in another “cash for favours” row:

Labour has called on… Robert Jenrick, to explain a ministerial meeting with a “family friend” who had a financial interest in the future of a rival mining project that Jenrick was overseeing.

The Guardian revealed this week that Jenrick met the Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer while the then exchequer secretary to the Treasury was considering a request for financial support from Sirius Minerals for a mining project that would have rivalled Ofer’s own firm Cleveland Potash.

A spokesperson for Jenrick said on Friday that Ofer was a “family friend” and that the minister had notified officials, who advised him to step back from the decision on Sirius.

But the spokesperson did not say when Jenrick recused himself and the Guardian understands he retained oversight of Sirius’s request for support for at least six months after the meeting.

Put this together with the amount of money that property giants give to the Conservatives…

The Tories have received more than £11m from property developers since Boris Johnson became prime minister, an investigation has found.

Concerns have been raised about the apparent increased influence property developers have over the Conservative government. Their contributions make up nearly a quarter of the £47.5m in donations received by the party from last July to March, up from 7.9 per cent of the total two years ago.

The latest analysis by the OpenDemocracy website found that the Conservatives’ top 10 property donors have given more than £5.7m to the party since Mr Johnson took the helm in July – up from around £1.5million for the equivalent top 10 in the final 12 months of Theresa May’s premiership, a three-fold increase. In total, around 120 individuals and companies from the sector have donated since July last year.

… and there is certainly enough evidence to ask questions.

Of course, there can be no implication of wrongdoing by Conservative donors whose contributions are made only through support for Tory policies; who have no personal connection with Conservative ministers.

But when there is a connection, as with Idan Ofer and Jenrick, and with Richard Desmond and both Jenrick and Johnson, it is not only right to ask questions – an investigation is positively demanded.

The Westferry matter goes a step beyond even this – because wrongdoing is known to have happened, and because the person who is refusing to take action against the minister responsible for the transgression himself has a connection with the developer – and the development itself.

I mean, who can blame us for questioning Jenrick when it seems he won planning permission for an extension to his Westminster home, against planning officers’ recommentations, from councillors who were his fellow Conservatives?

Conservative councillors on Westminster council gave planning permission for an enlargement of Jenrick’s townhouse despite officers recommending the application be refused because it would harm the appearance of the building and the conservation area.

Planning officers were recommending refusal of this third application but Steve Summers a Tory councillor and a neighbour of Jenrick made an official request that a planning committee take the decision and not officers.

In November 2014 the three Conservative members of the planning committee — Richard Beddoe, Robert Rigby and Paul Church — voted to overturn the officers recommendation and approve the scheme. Ruth Bush, the single Labour member of the committee voted against the application.

In March 2018 Robert Davis who was chair of planning at Westminster council for 17 years resigned after the Guardian revealed he had received hospitality and gifts hundreds of times including from property developers.

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Windrush scandal victims deliver petition to Downing Street – for all the good it will do

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

If ever you needed proof that your government tells you what to do, and not the other way around, it’s this.

The Windrush Scandal – and the “hostile environment” that spawned it – was created from a desire to rid the UK of huge numbers of citizens who came to the UK from Commonwealth nations, notably in the Caribbean, to help rebuild the nation after World War II.

Their job was done, you see, so racist politicians decided to destroy any information offering them a right to UK citizenship and then deport them on the grounds that they could not show a good reason to stay.

Of course, they were caught in the act. And in fairness, the Conservative Government apologised.

Only words.

When it came to actually providing compensation to the people they attacked – make no mistake, this was a deliberate attempt by a UK government to harm its citizens – our Tory administration has spent two years dragging its heels.

Yes – a recent docu-drama on the BBC has reminded us all of the extent of the crime here.

But I see no willingness to make recompense to people who, being poor, cannot exert any influence over the politicians who had all power over them.

Watch what happens and see if I’m right.

Survivors of the Windrush scandal have delivered a petition to Downing Street signed by 130,000 people calling on the government to speed up compensation payments and implement all the recommendations in the Windrush Lessons Learned review.

Paulette Wilson and Anthony Bryan – who were wrongly held in immigration detention centres and threatened with deportation to Jamaica, a country they both left as children in the 1960s and had not visited in more than 50 years – handed the petition to police officers at the gates of Downing Street on Friday.

They both expressed their anger that so few people affected had received compensation in the two years since the government first apologised for wrongly classifying thousands of legal residents as being in the country illegally.

They were joined by Michael Braithwaite, a special needs teaching assistant, who was sacked from the primary school he had worked at for 15 years; Glenda Caesar, who was sacked from her job as a GP administrator after more than 20 years working for the NHS; and Elwaldo Romeo, who was told by the Home Office he was facing detention and should return to Antigua, a country he left 59 years earlier as a four-year-old boy.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The home secretary has been clear that the mistreatment of the Windrush generation by successive governments was completely unacceptable and she will right those wrongs.” However, they added, Williams had recommended that the Home Office consider the review carefully before responding, “and we are committed to honouring that request”. Patel had said she would update parliament before the summer recess.

Officials in charge of organising the compensation scheme stressed that claimants should not feel discouraged by the difficulties experienced by others and should persist with making claims. A spokesperson said assistance in completing the claim form was available via the free Windrush helpline on 0800 678 1925.

Source: Windrush scandal survivors deliver petition to No 10 | UK news | The Guardian

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Tell your friends to watch Windrush drama Sitting in Limbo – it’s more than the BBC will do!

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

Did you know the BBC is screening a drama based on the “Windrush generation” racism scandal?

It’s on this evening (Monday, June 8, 2020), starting at 8.30pm and the BBC appears to have done its best not to promote it in any way.

Make up your own mind on what that says about the BBC’s relationship with the Conservative government, whose racism is likely to be a major story element.

And make up your own mind on whether the Corporation’s reticence has anything to do with the death of George Floyd in the United States, and protests in support of people of colour that have taken place in the UK since it happened, culminating in the removal and sinking of Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol yesterday (June 7).

Fortunately, Radio Times at least mentions the play. It says:

Sitting in Limbo could hardly be more timely. Arriving at an extraordinary moment in history as the Black Lives Matter movement grows and as protests take place around the world, this feature-length BBC One drama shines the spotlight on the painful, raw and recent Windrush scandal.

Starring Patrick Robinson and written by Stephen S. Thompson,  the factual drama is based on the real-life experiences of a Jamaican-born British man whose life was upended when the Home Office decided that he was actually here illegally.

Anthony has lived in the UK since he was eight years old, but when he decided to obtain a passport and visit his elderly mother in Jamaica, he learnt that there was no record of him as a British citizen. The onus was now on him to prove his citizenship to the Home Office.

Unable to claim his benefits and forced to leave his job, Anthony was left in limbo. He was later forcibly removed from his home and detained as an illegal immigrant, placing his story at the heart of the Windrush immigration scandal, which saw a government crackdown on the children of the “Windrush generation,” who unlike their parents often travelled without their own documents.

Thompson said: “Like everyone caught up in the Windrush scandal, Anthony has been severely traumatised by the experience. It has badly affected his confidence and left him questioning his very identity. As his brother, I saw what he went through first-hand. I couldn’t bear the idea that he had suffered in vain and it made me determined to tell his story. For me, this is personal.”

Source: Sitting in Limbo – BBC One Windrush scandal drama | cast, air date, what it’s about – Radio Times

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Cummings scandal: Duffield right to resign for breaching lockdown; Labour MPs wrong to back her

Rosie Duffield: she broke lockdown to meet her married lover.

This is an open-and-shut case, isn’t it?

Rosie Duffield seems a nasty character. The Labour MP for Canterbury marched in the ‘lynch’ mob with Ruth Smeeth and others to have Marc Wadsworth ejected from the Labour Party in the kangaroo court that was his hearing before the party’s National Constitutional Committee.

She campaigned for Chris Williamson to get the same treatment from his kangaroo court (NCC) hearing.

Now she has been caught breaking lockdown – possibly more scandalously than Dominic Cummings – in travelling to meet her lover, who happens to be married. So she’s an adulteress. Shocking behaviour, and a terrible example to set – especially at a time when her party leader has been (rightly) criticising Cummings:

In contrast with Cummings, Duffield has done the right thing: she has resigned from her job as a Labour Whip. Here’s the reason it’s right:

The hypocrites in this situation are any Labour MPs who have voiced support for Ms Duffield, saying she shouldn’t quit, after spending more than a week saying Cummings had behaved appallingly and should quit.

That is the scandal in this story and Keir Starmer needs to take action before the tabloids use it to drag him down. And just when Labour was catching up with the Tories in the polls, too.

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UK electors flood MPs with criticism of Dominic Cummings scandal

Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson: we expect a higher standard from government than this shifty pair.

Congratulations to the Great British (and Northern Irish?) public for refusing to meekly accept the unacceptable from Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings.

They – we – expect a higher standard from our elected representatives.

If you haven’t written to your MP already – or if you have and fancy adding a bit more – you can do so by visiting Write To Them.

The furore over Dominic Cummings’ breach of lockdown rules has prompted tens of thousands of people to flood their MPs’ inboxes in what some described as the biggest outpouring since Brexit, a Guardian analysis has found.

As Boris Johnson tried to draw a line under the crisis involving his chief adviser, constituents across the country sent missives to their MPs, with many sharing stories of their own lockdown hardships.

A Guardian analysis covering 117 MPs found they have received a total of 31,738 emails since a joint Guardian and Daily Mirror investigation a week ago divulged that Cummings had travelled to County Durham and taken a trip to a beauty spot with his family after suffering coronavirus symptoms.

If that level of correspondence was reflected across all 650 MPs, it would suggest the revelations may have sparked as many as 180,000 items of correspondence. The numbers were either provided in response to the Guardian’s request for figures, or in statements MPs had released to constituents.

Source: Constituents bombard MPs with tens of thousands of emails over Dominic Cummings | Politics | The Guardian

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Emily Maitlis: enemy of the State?

Record of dissent: Ms Maitlis attracted attention in April when she criticised the Johnson government’s attempts to handle the Covid-19 crisis.

The BBC has apologised to the government after Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis delivered a highly-critical account of the Dominic Cummings affair at the start of an edition of the late-night news show.

The problem is that her monologue was accurate:

‘Lefty’ columnist Owen Jones was quick to make the logical connection:

He’s right that it is not how functioning democracies behave.

It is the way dictatorships behave.

Some of us told you last year – before the general election – that Johnson wanted to run a dictatorship rather than a democratic government, but too few people listened.

Now This Site’s prediction has come to pass. And with Johnson holding an 80-seat majority in the House of Commons, matters can only get worse.

The scandal is escalating, with the BBC accused of replacing Ms Maitlis on the May 27 edition of Newsnight, which it is understood she was due to present. The person who did present the show, Katie Razzall…

… Newsnight editor Esme Wren…

… and deputy editor Stewart Maclean…

… all denied that Ms Maitlis had been forced to step back from the show. And the presenter herself…

… explained that she had “asked for the night off” (after a five-hour pause).

All very plausible. But in a dicatorship, anyone who had been coerced into such actions would have said the same.

And the BBC’s behaviour in this matter has not been honourable.

Ms Maitlis has ‘form’ for attracting ire from Tory politicians; she triggered attacks from the Tories after she criticised Johnson’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis in April:

I wrote at the time: “The speech flags up a new attitude in the BBC.

“Maitlis, and her editors, are showing more criticism of the Tory government than they have in the last, what, 10 years?

“The decision to highlight the fact that poor people are disproportionately likely to suffer, because of the way our society is currently ordered, is extremely important – if media organisations like the BBC follow through on it.

“Public opinion is hugely influenced by the media – and public opinion is what shapes our society.”

Perhaps the Tories were reading and have taken steps. But can they stop us drawing the logical conclusion?

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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