Tag Archives: scrap

£2.6 million was spent on Downing Street TV studio for nothing as media briefings scrapped

The briefest of briefing rooms: your local parish council could have done a better job, and cheaper, but Boris Johnson gave the contract to a company based in a hostile state. Now it is being withdrawn from service. How many times was it used?

Boris Johnson has scrapped plans for White House-style press briefings from a new £2.6 million TV studio in Downing Street – meaning he spent all that public money for nothing.

Apparently the room will be used for internal government briefings by Johnson and his ministers instead. They could do that in any ordinary Whitehall office.

Most of us have been doing much the same from our own homes, using Zoom, Skype, or even Facebook Messenger.

The decision confirms what This Writer believed – that this was nothing but another hugely expensive vanity project for Johnson.

His overspending on fripperies like this, described by some as “spaffing cash up the wall”, has brought a new meaning to the phrase “quantitative easing” (which is what the Bank of England has been having to do in order to allow the nation to cover the cost).

Johnson was shamed into admitting the existence of the studio in February, after it was reported on the social media that, after the huge expense, the space was going unused.

Last month he announced that he would be using the studio after all – and we all warned that he doesn’t have the personality to pull it off.

And then we discovered that the studio had been fitted out by a tech firm based in Russia. Who knows what surveillance equipment was installed there?

(I suppose we’ll find out soon enough, if Johnson really intends to have private briefings there instead of public, press affairs; any really embarrassing secrets will soon get out if the place is full of bugs.)

The whole sorry saga has been a national embarrassment.

Our man-child of a prime minister wanted to play with a new toy that he thought would make him look good – and has wound up looking like a spoilt brat squatting in his own mess.

Source: Downing Street scraps plans for White House-style press briefings – BBC News

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Johnson says he’s not planning to scrap workers’ rights. Do you believe him?

Boris Johnson has insisted he is not planning a post-Brexit bonfire of UK workers’ rights, after the Financial Times reported on a meeting between him and business chiefs.

The report states that worker protections the Tories repeatedly promised to protect after the UK left the EU will be “ripped up”.

The paper claims the Tories are planning laws to slash holiday pay entitlements, bin rest breaks, and allow bosses to force you to work longer hours, among others.

Analysis by Evolve Politics states that

The secretive plans are also predicted to benefit wealthy bosses to the tune of billions whilst severely impacting the take-home pay of many ordinary workers.

Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband, on Twitter, got straight to the point:

What a relief to see that someone on Labour’s front bench seems to remember what his job is supposed to be. But what a shame that it comes after Miliband voted in favour of the Brexit deal that makes the alleged Tory plans possible.

Labour owns Brexit as much as the Tories do – with the exception of those who defied Keir Starmer’s whip and voted against it.

Johnson has denied everything – as might be expected.

According to the BBC,

A government spokesperson said: “We have absolutely no intention of lowering the standards of workers’ rights.

“The UK has one of the best workers’ rights records in the world, and it is well known that the UK goes further than the EU in many areas.

“Leaving the EU allows us to continue to be a standard setter and protect and enhance UK workers’ rights.”

But the report adds:

When the UK left the EU it retained many of its laws, but it is now able to change them.

In the 2019 Queen’s Speech outlining the government’s agenda for the coming parliamentary session, changes in employment law were promised.

A new Employment Bill is expected to be published in 2021.

It goes on to say that the Bill is expected to cover issues including the distribution of tips.

Considering the Johnson government’s track record, the best advice This Writer can give is that of Peter Stefanovic in the tweet below:

Source: Brexit: No plans to dilute workers’ rights, minister says – BBC News

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Now Brexit has happened, will Boris Johnson backtrack on his promises and scrap our protections?

Daniel Hannon: he has also called for NHS hospitals to be sold to private US companies after Brexit. It makes you wonder whose side he’s on.

We shouldn’t be surprised.

They’ve already backtracked on their promise not to use a pesticide that kills bees (albeit admittedly in conjunction with other EU countries).

And they’ve cancelled our freedoms to travel to and from EU countries – deliberately making it especially difficult for musicians to work there.

So why shouldn’t the Tories follow Daniel Hannan’s demand and ditch the other protections UK citizens have enjoyed as members of the European Union?

Safeguards for the use of data, pay and conditions, GM foods, hedge funds, dangerous chemicals and the disposal of environmentally-damaging vehicles should all be binned, Daniel Hannan said.

He wants to ditch:

the Temporary Workers’ Directive – which guarantees agency staff receive equal pay and conditions with employees in the same business.

the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – that gives individuals control over their personal data and limits its transfer to other countries.

the ban on products made from genetically modified (GM) crops – potentially allowing US food derived that way into the UK, as part of a future trade deal.

the REACH Directive – to outlaw chemicals linked to health problems including cancer, thyroid disease, hormone disruption and slow development.

the End of Life Vehicles Directive – to achieve environmentally-friendly dismantling and recycling, with targets for the reuse of vehicles and their components.

the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) – introduced to regulate hedge funds and private equity following the 2008 financial crash.

the ‘Droit de suite’ rules – that pay artists a fee on the resale of their works of art, instead of the American ‘first-sale doctrine’ that removes rights from subsequent sales.

“chunks of” the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) – the legal framework to harmonise regulation of securities markets and trading venues.

He doesn’t say how that makes the UK more competitive.

To This Writer’s untutored eye, it seems he just wants to hurt his fellow UK citizens for no very good reason.

His plans would make the country less competitive as they are backward steps that help nobody.

Source: Scrap EU consumer and worker protections now Brexit is completed, leading Tory says | The Independent

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Gavin Williamson scrapped dozens of protections for children – unlawfully

Williamson the dunce: I know it’s a duff image but it reflects this MP’s abilities so I’ll keep using it as long as he continues to be a dunce.

Tory Education Secretary Gavin Williamson stripped children in care of 65 legal protections illegally, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Judges said he should have consulted the Children’s Commissioner and other stakeholder organisations before inflicting such a “substantial and wide-ranging” “bonfire of children’s rights”.

The regulations affected included legal timescales for social-worker visits to children in care, six-monthly reviews of children’s welfare, independent scrutiny of children’s homes and senior officer oversight of adoption decision-making for babies and children.

The protections affected also cover disabled children having short breaks and children in care sent many miles away from home.

It seems Williamson did conduct a consultation but was selective about whose opinions he sought – adoption agencies, private providers and local government bodies.

But organisations representing the children and young people who were to be affected by the changes were not consulted and the Children’s Commissioner only found out about the changes after they had been forced through Parliament through the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) regulations in April.

We are told that all of the changes were temporary and have now expired.

We have yet to hear – may never hear – how many children were harmed as a result of them.

Williamson has been told to run proper consultations in future.

But will he? And doesn’t this simply reignite the debate over whether Conservatives should be allowed anywhere near children in care.

Source: Education secretary ‘unlawfully scrapped children’s rights’ – BBC News

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Labour NEC elections: should Electoral Commission investigate Starmer vote-rigging claims?

Stymied: Keir Starmer has failed to increase his power on Labour’s ruling NEC – and may face an investigation by the Electoral Commission over the possibility that his leadership team interfered with the votes, binning many that should have been counted.

Perhaps Labour Party members – the few who remain – should be grateful for small mercies: after the NEC election left-wing Grassroots Voice candidates took five of the nine CLP seats.

It means Keir Starmer’s ‘Stalinist Right’ (apparently) faction has been denied a chance to consolidate its power over the party; he will continue to face opposition to his more extreme right-wing policies in the party’s ruling committee.

But do these results really matter, when they come amid allegations of vote-rigging?

The claim is that Starmer’s leadership has been disregarding votes by people who subsequently quit their membership of the Labour Party in disgust at the undemocratic decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn for no reason at all.

And it seems this claim may have validity. The number of votes counted in this election is said to be around 117,000 – 27 per cent of the membership, according to the most recent figures we have. Last time, 68 per cent of the membership voted.

That’s a huge difference.

It is entirely possible that the 117k figure represents 68 per cent of the current membership, after the party haemmorrhaged members following Starmer’s election as leader and his immediate choice to betray those who voted for him by ignoring his 10 pledges and turning the party’s direction sharply to the right.

But if Starmer’s people have been binning votes from people who were members before they quit in disgust, then it seems they have acted unconstitutionally by removing votes that should have counted; these people were members when they voted and had every right to vote at the time.

Fortunately for democracy in the UK, we have an organisation dedicated to ensuring that elections are carried out in a free, fair and legal way.

So here’s the question:

Should the Electoral Commission be called in to investigate this election?

And if so:

Should the result of the NEC election – as currently reported – be ignored until the Electoral Commission is able to confirm (or deny) it?

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Whoever says scrapping 213 smaller councils could save £3 billion hasn’t been paying attention to Tory spaffing

Rubbish: who does the bins in your council area? A private firm? Expect much more privatisation if smaller councils are scrapped; the £3 billion we’re told would be saved has to be spent somewhere!

It seems some people really do have a blind spot.

Whoever wrote the report that says the following, for example:

Abolishing 213 smaller councils in England and replacing them with 25 new local authorities could save almost £3bn over five years, a report says.

The report for the County Councils Network says one body in each area would reduce complexity and give communities a single unified voice.

However, others argue bigger councils are unwieldy and undemocratic.

It’s a good point that bigger councils may be unwieldy and undemocratic, but the better point is that they won’t save a penny while we have a Tory government.

The money will be spent outsourcing decision-making to private consultants like PwC, Deloitte and McKinsey, and outsourcing work to private firms like Serco – who will probably go bust because they habitually offer to do it for too low a price after the bosses and shareholders have taken their enormous cut of (council taxpayers’) cash.

If this happens, just watch what happens and see if I’m right.

Source: Scrapping 213 local councils could save £3bn says report – BBC News

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The two faces of the Tories – enscapsulated in two policies today

This is the UK’s Conservative government:

And this is also the UK’s Conservative government:

Huge handouts to rich corporations, while they take away what little the poor receive to help them survive.

It is homicidal.

But millions of poor people insanely voted for rule by these insults to humanity.

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Tory MP husband of Test and Trace chief Dido Harding linked to anti-NHS group

Test and trace: is it failing because it is headed by someone who may not have the best interests of the NHS at heart?

There are many instances of husbands and wives disagreeing on politics, of course.

But can we trust Dido Harding to do a good job leading the “test and trace” team at Public Health England when she comes from a household that wants to dissolve that organisation and scrap the National Health Service?

To This Writer, the very idea seems like madness.

But that’s Boris Johnson for you.

The Tory MP husband of Test and Trace chief Dido Harding has been linked to a right-wing group calling for the NHS to be replaced by an insurance system.

Former minister John Penrose said last month he was “delighted” to join the advisory board of 1828.

One article authored by 1828’s co-founders argued Britain should be “bold and progressive” – scrapping the NHS in favour of a system where people pay for insurance either through private firms or a government scheme.

The group has also published articles calling for the abolition of Public Health England, which has a key role in the Coronavirus Test and Trace system headed by his wife.

Source: Tory MP husband of Test and Trace chief Dido Harding linked to anti-NHS group – Mirror Online

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Tory response to NHS waiting time failure: HIDE THE EVIDENCE

This was a corridor in an English hospital’s Accident & Emergency department in early 2017 – and now the situation is worse.

Tory Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted not only that he can’t fix the NHS waiting time crisis – he won’t even bother to try.

Instead, it seems he’ll get rid of the four-hour target for patients to be seen. In other words, he’ll hide the evidence.

Of course he’ll say it’s only a coincidence that the proportion of patients attending A&E who were seen within the four-hour limit has been falling steadily since the Tories took over government in 2010.

Before then, under Labour, it was well within the target of 95 per cent.

And I’m sure he’ll say it’s also just a coincidence that attendances at A&E last month had increased by 400,000 since 2010.

It’s nothing to do with the return of so-called “Victorian diseases” brought by the Tory “starve the poor” policies of 2010 onwards – obviously. And it’s nothing to do with the increased health problems faced by benefit claimants who the Tories (wrongly) said could live on less.

And if you believe that, you’re stupid and gullible enough to deserve the pathetic service you’re getting.

You probably even believe Hancock when he says the NHS is getting its biggest cash injection ever, when in real terms the £33.9 billion promised is nowhere near the biggest, once inflation has been taken into account.

One person who isn’t going to be gulled is Professor Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, who said last year: “In our expert opinion scrapping the four-hour target will have a near-catastrophic impact on patient safety.”

As a reader of Vox Political, I’m willing to bet that you are neither gullible nor stupid.

So, who do you believe?

Matt Hancock has signalled that four-hour waiting targets for A&E are likely to be scrapped for the NHS in England after the worst figures on record this winter.

The health secretary said it would be better if targets were “clinically appropriate” and the “right targets”, as he defended the NHS’s failure to meet the standard that 95% of patients attending A&E should be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

The target was put under review by Theresa May’s government and the NHS unveiled plans last March to pilot changes that would prioritise patients with serious conditions while patients with minor problems could wait longer than four hours.

A decision about the flagship four-hour target is due to be taken by NHS England in the coming months.

Source: Matt Hancock signals A&E waiting targets likely to be scrapped | Society | The Guardian

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Great Labour election promises: they’ll scrap fees for dental check-ups

This is great news, for all the reasons below.

Now, if Labour could make it possible for everybody to have access to a National Health Service dentist, that would be great.

I haven’t been able to see one since June 2018. Fortunately I have good dental hygiene, but I’d still like access to an expert.

Oh, and you know the reason I don’t have an NHS dentist any more? The company providing the service here in Mid Wales is privately-run.

Health service privatisation – it will always leave us short-changed.

Labour will bring back free dental check-ups if they win the election.

The £22.70 fee to see an NHS dentist will be axed and leader Jeremy Corbyn yesterday said the ultimate ambition is to scrap ALL dental fees.

The £450 million-a-year plan will free up resources long-term by focusing on prevention. Fees were introduced in 1951 to pay for UK involvement in the Korean War.

But one in five adults puts off seeing a dentist because of the £22.70 charge for a basic visit. Under the first stage of Labour ’s plans, check-ups, oral cancer examinations, X-rays, clinical scaling and polishing and emergency treatment won’t cost a penny.

Worrying numbers [have] turned to internet kits for scaling and makeshift fillings which can cause major problems.

And 515,000 patients a year with toothache go to GPs or A&E – costing the NHS more than £38 million.

More than 100 children a day have rotting teeth removed in hospital and 90 per cent of cases could have been prevented by early treatment. And decay is the leading cause of admissions among kids aged five to nine.

Source: Labour to scrap dental check-ups costs in election policy with some real bite – Mirror Online

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