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Covid-19: Tories admit their own incompetence as ‘test and trace’ app is unlawful

Matt Hancock: he was a Covid-19 super-spreader so it should be no surprise that his employees on the ‘track and trace’ programme have been publicising patients’ confidential information. It is a criminal offence and he should be punished by a judge. What do you think will happen?

Isn’t this criminal stupidity?

The Tories have been telling us their ‘test and trace’ app for finding people who’ve had Covid-19, in order to isolate those they’ve contacted, is vital to prevent the spread of the disease – and therefore stop unnecessary deaths.

But now we learn that it breaches privacy laws, with Sky News reporting that the programme’s staff have been sharing private information about patients on the social media.

What a Hobson’s Choice we’ve had – refuse to use the app and Tory twits like Matt Hancock accuse us of betraying the campaign against the virus; but if we do use it, our intimate personal information goes public!

It turns out that critics of the scheme, the Open Rights Group, were right and the government did not conduct a data privacy impact assessment (DPIA) which is required to ensure that breaches of patients’ information don’t take place.

But a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said there was “no evidence of data being used unlawfully” – and then clammed up when asked if a Sunday Times report that this is exactly what has happened was accurate.

The Open Rights Group reckons it has already seen evidence of confidential track and trace information being shared on social media – and This Writer is certainly more inclined to believe that organisation than a government that has built up a record of relentless incompetence.

Can anybody tell me a single thing the Tories have got right since December 13, 2019?

Of course, breach of Data Protection laws is a criminal offence and the person directly responsible for this one will be the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, one Matt Hancock.

How lucky he must feel, knowing that as a Tory minister he is above the law and the police wouldn’t touch him even if he committee murder on television.

Source: Coronavirus: Government admits its Test and Trace programme is unlawful | Science & Tech News | Sky News

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Struggling food banks move towards home deliveries. Why not deliver government packages?

Food bank: they’re struggling in the coronavirus crisis, and diversifying into home delivery. Why not link up with the government, which is doing the same?

Duplication is a waste of effort.

But it seems both the government and the food bank network are arranging deliveries to people who have become vulnerable, including because of the coronavirus crisis.

Why don’t they just work together?

Many [food banks] are attempting to switch gears and move into the home delivery of emergency food packages.

Food banks across the UK are struggling to stay open as the coronavirus outbreak continues to cause a sharp decline in volunteers and a shortage of food donations.

It comes as a new survey revealed the scale of the hunger crisis facing Britain. Some 1.5 million people reported not eating for a whole day during the first three weeks of lockdown, according to a YouGov poll for The Food Foundation.

[In the new system,] drivers deliver to people struggling with job losses, cuts in income or difficultly getting outside for health reasons.

Source: Help the Hungry: Food banks move towards home deliveries amid struggle to keep doors open | The Independent

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‘Degrading and humiliating’ – why do police treat disabled people so badly?

Targeted: Is the Met police’s ill-treatment of disabled people part of an overarching policy of discrimination against them?

The Metropolitan Police has been accused of “degrading and humiliating” treatment of people with disabilities who took part in the Extinction Rebellion protests in London.

In isolation, this would be bad enough – but it is just the latest in a series of incidents targeting disabled protesters, by forces across the UK.

Now the Met’s independent advisory group says the bullying that took place may have caused “irreparable damage” to relations with disabled people.

Stop and think about that. This isn’t just a public relations problem – it’s a disaster for the police: “irreparable damage.”

According to The Guardian, advisory group chair Anne Novis said everybody in that organisation – all of them – were on the point of resigning because of the stories they were hearing from disabled people.

This is entirely understandable. The claim is that people with disabilities were deliberately and aggressively targeted by police.

Here’s an example of what police were doing: When a disabled protester outside Scotland Yard needed a carer to adjust her supplemental oxygen and provide other medicine, police arrested both on the grounds that they were an illegal assembly.

They had been there to protest after police had confiscated independent living equipment including wheelchairs, disability ramps, noise-cancelling headphones, specially adapted toilets and other items intended to make protest sites accessible to disabled people.

Another incident saw a blind protester released without his cane. And left to get home without any help at all.

Legal observers for Extinction Rebellion said they had expected violence by police – but had not reckoned on it being almost exclusively directed at disabled people in what appeared to be a “deliberate intimidation tactic”.

The Met has claimed that it does not single out any minority group or community – but this is unpersuasive in the light of the mountain of evidence against it.

And it seems part of a nationwide policy to target the disabled. Remember when anti-fracking protesters in Lancashire were targeted by police?

Those people then faced a secondary attack from the Department for Work and Pensions, who claimed that they did not deserve sickness and/or disability benefits because they were well enough to take part in a protest. Remember that?

We discovered then that the police had an agreement to share information on protesters with the DWP, precisely to help that government department unfairly strip disabled people of their benefits.

Loss of state benefits – for a disabled person – has led to starvation, the worsening of their condition through lack of medication, and – in some cases – suicide.

It may be considered an attempt to pass a death sentence on them, simply for daring to protest against something that is wrong.

Has the Met passed the details of the disabled XR protesters to the DWP, in the hope of forcing them into that fate?

I don’t know. But I feel sure we will find out.

Let us hope that we do so before it is too late.

Source: Met police accused of ‘degrading’ treatment of disabled XR activists | UK news | The Guardian

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Latest phase of Tory ‘hostile environment’ would force charities to help deport people sleeping rough

The Conservative government has been caught trying to persecute foreigners and some of the UK’s most vulnerable people – yet again.

The scandal centres once again on the Home Office, which has been trying to pressgang homelessness charities into becoming border guards.

The plan – euphemistically titled the Rough Sleeper Support Service (RSSS) – is to get charity outreach workers to pass on the personal details of homeless people to the Home Office where, if they were found to be from foreign countries, enforcement officers would deport them.

The scheme deliberately ignores data protection and privacy laws by demanding that personal information be passed to the Home Office regardless of whether the subject gives their consent.

This breach of national and international law was imposed to make it easier to deport people. A Home Office email stated that this would be harder if individuals were allowed to withdraw consent for their information to be used in this way, as would be permitted legally.

There has been pushback from charities who have refused to agree a data-sharing deal – that breaks the law – with the Home Office and local authorities.

This Writer wonders whether charities were also being gagged with non-disclosure agreements foisted on them by the Home Office – a Conservative government trick we have encountered before.

It seems odd that the first time this atrocity came to public attention was after the human rights charity Liberty received answers to a Freedom of Information request.

And Liberty was not pleased. According to the charity’s Gracie Bradley:

“It’s disgraceful that the Home Office, local authorities, and charities are attempting to turn trusted homelessness outreach workers into border guards. Homelessness charities must refuse complicity in the hostile environment.

Bradley said referrals will likely result in immigration enforcement action.

She said ministers should be concentrating on combating the root causes of homelessness rather than targeting rough sleepers. “Consent and data protection should also be at the heart of our interactions with public institutions,” she added.

[A] Public Interest Law Centre spokesman added: “Despite its name, the new RSSS offers no ‘support’ to homeless migrants living in the UK. It is a ‘hostile environment’ measure in all but name.”

Shockingly, the Tories have been unrepentant, now that their plan has been revealed.

A Home Office spokesman actually told the Guardian: “This enables individuals to access support or assists them in leaving the UK where appropriate.”

Assists them? They can only be assisted to leave the UK if they have been asked whether they want to – and it seems perfectly clear that the Home Office does not intend to seek any such permissions.

This is yet another atrocity from the home of the “hostile environment” and Home Secretary Sajid Javid should be hauled before Parliament to explain his department’s flagrant abuse of the law.

If he fails to account for his department’s actions, then we will have yet more proof of the Conservative Party’s prejudice against anybody who isn’t rich and privileged.

Source: Secret plan to use charities to help deport rough sleepers | Politics | The Guardian

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Outcry against ‘settled status’ registration scheme for EU citizens is rising

Dr J Gorski-Mescir tweeted that this was “the last time my family qualified for registration and ‘settled status'”. I hope the reference is not lost on you.

The image above is a mild response to the Conservative government’s racist demand that foreign nationals from EU countries submit to a registration scheme in which their details may be passed on to third parties for reasons unknown, and pay to become a persecuted minority.

I have already referred to the work of Professor Tanja Bueltmann in revealing what this scheme actually means for people who have enjoyed the right to live and work in this country for many decades – many since before the UK joined the EU in the first place. Here’s another video clip, with further information:

The following thread by James Chapman raises extremely important questions about whether the new scheme even abides by current UK law:

He also asks: “10. (one more, a bit leftfield, that just occurred to me) Has Govt taken advice on whether UK citizens who actively want to apply for EU settled status would have any sort of legal claim that refusing them would be discriminatory?”

Mr Chapman’s remark about the lack of media interest (barring a few honourable exceptions) produces one very interesting such exception: The Sun. That’s right – even the most rabid of the right-wing rags has attacked the “settled status” scheme as “sinister”, saying “there is a difference between ensuring control of our borders and straightforward hostility” and warning about the tone struck by “the silent threat of imminent deportation”.

https://twitter.com/jamesrbuk/status/1078956903735148544

Of course, some have tried to defend the scheme – such as Conservative MP Chris Philp. His argument turned out to be child’s play to refute:

Meanwhile, the following two tweets demonstrate the reality for people who, until Brexit, had every right to believe they would be allowed to go on living in the country of their choice, unmolested, until the end of their natural lives:

And some have resorted to satire. Here’s TV comic Jon Richardson:

Going back to Professor Bueltmann’s video clip, it stated that the “settled status” scheme shows ‘Leave’ campaigners were lying when they promised that EU citizens in the UK would be allowed to carry on living in the UK, unmolested.

It’s just one of many broken promises. In the clip below, former EU commissioner Viviane Reding lists just some of the main points:

https://twitter.com/BrexitRaab/status/1078948973749116928

Somehow, though, I doubt that the fact we’re all being shafted, not just those of us having to apply for “settled status”, will be any comfort at all.

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What’s the REAL motive behind the Tories’ racist ‘EU Settlement Scheme’?

Oh yes you are: The Conservative government could have granted EU citizens in the UK a continuation of all the rights they enjoy now but it didn’t. Now they face a future of persecution by the most overtly racist administration the UK has had in decades.

The UK’s Conservative government is creating a central register for one minority in the UK – EU citizens – holding data it can share freely and in secret with undisclosed private and public organisation in the UK and across the world. Why?

Bear in mind that the current Tory administration is well-known as a persecutor of minorities. Consider its treatment of the Windrush generation, of people with disabilities, and of those with long-term illnesses.

I’ve already explored the basics of this horrible idea.

Here’s the3million Twitter account – the largest grassroots organisation of EU27 citizens in the UK, campaigning to protect citizens’ rights – to explain the rest:

The thread concludes: “In summary, the UK Govt is creating a central register just for one minority in the UK, EU citizens, holding data it can share freely & in secret with undisclosed private & public organisation in the UK & across the world. This is truly shocking. /end https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/settled_status_app_data_privacy#outgoing-838331 

Professor Tanja Bueltmann has made a video clip explaining the implications:

In response to the latest revelations, she has added: “This is a *much bigger* scandal than the Home Office clip about settled status. Make sure you read this. Herein also lies to answer to a question many have asked me about what you can do to help: support @The3Million! One direct route to do so is here.

The link encourages you to become an “EU Citizens Champion”, donating funds to support the campaign for a legal immigration status that will protect all EU citizens and their families after Brexit and for the rest of their lives.

And if you need another incentive to visit the page and donate, consider this:

Will you really stand aside and let the Tories launch another Windrush scandal? Are you really the kind of person who’ll let a criminal government persecute anyone else, until there’s nobody left to help when they come for you?

I don’t think so.

Please prove me right.

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Kiss doctor-patient confidentiality goodbye in the Tories’ latest NHS cash-saving scheme

GPs are no longer to have confidential, one-on-one interviews with patients who have certain conditions, if the Tory government has its way.

If you can’t afford private medicine, you don’t deserve to discuss your medical conditions in privacy, according to the latest crackpot Tory scheme for our cash-strapped NHS.

Having starved the service of funding and staff with a series of stupid or selfish policy decisions, they have left it incapable of coping with the demand for GP time.

So patients are to be deprived of their dignity with consultations organised for groups of up to 15 patients at a time.

The fact that people don’t want the intimate details of their medical conditions bandied around more than a dozen other people – not all of whom may be strangers – won’t enter into the Tories’ calculations.

The whole loony plan is further evidence that Conservatives consider the rest of us to be nothing more than herd animals.

Don’t forget that the Department for Work and Pensions describes benefit claimants as “stock”. Clearly that mentality has polluted the NHS as well.

GPs are to offer shared appointments for groups of up to 15 patients with similar conditions under NHS plans.

Patients who participated in a trial said they benefited from group appointments after receiving support from other participants, according to the head of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP).

Doctors reported finding the sessions effective at dealing with a variety of health issues like diabetes, arthritis and obesity as they do not have to repeat the same advice individually.

There is a UK shortage of GPs and medical staff, which has been exacerbated by a decline in EU applicants to work as nurses and some NHS staff returning to EU countries.

However medical bodies say that is not the primary motivation behind the new scheme.

Source: Group GP appointments: how NHS plans to see your GP with up to 14 people will work

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Opposition to Labour’s plan for business is a real shot in the foot for the UK’s economy

Inspirational: John McDonnell announced a great policy to involve the British workforce in wealth-creation – and employers vowed to do everything in their power to prevent it. You can see who has our best interests at heart.

You’ve got to hand it to Britain’s business leaders – they really know how to de-motivate the workforce and undermine the economy.

Labour’s John McDonnell announced a policy that would hand workers an interest in their employers’ success – and an average dividence of £500 a year – and what did the bosses do? They announced that they would do everything in their power to sabotage such a plan.

How savage. How selfish. How sickening. I heard it on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme just after 6am, as I was taking Mrs Mike and her mother to Stoke University Hospital for an operation and I nearly threw up my breakfast in disgust. Fortunately for residents of – and travellers on – the A53, I was able to hold myself in check.

Here’s Mr McDonnell explaining the new policy:

And what did business bosses have to say about that? The Financial Times provides us with a few answers:

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said Labour’s “diktat on employee share ownership will only encourage investors to pack their bags and will harm those who can least afford it. If investment falls, so does productivity and pay.”

Stephen Martin, director-general of the Institute of Directors, argued that the policy could cause wide-reaching damage to the UK economy. “To effectively force companies to transfer 10 per cent of company ownership from existing shareholders to employees is far too draconian,” he said. “It could have a negative effect on business investment and business formation in the UK, and undermine the functioning of UK capital markets.”

Draconian, did he say? Isn’t it more draconian to force poor wage settlements on employees in order to take an ever-larger, undeserved, share of profits? Isn’t it more draconian to deny the people who actually create those profits even the smallest say in how their company should be run? I think it is.

On the Today programme, some pundit claimed the policy would be a bonanza for employment lawyers who would be hired to find ways to prevent firms from having to pay workers a single bean.

That is the attitude of business leaders in Conservative Britain: “Never mind you, Jack – I’m all right!”

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POLL: What do you think of Labour’s plan for employment reform?


John McDonnell has outlined Labour’s proposed employment measures to bolster the strength of unions and transform the gig economy in a speech to the Trades Union Congress.

If you’ve managed to miss the details, here’s a short video about the headlines:

And here‘s The Guardian with some of the finer details:

“A Labour government would ban zero-hours contracts, repeal the Trade Union Act, clamp down on bogus self-employment, end private finance initiatives and set up a department for employment to implement the policies, he said. There would be a particular emphasis on workers in the gig economy.

Workers in jobs with flexible hours and short-term contracts could be given similar rights to those in permanent work, including eligibility for sick pay, parental pay and similar benefits, he said.

Government contracts would only be given to firms that allowed collective bargaining and a Labour government would relaunch employee ownership funds, under which staff at larger companies would receive shares in order to give them a stake in the profits and management of their firms.

McDonnell also repeated a promise that Labour would spend £500bn over a decade to fix Britain’s crumbling infrastructure.

This would include road and rail, digital, research and development and alternative energy sources, he said, adding that the £500bn figure was supported by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), with whom Labour was working to develop the proposals.”

That’s fine – but are these plans any good?

Let’s have a poll:

Feel free to use the ‘comment’ column to detail the reasons for your response.

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Pendle councillor posted racism when she meant to delete it? Don’t dis-‘respect’ our intelligence, Brandon Lewis!

Brandon Lewis: If you can say whatever you like and expect to be believed in a post-truth world, he’s living evidence that we’re living in it.

If there’s one thing Conservatives do well, it’s standing their ground – especially in the face of undeniable evidence.

Consider Brandon Lewis, the Tory chairman who tore up his own ‘respect’ pledge  –

– by supporting Rosemary Carroll, newly re-elected councillor for Pendle, who compared people of Asian origin with dogs.

Mr Lewis told Sky‘s Sophy Ridge: “This was a situation that occurred last year, actually, in June last year. Her position has been from the very beginning that she accidentally posted something she wanted to delete. She was suspended by the party at that point – for three months.”

So she has been a Conservative councillor again for eight months? That is not what we have heard! And the claim about the post itself is handled very well by David Lammy:

That it is.


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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