Tag Archives: speech

Tory irresponsibility: Sunak financial statement sparked four suicides in Merseyside

Who, exactly, are the Tories helping with the hundreds of billions of pounds they have borrowed?

According to the latest projections, the government is likely to have borrowed £316.4 billion more than last year, mostly on Covid-19-related measures.

That’s about £5,000 per person and This Writer can’t help thinking the money would have been better-spent if the Tories had just given it to each of us and told us to stay at home.

Instead, they devised a series of financial packages to fit people in certain circumstances – and to ignore others.

That’s the reason the Liverpool Echo is reporting that four people in Merseyside were known to have committed suicide after hearing Rishi Sunak’s most recent financial statement.

The Echo quotes Anneka Hicks of Excluded UK, an organisation to help a large proportion of the workforce who have been cut out of any ‘meaningful government support schemes’:

Over the past eight months many of our members have had to sell their homes, their cars – they have depleted their entire life savings.

They’ve lost their dignity. Many of them have been forced to take state benefits (if they can) and use food banks to feed their families, they’ve lost their businesses or made redundancies.

They are expected to start again with nothing, or less than nothing.

Sadly, we lost four members to suicide within 72 hours of the chancellor’s latest financial statement, but they are only the people we know about.

There are more details in the Echo article but look at the heartlessness of the government response:

We’ve acknowledged that not everyone has been helped in the way they would have wanted, but overall the Government has provided a huge amount to help businesses and families through this crisis.

The scheme’s eligibility criteria are designed to most effectively target support to low earners and prevent fraud.

It seems clear that it isn’t working.

And now Sunak wants people like these to pay increased taxes. One of them points out

I pay my taxes every year, I expected something back from that.

How can Sunak expect money from people he deliberately locked out of any help – or the families of people who have died as a result of his policies?

Source: ‘Four suicides within 72 hours of Rishi Sunak statement’ says campaigner – Liverpool Echo

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Former PM rips into Internal Market Bill: ‘So much for global Britain’

What a face: Theresa May’s expression shows exactly how she feels about Boris Johnson’s idiotic, selfish and destructive Internal Markets Bill.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May has made a devastating intervention on her successor’s Internal Market Bill, attacking the reasons it has been drafted and its effect on the integrity of the United Kingdom, and questioning whether any other country will trust the UK again.

In a debate on the Bill on Monday afternoon (September 21), she raised several important questions, starting with this:

Clauses 41-45 of the Bill refer to customs arrangements in Northern Ireland. Boris Johnson signed the EU Withdrawal Agreement in January, accepting that NI would remain under EU tariffs and effectively placing a customs border in the middle of the Irish Sea. Now he wants to renege on that.

Mrs May was critical:

And she makes an excellent point.

Her final point was better still – that the circumstances in which the UK chooses to break international law won’t matter to people in other countries; they’ll only see that the UK has broken international law and won’t want anything to do with a rogue state of that kind:

Her conclusion was a devastating blow – not only to the Internal Markets Bill but to her successor, Boris Johnson: “This is a country that upholds the rule of law. That is one of the things that makes us great; it is one of our characteristics… yet we are being asked to tear up that principle and throw away that value. Why? I can only see, on the face of it, that it is because the Government did not really understand what they were signing up to when they signed the withdrawal agreement.

“Frankly, I find it difficult to understand how any Minister can go through the Lobby to support these clauses.

“I consider that… the Government are acting recklessly and irresponsibly, with no thought to the long-term impact on the United Kingdom’s standing in the world. It will lead to untold damage to the United Kingdom’s reputation and puts its future at risk.”

Wow.

It won’t make any difference, of course.

If Boris Johnson was able to gull more than 300 Tory MPs into voting for his Withdrawal Agreement in January, and then to vote against it in September, then the word of a former prime minister won’t stop them doing whatever he wants.

They would probably shoot themselves through the lung if he told them to.

Effectively, that is exactly what they are doing – and the rest of us, too.

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New deal? No deal! We can’t accept a plan for the future from the failed PM who deliberately wrecked it

Some have suggested that it was a campaign speech – and as such an indication that the Johnson government is rudderless.

Some have suggested that it was an admission of six months of failure and guilt.

Those are the more palatable options.

To This Writer, it seems far more likely that Boris Johnson has taken advantage of a Hell-sent opportunity to reduce the United Kingdom to helplessness – and is now working out how he can re-mould it for his own personal profit.

I don’t believe any of the promises he made. He mentioned the mythical 40 new hospitals he has been promising us for the last – what – nearly a year, now. Bear this in mind:

At a time when almost every industry other than construction was at a standstill, and the economy could have benefited from a large government investment, not a single stone was laid on any such new hospitals. Not one.

So we must ask: when Johnson says he will “build, build, build” with a £5 billion plan for homes and infrastructure… who will benefit?

Questions have already been asked about the cost. It seems £5 billion is unlikely to cover all the claims he made in his speech. But this is nothing new to those of us with any long-term experience of Johnson.

He talks big but delivers little.

When Johnson mentions an “opportunity guarantee” to ensure the chance of an apprenticeship or placement, I fear for the future of young people.

When he says he wants “to fix the problems that were most brutally illuminated in that covid lightning flash”, I question whether he means problems we faced, or problems for him? Where is the detail that could put our minds at ease? We find it – like Johnson – is sadly lacking.

Look at his promise to change planning laws.

Those laws are in place to safeguard the people and the environment – two things about which Johnson cares little.

How would his changes affect developments like the controversial Westferry plan, that has mired both Housing Minister Robert Jenrick and Johnson himself in a huge corruption scandal?

“Sometimes you have got to get on with things,” said Johnson. To hide Tory wrongdoing?

You can be sure that, whatever happens next, Johnson and his government will be cherry-picking who they help, and who they throw to the wall; which firms he helps, and which go out of businesses.

If I had the money, I’d make a hefty bet that the beneficiaries of Johnson’s “New Deal” will be those that make donations to the Conservative and Unionist Party – and that those who don’t currently make a contribution will be put under considerable pressure to start.

All as a matter of economic necessity, of course. Nobody will catch a whiff of impropriety – especially as this whirlwind of activity known as “Project Speed” is expected to happen so fast.

I’m not convinced – and I’m not alone. See:

Source: Coronavirus: Johnson sets out ‘ambitious’ economic recovery plan – BBC News

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Johnson’s speech – and what it means

There seems to be a lot of confusion about Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on May 10, and what it means.

Let’s have a look at it again:

Oops! That was in fact Matt Lucas – but it was a good impression and after hearing the real speech again, you may think it a fair approximation.

Here’s a real Johnson. I’ll try to include other social media comments at appropriate points as I go through his speech:

You have to wade through a lot of piffle paffle and wiffle waffle for the first couple of minutes. Anybody who has been paying attention will already know that much of what he says here is not true.

For example: “It is a fact that by adopting those measures [restrictions on our freedom that mean we have to stay at home except for necessary trips/exercise and keep two metres away from other people when we are out] we prevented this country from being engulfed by what could have been a catastrophe in which the reasonable worst case scenario was half a million fatalities.”

This is not true. By adopting these measures, we made it less likely that we would catch Covid-19 during the weeks in which those measures were adopted, meaning the National Health Service – that much-maligned organisation that the Tories have been starving for 10 years, in order to claim it is unable to cope with our health needs and so persuade us it is ripe for privatisation – would be better-able to cope with the thousands of new cases that have still been recorded every day. And it still has not been able to cope, because the Tories ignored advice from 2017, to stockpile personal protective equipment and have enough ventilators available.

The worst-case scenario, as This Writer recalls, was 250,000 deaths over the course of five or six peaks in infection rates. The UK has only just crested the first such peak. If a second arrives – and this seems likely, considering the latest information from Germany and China – then it may be as much as 10 times worse than the current wave that has caused around 60,000 deaths (although only half those are currently included in official figures).

He moves on to some waffle about millions of us being concerned over damage to their livelihoods and their mental and physical health, caused by the lockdown. He makes no mention that harm to people’s well-being is being caused by his refusal to introduce a Universal Basic Income, as the other measures the government promised to protect us were either inadequate, didn’t materialise or do not provide protection for everybody who has been endangered.

He wants to set out a plan to get us all back working for the benefit of the billionaires who run the country (he certainly doesn’t).

He says he has consulted across all four countries of the UK – although this seems unlikely, considering that Wales and Scotland immediately rejected his plan, such as it is.

It’s a conditional plan, he says: “We must protect our NHS. We must see sustained falls in the death rate. We must see sustained and considerable falls in the rate of infection. We must sort out our challenges in getting enough PPE to the people who need it, and yes, it is a global problem but we must fix it.” And we must ensure that the reproduction rate of the disease – ‘R’ – does not exceed one (this would mean that every person contracting the disease would be infecting more than one other person; creating a situation that the health system could not handle).

Then he takes a diversion to talk about the Covid alert system that some bright spark has devised. It’s like the DefCon system that warns us of the likelihood of nuclear war, with level one showing no evidence of the disease in the UK and level five meaning the NHS has been overwhelmed.

The Covid Alert Level will be determined primarily by R and the number of coronavirus cases, he says. So what was the point of talking about all the other things? I would have thought the death rate, at least, might have some bearing on whether we were at DefCon 5 or not.

“Over the period of the lockdown we have been in Level Four, and it is thanks to your sacrifice we are now in a position to begin to move in steps to Level Three,” he says. But he doesn’t say what levels four or three actually mean.

So what’s the point of telling us that?

He moves on to another diversion – telling us that, to keep pushing the number of infections down, we must reverse rapidly the epidemics in care homes and in the NHS; and we must have a world-beating system for testing potential victims, and for tracing their contacts. That may be true, but the general public cannot do anything about either of those matters. It is for the government and the NHS to do these things – not us.

The next part is ironically hilarious. He states that he wants the health service to be “testing literally hundreds of thousands of people every day.”

He has not managed to test even 100,000 people a day, yet!

There’s more waffle… and then, more than halfway through the speech (seven minutes, 10 seconds if you want to check), he finally admits that “no, this is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week.”

So we’re all staying at home, then?

Apparently not.

Johnson went on to describe a change in emphasis for the lockdown that means some people will be required to go back to work. This applies only in England, although he did not make that clear at any point during his broadcast. Indeed, with all his talk of co-operation across the four UK countries, any viewer might easily be confused into thinking we all have to go back. We don’t.

“We said that you should work from home if you can, and only go to work if you must. We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work. And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. So you should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited. So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.”

What?

Construction workers, as I recall, were never told to observe the lockdown. That’s why navvies up and down the route of HS2 are grinding up the countryside, hell-for-leather. As for people working in factories: it will be interesting to see whether bosses pay any attention to social distancing rules.

Johnson said his government had been working on new guidance for employers to make workplaces safe but, given the Tory government’s lack of exertion on other promises during the crisis, this seems unlikely – or the result will probably be slapdash.

If workplaces aren’t safe – or if employees are not satisfied – then bear in mind that s.44 of the Employment Rights Act gives them the right to walk away from the job, as their work will be unsafe.

By telling people to avoid public transport, Johnson pushed them into getting to their newly-reopened places of work in their cars – one person per vehicle – thereby ensuring traffic jams, parking problems and a massive spike in pollution.

In the event, thousands of people flocked back to public transport. The government promised guidance on how to use buses, trains and the Tube network safely – but in a typical display of the incompetence for which the Johnson administration is now justly famous, this arrived at 2pm today (May 11) – long after it was likely to do anybody any good.

Moving on to leisure activities, Johnson said it would now be possible (for people in England alone, remember) to take more and even “unlimited amounts” of outdoor exercise: “You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household.”

He added: “You must obey the rules on social distancing and to enforce those rules we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them.”

Is he hedging his bets here? Suppose there’s a spike in Covid-19 infections after people go back to work – will he try to blame it on people taking exercise in this way?

Moving on again, he said step two of his plan to ease the lockdown would start on June 1 at the earliest: this is when he plans to begin a phased reopening of shops and send children back to school – in England, remember. Not in the rest of the UK.

The Department for Education appears to be taking this as an instruction: children will be sent back to school on June 1, whether it is safe to do so or not:

Here’s a good response to that:

https://twitter.com/ScouseGirlMedia/status/1259560207165816842

Expect a big spike in Covid infections if he imposes this measure on that date. Children are major transmitters of disease at the best of times. And how does he expect to get children in school to conform with social distancing rules?

Step three would start at the beginning of July at the earliest, and would involve the reopening of parts of the hospitality industry and other public places – if they can sustain social distancing.

I don’t think we need to think about this yet. By July 1, if Johnson has gone ahead and implemented the first two steps of his scheme, England will almost certainly be in the midst of a second wave of coronavirus infections and deaths.

I would suggest to people living there that this would be an appropriate time to demand the resignations from Parliament of Johnson and all those involved in his policies relating to Covid-19.

He goes on to say that “it will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air”. What good will that do? The right time for restrictions on travel into the UK was January – possibly earlier.

There’s more waffle – a lot of it – and then he ends with his new, meaningless, slogan: “Stay alert, control the virus and save lives.”

Other responses are more directly critical:

 

In summary, Johnson’s speech says:

Construction and manufacturing workers in England must go back to their jobs. Employers are receiving advice on how make their workplaces safe.

Nothing else has changed.

And the chances are that nothing will. The evidence of today shows that he will fall at the first hurdle – but we will have to wait a couple of weeks to find that out.

The verdict: Johnson’s new plan means alertness won’t matter; the virus will not be controlled and lives will be lost.

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This is what Boris Johnson calls winning: the second-worst Covid-19 death rate in the world

Fist flying: Boris Johnson can make all the grand gestures he likes – but his speech would have been better if he had stood there and dribbled at us.

What a disaster: Boris Johnson is back at work.

His health may have improved but his patter is as rotten as it ever was.

Fortunately we are still able to get our money’s worth from his satirical value, as evidenced by this clip that reminds us he once hid in a refrigerator to avoid difficult questions:

He wasted no time getting himself back in the public eye, with an “address to the nation” at 9am today. Most of us were probably still in bed.

And we didn’t miss much. It was a remarkably content-free speech, focusing mostly on the concerns of his billionaire friends who are desperate for us all to get back to work, making money for them.

So he said the UK was almost at the point where lockdown restrictions could start to be lifted, and he would be telling us over the next few days how that might be done – but he won’t actually let it happen until he is sure a second peak of coronavirus infections and deaths can be avoided.

In other words: no change for now.

He said he measures his success by the fact that the NHS has not collapsed, but failed to recognise that it was only in danger because of Tory starvation policies over the last 10 years, when they were preparing the service for US-style privatisation.

The one joy we can derive from this whole saga is the fact that it proves once and for all that the NHS must never be privatised; a private health system simply would not take any precautions in advance of a global health emergency because it would infringe on its profits.

As it is, Tory mismanagement means the death toll in the UK is disproportionately high, and likely to become the second worst in the world behind the United States.

He recognised the contribution of people like Captain Tom Moore, who raised millions for the NHS at the age of 99 by walking laps of his garden – without acknowledging that it was only necessary because of his government’s failures:

What absolute twaddle.

The simple fact is that Tory incompetence has made the impact of the virus far, far worse than it had to be – as acknowledged by these commentators:

Yes, let’s talk openly about this catastrophe.

We could start by mentioning the fact that his government’s offer of coronavirus testing kits for key workers has stalled on every one of the four days it has been running.

According to The Independent:

The kits ran out around two minutes after the service launched on Friday, and people were reportedly told there were none left on Saturday morning after around 15 minutes.

As of 10am on Sunday, home testing kits for England were listed as “unavailable” on the government’s website – two hours after booking slots reopened.

Key workers could no longer order any online by 9.10am on Monday – the fourth day in a row where tests have become unavailable within hours of the booking system opening.

That’s right – today it took just over an hour for the government to run out. This must be a serious blow to the Tory plan, which is to carry out 100,000 tests a day by Thursday.

And nursing staff are starting to refuse to work in places where PPE – Personal Protective Equipment – is not available to an acceptable standard. Who can blame them when so many of their colleagues have caught the coronavirus and died?

Johnson mentioned none of these facts in his speech today, knowing that his bluster would encourage the easily-led:

But some of us are not so malleable:

Johnson is trying to whitewash this calamitous failure as a success. Don’t let him.

Source: Johnson: ‘We are winning but we haven’t won’ – ITV News

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Coronavirus: Maitlis praised for pointing out nobody is saved by fortitude and character

Speech: Emily Maitlis laid out some facts about the coronavirus that made laid bare the falseness of Tory rhetoric.

This is an extraordinary speech:

It’s a spot-on speech; the coronavirus doesn’t affect us all equally.

She accurately states that: “Bus drivers and shelf-stackers, nurses, care home workers, hospital staff and shopkeepers are disproportionately the lower-paid members of our workforce.

“They are more likely to catch the disease because they are more exposed.”

When was the last time you heard of a member of the so-called “one per cent” – society’s highest earners – falling victim to coronavirus? If they did, it was probably due to Boris Johnson-style stupidity.

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?

Those of us who bother to watch the daily briefings have even seen it in Laura Kuennsberg’s questions to whichever Tory minister is standing in for Johnson at the time.

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.

Source: Emily Maitlis praised as she slams ‘misleading’ language used amid coronavirus crisis | London Evening Standard

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Is the UK’s Chief Rabbi more concerned with supporting Israeli racism than Jewish people?

Ephraim Mirvis: His outburst about Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party has been condemned as ‘political’ and ‘ideological’ ‘propaganda’.

What the blazes was UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis doing, making a speech to US pro-Israel (by which we mean pro-Israeli-government) lobby group AIPAC?

Critics of the organisation have described it as an agent of the Israeli government with strong links to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the Republican Party in the US.

By making a speech there, Mr Mirvis was also making a clear declaration of political partisanship – as he was when he attacked Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during the general election campaign last year.

We can see the bias in the parts of his speech reported by the Jewish Chronicle – which I understand has undergone a certain amount of financial embarrassment due to false allegations of anti-Semitism it has made against innocent people.

“Prime Ministers of Israel and key Jewish leaders have been warmly and graciously welcomed at 10 Downing Street” under a Conservative government, he said, ignoring the fact that they have been welcomed under Labour governments too.

“What would happen if the next incumbent was Jeremy Corbyn? What would the consequences be for Jews and Judaism and the State of Israel?”

In making that comment, he committed a cardinal sin in the fight against anti-Semitism: deliberately presenting Judaism and the State of Israel as the same thing.

They aren’t; many Jews worldwide deplore the political decisions of the Israeli government, particularly in its treatment of Palestine.

Perhaps Mr Mirvis chose to blur the boundaries because he is a dyed-in-the-wool Conservative, a friend of Boris Johnson, and a Zionist who supports hatred against Palestinians (based on his own words in the past)?

But then, what can we expect from someone whose position in this debate is based on a lie? The post of Chief Rabbi is entirely symbolic and Jewish law provides no support for it as all rabbis have equal authority in principle.

The post merely arose because secular authorities have wanted an intermediary with the Jewish community for administrative reasons.

By interfering in secular politics, it could be claimed that Mr Mirvis has betrayed his role; he reports to secular politicians but should not have an influence on them.

And you should note that little is said in the JC report about the huge backlash against Mr Mirvis’s election campaign speech. This response is particularly revealing.

Sadly, it seems some political figures are all-too-ready to buy into the role he has assumed for himself (with no authority to do so).

In the following case, I can only sympathise with the attitude of left-wing Jewish group Jewdas:

Source: Chief Rabbi says he felt ‘weight of historic responsibility’ to speak out against Corbyn – The Jewish Chronicle

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Will Labour take Hastings & Rye after Conservative candidate’s disablist remark?

End the hostile environment: Labour’s policies for the disabled really are kinder, gentler politics.

Hastings & Rye? That’s Amber Rudd’s old constituency, isn’t it? The one she held with an advantage of just 346 votes over Labour’s Peter Chowney in 2017? Well, it looks like he’ll take the seat this year!

Why’s that, you ask?

Well, it’s probably got something to do with the current Tory candidate being hugely prejudiced against disabled people.

Sally-Ann Hart was met with cries of “shameful!” after she told people at a local hustings that people with learning disabilities should be paid less than fully-able people because they “don’t understand money”.

What should we understand this to mean?

I think it means it is Conservative policy to rip off and shortchange people whenever and wherever they think it is possible.

Never mind whether they do a good job or not, if someone has a learning disability, the Tories are saying not only that you can – but that you should – pay them less money.

That’s exploitative – and probably against equalities law.

In response, one person shouted, “I’m autistic, and I want to get paid for the work I do!”

Quite right, too.

But we can see what kind of nation the Tories would create if they are elected into government again on December 12: one in which the hostile environment they have already built for disabled people would spill over into open contempt, with more pushed into poverty, and possibly even more deaths than we’ve seen in the last nine years of Tory misrule.

The one good aspect of this is that, with such openly prejudiced remarks, Sally-Ann Hart won’t be a part of it. Right?

Source: Man born without arms or legs told to prove he is disabled enough for benefits

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Boris Johnson’s obscene insult will merely cement the nation’s opinion – of him

Hair-raising: Mr Johnson’s use of an archaic obscenity is a disgrace.

Boris Johnson has seen fit to debase the office of prime minister once again, resorting to an obscene insult against the Labour Party in his first speech of the election campaign.

He was set to accuse the Labour leader of political “onanism” – an arcane word meaning masturbation – in a speech today (Wednesday).

I think we all know who’s the w*nker in this situation!

Speaking at an electric vehicle manufacturer in the West Midlands, Mr Johnson will admit that countries around the world are “baffled” that the UK – meaning the Conservative Party – has squandered three years of time and energy on the Brexit debate.

He will refer to the movie Groundhog Day by repeating the boring Tory cliches about “getting Brexit done” and avoiding a “horror show” coalition between Mr Corbyn and Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon. And he will describe plans for a new Brexit referendum and one on Scottish independence as “political onanism”.

The reference has attracted well-deserved ridicule. Here’s an example:

A Labour source said: “We’re not bothered by Johnson’s obscure, crude insults because we’ve got our eyes on the prize – real change for the many not the few.”

And The Independent has reminded us that “it is not the first time that Mr Johnson has resorted to off-colour language in public. He once referred to money spent on child abuse enquiries being ‘spaffed up the wall’, ridiculed gay men as ‘tank-topped bum-boys’ and rhymed a reference to the president of Turkey in a limerick with the country’s capital Ankara.”

This is not statesmanlike behaviour.

And the leaders of those other countries that have caused Mr Johnson such concern will be even more “baffled” if he wins an election with language like this.

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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Crowd-pleaser Corbyn launches Labour election campaign with rip-roaring speech

Jeremy Corbyn: “Our NHS is not for sale.”

Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to lead a Labour government that will “transform” the UK as he launched the party’s general election campaign.

In a widely-praised speech, he promised to “rebuild” public services and hit out at “tax dodgers, dodgy landlords, bad bosses and big polluters”.

But don’t take my word for it. You can read the speech here.

Or you can watch it here.

Highlights included the moment when the audience burst into chants of “Not for sale!” as he committed to return the National Health Service to what it should be – a fully-public organisation with no private providers involved – reversing the privatisation ushered in by the hated Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Here’s the part that’s worth remembering, though:

It’s the big difference. With a Conservative government, the super-rich win, and stamp on your face as they’ve been doing for the last nine years. Think of all the people who have died because of their policies.

With a Labour government – as defined by Mr Corbyn, you win.

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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