Now it turns out the Tories are fighting among themselves about what Brexit will mean – again.
The whole idea of the EU referendum was to put an end to Conservative in-fighting over the UK’s membership of that bloc.
But David Cameron made a pig’s ear of his offer to the public, failing to provide any solid information about what leaving the EU would mean.
If he had, nobody in their right mind would have voted for it and the nightmare of the last two years could have been avoided.
Tories. They can’t get anything right.
Liam Fox has said he finds the Treasury’s predictions of economic turmoil following a no-deal Brexit “hard to swallow”.
The international trade secretary’s intervention underlines deep divisions in the cabinet over the government’s approach to Brexit, with the forecasts only recently promoted by Philip Hammond.
The chancellor said his department’s best estimates were that a no-deal Brexit would lead to £80bn a year in extra borrowing, sparking fury among Brexiteers who believe leaving without an agreement would be preferable to Ms May’s Chequers proposals.
Theresa May in the Commons: She’s talking about Brexit so she is lying through her teeth.
In case you haven’t noticed, the so-called ‘Brexit dividend’ was a lie; there will be no money coming to the UK to create a post-Brexit golden age.
The claim that businesses would move into the UK to create a post-Brexit golden age was another lie. They all know it will be more expensive to stay in the UK after the country leaves the European Union and the only reason they would possibly do so is a massive government incentive – funded by working-class people, of course.
In the absence of such incentives, firms are moving out. Car manufacturers like Jaguar Landrover are refocusing their operations away from the UK and even banking giants like Barclays, HSBC, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are moving specific roles away from the Square Mile in order to maintain profitability.
That is a significant point. Banks are saying the UK will not be profitable after Brexit, and other corporates will follow their lead.
The UK’s Tory government cannot even guarantee it will be able to secure the UK’s borders. Nobody mentioned the Irish question in the run-up to the EU referendum; we must conclude that the main players in that fiasco either had no idea it was important – which is irresponsible in the extreme – or they knew, and hid the importance from us in order to get what they wanted – which should be criminal.
In Parliament on Monday (July 2), Theresa May said the EU Withdrawal Act’s provision that it is illegal to do anything that would introduce a hard border in Ireland, did not make a no-deal Brexit illegal because the UK could decide for itself what it did with the border. This was at best a lie; at worst, she was making it up as she went because a no-deal Brexit means the UK goes to World Trade Organisation rules and all the borders close, including those in Ireland.
I could go on and on.
At every step of the Brexit process, the people of the UK have lost.
But Mrs May is dragging her Cabinet to Chequers in order to iron out the dramas and differences between their demands about the conditions in which we leave the EU.
Has it not occurred to anybody to ask who, exactly, these talks will benefit? They won’t help us!
It seems to This Writer that all the drama in the Conservative government is nothing but a distraction – they want to divert our attention away from the fact that Brexit will take from us far more than we even knew we had.
I have an inkling that they are probably all rejigging their personal investment portfolios like crazy, moving their money out of the empty shell they are making of the UK.
None of this is being reported – possibly because the news media don’t want us all to wake up and ask why our government is shafting us all so badly.
Instead The Guardian, for example, has gone with a personality drama about Boris Johnson siding with Jacob Rees-Mogg to demand the most extreme form of Brexit from Theresa May – a matter that makes very little difference to ordinary people; we lose everything anyway.
It’s time we stopped paying attention to this drivel.
It’s time we started asking the relevant questions.
We could start with: Why is our government distracting us with irrelevances and when will it consider ways of safeguarding our prosperity?
Will it be soon?
Will it ever happen at all?
I think we know the answer to that one already. So why are people still supporting this self-destructive stupidity?
A rocket is fired between combatants in the Israel-Palestine conflict during July. If the UK government recognises Palestine, could this change the way the international community views the situation there?
Much though this blog maligns the BBC News website, it does come out with the occasional scrap of news, such as the fact that MPs are to vote on a backbench motion to officially recognise Palestine as a state.
“Labour backbencher Grahame Morris will present the motion on Monday as MPs return to the Commons,” the report states.
“The motion has the full backing of the Labour shadow cabinet, the BBC has been told.
“The vote is symbolic and would not change government policy but could have international implications.”
It goes on to say that backbenchers are likely to add an amendment, simply to say that this would be a contribution towards securing a two-state solution for the conflicts between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people.
In the light of the violence that flared up in July, this all seemed fairly straightforward – but it seems it isn’t. The Independenthas reported that the amendment is part of an “internal revolt” from “pro-Israeli” members of the shadow cabinet over a decision to “force” them to support the proposal.
To be frank, it all seems very childish, especially when considering the number of deaths – mainly of Palestinians but also of some Israelis – and the destruction of homes and property.
But what do you think? Originally this was going to be a question about Labour but considering the pettiness of the squabble, let’s rise above it: Should the United Kingdom recognise Palestine as a state? Please vote.
Sajid Javid? No – this is The Collector, from the Doctor Who serial The Sun Makers, but it’s an easy mistake to make. This charmer’s game was extorting taxes from human refugees who had fled the death of the sun to live under artificial heat sources on Pluto(!) – but revolution triggers a recession in which he literally shrinks down to nothing, disappearing into the commode he appears to be sitting on. If only Mr Javid would do the same!
They say the secret of great comedy is timing, and Sajid Javid’s speech lambasting Labour’s ability with the economy could not come at a better time – to make a fool of him.
Javid heads up the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – you know, the government organisation that offended everybody earlier this week by denying everybody but the Prime Minister a chance to write a personal message on the wreaths laid at a First World War centenary commemoration in Glasgow.
Having made one faux pas already this week, Javid was set to ram his foot even further down his own gullet with his speech knocking Labour.
According to the Telegraph, he was planning to say that Labour’s “basic instinct” is to spend money, the party’s economic policies will leave Britain £500 billion worse-off, and this will be the equivalent of two-thirds of national income in 2035, while the Conservative approach would make it the equivalent of one-third of GDP.
The speech met with scorn before it was even made, over on alittleecon. In an article headlined Tory Minister Sajid Javid plucks some numbers out of his arse, author Alex Little pointed out:
Sajid Javid does not understand economics; national debt is merely an indicator of how much a government wants the economy to be funded by the private sector or the public. As government debt is issued in the form of bonds, all of it represents somebody else’s savings and more government debt means more private savings, while the economy is funded by the public sector.
Whether a low debt-to-GDP ratio is better than a higher one depends entirely on how it has been achieved. A fast-growing, dynamic economy can have a high level of government debt, while a slow-growing economy could have a very low debt-to-GDP ratio.
His timescale covers the next 20 years, making his claim a nonsense from the start. The electoral cycle is only five years so, for Labour to win in 2015 and continue winning until the date Mr Javid uses, they’d have to be doing something right!
Of course, Labour has not produced any spending plans yet and, when they arrive, the totals are unlikely to be hugely different from the Tories’ (although the way the money is used may differ greatly). So Mr Javid has (as Mr Little rather indelicately puts it) plucked some numbers out of his arse.
Mr Javid’s week is going very well – he has ruined a major ceremony with the behaviour of a schoolboy, then followed it up by showing that his understanding of economics – wasn’t he Financial Secretary to the Treasury before moving to the DCMS? Coupled with George Osborne as Chancellor, this could explain much – is worse than that of a schoolboy. And it’s only Wednesday.
“If this isn’t intimidation, I don’t know what is – it’s a very clear message to anyone: How dare you protest against us and, if you do, we’ll find you fit for work!” Anti-Atos protester Joanne Jemmett with the sign left by Atos workers outside the assessment centre in Weston-Super-Mare on Wednesday (“Fit enough to protest – fit enough to work!”) at the start of this short film documenting the demonstration there.
Watching the stories stack up in the wake of the national day of protest against Atos last Wednesday has been very interesting.
The immediate response was that Atos has approached the government, seeking an early end to its contract. This deal, under which Atos administers the hated Work Capability Assessments to people on incapacity or disability benefits, would have been worth more than £1 billion to the company over a 10-year period.
Allegedly, company employees have been receiving death threats, both during and after the protests. We’ll come back to those shortly.
The Conservative-led Coalition took this development in the way we have come to expect – spitefully. A DWP spokesperson said that the company’s service had declined to an unacceptable level, and that the government was already seeking tenders from other firms for the contract.
This is what happens when bullies squabble.
Atos is the big bully that has just had a shock because the other kids in the playground stood up to it and made it clear they weren’t going to stand for its nonsense any more. We’re told that all bullies are cowards and it appears to be true in this case – Atos went running to the bigger bully (the government) and said it was scared. The government then did what bigger bullies do; it said Atos was rubbish anyway and set about finding someone else to do its dirty work.
Here’s the sticking-point, though – as the BBC identified in its article: “The government was furious with Atos for leaking information it believes to be commercially confidential… If Atos wants to pull out early, some other companies may pay less to take those contracts on than they otherwise would.”
I should clarify that companies don’t actually pay for contracts; they offer to carry out the work at the lowest prices they think are viable, in competition with other firms. The government chooses the company it feels is best-suited to the work. In this situation, it seems likely that the possibility of death threats may put some firms off even applying.
So let’s come back to those threats. A spokesperson for the organisers of Wednesday’s demonstration tells us that pickets took place outside 93 Atos centres, across the UK. Most of these were very small – averaging 30 people or less (I can confirm that in Newtown, Powys, a maximum of 15 people attended at any one time). Brighton and London were bigger, but 12 demos had only one person present.
“That is really funny because, as you have seen, Atos are saying they had to close down all their centres for the day – up and down the country – because of huge hoards of scary, threatening disabled people issuing death threats,” the spokesperson said.
“All demos were peaceful and no trouble or arrests were reported.”
In the spokesperson’s opinion: “Atos have been planning to step down for a long time because they weren’t making enough profit and just used our tiny little demos as an excuse.”
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and sister group Black Triangle issued a joint statement: “The bizarre exit strategy Atos have developed in identifying apparent physical threats on Facebook despite the growing lists of real deaths caused by the WCA regime is an outrageous insult to all those who have died and all those who have lost family members through this regime.
“It is an insult to those left without their homes, without money and needing to go to food banks.
“It is an insult to every person who has suffered worsening physical and mental health through this inhuman regime.”
The statement also poured water on any government claim that other companies had been put off bidding for the contract:”The alphabet corporations – G4S, A4E, SERCO, CAPITA – are already lining up to take over the multi-million profits and the mantle of the new Grim Reapers. The misery imposed by this Government and the DWP will continue as long as its heinous policies continue.”
I would strongly urge all readers to put their support behind the remainder of the statement, which asserted: “The Work Capability Assessment must also end.
“The reign of terror by this unelected Coalition Government which has awarded itself pay rises and cut taxes for those earning more than £150,000 while piling punishment, poverty, misery and premature death on everyone else in its policies of rich against poor must end.
“Make no mistake – we will continue to demonstrate against ATOS, now delivering the complete failure of PIP in which claims are being delayed by up to a year.
“We will demonstrate against any other company that takes over the WCA contract.
“We will continue to demand the immediate removal of the WCA, and the removal of this Government.”
In my article on the Bedroom Tax evictions taking place in my home town (yesterday) I made it clear that too few people are bothering to pay attention to the evils of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government. That article received a huge response, garnering almost four times the readership of other recent posts within just 24 hours.
The situation described in this article is much worse – people aren’t being evicted from their homes; they are being forced off of the benefits that have kept them alive, pushed – by the government! – towards destitution, despair and death through either suicide or a failure of their health that their Atos assessment results deny should ever take place.
Today’s article should have more readers, after the success of yesterday’s – but we’ll have to see, shan’t we? If fewer people read it, we’ll know that they all just looked up for a moment, thought, “Oh, that’s interesting,” and went back to whatever distraction keeps them happy in the face of impending government-sponsored pain.
Any attempt to inform the public will fail if the public stops paying attention.
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It seems there has been an argument between Iain Duncan Smith’s DWP and Francis Maude’s Cabinet Office, and now the much-troubled Universal Credit project has no IT experts working on it.
Good. It’s a terrible idea, designed to remove money from the people who need it most.
The project aims to update benefit claimants’ entitlements in ‘real time’, ensuring that they only ever receive what government regulations say they should. Sadly, there is no commitment to update the entitlement amounts in ‘real time’, so people will always be getting less than they need, as inflation boosts prices beyond their range.
Minutes of a Universal Credit ‘board meeting’, leaked to The Guardian, show that IT experts from the Cabinet Office are pulling out of the project and the DWP must now search for somebody else with the skills needed to take on the work.
This means more delays and an even greater cost. This is unlikely to bother Iain Duncan Smith, who sees the project as his legacy to the nation and will pay any amount to see it through – in sharp contrast to his attitude towards the benefit claimants for whose livelihoods his department is responsible.
It seems the argument arose because of Mr… Smith’s vanity – he insisted on a “twin-track” approach to the project, keeping current work going in order to make it possible for claimants to use Universal Credit before the 2015 election while also funnelling money and time into a purely web-based system that will not require Job Centre staff to fill in claimants’ details. One may presume that he will happily sack the excess Job Centre staff after that system is complete.
Those on the current version will be tranferred onto the digital system when it is ready, we are told.
A separately-leaked document made it clear that the withdrawal of the Cabinet Office expertise is one of the most serious problems facing the project because the DWP will now have to try to find people with the necessary skills in the market, and may not be able to afford the cost.
It is interesting that this document is a risk assessment. Does anybody remember the furore over the NHS risk assessment, when the Health and Social Care Act was working its way through Parliament like an unhappy bowel movement? Even though these documents are almost always publicly available, that one was jealously guarded by Andrew Lansley and still has not seen the light of day.
Of course the different government departments are claiming that nothing is wrong and all is going according to plan, and this might be true – if we’re discussing the kind of plan that changes with the wind.
Meanwhile, Universal Credit is increasingly becoming a symbol of the government creating it – not only is it monstrously expensive but it also doesn’t work.
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