Tag Archives: stall

Brexit talks are stalling because May wants to sell the NHS to Donald Trump

Theresa May and Donald Trump: That’s not what he really wants to get his hands on!

What’s left of it, anyway.

Jeremy Corbyn has said Brexit talks with the Conservative government are stalling because the Tories want deregulation, partly to ensure a US trade deal.

Deregulation, for those of you who aren’t in the know, means a lowering of standards – in this case to allow American firms to trade their lower-quality goods with the UK – chlorine-washed chicken being the most-quoted example.

It would allow the Tory government to sell off the remains of the National Health Service to American profit-making interests.

And it would also allow the Tories to set up the UK as a tax haven, right on the EU’s doorstep.

Environmental responsibilities and workers’ rights would also be sacrificed in Mrs May’s march to Donald Trump’s drumbeat.

Mr Corbyn won’t accept any of it. He’s standing up for you – to give you a fighting chance to maintain our current rights as a bare minimum of what we can expect in the future, to retain current high consumer standards, to make sure that the super-rich pay their taxes, and to stop the Tories plunging us into an expensive and harmful US-style health system.

Every single citizen of the UK should support him in that, for an obvious reason.

Brexit represents the desire to stop giving away our assets to foreign countries and companies, but that is precisely what Mrs May is trying to do.

AFTERWORD: Some might say Mrs May is neglecting a deal better-suited to Donald Trump:


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Refusal to investigate Leave campaigns is direct police interference in politics

Corruption Yard: Police have stalled an investigation into possible criminal offences by the Leave campaign in order to influence the progress of Brexit.

Members of the Metropolitan Police Service have taken it upon themselves to interfere in the most important political issue of our time.

After the Electoral Commission handed over a large amount of evidence on the expectation that the police would investigate whether serious criminal offences had been committed by three pro-Brexit campaigns in the EU referendum of 2016, officers have sat on their thumbs.

They say the matter is politically sensitive because it relates to an election “and much else besides”.

Not very convincing, it is?

Firstly, the referendum was not an election. It may have had relevance to the 2017 general election but that is a secondary concern.

Secondly, when anyone mentions “much more” or, in this case, “much else”, it usually means there isn’t much more and the person saying it is hoping you don’t notice.

The point is that this investigation needed to be handled immediately because it has a direct bearing on the validity of the decision to leave the European Union – a departure that is now less than six months in the future.

If the various Leave campaigns indulged in criminality to achieve their aim, then the result of the referendum is not valid. That would have huge significance.

And a crime is a crime. When evidence is available to them, it is the responsibility of the police to investigate it immediately. Justice brooks no delay.

So we must conclude that the police officer(s) who halted the investigation have done so in order to interfere with political affairs – allowing Brexit to happen when an investigation may prove that it should not.

Who are the officers responsible?

Why are they not stepping forward to give a full and frank account of this abhorrent behaviour?

There is no place for this kind of political interference in the modern police service and in This Writer’s opinion the culprits should be resigning their positions and submitting themselves to criminal investigations of their own.

The Metropolitan Police has stalled the launch of any criminal investigation into three pro-Brexit campaigns – citing “political sensitivities”.

Despite being handed their first dossier of evidence of potential crimes committed by pro-Leave groups over five months ago, the police force has made no progress nor logged a formal case into the activities of either Vote Leave, fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, or Leave.EU, the pro-Brexit campaign bankrolled by Arron Banks.

In May and July this year, the UK Electoral Commission reported that multiple breaches of electoral law, false declarations and covert campaign over-spending had taken place by pro-Leave groups during the 2016 EU referendum.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was then expected to investigate whether key individuals, including Leave.EU’s campaign chief, Liz Bilney; Vote Leave’s board official, David Halsall; and the founder of BeLeave, Darren Grimes, had committed related criminal offences.

The Met revealed it has yet to start any formal investigation, and has remained effectively stalled for months in “assessing evidence”.

Pushed on why there has been no progress, or no formal case logged, a Scotland Yard spokesman admitted there were issues and “political sensitivities” that had to be taken into account. The Yard spokesman later added that the political issues related to “any allegation or referral relating to an election, and much else besides.”

Source: Police still not investigating Leave campaigns, citing ‘political sensitivities’ | openDemocracy

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George Osborne’s failure

What an embarrassment: George Osborne's silly ideas about the economy are enough to embarrass anybody.

What an embarrassment: George Osborne’s silly ideas about the economy are enough to make anybody red-faced.

You probably won’t find the failure of the Conservative-led Coalition government laid out any more bluntly than this.

Speaking at Jaguar Land Rover in the West Midlands today (Monday), Ed Balls said George Osborne had failed to reduce the national deficit because of disappointing tax revenues.

“To make up that shortfall, George Osborne has now said he is going to carry on with even bigger spending cuts in the next parliament,” he said, adding that this will result in the biggest cuts in public services over the next five years in any country around the world.

“I don’t think that plan is remotely credible,” said Mr Balls.

He’s right.

Osborne cut public spending hard because he believed the claims of an academic thesis that has long-since been disproved, by Reinhart and Rogoff, that suggested states should not allow their national debt to rise above 90 per cent of GDP.

The result is clear: He stalled the UK economy.

The only way Osborne was able to get the UK moving again was by creating a new housing bubble (which is yet to burst) and by enabling employers to make real-terms cuts in wages, in what amounts to a fiddle of the employment figures.

But tax receipts don’t lie. Despite claims that we have more people in work now than ever before in history, the Treasury is taking less money.

And Osborne’s idea for regeneration is to repeat the strategy that stalled the economy in the first place?

Incredible.

Beware: ‘UKIP’ thugs are attacking political campaigners

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A gang claiming to be members of UKIP attacked South Basildon & East Thurrock Labour Party members and went on to destroy their town centre street stall on Saturday, according to LabourList.

Mike Le-Surf, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for South Basildon & East Thurrock, who was there, writes: “I was hosting a ‘Save our NHS’ stand with support from local party and UNISON members, collecting petition signatures and speaking to local residents about their issues.

“Earlier in the day, one of the gang approached us soon after we arrived and told us to pack up and get out. Strong language and references to Rotherham followed with a threat of him returning. Later he did return with a group of people. They began to rip up some NHS leaflets and told a party member they were UKIP and that they would be back.

“The attack which followed was filmed by one of their gang. The thugs kicked one of our members in the leg while she was sitting in her mobility scooter accompanied by her daughter and young grandson. The gang then demolished the street stall and ripped down a bannerstand before hurling it at a parked van. An eighty year old member of the party was subjected to a tirade of verbal abuse and another received a cut to his forehead in the violent and unprovoked attack.

“Whether UKIP party members or just local thugs, the perpetrators of these actions were happy to say off camera that they were UKIP and justified their actions with reference to UKIP’s Rotherham campaign poster targeting Labour councillors.”

Thurrock council has CCTV footage of the attack so Mr Le-Surf said he hopes it is only a matter of time before the offenders are brought to justice. We’ll know then if they really are UKIP members.

If they are, Nigel Farage will have more apologising to do.

More importantly, this indicates a strain of political thuggishness that we have not seen in mainstream British politics – at least, not for many years. Let us hope that the British people are smart enough to know that it must be discouraged.

The best place to do so will be at the ballot box.

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Stalled – the plan to share NHS patients’ confidential information with big business

Freudian slip: The BBC's article on the care.data delay was accompanied by this picture of a hand drawing on a diagram of a pair of breasts. Is this a tacit implication that the Department of Health has boobed? (Sorry, ladies) [Image: BBC]

Freudian slip: The BBC’s article on the care.data delay was accompanied by this picture of a hand drawing on a diagram of a pair of breasts. Is this a tacit implication that the Department of Health has boobed? (Sorry, ladies) [Image: BBC]

A plan to sell the confidential medical information of every NHS patient in England has been put on hold after it caused a public outcry.

The care.data system, also called variously the General Patient Extraction Service (GPES) or the Health and Social Care Information Centre, was dreamed up as a money-spinning device by Jeremy Hunt’s Department of Health.

The aim is that, if you are an NHS patient in England, your GP will be forced to provide your confidential records, showing every medical condition you have ever had and providing intimate details of your current state of health, to a huge national database.

From there, your information may be sold on to private healthcare and pharmaceutical companies for “research”. A new proposal backed by NHS England (a body set up largely to support the increasing privatisation of the NHS, if my information is correct) would give non-NHS bodies including private companies the right to ask for access to the data.

The government has said the information would be “pseudonymised”, in an attempt to reassure you that you cannot be identified from the information to be provided to outside organisations. This is not true, and in fact it will be entirely possible to trace your medical information back to you.

The government claims the information will help experts assess diseases, examine the effects of new drugs and identify infection outbreaks, while also monitoring the performance of the NHS.

In fact, it seems far more likely that this is a widespread invasion of privacy, with the information likely to be used (for example) to sell you health insurance that you should not need.

We are told that NHS England organised a mass mailing to every household in England, explaining its version of what the planned system will do – but a BBC poll of 860 people last week found that fewer than one-third of them could recall receiving it.

Concern that people are likely to end up allowing their information to go into commercial hands without ever knowing about it has led to the scheme being halted – for the time being.

NHS England has accepted that its communications campaign must be “improved”, although we do not yet know how. A propaganda campaign on TV and radio seems likely.

Every NHS patient in England has the right to opt out of the data sharing scheme, and many have already chosen to do so. You can do it right now, using a form designed by the medConfidential website.

While NHS England and the Department of Health will continue trying to justify this scheme, there is no justification for selling your private information to commercial organisations.

It is to be hoped that this six-month pause will end with the abandonment of the scheme.

If the organisations that want the information genuinely intend to use it for humanitarian concerns, it would be fully anonymised and they would not be buying it.

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Rising tide of protest marks start of Tory conference

Falling on deaf ears: The chorus of protest against the bedroom tax is unlikely to be heard at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, where delegates will be discussing how to bribe the electorate into supporting them in 2015. [Picture: Matthew Pover in the Sunday People]

Falling on deaf ears: The chorus of protest against the bedroom tax is unlikely to be heard at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, where delegates will be discussing how to bribe the electorate into supporting them in 2015. [Picture: Matthew Pover in the Sunday People]

Does David Cameron have any new policies that are big enough to silence the rising clamour of discontent against him?

He’ll need something big – Coalition partners the Liberal Democrats managed only a tax on plastic bags (an idea stolen from the Labour Welsh government) and a few weak cries of “Please let us stay in government after 2015”.

The married couples’ tax allowance isn’t it. It seems this is how the Tories plan to spend any money saved by imposing the bedroom tax, and people are already naming it as an election bribe – albeit a poor one at £3.85 a week.

He has set aside £700 million for the scheme, which is more than the government would have spent if it had not imposed the bedroom tax.

A brand-new ComRes poll is showing that 60 per cent of voters agree with Labour’s plan to abolish the bedroom tax – which hits 660,000 households. And one in five Liberal Democrats could vote Labour in protest at the tax.

The issue has prompted shadow Work and Pensions secretary Liam Byrne to say something with which this blog can actually – for once – agree! He said: “It is the worst possible combination of incompetence and cruelty, a mean-spirited shambles. It’s got to go.”

He added that the bedroom tax was likely to cost more than it saved – a point made by this blog many months ago.

Another hopelessly unpopular Tory policy to come from Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions has been the work capability assessment for sick and disabled claimants of Employment and Support Allowance. It seems one of the first things the Tories did was alter this test so that it became almost impossible to accumulate enough points to be found in need of the benefit.

The result has been three years of carnage behind closed doors, where people with serious conditions have been forced into destitution that has either caused their death by worsening their condition, or caused the kind of mental health problems that lead to suicide. Thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – have died.

Now, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral has written to Cameron, urging him to end the assessments which, he wrote, can “cut short their lives”.

The Very Reverend Dr David Ison, who presided over Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, signed a campaign letter entitled ‘The Downing Street Demand’, which claims Government policies force some of the most deprived members of society to “shoulder the heaviest burden of national debt created by the super-rich”.

Some might say this is typical of broad Conservative policy: Taking from the poor to give to the rich.

The harshness of such a policy, as outlined in the letter, is appalling: “In 2010 you said, ‘I’m going to make sure no-one is left behind; that we protect the poorest and most vulnerable in our society’.

“The reality of the austerity programme is the opposite.

“Since your Government came to power, cuts have meant that disabled people are paying back nine times more than non-disabled people and those with the highest support needs are paying back nineteen times more.”

Dr Ison said: “It’s right to stand in solidarity with people from many different organisations to draw attention to the needs of some of the most deprived members of our society.

“Many disabled people feel desperate facing possible cuts in support, the bedroom tax, and in particular an inflexible and failing Work Capability Assessment scheme which can blight and even cut short their lives.

“The Government needs to respond by enabling disabled people to live with dignity and security.”

Against this background, what is Cameron doing to make his party more attractive?

He’s bringing forward the second phase of his government’s Help to Buy scheme, that helps people in England to get 95 per cent mortgages on properties worth up to £600,000 – a scheme that has been widely criticised for setting up another debt-related housing bubble.

Cameron denies this. Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show this morning (Sunday), he said that outside London and the South East the average price of homes has only risen 0.8 per cent.

But the BBC reported that, during September, house prices rose at their fastest rate in more than six years – and a report from Nationwide Building Society showed the rise was “increasingly broad-based”.

Adam Marshall, of the British Chambers of Commerce (which is normally supportive to the Conservatives), said: “With all the concern expressed about Help to Buy – rushing into it seems less than responsible on part of government.”

It is, therefore, under a barrage of scorn that the Conservative conference begins today. How is Cameron planning to rally his troops?

He would be ill-advised to use the economy – as seems likely from a BBC report today.

He wants the country to believe that “We have had to make very difficult decisions… These difficult decisions are beginning to pay off and the country’s coming through it.”

Even here, the evidence is against him. George Osborne’s economic theory was based on a very silly spreadsheet error, as was proved several months ago by an American student. Attempts by this blog to ascertain whether he had anything more solid on which to base his policy proved fruitless – all the evidence he provided was underpinned by the same discredited document.

No – we can all see what George Osborne’s policies did to the British economy: They stalled it.

We spent three years bumping along the bottom with no growth worth mentioning, which Osborne, Cameron and their cronies used as an excuse to impose policies that have hammered those of us on the lowest incomes while protecting the rich corporate bosses, bankers and hedge fund investors who caused the economic crash.

Now, it seems more likely that the economy is picking up because it was always likely to. Commerce is cyclical and, when conditions merit it, business will pick up after a slump. That is what is happening now, and this is why growth figures are “stronger than expected”.

It has nothing to do with Conservative economic policies at all.

That won’t stop Cameron trying to capitalise on it. Ever the opportunist, he is already trying to pretend that this was the plan all along, and it just took a little longer than expected. We would all be fools to believe him.

And he has rushed to attack Labour plans for economic revival, claiming these would involve “crazy plans to tax business out of existence”.

In fact, Labour’s plans will close tax avoidance loopholes that have allowed businesses to avoid paying their due to the Treasury.

Besides, Conservative policy – to reduce Corporation Tax massively – has been proved to do nothing to make the UK more attractive for multinational businesses; the USA kept its taxes high and has not lost any of its own corporate taxpayers.

That country, along with Germany, adopted a policy of investment alongside a tighter tax regime and has reaped the benefits with much greater growth than the UK, which has suffered from a lack of investment and a tax policy full of holes (because it is written by the architects of the biggest tax avoidance schemes).

So what’s left?

Historically, at this time in the electoral cycle, Tory policy is to offer Middle Britain a massive bribe.

If they try it now, they’ll risk wiping out any savings they might have made over the last three years, rendering this entire Parliament pointless.

This blog stated last week that the Tories seem to want to rewrite an old saying to include the line: “You can fool most of the people, enough of the time.”

We know that millions of people were fooled by them at the last election.

Will we be fooled again?