Tag Archives: Stephen

Fed up of This Site banging on about climate change? Here’s Stephen Fry

This is partly for all those “I’m all right” Jacks whose only concern about climate change protest is that they don’t end up being delayed on their way to work.

But it’s mostly for those government ministers who put their heads in the sand whenever a fat fossil fuel firm flings money at them to continue letting greenhouse gases stink up – and heat up – our air, without a single thought for the future.

And its for those corporate chiefs who don’t realise that, after we hit the tipping-point, their money won’t save them and it certainly won’t save their children.

So… I don’t know… why not try putting this clip in front of those people?

Go on. It isn’t very long:

Oh yeah – the video was made in support of Extinction Rebellion, those hand-glueing hippies who the Tory government wants to hide away from the rest of us.

Makes you wonder whether your leaders really have your best interests at heart, doesn’t it?

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Partygate: Met Police Acting Commissioner pathetically tries to whitewash Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson: the prime minister is pictured participating in a party to mark the departure of Lee Cain from his Downing Street communications job – but according to Acting Met Police Commissioner Sir Stephen House, there is “no clear evidence” that he took part in the rampant Covid-19 rule-breaking there.

A police officer who witnessed “a large number of people” at a “crowded and noisy” party, where “some members of staff drank excessively” did not immediately take action over Covid-19 rule breaches because he was there for security and not to “police what goes on inside the building”, according to Met Police Acting Commissioner Sir Stephen House.

Have you ever read such nonsense? Police officers are sworn to uphold the law at all times, no matter what their stated duties are said to be. Would he have turned a blind eye to burglary, or rape, because he was assigned to “security”?

Apparently the same officer did not feel that a large number of drunken people in a crowded and noisy room breached Covid-19 regulations that strictly prohibited such social gatherings.

It’s no wonder this “acting” Commissioner’s other comments are also shockingly inadequate in the light of this.

House told the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee there was “no clear evidence” that Johnson had breached Covid-19 rules many times in Downing Street, despite the very clear photographic evidence of him participating in a party to mark the departure of Lee Cain from Downing Street on November 13, 2020.

This was not a “works gathering”. Far too many people were present and they were socialising and drinking alcohol – as was the prime minister, who gave a speech. The amount of time he spent there was immaterial because the rules in place at the time prohibited all such social events from taking place at all.

At least one attendee was fined for being at this event but there was “no clear evidence” that Boris Johnson was there or took part, according to House.

House also suggested that it was difficult for his officers to work out which gatherings were work-related and which were not. How daft! If alcoholic drinks were visible in the room, then they weren’t work-related. And in any case, if the room was packed with people, meaning they were not at least 2m away from each other in accordance with social distancing rules, they were breaking the law.

House said he was personally involved in the decision-making and was confident in the outcome of the police investigation. That should be enough for us to demand that he surrender his badge.

Is he selling us down the river so he can gain the favour of the top Tories?

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Raab refuses to accept the facts of unemployment

Tories aren’t working: Labour’s poster referred to the parties the Conservatives under Boris Johnson held while the rest of us were in lockdown but may be equally applied to their failure to address – or even acknowledge – increased unemployment.

Boris Johnson has been misleading us about employment figures.

The facts came out when Labour’s Stephen Timms revealed during (Deputy) Prime Minister’s Questions that Sir David Norgrove of the UK Statistics Authority wrote to Johnson, three weeks ago, saying the prime minister is wrong to say employment is up.

But Dominic Raab wasn’t paying any attention. He contradicted Timms’s claim and ran out the hoary old line about unemployment being higher after Labour governments leave office than when they start.

Pathetic – and misleading. We need a correction of the record.

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MPs bypass #DWP to publish controversial report on claimants’ experience of #benefits

Boris Johnson isn’t the only Tory minister facing serious consequences for their actions this week. It’s looking bad for Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey too.

Coffey has repeatedly refused to publish a DWP-commissioned report on disabled people’s experiences of the benefit system – so the Commons Work and Pensions Committee has given orders for its authors to provide a copy to Parliament, which will then be published.

The report, The Uses of Health and Disability Benefits was received by the Government in September 2020. The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) had interviewed disabled people about their experiences of receiving PIP, ESA and Universal Credit.

The committee last month gave the Secretary of State one final chance to publish the report, which she herself admitted fell within the Government’s own protocol for publication.

But Coffey said she would not be reconsidering her decision.

Why not? It seems likely that researchers at NatCen, who wrote the report, found that people on disability and other health-related benefits were overwhelmingly negative about their experience of the system under Tories including Coffey and her forerunners, going right back to Iain Duncan Smith.

NatCen has been ordered to provide a copy of its report by January 27.

“After repeated obstruction from the Secretary of State to keep from public view a piece of work that falls within the Government’s own protocol for publication, we have reached the end of the road,” said Work and Pensions Committee chairman Stephen Timms.

“We would have much rather the DWP had done the right thing and published the report itself, so it is with regret that we must now take the highly unusual step of using our parliamentary powers to obtain a copy from NatCen and publish it ourselves.

“We have been forced to do this to ensure that the reality of disabled people’s experiences of the benefits system can see the light of day.”

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#BorisJohnson #sleaze #scandal of the day: another MP with a second job

Coward: Boris Johnson hid in a fridge once to evade difficult questions.

Boris Johnson is facing tricky questions again:

Apparently Winchester MP Stephen Brine repeatedly claimed on the public Register of Members’ Interests that he’d been given the green-light to take a £1,600-a-month job with Sigma Pharmaceuticals by a Parliamentary watchdog, just months after quitting as a Public Health minister in March 2019.

This was not true, it seems. And the company was given a Covid-19 contract worth £100,000 subsequently. Did Brine act as a lobbyist? Both he and the firm deny it. But they would, wouldn’t they?

And with corruption in government at an all-time high, it seems unlikely that we’ll get the facts, whether they’re innocent or not.

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Labour constituency chairman quits with excoriating letter to Starmer

Fair comment: Keir Hardie must be spinning in his grave at the depth to which the party he originally led has been brought, by a man who claims to have been named after him.

This is dynamite from Skwawkbox, which reports that the chairman of Labour’s Colchester constituency party has quit, explaining his reasons in a letter that has been released to the public.

And it’s red hot.

Read Richard Hill’s letter for yourself [boldings by Skwawkbox]:

“As one of over 100,000 people to leave under your tenure I doubt my decision will give you pause for thought but I write anyway as after donating thousands of hours of my time over the last 5 years I feel I have enough skin in the game to express my immense disappointment in you. Your pitch to members was unity, authority and integrity. You are certainly an authoritarian. Unity and integrity seem to be sadly lacking. I’ve never wanted one faction to control our party, I value respect, plurality, robust debate and consensus-building. These are values I’m not sure we share.

“Another of your strengths that was lauded in the leadership campaign was your “electability”. That’s a meaningless notion in my view, and certainly not true in your case. You are 10 points behind an utterly corrupt and incompetent government that has decimated public services over the last 11 years. In recent elections the Labour vote has tanked, Hartlepool, Chesham & Amersham and the loss of 300 council seats aren’t indicators of “electability”, quite the opposite. The sight of you crowing after Batley & Spen was especially distasteful after Labour scraped a win with a massively reduced majority. Your triumphalism was pure delusion, if the Greens had stood, Labour would have lost.

“Perhaps winning elections isn’t what motivates you? It seems that punching left, controlled opposition and narrowing the political discourse matters more. This was not the vision you sold to party members. You promised not to trash previous leaders and to offer radicalism. You have removed the whip without grounds from Jeremy Corbyn and offered no policies whatsoever (barely even stating NHS workers deserve more than a 3% raise simply isn’t good enough). The blueprint for electoral success was written in 2017; a radical manifesto that understood how ordinary people were badly treated by a rigged system and offered a genuine alternative that would serve them better. This saw the largest increase in vote share for Labour since 1945. You have rejected that and played along with a narrative that it wasn’t appealing to voters, this can only be for ideological rather than pragmatic reasons. Young people and left behind communities, those with little power to change things, don’t agree and want and deserve a lot more.

“Labour is more than a party, it is a movement. You had half a million people, ready to campaign with you to undo decades of neoliberalism, rebuild our public services and build a better, more equal future. You’ve squandered that goodwill and with it your opportunity to become Prime Minister. I can only conclude you aren’t serious about winning power.

“Of all your failings and the endless excuses for them, the worst is giving approval to this criminally inept government’s handling of the pandemic. You could have challenged the obvious incompetence and corruption and maybe save lives but instead chose to “back the government”. Thousands died unnecessarily but you decided it wasn’t the time to challenge their actions for fear of negative Daily Mail headlines. You waved everything through, cowardice dressed as cunning is just weakness. 

“I think it’s my own bloody-mindedness or idealism that kept me staying a member so long, under FPTP Labour is the only show in town after all. When you paid off Labour staffers in a case in-house lawyers advised you’d win, with the endless delays in publishing the Forde Report, when you lied about Rebecca Long-Bailey sharing an antisemitic trope, withholding the whip from Jeremy Corbyn and the general contempt you seem to hold [for] members. All of these should have been enough to send me packing. I held on in hope of the unity and radical vision you promised.

“It is with much sadness that I leave Colchester CLP. The fantastic members are like all across the country demonised and seem an inconvenience to you, this goes against everything the Labour party should be. My comrades aren’t hard left extremists, they’re ordinary, committed people who give their energy and enthusiasm in the hope of a better country and a better world.

“They deserve better than your empty rhetoric, endless relaunches and the slide towards irrelevance you are overseeing.”

The letter comes as Starmer’s victimisation of left-wing party members with false accusations of anti-Semitism has again come under the spotlight with a complaint to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission from Jewish organisation Jewish Voice for Labour.

This Site reported on this yesterday and Skwawkbox has started highlighting individual cases with that of National Constitutional Committee member Stephen Marks, who has been suspended from the party on charges that are shockingly flimsy”

The evidence adduced consists of 3 public documents which date from July 2016, April 2017 and April 2918 where Mr Marks’ name is to be found.

The first was signed by 43 Jewish members of the Labour Party, asking Chuka Umunna to “Stop using antisemitism smears against Corbyn”; the second by 145 members of the Labour Party a substantial number of whom are Jewish, argued that such incidents of antisemitism as there were in the Party were infrequent and not systematic and that antisemitism accusations were being used to undermine the right to criticise Israel; the third a petition which garnered 7,689 signatories (including that of Noam Chomsky).

This petition started with an unabashed condemnation of all forms of racism, says that “we know anti-Semitism exists in society and needs to be combatted”, but worried about the development of “a chilling culture of fear, self-censorship, of members afraid to openly ask questions and learn, particularly on social media”.

The accusations certainly support Richard Hill’s opinion that Keir Starmer, is authoritarian, punches left, and demonises Labour members across the UK who he treats as an inconvenience.

But we live in disturbing times when political leaders have managed to make themselves unaccountable to their party members and the public at large.

This Writer is certain that Richard Hill is right and that neither his resignation nor JVL’s complaint to the EHRC will give Starmer pause for thought.

If Starmer really is about controlled opposition and isn’t serious about winning power, then he will take this as evidence that his persecution policies are working.

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DWP says there’s no need to review its safeguarding procedures. The late Stephen Smith might disagree

Remember the Department for Work and Pensions’ rejection of a petition demanding an independent review of its safeguarding procedures, after the death of Jodey Whiting?

The department had ignored its own safeguarding procedures no less than five times before Ms Whiting committed suicide in February 2017.

But the DWP said it had no plans for an inquiry into its treatment of claimants – and destroyed a report on other safeguarding failures – in only 18 London job centres – rather than allow it to become public after a Freedom of Information request was submitted for its release.

Only days after this became public knowledge, we learned that Stephen Smith – the man who was reduced to a state similar to concentration camp victims due to starvation caused by deprivation of benefits – had died.

He had succumbed to pneumonia which he had contracted as a result of DWP sanctions.

Now we find that the DWP had ignored the advice in not just one, but two letters from Mr Smith’s doctors, in its determination to find him fit for work in the fact of the evidence that he was not.

This is what one GP wrote in October 2017, after listing the serious health issues suffered by Mr Smith, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cervical spondylosis, osteoarthritis and the fact he had been fitted with a urinary catheter because of ongoing urinary issues:

“These medical conditions adversely impact upon his mobility and upon the activities used to assess eligibility for ESA and PIP. The nature of these chronic problems is such that they will worsen over time and mean that his mobility and functionality is impaired on a daily basis.

“Mr Smith will be in pain on standing and at the commencement of walking. Whilst on the balance of probability, he would be able to walk 20 metres, in my opinion, he could not mobilise a distance of twenty metres repeatedly without needing to stop due to pain and breathlessness.

“It is my opinion that not only could Mr Smith not walk 20 metres without pain or exhaustion, he coult not do it repeatedly or within a reasonable time period.

“In terms of cooking, his very limited respiratory tolerance, and his difficulties with lifting means that in practical term anything other than straightforward microwave cooking is likely to be beyond his physical capabilities.

“The need to monitor and change his catheter requires medical input and it would therefore be reasonable to describe Mr Smith as requiring assistance with toilet needs.

“The identified restrictions affecting Mr Smith’s mobility and daily living activities have been present for more than three months and, given the nature of his medical complaints, are likely to remain beyond the next nine months.”

Despite this expert advice, the DWP’s pen-pushers decided they knew better and found him fit for work, so in January 2018 another GP wrote to them again, as follows:

“Following a recent Work Capability Assessment this patient, in contradiction of my own knowledge of the patient over time, clinical assesment and medical certification, was found fit for work related activity.

“Because of my patient’s health condition there would be a substantial risk to my patient’s health if he were found not to have limited capability for work related activity.”

(Source: Revealed: Warnings about dying Stephen Smith that were cruelly ignored by the DWP – Liverpool Echo)

There was indeed a substantial risk to Mr Smith’s health. It was called the Department for Work and Pensions, and it led to his eventual death.

It’s a clear case of corporate manslaughter but nobody is facing any recriminations over it at all. The DWP says it is an “operational matter” and refuses to comment on it in any way other than that “lessons will be learned”, or some such blather.

Will any lessons be learned? We may find out the answer sooner than the DWP would like – ironically, from a man with almost the same name as the deceased.

Steve Smith had a stroke 11 years ago which left him paralysed from head to toe down the left side of his body.

The life-threatening condition struck while he was on holiday in Turkey. He also had a brain haemorrhage and spent six weeks in hospital abroad where surgeons had to cut away his skull and operate on his brain.

After flying back to England, he was given a year to recuperate by his employers but after his condition failed to improve he lost his job.

After years in receipt of Disability Living Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance – and with no sign of improvement in his condition – it seems the DWP has arbitrarily decided he is fit for work and shut down his ESA claim.

You can read about his ordeal here.

Will he be the next victim of a government department that seems free to condemn people at will, and with impunity? And what can be done to get justice for people like Jodey Whiting and Stephen Smith?


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Steve Barclay is the new Brexit Secretary. Who’s he?

“Who’s Steve Barclay?” I hear you cry.

And with good reason. I had absolutely no idea until he was named as Brexit Secretary.

It turns out he’s a career Tory politician who joined that party after leaving university in 1994.

He failed to gain Parliamentary seats from other parties twice – in 1997 and 2001, and it is worth noting that the North Cambridgeshire seat he currently occupies is habitually Conservative – he took it over from Malcolm Moss in May 2010.

He also took over as organiser of the Carlton Political Dinner, which raises money for the Conservative Party’s target seats, in 2007. As an MP, he is noteworthy for having been completely insignificant; he was named by ConservativeHome as one of a minority of loyal Conservative backbench MPs not to have voted against the government in any significant rebellions.

Mr Barclay had been a minister of state for health since January this year, a position in which nobody noticed him at all.

It has been reported that he will not be allowed to carry out any Brexit negotiations, meaning the role of Brexit Secretary now exists in name alone.

So it is unsurprising that Owen Jones should have commented on his appointment as follows:

The hollow nature of his appointment attracted comparison with former role-holders David Davis and Dominic Raab:

Others have picked up on the silliness of the situation:

He hasn’t resigned. There’s no reason for him to do so.

He doesn’t have a job description.

But then, why should he? He is a nobody.

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Iceland is jailing bankers – we’re still giving them bonuses

150219icelands-jailed-bankers

Iceland’s Supreme Court have sentenced four bank bosses from Kaupthing bank to serve jail time, according to yournewswire.com.

Bankers Sigurdur Einarsson, former chairman of the board, Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson, the former chief executive, Magnus Gudmundsson, the former chief executive of the Luxembourg branch and Olafur Olafsson, one of the majority owners, were sentenced to jail time of between four and five and a half years each.

The court found that they hid the fact that Qatari investor Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Bin Hamad al-Thani bought a stake in Kaupthing, using money borrowed illegally from the bank itself.

Al-Thani’s purchase, a 5.1 per cent share, was announced only a few weeks before the bank collapsed. It was seen as a confidence boost for the bank while rumours circulated that it was in trouble.

These are the heaviest sentences for financial fraud in Iceland’s history. The four will have to pay their own legal costs for the case, which amount to 82 million kronur or approximately 670 thousand US dollars.

You can read the full story on yournewswire.com.

Meanwhile, in the UK – where bank bonus culture continues unabated – the former boss of a huge multinational bank (HSBC) that illegally helped more than 7,000 customers to avoid paying their taxes appears to be under the protection of the country’s prime minister – whose own family (as has been well-established) made its money from advising people on how to avoid paying taxes.

HM Revenue and Customs has identified 1,100 UK citizens who could be prosecuted for avoiding tax – only one person has faced such prosecution.

One of the UK’s most respected newspapers, the Daily Telegraph, has been avoiding the story (allegedly) because it wants to protect a lucrative advertising contract with HSBC.

Our government of Conservative Party and Liberal Democrat MPs is – as far as anybody can see – protecting the people who caused the financial crash of 2007 onwards, along with those who – by withholding the tax money they owe the UK Treasury – have forced unnecessary austerity onto the poorest people in the country.

It is estimated that thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – of people have died because of benefit cuts and sanctions that have been administered either by fraud or error.

Yet the Conservative Party is still expected to return nearly 300 members to Parliament on May 8.

Can anybody explain that?

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Will the submarine chancellor surface to talk about tax dodging?

Another Tory crook?

Another Tory crook?

It seems the Tories have nowhere to hide today – now Labour is piling on the pressure over tax dodging and the HSBC scandal.

Ed Miliband suggested the government had “gone into hiding” over the issue at his question and answer session in the West Midlands earlier today, and now Chris Leslie, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, has stepped into the fray.

“We’ve now had a week of silence from George Osborne – the submarine chancellor still hasn’t surfaced,” he said.

“It is time he and David Cameron finally started answering questions about HSBC and Lord Green… In this row over tax evasion David Cameron and George Osborne are now guilty of political evasion.”

Earlier, Mr Leslie had said: “We need a full and frank statement from Lord Green explaining what he knew about what was happening while he was in charge of HSBC.

“There are also mounting questions for ministers, which continue to go unanswered. Did David Cameron and George Osborne discuss tax evasion at HSBC with Lord Green? The Prime Minister failed to answer this four times in the House of Commons.

“Why did they appoint Lord Green as a Tory minister months after the government received these files? Why have we only had one prosecution out of 1,100 names? And why did George Osborne and the Treasury sign a deal with the Swiss in 2012 which prevents the UK from actively obtaining similar information in the future?

“It is time we finally had answers from David Cameron and George Osborne.”

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