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‘Greed is good’ says Johnson over vaccine success. Downing Street rushes to contain the fallout

Not Michael Douglas: Boris Johnson’s attempt to emulate the infamous Gordon Gecko from the film Wall Street left him looking like a reptile.

He may have been trying to emulate Gordon Gecko but he ended up looking more like ‘Boris Dickfingergecko’* instead – a lizard you might find under a rock.

I make the comparison after Boris Johnson tried to tell a private meeting of Conservative MPs that the success of the UK’s vaccine programme was due to “capitalism” and “greed” – in emulation of the speech by the character played by Michael Douglas in the film Wall Street, “Greed is good”.

It seems that even Johnson himself doesn’t believe that mantra, as he immediately retracted his statement once it got into the public domain.

It seems Johnson had been referring to the profit motive that drives corporations to develop new products.

The implication is, of course, disgusting. He was saying that Pfizer and Astrazenica would not have bothered to develop their Covid-19 vaccines if they had not believed they could make a fat profit from doing so.

Such a comment denies that these firms could have rushed to develop a vaccine in order to prevent millions of deaths across the world, in favour of an unfounded claim that they would not have lifted a finger unless there was money in it.

The implication is potentially libellous and the companies should consider litigation against Johnson personally.

*With apologies to the Bibrons Dickfingergecko for associating it with Johnson just because of its name.

Source: ‘Greed’ and ‘capitalism’ helped UK’s vaccines success, says PM – BBC News

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Anyone who knowingly misleads Parliament should resign. So why hasn’t Johnson gone?

The double-standards in this story are atrocious.

On one side, we see Nicola Sturgeon. The First Minister of Scotland has been found to have misled Parliament by giving an inaccurate account of meetings with Alex Salmond in 2018.

If an inquiry finds that she knowingly uttered falsehoods, then that is a resignation offence for an elected minister of any government, according to the Ministerial Code, and she should go – without question.

On the other side, we see Boris Johnson. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has been accused of having misled Parliament by failing to provide details of funding for renovations to his official Downing Street flat.

The allegation is that private donations to the Conservative Party totalling £60,000 have been used as part of £200,000 worth of refurbishments to the flat.

If so, it should have been reported to the Electoral Commission, because the Ministerial Code demands that “a statement covering relevant Ministers’ interests will be published twice yearly”. The last such statement appeared last July, eight months ago.

It seems clear that Johnson has knowingly breached the Code in failing to declare the sources of funding for the flat.

So he should resign – right?

But within Parliament there has been no pressure for him to do so, while Tory calls for Sturgeon to take a hike have been punitive in their decibel level.

Labour’s Keir Starmer, despite being a lawyer, has claimed Sturgeon should go whether she knowingly misled Parliament or not – which is another indication that he should not be in politics, let alone running a political party.

10 Downing Street says all appropriate codes were followed, but this rings hollow. What does Allegra Stratton, Johnson’s press secretary, mean by “appropriate”? Something different from the dictionary definition, one would guess.

That’s how Downing Street has explained the other ways Johnson has recently misled Parliament, as I mentioned in a previous article:

After he said there would be no funding cut for the body tasked with improving transport in the north (he’s taking away 40 per cent of its funding), Downing Street tried to suggest he had been talking about transport generally for the north of England.

And after he claimed all Covid-19 contracts had been published and were “on the record” – only to be contradicted by the High Court – a minister said all CANs – Contract Award Notices – had been published. They are not the same thing.

Today’s howler was his claim, in Prime Minister’s Questions, that Keir Starmer had voted against a promise of a 2.1 per cent pay rise for nurses – that his own government is breaking.

The plan was in the NHS Funding Bill last year – which passed without a formal vote because all the main parties supported it. Starmer didn’t need to vote, but if he had, he would have supported the Bill.

Johnson (or rather, Stratton – he’d done his usual runner) eventually came out with a claim that he had been saying Starmer voted against the Queen’s Speech – but the plan wasn’t mentioned in it.

The document Starmer had been waving around at PMQs – and to which he had been referring – was the NHS long-term plan, which was a policy document and not a piece of legislation on which he could have voted.

So it seems clear that Johnson had knowingly misled Parliament but the issue also seems to have gone away because nobody is calling for his resignation over it.

If you’re wondering who did fund the renovation, here‘s openDemocracy:

The Daily Mail has reported that Downing Street allegedly sought to plug the gap in the six-figure refurbishment of the prime ministerial flat using Conservative Party funds. After the party initially paid for part of the refurb, the Mail reports, Conservative Party donor Lord Brownlow gave it £60,000 last autumn to make up the difference.

The Mail also claims that party officials have since been looking for ways to keep the donation anonymous by returning it, and then repeating it through a new ‘Downing Street Trust’ that would conceal the original source.

Lord Brownlow, who served as vice-chairman of the Tory party in 2017-20 and was made a peer in 2019 by Theresa May, is expected to head up this new non-charitable trust.

So the person who allegedly provided this dodgy donation is set to head the organisation dedicated to hushing it up. More corrupt cronyism?

Let’s face it: nobody involved in this is going to come out smelling of roses.

It’s just that Boris Johnson, more than anybody else, is going to be smelling of faeces.

And it will take more than a Union Flag to wipe them away.

Source: Election watchdog quizzes Tory party over funding of PM’s flat makeover – BBC News

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£2.6 million Downing Street briefing room was built by Russians. Not ‘very sensible’!

The new government media briefing room: your local parish council could have done a better job, and cheaper, but Boris Johnson gave the contract to a company based in a hostile state.

After This Site’s article yesterday showing that Boris Johnson is trying to hide the idiocy of his decisions by claiming they are “very sensible”, this:

His government paid £2.6 million to a Russian company for construction of the new media briefing room – in Downing Street, the heart of the UK government.

Despite being sued for unlawfully withholding details of contracts, the Tory government has refused to say whether the work was put out to competitive tender. It should have been, because the contract was not awarded as part of an emergency.

In fact, no details of the contract with Russian-owned Megahertz have been published.

Megahertz carried out the main work on the project, including installing computers, cameras, microphones and a control desk. Its owner Okno-TV has previously carried out similar technical work for Russian state-controlled broadcasters Russia Today, Channel One, and Public Television of Russia.

It has not been suggested that the company is influenced by the Russian government, but the question has to be asked:

Why did Boris Johnson hire a company from a country that has been designated a “hostile state” to build a communications hub for the UK government?

It’s a security nightmare.

And, after the Salisbury poisonings, a public relations disaster.

Worse still, the briefing room itself looks amateurish.

Advance photos of the space, released before it goes into daily use, show a layout that could have been put together at a village hall, with a central podium backed by two Union flags and a TV screen on one side facing rows of the kind of chairs you see stacked at the side of your local meeting-room.

It doesn’t look like a £2.6m facility. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t look like it cost £2,000.

Admittedly, the broadcasting equipment was probably expensive. But, coming from a Russian firm, who knows what might be included in it, alongside what Johnson asked for?

The work also comes after a Tory government had to end the involvement of Chinese firm Huawei in the rollout of 5G telecommunications in the UK.

So This Writer is in a rare position of agreement with Labour’s Chris Bryant, who chairs the all-party Parliamentary group on Russia, who said,

What shocks me most is that the Johnson government seems to have learnt nothing about the involvement in sensitive UK projects of companies with [links] to autocratic regimes, whether in Russia or in China.

Fundamental to the whole issue, of course, is the fact that Johnson spaffed this cash to Russia while do the dirty on nurses by giving them a pay cut.

It is clear that Johnson’s claim that he could not afford to pay any more to the people who saved so many from Covid-19 is bunkum; he’s got money to burn.

The problem is that his priorities are wrong.

Source: Exclusive: Russian-Owned Firm Played Key Role In Downing Street Media Refit | HuffPost UK

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Have the Tories been SHAMED into bringing their £2.6 million ‘briefing room’ out of mothballs?

£2.6m on a TV studio and it will look much like this: the flags will be there but probably not the fireplace, and Johnson is likely to be speaking from a podium. One thing that is likely to remain absent is a comb.

Funny how the Johnson government has announced it is planning to run daily press conferences from its £2.6m media briefing TV studio, shortly after the social media reported that the space was going unused and the money had been wasted, isn’t it?

This Site’s own story appeared on February 22 and you can read it here.

I said at the time that the spending on a Boris Johnson vanity project showcased his fascination with the United States presidency. Perhaps he wants to seem presidential?

If so, it won’t work because he simply doesn’t have the personality to pull it off. All that will happen is we will be able to identify his lies more quickly, without a layer of client-journalist interpretation to get in our way.

This in turn causes me to speculate on the selection of press representatives who will be allowed access to the briefings.

It seems unlikely that anybody without a Conservative Party membership card in their pocket is likely to get past the Downing Street gates.

With the briefings being televised, that may not matter. But how long will that last?

I can see live briefings turning into “selected highlights” as the novelty diminishes and ratings decline.

And who will select them?

Source: Downing Street: Millions spent on new media briefing room – BBC News

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Worried about Amazon deforestation? Look to your own urban street trees too

Deforestation: 5,000 trees were chopped in Sheffield after street mainenance was taken over by a private contractor. The vandalism resulted in international headlines and worldwide condemnation.

Sheffield Council (famously) is likely to be one of many UK local authorities to have made entirely the wrong decision by felling street trees in our cities.

And in the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, the blunder is becoming increasingly more self-evident:

As the UK first entered lockdown in spring 2020… many people spent more time on their local streets and in parks. Online tree app Tree Talk saw a 50-fold increase in users as people fell in love with their local “ .”

And rightly so:

The wood of street trees stores carbon, while their roots and crowns support wildlife and slow rainfall, reducing urban flooding. Transpiration and shade from their canopies reduces temperatures in heatwaves, while pollution-trapping leaves lower the prevalence of asthma.

If these ecosystem services weren’t enough, having trees on our streets reduces crime rates and improves mental health and wellbeing. One mature street tree can have a net ecosystem service value of thousands of pounds.

Sadly, it seems protecting our eco-system comes with a slight maintenance cost that has become too much for some councils (probably due to cash starvation by central – Conservative – government).

That’s why – with no interest in the environment, health or crime – councils across the country have been chopping down trees like there’s no tomorrow (which is ironic when you consider that their actions are helping to ensure that there won’t be).

After the Sheffield debacle, in which 5,000 trees were felled by a private contractor in order to make street maintenance cheaper – but the resulting outcry led to international news headlines, councils have become more circumspect.

Nowadays they tend to sing from a hymn-sheet that declares they will plant several new trees for every old one that is felled. This is no justification:

Just as any child would understand they were being ripped off if given a 2p piece and a 1p piece to replace a pound coin, removing large species trees and replacing them with small ones results in a net loss of ecosystem services.

Size really matters with trees. The annual net ecological benefit of planting a large species tree is 92% greater than planting a small one. Mature street trees do everything from having a positive effect on infant birth weight in lower socio-economic demographics, to increasing resilience to major life events among people who live within sight of them. Consumers spend more on streets that are lined with large trees.

So if your local authority decides to start felling large, mature street trees – get organised and tell your councillors:

You won’t be fooled.

You won’t be fobbed off with a promise of more planting when saplings have only a fraction of the benefit of mature trees.

And you won’t tolerate the fall in public health – and the rise in crime – that your council intends to create.

Source: Why keeping one mature street tree is far better for humans and nature than planting lots of new ones

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£831m ‘recovery fund’ for 72 high streets. But what will they do with £11.5m each?

Lip-chewing Sunak: if I kept wasting money on projects that won’t actually help the economy, I’d be nervous too.

I don’t get it. If high street businesses across the UK have gone to the wall because of the government’s lacklustre response to the economic effects of locking us all away from Covid-19 – how will this cash be spent?

The Tory government has announced that 72 high streets will get a share of £831 million – that’s around £11.5 million each.

Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is bitching because Boris Johnson had offered £1 billion previously, but that’s not the point.

The question is: how is it going to help?

Many people – not just conspiracy theorists! – reckon the hardship forced on small-to-medium-sized business people may have been deliberate, in order to concentrate shoppers’ money in the hands of a few very large consumer chains.

I see little actual support for high street businesses in the projects mentioned by the Guardian article:

Among the projects selected for the funding were £17.9m for the renovation of the Scala Theatre and Corn Exchange in Worcester, a scheme to build 186 homes in Birkenhead and a plan to convert empty retail units in Tamworth, Staffordshire, into community spaces.

But according to Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, the money is supposed to be for

projects that level up opportunities and create jobs right across the country.

I don’t see how the latter will be achieved by the former. It’s just throwing cash away.

It should be injected into businesses to ensure they continue to be going concerns.

But then, of course, Sunak’s government is now best-known for spaffing £11 billion on companies owned by Tory cronies, for Covid-19-related supplies that they had no idea how to provide, while experts who had applied for the work were ignored.

That should tell you everything you need to know.

If I had a pound for every time Sunak has messed up someone’s finances, I would be richer than his wife.

Source: Government names 72 high streets in England to share £831m recovery fund | Business | The Guardian

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Cummings is out of Downing Street – but what does it actually mean?

Cummings and Boris Johnson: I never really bothered to do another image of him and now I’m glad I didn’t; he’s gone. But how far has he gone?

Many will be saying Boris Johnson will have to take responsibility for his own cock-ups from now on – but will he?

Johnson has had the benefit of a lot of media belief that he’s the monkey to Dominic Cummings’s organ grinder, ever since he moved into Downing Street in July 2019.

Now, with Cummings moving out of Downing Street “to clear the air”, he won’t have that excuse – even if it is still applicable.

You see, Cummings may have left his official role but this just means we don’t know what he will be doing, who he’ll be doing it with, or how much influence he may continue to wield.

And it is entirely possible, of course, that the whole story about Cummings being the secret mastermind was just a blind, and the Johnson government will continue self-combusting, as it has been ever since that fateful July 2019 day.

Time will tell.

But it seems clear that the future under Johnson’s Tories holds just two possibilities:

  • Life in the UK will stay as bad as it is now.
  • Life in the UK will get much, much worse.

For now I think it is okay to sympathise with all those who are celebrating with a few choruses of “The witch is dead”…

But I think we have to temper that sympathy with a clear understanding that the UK is not out of the woods yet – by a very long way.

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50,000 dead overall, 33,000 infections IN ONE DAY – and the news is all about Dominic Cummings

Dominic Cummings: he wouldn’t go for a good reason when this shot was taken in the summer, but if the possibility of him quitting distracts us from the UK’s coronavirus horror show, it suddenly becomes headline news.

It seems there is a national media agenda to pull the wool over our eyes.

Covid-19 reached a new height in the UK yesterday. The country became the first in Europe to record more than 50,000 official (remember that) deaths…

(Oh, and by the way…)

Those official figures also show that 33,470 new cases of the virus were recorded, compared with 22,950 on Wednesday…

And the number of fatalities in a single day has reached 595:

Meanwhile the test-and-trace fiasco continues unabated:

And plans to immunise us all against Covid, using the new vaccine, mean some of us won’t get our shots for another 36 years:

And what’s the headline on the news?

What’s going on? Why are the news media blithering about soap-opera shenanigans in Downing Street rather than telling us what we need to know about the virus that is raging through the UK like wildfire?

(I think he means the pain of the victims. Spellchecker can be a burden.)

The question is, are we all being distracted from the horror of the virus and the failure to cope with it by Boris Johnson and his fellow incompetents?

If so, it isn’t working.

Do they really think we’re so stupid we haven’t realised what is happening on our own streets?

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Goats in Llandudno herald takeover of the streets in coronavirus lockdown

Goat: These animals have been known to enter Llandudno before, but never walked so far into the town.

The coronavirus lockdown has emptied town streets across the UK – so animals are taking them over.

Usually a herd of 122 Kashmiri goats are only known to venture into Llandudno during bad weather.

But – see for yourself:

The phenomenon is not restricted to north Wales, either:

Although I think perhaps some people have let their imaginations go a little too far…

Who knows? The longer the lockdown, the more likely we could all end up living our own version of The Jungle Book.

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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Tory Britain: Homeless children are born on the street – while privileged pensioners have helicopter rides from hospital

In the shadows: the plight of homeless people is overlooked – unless highlighted by the media. Meanwhile others are given every luxury due to nothing more than an accident of birth.

This is the truth of Boris Johnson’s brave new Britain: the public purse can pay for the privileged to have helicopter rides home from hospital, while a homeless woman didn’t qualify for hospital treatment until after she had given birth on a cold Cambridge street.

The woman, aged around 30, gave birth to twins who were around 11 weeks premature on Sidney Street, outside Trinity College, Cambridge on Monday.

Is this the kind of medical care the fifth-largest economy in the world provides to its people?

How did this woman become homeless? Was she unable to pay the bills because Tory wage or benefit policies are so prejudiced against the poor (which means most of us)?

Homelessness has rocketed under Conservative rule – and this can only be because Conservative policies dictated that it should happen.

And a homeless person, living on the streets, dies every 19 hours.

One would expect that pregnant women who are homeless would be particularly vulnerable to an early death – especially those in desperate need of medical help because they were giving birth.

Death during childbirth used to be tragically common, after all.

No doubt this would make the Tories unbearably happy; it’s one less “useless eater”.

I read also, today, that the Duke of Edinburgh enjoyed a helicopter ride home after a four-day stay in hospital due to a “pre-existing condition”.

You see how it is?

The privileged people in our society get to have the very best – a place in hospital whenever they need or want it, and the extravagance of a trip home by helicopter – whenever they want it.

And all on state benefits. The Duke is on the Civil List, remember – and that is a state-funded benefit.

Why aren’t the rest of us afforded the same treatment – why wasn’t the homeless mother offered it, if the cash is available to pay for him to receive such treatment?

I’m not begrudging him the treatment; I’m questioning a government that is happy to fund such extravagance for him, while begrudging even a minimum of treatment for her.

It all could have been different, too. Labour would have provided a home and dignity to the woman, and she would have been able to enjoy appropriate hospital treatment.

But 14 million voted Tory. A child becomes homeless every eight minutes (including the two who were born homeless on Monday).

And the benefits we enjoy depend on the identity of our parents (or spouses) rather than being rights enjoyed by everyone.

That’s something to think about, over Christmas.

Source: Homeless woman gives birth to premature twins on a cold street outside Cambridge University college – Cambridgeshire Live

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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Health Warning: Government! is now available
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