Tag Archives: trade

Starmer snubs unions over threat to party democracy – & may now face leadership challenge at conference

The flag and the faker: Keir Starmer has revealed his true – blue – colour in an 11,500-word rejection of Labour Party values, and is attacking party members both electorally and psychologically. He must be stopped before he does any more damage – and could face a challenge to his leadership if he pushes ahead with these vicious plans.

This Writer was practically salivating with anticipation about what I might read on BBC News after discovering the following on Twitter:

And what did I find?

If this is what he stands for then it could have been done in far fewer than 11,500 words – and that’s down from his original claim that it would be 14,000 (let’s thank providence for small mercies)!

The short version is that Starmer has abandoned all Labour Party values. He proposes a “contribution” society – not in which contributions go from those according to their means, to those according to their needs – but (if I’m reading this right) from those who can be made to work the hardest to the UK as a whole (by which I’m presuming he means rich people like himself).

And he’s suddenly fully in favour of privatisation:

What’s the difference from Toryism?

And there’s a nasty return to the old “strivers v skivers” rhetoric that demonised a generation of people with disabilities and long-term illnesses and sent many of them to early graves because of benefit refusals on the basis of trumped-up excuses.

Some commentators have referred to fascist language that is reminiscent of Vichy France.

Others were more visual in their condemnation:

Personally I think that, if it’s supposed to be an essay, we should give it a mark and a comment:

D-
Needs improvement.

The BBC story unaccountably neglects to mention the meeting with the unions, so let’s see what we can get from elsewhere.

It seems that not even one union supported Starmer’s plan to return to an “electoral college” system of voting in Labour leadership elections, that would steal a huge amount of power from party members by depriving them of their individual votes altogether, and hand a huge amount to MPs – the party’s 200+ elected representatives would have one-third of the vote.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise – Starmer’s offer would not have benefited the unions in any way so they were able to reject it without any qualms:

And of course, handing veto powers to 200 high-earning middle-class MPs will do nothing to make Labour relevant to working-class people.

Now: we had understood that, if he didn’t get enough support from the unions (or indeed any, as has happened), Starmer would scrap the plan and would not take it to the NEC for inclusion in the agenda for the annual conference at the weekend.

It seems that claim was a lie.

I think Starmer is panicking. He reckons this will be his only chance to force through the changes he needs to secure his position as leader.

You see, Starmer’s hired guns at the Governance and Legal Unit have apparently been busily despatching notices of suspension to constituency party delegates, in order to ‘fix’ the result of conference votes.

Recipients of these letters are being told, it seems, that the reasons for the suspension of their membership will only be revealed after the conference, in what must be a breach of investigatory rules that is also attacking them financially (because they’ll already have paid for transport and accommodation at the Brighton-based conference) and psychologically:

As a victim of this treatment, I can confirm the truth of Mr Sellers’s words.

So Starmer has launched an attack against the Labour movement, on several fronts: against the trade unions, by snubbing them and ignoring their wishes; against party members, by pressing on with his plan to disenfranchise them while also subjecting them to the torture of the disciplinary process; and to the wider Labour-supporting electorate by betraying everything the party should represent, in his scummy little screed.

Fortunately it seems he’s not going to have it all his own way.

The unions will oppose his plans – and that’s half the conference vote against him before he has even made his first proposal. More than half, if he has deliberately suspended a significant number of delegates.

The remaining delegates – if they’re worth a farthing – will want to reject his plan in solidarity with their wronged colleagues. Right, delegates?

And even some Labour MPs are preparing to rebel against this insult to democracy. Starmer may think this is bad enough:

Worse for Starmer – much worse – is this:

Here’s corroboration, for the sceptical:

Expect fireworks at this conference.

Strange to think that these shenanigans all started because Starmer was worried about losing the vote to confirm his despotic acting general secretary David Evans in the role that has made him despised across the UK.

Whatever happens, Evans is toast.

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Environment Secretary ‘Useless’ says it’s BIDEN who doesn’t understand Brexit NI protocol

A long record of defending the indefensible: Environment Secretary George Eustice has previously stated beliefs that children should starve during the holidays, asylum seekers should drown and people should die of Covid-19 rather than let the economy be harmed.

What stunning arrogance from a man who has been dubbed “George Useless”.

Environment Secretary George Eustice took to our airwaves to try to minimise the damage done by US President Joe Biden’s words on the Northern Ireland border and trade with the UK after Brexit – and made matters much, much worse.

Biden has expressed concern that peace in Northern Ireland could be jeopardised by the “Northern Ireland protocol” between the UK and the European Union, that regulates imports to and exports from the province.

It keeps Northern Ireland aligned with the EU’s single market for goods to ensure free trade across the Irish border, but has led to additional checks on goods being traded across the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which has drawn criticism and protests from unionist politicians in Northern Ireland who have called for it to be scrapped.

Boris Johnson swore to everybody who asked – before Brexit happened – that there would be no border checks between GB and NI… and it now seems clear that he was either lying or did not understand his own deal.

The UK has requested a fundamental renegotiation but the EU has refused – and with good reason. Boris Johnson was desperate to rush his Brexit into being, back in 2019, ensuring that many of his MPs did not understand what they were supporting. Any problem now is his responsibility and he will have to live with it – including any problems it creates with the USA.

Eustice turned up on TV and on the radio to suggest that Biden was “wrong” and had, himself, not properly read the details of the agreement that was negotiated, in a series of interviews that will make Boris Johnson’s current meetings with the US president much more difficult:

Eustice’s attitude was that this matter did not concern the US President…

… but that makes no sense at all when the UK is also trying to negotiate a two-way trade deal with the United States (over which Biden is, again, doubtful).

Eustice admitted, “It’s just not a priority for the US administration.”

And Boris Johnson has also said, “The Americans do negotiate very hard.”

It seems nothing has changed since former president Barack Obama said the UK would be at the back of the queue for a bilateral deal.

So of course the Johnson government has a Plan B, which is to join a trade bloc – like the one the UK has just spent five years leaving:

So the situation is this:

If the UK doesn’t get a trade deal with the US because its deal to leave the EU has created problems in Northern Ireland, then Boris Johnson will try to talk the UK into a trading bloc like the EU.

So what was the point of the last five years of fuss and palaver?

In other news, Julia Hartley-Doodah tackled Eustice on the really important issues:

Wow. If only some of our political interviewers could be bothered to dissect the Tories as thoroughly on issues like Universal Credit, rising bills and – yes – Brexit!

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Ian Botham as trade envoy – who next? Some ideas from the public

Michael Gove and Liz Truss: would it surprise anyone if she really did make him trade envoy to Columbia?

Was former cricketer Lord Botham made trade envoy to Australia because of his adversarial sporting relationship with that country’s representatives?

If so, then the people of the UK have come up with a few other ideas about the people vacant-eyed cheese-monger Liz Truss may be appointing to similar roles – and comment on how Botham is doing.

Here come the takedowns:

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Should Northern Ireland split from the UK to end deadlock with the EU and keep Biden happy?

Deadlock: The EU has a trade agreement and couldn’t care less if it harms Boris Johnson. And Joe Biden’s commitment to co-operation with the UK may waver if a solution can’t be found and the Troubles return. What if the Province splits from the UK – for the good of its people?

It makes a nice story on the eve of a G7 summit – especially one taking place in the UK. And that’s what the BBC propagandists want.

But while US President Joe Biden and the UK’s pipsqueak Boris Johnson might agree that trade problems in Northern Ireland due to last year’s UK-EU deal need to be solved, we have no reason to believe they agree on how.

The European Union has no problem with the current situation. All the problems were created by Boris Johnson because he rushed through a trade deal, either without understanding it or without caring what was in it – to meet a deadline he thought he needed to maintain public confidence.

Even the BBC had to admit it:

French President Emmanuel Macron said: “I think it’s not serious to want to review in July what we finalised after years of debate and work in December.

“We have a trade deal – it has been painfully discussed for years… if six months later, they say: ‘What we negotiated with you, we don’t know how to respect it’, then that means that nothing is respectable anymore.”

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the Northern Ireland protocol – the name for the post-Brexit trading rules – was the “only solution” and should be implemented fully.

Biden’s interest dates from the 1990s, when his forerunner Bill Clinton worked with people on all sides of the Northern Ireland question to help bring about the Good Friday Agreement that ended the so-called “Troubles”.

The BBC (again) has already published details of a planned speech in which Biden was set to voice concerns that deadlock on the Northern Ireland Protocol could jeopardise peace in the Province.

Sadly, with Biden taking pains to stress that he is not “warning” the two sides in any way, the EU unwilling to give any ground at all, and Johnson incapable of understanding the complexities involved, it seems there may be “Troubles” ahead once again.

There is a simple way out, of course: Northern Ireland could vote to leave the United Kingdom.

I’m not even suggesting that this means joining the Republic of Ireland.

The simple fact is that the people of this region have suffered terribly because of the “Troubles”. If I was living there, I would be furious that Johnson’s insensitivity has put NI back in the firing line and would be prepared to consider any alternative to prevent it.

And there’s no reason they would want to stay in the union – Johnson has created a situation where they are actually worse-off, the longer they put up with the current situation.

If Northern Ireland quit the UK but did not join the Republic, Biden would be happy; future violence could be averted. The EU would be happy too – it would make trading much simpler.

The only loser would be Boris Johnson. He would become the prime minister who forced the nation to split – and voters are not likely to forgive him for that.

It would be poetic justice. He thought he could get away with any old rubbish. He thought wrong.

Source: G7: UK and US in complete harmony over Northern Ireland – Boris Johnson – BBC News

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After 10 years, the Tories are finally launching their ‘Royal Yacht’ vanity project. They’ll make US pay

Artists impression: this is what someone thought a new Royal Yacht might look like last year, when the cost was going to be £100 million. This year the cost has magically doubled for no reason at all. What do you think we’ll get for that – an extra flagpole?

I’ve been busy over the bank holiday weekend, working on material for the new version of my defence against Rachel Riley’s libel claim. So I thought it was a joke when I saw this:

But it’s not a joke:

A new national flagship is to be commissioned by the government in a bid to boost British trade and industry globally, the prime minister has said.

The vessel will be the successor to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which was retired in 1997.

The government plans to build the ship in the UK, at a reported cost of £200m.

Tories have been trying to build themselves a new luxury yacht – at our expense – since at least 2012, when Michael Gove suggested spending £60 million on it to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee:

This boat would cost £60 million, apparently – a million for every year she’s been on the throne. It would be a pointless present because, at Her Majesty’s age, she’s hardly going to be able to steer it.

By 2016, the projected cost had nearly doubled:

Now we learn that Conservative MPs want to give the Queen another yacht – at a cost of £100 million that could be better-used elsewhere, perhaps on benefit payments for a further £16,666 sick people for a year.

When [Gove] suggested it, back in January 2012, the cost was said to be £60 million. Why has it nearly doubled in the years since?

At least we have an answer to my question of the time – whether Tories try to spend our money on such unnecessary lavishments habitually.

Yes. Yes they do.

Amazingly, that price had remained static when the possibility was floated yet again in 2020:

The twist this time is a proposal to split funding three ways between businesses, the public and the National Lottery (so the public pays twice).

The idea of boosting trade has been there since Gove, and I addressed it last year:

The point about trade deals is interesting at a time when the Tory government is desperately trying to re-establish the UK as a trading nation after severing ties with the European Union.

But who benefits from such deals?

Rich businesspeople, perhaps – but would they pay their taxes or send the cash to tax havens?

If the latter, then why should the public pay for something that will not help us in the slightest?

And that brings me back to RD Hale’s tweet, pointing out that the government could fund nearly 90 million school meals.

Others have made their point too:

I think it will actually be built this time.

And we’ll end up paying for it while Johnson and his layabouts get to traipse around the world in it and their fat Tory donors profit (with the money going into tax havens, as I mentioned above).

Because Boris Johnson has no shame at all.

POSTSCRIPT: There was another tweet, from a guy who said he donated £20 to the Tory Party and was rewarded with a contract to build the new Royal Yacht for £200 million. I laughed because it was funny and I laughed because, in someone’s case, it’s probably true.

Source: Plans for new national flagship to promote ‘best of British’ – BBC News

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For once, it IS important for us to know that Boris Johnson had affair with Jennifer Arcuri

Johnson and Arcuri: I know there’s no real justification for the image of her in that costume, but if anybody is appalled that she put it on, how do you feel, knowing that HE probably took it off?

Of course I’m not interested in the sex revelations. The thought of bloated Boris Johnson bouncing around on some debutante can only inspire concern for her health (both mental and physical).

But the fact is that between 2012 and 2016 Johnson had the affair with a woman who then received benefits from him, as Mayor of London and later as Prime Minister, that she may not otherwise have had.

The Mirror makes this clear in its “world exclusive”:

Boris Johnson faces an inquiry by the Greater London Authority – responsible for the mayor’s office – over claims his failure to declare his relationship with Arcuri may have been a breach of the Nolan Principles of Public Life, which are contained in the Mayor of London’s code of conduct.

Arcuri was granted access to events at three top level trade missions, despite her businesses not meeting the criteria for the trips.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct said there was no evidence he’d committed the criminal offence of misconduct in public office but he may have breached the Nolan Principles.

Not only that, but he also handed her £126,000 of public money:

Jennifer… went on to receive £126,000 of taxpayer money in event sponsorships and grants. The bulk, £100,000, came in a government grant in 2019.

Johnson was cleared of impropriety in public office by the Independent Office of Police Conduct, which is tasked with ensuring that the London Mayor’s office does not fall prey to corruption.

The police investigation said that Johnson did not influence decisions to let her go on the three trade junkets or to give her the public money.

But there were serious faults in the inquiry, as This Site pointed out last year:

Why were records relating to this case deleted – what did they cover and when were the deletions made? We may never know, but the questions should be enough to raise suspicion.

Why were some records never made? The report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct remarks on them so it is reasonable to believe that they were necessary. Who was responsible for making these records? What information would they have provided?

Why did the third parties mentioned in the report delay providing their information? What influenced them to inconvenience the investigation and would their information have been different, had they not done so? What was the subject of the information they had been asked to provide?

Possibly most damning is the statement that officers working for Johnson and making decisions about sponsorship monies and attendance on trade missions “thought that there was a close relationship between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri, and this influenced their decision-making”.

It seems those officers were right. As it influenced their decision-making to put Arcuri on trade missions, it seems to This Writer that Johnson had a case to answer after all.

Ah, but the police don’t prosecute senior politicians. Like all fascist dictators, Johnson is above the law.

It’s not good enough. We deserve better answers than we’ve had so far – and Johnson should resign (of course). He never does because he’s an unaccountable fascist, but it is always worth reminding ourselves that he should. Here’s a tweet about it:

The BBC, under its Tory Director-General, has been hiding the story:

Still, there is an upside to it all. At least the satirists are having fun:

Amazingly, Twitter is also filling up with apologists who are still moaning, “But Corbyn..!”

Source: Jennifer Arcuri admits four-year affair with serial love cheat Boris Johnson – Mirror Online

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This is your Tory government: work contracts with ‘hostile’ nations and trade deals with human rights violators

Dominic Raab: his pretty words about human rights mean nothing.

Credit to Dominic Raab for finally admitting that he and everybody else in the Conservative government are immoral scum.

The day after Downing Street admitted its new media briefing room was built by a firm based in a nation hostile to the UK – Russia – he has admitted that his government will seek trade deals with nations whose governments violate the human rights of their citizens.

This is consistent with the Tory Bill currently working its way through Parliament that will strip you of your right to protest against other violations of your rights (or the law) by the Tory government, of course.

If your government is happy to strip you of your human rights, it will be happy to trade with nations that have done the same.

Raab said these countries are the “growth markets” of the future.

He neglected to mention that the reason they may be considered growth markets is because most right-thinking countries would never soil their hands doing deals with such vile creatures.

He also failed to admit that the UK has been reduced to considering such abhorrent activities because his government forced through the country’s departure from the European Union, which has been extremely harmful to everybody but the richest multi-millionaires.

Unbelievably, Raab tried to turn the argument against trading with these monsters on its head:

We don’t junk whole relationships because we’ve got issues – we have a conversation because we want to change the behaviour.

You don’t change the behaviour of others by giving them what they want, though.

And you certainly can’t lead by example when you are forcing your own country to backslide into the same dark-age ignorance as the countries you’re criticising.

Underlying all of this, though, is the fact that your fellow UK citizens voted for this. While our colleagues in Europe and elsewhere hold themselves to the highest standards, the UK voted to grub around in the dirt. And Raab isn’t even the dirtiest grotesquery in the Tory government.

Source: Exclusive: Raab Says UK Wants Trade Deals With Nations That Violate Human Rights | HuffPost UK

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Bang goes the Good Friday Agreement as paramilitary groups accuse Johnson of betraying peace

Northern Ireland: it seems Boris Johnson’s stupidity may end not only his post-Brexit free trade deal with the EU but also terminate 23 years of peace.

Paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland have withdrawn support for the Good Friday Agreement due to Brexit – and they aren’t nationalists but unionists.

The Loyalist Communities Council, a group representing the views of the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando, are protesting at Boris Johnson’s Irish Sea trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The group has written to Johnson and Ireland’s taoiseach, Micheál Martin, warning of “permanent destruction” of the 1998 peace agreement without changes to post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.

The letter said unionist opposition to the Northern Ireland protocol – the part of the Brexit deal that keeps Northern Ireland a part of the EU’s single market for goods – should remain “peaceful and democratic”.

But this is a decision to withdraw support for a peace deal that underpins power-sharing in Northern Ireland. If a solution is not found quickly, peace in the province could be lost – again.

And it would be Boris Johnson’s fault.

In fact, the Brexit deal seems to be unravelling fast for Johnson. The European Union has refused to ratify it for a second time after Brussels accused the UK of violating it.

The decision came after Johnson’s ministers said they would unilaterally change parts of the agreement to give businesses in Northern Ireland time to adapt to new trade rules.

Johnson is unsafe wherever he goes now.

If he decides to change the Brexit deal again, to preserve the Good Friday Agreement, his dream of free trade with the EU (which turned out to be a nightmare in any case) will be over forever.

But if he doesn’t, he risks re-igniting the Troubles – as violence by nationalists and unionists in Northern Ireland between 1969 and 1998 was known.

Loyalist paramilitary groups endorsed the Good Friday agreement and say they have no desire to reignite the Troubles.

But the LCC said the Northern Ireland protocol had breached safeguards in the Good Friday agreement to protect the status of the province and the rest of the UK.

So Johnson has put himself in the worst of all possible worlds. And he only has himself to blame.

Source: Brexit: loyalist paramilitary groups renounce Good Friday agreement | Northern Ireland | The Guardian

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Bristol council passes motion to make reparation for slavery. Tories oppose it

Over it goes: the toppling of the Colston statue, back in June.

Here’s yet another reason for This Writer to be proud of the city of my birth.

After making controversial history during the Black Lives Matter protests last year, when citizens of Bristol tore down a statue of the slaver Edward Colston and threw it in the docks, the city council has gone a step further.

It has passed a motion to make “reparations” – not just financial but also cultural – for the slave trade in which the city participated and its enduring impact.

As former Lord Mayor Cleo Lake stated, “The contribution of African civilisation, culture and people versus how we have been treated is one of the world’s great paradoxes.”

Bristol is also calling for the UK’s Tory government to set up an all-party parliamentary inquiry to examine how such reparations might be delivered.

This might be a challenging request as although the motion was passed with 47 votes in support, 12 Tory councillors voted against it.

Believe it or not, they said the motion to make amends for an abhorrent past “risks exacerbating some divisions by presenting a binary view of the world when the reality is much more complicated”.

That sounds like doubletalk to This Writer! That is, disapproving speech that is intended to confuse an issue.

I think these Tories simply don’t want to face the reality of Bristol’s – and the UK’s – slave-trading background, with all the harm it has done, or the racism that still pervades this nation as a result.

In opposing the motion, they also opposed community wealth creation strategies to produce more sustainable and equitable growth whilst alleviating systemic poverty, which acknowledges that a just economy is the only way to achieve racial justice.

Typical Tories, you might say.

Source: ‘History is made’ as Bristol passes slavery reparations motion

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So much for ‘free trade’ between the UK and EU! Have you seen how much tax the TORIES are charging us?

Money, money, money: the UK government is coining it in VAT and other taxes since Brexit finally happened on January 1. And YOU are paying.

Tales of shoppers having to pay huge extra costs to have goods delivered from the EU post-Brexit are proliferating.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have free trade!

It means our own – Tory – government is charging us extra in taxes.

It seems possible that this was the intention all along.

So in the BBC story (link below), one shopper was lumbered with a £12 extra cost for a £50 item.

UK VAT accounts for £10 of the extra £12 that Sascha was asked to pay. Sellers may also be charging higher delivery fees to cover any extra paperwork or border delays they may face.

On items costing less than £135, the charge is applied at the point of sale.

Another buyer was asked to pay £123 on top of £600 (and £25 delivery) for two designer handbags from Paris – when they arrived. This was still UK VAT, the BBC reckons, but because the items cost more than £135, the charge was applied when the items reached their destination.

A woman who received earrings as a gift, posted by a friend, was charged £28.85 by parcel handler DHL, even though they were sent before Christmas. Deliveries ran late so they arrived after January 1 – and came with the added taxes.

Gifts worth less than £39 don’t attract any extra charges… But gifts over that, like gold earrings, are eligible for VAT and (if it’s over £135) customs duties. And it’s always the recipient who receives the bill.

Import VAT applies for second-hand items as well as gifts, even if bought from a private individual.

EBay already has its system set up to charge the extra VAT upfront. Amazon says VAT will always be charged at point of sale on its site too. But the system won’t be running smoothly yet everywhere

Oh – and it works in reverse, too. A person in France, buying a £150 pair of boots from the UK, was asked to pay 88 Euros in import duty, breaking down to 43 Euros VAT, 30 Euros customs tax and a 15 Euro handling fee.

She was able to reject the delivery – but many others may not have the option as firms are

changing their terms and conditions so that customers have to cover the extra charges, even when goods are returned.

The BBC explained:

Shoppers on the continent buying from UK firms face the same rules as UK shoppers do in reverse so Jemima would have had to pay VAT and customs charges, because the boots or the materials they were made from, originated from outside the EU.

The revelations received this response on the social media:

Goods shortages, much higher prices, but at least we’ve got blue passports eh? How many still think #Brexit was a good idea? Voluntarily kicking ourselves when we’re already down,” tweeted Sheridan Webb.

Pete Franklin added: “That normal, apparently successful, people are being surprised by this gives us a clue why we are in this mess – they simply haven’t been paying attention. ”

Perhaps Steve Feasey put it best: “When Project Fear turns out to be Project Hasn’t-Everything-Got-Dear.”

And some have added this to the list of disasters caused by Brexit since the EU referendum in 2016:

Source: Brexit parcel price shock: ‘I had to pay £30 for a gift’ – BBC News

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