Tag Archives: U-turn

Rishi Sunak’s cost-of-living complacency evaporates as public opinion turns on the Tories

The bribery brothers: Rishi Sunak has u-turned on his opposition to a windfall tax for fossil fuel companies because he will use the cash to bribe you into supporting the Tory government again, after Sue Gray’s revelations about Boris Johnson’s wild Downing Street parties brought it into disgrace.

The Chancellor whose government spent thousands of pounds teaching civil servants how to juggle balls, while millions of households facing the cost-of-living crisis tried to juggle their bills, is now scrambling to help us in a meaningful way.

It’s a huge u-turn from the Chancellor who couldn’t care less a week ago.

At a time when the government has been enjoying record tax receipts – having raised taxes 15 times since Boris Johnson became prime minister and due to inflation that increases the tax attached to certain commercial items (like fuel) – Sunak had rejected proposals to reduce the tax burden on ordinary people.

Only days ago, Tory MPs rejected calls for a 40 per cent cut in fuel duty and VAT after a petition received more than 102,000 signatures, thereby forcing a discussion in the Commons.

The Government used a false argument that drivers are already saving £1,900 on their annual fuel bills compared with what they might have been paying had a pre-2010 fuel duty escalator remained in place. The pre-2010 rates were altered because times had changed; times have changed again.

And Sunak himself has been dodging the issue, claiming he could not affect the global circumstances driving the crisis. But that isn’t what he has been asked to do.

He had been asked to respond to the crisis in a way that saves ordinary people from impoverishment and prevents a recession and, until today, he had shown no interest in either goal.

George Dibb, in The Guardian, claimed solutions were staring Sunak in the face. He said:

Sunak’s first step should be investing in social security via increases in universal credit and legacy benefits to prevent families falling into destitution.

Second, we need a serious industrial strategy to boost confidence, give long-term business certainty and restore investment in the UK’s productive capacity. Sunak promised to increase private investment with a “super-deduction” incentive, but in fact it fell in the last quarter. To make this long-term vision work, Sunak should break up the Treasury and form a new Ministry for Economic Strategy with the target to drive investment-led, green growth.

Third, rather than continuing to slip on our green ambitions, every home should be insulated and more wind turbines erected across the UK in an investment needed before 2050 anyway. Green power is now the cheapest way of generating energy.

Next, the government must make clear to businesses that just as they were supported in the pandemic, now companies must themselves act responsibly by reducing their profits to keep prices down. Profits have gone up, particularly in uncompetitive, concentrated sectors – so for example petrol stations haven’t passed on the fuel duty cut to customers, benefiting their bottom line at the public’s expense. Evidence from the US suggests that recent rising prices have been disproportionately driven by rising profits, not wages.

Finally, as fossil fuel companies pile up huge, unexpected profits from the crisis that is pushing millions into absolute poverty, it is fair for the government to redistribute these into welfare and income support via a windfall tax.

Well, as I was typing this, Sunak u-turned on his opposition to a windfall tax and will impose a 25 per cent levy on oil and gas firms’ soaring profits, for precisely this purpose.

This isn’t a display of leadership; he has merely caved in to a reasonable proposal that he has previously – unreasonably – rejected.

Sunak is saying that his one-off charge will “tax extraordinary profits fairly and incentivise investments” – so it seems likely he will offer firms a chance to avoid paying the full amount by diverting the money into investment in green – unpolluting – fuel development.

This is another admission of failure, of course. Boris Johnson and others have spent weeks – months? – telling us they didn’t want a windfall tax because they wanted these companies to make the investments on their own initiative. Clearly they have not and, having ignored the carrot, must now endure the stick.

Sunak is using the money to scrap his hugely unpopular and controversial plan to provide £200 to everyone in England, Scotland and Wales in October – and then force us all to pay it back over the following five years.

Instead, he is doubling the amount to £400, which will be non-repayable; we get to keep it.

The poorest households will also get a payment of £650 to help with the cost of living. Eight million households on means-tested benefits will get the money paid directly into their bank accounts in two lump sums – one in July, the other this autumn.

There will also be separate one-off payments of £300 to pensioner households and £150 to individuals receiving disability benefits – groups who are “most vulnerable to rising prices”.

The whole package of payouts will be worth £15 billion – to be partly paid by the windfall tax. We know that inflation is set to increase UK tax receipts by £12.5 billion per year. And of course the National Insurance increase will bring £13 billion into the Treasury.

So the Tory government will still be quids-in and the offer to the people is, to quote Boris Johnson, “chickenfeed”.

But it looks good – and that is all Sunak hopes to achieve.

Remember: prime minister Boris Johnson took a huge hit to his credibility when Sue Gray published her report on the party culture he promoted at Downing Street while the rest of us were enduring Covid-19 lockdowns.

Johnson attended and fully participated in these parties and then lied about them to Parliament and to the public. His claim that he was assured they were permissible because they were “works events” is nonsense because such gatherings were not exempted from lockdown rules when he himself announced them – and he must have known that (otherwise he would be admitting he is too stupid to run the UK).

So Johnson currently stands exposed as unprincipled, untrustworthy and corrupt – a despot who habitually ignores his own laws and treats those he forces to conform to them with contempt. That’s you, by the way.

He desperately needs to bribe the public with an incentive to support him again.

So today, here’s Sunak with a handout for us all. How utterly cynical.

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#OwenPaterson suspension: even #Torycorruption is incompetent

Owen Paterson: he won his vote in Parliament, but did he already realise that it wouldn’t do him any good?

The Conservative government has u-turned over its plans to stop corrupt MP Owen Paterson from being suspended and to change the system that demanded it.

Tories were under a three-line whip from Boris Johnson to support yesterday’s (November 3) decision – but it has backfired in their faces, prompting massive public and political protest.

The Conservatives expected the Standards Commissioner, Kathryn Stone, to resign after they showed such blatant disregard for her work, making it easy for them to dissolve the role and replace it – but she has not.

And now the Tories have realised that they cannot credibly impose a new system for investigating MPs without cross-party support, because the public would recognise it as corrupt Tories letting corrupt Tories off the hook. None of the other parties in Parliament have supported the plans.

So the plans are changing radically, as Sam Coates lays out in the video below:

The really good news is that Owen Paterson will now face another vote over his suspension, that he is likely to lose. This means he will probably be suspended from Parliament for 30 days after all. A Liberal Democrat MP has already secured a debate for Monday (November 8).

This makes him vulnerable to a recall petition and a by-election that he may lose – and it seems more likely that this will happen after yesterday’s debate and vote, because more people in his North Shropshire constituency now believe he has brought shame upon them.

The Tories still want to change the MPs’ disciplinary system in favour of their corruption, but they have accepted that linking it with Paterson’s case is too obvious; it makes that corruption plain.

Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees Mogg, has said the link between the two issues needs to be severed.

But he is likely to be foiled in this, because that link has already been forged – by him and the other incompetents in the Tory leadership.

So the end result of all this jiggery-pokery is that Paterson is likely to be ousted from Parliament after all – and all the Tories who tried to save him, along with their government, have been tarred with the filth of their own corruption.

Good. It’s exactly what they deserve.

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Johnson and Sunak shamed into self-isolation in U-turn over ‘Covid Javid’

How humiliating for Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak that they have to follow the rules for the plebs and self-isolate after being in contact with Health Secretary and Covid case Sajid Javid.

It says everything about the UK’s pitiful protections that Javid hasn’t been in post for more than a month yet, and already he has contracted the virus. He’s out of the picture for the moment because he’s getting treatment.

But both Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson are also having to take action, because they have been in contact with Javid during the incubation period.

Johnson has already had the virus. What does it say about the body’s natural immunity, let alone the various vaccines that we’re all having pumped into us, when the prime minister is still having to isolate himself – despite having developed the former and received the latter – for fear of spreading the infection?

Worse still is the fact that both Johnson and Sunak wanted to take the Michael Gove route and opt into a privileged scheme whereby they could keep working but would be tested for the virus on a daily basis.

Nobody had ever heard of this scheme before Gove went to Portugal to watch the Champions League final and mixed with people who had Covid-19.

On being told about the contact, he promptly announced that he wouldn’t be self-isolating like a member of the common crowd – and that is how we learned about the daily test regime for the elite.

He was given hell for it and rightly so.

It can hardly be surprising, then, that after Downing Street announced that they would be on the same scheme – and the same criticisms started – Johnson and Sunak gave up and accepted the inevitable.

They only did it because they were caught.

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth [said] it was unfair politicians appeared to have access to “VIP testing” to avoid self-isolation, while Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey asked if it was only available to the “privileged few”.

The u-turn means that Michael Gove should now have to answer some uncomfortable questions, especially after Johnson said it was “far more important that everybody sticks to the same rules”.

Gove didn’t!

And neither Johnson nor Sunak were going to.

So it seems Johnson didn’t make the change because of any principles, but because of shame.

Source: Covid-19: PM and chancellor self-isolate after rapid U-turn – BBC News

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Tories have U-turned on face masks. This will get messy…

As I write this, Boris Johnson is giving a press conference saying that practically all Covid-19-related restrictions on social contact are to be removed on July 19, meaning you can leave your mask off – anywhere – if you want to.

Official advice on this has changed since this was originally suggested, though:

Yes – you will be expected to wear a mask in some circumstances. If you don’t – and people get sick as a result – then the public will get the blame. That seems to be the only reason for the change at this time.

Professor Alice Roberts (she of TV boffin fame) fabricated a conversation between herself and Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi in which she pointed out that this was a huge U-turn in government rhetoric.

She also pointed out that his figures leave a lot to be desired and that his call for “vigilance” means nothing if we don’t know what he means by it.

Others have been less kind to our Vaccines Minister:

I reckon that’s right.

Thank goodness I live in Wales, where the law on face masks will continue to be rigidly defined:

Remember the golden rule of Johnson rule, though:

Rules only apply to you: Boris Johnson and his cronies will do what they like, no matter what they tell you.

Yes, the rules only apply to you. That’s why we’ve heard the following from Tory ministers:

If you’re still desperately hanging on to the myth that the Johnson government can be trusted on this, let’s look at its record:

On the current predictions, perhaps we should be asking questions of SAGE:

Finally, if you’re still willing to give Boris Johnson the benefit of the doubt, let me remind you of something else he is understood to have said:

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#ToryFoodTips: the public response to Johnson’s claim that he won’t let children go hungry

Make no mistake – this is an expression of disbelief in Tory promises by the social media-using public.

Boris Johnson has refused to u-turn on his refusal to provide free school meals for children.

Some of you may consider that to be positive proof that a u-turn is coming, but while we wait, we should consider his words, that the government will “do everything in our power to make sure that no kid, no child goes hungry”.

The obvious thing to do would be to spend some money into the economy to ensure that they can enjoy a good nutritious meal – and the easiest way to do that is by funding free school meals!

Failing that, what else can the Tories do?

Some commenters on Twitter think they might offer advice on how  to make cheap and easy meals – and have offered suggestions on the form this advice may take, using the hashtag #ToryFoodTips:

You’ll notice that the tone of the advice changes, depending on the kind of person for whom it is intended – which leads me to this:

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U-turn again, Boris Johnson – every time you do, you lose more credibility

What he thinks we want to hear: Boris Johnson turns with the wind, as this excellent infographic from @dayvidart shows.

The continued support Boris Johnson enjoys from the UK public is becoming a constant surprise – especially as he is now u-turning several times a day.

It seems clear that he and his people are saying whatever they think they can get away with, according to the news agenda of the day – as Ian Dunt points out here:

When lockdown was imposed in March, we all had to work from home if we possibly could.

Then Johnson changed his mind in June and wanted us all to go back to the workplace and catch Covid-19 from our colleagues.

Now it is September and we’re all staying at home again. At this rate, he’ll have us back in the salt mines again around Christmas.

On the subject of staying at home or going somewhere, shall we discuss schools?

Here’s some footage of Johnson at the Commons Liaison Committee, saying that children readily transmit Covid-19 to adults.

But Adam Hamdy is right:

So Johnson – who said, only at the beginning of September, that it was “safe” to go back to school – has now reversed his position entirely. But it’s a bit late now:

In our houses, out of doors, in, out, shake-it-all-about… We wouldn’t need to do any of this if we had a decent Covid-19 test, track and trace system – but we don’t.

Johnson handed the contract for this to a private company – Serco – that has made a complete hash of it.

So he keeps calling it “NHS test-and-trace” instead, in the hope that nobody will remember it’s a privatised cock-up. Fat chance:

When the Department for Health and Social Care launched its contact tracing app (which version of that are we on now? Two or three?) the announcement stated that it would not carry out contact tracing.

Guess what? Another u-turn was on the way!

Here‘s The Independent:

No 10 has been left red-faced after wrongly saying the long-delayed NHS coronavirus app will not carry out contact-tracing – only to be slapped down by health officials.

The technology will finally be launched on Thursday – four months late – but without its original purpose, Downing Street had claimed, sparking fresh criticism.

But, within hours, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) issued a correction, insisting contact-tracing would be “at the heart of the NHS Covid-19 app”.

The fiasco over the four-month-delayed track-and-trace system led to uncomfortable moments for Johnson in the House of Commons where – as usual – he made a proper fool of himself:

If you’re having problems understanding what’s wrong with his words, see the following:

And here’s another thing: if the UK is such a freedom-loving country and those others aren’t, then why are we having to put up with endless – and constantly-varying – restrictions from Johnson while they are practically back to normal?

This idiot’s words stand on their heads!

For further proof – if you can believe it – Johnson actually said that contact tracing had nothing to do with the resurgence of Covid-19 in the UK:

Needless to say, the satirists have been having a field day:

I’m going to end with one that’s not related to the rest of the story but refers to Johnson’s intention to bring the armed forces onto our streets to enforce his ridiculous new restrictions on our freedoms. The point, I hope, is clear:

The UK may be a freedom-loving nation – but Boris Johnson doesn’t like it at all.

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Jenrick says Grenfell recommendations will be implemented. Get ready for ANOTHER u-turn

Inferno: The Grenfell Tower blaze caused the greatest single loss of life in London since World War II, with official figures showing 72 people lost their lives.

How can we believe a Tory claim that the recommendations of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry on safety for people living in flats will be put into practise?

For a start, Robert Jenrick is the one making the claim and he’s as crooked as a nine-bob note (in This Writer’s experienced opinion)!

The recommendations

required flat owners or building managers in England and Wales to:

  • Share information with their local fire service about the design of external walls and the materials used
  • Carry out regular inspections of lifts and individual flat entrance doors
  • Share evacuation and fire safety instructions with residents of the building

But we will have to monitor the Tories carefully, if we want to be sure they don’t pull yet another u-turn.

And remember: they have already prevented the most important change – the removal of all flammable cladding from tower blocks.

What conclusion are we supposed to draw from that, apart from:

The Tories never cared about the lives lost at Grenfell and will happily watch more people die the same way.

Source: Grenfell recommendations will be implemented, says Robert Jenrick – BBC News

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Sunak threatens tax raid in yet another Tory u-turn

Rishi Sunak: I like this shot because he looks nervous. If I was in his position, asking Tory backbenchers to raise taxes, I’d be nervous too.

This won’t play well with the Tory backbenchers: after u-turn after u-turn over Covid-19 and schools, their government is promising yet another u-turn – over tax.

Tories pride themselves on being a tax-cutting party. But Rishi Sunak is said to be threatening not just one but several tax hikes:

And to add insult to injury, the planned policy change means the Conservatives will be mirroring a policy planned by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in its 2019 election manifesto:

And if the voters don’t like it – and they don’t:

… What are Johnson’s already-disgruntled backbenchers going to do?

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Starmer’s shame: are the many Tory u-turns due to fear of being outflanked… by Nicola Sturgeon?

Starmer and Sturgeon: in opposition to Boris Johnson’s Tories, he trails behind her in every way.

Sam Coates makes a good point in his Sky News article:

There is one common denominator which runs through too many of the U-turns to be ignored, and hints at a bigger neuralgia in government: nervousness about being outflanked by Nicola Sturgeon.

The pattern is easy to see. Tuesday’s mask U-turn came after Scotland’s first minister had also announced schools north of the border would require masks at the start of the week.

Ms Sturgeon abandoned the exam algorithm more than a week before Mr Johnson followed suit.

Free school meals were extended for further months by Ms Sturgeon weeks before Tory MPs joined a coalition forcing ministers to change tack in Westminster.

Masks in shops were required by Ms Sturgeon north of the border for less than a month before Mr Johnson copied that too.

Many of these U-turns by Mr Johnson’s government have been reluctant, angry and preceded by repeated denials that they would happen, maddening Tory MPs that defend the government’s initial position but are then left floundering when Number 10 changes its mind.

It seems the fear in Johnson’s camp is that Sturgeon is offering a better alternative to Scotland – independence – than the Tory government is offering to a United Kingdom with Scotland as a part of it.

And Keir Starmer – the leader of the party that is supposed to be the main opposition to Johnson’s Tories – is nowhere to be seen.

Labour has followed Johnson’s lead on these issues, where it has expressed any opinion at all. It certainly hasn’t offered alternatives in the same way as Sturgeon – even in Scotland.

No wonder public opinion of Scottish Labour is at such a low ebb!

This Writer has no doubt that Labour will continue to trail behind the Scottish National Party in its opposition to the Tories, just as long as Keir Starmer remains party leader; his heart simply isn’t in it.

He is an Establishment figure; he supports activities that maintain the status quo.

That’s why he has abandoned the traditionally “Labour” policies of Jeremy Corbyn in favour of “Tory-lite” policies that – at best – water down the worst excesses of Johnson’s Conservatives.

Johnson is the danger but Starmer is the problem.

As long as Starmer is Labour leader, Johnson – or a similarly harmful Conservative – will sit in Downing Street inflicting harm on the rest of us willy-nilly.

Yes, Sturgeon has been able to put a brake on his stupidities. But there is an election due in Scotland next year, when she is likely to win a huge majority in support of her policies – including secession from the United Kingdom.

And what happens if she succeeds, and Scotland wins its independence?

Who will provide checks and balances against Johnson’s excesses then?

It certainly won’t be Keir Starmer.

Source: Why the government’s many U-turns may be down to nervousness about Sturgeon | Politics News | Sky News

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Victory for school pupils as Tories give up attempt to downgrade them for not being rich

Gavin Williamson: he had to find an excuse to backtrack.

Tory Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has given up his bid to use the Covid-19 lockdown as a weapon against school pupils.

After a wave of protest swept the UK over his use of an algorithm that automatically gave pupils at private schools higher grades than those at state schools – and in fact downgraded state school pupils’ grades based on the performance of previous exam candidates from their school who were nothing to do with them, it seems clear that Williamson has been looking for a way it.

He found it today (August 17). Consider this, from the BBC’s article: “He added the government decided to change policy – bringing England in line with the other UK nations – after it saw a number of outliers that did not ‘make sense’ when Ofqual released additional data about its algorithm at the weekend.”

It’s a rather obvious excuse.

In reality, I think we all know that the Tories – who currently rely heavily on public opinion to form their policies – had realised that they had gone too far with what seemed a clear example of class war.

The attack on ‘A’ level students’ grades would have affected their entire future lives and careers – and although the electorate is generally thought to have a short memory, nobody is likely to forget that kind of betrayal in a hurry.

Here’s the evidence:

The weekend saw a wave of protest:

… including ill-feeling towards the children of richer parents who benefited from the algorithm the Tories used to pretend they had fared better than their poorer counterparts:

But the last straw was probably the decision by the Labour-run Welsh government to follow its Scottish counterpart and ignore the prejudiced Tory algorithm in favour of teachers’ assessments.

It meant the general public would consider the devolved governments – run by political parties other than the Tories – to be on their side, while the Tories were trying to harm them.

So we get this decision to give up and let both ‘A’ level and GCSE pupils have the grades they deserve, and a claim that it is because the government found a fault in its algorithm – which is easy to make as we all know prejudice was written into it.

But I don’t think it will save them at election time, once these pupils are old enough to vote.

They know what the Tories were doing – what Gavin Williamson wanted to do.

He wanted to steal their futures and hand them to people who don’t deserve them.

And I think they’ll remember that.

Note: Say what he likes, Keir Starmer had nothing to do with the government’s u-turn.

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