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Covid-19: it isn’t over, the news media are lying to you, and you are MORE likely to die

Lying: Boris Johnson has fed us a lot of diseased tripe about Covid-19 since February 2020 and the news media have been happy to help him. They’re still doing it now.

Feeling good about yourself because you’re double-vaccinated and the Tories have ended social distancing rules? How do you feel about this, then?

I know what some of you will say: it’s still better than everywhere else because Boris Johnson and his crooks have done such a good job with the vaccine. Right?

Wrong:

In a nutshell…

Here’s the reason:

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s someone who’s just back from abroad:

The death toll since Johnson’s so-called Freedom Day (July 19) is appalling – and families of the deceased are being urged to take action:

And nearly as many more people are expected to die before Christmas – who would live if Johnson only saw sense and re-imposed life-saving restrictions. Ah, but he’s on his holibobs, isn’t he?

Among the dead are NHS nurses like this one, meaning the number of people qualified to help fight Covid-19 is decreasing.

Meanwhile the media are feeding is misinformation. Consider the BBC’s claims that the vaccination programme is good reason to excuse the government for the tens of thousands of deaths it caused at the start of the pandemic crisis:

It is reckoned that 20,000 people died because of mistakes made in the first few weeks of the crisis. That’s as many as are expected to have died between July 19 and December 25, after Johnson’s Freedom Day stunt.

Oh, and then there’s this:

And this:

And still the Tory apologists leap forward to excuse them. Jolyon Rubinstein is (almost) right on the button with his comment below (one Tory has stepped forward to apologise – although he’s nobody important):

Along came Ryan (below) to let the Tories off the hook with a lot of twaddle.

If the blame game gets us nowhere, why is Health Secretary Sajid Javid preparing to blame GPs for failing to hold enough face-to-face appointments with patients, after creating a funding scheme that doesn’t help?

Not only that, but we know that the government didn’t pay attention to expert advice and take action accordingly.

Covid-19 is indeed (partially) a natural disaster, but it is one that has been made much worse by Boris Johnson and his cronies.

The situation is crystallised by the hypocrisy of the “He’s doing his best” narrative about Boris Johnson:

Yes, he’s “doing his best” by pretending to be Picasso in some paradise villa. Meanwhile:

Of course we know why Johnson took his holiday this week. It was to avoid having to answer the damning report on the government’s response to Covid-19 that became public this week.

He left that to his ministers, including a Health Secretary who hasn’t even bothered to read it…

… and a former Health Secretary who lied to us that one of the countries that has performed best in handling the pandemic is now doing worse than the UK. It isn’tNew Zealand is much, much healthier than we are:

Now get ready for the really bad news:

The situation in the UK is about to get much, much worse. And that will happen because your Tory government couldn’t be bothered to prevent it, and because its complacent, client news media couldn’t be bothered to warn you.

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Rock Bottomley: MP complains about £82k salary while millions starve after Universal Credit cut

Bottomley: the Father of the House of Commons doesn’t think MPs earn enough and says they should have as much as GPs. In the interests of “levelling up”, perhaps Boris Johnson should consider making their £100k-a-year the National Living Wage?

What an inconsiderate narcissist Peter Bottomley is!

On the day Universal Credit – the main unemployment benefit but also the subsidy paid to working people to make up for the failure of businesses to pay them a living wage – was cut, plunging 4.4 million people into poverty, he complained that his £82,000 MP’s salary isn’t enough.

He thinks he should get around the same amount as GPs – slightly more than £100,000 a year. Average salary – which is skewed upwards by the top 10 per cent of earners – is £31,000.

Strangely, he admitted that he is not suffering financially himself:

Although he said he currently is not struggling financially, he believes the situation is ‘desperately difficult’ for his newer colleagues.

The representative of Worthing West in West Sussex added: ‘I don’t know how they manage. It’s really grim.’

That didn’t stop people like his former colleague Michael Portillo leaping to support him on TV, with what can only be seen as a false argument:

Portillo was saying it must be hard for older MPs to put up with receiving the same amount as their younger colleagues, when Bottomley was saying it must be harder for younger MPs.

They can’t even get their story straight!

And the comparison with GPs doesn’t work, either, because doctors are paid according to the amount of time they work and MPs aren’t:

This Writer doubts it would work if we paid MPs by the hour; it would just give them another opportunity to submit false claims (expenses scandal, anybody?).

Bottomley deserves all the sympathy he received from satirical songwriter Mitch Benn:

It isn’t impossible – at 77, Bottomley is younger than at least one driver the government is desperate to put back in a cab:

For most of the rest of us, £82,000 a year is an impossible dream. That’s why Bottomley has received a huge amount of criticism for his selfish words. Here’s one of the milder rebukes.

Still, Boris Johnson likes to talk about “levelling up” and he’s currently waffling about wages to anybody who can still be bothered to listen.

So, what about it, Boris? The Father of the House thinks wages should rise.

How about accommodating him, and increasing the National Living Wage to £100k all around?

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Priorities: Tories fail to provide funding for schools to recover from Covid-19 because they want YOUR kids to fail

Gavin Williamson: he could provide the funding needed to help your kids catch up with the education they’ve missed due to the Covid lockdowns – he just doesn’t want to.

Tory priorities in action: they have billions to waste on PPE provision contracts for donors who were never going to be able to provide anything, but they absolutely refuse to spend enough for your kids’ education to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

The gap between what is needed and what they’re offering is apparently so wide that England’s school recovery commissioner (did you even know there was such a person) has resigned in disgust:

The education recovery commissioner for England, Sir Kevan Collins, has resigned in a row over the lack of “credible” Covid catch-up funding.

Sir Kevan took on the role as catch-up tsar in February to develop a long-term plan to help pupils make up for lost learning during the pandemic.

But on Wednesday he stepped down saying the government’s funding for the plan “falls far short of what is needed”.

Head teachers labelled the £1.4bn cash over three years as a “damp squib”.

The Education Policy Institute had calculated that a catch-up funding recovery would need £13.5bn – and Sir Kevan was reported as having put forward plans costing £15bn.

The government’s proposal represents £50 per pupil per year.

The government’s response has been to thank Sir Kevan for his work, and to claim that already £3 billion has been put into helping school pupils catch up.

So that’s an admission that they’re providing less than a third of what is needed.

The tragedy of this is that the government could magic up the cash for this in a heartbeat – but our dunce of an Education Secretary, Gavin “Algorithm” Williamson, together with Boris Johnson himself, simply doesn’t want to.

To explain: governments create money and invest it in the economy wherever their priorities lie. Last year, Johnson created £300 billion to keep the UK ticking over during the Covid lockdowns.

So, if the government really wanted to invest in your child’s education, it would create the money for it and pump it into the education system.

The only conclusion to be had is that the Tories don’t want your child to be properly educated. Why should they? Their children are privately-educated.

Source: School catch-up tsar resigns over lack of funding – BBC News

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No sugar for Lord Alan’s sidekick after he tells Mancunians to ‘suck it up’

‘Suck it in’: but public reaction to Claude Littner suggests that he’s the one who sucks.

If he had an ounce of self-consciousness, Claude Littner would be apologising to the people of Manchester – and the UK – after his TV outburst.

The businessman, said to be worth £34 million, told Mancunians who will enter Tier 3 Covid-19 restrictions tomorrow (October 22) to “suck it up” and “take it on the chin”.

Easy for him to say! He won’t be trying to survive on £5.84 per hour.

Sprinkled among these harsh words were lines straight out of Boris Johnson’s script: “Work together”… “Make sure the NHS is protected”.

For once, the public reaction was harder than the “hard man” of The Apprentice:

No it doesn’t.

And he’d be complaining to the government pretty damn fast if his income stream dropped because his employees were too busy starving to come to work.

Coffey tells people earning less than minimum wage to take Universal Credit or blow their savings

Therese Coffey: if she’s an example of Tory ‘levelling up’ then we need to get rid of them for the sake of the nation.

If you can’t see what’s wrong with the pictured evoked by the headline, it’s simple: nobody should be earning less than the minimum wage.

There’s a reason it’s called the minimum. It is the legal limit below which no employer should be paying anybody.

But the Johnson government’s Work and Pensions Secretary – who should know this – didn’t.

Therese Coffee really is a waste of a Commons seat.

On Sky News yesterday (October 14), she refused to answer when Kay Burley repeatedly asked her if she could live on £5.84 an hour.

Instead, she said people could claim Universal Credit to have that amount topped up (after the obligatory five-week wait, but she didn’t mention that).

Or those with more than £16,000 in savings – which she described as “substantial” although This Writer is sure she and her fellow Tory ministers would consider it a pittance – could drill into that money until it is gone.

What a charmer. Here she is, avoiding the question:

And here’s the backlash:

(For those who can’t read images, Cleverly tweeted that, at elections, Labour think you’re an adult at 16, but when it comes to bus travel you’re not an adult until 25 – to which The Daily Politik responded that, when it comes to paying taxes, the Tories think you’re an adult at 16, but you don’t qualify for an adult minimum wage until 25.)

Meanwhile, the Tories have used the Covid crisis give huge amounts of cash to firms run by their chums, avoiding the normal tendering process. One such firm is paying people the equivalent of £1.5 million per year – each – to do nothing.

That is what the Conservatives call “levelling up”: they take your cash and use it to further enrich their friends.

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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#LevellingUp or #ToryCorruption ? Serco-employed test and trace managers take £1.5m per year

Not the NHS: Boris Johnson privatised the Covid-19 test and trace system, believing it would be a great advert for privatisation. Instead, it has become a millstone around his neck – so he refers to it constantly as “NHS test and trace” in the hope that people will blame the nationalised health service that has nothing to do with it.

The Serco Test and Trace scandal gets worse and worse; it has just been revealed that some employees receive £7,360 per day to pretend to find people with Covid-19 and trace their contacts.

That’s the equivalent of £1.5 million a year. These are people from companies with strong connections to the Conservative government, that won their contracts via an emergency system which avoids the normal tendering process.

And it has already been established that most contact tracing personnel spend their time playing computer games because they are not being given work to do.

City AM says,

Sky, citing leaked documents, reported that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has paid BCG around £10m. That was for a team of 40 consultants to work for four months on test and trace.

BCG’s “day rates” for public sector work – which determine the cost of its service – range from £2,400 to £7,360 for its most senior employees.

The report said BCG is giving the government a 10 to 15 per cent discount. Although this would still equate to day rates equivalent to around £1.5m a year.

BCG declined to comment.

Sky also said that 165 more consultants had been hired to work on test and trace. They include 84 from Deloitte, 31 from EY and 50 from KPMG.

So much for Boris Johnson’s claim that he was “levelling up” the UK. Tory friends are being paid millions in public money while those who desperately need it are being starved.

While ministerial salaries are being frozen, all MPs are getting a pay rise of £3,300 per year – equivalent to around two-thirds of the current annual rate of Universal Credit for an adult aged over 25.

The lowest MP salary will be £85,291 per year. Compare that with nurses on £24,000. Who does the more important job?

What about care workers, who receive an excruciatingly-low £18,553 per year. Who does the more important job?

The Durham-based family of Boris Johnson’s adviser Dominic Cummings have been excused from paying £30,000 in backdated council tax on houses they built without planning permission 18 years ago – while child poverty in the Durham North constituency has rocketed by nine per cent – to total one-third of all children living there – in the last four years… after housing costs were taken into account,

The social media are seething with discontent:

I think the following three tweets put the current situation in a nutshell, using the current northern lockdown as an example of Tory corruption at its worst. First, let’s set the scene:

Now we can go into details with this excellent speech by Labour MP Dan Carden:

Lastly, let’s remember that there was an alternative – but people were steered away from it by liars in the mainstream media who shilled for the corrupt Tories instead. Now what, do you think, encouraged them to do that?

Source: Government paying test and trace consultants equivalent of £1.5m salary : CityAM

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Another rotten week under the Tories. Let’s make fun of them

Tory UK, 2020: life is hard, and likely to get worse as the Tory jackboot grinds Covid-19 into our faces while claiming to be doing the exact opposite.

These creeps demand our absolute obedience or they will bring in the armed forces to crush us.

So let’s have a laugh at their expense, eh?

On Monday, @RussinCheshire tweeted his #TheWeekInTory, which is always a good read:

On Monday, Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser, appeared on TV to explain why Covid-19 is running rampant through the UK despite everything we’ve been told to do to stop it. No member of the Johnson government was there…

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson announced his new Covid-19 related restrictions, which won’t actually halt the spread of the virus but at least make it seem he’s doing something, if you’re a brain-dead Tory sycophant.

Many of us aren’t. The image at the top is on response. Here are a few more:

Alternatively…

Wednesday was the day of Kexit – when it was announced that the UK would have an internal border after all – between the rest of us and Kent:

 

The UK’s new border: and the Tories can’t say it’s being imposed on us by anybody but them.

The end of the week got a bit serious, with the launch of the NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app that doesn’t like NHS Covid-19 tests and won’t do any contact tracing.

Then again, after telling us he hadn’t been to Italy – and telling the nation we all have to batten down the hatches and put up with another six months (at least) of Covid misery – now with added job losses and poverty – we find that Boris Johnson’s significant other, Carrie Symonds, was photographed on holibobs in Italy after all. All right for some, eh?

Makes you wonder about BoJob’s Russian connections who live there, doesn’t it?

If you have any more fun stuff from the week, feel free to send it via the comments.

We need all the smiles we can get.

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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Are British workers being lured into health insurance that will never pay out?

unum

Working people in the UK could be facing a huge drain on their income, if they join an insurance scheme being offered by a discredited American firm.

It seems that the company behind the hated Work Capability Assessment that has denied disability benefits to thousands of genuinely sick and disabled people, has begun a mass-marketing campaign to encourage able-bodied members of the British public to invest in ‘Income Protection Insurance’, and another scheme known as the ‘Back-up Plan’.

This insurance scheme is only available via the workplace, and it is understood that it has been designed to ensure that the company can resist paying out whenever a claim is made.

In other words, if you join the scheme, you will be giving away your money to a criminal firm. If you become ill or suffer disability in the future, you will not receive a single penny of the insurance money that is due to you.

That is the allegation against Unum Insurance, the American giant that has spent more than two decades advising successive British governments on how to avoid paying sickness and disability benefits to the most deserving claimants in our society.

If you have been contacted in the workplace and offered a chance to take out this insurance, please get in touch. Your experience of this system and insights into its operating procedures could be invaluable.

For those who don’t know the Unum story, you can read some of it here. Unum’s bosses devised their current system to combat the rise of ‘subjective’ illnesses such as ‘chronic pain’, ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease.

The solution devised by the bosses was to reduce the number of successful claims it paid out, by aggressively disputing whether the claimant was ill. So the company skewed its medical examinations to its own favour by questioning illnesses that were “self-reported”, labelling some disabling conditions as “psychological”, and playing up the “subjective” nature of “mental” and “nervous” claims.

The acknowledged basis for this attitude is the Biopsychosocial Model of illness, developed by the psychiatrist George Engel – but it’s a bastardised version, removing the bio- and -social aspects and concentrating on the ‘psycho’. This version of the theory, as used by Unum, has been utterly discredited. It is nonsense, totally disregarding such inconvenient medical procedures as diagnosis and prognosis, or limited life expectancy.

But it proved a great success for Unum – so much so that the UK government sought advice from the company in the early 1990s, when Peter Lilley was running the Department of Social Security. He wanted to reduce the number of disability claimants on his books, and Unum was only too happy to help out. It has been at the heart of disability benefit policy ever since.

We have Unum to thank for the Work Capability Assessment (administered by another private firm, Atos – an IT firm that has no expertise in healthcare, even though that word occasionally appears on its company logo). The recommendations made by Atos representatives, following these assessments, have led to the deaths of at least 73 genuinely ill people every week (according to government figures that are now almost a year old), who have claimed Employment and Support Allowance (formerly Incapacity Benefit). The real figure may be much higher.

The Coalition government considers this to be a great achievement and has now begun expanding the Work Capability Assessment regime to cover claims for Disability Living Allowance, now branded the Personal Independence Payment, with criteria that are much more difficult to achieve.

We can all expect many more deaths to arise from this.

Now, it seems, Unum believes the UK is ripe for bleeding – and that is why it is trying to sell its bogus insurance to working people here.

If you have been contacted, please get in touch.

For further information (with annotations pointing to the really damning evidence) see ‘The Hidden Agenda’ by disability researcher Mo Stewart.

The benefit cap: Popular, but ill-judged and supported by lies

Mark Hoban has a history of lying to the people, as the above image shows. How can we believe what he's trying to tell us about the benefit cap?

Mark Hoban has a history of lying to the people, as the above image shows. How can we believe what he’s trying to tell us about the benefit cap?

What a shame that so many Vox Political articles this week are on the same subject: Your Government Is Lying To You.

Today, the lies are clustered around the benefit cap, which has been launched this week – in only four London boroughs, rather than nationally.

Perhaps the Tory-led Coalition government already has an inkling that it got its sums wrong?

Nevertheless, David Cameron’s Twitter feed announced to the world that yesterday (April 15) was “A big day for welfare reform as we pilot a cap on benefits equal to the average wage. Amazingly Labour oppose it.”

Two sentences, two untruths.

Firstly, let’s look at the average amounts that families bring into their homes. While it may be true that the average family wage is £26,000 per year – equal to the £500 per week at which benefits will be capped – it is not true that this is the total amount of income such a working family may receive. A couple with four children earning that much after tax, with rent and council tax liabilities of £400 a week would get around £15,000 a year in housing benefit and council tax support, £3,146 in child benefit and more than £4,000 in tax credits: £48,146.

That’s not an average; just an example. The average income of a working family is, we are told, £31,500, or £605 per week, with a little change left over. So there is a huge difference between what Mr Cameron says the average working family takes home, and what the average working family in fact takes home.

If benefits were capped at this figure, though, most unemployed families would already be receiving less, so there is no saving to be made – and the whole point of this, from the Coalition’s point of view, is to cut the benefit bill. It isn’t about fairness at all.

The second lie is that Labour opposes it. In fact, the Labour Party agrees that there should be a limit on the amount of benefit working-age people may receive – for exactly the same reason the Coalition keeps using: Limiting benefits is an incentive to seek work.

Obviously, employment should pay more. If people have a particular way of life and they want it to continue, then they should earn it. There is cross-party support for that principle and, by stating otherwise, Mr Cameron is feeding falsehoods to the public, trying to create a false impression.

Is he doing this because this is his most popular policy (wrongly so, for reasons we’ll address shortly) and he doesn’t want to admit that Labour would have carried it through as well?

Of course, there would have been one difference: The Labour version would have been fair.

Note that the government is also lying about the benefits affected by the cap. It says Jobseekers’ Allowance, Income Support, Child and Housing Benefit all count towards it, but not disability benefits.

What is Employment and Support Allowance if it isn’t a disability benefit, then? ESA is also counted when calculating whether a claimant’s or family’s benefits should be capped. It is only provided to people with a long-term sickness or disability.

So: Labour supports the benefit cap and would probably have brought it in. But Labour would have installed the cap on a regional basis, taking account of variations in the cost of living across the country. Labour said this would help ensure that the policy works in practice.

As long ago as January last year, Labour was saying that the version of the policy that has now come into effect would backfire.

When rolled out nationally, it is expected to save £110 million per year from the £201 billion benefits bill. For the drop-in-the-ocean effect it will have, we can see that it is already disproportionately popular. But consider the knock-on effects and it becomes clear that the benefit cap may cost the taxpayer much more than leaving matters as they were!

How much will local authorities have to pay on homelessness and housing families in temporary accommodation? Most out-of-work families with four children, and all those with five or more, will be pushed into poverty – Department for Work and Pensions figures show that the poverty threshold for a non-working family with four children (two of whom are over 14) is £26,566 – £566 more than the cap.

“Serves them right for having so many children while on benefits,” you might say. What if they weren’t on benefits when they had the children? The UK has been plunged into a recession after a period of full employment (more or less) as defined back in the 1940s, when the original Welfare State was created. The number of families forced into unemployment has grown massively as a result of the credit crunch and banking crisis, and they have been kept there by the policies of the Coalition government, which continue to depress the economy and prevent growth. Anybody can fall on hard times unexpectedly and it is one of the principle injustices of the current government that a person can be labelled a “striver” one day, lose their job the next and instantly become a “skiver” in the opinion of, among others, Daily Mail readers.

Of course the DWP has not released any estimates of the increase in poverty – especially child poverty – but a leaked government analysis suggests around 100,000 children would be impoverished once the cap is introduced nationally.

The first benefit to be trimmed, if families’ or individuals’ current benefit exceeds the limit and is deemed to need capping, is Housing Benefit (or, let’s be accurate here, Landlord Subsidy). It is expected that 40,000 families will be unable to pay their rent and will become homeless. That’s a lot of work for local authorities, who will have to try to find reasonable accommodation for them while paying the (higher) cost of putting them up in bed-and-breakfasts.

Many families may break up in response to the pressures. Parents who live separately and divide the residency of their children between them will be able to claim up to £1,000 a week in benefits, while a couple living together will only be able to claim £500. Of course, this would completely wipe out any saving the government would have made on that family and in fact would cost £13,000 more every year, per family.

Finally, Mark Hoban was on Radio 4’s Today programme, telling the nation that the best way to avoid the benefit cap is “to move into work” – completely ignoring the fact that there is hardly any work available. When thousands of people apply for a single job in a coffee house, as happened within the last few weeks, you know the employment situation is dire. Perhaps the government is playing fast and loose with its increased employment figures as well?

So which do you believe – the comfortable lie that the benefit cap ensures people in work earn more than those on benefits (there was never any danger of the situation being otherwise), or the unpalatable truth that the government’s imbecilic handling of the situation will cost us all many millions more in damage control when it all goes wrong?