Tag Archives: Wales

Universal Basic Income pilot scheme to be launched in Wales. May I suggest Powys?

Money: a Universal Basic Income scheme guarantees that people receive enough money to support them, at all times. Some claim that this discourages them from working, but this is nonsense. Everyone wants more than the bare minimum, right? Or is the problem that employers only offer the bare minimum?

This is great news.

The Labour-run Welsh government was softly suggesting that it might support a Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot scheme before the local elections.

But the election result has put 25 AMs in Cardiff Bay who signed a pledge promising to put pressure on governments and councils to launch trials.

That seems to have been enough to encourage Mark Drakeford to green-light projects in Wales, to be organised by new Social Justice minister Jane Hutt:

This Writer has had contact with Jane Hutt. I asked her for advice on a matter involving an acquaintance of mine and she took the time to provide a very full and helpful response. I think she is an effective and responsible public servant and that this project is in good hands with her.

The Guardian‘s article suggests that Rhondda Cynon Taff is among several Welsh councils that have expressed an interest in running a UBI pilot. I hope that my own home county – Powys – has also done so.

Powys is the biggest and most rural county in Wales, with many employment problems associated with having a sparse population. UBI could hugely help people here by removing the threat of sanction associated with the current benefit system and allowing people to concentrate on tackling local issues in a creative and adaptive way.

And it would be a real feather in Mr Drakeford’s cap to be able to say he’d managed to make UBI work across an entire quarter of Wales.

Source: Wales to launch pilot universal basic income scheme | Universal basic income | The Guardian

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Labour wins historic SIXTH term in succession in Welsh government – and may consider independence vote

Mark Drakeford: Wales’ First Minister has described the Tory government in Westminster as “utterly shambolic”.

Has any UK-based government won six successive terms? That’s what Labour just achieved in Wales.

It shows the advantage that sitting governments can use, when they actually deliver on their promises and do their best to help the population.

The mainstream media have been unforgivably quiet about it. Perhaps the London-based hacks think Wales doesn’t matter. They certainly pay more attention to Scotland, where the SNP has won only its fourth successive term.

That could all change very soon, with both devolved governments likely to support independence referenda if proposals are put before them.

I know Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to make it happen. The surprise here is that Mark Drakeford has said he will support an independence referendum in Wales, if there is a majority in the Senedd for holding one.

The contrast with Labour’s performance in England could not be more extreme – as social media commenters have merrily pointed out:

The lesson was very clearly put by Simon de Jever: “Drakeford is a left wing Corbyn supporting leader. Starmer is a Corbyn bashing centrist. Drakeford has had a spectacular win even in Brexit areas and Starmer has reduced the Labour vote to 29%.”

And Andrew Feinstein added: “Makes you think Starmer’s purge of the left and massive shift to the right might have been a mistake!”

 

 

Ya think?

The victory creates huge problems for Keir Starmer because his failure will be measured against Drakeford’s success. Some are already laying bets that Drakeford’s suspension from the Labour Party is already in the mail.

But if Drakeford is serious about permitting an independence referendum, it could create a monumental problem for Boris Johnson.

He can’t refuse permission for such a poll on the basis that we’ve had one recently (as in Scotland) because we haven’t.

He can’t rely on Wales rejecting independence because he knows his government has been so appallingly useless that many Welsh people may consider going it alone to be preferable – even if it means a few lean years in the immediate future. We’ll have hardship under the Tories indefinitely.

And it means he could be in line for a double dose of shame as the prime minister who presided over the end of the United Kingdom.

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Why was Hancock given shares in sister’s firm right before it won Welsh NHS contract?

Matt Hancock: stupid, incompetent, or corrupt?

There seems to be a lot of disillusionment with politics in the UK at the moment – evidenced by a lack of interest in political news.

At least, that’s how it seems to this commentator on political news.

It doesn’t help that there seems to be only one story in UK politics at the moment: corruption.

And why not? you may ask. Don’t politics and corruption go hand in hand?

Yes indeed – according to an old cliche.

But there seem to be no other stories right now. Even if there were, it’s likely that we’d be able to find an element of corruption in them. It has become the trademark of Boris Johnson’s government.

It’s also why people are turning away. They don’t like it; they want to get away from it.

But it won’t go away by itself. We need people who are willing to wade in, roll their sleeves up and cut out the rot.

We do have such people – and they are champing at the bit in their keenness to get to work.

But they won’t be able to do anything while the general public is still voting people like Matt Hancock into Parliament.

People like Hancock benefit from the system as it is currently constructed, so they are not going to change it.

I mention Hancock because he is the latest Tory to be associated with a government contract given to a private company.

He recently became a shareholder in a shredding, storage and security firm called Topwood – right before it won two NHS Wales contracts worth £150,000 each to carry out waste disposal including the shredding of confidential documents.

Shares in that firm are now held by three people: Managing Director Thomas Gilruth has 40, his wife Emily has another 40, and the remaining 20 went to her brother – Matt Hancock – after previous shareholders Bob and Shirley Carter gave up their 10 each, earlier this year.

Do we know why they gave up these shares? And it seems Hancock was given them, rather than buying them – isn’t that unusual?

Then there’s the timing – he received these shares right before Topwood won these large contracts, and Topwood coincidentally secured its place on the NHS Shared Business Services framework in 2019, just months after Hancock became Health Secretary.

Doesn’t it seem at least… odd… to you?

Legally, it seems there is nothing wrong. As Health Secretary in the Westminster government, Hancock has absolutely no influence on the awarding of contracts by NHS Wales, and this one was handed to Topwood after a competitive tendering process was completed. His interest in the firm has been declared.

But it doesn’t seem right, does it?

It seems as though Hancock used his influence as new Health Secretary to get his sister’s firm onto the NHS Shared Business Services framework nearly two years ago, and it seems that, now that the firm has a big contract, she and her husband are rewarding him with a share of the profits.

Even if that isn’t true – and I should stress I have no firm evidence in either direction – the fact that this is the way it seems is damaging for Topwood, for Hancock, and for the Johnson Tory government at a time when corruption is hot political news.

Hancock – who has also been mentioned in connection with the Greensill scandal (he had discussions with David Cameron) – should have refused the gift of shares in order to avoid any suggestion of impropriety.

But he didn’t.

As a result, the Tory government’s former anti-corruption champion has laid himself open to suggestions that he is either stupid, incompetent… or corrupt.

I hope someone follows the paper trail to find out how Topwood got onto that NHS Shared Business Services framework. It might be the only way Hancock can clear himself.

Or it might not. Either way, we need to know.

But I can confidently predict that, whatever the outcome, it won’t stop the voters of West Suffolk from supporting him again at the next general election.

Source: Matt Hancock Holds Shares In Sister’s Firm Who Won NHS Contracts | HuffPost UK

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The Tories are running scared into the local elections – and scared Tories are DANGEROUS Tories

Face of fear: Boris Johnson’s time is running out. The local elections will show him just how short that time may be. How far is he prepared to go to hold on to power?

Enjoy this video by Richard Murphy (I did):

Yes – Tory policies are going very badly, and the propaganda machine won’t be able to hide that from the majority of us when those failures hit our quality of life.

Brexit has screwed our businesses.

Covid-19 isn’t over – there could be another wave by July (possibly fuelled by variant strains that have bred in the gap between vaccination doses).

The Conservative government is rife with corruption.

And nationalism is on the rise in Wales and Scotland, while Northern Ireland is on fire because Unionists have realised that they have been sold out by the Westminster government and their own DUP politicians who supported the Tories during Theresa May’s ministry.

What’s Boris Johnson’s response?

He’s provoking people. He’s trying to blame those who oppose as if they are the provocateurs.

Through his ‘identity politics’ process of calling out those he describes as “woke”, who he is therefore chastising for their commitment to equality on a range of grounds… he is trying to provoke [them] to attack him.

That is standard right-wing … fascist policy.

Murphy’s conclusion is accurate, too, I think:

They know that their policies are failing so all they can do is use blunt force to try to maintain their position in office.

… Like the fascists they are.

Hence the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that proposes draconian new powers for the police, who are to be used as political tools, putting down any opposition to Tory dictatorship. And to ensure that these powers are exercised, what do the Tories do?

They are provoking crowds; they are seeking riots.

Because then they can point at the rioters, and at the peaceful people who agree with the reasons for rioting, and claim that they are the enemy.

Toryism is about “othering”. It is about dividing us and setting us against each other, so we fail to act against our real enemy: them.

It is encapsulated in the story about the Tory, the worker and the immigrant:

A Tory, a worker, and an immigrant are sitting at a table with 20 biscuits. The banker takes 19 biscuits, turns to the worker and says: “Watch out, that immigrant is going to take your cookie away.”

Murphy’s last point is chilling:

They’re not sure they want to go without a fight and we don’t know how tough that fight is going to be.

This Writer reckons it will be very tough.

Tories don’t mind spilling the blood of poor people. In fact, they delight in it. When they send the police to break up protest demonstrations, they see it as poor people fighting among themselves. It’s a huge jolly for them.

In the past, Tories have always known when to give up. They’ve recognised the signs and withdrawn before events escalated too far. That’s why the UK has never had a popular uprising or revolution like those in France, Russia, or China, to name a few other countries.

But the current Tory leadership isn’t like those old statespeople. Boris Johnson wants to hold on to power and will do anything to keep it.

I wonder what we’ll be prepared to do when the time comes to take it away from him.

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Local services in Wales will suffer if the Conservatives take over the Senedd

Think before voting: the Conservatives are promising to freeze council taxes in Wales if they take control of the Assembly – but this will benefit the rich far more than working-class people.

The Welsh Conservatives have said they will freeze council tax for at least two years if they take control of the Welsh Assembly after the local elections in May – but this is a threat, not a promise.

The party has said it will fund a council tax freeze, but there is no guarantee that it will follow through on any such pledge. Even if it does, this only means that it will maintain services as they are.

So what happens when events demand spending beyond that level?

Answer: we won’t see it – they’ll say there isn’t enough money (which is a lie).

Also: who benefits most from a council tax freeze? The rich.

Taxation is a way of redistributing wealth, ensuring that poorer people are able to enjoy publicly-funded services for all, rather than those services being restricted only to those who can afford to pay for them out of their own pocket.

It also ensures that funding is available for projects that would not otherwise receive support from private individuals.

By freezing council taxes, then, the Conservatives are pledging to let rich people keep more of their money while depriving the poor of the services they need to get by.

But the Tories don’t tell you that.

Source: Tories pledge to freeze council tax in Wales for at least two years

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Why are devolved governments accused of failure after the Tories couldn’t roll out Covid vaccine properly?

Tory mouthpiece news media seem keen to blame the UK’s devolved governments for failing to roll out Covid-19 vaccines fast enough – but in fact the blame lies with the Conservative-led Westminster government.

Distribution of the vaccines is being carried out centrally from Westminster but has been hampered by delays in obtaining supplies of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines.

It seems that, as a result, the Tories have been restricting supplies to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – and then blaming the devolved governments in those other countries (none of which have Conservative-run administrations) for providing a smaller proportion of injections.

According to Nation.Cymru,

In the run up to Christmas Frontline NHS staff in Wales complained they were struggling to get access to the recently launched Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and Len Richards, the chief executive of Cardiff and Vale University health board, warned of “an indisputable supply and demand constraint” in an email and said access to the jab was being rationed because “the supply is so low”.

What do you think of this?

Should the Tories get away with restricting vaccine supplies and then blaming their counterparts in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for failing to protect as many people?

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If you think conditions in Priti Patel’s planned concentration camp are bad, you should see them in the ones she already has

Auschwitz was a concentration camp: it seems Priti Patel may have found in Covid-19 a more socially-acceptable way of wiping out her refugees than the gas chamber.

It seems a lot of people were shocked by the revelation that Priti Patel is planning to open a concentration camp in Hampshire – with all the connotations of that phrase – for foreign refugees.

If you thought that was bad, what will you think of the fact that she is already running two such camps – subjecting the inmates to squalor, indignity and the threat of Covid-19 – in south Wales and Kent.

An article in The Canary describes conditions in the Penally camp, south Wales, as “hellish”.

Camp residents complain of inadequate and poorly cooked food, no privacy, and inadequate shower and toilet facilities. They are unable to socially distance, or to take proper precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).

60% or more of the camp’s 42 toilets were not working, leaving the residents in severely unsanitary conditions. The toilets were eventually fixed but … this wasn’t the first time the toilets had been out of action. In fact: “This is the fourth time in three weeks.”

The only functional showers in Penally are shared, without any private cubicles. “A month ago they brought in caravans containing private showers, but no-one use them because they have no hot water. So they are just for show.” When residents have finished showering, they have to put on their coat straightaway to go out into the freezing cold.

There are precious few measures in place to protect against the spread of coronavirus in Penally. “Hand sanitiser and soap dispensers are often either empty or not working. Outside the canteen, there is one dispenser which is often left empty, including for three days on one occasion.” Mask wearing is only enforced within the dining area, and masks are only available on request.

A minibus of 15 new residents arrived at the camp on Wednesday 16 December. Some of the existing camp residents asked if these newcomers had been tested for coronavirus; they were told ‘It’s not your business’. “They say that we need to be careful about spreading Covid, but they put us all together in shared rooms, with not enough toilets and shared showers We eat in the same dining hall, and we wait together in the queue for food – I think they sent us here to get Corona and die.”

This is the situation in Priti Patel’s concentration camp Britain. People are sent to filthy, degrading hovels which they are forced to share with others who may have a disease that is currently killing hundreds of people in the UK every day.

And she wants to open more.

Source: ‘Every day it’s getting worse’ – a refugee calls for ‘massive protests’ over conditions at Home Office camp | The Canary

Twitter tries to break the law – but is this the person who had Mike suspended?

Identified? This person posted screenshots that appear to show they are responsible for the complaint that had Vox Political’s Mike Sivier suspended from Twitter. Mike has no idea who this person is and a Twitter search provides no evidence of any contact.

There have been developments.

Readers of This Site will be aware that This Writer’s Twitter account was suspended on Saturday, December 12. The most likely excuse, I thought, was the link to the Vox Political article discussing the evidence used in Rachel Riley’s application to strike out my defence against her High Court libel action against me.

As you can see from the image above, it seems I was correct in that. But we’ll come to it.

On advice, I contacted Twitter to appeal against the suspension, and also submitted a Subject Access Request (SAR) for the information on which my suspension had been based.

Twitter seemed keen to help. I had to poke it about the SAR but eventually Twitter Support came back to me with a request for specific instructions, on Wednesday (December 16). I tried to provide this but the link didn’t work, so I had to demand one that did.

Then on Friday (December 18), I received the following message:

Thank you. Our record indicates that your account is not suspended. This case will now be closed.

It really won’t, you know.

Yes, my account was restored on Thursday (December 17), but it had still been unavailable to me for five days and I want to know why. I have a right to know why. Remember, Twitter never contacted me with a reason for my suspension.

I submitted a Subject Access Request, which is a legal requirement. By UK law, Twitter has one calendar month from the date I submitted my request (December 12) to honour it. No excuses. No apologies. If it fails to provide the information, Twitter will have broken the law.

I have emailed Twitter UK’s CEO, Dara Nasr, to remind him of this, along with overall boss Jack Dorsey. We’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, after my account was restored, I saw an interesting tweet in reply to one that I couldn’t see, being blocked by the account holder:

Holocaust denier and anti-Semite? For fuck’s sake. Does he think the Holocaust happened? And what did he say that was anti-Semitic?

It was clearly about me; someone had repeated the old lies that I was a Holocaust denier and an anti-Semite – so I did the necessary work and got a copy of the tweet I was blocked from seeing.

Dated December 13, it said (as you can see above):

Mike Sivier – @MidWalesMike

You sent me threats & abuse in the 2019 British election. Enjoy your Twitter suspension.

Hope Rachel and Tracy-Ann win in court. Show you as an antiSemite and Holocause Denier.

The account holder was, apparently, “Festive Fionn” – @Fionn_Grunspan.

I have no idea who this person is.

I do not recall having any contact with them and use of Twitter’s advanced search facility has produced no evidence of any such contact.

The likelihood of me sending “threats & abuse” to anybody is ridiculous. I have received threats and abuse from people; I don’t send it myself. Of course, some people may consider civilised responses to be abusive; it depends on your point of view.

As there is no evidence of me having contacted @Fionn_Grunspan for any reason at all, I am led to speculate on whether they were operating under another Twitter handle at the time of the alleged “threats & abuse” – if such an altercation every took place. That would suggest that the account holder had changed it for some reason, which in turn suggests that they had been caught doing something wrong.

Obviously “Rachel and Tracy-Ann” can’t win against me in court because “Tracy-Ann” (Oberman) is not one of the parties. It’s a small point but it indicates that this Twitter account cannot get its facts right.

Nor will they show me “as an antiSemite and Holocaust Denier”. Riley’s case against me is a claim that I libelled her and has nothing to do with anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial. In any case, claims that I was a Holocaust denier have been demonstrated to be lies and The Sunday Times (principally; other newspapers had to do the same) published a lengthy correction after having wrongly accused me of it, in early 2019.

Is Twitter trying to protect this – apparent – liar? If so, why?

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Who are the troublemakers pretending that Welsh shops will be banned from selling alcohol?

It isn’t true – and that’s official.

Rumours have started circulating that the Welsh Government is to ban the sale of alcohol anywhere in the country from December 17.

But the Welsh Government itself has stated categorically that the claim is a lie.

Clearly somebody thought they could capitalise on the ban on pubs selling alcohol by spreading a scare story. Who are these troublemakers? Name and shame them where you can.

Obviously Christmas is a time when more people like to sit back and enjoy a taste of their favourite tipple (but drink responsibly, folks!) and an alcohol ban would be an extremely unpopular move.

It would also be completely pointless. The ban on alcohol in pubs was to curb the spread of Covid-19 through the hospitality industry and there is no perceived need to stop alcohol entering socially-distanced homes.

So the rumour can only be an attempt to discredit the Welsh Government and score political points.

Let’s find out who started it so we can discredit them instead.

Source: Rumour of imminent ban on buying alcohol in shops in Wales ‘simply not true’ – Nation.Cymru

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BBC’s Munchetty calls out Williamson for forcing BAME English children to sit exams. Gammons are furious

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was put on the back foot over his plan to force disadvantaged black and minority ethnic children in England to sit exams, despite the disruption of Covid-19 – and racists across the UK supported him.

Interviewed by the BBC’s Naga Munchetty, he gave an incoherent performance in which he tried to say that disadvantaged children always fare better in exams than when their results depend on teacher assessments.

Was he basing his claim on the fiasco that he himself caused last summer – when a Tory government-created computer algorithm automatically assigned higher grades to pupils at public schools and artificially lowered those of pupils considered to be disadvantaged, without any reference to the grades that had been predicted for them, if they had been able to take exams as normal?

I think he was.

Look at this:

” Children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds and children from Black and ethnic minorities communities are given the best advantage by sitting examinations and having that test.”

Because it means they won’t fall foul of Williamson’s brutally biased algorithm?

Munchetty interrupted, setting him up for a fall: “I understand from that point then that those disadvantaged children in Wales and Scotland are going to be more disadvantaged because they’re not having exams.”

This should put an obvious further question in viewers’ minds: What if, when it happens, they’re not? What if the Welsh and Scottish systems provide accurate assessments of these pupils’ abilities?

Won’t Williamson – and the government he represents – then appear to be attacking children who are trying to work their way out of the disadvantages that their social positions have forced on them, simply because he can?

Sadly, our thickie Education Secretary didn’t even realise he was walking into a trap, and carried on blithely: “Every study that has been carried out that’s looked at this has shown that predicted grades most disadvantage children from the poorest backgrounds.

“Predicted grades and teacher assessments disadvantage children from Black and ethnic minorities so we do believe exam assessment is the best form.”

His predicted grades, maybe. Teacher assessments were overridden by his predictions, as the huge scandal over school exams last summer made clear.

This Writer thinks we’re going to see a shocking contrast between exam scores for disadvantaged and BAME children in England and those in the rest of the UK next summer.

The kids in England – whether they sit exams or not – or likely to fall far behind those in the other countries, where their abilities will be assessed using a fair system that has nothing to do with Tory algorithms that falsely weight results in favour of kids who are already absurdly privileged.

And Williamson – along with his corrupt Tory pals – will be exposed again.

Of course the gammons in the BBC Breakfast News audience were incensed at Munchetty for daring to hint that their Tory minister might possibly discriminate against people of minority racial backgrounds and the poor (as they have throughout history):

If you check the critics’ bios, you’ll see that most of them are anonymous, with few followers – classic signs of trolls or paid bots.

And it seems they flooded Twitter after the interview in the hope that they could fool you into thinking Munchetty was in the wrong.

She wasn’t. I trust Vox Political readers can think for themselves, rather than be guided by people who are paid to lie to you.

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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