Week in Focus: Braverman, HMRC, Democracy, BJ and Censorship
TruePublica Editor: Leaving aside the dreadful events going on in Israel and Gaza – as that is being extensively covered by the mainstream media, other things are going on in the UK, which is, of course, gaining no meaningful coverage as a result.
We can kick off this article with news of our Home Secretary, Suella Braverman. She went on the attack over immigrants and refugees “not learning our language.”
Both the home secretary and the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, Lee Anderson, publicly condemned people for not speaking English after arriving in the UK – as if somehow arriving on our shores meant an instant upgrade to the linguistic abilities of people who don’t speak English. Perhaps this is why everyone being persecuted or displaced by war in lands afar wants to come here – to be downloaded with instant English.
OpenDemocracy investigated and discovered that the government ditched its 2018 pledge to “improve our strategic approach to English language provision”. In other words – the government very quietly broke its promise to help these very people learn English.
This was followed up by another heart-warming effort by Braverman at the Home Office who has now stopped feeding hundreds of Afghan child refugees who are still living in hotels. On the bright side – you could say the refugees are not being discriminated against as astonishingly, 800,000 school kids now go hungry in England as 1 in 3 are now officially living in poverty according to the Child Poverty Action Group. I guess this was foremost in Barverman’s mind – equality.
In another diplomatic highlight by our brave Home Secretary – the government has had to downplay Rwanda’s appalling rights record and the risks asylum seekers face. It’s now been revealed Britain may be sending these people to a country where refugees are routinely jailed, tortured, and often found dead.
Whilst understanding that Braverman is grandstanding in front of the very hard-right faction of the Tory party, it’s a bit shallow to accuse her of lacking empathy because a professional may conclude after knowing that – “a disorder marked by deficient emotional responses, lack of empathy, and poor behavioural controls” – means she’s a bit of a psycho!
HMRC – Hmm
HMRC are in the frame once again. Investigations by the enormously expensive taxpayer-funded investigations unit at HMRC led to prosecutions against erm … 11 “wealthy” people last year. There are a few options here. The first is that all the wealthy people have left the UK (and to be fair, 15,000 millionaires have left since Brexit), that honesty is the new social craze amongst the rich or a government department in charge of tax isn’t doing its job. The latter is my preferred choice.
Critics of HMRC’s performance agree. They say the figure, obtained by freedom of information requests, suggests the UK tax inspector is doing too little to punish rich tax cheats at a time when the Treasury faces financial problems, and millions of Britons struggle to make ends meet.
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Dame Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP for Barking, said the figure was “unacceptable” and called on ministers to “throw the book at these crooks”. Rushanara Ali, the Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, called the finding “deeply alarming”. Perhaps Nadim Zahawi could act as a special advisor on such matters.
The Electoral Reform Society recently wrote that three separate independent reports have exposed the extent of the unnecessary damage voter ID has wrought to our democracy. Voter ID was rushed through by the struggling Tories for the local elections in May, meaning voters needed to produce a government-approved form of identification before voting.
An interim report by the Electoral Commission published earlier this year showed that at least 14,000 people were prevented from casting their vote, after being turned away from polling stations and not returning. Don’t forget that at the last general election, 67 MPs were elected with a majority of less than 5 per cent – some by just a handful of voters.
Further reports this week by the Electoral Commission, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy and the Constitution, and the Local Government Information Unit have now shed further light on how this policy has affected voters. It’s not good news for democracy in our country. Truthfully, this is just rigging for results, isn’t it?
The double byelection win in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire is both an amazing result for Labour and a warning.
Mid-Bedfordshire saw the largest numeric Tory majority ever overturned by Labour at a by-election since 1945. In Tamworth, Labour trounced the Tories in terms where they suffered a 25.7 per cent swing to Labour.
But at first glance (and I am not an electoral expert) this looks like some swing voters have moved from right to left but equally as importantly, Tory voters just didn’t turn up.
Downing Street has now got the message. They are going to lose the next election but will they be beaten up or crucified at the altar of the ballot box? This question should drive the date of the next election.
The latter would suggest around May because the UK is expected to go into a recession next year and by September, millions of mortgage holders will see old fixed rates turn into hugely expensive new rates because former Chancellor Sunak caused a huge upswing of property transactions during the pandemic by significantly dropping stamp duty tax. That pain, along with stubborn inflation and flatlining GDP (called stagflation) will mean householders will not be feeling optimistic, angry even, and will punish No10s incumbents on election day.
Talking of democracy – here is another attack by a desperate government seeking to remain in power at all costs. It turns out that a taxpayer-funded unit designed to deal with disinformation is now basically a censor unit that attacks anyone who disagrees with the government.
A report titled, Ministry of Truth: The Secretive Government Units Spying On Your Speech, revealed for the first time the truth behind the government’s five anti-fake news units and how their mission of ‘countering disinformation’ quickly turned into countering dissent across the UK.
We all know that disinformation is a real problem – but it’s also a term used for political exploitation by governments, not usually in proper democracies, of course. In a proper democracy, politicians, the press and the public should all be free to scrutinise and criticise the government – without their speech being logged in government reports, wrongly smeared as ‘misinformation’, or suppressed or censored online. But after 13 years of chaos – the UK is not a proper democracy as demonstrated by its fall to 18th place in the global democracy index behind Uruguay and Costa Rica.
The report is damning at best and is frankly nothing more than an absolute abuse of public office and money by a government desperate to come up with something to stem falling support for their failure in absolutely everything.
The ‘B’ word
Britain is still haemorrhaging economic lifeblood years after the shooting of its own foot with the ‘B’ word that no one is allowed to report on. A recent study, reported all over the world, except in the UK – by the London School of Economics found that Brexit was responsible for about a third of UK food price inflation since 2019, adding nearly £7 billion to Britain’s grocery bill.
From memory, that wasn’t written on the side of a bus. In addition, two-thirds of the voting public now think Brexit was a mistake. One assumes that this economy-destroying ideology will, at some stage, be questioned in a bit more depth than it was in 2016!
Some things are destined to shock. The cancelling of HS2, the revelations of the Covid Enquiry and vomit-inducing rumours that Nigel Farage now has his eyes on becoming the next Tory leader (no, seriously). Speaking to the Politics Home website, the staunch Brexiteer said: “I’d be very surprised if I were not Conservative leader by ‘26. Very surprised.”
Believe it or not, there’s something even more breathtaking as none come close to this massive intake of air set to hyperventilate normal-thinking people.
News that Boris Johnson is to be appointed as a ‘democracy advisor’ to the board of the International Democracy Union (IDU) has been met with shocked and dismayed reactions. Yes, your eyes are working and you did just read this. Johnson is to be appointed as a ‘democracy advisor.’
You may not be surprised to hear that the IDU describes itself as a global ‘centre-right’ group, which is chaired by Stephen Harper, the former prime minister of Canada. You may also not be surprised to hear that Harper’s government in Canada was accused of fraud, bribery and breach of trust, using “mind-boggling and shocking” tactics. So Johnson sounds just like the right man and perfectly qualified for the job then.
But surely someone was doing too much of the white powder when the group announced: “The IDU is excited to announce that PM Boris Johnson has joined our Honorary Advisory Board. His extensive experience as a statesman will be of tremendous help as we work towards building an ever-stronger alliance of the centre-right! Welcome to the IDU, Prime Minister!”
Dan the man that ran
Has anyone heard from Dan Wootton? It appears that major newspapers, including the Guardian and the Mirror, deleted their reports that suspended GB News host Dan Wootton is now the subject of a Metropolitan Police investigation, following allegations revealed about the presenter in a special investigation. You can read all about that at Byline Times.
The smiling face of failure
It is a multi-billion-dollar plan to build a metropolis in the Indo-Pacific which critics fear may one day act as a Chinese military outpost reports Politico.
Now the vast Colombo Port City project has its smiley shiny face and new champion — former British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Cameron has been enlisted to drum up foreign investment in the controversial Sri Lankan project, which is a major part of Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative — China’s global infrastructure strategy — and is billed as a Chinese-funded rival to Singapore and Dubai.
And yet – the UK intelligence boss from GCHQ has, only two days ago, appeared alongside the ‘Five Eyes’ spy chiefs from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand at the Silicon Valley summit and declared that China is at the heart of ‘aggressive attempts’ to steal Britain’s technology secrets.
The Independent newspaper reports that – Ken McCallum will make his first joint public appearance with counterparts from the Five Eyes intelligence services amid warnings about growing threats to the West. “The UK is seeing a sharp rise in aggressive attempts by other states to steal competitive advantage.”
“The stakes are now incredibly high on emerging technologies; states which lead the way in areas like artificial intelligence, quantum computing and synthetic biology will have the power to shape all our futures.”
The MI5 chief added: “We all need to be aware, and respond before it’s too late.”
In the meantime, a former British PM, one that crashed the UK out of the biggest trading bloc in the world and divided our nation – is out there, promoting our political and economic enemies for cash.
Truthfully speaking, after reading about the grotesque and grizzly details of the Johnson government, politely described as chaotic and incompetent in the Covid Enquiry, I feel pretty angry. The inquiry has rapidly pulled back a curtain to reveal what they in power didn’t ever want you to see. Simply put it was more spectacles of mismanagement on top of unadulterated negligence, by a crusade of extremists made up of mindless, clueless drunks gallivanting through the most dire of crises you could conjure up for an apocalyptic end-of-world type fantasy story. Johnson is and always was a disdainful, semi-adolescent Machiavellian with nothing more than self-interest at heart. Why and how our country elected this deeply, short-sighted malignant evil-spirited vainglorious tumour to the very seat of power needs some serious stares into our societal mirror.
It needs to be said as we sift through the revelations of this ever-expanding office of swampgoblins, that we reflect on the abyss of what has happened to our country. We should ensure that these tales from No10, these struggles of the people, of democracy and even free speech remain permanently etched into our collective memory. These people have been proven to be ghastly at every level and have done immeasurable damage to our home country. We should never allow this to happen again if we are to have any chance of flourishing in a rapidly changing world. Seeing the back of these people will never be too soon for me!
One last point, if Suella Braverman wants to do this country one single service worthy of note – confiscate the passport of David Cameron. He’s not just a whore to money – he’s an enemy of British decency, of British values and of Britain itself.