Week in Review 28th June – 4th July
The new normal today is characterised by scandals that come and go so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. No sooner is Robert Jenrick attempting to shrug off accusations that he ‘fixed’ the techincal consents for a £1bn building project, therefore saving a Tory donor some £45m when – he’s immediately accused of meeting with a “family friend” who had a financial interest in the future of a mining project that Jenrick was overseeing. Steve Reed, the shadow communities secretary, said: “It’s time for some honesty. Mr Jenrick must come to the House of Commons to explain exactly what he’s been up to because the public are now worried that a new era of Tory sleaze has begun in earnest.” Honesty from politicians – whatever next! For another example of Tory sleaze, it has recently been revealed that Matt Hancock tried to block 400 homes and a primary school being built near Newmarket racecourse, after receiving at least £65,000 in donations from horseracing bigwigs who opposed the scheme.
If anyone thinks austerity has gone, think again. More than one person a week commits suicide as a result of being on Universal Credit and leading charities are so concerned they are pushing for an independent inquiry into benefit deaths. Another inquiry has been called for into the reasons behind the disproportionately high number of deaths of disabled people during the pandemic, following the publication of “shocking” and long-overdue official figures. The death stats really are that bad and comes about after the government failed to shield very obviously vulnerable people. Young disabled women were 11 times more likely to die from coronavirus than non-disabled women in the same age group.
The political power grab continues as the civil service is to be partially blamed for the government’s very poor record over the Covid crisis, its most senior Civil Servant is forced to resign and yet another ‘yes man’ put in place to shield the government from criticism. Now, the security services are reporting into a man who can tell them the direction they are going in – and that won’t always be about national security. The West’s most surveilled nation, now has Dominic Cummings, Palantir (more below) and now the security services pointed at its own people – dissent and protest in 2021 may well come with penalties.
As you’ll read, the economic numbers over the pandemic are going to be used as cover for Brexit and a myriad of other government mistakes and errors – including, no doubt, more corruption.
The first ‘Tweet of the Week’ from @MikeBul really is worth the read. It says something about what the government is really doing. If the free-marketeers of Brexit was about cutting red tape, red-tape is being used as a surveillance tool. Is the government trying to kill the ‘grey-market’ i.e. a bit of cash-in-hand to avoid paying every penny due to the treasury? Whilst it may be fair to demand it – it’s not fair to use the pandemic to achieve it.
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The last story in ‘Recommended Reading’ is about the National Crime Agency giving up on its investigations into illegal Brexit campaigning. This story feeds into two others that the Electoral Commission and police gave up their investigations – effectively letting off those caught, either with small fines or turning a blind eye to their crimes. But still – Brexit is a crime scene and those breaking the law should face justice.
Inside The News
Covid Predictions: Not published in the mainstream media is this little known fact. The group of scientists who banded together called ‘Independent SAGE’ to ensure government advisors information wasn’t twisted, reports that on current projections – assuming no second spike in Covid-19 infections, Britain is on course to put another 20,000 victims in over-stretched morgues across the country by April. In addition, the winters usually see something like 15,000 to 25,000 people die per year of flu-related respiratory diseases. With the current 50,000 death toll, we could be looking at a 100,000 (plus usual winter deaths) if a second spike strikes. The government is now shifting the blame from scientists to Public Health England and now on to the public. (source)
We bought the wrong ones: The UK government’s plan to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in a satellite broadband company has been described as “nonsensical” by experts, who say the company doesn’t even make the right type of satellite the country needs after Brexit. You couldn’t make it up, could you? (source)
Russia Report: The government has been petitioned to release the Russia Report. With nearly 110,000 signatures the government are obliged to answer to the petition. In the meantime, there’s a really interesting podcast by The Guardian on the Russia Report. Luke Harding is the investigative journalist – but he’s well known to be a journalist as someone operating alongside MI6 – in other words, he’s a spook. However, Harding makes the case that Moscow put as much money, time and effort into Brexit as they did into seeing Trump elected into the Whitehouse. It looks as though the security services are unhappy with Brexit on the one hand and want to continue with the Putin bogeyman story. Make your own mind up – Harding is very convincing. (this former UK ambassador is convinced Harding is “MI6’s most important media conduit.”)
Democracy: Here’s a first. Very welcome news indeed that polling suggests a majority of Brits would welcome a switch to Proportional Representation. There is still work to do so that people are convinced this is an issue that should rank right at the top of the nation’s concerns. With PR, the system would be reflective of voters wishes. The Tories are planning to change electoral boundaries by ‘gerrymandering.’ If they succeed, they could entrench power for a generation. “Very few industry players get the opportunity to sit around and come up with the rules for their own industry in quite the way that parliamentarians do,” Darren Hughes, CEO of the Electoral Reform Society said.
More democracy: Urgent reform of digital campaigning laws is needed if UK democracy is not to ‘decline into irrelevance,’ according to a new Lords report. Both Brexit and elections in general, have dominated social media and are now the battlegrounds where a few percentage points mean winning or losing. Even that pompous, over-paid and unelected lot in the Lords can see this and have called for fines of £500,000 for breaking electoral laws. (source)
Truly Shameful BBC Israeli Propaganda: In a genuinely outrageous piece of victim-blaming, BBC News just blamed Palestinian intransigence in refusing to accept Israeli annexation of the West Bank for the deaths of Palestinian children caused by the Israeli blockade of medical supplies to Gaza. Yes, the BBC actually blamed the Palestinians! (source)
Inside Downing Street
Boris Johnson is accused of forcing out Britain’s most senior civil servant, Sir Mark Sedwill – because Dominic Cummings has ordered it to be so. Sedwill was also in charge of briefing the government in areas of national security. Inside Downing Street, the appointment of Brexit negotiator David Frost to that role of National Security Advisor is welcome. However, many Tory MP’s are truly shocked by it. Theresa May’s rage was evident in the Commons. She pointedly accused Boris Johnson of appointing a political ally instead of a national security expert. A former FCO colleague of David Frost says there are serious and concerning constitutional implications of Frost’s appointment as National Security Adviser, in how it reinforces the power of the PM and executive without adequate oversight. A close (HERE) contact of Frost makes some very interesting points, which is revealing and a number of top MSM journalists have taken note of what it says. In short – Johnson has appointed yet another ‘yes man’ at the heart of Britain’s national security framework. The other small matter of this appointment is – what will we now not hear about, especially in a scandal-ridden, inept and corrupt government as this?
And here is another huge failure of campaigning from inside Downing St. Having seen more British civilians succumb to the virus than the blitz killed throughout WW2, Churchill wannabe Boris Johnson has decided to emulate another wartime hero – Franklin Roosevelt, known affectionately as FDR. Johnson wants to deflect the failures of his handling of the pandemic and move towards rebuilding the economy and picked on FDR’s New Deal that kick-started the American economy after the war. The New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations between 1933 and 1939. It was complex but included reigning in the banks, supporting workers and reflating the economy and had a political force to such an extent that elections were being won into the 1960s over its success. Boris Johnson has stated he’ll do £100bn of infrastructure works. It should be no surprise that he was lying – again. (See Ch4 Fact Check). In the same Commons session – Johnson said it all added up to £600bn – when in fact, it adds up to just £5bn.
Johnson has also conveniently forgotten that FDR raised taxes on the very wealthy to 79 per cent, protected employees from exploitative employers and played a significant role in the postwar expansion of the American middle class. Boris Johnson has also forgotten that Britain is wasting £100bn on a train set called HS2 that will achieve nothing other than being Europe’s largest deforestation program. Expect references to FDR to fall away quickly. Johnson has emphatically proved he’s no Churchill or FDR. “The notion that he’s going to turn himself into FDR seems absolutely fanciful,” said Professor Anand Menon, who also pointed out that the £5bn isn’t new money anyway.
Inside The Economy
The ONS keep having to adjust their figures and almost always predict on the upside and re-adjust on the downside – therefore painting a rosier picture than reality. Here are two examples.
Prices are rising faster than official figures suggest: The coronavirus crisis has led the Office for National Statistics to understate the speed prices are rising, according to a growing body of research during the pandemic. Research from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research has claimed that the Office for National Statistics’s measures of annual price increases were 0.4 percentage points too low in May because they put too much weight on goods and services that were unavailable because of Covid-19, dragging the inflation rate down. The ONS reported that the Bank of England’s target measure of CPI inflation fell to 0.5 per cent in May and a wider measure including homeowners’ housing costs was 0.7 per cent, but these were significant underestimates according to professor Huw Dixon of Cardiff University. “A lot of people think there’s quite a bit more inflation going on at the moment and I think they’re correct.” (READ MORE)
ONS figures worse than expected: GDP figures show the impact of coronavirus pandemic was worse than first thought. Fresh data from the Office for National Statistics showed that gross domestic product fell by 6.9% in March, even though the government-imposed lockdown only came into force with nine days left of the month. Original estimates by the ONS had shown that the economy shrank by 2% in the first quarter as a whole and by 5.8% in March. (READ MORE)
Historic crash, no future: We all know the economy has been battered by Covid-19. We all knew that Brexit was going to batter the economy. The IMF sees Britain’s future economic prospects as the worst-performing of all western countries in 2021. If you needed any more evidence, just look at this British Chambers of Commerce report. It has polled its members who state that long-term business performance expectations are dire. Nearly 40 per cent of those companies polled think their revenues will not recover in 2021. (READ MORE)
Stagnation worries: Evidence suggests that major economic shocks can exert a decades-long drag on consumers’ desire to spend, giving another reason why higher government borrowing may persist long after the pandemic has faded. (READ MORE)
Here’s another Brexit lie being brought to light. We were all told that Britain’s financial services industry would be just fine after Brexit. Not so. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has confirmed yet again by fully rejecting British demands to smooth the City of London’s access to European customers, warning that both sides should prepare for “big changes” from the start of next year. Michel Barnier also said Britain had made “unacceptable” proposals to retain EU freedom of movement rights for its financial services professionals. Britain wants to ban residence requirements for senior managers and boards of directors and the EU has said no. Barnier said – “the UK cannot keep the benefits of the single market without the obligations.” In short, the UK and EU came to an agreement for financial services last year, have been quarrelling about it ever since, missed the deadline and the British bankers are now worried about being excluded from accessing EU based clients and now can’t go and see them without the correct visas. It’s a freedom of movement thing – that the government just voted on Wednesday to end. (READ MORE)
Something like 10,000 job losses have been announced in the last couple of days. Don’t think this is just Covid-19 though. Employers who know that Brexit will damage their businesses, irrespective of a deal or not are using free money to keep them going and will let go once the furlough scheme comes to an end. (READ MORE)
The Brexiteers said Brexit would slash red tape and that there would be no border in Northern Ireland as goods transit to the EU. An HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) document marked “sensitive”, reveals that firms in Great Britain will be obliged to complete three rounds of customs, security and transit forms on all goods. Notice – ALL goods. (READ MORE)
There are just four months to go (31st Oct) when the date passes that if a deal is not struck with the EU, the EU couldn’t ratify it in time anyway. And just as the EU hands another olive branch to allow for an extension, the Brexit negotiator David Frost gives them the cold shoulder and says no. (READ MORE)
- Revised GDP for the first quarter (Jan to Mar) of 2020 – GDP fell by 2.2% in Q1, revised down by 0.2 percentage points, the largest quarterly fall since 1979 (Source)
- UK vessels landed 724 thousand tonnes of sea fish into the UK and abroad and contributed £980 million to the UK economy (source). The Premier League (excluding all other divisions) contributed £7.6bn to the economy (source). The arts and culture industry contributes £10.8billion a year to the UK economy and generates a further £23billion a year and 363,700 jobs. Guess which one is being fought over tooth and nail because of Brexit and the other neglected in the midst of the pandemic – you got it – the fishing industry is worth less than 0.2 per cent to the economy but that’s where the fight is!
- Is America on the brink? 8.3 million guns have been sold in the United States since March (since BLM protests), meaning 2020 is on course to be the biggest year for gun sales in American history. (source)
- The claim that the Covid pandemic has caused a 200 per cent in suicides is fake news. (source)
- More than 500 companies have kicked off an ad boycott intended to pressure Facebook into taking a stronger stand against hate speech. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to meet with its organizers next week (source)
Tweet of the Week
An interesting thread worth reading HERE
Other Twitter followers pointed out that it was the same in many other areas – Thread HERE
Palantir – Trump backer’s spy firm used by Met Police and Cabinet Office: They were at the heart of the SCL Elections/Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal over misleading the public with billions of micro-ads directed at influencing voters over Brexit. They were given access to the entire NHS database to sell crucial data to American ‘healthcare’ companies in readiness for due-diligence exercises when Britain drags itself out of a regulated trading bloc on January 1st – and now they are working alongside the Met Police and the Downing Street Cabinet Office. America now has the reigns of British elections, national healthcare, policing and a seat in Downing Street itself (READ MORE –openDemocracy).
Covid Misinformation: This report is the result of a collaboration between independent fact-checking organisations across five European countries: Agence France-Presse in France, CORRECTIV in Germany, Pagella Politica/Facta in Italy, Maldita.es in Spain and Full Fact in the UK. An excellent infographic that’s worth looking at (READ MORE – CovidInfodemicEurope).
The psychology of misinformation: Why we’re vulnerable: This report by ‘First Draft’ (mission statement – empowering societies with accurate information) is well worth a read. The psychology of misinformation — the mental shortcuts, confusions, and illusions that encourage us to believe things that aren’t true — can tell us a lot about how to prevent its harmful effects. Our psychology is what affects whether corrections work, what we should teach in media literacy courses, and why we’re vulnerable to misinformation in the first place. It’s also a fascinating insight into the human brain. (READ MORE –First Draft).
Predictions for 2019: Predictions are always hard to get right, especially in today’s world. Have a read of this and see how much has happened. Bear in mind this was written in December 2018 for the year ahead. (READ MORE –TruePublica)
‘National Crime Agency Officials Investigating Me Are Brexiteers’CLAIMED BREXIT ‘BAD BOY’ ARRON BANKS: Frankly, this explains a lot. Byline Times reports on claims made by the businessman Arron Banks that the UK’s specialist law enforcement organisation was politically compromised in its dealings with him and his Brexit campaign group (READ MORE – Byline Times)
Image of the week
We leave you with this image of your Prime Minister – covered in dandruff, sallow and anaemic looking and what’s that large open sore just above his wrist? He looks like he’s recovering from an enormous hangover. Have we ever seen a PM representing Gt.Britain in this state before?
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