Weekly News Review 14th – 20th November
Editors Weekly Poke: The big news of the week continues to focus on government spending on PPE contracts, the potential of new vaccines to fight the global pandemic and the reality of Brexit. The mainstream media has finally picked up on the PPE corruption story because the National Audit Office found firms recommended by MPs, peers and ministers’ offices were given contest free contracts worth billions. It’s a bit late.
What angers so many people is that the week before ended with Rishi Sunak briefing the newspapers for public reaction on what huge taxes he can get away with to pay for the pandemic. No mention of grabbing back any money from the banks that the taxpayers saved from oblivion a decade ago, or the offshorers (like himself), or corporations who make big money in Britain and find ways not to pay their taxes. There’s talk of taxing the profits on your home or buy-to-let as a British citizen but not if you’re a Russian oligarch, a corrupt Chinese official or a warmongering psycho gun-runner from Africa or Asia that between them have hoovered up thousands of city properties with laundered cash. There’s talk of raiding pension pots after a lifetime of work and saving but not of grabbing back taxpayers cash from the fake companies of Tory donors awarded huge Covid contracts that didn’t deliver or the slick City money laundering operations through Britain’s ‘services’ industry.
As for the vaccine, the markets have gone wild on a wave of optimism. But, as the first vaccines become available in the type of quantity needed for whole countries, the focus will shift from the huge effort of developing them to the massive task of distributing them. Not only will this be another opportunity for yet more corruption but fights within and between countries over who should get them and when will no doubt emerge. Many normal minded people are also worried about the effects of anti-vaxxers on immunising the country – but fear not. Of 13 groups on the vaccine list, starting off with front-line medics, the over 80s in care homes will be next. Then its anyone in care homes, then the over 75s, then over 65s, then vulnerable groups and so on – the anti-vaxxers demographic are last but one the list. So don’t listen to their complaints about being forced to have a shot in the arm because the vast majority won’t be offered one in the first place. Take for instance that highly corrosive and deliberately divisive character Laurence Fox who is bleating on about his rights and stoking fears into those who don’t know better over ‘mandatory’ vaccines – when no such thing will happen – and he knows it. (source). Even his agent has dropped him, presumably in fear of the reputational damage (source) of even being associated with him.
Another big story this week is Jeremy Corbyn being expelled from the Labour party, and there are key questions that need to be answered. Will the Keir Starmer blocking Corbyn’s return to the Labour benches cause a civil war? Does Starmer stick to the line that he doesn’t want all the attention to constantly focus on Corbyn, but then risk his MPs’ anger if he lets him back into the Parliamentary Labour Party? Corbyn is much loved on the far left of the party – but the reality is that his stance on Brexit ended up pushing many centrists, including millions of Labour supporters to vote for Johnson to end the misery of Brexit. In the middle of a pandemic, Starmer should be focusing on the opposition in Westminster, not in his own party.
In the meantime, Boris Johnson – free of the toxicity of Cummings has attempted to up his popularity game by announcing his ‘green industrial revolution.’ As is typical of Johnson – this is mostly gas and air (no pun intended) and won’t really do much. If anything, it will add to Britain falling down the rankings against its European peers. The announcement included offshore wind, hydrogen, nuclear, electric vehicles, public transport, cycling and walking, jet zero and greener maritime, green homes and public buildings, carbon capture, nature, innovation and finance. The total package is worth £12bn – about the same amount spent on a failed App to test and trace or on dodgy PPE contracts awarded to Tory donors. Both France and Germany are eclipsing Britain’s green efforts with new money at £40bn and £45bn respectively in a much shorter time-scale of spending. Worse, this package that Johnson has announced is really only giving £4bn in new green money, the rest was previously in the pipeline already.
Worse again – Boris Johnson was not only advised by the fossil fuel industry and their lobbyists on the ‘green industrial revolution, but he then picked a pro-fracking Tory MP who spent years campaigning against wind farms as the new ‘climate change champion.’ At this point – you get the feeling Johnson is simply trolling the country and having a laugh (source).
This week, Johnson has also announced £16bn of new money in military spending and then two days later announced that a public sector wage cap is to implemented affecting 4 million workers, showing that austerity is very much back on the agenda – and only goes to show that nothing has changed. Warfare still trumps the welfare of the nation. To fund these ‘initiatives’ the foreign aid budget worth about £14bn will be raided (screw poverty and Global Britain’s soft power), so will pension pots (screw the elderly) and new taxes through capital gain on things like selling shares (screw Thatchers share-owning privatisation project).
Yesterday, an official inquiry concluded that Priti Patel had seriously breached the ministerial code by bullying civil servants. Boris Johnson will make the mistake of backing her to the hilt. If any other employer in the land had gone for an investigation of senior personnel bullying staff – that individual would be summarily dismissed on the spot. This example demonstrates the culture shift of seeing Dominic Cummings fired has not changed anything. The most damaging information in the Whitehall investigation will not be made public and there are still legal cases going against the government in this respect. Patel is accused of belittling officials in meetings, making unreasonable demands, creating an “atmosphere of fear” and being disrespectful of colleagues in multiple government departments (source).
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DisUnion: Johnson has also announced another new initiative by launching a “Union Task Force” to better make the case for the United Kingdom and try to crush the nationalist’s rebellion north of the border and therefore stop Scottish Independence (source). Leaving aside that Scottish independence is now much more heavily backed since Johnson came to power and in the realms of 60/40 – how much would I bet on this initiative failing? Everything – that’s what. This is because the government has repeatedly failed to achieve anything tangible on the same initiative because they’ve never taken it seriously.
October 2019 – The ‘Union Unit; is announced (source) — “To strengthen the Union and Scotland’s place in the U.K., the Government has established a Union Unit within Downing Street. The unit is tasked with reviewing the impact of all policy proposals on the Union, ensuring all nations and regions are taken into consideration” (Failed).
July 2020 – ‘Union Policy Implementation Committee’ (source) — “A new cabinet group has been set up to promote Boris Johnson’s agenda and devise policies that will enhance the UK government’s standing in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland” (Failed).
October 2020,’ another ‘Union Unit’ is launched (source) — “Michael Gove has ordered the creation of a unit to fight Scottish independence as concern grows that the government is failing to defend the Union” (Failed).
This latest iteration has failure built into it.
Fxck Business: Industry body Logistics UK has reacted with “incredulity” to the announcement by the government last week of the setting up of the ‘Brexit Business Task Force’ with just a little over 30 working days remaining until the end of the Brexit transition period. Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said the new ‘task force’ is intended to help provide clarity on new rules after the UK leaves the EU. It met last week for the first time, with businesses and senior ministers attending and they managed to agree to convene each week into next year. Logistics UK’s CEO, David Wells, commented: “At this point in time, business needs direction and decisions by government, not another set of meetings. With information still needed from government and decisions required on GB-Northern Ireland trade, this feels like nothing more than a smokescreen to cover up the government’s complete lack of focus on the issues which will hit the UK hard come 1 January 2021″. If ever there was a sign that the Tory party are unconcerned about the economic health of the nation – here is a fine example (source).
Brexit Ship Jumpers. In our article this week we highlighted some of the swivel-eyed Brexiteers who ploughed millions into getting Brexit over the line – only to realise what a dog’s dinner the reality was and moved to sunnier climes. We forgot to add Britain’s richest ‘Sir’ Jim Radcliffe (source). We also forgot to mention Christopher Chandler – the funder and boss of the Legatum Institute which so heavily advocated for Brexit – who has since bought EU citizenship in Malta for him and family. It also turns out, Chandler is accused of having links to Russian intelligence – and the finger-pointing comes from a Tory MP (source). As it turns out, the Maltese are not happy with their new citizen, who is, in fact, ironically now a family of political and economic immigrants (source).
Realm of Nightmares – If you are connected to the industry of musicians, performers and their technicians, including dancers, actors and singers – Brexit is an epic disaster. To go to an EU member state and do a gig, from January 1st you’ll need a passport with at least 6 months left on it, full travel health insurance, a work visa for each individual state you wish to perform in along with a work permit (due to individual state taxation rules). If you play an instrument, you’ll need an ‘ATA Carnet’ for it, to cross the EU border and any within the EU thereafter. This applies to all kinds of professional equipment you may need. You get an ATA Carnet from the London Chamber of Commerce & Industry and they cost £351.60 each (or £562.80 for their express 2-hour service) and they only last 12 months. If by chance your band, troupe or group are large enough to need a truck to haul your kit around – the paperwork alone is in the realm of nightmares, especially if crossing into more than one EU member state, which is too long to explain here (source).
What is government for? The basic function of government is to protect its citizens from all sorts of threats. One of these is quite obviously food security. Without food – riots and looting turn into violent crime and the destabilisation of civil society and national security. You can see that from many countries around the world over the decades. But when it comes to Brexit and the serious threat of food shortages building right now – the government has decided it “is not responsible for the supply of food and drink to the population in an emergency” (source). Excusing the lack of journalistic professionalism here – but what the hell is the government for, if not for this?
Organic Death: Talking of food – if the UK does not achieve recognition equivalency from the EU in a trade deal, exporters of organic food will not be able to export organic food or feed to the EU from 1 January 2021. As organic food exporters sell over 50 per cent of their goods to the EU the entire industry is facing strangulation by regulation but more importantly – will lose the bulk of its consumers at the stroke of midnight (source).
Free Ports – The UK government has invited bids for freeports (source). They are the making of scandals – almost always financial scams and hiding criminally acquired goods and assets to be hidden from the authorities. This is nothing new. The EU allowed them but ditched them years ago because of the criminality they bring. Free ports effectively create a state within a state with no or low taxes regimes to protect them and an architecture of deregulation pitched against others outside it. Free ports take a cost free-ride on built infrastructure financed by others. It is a sign of the rise of unfair competition and rigged markets. It only shows what’s happening – Brexit Britain is a race to the bottom. Free ports make no money and employ so few as to be worthless to the economy. Good for crime and tax-dodgers though.
Russian Influence to Reign. Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian who owns the Evening Standard and Independent newspaper titles, whose father is a well known Moscow intelligence operative is to be sworn in as a member of the House of Lords on December 17 for supporting BJ into No10. The ceremony is going ahead despite recent revelations about Lebedev’s drug and drink-fuelled parties and Boris Johnson who is known to attended and is a great pal of Lebedev. The concerns of the British security services in the Russia Report were not just redacted, they weren’t published. We shouldn’t forget that Johnson was sidelined as Foreign Secretary under Theresa May because of these same security concerns. Now we have a Russian connected to Moscow making decisions over laws about British national security – and somehow that’s not a national security concern!!
The curse of ‘Failing Grayling’: Retailers, shipping and haulage companies have complained of “chaos” at Felixstowe Port in Suffolk, affecting goods in the run-up to Christmas. The owner, Hutchison Ports, blames pre-Brexit stockpiling and the pandemic. Freight manager Matt Hudson warned that “if the chaos continues, increased shipping prices will be passed on to consumers”. A Taiwanese shipping firm called Evergreen directed one of its ships to bypass Felixstowe because of “serious port congestion”. The ship’s cargo was then unloaded in Rotterdam instead and ferried back to the UK via London’s Thamesport. The reason for all the chaos – Two months ago, the former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling was hired to advise the port’s parent company Hutchison Ports Europe, which is based in London (source). The register of MPs’ financial interests shows he’s being paid £100,000 for “around seven hours” of work per week (source).
Standards of Living: Thanks to Brexit, Gove, Johnson, Cummings, Rees-Mogg, Farage, Banks, Wigmore, Putin, Elliott and a few others: per capita drop income in the UK has dropped considerably in the four years since they illegally dragged Brexit over the line. Britain is the 5th (or 6th depending on what you read) richest nation on earth but is now 21st in the world for per capita income and 27th in the world for what you can buy with that income. From the fifth-largest economy, British people are not doing well. And far from ‘taking back control’ – Brexit will only make matters worse (source).
Reality Check: Going on from standards of living here is the reality check of Brexit. By Q4 2018 net borrowing in the UK was the highest in the OECD at 5% of GDP as trade started to falter, companies exited and assets transferred. Unlike its European peers, UK households had been in deficit for an unprecedented nine quarters in a row. This is the first time since the Great Recession, that the country was no longer making a profit on its foreign investments. Then the pandemic hit and Britain did worse than all of its peer nations (source – scroll to 2009-2020).
Wheels Within Wheels – Right-wing Conservatives in the USA have found a new home on a new social media platform called ‘Parler’ which is rife with misinformation (source). Parler bills itself as “unbiased social media” and a place where people can “speak freely and express yourself openly without fear of being ‘de-platformed’ for your views.” It looks like a mashup of Twitter and Instagram. It turns out Parler is funded by the former owners of Cambridge Analytica – the same company deeply involved in the Facebook data theft scandal involved in Brexit. It’s backed by the Mercer family – the same family who has heavy involvement with Peter Theil’s Palantir – the company now stripping national health care records from the UK (source – Into the heart of the NHS – an American backed spy programme at the centre of Brexit).
Quote of the week
“Unqualified chum put in charge of test and trace, political adviser given PPE contracts, lobbyist attends daily health dept briefings, minister and PM chum plot to give chum planning permission illegally. No 10 too busy screaming at each other to notice. Country goes to hell.” Lord Falconer, former Lord Chancellor and the first Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs in 2003.