Weekly News Review 20th – 26th September
Editors Weekly Poke
I have finally worked out the Boris Johnson/Dominic Cummings strategy for dealing with the Covid crisis, which is to confuse it into submission. In the space of six weeks (and after many U-turns and an assortment of different slogan driven instructions over 6 months), Brits have been told to work from home, not to work from home, to eat out and mingle and then stay in and report anyone mingling. Of course, the confusion doesn’t stop at a virus as most British residents are just as confused as well. This provides excellent cover for a PM who is, let’s be fair, in a very difficult situation politically, ideologically and economically. As he clearly has no idea what to do, his strategy is to make sure no-one else comes up with one that might work – so he’s trying them all and can then say he’s done his best.
The latest Covid action plan announced by the PM is one of self-discipline – wearing masks, curfews, the joy of six and so on. This is a plan that attempts to keep control of backbenchers in two distinct camps, with both focused on the economy and public health really a public relations exercise. This plan is about creating the ability to open and close local lockdowns not just on communities but for whole industries as well over a sustained and lengthy period. To all intents and purposes this is a herd immunity strategy, which, according to the National Academy of Sciences (HERE) is more or less defined as – “needing a constant adjustment of lockdown measures to ensure enough—but not too many—people are being infected at a particular point in time.” You might want to argue that point but what it looks like to me is that we’ve come full circle as this was the original plan. It is also worth noting that No.10 was briefed by Sweden’s controversial anti-lockdown epidemiologist Anders Tegnell in the run-up to Tuesday’s announcement of limited new COVID measures (source). Tegnell is an ardent advocate of the herd immunity strategy, the very same rolled out in Sweden (source – FT free to read article).
It’s been yet another extraordinary week. It wasn’t so long ago when Labour announced it had ideas of renationalising Britain’s railways, that the right-wing press choked on its Starbucks and immediately spewed out its bile about communists and a party full of ‘economic illiterates.’ The Daily Mail focused on the ‘Marxist Manifesto’ (source) as proof of a political insurgency that would lead to national ruin. It also highlighted ‘radical plans’ to renationalise trains amongst other things and even quoted that world-beating financial and mathematical guru, Priti Patel who said Labour – “would plunge this country into extortionate debt and deliver division and delay.” The result of having people like Patel in office is that her prediction came true, except it wasn’t Labour who delivered it. Then less than a year later you read these words in the same national tabloid – “Today we’ve ended the rail franchise system after a quarter of a century – it had become too fragmented, too complicated.” Yes, Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary has confirmed (source) that rail privatisation has completely failed and all but collapsed. The reality was this – the rail franchises privatised their profits – about £1.1million a day and nationalised their debts, ensuring the taxpayer stumped up about £13million a day (£5bn a year) even before they paid for a rail-ticket. And all this was before Covid19 (source). Now, CoVid is here, to stop a total collapse of the service itself, the government, (AKA the taxpayer) is to fork out another £3.5billion to bail it out and keep it going for another 18 months. This privatisation experiment, hailed as one of capitalisms finest moments, is laid bare for what it really is – a con. Some services cannot be privatised. The robustness of our national rail systems and public health has been tested by a bug. The former collapsed, the latter stood up to the challenge. The same can be said of the privatised Test and Trace system and the failure of Britain’s privatised water system (source), which has seen £57billion in profits handed to shareholders as complaints soar to record levels.
Polls are unanimous about one thing even if they are not about the actual numbers – Keir Starmer is progressing. He now leads Johnson on net-satisfaction and several key leadership qualities (source), and even the Sun gives the Labour leader a glowing write-up twice this last week (source). The Times has been less than supportive of Johnson and Cummings recently and it means something when Murdoch shifts position, which I said would be the case a few months ago (HERE). I also predicted that Sunak would delay the autumn budget as this would also delay Johnson’s post-Brexit reshuffle and this has also now been confirmed.
In the meantime, the Tories are driving themselves into oblivion. Both CoVid and Brexit will nationally disfigure the country and the Tories will be blamed for the mistakes, errors, lack of planning, corruption and incompetence. You can see why Tory MPs are getting all panicky (more below) and are now blaming hard-right headbangers such as the ERG and Co.
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A good example of just how badly the country is being managed is the new Kent border in preparation for Brexit announced by Michael Gove this Wednesday. The government has just months to build a 380-mile border in Kent – a mechanism for policing it – an internal passport system – and a software service for two and a half million lorries each year. It had twice as long to work out some average A-Level scores and look what happened there! You know it’s going to be a disaster and you know the government will blame the haulage industry.
Ironically, Kent, who overwhelmingly voted for Brexit, now has a number of huge lorry parks, miles of roads to be blocked with juggernauts, and what is effectively a new border which they are on the wrong side of (source). Just as ironic, is that the British monarchy, estimated to be worth over £70billion (source) is to be bailed out by the taxpayer. You couldn’t make it up, could you? All this as the national debt is to soar by £400bn by the year-end (more below).
Inside ‘Drowning’ Street
Russian Infiltrators: When did you ever think in your lifetime that you’d read these words in a national newspaper – and no-one even flinched – “the Conservative Party’s finances came under renewed scrutiny last night as it emerged that two of its MPs on the intelligence watchdog committee and 14 ministers had accepted donations linked to Russia.” (source) Yes, you read that right – two Tory ministers on the intelligence committee are in the pocket of Putin & Co. The disclosures came 24 hours after the intelligence and security committee published its long-delayed whitewash of redacted nonsense called the ‘Russia Report,’ which questioned whether the government “took its eye off the ball” by allowing oligarchs to invest billions of pounds in Britain and make high-level political connections. Of course, there’s no suspicion they took their eye off the ball for any reason other than to ensure they were not caught. It is clear that crooks, gangsters, hostile state-sponsored spooks and all manner of mobsters are now influencing what happens in Britain’s corridors of power.
Survival Mode: Chancellor Rishi Sunak was under considerable pressure from ministers and business leaders this week, more so since the PM warned the country it faces six months of new restrictions. It didn’t help that his chief medical officer strongly hinted that harsher measures are inevitable. The economy is now going to be hit very hard and Sunk has come up with the Winter Economy Plan. The main thrust of it is to replace the Furlough scheme with a wage subsidies programme to last until the end of March. Within hours Sunak was defending this decision (source). It was Sunak who succeeded in staving off a full second lockdown but still, business leaders are asking how they will survive both the Covid restrictions and Brexit and reach April without going bust. Many Tories did not want Johnson to commit to the six-month comment for fear of cratering what business confidence remains. This plan may well save some jobs, but now the announcement has been made – employers will now start redundancy plans immediately. Expect criticism of this half-hearted plan.
Borisky the Dictator: Boris Johnson is now surrounded by fires. They come in the form of Brexit, Covid and the economy amongst other things. And low and behold – now from his own backbenchers who now feel that by giving Johnson unprecedented powers by way of executive decision making over just about everything, it really amounts to having inadvertently elected a dictator (source). The Times describes it as a “Tory backbench revolt” (source) – the former president of the Supreme Court has said Parliament “surrendered” its role to the government at a crucial time during the pandemic, but now the country should return to “a properly functioning constitution.” And so, senior Tories are now plotting to stop Johnson from imposing things like lockdowns without the say of parliament. The Commons vote next Wednesday will be interesting as it looks as there are something like 50 Tory MPs rumoured to be ready to withhold support for the government’s legal extension of its lockdown powers. Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee said – “There is now no justification for ministers ruling by emergency powers without reference to normal democratic processes.” This could be a big blow to Borisky.
Johnson to Quit? The media are now going with the idea that Boris Johnson has had enough of being PM – will ‘get Brexit done’ and then leave Downing Street within six months. The Daily Express headlined on Tuesday that “Boris Johnson could mirror Harold Wilson and QUIT as Prime Minister: ‘He is hating it!’” (source). The Spectator, The New European, Metro, Guardian, Business Insider and Independent have all reported rumours that Johnson wants out. Complaining that he was unable to live properly on his meagre £150,000 salary was another hint. The money in betting circles agree. They saw a whopping 62% of bets placed at Britain’s biggest bookies that have even backed Johnson to leave before December 31st this year. That’s prompted bookies to cut odds on that happening from 6/1 earlier this month, into 4/1 (source) at the time of writing. The odds on Johnson remaining as PM during 2021 are now 8/1 or 2022 or after are drifting, from 1/2 out to 4/6 (source).
Keep an Eye On: The government will set out its view on statues, the ones people think are racist anyway, for the first time in parliament. This one is sure to stoke up the culture wars.
Agriculture: Some good news for once. The government has been heavily defeated in the Lords over a cross-party move to guarantee high food standards post-Brexit. “Peers backed by a majority of 95 a change to the Agriculture Bill aimed at blocking the import of foodstuffs produced abroad at lower animal welfare standards. Voting was 307 to 212 for an amendment requiring food products imported under future trade deals to meet or exceed domestic standards, to prevent U.K. farmers from being undermined.” When the bill gets back to the House of Commons, MPs will have to vote on whether to take the amendment out. If they do, and that looks increasingly likely, that would further limit a US/UK trade deal. This Bill only goes to show what the Tories have in mind, simply by passing it first time around in the Commons and presenting it to the Lords in the first place.
Deal or No Deal: The U.K. is no longer concerned the EU could block food exports if trade talks fail. It appears both sides have agreed terms and have moved on in the Brexit talks. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told British negotiators last week that it would have no issue getting “third country listing” for food exports. The negotiating teams have now closed round 8 – round 9 next week is starting on a more positive note. As it turns out, there are still bottlenecks in getting a deal – but some rumours are emerging, for the first time in ages, that a deal is now in sight – time will tell.
Banking: JPMorgan is moving about $230 billion from the U.K. to Frankfurt as a result of Brexit, a shift that will make it one of the largest banks in Germany. In January, the bank had also announced its significant expansion into Paris as part of plans to relocate some services from London after Brexit. Brexit has now caused something like $1trillion in cash and assets in the banking industry to be moved from the UK to the EU in preparedness for January 1st (source)
Red Tape: Some 51% of companies had not taken any steps recommended by the government to prepare for changes in the trade of goods, a new survey showed, with little more than three months to go before a shift in the terms of trade with the European Union. Britain told businesses on Wednesday to prepare for paperwork or face 100 km-long queues of lorries when the country’s post-Brexit transition arrangement ends. Even Reuters news agency reports that this had “prompted accusations that the government was setting up the industry to take the blame for any chaos from a botched Brexit” (source).
Kent Border: Brexit just keeps on serving up gems. Michael Gove has had to admit for the first time that police will now need to enforce a need for trucks to have a ‘Kent access permit’ at what is really a de-facto border. Gove said officers will use automatic number plate recognition cameras and “other means” to block drivers. Gove also admitted an expectation of 7,000-long lorry queues and two-day delays to cross the Channel. Just wait for the headlines as police start arresting British truckers for not having the permit. Many national papers are reporting that furious hauliers said they were being lined up to take the blame for the looming disruption (source).
Gibraltar Border: Another border now appears, this time we are informed by the Deputy Chief Minister of Gibraltar who explains how it will have to erect new border restrictions against goods coming from the UK in the event of no deal. Trucks will need to go through and then return through a border control post. In a rather bizarre statement, the Minister accuses Spain of using the border as a ‘weapon’ – probably because it is ready, whereas Gibraltar and Britain is not (source).
Rights Bonfire: Stormont passes a motion telling the government to implement the N.I. protocol in full and not undermine international law with its Internal Markets Bill. This, of course, means that if it passes the government will be breaching the principles of consent enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Fien’s Martina Anderson said “The Northern Ireland protocol was “an ugly compromise” which “mitigated” the worst effects of Brexit, she said, adding that it was “breathtaking” the scale of the damage done to lives and livelihoods by this “Brexit mess”. She said British ministers had “expressed an interest in lighting a bonfire under hard-won rights”, and urged the EU and the Irish Government to “stand firm” in defence of the peace process in opposition to the UK government’s “increasingly reckless” actions (READ MORE). Expect more trouble over this as the days continue.
Abandoning Brits Abroad: UK high street lenders have been accused of “outrageously failing” British expats living in Europe following reports last week that they would be shutting down their accounts after the UK leaves the EU at the start of 2021. “Most of the UK’s high street banks are plotting to unceremoniously abandon their customers across Europe within weeks,” says Nigel Green, the CEO and founder of deVere Group. “Once again, traditional banks are outrageously failing their clients.” It was reported Lloyds, Barclays and Coutts (Nat West) are among amongst those UK banks that have started giving notice to expatriate customers to say they will close their accounts at 11 pm on December 31 (source).
Inside the Economy
Half Dead: On Tuesday it was reported that the Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said “The UK economy can be viewed as a glass half full or half empty,” while speaking at a webinar hosted by the British Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday. On monetary policy, Bailey also admitted: “We have looked very hard at the scope to cut rates further, including negative interest rates.” The 2 per cent inflation target is one the BoE is keeping an eye on, as clearly the threat of applying negative interest rates would only mean that the threat of deflation has emerged and this is now a worry (source).
World-Beating: There are more UK companies listed in the leaked cache of documents about money laundering in the FinCEN Files than there were companies from any other country in the world. It should be of no surprise then that there were more UK companies in the Panama papers too. This is because the UK is the world’s biggest money launderer. The top three tax havens in the world are also British. Our whole economy is covered in dirty money. Housing, commercial property, land and all manner of businesses up and down the country are funded with hundreds of billions in money tarnished with human trafficking, drug cartels, terror finance and the type of criminal activity we should all be worried about. Politicians and the banksters in the City of London facilitate these crimes that are conducted on an industrial scale with complete impunity. Watch helplessly as absolutely nothing (source) is done about it (READ MORE).
UK/US Flight: The government is facing mounting pressure to roll out large scale coronavirus testing at airports after new research showed reduced travel just between the UK and US will cost the British economy upwards of £11bn this year alone. Plane tickets between the UK and US plummeted 92 per cent in April compared with the same period last year, the report found, with capacity still down 85 per cent in September. All this is hardly surprising though when you consider that Brits are currently banned from entering the US anyway (source).
UK Sell-Off: The British Pound fell sharply at the start of the new week as a deep stock market sell-off signalled a substantive negative shift in global investor mood while a warning on the rising rate of covid-19 infections from the Chief Medical Officer signalled fresh countrywide restrictions could be announced by the government, which it did. The massive sell-off was also prompted by bank stocks as investors are worried the sector is set for further substantial fines as a result of the publication of the FinCEN Files. The UK is the world’s key financing centre and boasts nearly half of the global daily foreign exchange transactions with the financial sector making up a greater proportion of the UK’s economy than it does for the U.S. and Eurozone. This puts the UK at risk of capital flight when events such as these occur, which is why Sterling crashed on the day of Brexit and never recovered (source).
National Debt: The latest national debt figures have just been revealed (Fri 25th). The ONS now says that the U.K. was £2,023.9 billion in the red at the end of August – 101.9 per cent of GDP, £249.5 billion more than at the same time last year. Borrowing in August is estimated to have been £35.9 billion, which is £30.5 billion more than in the same month in 2019. Borrowing for the first five months of this financial year is estimated to have been £173.7 billion — £146.9 billion more than for the same period last year, and the highest borrowing in any April to August period since records began. To compound the problem, government tax receipts are estimated to have been £37.3 billion in August 2020, £7.5 billion less than in August 2019 (source). The measures Rishi Sunak announced on Thursday are likely to add another £10 billion to the deficit this financial year. Latest estimates are that by the end of 2020/21 – £400billion will have been added to the national debt. “How it all gets paid for will be the mystery of our time,” said one senior Tory.
Inside the Media
Assange Support: Twelve current and former world leaders are among those calling on the UK Government to end extradition proceedings against Julian Assange, arguing that he should not be prosecuted for his political opinions or actions as a publisher. They were joined by 59 other heads of state, diplomats, ministers and parliamentarians past and present to object to the ongoing prosecution as it entered its third week at the Old Bailey. They echoed the words of former Brazillian leader Lula da Silva – “Assange needs to be defended by all of us who love democracy, who love freedom of the press, freedom of trade unions, who love freedom of organisation.” All this, whilst the British press remains largely silent about growing international condemnation of Assage’s persecution as Europe’s most high profile political prisoner (source).
Photographers – have objected to a new contract offered to regular contributors to News UK that they described as “exploitative” and “rights-grabbing.” The National Union of Journalists and British Press Photographers’ Association have joined together to ask the Times and Sun publisher to reconsider the terms, which they say will drastically reduce freelance photographers’ income by stripping away their rights to their commissioned work. The contract, seen by Press Gazette, formally grants the publisher exclusive syndication rights to sub-license and resell photographers material in perpetuity, with the photographer getting 50% of the syndication revenue but then unable to sell their own material – ever (source).
Conspiracies: People seeking absolutes in times of uncertainty are falling for conspiracies online. Disinformation analyst Ciaran O’Connor says extremist groups online are offering simple answers to complex questions at a time when many people are frustrated. This is an interesting read that looks at how these groups really only care about exploiting these situations to stoke fear amongst the public, destabilise communities, and capitalise on people’s concerns for their gain (READ MORE).
Conspiracy Theories Rocket: New lockdown rules in the UK have prompted claims of a government-imposed “curfew” and impending martial law from anti-lockdown and right-wing groups. A requirement for pubs and restaurants to close at 10 p.m. has led many such accounts to use hashtags such as #curfew and #10pmcurfew on Twitter. Similarly, former Ukip leader Gerard Batten joined cries to “save our pubs” led by anti-lockdown sources, claiming without evidence that pubs will be “forced to close.” A passing statement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that “military support” might be sought to enforce restrictions has also led to claims of martial law and “military dictatorship” from a range of accounts, with the hashtag #martiallaw trending in the UK with almost 16,000 tweets. The military support, at least initially, is expected to be reserved for duties such as guarding sensitive sites to free up police. One Twitter user posted a comparison of two graphics, which has been reshared hundreds of times, misleadingly claiming a version the government circulated in May was created in September. The other is, in fact, an image from the Daily Express newspaper.
Moonshot Monster: On 11th September the British Medical Journal published the leaked documents relating to Operation Moonshot. Stuff we know includes mass public testing which was supposed to reach 800,000 tests a day by December. The plan then states that there would be “full rollout” in early 2021 to 10 million tests a day, to “enable people to return to and maintain normal life.” At this stage, weekly testing would be made available progressively to the whole population to allow people to go to high risk events by using a “digital passport” or ‘immunity passport’ to show they have tested negative for the virus. Dominic Cummings and America’s Palantir will have access to this data, as will will every other government agency and will allow you to mingle – only if you have their ‘digital passport.’ G4S and Serco were to be given huge contracts. Read the BMJ document (HERE).
Gravy Train: Not overly reported is the basic fact that up to 750,000 requests for COVID tests a day remain unanswered and of course, as we all know the Test and Trace system has imploded. Serco has banned staff from talking to the media about it, but insiders have told of a serious lack of training in call centres and as you’d expect with contracts like this – poor treatment of staff. Is it of any surprise that a clause in Serco’s contact tracing deal allows them to rewrite key terms, simply requiring Serco to act “in good faith”? We shouldn’t forget that this is a company, permanently on a national gravy train, was fined more than £100 million in the last decade for fraud, false accounting and service failures (source).
Conflict of Interest? The government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance has a £600,000 shareholding in drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline, which has been contracted to develop a corona vaccine. He has already cashed in more than £5 million worth of shares he received from the company during his time as its president from 2012 until 2018. The government denies a conflict of interest (source).
Crony Capitalism: A pretty shocking statistic emerges in last week’s Observer relating to former CEO of Talk-Talk Dido Harding which smacks of yet more cronyism and less public health expertise: ‘Only one member of the executive committee of the NHS test-and-trace Service has a background in public health. A leak showed senior management is now stuffed with executives from Jaguar Land-Rover, Travelex, Waitrose and inevitably Talk-Talk (source). The editor of the Health Service Journal goes to great pains in a different article to point out that Dido Harding lied when giving her evidence to the Commons Science Committee over test and trace modelling – where she even said – “I strongly refute that the system is failing” – just as it was confirmed it has completely failed (source).
Trust Plummet: The Financial Times reported a sharp slowdown in the release of covid-19 tests in England hit efforts to stop the virus – the proportion of people getting positive results by the end of the day after being tested plummeting from 63 per cent to 8 per cent (source). In another confusing twist, it turns out that the tests have been calculated using the time taken to return positive tests only, which is a small fraction of total tests taken. As former Dept of Health and Social Care chief statistician Jon Hannah memorably wrote of the DHSC’s earlier work on testing data, “I’m looking at a piece of monitoring data having its definition altered only days prior to the target in abject horror. I was already wary of shenanigans, but this really should be the end of public trust in DHSC stats” (source).
Who Cares: The public has now wearied of Covid, government warnings, changes of guidance and laws and of course the health implications that come with it and decided to do as they please. It appears that just 18% of people with COVID symptoms adhere to self-isolation, and only 11% adhere to quarantine if contacted by test and trace (source).
Could It Get Any Worse…
£1bn a day: Brexit means Britain pulling out of the EU’s Galileo satellite system. And so, Boris Johnson and Cummings have blown half a billion of much-needed taxpayers cash investing in a different satellite system that was practicallt bankrupt – called OneWeb. Despite BBC News reporting that “the OneWeb service would be back-up for GPS in case it is attacked or fails”, most experts in the field are warning that it is no such thing. One expert says – “This situation looks like nationalism trumping solid industrial policy.” If this venture fails, which looks likely – having no GPS backup – according to the Government’s own commissioned research, will cost the UK economy an estimated £1 billion a day. “It would have significant impacts on critical UK infrastructure, resulting in vulnerabilities in telecommunication networks, compromised power distribution across the electric grid and as far as access to cash from SWIFT-based ATMs” the government claims. In the latest twist, it now appears, the government has changed its mind and thinking of something else – to be announced later this year – possibly (source) (source) (READ MORE).
Importing Sewage: The UK is importing thousands of tonnes of sewage sludge to be used on farmland despite serious health and environmental concerns over the controversial practice, Unearthed can reveal. Documents obtained using freedom of information rules show that the Environment Agency (EA) has approved shipments that would see the arrival of 27,500 tonnes of sewage waste “for agricultural benefit” from the Netherlands, a country which has effectively banned the use of sludge from human sewage over concerns about toxicity. The sludge arrived even as the Environment Agency was grappling with numerous safety and environmental concerns raised by its own unpublished report into UK-based landspreading (READ MORE).
Putin’s Puppets: There are two countries heavily implicated in fraudulent activity and the funding of illegal campaigning leading up to Brexit. The first, and by far is America. Its role in funding right-wing free-market fundamentalism is a matter so heavily documented there is no need to expand on it here (READ MORE). The other is Russia – but its involvement was more about breaking down unified political systems such as the EU, the principles of democracy and justice. The Russia Report was, at best, a complete whitewash that sought to protect a government guilty of accepting dodgy donations. It turns out, more and more keep emerging. The husband of one of the Conservative Party’s biggest donors was secretly funded by a Russian oligarch with close ties to President Putin. Lubov Chernukhin has given £1.7m to the Tories, including paying to spend time with the last three prime ministers. Leaked files show her husband received $8m (£6.1m). The money initially came from a politician facing US sanctions due to his closeness to the Kremlin (source).
Pool Party: After all the damage former PM David Cameron has done to the country it may irk some that as a result of windfall income from book sales (about how he fixed broken Britain), he plans to build a heated swimming pool with an estimated price tag of £50,000 in his garden. The Times reports that he wants – “to hire a team of “pool professionals” whose “workmanship is second to none” to install the 45ft by 13ft pool with a black tiled interior, at his £1.5m country home (source).
Thought Of The Week
If ever you want to understand exactly how it is that Britain is in the position it is now in, look no further than Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns, the deputy chair of the ERG who worked alongside Mark Francois. These are the people who feel a hard Brexit will simply never be hard enough. Don’t forget, this is a British Member of Parliament whose stoking of the culture wars that so divides this country is laid bare when she declares that someone like James O’Brian (Journalist/LBC radio presenter) is somehow ‘anti-British’ for pointing out that Brexit has already damaged the economy, is ruining Britain’s international standing and will take away everyone’s hard-won rights. Jenkyns says – “Oh mister Wokeman, We will continue to take a stand against you and your anti-Britsh, anti-free speech agenda. Socialism is not the answer and time will demonstrate what a real idiot you are!” (source).
These culture wars are a deliberate political strategy. It’s how they got into power and how they intend to stay there. For as long as the Boris Johnson-Dominic Cummings administration in is Downing Street it will continue purposefully to divide us into warring tribes. It does so knowing it fully sustains the fine electoral balances needed to give it life. By keeping politics fractured along these cultural and binary divides such as left/right, remain/leave, young/old, black/white and so on – it will be able to maintain the support it enjoys, composed mainly, for the time being at least, of Tory and Leave voters. For Starmer and anyone serious about Labour getting back into power and healing the nation – it is important not to engage in these tactics – but simply to focus on their actual failures – their disastrous errors that have cost lives, their cronyism and corruption and their lying and deceit. By focusing on facts of failure and throwing it back at them – the culture war strategy starts to break down.
- Due to CoVid – more than one in ten workers are still on furlough, more than one in seven businesses are still not trading, a quarter of businesses in food service or accommodation at a severe or moderate risk of insolvency. In addition, 3 million freelancers and self-employed people have not received a single penny of support in over six months.
- More than 99% of businesses in the British economy are small to medium-sized enterprises. They number 5.9 million across the UK, employing 16 million people.
- New Zealand’s economy shrank at a record 12.2% in the June quarter due to one of the world’s toughest Covid-19 lockdowns. By contrast, the UK economy shrank 20.5% when it was in the pub.
- Job prospects are at their worst in 50 years. There were 2,932 applicants for a single warehouse job in Northumberland, 2,653 applicants for a factory job in Sunderland, 2,154 applicants for an administrative job in Coventry and 15,000 applicants for 10 assembly operative jobs in Birmingham (source).
- The cost of the UK’s wage subsidies for workers has surpassed £50billion, that lay bare the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. The government’s flagship furlough program, due to end on Oct. 31 has received claims totalling £39.3billion, according to data released by HMRC. Help for the self-employed totalled £13.4billion, bringing total spending on supporting workers to £52.7billion (source).
- Vacancies in Britain’s tech sector have jumped 36% in the past two months, according to analysis by entrepreneur network Tech Nation. UK digital minister Oliver Dowden dubbed the IT industry an “engine of job creation,” with more vacancies than any other bar healthcare on jobs site Adzuna in August (source).
- Tesla chief Elon Musk has promised “insane” battery news at a streamed event after the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting last Tuesday. Speculation includes that Tesla will announce it has come up with ways to pack more energy into battery cells, slash production cost and dramatically extend battery life (source)
- An international research team has developed “electronic skin” sensors capable of mimicking the dynamic process of human motion. This work could help severely injured people, such as soldiers, regain the ability to control their movements, as well as contribute to the development of smart robotics, according to Huanyu “Larry” Cheng, Dorothy Quiggle Early Career Professor in the Penn State Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics (source).
- Codem Composites, of Peterborough, has used the lockdown to focus its skills on the development of a portable disinfection solution that is proven to kill Covid-19. It has just launched the portable, battery-operated EosTower system that provides a quick way of disinfecting surfaces within enclosed spaces – ideal for industries that deal with a high turn-around of users (source).
- A new technology is offering a completely new way to monitor sleep. The technology has the potential to act as a medical device, as well as a personal one, helping those with Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, or bedsores. It can monitor someone’s sleep and inform them which positions help them to be well-rested (source).
Quotes of the Week
“Transparency International UK’s research has previously identified 86 UK banks and financial institutions which have, unwittingly or otherwise, helped corrupt individuals acquire assets and move suspicious wealth.” Duncan Hames –Director of Policy at Transparency UK – referring to the FinCen Files (source).
“The government can’t expect people to make sacrifices and follow the rules over lockdown if it is happy to break the law over Brexit.” Conservative MP Rehman Chishti who has resigned from his Special Envoy post over the Internal Market Bill (source).
“Is it too much to ask for a careful, considered, serious, not kneejerk, not tribal, open debate about whether and how and when and where to do the next lockdown?” – Jim Pickard, Chief Political Correspondent, Financial Times (source).
“Trade deals are nice to have but not essential. We didn’t have a trade deal with the USA when in the EU. Getting back full control of our laws, our money and our borders is essential.” Brexit jihadist and Tory MP John Redwood finally admits that there is no ‘oven-ready’ deal or any trade deal for that matter (source).
“Despite accounting for 4 per cent of the global population, the U.S. has now recorded about 20 per cent of the world’s coronavirus deaths.” A sobering statistic from POLITICO’s U.S. team.
Recommended Weekend Reading
Satelite Lite: Losing the European Galileo GPS system as a result of Brexit is set to cost the UK £1 billion every day due to affected sat navs, mobile apps and aircraft tech, research reveals. The Spaceport Case File looks at the space sector in the UK, including how the encrypted system was planned to enhance Britain’s critical applications once fully operational in 2026, including military drones, autonomous vehicles and commercial uses. With an over-reliance on a political advisor with a history of crashed projects – Dominic Cummings decision to bank on this failure is a clear sign of what a mess Brexit is leading to in future (READ MORE).
Ponzi Plus: Its an astonishing story, one that you might think was from a novel or Hollywood epic. The FinCEN Files probe reveals Europe’s biggest bank aided a massive Ponzi scheme while the bank itself was on probation over ties to drug kingpins and money laundering operations. But that did not stop it from carrying on right under the noses of watchdogs. Britain’s biggest bank moved vast sums of money even after paying its biggest fine for laundering the cash of all manner of criminal ops (READ MORE).
Weaponing Migrants: It has long been recognised that electoral politics can play a decisive role in determining the geographical allocation and distribution of public goods. However, surprisingly little research has gone into investigating how the distribution of asylum seekers into the UK is being used as a political weapon – especially since the distribution was privatised by this government. The London School of Econimics looks at how areas considered ‘loyalists’ and swing voters can be rewarded by diverting unwanted social and economic costs away from them in return for votes (READ MORE).
How British Ministers, Spies, Oligarchs, Bankers and Russian Diplomats Colluded Over Brexit: Just as yet more news arrives of Russian ‘businessmen’ throwing cash at Tory MP’s – we shouldn’t forget the words of a British man on the run from Putin and Co – “London is one of the main outposts for Russian financial and political influence programmes in the west and it’s floating on a tide of dirty money. All the oligarchs have bases there, they all have homes. All the professional service firms are in London – lawyers, investigations agencies – all running private influence ops on behalf of the oligarchs who are working on behalf of Putin. There’s a huge reluctance in Britain to strangle the golden goose. Because a lot of people very close the centre of power are financially benefiting.” This is a fascinating story of what was reported two years ago as speculation and now accepted as fact (READ MORE).
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