Tom Peck writes in the Independent: “Boris Johnson’s position on Brexit is still meaningless garbage. He still wants to ‘disaggregate bits of the withdrawal agreement’. He still wants to deal with the Irish border question ‘during the implementation period’, all the while continuing to have ‘frictionless trade’ with the European Union.”
Ian Lavery writes in the Guardian: “Theresa May has bottled it. She’s realised her deal is so disastrous that she has taken the desperate step of delaying her own vote at the 11th hour.
“For weeks, she has insisted that her Brexit deal is the best possible deal, even though it’s opposed by most people in her party and across the country.
“Four days ago the prime minister confirmed the vote would go ahead, and her cabinet and spokespeople spent the weekend insisting it would go ahead as planned. The government is in such disarray that one of its ministers found out about the cancelled vote live on television, while sitting on the BBC’s Politics Live sofa.
“Her efforts to win round MPs have had the reverse effect, driving up numbers in the ever-growing list of Tory MPs attacking the deal. However, May has finally managed to bring the country together. People on all sides of the Brexit debate who have been bitterly divided since June 2016 have united in opposition to her deal.
“We have known for at least two weeks that the prime minister’s worst-of-all-worlds deal was going to be rejected by parliament. So why did she stick her head in the sand, only to pull out at the last minute?
“I’ve had deja vu from when she insisted for months that she would not call a general election, and then suddenly moved to dissolve parliament. We can’t trust a word she or her team say.”
Video from BBC Newsnight: Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee tells truths about former Tory Chancellor George Osborne, to his face, on BBC Newsnight.
MUST WATCH – Polly Toynbee attacks former Chancellor George Osborne over his treatment of the poorest people in the country. Full discussion here: https://bbc.in/2Q8Mfho
Posted by BBC Newsnight on Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Video via B Heard Media: Jacob Rees-Mogg claims to be a “champion” for voters who don’t share his privileges in life, on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine Show. The Daily Mirror’s Kevin Maguire sets the record straight deliciously.
WATCH: Daily Mirror's Kevin Maguire challenge Jacob Rees-Mogg – who says he's a "champion" of the people – on various #Tory policies, notably bedroom tax."Do you feel guilty you made their lives harsher?"#ToriesMustGo
Posted by B Heard Media on Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Owen Jones writes in the Guardian… According to a report commissioned by the Lloyds Bank Foundation, almost all the reduction in spending on disadvantaged people has been in the most deprived fifth of local authorities in England.
According to Newcastle’s council leader, Nick Forbes, his local authority will lose the equivalent of £268 per household by 2020. In relatively affluent, Tory-held Wokingham, the cut will be just £2. That leaves Newcastle with similar spending power as Wokingham, even though it has four times as many looked-after children and three times as many adults receiving social care. As Forbes puts it to me, if Newcastle wanted to counter the funding collapse by increasing council tax by 1%, it would raise about £1m. The same rise in leafy Surrey might expect to bring in more than £13m.
Take Salford, which is in the top 5% most deprived councils, and where rough sleeping has surged by 600% in the last five years. The causes are clear: cuts to council housing, benefits and council budgets. According to the new report, nearly half of spending on preventing homelessness has gone in favour of a 56% rise in spending on homelessness support.
“Local government is only making ends meet by robbing Peter to pay Paul,” explains the Lloyds Bank Foundation’s policy director, Duncan Shrubsole. “They’re now at a tipping point. If you’re having to cut preventative funding, to stop someone being homeless in the first place, to put more money into crisis – well, you can’t keep doing that.”
Editorial from The Guardian: The true costs of many of the cuts are only now being fully revealed.
Unemployment support and the other payments that make up the UK’s system of social security were the number one target for reductions in spending, with legal aid and grants to local councils not far behind. Figures produced last year by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that the Department for Work and Pensions will have had a real-terms cut in its budget of almost 50% between 2010-11 and 2019-20. And local government leaders warn that they face a financial black hole, with county councils citing a £3.2bn funding gap over the next two years.
Universal credit, the flagship welfare reform of the coalition, is a disaster.
Meanwhile, mounting chaos in the justice system is finally attracting public attention. Last month the government stripped the private contractor G4S of responsibility for Birmingham prison, admitting that officers there had effectively lost control. This followed an announcement that the partial privatisation of probation services has failed and will be reversed. This week MPs debated a review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act amid rising concerns over the impact of legal aid cuts, including the phenomenon of “advice deserts” in parts of the country where services have virtually ceased to exist.
Now council leaders are warning that children’s services face a tipping point, with 90 children entering care every day.
“As we suffer in the heatwave and Greece burns, the Tories are signing off a fracking bill that is laughable”
Harry Cockburn writes in The Independent: “In Greece, the death count may reach triple figures. Wildfires have melted cars, wiped villages off the map and decimated families… What could our governments do to alleviate the carnage? What about some fracking? What about pumping millions upon millions of gallons of water and chemicals down into earth to break rocks to release gas which we can then burn?”
“Tell Sid the Tories have shafted us with failing privatised services on railways, energy, water and telecoms”
Jason Beattie writes in the Daily Mirror: It was not supposed to be this way. In 1986, the Government launched the “Tell Sid” campaign to encourage people to buy shares in British Gas. There were wall-to-wall TV ads promoting Thatcher’s dream of a share-owning democracy. One by one, our public utilities, described by Harold Macmillan as the family silver, were sold off.
Frances Ryan writes in the Guardian: “The irony of Esther McVey‘s current brazen predicament can hardly be lost on most jobseekers. If someone on universal credit made an error – no matter how slight or unintentional – they would be hauled in front of an official, and promptly have their benefits sanctioned. If a cabinet member gives false information to parliament – of significant proportion and even knowingly – they can get away with it with barely a slapped wrist.
“There’s a worry that the sheer scale of Theresa May’s Brexit disaster, coupled with the depth of her cabinet infighting, means McVey’s actions are already the political equivalent of tomorrow’s chip paper. These are, after all, not typical times.
“In any other government, Johnson would not have been allowed the dignity of resignation: he’d have been sacked months ago. At any other point, McVey’s actions would, at a minimum, lead a prime minister to launch an investigation into whether one of her officials knowingly lied to parliament. Yet against this current crop, McVey can misrepresent an independent body’s report in order to hide the failings of her department and still have competition to appear the most incompetent or unethical cabinet member.
Guardian editorial: “Mr Johnson is the most overrated politician in Britain, especially by himself. He was an embarrassingly useless foreign secretary. He diminished Britain’s standing in the world and he diminished his own reputation by the way he played his role, not least by his praise for Donald Trump. He was simply not up to the job. But Boris Johnson does not do serious. He does self-interest. The British government is better off without him. The Tory party should not deceive itself that he is the answer to its problems.”
Simon Jenkins writes in the Guardian: “What kind of country gets a politician rather than a doctor to prescribe medicine for a sick child? When the home secretary, Sajid Javid, decided at the weekend to allow 12-year-old Billy Caldwell “one bottle” of cannabis oil, his spokeswoman said it was an exceptional case to meet “a short-term emergency”. The only emergency was to the home secretary’s reputation. Britain is like a banana republic, in which politicians, not judges, decide who goes to jail.
“This is inhuman and absurd. The reason for Caldwell’s treatment has nothing to do with cannabis and everything to do with ministerial terror of seeming ‘soft on drugs’. This terror is now archaic. Public opinion has moved on. So-called recreational cannabis is as freely available on Britain’s streets as cigarettes and alcohol. It is available in schools and universities, clubs and festivals. Most British police forces turn a blind eye to modest possession.
Jess Phillips writes in the Guardian… “In a week of so much parliamentary nonsense, we rounded off with Sir Christopher Chope objecting to the law that would have stopped perverts taking pictures up women’s skirts. That parliament still has procedures that allow bills to be stopped by one backbencher is one in a long list of stupidities about our parliament. I’d explain it to you but I don’t understand it and, unlike Chope, I have a life.
“The bunch of MPs who spend their Fridays filibustering to dismantle the hard work of backbenchers trying to change the country claim that they do it for parliamentary scrutiny. They invent a million ways of exclaiming that the only reason they stop new laws is because they find some tiny element of the bill imperfect. Have a look at Hansard from any Friday and see Chope and Philip Davies intervening on each other over tiny detail, then constantly congratulating the other for their brilliance like some kind of legislative circle jerk.
Polly Toynbee writes in the Guardian: “Amber Rudd, in her car-crash replies to Yvette Cooper’s forensic questioning on Wednesday, was forced to admit that she had a target for removals: this year it is 12,000 people.
“[…] From inside the Home Office comes evidence that hard targets were pinned on immigration officers’ walls. Of course they went after ‘low-hanging fruit’, those easy to find because they had lived here for ever, paying income tax and council tax; the older, the easier. Gotcha!”
Polly Toynbee writes in The Guardian… Another young person killed in the escalating epidemic of violence. The cause? Take your pick.
The right blames Theresa May for easing up on stop and search for weapons – though she knew there is no evidence that it catches or deters, while it fuels anti-police anger. Others suggest decriminalising drugs would destroy the trade that underpins this mayhem.
Unless you think nothing works, shutting down most youth services, including successful programmes to tackle gang violence, was always likely to ricochet back. Youth services went first in the post-2010 slash-and-burn of council budgets. The young poor were early targets for all benefits cuts: their education maintenance allowance went – up to £30 a week for 16- to 19-year-olds from lowest-income families to keep them in education, covering travel, lunches, books and pocket money. Their families lost child tax credits, child benefit and housing benefit, and were often forced to move and move again.
Causes are always complex – but does anyone think those cuts had zero effect on young teenagers turning to gangs, drug-dealing and local identity wars, seeking a fleeting sense of respect as so much was taken away?
From The Independent: After eight years of austerity from the Tories it’s clear that the Government has abandoned local communities to fend for themselves.
Owen Jones talks on BBC Newsnight about media framing of Jeremy Corbyn‘s response to the Russian spy poisoning.
James Moore writes in the Independent… “Being poor is a killer. Quite literally and when it comes to life expectancy the rich are getting richer and, well, you know the rest of it don’t you.”
Polly Toynbee writes in the Guardian: “Doctors and managers around the country are warning they have never seen it so bad, so many sick people in long trolley queues, ambulances stacked up outside, no beds free. And so far, though there are more flu cases, there is no flu epidemic. This is normal winter: what’s abnormal is the longest squeeze in funding the NHS has ever known. The lack of nurses and doctors was planned: cutting nurse training was one of the first acts of the Cameron government in 2010.
“Seasoned observers doubted the feasibility of the Blair-Brown pledge to bring waiting times down to a maximum 18 weeks, cancer waits to two weeks, A&E to four hours. But by pledging to raise NHS funding to EU average levels, they did it. Waiting lists were all but abolished.
“But that’s a distant golden age: since 2010 the NHS has gone into steady reverse, its funding falling further behind the 15 comparable EU countries. Now spending 5% less, despite accelerating numbers of the old, the NHS has considerably fewer beds, doctors and nurses per head than those countries.
Owen Jones writes in the Guardian: “Thatcherism – or neoliberalism, whichever you want to call it – tried to bulldoze every last remnant of solidarity we felt – and it failed. ‘We have to move this country in a new direction,’ Margaret Thatcher declared after her first election triumph, ‘to change the way we look at things, to create a wholly new attitude of mind.’
“I wonder how she would feel reading a new survey by the European commission asking EU citizens whether, by 2030, they would prefer a society that gave more importance to solidarity or to individualism. She would undoubtedly be heartened to find that Britain comes joint top of the individualism league table. But she would probably be dispirited to read that only 29% favoured individualism, with a solid 52% hoping for more solidarity.
“That doesn’t mean there aren’t formidable challenges to building socialism in modern Britain. The fragmentation of society has been pursued as a deliberate Tory strategy ever since the days of Thatcher. After her triumph over Michael Foot, the late Tory leader lamented that ‘socialism was still built into the institutions and mentality of Britain’. She listed as examples the high level of union membership, the millions who remained council tenants, and a leftwing ethos in education.”
[Source for 17m stat: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37504449]