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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 5,642

Journal Archives

Towns fund boosts Tory-held marginals over poorest areas

The Conservatives have been accused of short-changing the poorest communities in favour of comparatively affluent towns to boost their election prospects.

The government promised that the multibillion-pound towns fund would “unleash the full economic potential of more than 100 places and level up communities throughout the country”.

However, 32 towns on the list fall outside the 300 worst-off in England according to rankings from the Office for National Statistics.

Analysis by The Times reveals the extent to which money has been directed towards wealthier areas that are marginal Conservative-held or target seats.


Just another example of how the long run-in to the election since Johnson became prime minister has allowed the Tories to use the levers of state for what they hope will be their own electoral benefit.

Revealed: Tory councillors posted Islamophobic content on social media

Exclusive: dossier on 25 current and former councillors adds to pressure on Boris Johnson to launch independent inquiry

The disclosure that 15 current and 10 former Tory councillors have posted, shared or endorsed Islamophobic or other racist content on Facebook or Twitter will increase pressure on Boris Johnson after he backtracked on a pledge to hold an independent inquiry into the issue.

Inflammatory posts recorded in the dossier, which has been sent to the party’s headquarters, include calls for mosques to be banned, claims the faith wants to “turn the world Muslim”, referring to its followers as “barbarians” and “the enemy within”.

In 2017, one councillor, who has been pictured with Johnson, endorsed a suggestion that all aid to Africa helping feed starving people should stop, allowing “mother nature take her course”. She replied: “It’s nature’s way of depopulation.”
Sayeeda Warsi, who has been calling for the party to hold an independent inquiry into Islamophobia, said she was appalled by the comments in the dossier. “These further divisive and racist comments by elected Conservative councillors are a further indication of the issue of Islamophobia in the party,” she said.


Boris Johnson accused of 'outrageous' lack of concern about floods

PM to chair Cobra meeting after being criticised for not declaring national emergency

Boris Johnson has been accused of displaying an “utterly outrageous” lack of concern about the severe floods that have devastated hundreds of homes and caused more than 1,200 properties to be evacuated in northern England.
That criticism was echoed in the towns badly affected by the downpours, where 30 flood warnings remain in place including five “danger to life” alerts along the River Don in South Yorkshire.

In the Nottinghamshire town of Worksop, scores of residents were evacuated and more than 200 homes and businesses were flooded on Friday after a month’s worth of rain fell in 24 hours.

Simon Greaves, the Labour leader of Bassetlaw district council, said Johnson had been “preoccupied with electioneering” when he should have been coordinating a national response to the disaster, which encompasses Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.


Worse, Johnson turned his visit to the already afflicted town of Matlock into a cheery photo opportunity by "mopping" the entryway of the town's Specsavers, leaving the floor in a worse state than when he started, amid suspicions the water wasn't directly from the flood, but deliberately spilt for the occasion:

There are benefits to being the incumbent party during an election (as long as you can persuade people to forget your party's been in power for the last 9 disastrous years) - and the Tories have been trying to make the most of them in the early stages of the election. But then events can veer round to bite you in the arse.

BBC criticised for using archive footage of Churchill laying wreath instead of Boris Johnson

The BBC is facing further criticism today over suspicions that it inserted footage of Winston Churchill laying a wreath on the Cenotaph, instead of scruffy-looking prime minister Boris Johnson.
One viewer, Simon Williams, told us, “I was just sitting on my couch watching the Remembrance Ceremony yesterday, eating Pringles and scratching my balls, when suddenly something didn’t seem quite right.
“I first suspected the BBC was up to something when the picture changed from 1080HD colour to grainy black and white footage, just as Boris Johnson was about to approach the Cenotaph with his wreath.”
“Although the biggest giveaway was that the person laying the wreath did so properly, and didn’t just chuck it on the floor upside down before walking off.”


That's from NewsThump, but the satire is barely stranger than reality, which on a relatively small scale resembles an outtake from 1984.

Mike Galsworthy

Apparently this is the wreath laying video shown on @BBCBreakfast this morning.

It starts with 2019 line-up, but then cuts to a smarter Johnson from a previous year laying a green wreath.

Compare with “scruffy” Johnson & red wreath 2019.

[Twitter video]

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

If you want to see the actual video from yesterday- this is what you need (video embedded in article):https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/remembrance-sunday-boris-johnson-pictured-20853195

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

I’ve now had it confirmed from different sources with evidence, with no-one providing evidence to the contrary.

So @BBCBreakfast really did use old footage (2016 it would seem) to replace scruffy wreath misplacing Johnson with a smarter-looking clip of Johnson.

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

So here is the video BBC were using yesterday, when Johnson had a red wreath, looked scruffy and placed the wreath upside-down:

[Twitter video]

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

And here is the fottage used on BBC Breakfast this morning (2016?) where Johnson has smarter haircut & posture and more dramatic green wreath:

[Twitter video]

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

In that last clip, listen to the audio (talking about Lib Dems’ “skills wallet” just announced- Google it) to confirm that it is BBC iPlayer footage from this morning.

So... this kind of sprucing up of the leader’s image is something worthy of

...a banana republic. 🍌

(Threadreader version here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1193820157241708544.html )

Any of our American friends reading this may not know that criticism of the conduct and/or dress of certain party leaders during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph is an age-old British tradition.

On this occasion, Jeremy Corbyn - criticized in the past for looking "scruffy" (shades of Michael Foot's "donkey jacket" of years gone by) and insufficiently respectful - was well dressed, the only muted criticism being that his bowing of his head as he placed the wreath was insufficiently deep (if he'd thrown himself prostrate, it probably wouldn't have been enough for some).

Johnson looked scruffy and dishevelled (contrasting with the slightly less dragged-through-a-bush-backward look he's been sporting more recently), awkwardly stepped out of line at the wrong cue, and juggled his wreath so it was upside down when he placed it on the memorial.

Would I normally give a stuff about any of this? Nope. I find the whole annual "Poppy Wars" and nitpicking about the Cenotaph ceremony utterly disrespectful to those they're supposed to be commemorating, and there are far more important current issues to get wound up about.

But selective doctoring of footage like this by the state broadcaster in the age of constant allegations of "fake news", and particularly in the run-up to a crunch general election, is disturbing, not least because the BBC's defence of how it happened isn't convincing:

BBC apologises for using wrong Remembrance Day clip

The BBC has apologised for mistakenly running an out-of-date clip of Boris Johnson laying a wreath of poppies.

It said a production error led to BBC Breakfast showing images purporting to be the prime minister attending a Remembrance Day service on Sunday, when in fact the clip was from 2016.

"This was a production mistake and we apologise for the error," the corporation said in a statement.


That's quite some "production error". Are we to believe an editor "accidentally" found an archive clip and inadvertently broadcast it instead of current footage? How and why?

On one hand, this is just another storm in a teacup among so many. On the other, it calls into question the BBC's editorial impartiality at a time when it's needed most.

Boris Johnson explains post-Brexit trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK

Here he is addressing a gathering of Northern Ireland Conservatives at the Tayto Crisps factory yesterday:


Manufacturing NI @ManufacturingNI

From tonight’s meeting with local Conservatives - @armstrong_irwin

Manufacturing NI

Most of the video (limited you 140 seconds) now uploaded

[Twitter video]

Predictably, if not inevitably, various people who know about these things have chimed in to explain that he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about, even if you can filter out all the waffling.

Here's Lewis Goodall of Sky News:

Lewis Goodall

Official documents from his own government say the precise opposite of what the Prime Minister is saying here. https://twitter.com/manufacturingni/status/1192564837345353728

Lewis Goodall

See my story from October 23rd. Checks in both directions. pic.twitter.com/E51cUwb9lq https://twitter.com/lewis_goodall/status/1187007504263405573

Here's the Guardian's Brexit Correspondent:

Johnson accused of misunderstanding own Brexit deal after NI remarks

Boris Johnson has declared he will not “implement” or “enact” checks on goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain despite arrangements for customs controls under the Brexit deal he agreed last month with the EU.

In a visit to Northern Ireland, he told business representatives that elements of his Brexit deal related to exports from the region were greatly “misunderstood” and did not involve physical checks of goods.
He said: “There will not be checks, and I speak as the prime minister of the United Kingdom, and a passionate unionist. There will not be checks on goods going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain because we’re the government of the United Kingdom and we will not institute or implement or enact such checks.

“The idea that Tayto crisps from Tandragee are going be vetted by some process is just nonsense.”


And here's Anna Jerzewska, a free trade specialist:

Dr Anna Jerzewska

Great example of why after #Brexit the UK won’t be able to just wave goods through and we will need #customs formalities AND checks, incl for NI to GB trade. Especially if we want to sign FTAs.

Short explainer on why customs matters

Some Chinese goods are currently subject to additional tariffs or anti-dumping measures in the US and the EU due to the local market practices being deemed unfair (e.g. selling goods below the market value etc).

Let’s take one example from the article, EU’s anti-dumping measures on Chinese bikes. They are designed to protect the EU producers against unfair competition from China.

The EU has also recently signed an FTA with Vietnam and currently grants preferential treatment to Vietnam in other ways.
#Rulesoforigin in these agreements are designed to ensure that only goods manufactured in Vietnam have preferential access to EU markets.

Such local content rules ensure that producers in other countries e.g. China cannot obtain access to EU markets without offering something in return (a bit of a simplistic take but that’s the basic principle).

Chinese companies set up fake factories in Vietnam to make it look like the goods are manufactured there and to circumvent EU rules, safeguard measures and taxes.

Obviously, Vietnam does not want to jeopardise its relationship with the EU and the new FTA. In super simple terms, it doesn't want to look like it can't be trusted as a trading partner.

So such practices by Chinese exporters are risky and damaging for both the EU and Vietnam. Not to mention would allow China to avoid paying the right amount of tariffs. That’s why Vietnamese customs authorities will be doing more checks and inspections.

Do you see where I’m going with this example?

Customs controls matter, customs checks matter. They don’t need to be done at the border but they are needed.

In order for customs authorities to do their job, they need to have information on what’s crossing the border, where is it from, who manufactured/produced it etc.

This is where customs declarations come in (paperwork). They are a way to declare this info to customs authorities.

Checks, of paperwork or of goods themselves (e.g. loaded trucks) are introduced to verify that this info is true.
As well as to protect the market from smuggling and dangerous goods.

Yes, we can be flexible and inventive when it comes to NI-GB trade. And yes NI will technically be in UK's customs territory.

But if we want to sign trade deals our trade partners will want to know which goods come from NI and which from ROI and we need to find a way to collect this info.
EU FTA partners will want to ensure goods come from the EU and not GB

And this is why customs is important in international trade.

It can be streamlined and improved, sure, but all the formalities have been put in place for a reason.



Others, including me, are asking why, if it's such a great deal for Northern Ireland and freedom of movement and access to the single market is so desirable, the same sort of deal hasn't been extended to the rest of the UK:


Adam Bienkov

“Northern Ireland has got a great deal. You keep free movement. You keep access to the single market.”

[Twitter video]

John Bercow: Brexit is UK's biggest mistake since second world war

Days after bowing out as Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow has described Brexit as the biggest mistake Britain has made since the second world war.

Bercow, who was persistently accused of bias by Brexit-backing MPs during his term as Speaker, gave a valedictory speech to the Foreign Press Association, revealing himself to be a remainer.

“I don’t think it helps the UK. Brexit is the biggest mistake of this country after the war. I respect [the] prime minister, [Boris] Johnson, but Brexit doesn’t help us. It’s better to be part of the [EU] power bloc,” Bercow said, according to the journalist Antonello Guerrera, of La Repubblica, who attended the event in London.

However, Bercow rejected the idea he had blocked Brexit, insisting “it was parliament” that had prevented Britain from leaving before now, “not me”.


Not an earthshaking revelation. Those who've reviled him as a Traitor will still do so. Those who've idolized him for standing up for the Constitution against a rogue unelected government still will. Those who'd never paid much attention to the role of the speaker until the last couple of years will find he's left big shoes to fill, anyway.

Remember: it's austerity, not Europe, that broke Britain

It is hard to credit Johnson’s appeal to ‘left-behind’ voters when it was his party that chose to leave them behind

In 1970 the prime minister, Harold Wilson, called a general election he expected to win and lost. In the 1974 “who governs Britain?” election, called by prime minister Edward Heath, opposition leader Wilson expected to lose – and won.

Heath had successfully negotiated the UK’s entry to the European Economic Community in 1973, in which venture premiers Harold Macmillan (in 1963) and Wilson (in 1967) had failed. In 1974 Wilson was faced with a Labour party divided on the European question – plus ça change – and successfully went over the heads of his party to win a referendum in 1975, with a majority of two to one in favour of what we would now call Remain.

The politicians of those days were a different breed. Wilson was a skilled strategist and tactician. Whether or not David Cameron – less serious, and essentially a public relations man – was consciously trying to emulate Wilson (in going over the heads of his Eurosceptical wing, John Major’s “bastards”) I have no idea. But he made a real mess of it, and we are where we are: not to put too fine a point on it, we are the laughing stock of the world, and the British polity is up the creek.

As that great New York Times commentator Roger Cohen put it recently: “Britain is stuck … The fantasy voted for in 2016 is not the reality of 2019 … Democracies are exercises in constant reassessment. The core reason nobody has been able to deliver Brexit is it makes no sense.”


Leaked Attack Document Reveals Tory Candidates Told To Say Lib Dems "Are Not Proud To Be British"

Boris Johnson has been accused of stoking "the politics of division and nationalism" after Conservative election strategists urged their candidates to tell voters the Liberal Democrats “are not proud to be British” and would “make our country more vulnerable to terrorist attacks”.
The Conservative party is under pressure from Liberal Democrat challengers in a host of Remain-voting seats across the country. Five former Tory MPs have defected to the Lib Dems in recent weeks, and internal Tory polling has shown that several incumbent Leave-supporting Conservative MPs are likely to lose their seats to the anti-Brexit party.

In a sign that the Tories will be employing an increasingly aggressive strategy to try to hold onto these seats, their private briefing note laying out the “lines to take” for Tory candidates in Lib Dem marginals is headed: “The Liberal Democrats don’t share people’s values."

Another page of the document urges Tory candidates to make a series of dubious and controversial allegations about Liberal Democrat policies.


This is just what's been leaked today: I doubt any party or politician posing a credible threat to the Tories will escape this sort of rabble-rousing rhetoric, and this strategy will no doubt endanger further any candidates who don't sound or look or act "British".

Dominic Cummings has supposedly handed over the reins of the party to Lynton Crosby's right-hand man Isaac Levido, who, like Crosby, is an Australian political strategist - just to add to the irony of accusations of "non-Britishness".

Crosby has a long track record of running horribly divisive election campaigns full of dogwhistles and not so veiled attacks on selected outgroups, and it appears that Levido's a chip off the old block. Such campaigns haven't always led to electoral success, but they always turn up the heat on already inflamed situations.

Tory Ministers Accused Of Spending Public Cash On Facebook Ads In Election Swing Seats

HuffPost UK has learned that ministers authorised more than 20 adverts, paid for with taxpayers’ cash, to go live on Tuesday, the same day Boris Johnson got MPs to back a snap general election.
The adverts, designed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), refer to the £3.6bn Towns Fund announced by the prime minister in September.
The messages all appear to be specifically targeted at people living in mostly-Brexit-voting towns where the sitting MP has a majority below 5,000 votes, such as Milton Keynes, Morley, Northampton and Workington.
While parliament has not yet dissolved and the civil service has not officially entered the pre-election period when it must remain neutral - known as ‘purdah’ - the ads were published when it was clear a snap poll would happen.


Labour MP Ian Lucas has been pursuing this issue. Here's a letter he wrote to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove challenging this "outrageous" misuse of public cash:

Since Johnson took over as prime minister, there has been blatant use of government powers and public funds for electioneering, from the promises of funding to key marginals to the Get Ready For Brexit campaign that peppered our media for so long up to 31 October to the Queen's Speech itself, which more resembled a royal-sponsored party political broadcast than presentation of a serious working document.

On this occasion, they seem to have overstepped the mark and the pressure seems to have worked - on Facebook, at least:

Facebook Pulls Government Adverts Targeted At Marginal Seats

Facebook has pulled government ads targeted at people in marginal seats, saying the campaign was “not correctly labelled”.
A government spokesperson has since denied the adverts were pulled and said they had been planned to expire on Friday.
a Facebook spokesman told HuffPost UK on Friday evening: “The adverts run by the ‘My Town Page’ were not correctly labelled as being about social issues.

“Ads about social issues, elections or politics that appear on our platforms should include a disclaimer provided by advertisers.

“We are currently working with the advertiser to help them better understand our policies and correctly label ads in the future.”


However, one Twitter user claimed some of the ads were still running:

Ned Simons

Facebook has removed government adverts targeted at marginal seats, from me and @@REWearmouth https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/facebook-pulls-government-adverts-targeted-at-marginal-seats_uk_5dbc77f4e4b0d8b441ce9b73
Laura🐰🐰 @laurabunbun

They haven't pulled them, it says they're still running ads and on their ad library it shows many are still active (including Milton Keynes, a marginal seat)

Yesterday, Twitter announced that it would no longer carry paid political ads, on the basis that it felt "reach" to users needed to be earned, which has brought pressure to bear on Facebook to follow suit on its much larger platform with vastly greater political ad spending.

Billions Worth of Sterling Bets to Expire Worthless After Brexit Deadline Passes

Traders preparing for a Halloween shock in currency markets after the last Brexit deadline placed bets worth billions of pounds in options, most of which expired worthless on Friday.

Sterling is holding its ground above $1.29 after the European Union gave the U.K. another three-month extension to the previous Oct. 31 exit date. That left many options maturing Friday out of the money, including a notional value of over 10 billion pounds ($13 billion) that the currency would slump below $1.28 or climb above $1.30.


These options, giving investors the right to buy or sell at those levels, may have been placed as hedges or as bets on a sharp move for a last-minute Brexit deal or if the U.K. crashed out of the bloc at midnight. Speculation in the pound has emerged as a political issue, with allegations that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has links to such investors and rival Jeremy Corbyn attacking hedge funds at the start of a campaign for a December election.

In total, more than 20 billion pounds worth of options expired at 2 p.m. in London on Friday, according to data from the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, an unusually high number when it comes to the pound-dollar currency pair. Those having bought the options would only lose the premium paid, which still could be costly.


This follows up my earlier posts about Brexit Disaster Capitalism: 8 Billion Bet on No Deal Crash-Out by Boris Johnson's Leave Backers and Boris Johnson's billionaire leadership backer urged prorogation before he became PM.
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