Another epic week in Toryland...
First published in June 2020.
The Week In Tory (from Sunday to Friday)...
1. Let’s start with the milder corruption: it was revealed Matt Hancock tried to block 400 homes and a primary school near Newmarket racecourse, after receiving at least £65,000 in donations from horseracing bigwigs who opposed the scheme.
2. And then Robert Jenrick, the Housing Minister, overruled his department and planning officers to rush through planning permission that saved Richard Desmond a £45m fee. Desmond is a billionaire pornographer, former-Daily Express owner, and (subsequent to this) a Tory donor.
3. The Tory Manifesto says: “We will offer more homes to local families, enabling councils to use developers’ contributions via the planning process.”
4. The lost £45m was the “developers’ contribution”. One of Britain’s most deprived areas lost it. A billionaire kept it.
5. And then, I am sure coincidentally, Desmond donated £12,000 to the Tory Party two weeks later. A bargain – only 0.02% of the £45m he saved.
6. So this week Jenrick denied he had done anything wrong.
7. Unfortunately, he had already admitted his actions were “unlawful” on 29 May.
9. So we now have to donate to the Tory Party before we can complain about the Tory Party doing illegal things for their donors.
10. In Coronavirus news: Boris Johnson announced more relaxations of the lockdown, saying he would “trust the British public to use their common sense”.
11. 48 hours later a major incident was declared on the South Coast, as 500,000 people common-sensibly crowded the beaches.
12. Boris Johnson said he “would not hesitate” to bring back lockdown if the rules on social distancing weren’t observed.
13. 48 hours later he hasn’t brought back lockdown.
14. Then the government announced councils would have the “power and resources” to enforce local lockdowns.
15. But council leaders wrote to the government to explain that they don’t actually have the legal powers to do this.
16. And then 8 out of 10 councils in England have declared they are at risk of bankruptcy, having absorbed cuts of between 26% and 50%.
17. Health leaders, including the presidents of the Royal College of Physicians, nurses, GPs and surgeons wrote to the government asking for an urgent review of preparations for a second wave.
18. The government declined to do a review.
19. And then the WHO warned of global shortage of oxygen and breathing equipment.
20. So naturally, the government opened pubs and cinemas.
21. Then, after a month of not telling us the daily test numbers, the government went a step further and cancelled the daily briefings altogether.
22. The UK Statistics Authority issued a second official warning about the “trustworthiness” of the government’s figures.
23. The Association of Medical Research said 74% of clinical trials had been put on hold in 2020 due to cuts.
24. So we spent £900k painting a flag on Boris Johnson’s plane.
25. And then it was revealed the government spent £12m on the “world beating” contact app that didn’t work.
26. If you paid the average £50,000 programmer salary, £12m buys 320 programmers.
27. The German app code is open-source, and the free repository for it lists 34 programmers.
28. The UK has repeatedly declined to use the free German App.
29. Boris Johnson claimed in Parliament that “no country in the world has a working contact tracing app”.
Number of downloads for the German ‘Corona Warn App’ so far.
30. There are working contact tracing apps in: Angola, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Malaysia, Morocco, North Macedonia, The Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Qatar, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and Vietnam. That is 42 countries.
31. The government declined to publish its report on food and medicine shortage risks from no-deal Brexit, which surely bodes well.
32. Boris Johnson said Brexit must be delivered, as we have a “democratic duty” to listen to the people.
33. A report this week found 9m voters – most thought likely to oppose the Conservatives – will vanish from the electoral roll when new Westminster seats are drawn up.
34. When the government (breaking pre-election promises) merged the Department for International Development with the Foreign Office 2 weeks ago, they said there would be no cuts to overseas aid.
35. This week the Treasury asked government departments to find “a minimum of 30%” cuts, including overseas aid.
36. The government continued to decry the removal of statues connected with slavery, as this might “diminish public knowledge of British history”.
37. Government cuts led to the closure of 773 public libraries, and I suspect many of them contained books about British History.
38. The Minister for Arts Caroline Dinenage said the government was “committed to supporting the Arts Sector in through crisis.”
39. Emergency funding for the arts (converted into £):
- France £6.3bn
- Germany £900m
- Canada £295m
- Italy £221m
- New Zealand £90
- Spain £68m
- Ireland £18m
- UK £0
40. In 2019 the government committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
41. A year on a report found at the current rate, the government would hit its target by the year 3650, which is 1500 years from now, a mere 1470 years too late.
42. This week temperature reached 38°C in the Arctic.
43. The government said it would “fairly and courageously to maintain law and order” in the light of the Black Lives Matter movement.
44. And then the government announced it wants to abolish trial by jury in order to address a 41,000-case backlog caused by its own cuts.
45. It is Friday. Not even very late Friday. There are 2 more days of this week to go.🔷
P.S. Amongst those trying to hold this government to account are the Good Law Project, which uses donations to bring cases that lead to a fairer society and uncover political corruption. If you have a spare £5, please consider helping them. Much appreciated.
Check their Voting Record:
🗳️ Matt Hancock