Ethics

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The IMF forecast tough times ahead for the UK, but they are being much too optimistic

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/04/2022 - 4:38pm in

As the FT noted yeseterday afternoon:

The IMF predicted that Britain’s economy would increase by just 1.2 per cent in 2023 and that its inflation would be higher than every other G7 member and slower to return to its 2 per cent target.

As they added

Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, IMF chief economist, said: “What we are seeing is that the UK is facing elevated inflation, and tight monetary policy is weighing down on economic activity this year and next.”

I have on problem with this observation, which is that I think that they  are far too optimistic.

The IMF have themselves said there are downside risks that might mean that their forecasts are too optimistic. These include escalation in the war in Ukraine; inflation pressures building; the COVID 19 pandemic getting worse again; financial instability as interest rates rise and, crucially:

We have also the potential for social unrest given the increase in energy and food prices in many countries

I would say all those risks are significant for the reason the IMF ignore. That is that within the aggregates they like to deal in they are overlooking the real poverty being created around the world now.

In the U.K. we now have energy companies forecasting 40% fuel poverty, which is inability to keep a house warm next winter.

And still there appears to be no real political awareness of the crisis that we are hearing for. I really have no explanation in the face of the obvious truth that we are facing, which is that there really is a crisis now and we have to deal with it immediately.

Knocking the Tories about, as happened yesterday, is all well and good. But knocking them out is what is required

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/04/2022 - 3:59pm in

So, Johnson apologised with, he claimed, ‘full humility.’ The trouble was, no one relay believed that, and for one good reason. That reason is that even if his confusion about attending an obviously illegal birthday party was genuine (even if the credibility of doing so depended upon our belief in his incompetence) there is no way that the same excuse can be rolled out when the next round of penalties are issued, with these relating to events where such excuses will be impossible. In reality then what Johnson did when offering inadvertent incompetence as his defence on this occasion was to dig a seemingly impossible hurdle for himself to climb when the next fines are imposed.

This will not, not course, prevent Tory MPs voting to support him in any vote on a referral to the Standards Committee on Thursday. They will be three line whipped. But there will be many more than Mark Harper MP, who was the only Tory to tell Johnson to go, who will have their doubts about supporting Johnson in that vote. Any in their number who wants to be in a future, non-Johnson, government will have to think very hard about voting to protect a Prime Minister who will seemingly inevitably, and soon, be found guilty of deliberate criminal acts for which on possible excuse can be found. Sunak has already sacrificed his career to support Johnson. How many others will note that, and hold back?

It is no wonder then that Johnson looked profoundly shaken by events yesterday. So too did his front bench. Starmer knocked him out, and as far as I could tell never really withdrew his accusation that Johnson was dishonest. The Speaker was, as usual, made to look stupid. Starmer’s anger was obviously real.

The Tories knew it. Long after they gave up defending Johnson the opposition’s combined questions were still coming, but most Tory MPs had indicated their lack of support by then by leaving the House.

Can Johnson survive this? In the House he looked shocked, broken and almost confused, knowing that none of his usual bombastic approaches would work. And the reality is that things can only get worse from here as more fines, the Sue Gray report and maybe a Standards Committee report replete with photographs (which is why the government is so frightened of this) all head Johnson’s way. 72% of the country think Johnson is a liar even though this still cannot be said in the Commons. The likelihood is that even this percentage will get worse.

I won’t say Johnson will go. His ability to wriggle is extraordinary. But it looks as though it will get harder, and harder to stay. And the damage is done. We have a discredited Tory government. Priti Patel’s shameless defence of the Rwanda extradition policy was another indication of that. Sajid Javid’s lame defence of being a non-dom was another. It would take more than a miracle for this lot to survive.

But when Labour, and to some degree the SNP, only offer managerialism and not vision as alternatives what is it that is going to restore faith in parliament? Whilst all Labour can suggest to support those whose households are going to be in crisis this year is a windfall tax they are not the torch bearers for change. Those households do not understand a windfall tax. But they do instinctively know that such a charge will not keep them fed, warm and in their homes. And they are right, because it won’t.

Labour has to get over its crushing fear of spending.

It has to show that it believes in the power of government to effect change in society.

It has to say what the change it wants is.

And it has to spell out what that will mean for people.

I want democracy restored, but not for its own sake, but for what it can do to redress the wrongs that otherwise exist in society. And the best way to achieve that goal is to start righting those wrongs.

I have laid out agendas for this, time and again. Knocking the Tories about, as happened yesterday, is all well and good. But knocking them out is what is required to save us from fascism. And that requires vision, confidence and a real promise of delivery. When will we get that?

The Tories are demanding acquiescence as if it is their right. They risk revolt.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/04/2022 - 7:29pm in

Yesterday the Archbishops of Canterbury and York attacked the government’s plans to deport asylum seekers in the UK to Rwanda. I use the term deport carefully, because these asylum seekers will be forcefully removed from the UK to a country not of their choosing, which is illegal. There is no return ticket.

The reaction has been furious, and hostile. Jacob Rees Mogg said the Archbishops did not understand the spirit of redemption within the scheme. It’s quite reasonably been argued that only a Pharisee could see what he finds in it.

Priti Patel has said the Archbishops offered no alternative. Actually, I think she will find they did. The Christian message has always been of welcome to the stranger, albeit the Church forgot it for long periods.

Tom Hunt MP and other Tories argued that the Church should not be teaching about the gospel of Jesus at Easter, of all times (their choice fo words, not mine).

The media reaction has seen The Times, Mail, Express and Telegraph all run front-page stories criticising the Archbishops for being political. These paper's claim is that is not the role of the Church. Clearly, none of them has read the New Testament. It is a profoundly political text. It was only when it was depoliticised by Constantine, and hidden from many by only being available in Latin for more than a millennia that this was forgotten. Until then the reason why Christians were persecuted was that they profoundly upset the political status quo.

And so they should. Especially now. You do not have to be a Christian to appreciate the radical teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. His instruction was to have bias to the poor, to love your neighbour, to forgive debts, to end the tyranny of the money changers and much more. All of that is deeply radical. Try this from the Magnificat in Luke for a flavour:

My soul magnifies the Lord,

He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;

he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;

he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.

That is said or sung at evensong every day in the Church of England. This is no peripheral text: this is what is at the core of CoE thinking.

But of course, the Tories and their media supporters do not know that, or want to know that. Let alone do they want to hear it. They want to believe God is on the side of the achiever and that the sacrament of wealth (there isn’t one, just for the record) is the true outward sign of inner grace.

If they can’t have that from the Church then something more sinister happens. They now demand silence. “Who will”, the papers ask, “rid us of these troublesome priests?” (I only misquote a little). The precedent is not encouraging, but relevant. In these demands there is an implicit menace. The threat is that the Church should comply, or be silent. The demand made of it by the Toriues is for endorsement, not questioning, let alone opposition.

I know that the Tories are aware that from many churchgoers acquiescence will be forthcoming. But they will also know that amongst the very early inmates of Dachau concentration camp there were quite a lot of priests whose silence could not be bought.

In that case every priest now has to face the question we all might have to consider at some time, which is whether we have the courage to oppose, come what may?

The Tories need to also consider this question, because their whole modus operandi is now based on intimidation in the expectation of fearful response. Priests, they say, must not teach Christianity. Lawyers must not uphold the law. Opposition politicians must not oppose. Acquiescence is now the demand. And some will give it.

But others won’t. And that number will grow. That is because courage is, at least in part, liberated by the realisation that there is no alternative but to take a stand. Those who will do so on principle are small in number but big in impact.

But they are going to be joined by millions who are pragmatically fearful. They will be those who can no longer pay the bills. Their houses will be unheated. They or their children will be unfed. Their homes will be at risk. They will also have nothing left to lose. Their families are at risk. They too will cross a line.

And their condition is commonplace. It is not one chosen, politically. It is one imposed, actually. So even those inclined to oppose those with principles will recognise themselves and those they know in these people.

There is in this the real danger for the Tories.  And danger for us all, of course. Creating the potential for volatility, which someone as calm as Martin Lewis thinks likely, is an inherently reckless political act. The risk for everyone is that much might go wrong. But the simple fact is that Tory politics is now moving so far into extremism, and appears so fascist in its approach, that many will see no option soon but to oppose a government that is giving them no choice but to oppose, because all other options will have gone.

I wish we did not live in such dangerous times. But it seems that we do. And we have to ask in that case what this demands of us.

I’m so damned angry at the bastards who are destroying my country

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/04/2022 - 5:08pm in

I share the following Twitter thread written by Prof Richard Bentall this morning. I admit I am delighted to not be the only thread writing professor at Sheffield. Richard is professor of clinical psychology at Sheffield and, it seems, at least as angry as me. The post here is made with Richard's permission. The headline is a quote from Richard, but a sentiment I share:

1/ IMHO the UK now faces a crisis that is, in some ways, even greater than the one we faced when confronting Hitler. In WW2 at least we had politicians of integrity, who upheld our democratic values, and around whom the nation could unite. There was no enemy within.

2/ Today, the enemy of the people is the government itself which has become, as @Peston has noted, an elected dictatorship. Its crimes are so numerous that it has become difficult to remember them all.

Unroll available on Thread Reader

3/ It isn't just #Partygate. Remember the proven corrupt process by which PPE contracts were awarded to Tory friends during the pandemic, and also remember the £billions lost to fraud.

4/ Remember that much of the PPE - procured in a way that gave vast profits to Tory mates - has had to be thrown away as not fit for purpose. That's your money - taxpayer money - that has been stolen.

5/ Remember the persistent failure of government to act, especially in the early phases of the pandemic. Johnson flounced around, avoiding COBRA meetings, and people died. They didn't get the big calls right - they got them wrong.

6/ Remember the scandal of Russian money funded into the Tory Party, a suppressed Russia report, and the appointment of the son of a KGB officer to the Lords against security service advice.

7/ Remember the 'small matter' of £850/roll gold wallpaper. Johnson said he had no idea who paid for it and then it turned out (in a Whatsapp message Johnson had mysteriously forgotten about) he had asked Lord Brownlow to pay for it.

8/ Remember also that the architect of this shitshow has previous - funnelling taxpayer money to a woman he was screwing while his wife was suffering from cancer; wasting more than £40 million on a garden bridge project cooked up with his friends.

9/ The time has come to face up to some salient facts about the current situation and the magnitude of the danger we now face.

10/ First Johnson. As a psychologist I don't normally use diagnostic labels on people I've not met but it's clear Johnson is a psychopath. He meets most of Hare's criteria on the internationally recognized psychopathy checklist, which uses biographical data (look it up).

11/ A parallel concept from the political science literature is 'social dominance orientation (in my field it's unfortunately common for people with different specialties to come up with the same or similar concepts and give them different labels).

12/ High SDOs need to dominate and know no moral boundaries. For a good summary, read/listen to Bob Altermeyer's free (audio)book 'The authoritarians'. It will chill your bones (old Bob is a great narrator BTW).

13/ Importantly, high SDOs know exactly which buttons to press to manipulate ordinary people who have authoritarian tendencies (people Altermeyer calls 'authoritarian followers'), who constitute about 30% of any country.

14/ How Johnson got that way is not hard to speculate. From school reports at Eton he was showing the traits early on. From Tom Bower's biography it's clear that many of his childhood experiences could be politely called 'suboptimal'.

15/ The point is that (except with years of therapy - unlikely) psychopaths don't change. The best predictor of their future behaviour is their past behaviour.

16/ Johnson has betrayed every person who has ever loved him, every child he has ever sired, everyone who has ever employed him (including 2 PMs). He has been fired twice for lying. In the end, he will betray everyone in the country.

17/ The problem of having a psychopath running the country is not just the psychopath. It's the fact that psychopathic behaviour becomes contagious - he appoints other unprincipled people around him; they copy his style. The result is a PATHOCRACY.

18/ Which leads me to the threat to democracy. Because serial lying is one of the defining characteristics of a psychopath, we have a government of liars. The British system has weak checks and balances, and the constitution is unwritten, so democratic standards are destroyed.

19/ Be of no doubt: THIS COULD END VERY BADLY. In a pathocracy, the government will break every convention, bend every rule, lie and cheat to hang on to power. (Hence, their naked refusal to follow constitutional convention on misleading Parliament).

20/ The point is that psychopaths/high SDOs DO NOT THINK THE RULES (any rules) APPLY TO THEM. At best, expect lying on an epic scale in the run-up to the next GE. At worst, expect underhand tricks to activate authoritarian followers, and to deter some people from voting.

21/ Unless stopped, the best we'll end up with will be an Orban-style elected dictatorship in complete control of the media (it's no coincidence they're emasculating Channel 4); at worst the complete subjugation of Parliamentary democracy.

22/ I've avoided mentioning Brexit thus far (everyone knows it's an obsession) but I should point out that this is where the lies started and that it was the vehicle by which we ended up with this pathocratic government.

23/ What is to be done? It is five minutes to midnight but it is not too late. BUT THOSE ON THE SIDE OF TRUTH AND DEMOCRACY NEED TO GET THEIR SHIT TOGETHER PRONTO.

24/ First, the surest way of getting rid of this threat to democracy is for progressives, WHO ACTUALLY ARE A MAJORITY IN THIS COUNTRY, to build an alliance. That means @UKLabour@TheGreenParty and @LibDems.

25/ I've heard all the arguments against a progressive alliance and none of them hold water when judged against the threat we face. There are many ways of doing it BUT IT MUST BE DONE.

FIGURE IT OUT FOLKS!

26/ A progressive alliance must be linked to constitutional reform. IMHO FPTP is at the root of many of our problems; it facilitates elected dictatorship and it stifles new, young political voices emerging outside the two-party system.

27/ Something also needs to be done to make the constitutional conventions binding. If a PM can be proven to lie to Parliament he should get his marching orders, without a doubt.

28/ The second thing we must do is get out young adult voters. They have been shafted by the Tories (astronomic and increasing uni fees; less job security than their parents; EU rights taken away; home ownership a distant dream). They hate the Tories for good reason.....

29/....but they don't vote. How do we get them to vote? I don't know but progressives in this country need to figure this out and fast. Do we campaign in unis? Do we find more people like @Femi_Sorry who can reach out to them and inspire them?

30/ Third, the opposition needs to fucking well OPPOSE. The huge elephant in the room is Brexit. I understand now is not the time to talk about rejoining but it is the time to talk about the harms being done by the type of Brexit we have now.

31/ I've written an analysis of this before. TL:DR the public is open to the idea of a closer working relationship with Europe. A BETTER DEAL WITH EUROPE IS A VOTE WINNER.

Unroll available on Thread Reader

32/ So opposition politicians, particularly in @UKLabour need to do some hard thinking and get their Brexit story right. Because the Tories are going to try to use Brexit as one of their authoritarian-activating tricks in the next election.

33/ @UKLabour just saying they support Brexit as it is won't work, IMHO. It sounds disingenuous. But saying we will reverse Brexit will play into Tory hands. A better deal with Europe, correctly explained, is the right approach.

34/ What to do about the @Conservatives? It's time to recognise that the Tory Party is actually dead, as I've tweeted about before:

Unroll available on Thread Reader

35/ At some point, decent Tories (there are some) are going to have to do something to restore their party and root out the racist, nationalist entryists who have taken over. It will be a tough job.

36/ So that's my rant for today. I'm so damned angry at the bastards who are destroying my country. IMHO the time for civil disobedience in near; we are at the last chance saloon. The country may not survive.

Footnote #1. Yesterday I predicted that the psychopaths in charge will do anything to activate their authoritarian followers. No step will be too low. Today they announced this:

UK to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing

A quote from the American historian (and Russia expert) Timothy Snyder seems pertinent:

 

United Kingdom government’s intention to offshore asylum processing to Rwanda sends a worrying signal

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/04/2022 - 1:17am in

The following press release has been issued this afternoon by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, and I think it worth sharing as indication of international reaction to what the UK is proposing with regard to the treatment of those legitimately claiming the right to asylum in the UK:

Strasbourg, 14 April 2022 - “Today’s announcement by the UK government of its intention to offshore asylum processing to Rwanda sends a worrying signal”, said Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović. “Not only does such externalisation raise questions about the protection of the human rights of the people involved. It also indicates that the UK intends to shift the responsibility for what is in fact a very small proportion of people seeking protection worldwide from its territory to that of another country. Such a shift in responsibility  runs the risk of seriously undermining the global system of international protection.”

While the government emphasises the importance of safe and legal routes in general, the announced plans do not address the lack of such possibilities for people currently in France, even those who have legitimate claims to move to the UK, for instance on the basis of family links. Expanding such safe and legal routes and putting human rights at the heart of the approach is crucial to addressing the problem of dangerous sea crossings of the Channel and to removing the conditions in which the smuggling of people can flourish.

I call on parliamentarians, in the context of their further examination of the Nationality and Borders Bill, to ensure that no downgrading of the human rights safeguards and protections in the UK’s asylum system takes place. They should in particular reject proposals that enable offshoring and that make distinctions in the level of protection or the procedures applied on the basis of the manner in which people arrive in the UK.

More than ever, all Council of Europe member states should stand firm in their commitment to upholding the human rights of people seeking protection. From this perspective, I will continue my engagement with the UK government on this important matter.”

Migration: some facts, and the shame

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/04/2022 - 10:38pm in

This post is by Andrew, who is a regular commentator to this blog, who has posted two comments to this blog this morning, all of which I share here because I think they are important in the context of what Boris Johnson has had to say today.

Andrew began with this:

Let’s have some basic facts on asylum.

In 2021, there were 48,540 asylum applications in the UK, relating to 56,495 people. That was a 63% increase on 2020, and the highest for years, but it it not a record. It was over 80,000 in 2002. Unsurprisingly, the number of refugees increase in times of civil disturbance and war.

Nearly 10,000 came from Iran, 6,000 from Iraq, 5,000 from Iraq and Albania, and several thousand from Syria, Afghanistan and Sudan. Nearly half were males aged 18 to 29. I wonder if we can think of any reasons why these people may find it easier to leave. But a sixth were children, and over 3,500 unaccompanied.

So that is who we are talking about. Largely young Moslem men from the Middle East, many of whom might speak some English but probably not French.

In 2021, the UK offered protection, in the form of asylum, humanitarian protection, alternative forms of leave and resettlement, to 14,734 people (including dependants). Barely more than 1000 per month.

Around half the people from Iraq and Albania are granted asylum, so there is clearly a problem with people from these countries who are not refugees, but over 80% and for some countries over 95% are granted asylum.

Overall, in 2021, initial decisions on asylum were made in 14,572 cases, so the backlog is getting longer year on year. The number of initial decisions is significantly lower than in 2019 (20,766). And overall 72% were granted asylum or another status allowing them to remain in the UK (which is higher than the usual trend, of about a third).

There were appeals against refusal in 4,035 cases and 49% of appeals were granted.

That left 81,978 cases (relating to 100,564 people) awaiting an initial decision.

These are the sort of of people we might give a one-way ticket to a country in the middle of Africa which has a history of human rights abuses and ethnic violence. That is 90%+ Christian, and English is the third language. Where LGBT rights are problematic. Where the president is a former army officer who has been in office for over 20 years, changed the electoral law to his benefit, banned opposition parties and disqualified potential opponents, and as a result has been elected with over 90% of the vote three times. Either he is more popular than Jesus or … well.

This would not be the first time the UK has set up camps in Africa to hold civilians it didn’t care for.

The prospect of my country treating desperate people in this inhuman manner disgusts me.

He then added this:

I tried to post some basic facts about immigration earlier, but here is another angle.

The UK has a population of around 67 million. There are around 700,000 births and 600,000 deaths each year. So the population is growing by about 100,000 each year just due to births exceeding deaths. But an increasing number of people are aged 70 and over, and the post-war baby boom generations from the 1950s and 1960s (over a million per year) are at or approaching retirement.

Even without the moral argument that we are obliged to give asylum to people who need it – which is most of those who claim it – if we can accommodate hundreds of thousands of new children each year, who will need health and education services for at least 18 years, and a million people per year entering retirement, whose health and welfare needs will only increase, then we can add some more people seeking asylum without too much problem. Most of the migrants are young, fit and healthy (they need to be to get to the UK) and could be working productively for decades. Many are well educated, and will save us the time and cost of primary and secondary schooling. The economic argument in favour of immigration is almost unanswerable.

No, no. Let’s ship them off to Rwanda. It beggars belief.

The delay was all my fault: I realised I intended to post the comment as a post and so delayed moderating it.

I am as appalled as Andrew, and am ashamed that this country can propose something as base and racist as this. That is why I share this.

People need protection from those who claim they understand macroeconomics, but don’t

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/04/2022 - 5:38pm in

As the FT has noted this morning:

A top Federal Reserve official has warned it is a “fantasy” to think the US central bank can bring inflation down sufficiently without raising interest rates to a level where they constrain the economy.

James Bullard, president of the St Louis branch of the Fed, said the central bank needed to be more aggressive in its efforts to root out the highest inflation in four decades as he called for rates to rise to a point where they actively curtail growth.

When people ask why makes me angry each morning in a way that motivates my work, comments like this provide an explanation.

Unlike many in the US , Bullard will be living in comfort, with healthcare and a pension. And he wants to crush the lifeblood out of an economy where insecurity is commonplace to supposedly beat inflation whose cause is utterly unrelated to the quantum of money supply or excess consumer demand.

Opposing callousness of this sort is what motivates me.

People with limited knowledge of macro and an absolute right not to be persecuted by those who claim they have such knowledge, but who actually don’t, need protection from abuse. That’s good enough reason to be angry for me.

How do we stop the coup? That is the question now

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/04/2022 - 4:55pm in

The last pretence that we live in a democracy in the UK collapsed yesterday. Johnson and Sunak received fines for attending a party that they always denied had taken place. They then immediately admitted their guilt, thereby confirming that a criminal act had been committed by them in contravention of the laws they were daily telling the country to comply with, and then they did not resign.

They lied to parliament.

They lied to the media.

They treated us with contempt.

They believe that they can do so again.

They ignored all the hurt of those who could not visit dying relatives of those who were dying, including in my own family, during this period as as result of those grieving people’s compliance with the law.

They ignored parliamentary convention.

They ignored our unwritten constitution.

They ignore the ministerial code.

They pretend that they can carry on.

Carry on that is with the their elected dictatorship, put in place with Russian support and Russian money that always had the objective of supporting the destruction of democratic systems and accountability, which is exactly what it is succeeding in doing.

What are the excuses for this descent into this fascist power grab in contempt of all accepted process? There are just two.

According to the Mail, echoing a Tory Party line, it is that we are at war and a party leader cannot be changed. Ignore that we habitually change party leaders in the UK during wars (WW1, WW2, the first Gulf War, and many more) there is another slight problem with this claim, which is we are not at war. There has been no such announcement. There is no engagement. We are, at best a bystander in the Ukraine war. In that case only war being pursued by Downing Street right now is on British democracy and the British people. And that, no doubt, is the war that the Mail is referring to in its headline today, which it says must continue uninterrupted.

And then there is the other problem for the Tories. With Sunak conveniently discredited by some strange coincidence in the days before this announcement by the Met and Truss revealing herself to be more mad by the day, there is literally no one the Tories can think of who can replace Johnson.

And that is why this crisis is so dangerous. Not only are we obviously facing a coup as all the accepted procedures of our democracy are trashed, we are facing it to sustain three things.

One is Boris Johnson’s premiership, to which there is no apparent alternative.

Second, it is to defend the right of the Tory party to govern when it is clear it is absent of all the talents required to do so, and there are no heirs apparent, making quite clear that it has ceased to be a credible political party.

And third, it is to defend the rights of those who put the Tories in power, by which I meant their sponsors and not those who were gullible enough to vote for them. In other words, this is about maintaining Russian influence.

So three questions.

First, if Johnson will not go now does he ever accept that he might have to do so? After all, Trump did not?

Second, what will his policy be now to secure his entrenchment in office, knowing utterly incompetent and compromised Tory MPs now have almost no choice but vote for anything he suggests?

Third, is there any remote chance that Labour might step up to the mark and drop its tribalism with the intention of defending democracy now, because that is required?

I could have some hope if I know the answer to the last question, but to be candid I have very little expectation that Labour will do what is required now.

In that case I guess there is a fourth question, which is what next?

I will give Labour a chance to act responsibly in the national interest. After that, the issue is on the table.

2022 is not looking good

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/04/2022 - 5:20pm in

I have just posted this thread on Twitter. It actually began life as a blog post, but then I realised it suited both media, so it's gone there too:

It has to be said that things have a habit of not going to plan at present. I could not have guessed how 2020 would progress at the start of that year. I am expecting 2022 to be the same. A thread….

I began the year without a lot of optimism. But I did not really expect war in Ukraine, although the risk existed. I hung to the hope that Putin was not that callously stupid, but he was.

I similarly hung to a hope that the Tories would not really want to create a recession. I was wrong on that too. They are increasing interest rates, which is so absurd when it is obvious that demand is already being crushed, whilst Sunak’s indifference to the crisis that is so obviously coming will do for him even if his own family’s affairs do not.

Maybe I will be wrong on Le Pen as well, where I retain hope that the French might vote for Macron even if they do not like him, much.

And then there is Covid, where we are not, as someone said yesterday (and I cannot remember who), so much living with Covid but are instead living with an ideology of denial with regard to the reality of Covid.

Around the world populism is far from crushed. India, Hungary and the States prove that.

None of these are good signs. This government has contributed to all of them. It aided and abetted Russia and its oligarchs, and let Putin undermine democracy here just as Johnson wanted.

Brexit has encouraged Le Pen and made her toxic politics seem more plausible when they remain as offensive as ever.

But it is the UK domestic situation where in some ways I am most shocked, which is saying something given what is happening in Ukraine.

I did not expect a UK government to turn on its own population in the way that this one has done.

Despite years of preparation for the final assault of neoliberalism on ordinary people I simply had not anticipated that those in power in the Treasury and the Bank of England really cared so little.

What we now know is that they are willing to destroy the well-being of millions in this country to feed their dogmatic beliefs in a small state, balanced budgets and the power of markets to solve problems, for none of which is there any evidence.

I cannot predict the outcome of war in Ukraine, except that it will continue for much longer than anyone expected and with many more casualties, and refugees, which his government will continue to resist helping.

I have no clue what will happen in France, but the risk that it will go the way of Hungary looks to be real at present, and profoundly worrying.

I think I can safely predict that the Democrats will be trashed in the mid-term elections later this year and that will help no one.

I know Covid will not go away. When one in twelve have it, and reinfection is happening on a regular basis now with massive potential long term health impacts, the irresponsibility of the government on this issue will be one for the history books.

And what I am also now sure about is that the February GDP figures are not a blip: they are the sign of the recession that is to come. Frightened families are already cutting their spending as they face bills they do not know how to pay, and this can only get worse.

At first this will be called a cost-of-living crisis.

Then it will begin to be an unemployment crisis as the lack of spending begins to hit the leisure sector, first of all.

Then there will be a debt crisis.

And a housing crisis as both those with mortgages and who rent begin to lose their homes.

After that there may be a banking crisis.

All of which will be because the government has chosen to do nothing to help people facing the biggest economic crisis to hit families in living memory, and well beyond.

Sickness, homelessness, poverty, hunger, and the loss of hope are things I hoped we could avoid in the UK this year. But I now do not think that we can, all because of government decisions to impose them on millions.

None of this was necessary. But it’s going to happen because the Tories want it to.

And what will they say in response? They’ll claim there is nothing they can do about it “because we have to balance the books”.

Martin Lewis has said there might be civil unrest this year. I would never want that. But unless this government learns very, very quickly that it has to tackle this crisis that is of its own making by refusing to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, by letting Covid run riot and by increasing interest rates then I think Martin is right.

What will happen then? I do not know. But with an authoritarian government in power I am worried about their potential reaction.

The world beyond our borders is very dangerous right now. But it’s grim here too. 2022 is already turning out badly.

The NHS is failing and the only people to blame are the Tories

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/04/2022 - 5:36pm in

The Guardian reports an interview with Dr Katherine Henderson, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine this morning.

As she has noted, pressure in the NHS is now so severe that it is breaking its “basic agreement” with the public to treat the sickest in a timely way.

She also noted that the:

urgent and emergency care was in a “deeper crisis than ever before”, and for the first time in its history the NHS could no longer stick to its “contract” with the nation to promptly reach seriously ill patients who dial 999.

Her explanation was:

“The true barrier to tackling this crisis is political unwillingness,” Henderson said. “The current situation is breaking the workforce and breaking our hearts.”

Hospitals are facing record demand from patients coming forward after two years of the pandemic, while struggling to discharge patients because of the crisis in social care.

As a result, Henderson said, doctors are struggling to find any space for patients arriving at A&E. That is causing record delays in ambulances handing over patients, which is leading to waits of up to 22 hours for 999 callers.

At the same time, as reported in the Sunday Times yesterday, moves are being made to end the separation of patients with Covid from other patients within hospital. As one hospital consultant, who is utterly committed to it, noted as a result, this makes the H in NHS stand for Harm.

None of this, in my opinion, is the fault of an NHS employee. It is, instead, wholly the government's fault.

First, it has been utterly negligent on Covid. The Covid pandemic is not over. Covid is not endemic. More than 350 people dies of Covid in one day last week. Around one in 12 people in the country have it. The illness is serious with potential long term impacts for many that are massive. And some people are getting it successively, within weeks of bouts. Despite this the government has turned its back on this issue, pretending it does not exist, when the impact is enormous, as indicated by everything from failed flights onwards. Irresponsibility on this scale cannot be made up.

Second, it has deliberately under-resourced the NHS, knowing that there is excess demand for healthcare now and knowing that there is a need for staff morale to be raised.

Third, it is under-resourcing social care still and has no real plan to change that, in which case bed-blocking will continue and that is now causing crisis conditions in many hospitals.

Fourth, it has no plan of any sort to remedy this because all it wants to do is balance its budget, which is the last thing it needs to do and which is wholly unnecessary.

In other words, the whole NHS crisis is government manufactured, deliberately.

What is required to solve it?

First, it's the capacity to care.

Second, there has to be the willingness to use the power of government to redirect resources in society.

Third, there has to be the willingness to fund this, which does require new money creation.

Fourth, there has too to be the need to create the social conditions in which people can flourish, which requires redistribution of income and wealth.

Fifth, there must be the willingness to explain this, and get buy in.

Sixth, there is a need for commitment, which is wholly absent.

These are desperate times. There is no guarantee the NHS will survive this. And that is all down to choice by Tory governments.

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