The UK government is missing in action

photo of the UK cabinet in a meeting

A Tory source tells the UK i newspaper: “The iceberg is getting closer and closer… and you’ve got Liz and Rishi doing a ridiculous leadership contest. We’ve got nothing, we’ve done nothing.”

UK government ministers were accused of a “dereliction of duty” today for not providing anyone for the media round this morning, leaving presenters to ask why no one from the government was prepared to face the public. This followed the energy regulator Ofgem announcing that the price cap will increase to £3,549 on 1st October.

In contrast, Lisa Nandy (Labour’s shadow chancellor) appeared on BBC Breakfast and called on the government to follow Labour’s lead and freeze energy bills. She said, “The fact that no Government minister is available to come on your programme today is just appalling. They are not here to give assurances, they are not here to set out what they are going to do. That is a dereliction of duty.

Today, news outlets in the UK are reporting that water companies have failed to monitor the amount of sewage being discharged into the sea in popular resort towns. cartoon of a lady being fined for dog mess This is a disgrace and I’ve supported a petition calling on the Government to renationalise the water supply as the industry, in its current form, is no longer fit for purpose.

Sign the petition

One reason that energy prices in the UK have skyrocketed.

The EU price cap on gas is 43.99 Euros per mega watt hour. The UK is £263.79 per mega watt hour.

Graph showing relative energy price caps across Europe

Enough Is Enough! There’s a growing pushback in the UK against the status quo.

We’re not in this together, we never have been.

Read more here

Great quote from the Daily Mirror Whitehall correspondent Mikey Smith on the campaign to keep Boris in No 10.

“Imagine there being an active campaign to get Boris Johnson to stay on as PM, and not one to bring Gordon Brown back. Not saying either is the answer, but one seems objectively less of a batshit idea than the other.”

Peppa Pig and prolonged pauses – it is, I think, time to start worrying about the prime minister.

At the end of this speech, in an interview with ITV, the interviewer, having watched the speech, and gauged the audience’s reaction, saw fit to pose the following question: “Is everything OK, prime minister?”

Read more on The Independent

boris & peppa pig

Mark Barrow has spent thirty years filming underwater clips that document the state of Britain’s rivers and streams. In the last twenty years, he has seen the percentage of UK waterways classified as healthy drop from over 90% to less than 15%. Now, as water companies are effectively granted free licence to pump sewage directly into rivers, he says he has witnessed whole stretches of water completely devoid of life. View his report on YouTube

Perhaps the country is finally about to see through Boris Johnson. Everyone does in the end.

Boris Johnson is the prime minister of a country that is a genuine world leader on carbon reduction. And here he was, covering the arses of the countries that deliberately sabotaged Cop26, for no reason beyond his own juvenile boosterism.

Read the full article on the Independent

Leave Boris Johnson alone – this exotic creature is Labour’s greatest asset | The Independent

slippery slope

Starmer suggests PM is using Brexit fights to distract from other areas.

“There’s a little bit of me, Andrew, I am afraid that can’t help think that the prime minister is constantly trying to pick a fight on things like this so he hopes people don’t look elsewhere in the forest, which are things like the Owen Paterson affair.”

What happened in the House of Commons yesterday was so foul, the stench might never clear.

What happened on Wednesday afternoon in the House of Commons was absolutely not a politician making the rules then failing to abide by them himself. It was a politician, having been found utterly in breach of them, entirely and unequivocally bang to rights, and responding by having his mates, and the government itself, just rip the rules up altogether.

Read the full article here

johnson wallowing in sleeze *From The Independent*

“Not our fault!” Spitting Image nailed it.

clip from spitting image

This is a disgrace.

Tory MPs have been defending themselves from accusations they have given the go-ahead to water companies to dump raw sewage in rivers.

A proposal from the Lords to the Environment Bill that would have placed legal duties on the companies to reduce discharges was defeated by 265 MPs' votes to 202 last week.

Source: Tory MPs defend votes after uproar over sewage proposals - BBC News

CBI chief policy director Matthew Fell on UK’s Net Zero plan.

“To truly transform the UK economy based on sustainable and green growth, we need to push further and faster and make key decisions on how to finance the transition to net zero. An honest conversation needs to happen here in the UK about how we pay to go green”.

Labour shadow business and energy secretary Ed Miliband on Kwarteng.

“This is a new low for government energy policy. Reduced to crossing his fingers for a mild winter, Kwasi Kwarteng is showing just how much a decade of inaction from the government has left us vulnerable. Kwasi Kwarteng is the business secretary, not a weatherman. It is cold comfort for businesses and families that this is all he has to offer.”

Matthew Lesh of the Adam Smith Institute gives a glowing(?) review of PM’s speech at the Tory conference.

“Boris’s rhetoric was bombastic but vacuous and economically illiterate. This was an agenda for levelling down to a centrally-planned, high-tax, low-productivity economy. He is hamstringing the labour market, raising taxes on a fragile recovery and shying away from meaningful planning reform. Shortages and rising prices simply cannot be blustered away with rhetoric about migrants. There is no evidence that immigration lowers living standards for native workers. This dog whistle shows this government doesn’t care about pursuing evidence-based policies.”

boris the clown

Interesting article by Tom McTague on The Atlantic website today.

According to his onetime rival for the Conservative leadership, Rory Stewart, Johnson is “the most accomplished liar in public life—perhaps the best liar ever to serve as prime minister.”

Is Boris Johnson a Liar? - The Atlantic October 2021 Photoblogging Challenge #3 majority 📷

boris the dunce

This is what you get when the majority put their cross in the wrong box.

London petrol station charging nearly double the average price for fuel sells out - The Independent

Disgusted that this petrol station is charging twice the usual price

Boris Johnson condemned for saying ‘never mind’ about cancer outcomes

Johnson’s mask slips

Boris Johnson has sparked outrage on the eve of the Conservative Party conference after saying “never mind” about cancer death rates and the recent fall in life expectancy.

Grilled about his plans for Britain’s recovery from the Covid crisis, the prime minister chose to emphasis economic growth over health measures.

Pointing to the recent growth in wages, Mr Johnson told the BBC: “I’ve given you the most important metric – never mind life expectancy, never mind cancer outcomes – look at wage growth.”

Opposition parties pounced the prime minister’s remarks, with Labour accusing him of showing an “outrageous” disregard for the health of British citizens. Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told The Independent: “Boris Johnson starts his conference with the most chilling words ever spoken from a prime minister dismissing the importance of cancer outcomes.”

One of the best lines in Kier Starmer’s speech at the Labour Party Conference yesterday.

“It’s easy to comfort yourself that your opponents are bad people. But I don’t think Boris Johnson is a bad man. I think he is a trivial man. I think he’s a showman with nothing left to show. I think he’s a trickster who has performed his one trick.”

This article from The New Statesman website is a sobering read for those of us lucky enough not to worry too much about the odd £20,

Will the £20 Universal Credit cut become Boris Johnson’s government’s worst decision? - New Statesman

Whitehall’s own analysis finds the cut will have a “catastrophic” impact, warning “homelessness and poverty are likely to rise, and food banks usage will soar”. More than half a million people face being pulled below the poverty line, including 200,000 children, as a result of this change, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an anti-poverty organisation.

What's Boris Johnson's reshuffle really all about?

“This is a mad way to run the country,” confessed a member of the government.

Whether prime ministers wield sharp knives or attack with blunt spoons, reshuffle days like this are indeed a strange mixture of bravado and farce.

Bravado when, earlier, one cabinet minister told me, “I think I’m OK,” as, ashen-faced, looking nauseous and clammy, they were en route to see the prime minister before promptly being sacked.

And farce when, as legend has it, on several occasions, would-be ministers end up jobless, because the post-it notes with their name on fell off the board. Forgotten, their career plunged to the floor too.

Read more on BBC News: What’s Boris Johnson’s reshuffle really all about?

Did they fix UK social care or just kick the can down the road?

I’m not convinced that the UK social care crisis will be fixed by the rise in NIC contributions. It sounds to me that the additional tax payable from next April, will be used to drive down the NHS backlog, which was already growing pre-pandemic. The new care reforms are slated to come into effect in late 2023 but the details are sketchy. No mention of reform of the care providers, staff wages and conditions.

Boris Johnson said at PMQs today words to the effect that there will be innovative private firms that will insure you against selling your house to pay for care.

This article is by Stephen Bush, political editor of the New Statesman and is worth a read. Please note that the copyright belongs to The new Statesman.

The government will increase National Insurance from 12 per cent to 13.25 per cent next year to… do what, exactly? The headline that Boris Johnson wants (and, with a few exceptions in today’s papers, the headline he has got) is that the money is to fix the social care crisis and to reform social care.

But if you look at the rest of what he, Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid are saying, then the one thing that the government has not done is provide the money to fix the crisis and to reform social care.

Instead, it has hiked taxes in order to spend more money on reducing waiting times in the National Health Service, laid out a broad set of principles about what the balance between the state and private individuals should be in paying for social care, and invented a new way to increase income tax through the so-called health and social care levy, which will come into being as a separate line on payslips from the 2023 tax year. (“So-called” because the costs of health and social care are far in excess of what the levy raises: just like National Insurance, it’s another tool for the Treasury to increase income tax without saying it is increasing income tax.)

Politically speaking, Johnson is surely right to believe that mounting NHS waiting times (which were constantly getting longer before the pandemic and are significantly worse now) are a bigger problem for the government today than the social care crisis. But that’s the biggest reason to be dubious about claims that the money for fixing social care is going to come from yesterday’s tax hike: at no point in British political history has money from the NHS been taken back out of it and redirected to elsewhere in the British state, and it seems unlikely, to put it mildly, that we are going to start in three years’ time. So the money for social care will have to come from somewhere else, whether it’s more borrowing, taxes elsewhere, or, the most likely alternative in my view, a big I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-income-tax increase to the health and social care levy.

There are a couple of risks to that approach: the first is that this plan depends on the social care system limping on in its present state, unnoticed by most people, for the next three years. It’s possible that the pressures on social care, the ongoing cuts to local authority budgets, and the ever-growing number of people of all ages in need of social care won’t cause a major crisis before 2023. But it’s equally possible that the problem becomes more acute the wrong side of the next election.

The second risk is that the broken manifesto promise and the reality that, for all the talk of ending austerity, the rest of the parliament is going to be one in which spending restraint continues, gives the government a reputation for shiftiness: for breaking its promises and failing to deliver. The comparison that Johnson’s inner circle and the Treasury have kept making is to Gordon Brown’s increase in National Insurance following the 2001 election. The equally important part of Brown’s tax increase is that he didn’t need to do the same thing in 2003, and that by 2005, the NHS was, visibly, in a better state of repair than it had been in 2001.

The big bet that Johnson is making is that, when the next election rolls around, the United Kingdom will feel and look like a country where the crisis in health and social care is being addressed, even if it isn’t really, and even if the difficult decisions are still being put off and the actual task of fixing social care has been kicked into the next parliament.

UK Government says polluters can dump sewage into rivers as Brexit disrupts water treatment

It beggars belief that the UK government is telling businesses they can dump raw sewage into our rivers because of Brexit-related issues with the supply chain. Boris Johnson’s “Sunlit Uplands” will start to stink if this carries on much longer.

This is the quote from today’s “Inside Politics” email from The Independent:

Is Brexit just a load of crap? Amid the well-documented supply chain and lorry driver shortage crises, ministers have given businesses the green light to dump the brown stuff in Britain’s rivers. Some companies have found it more difficult to get hold of water treatment chemicals because of supply chain disruption at ports blamed primarily on the UK’s departure from the EU.

The Environment Agency this week said companies struggling to get hold of such products would be allowed to “discharge effluent without meeting the conditions” of their permits, which normally require water to be treated.

The Green Party is furious. Amelia Womack, deputy leader, said: “This is a failure of their understanding on how our country’s most basic infrastructure works and using our environment as a dumping ground rather than addressing the root causes of the problem. “To prevent further Brexit chaos and undermining of environmental protections, the government must work to mend supply chains and work to cooperate rather than trying to look ‘tough’.”

The government says the measures are “strictly time-limited and there are robust conditions in place to mitigate risks to the environment”. Maybe best to avoid wild swimming for a while.

Read the full article here