[WATCH] Burnham Bashes Boris Over Bolton Botch

Amid the confusion over the Covid restrictions in areas with surging cases of the Indian variant (Bolton, Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside), Andy Burnham was keen to jump in front of a camera to restart his war with Whitehall this afternoon, saying:

“There will be a concern out there today that this is a local lockdown by stealth…or to the reintroduction of the tier system…we do not wish to see any return to local lockdowns, we do not believe that they worked. We believe that the situation in 2021, the context, is different to the one that we had in 2020. And we believe that that should be made clear as well…it’s important that this is cleared up, and cleared up very quickly indeed…”

Burnham’s obviously never camera-shy, though to be fair, the new rules in these areas haven’t exactly been well-explained. Even local Tory MP Jake Berry claimed on Politics Live that he found out about the new guidance – to limit travel in the surging areas, including Berry’s own constituency – from the media rather than from government. According to Nadhim Zahawi, people living in these areas can still travel in and out, though the official government advice is to avoid it “unless it is essential.” Looks like the government wants to implement a voluntary local lockdown without the backlash of actually committing to one…

mdi-timer 25 May 2021 @ 15:14 25 May 2021 @ 15:14 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Tory Islamophobia Report Says Baroness Warsi’s Claims of Institutional Racism “Not Borne Out by the Evidence”

CCHQ will be relieved that the findings of the the long-expected independent investigation into alleged discrimination within the party. A number of key findings rejected critic charges and found in favour of the party on an institutional basis:

  • No evidence that complaints related to Islam are treated differently from those related to other forms of discrimination.
  • No evidence of attempts to pressure or interfere with the handling of individual complaints.
  • No evidence to back up Baroness Warsi’s claims of “institutional racism” within the party.

The report also says the Muslim Council of Britain, who questioned the impartiality of the investigation chair, failed to provide evidence despite being asked on multiple occasions.

The report does recommend points of improvement for the party, not least “clear evidence of a Party complaints system in need of overhaul”, with claims the party’s Complaints Team is under-resourced and inadequately trained. It also points to:

  • A lack of transparency in the complains process
  • No time frames for resolution
  • Social media rules aren’t widely known or angered to
  • 1,418 complains between 2015 and 2020, concerning 727 incidents of alleged discrimination.
    • Two thirds of which related to allegations of anti-Muslim discrimination.

The most substantive criticism is of weak local party association systems for identifying discrimination, rather than at national level at CCHQ.

Hacks will no doubt focus on the section relating to Boris’s “letterboxes” column. The PM repeated his usual excuse of having written “millions of words as a journalist” and some things had been taken out of context, however he does say sorry:

“I am obviously sorry for any offence taken. Would I use some of the offending language from my past writings today? Now that I am PM, I would not.”

The report also notes that comments such as those by the PM, and Zac Goldsmith’s mayoral campaign, “give the impression to many that the Party and its leadership are insensitive to Muslim communities”. The report’s author, Professor Swaran Singh, says crucially: “I’m not saying that the party leadership IS insensitive to Muslim communities. I’m saying that the perception is very strong.” CCHQ says they’re considering the report and will respond later today, though the PM indicated to the chair he will implement many of the inquiry’s findings…

UPDATE: Guido learns a CCHQ meeting of all affiliate groups just took place. The party is now asking for feedback on the complaints process. The party were keen to highlight how “it’s good the report showed there was no political interference”

mdi-timer 25 May 2021 @ 11:02 25 May 2021 @ 11:02 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Did Boris Really Miss COBR Meetings to Write Divorce-Funding Shakespeare Book?

The Sunday papers were light on marmalade droppers this weekend, however one paragraph in the Sunday Times did raise eyebrows: the claim Boris missed COBR meetings at the start of 2020 because he was busy writing a biography on Shakespeare, “the money from which he needed to fund his divorce from Marina”. It’s worried Cummings will accuse him of this on Wednesday. What’s the evidence?

The existence of the book – or rather, Boris’s intentions to write it – has been public knowledge for a long time. In 2019 the Guardian reported it was set to finally see the light of day that year, nearly four years after its original publication schedule in October 2016. Titled “Shakespeare: The Riddle of Genius”, the book is also prematurely listed on Amazon.

On the allegation Boris was writing the book to fund his divorce, this doesn’t seem to stand up. As mentioned above, it was originally scheduled for publication in 2016, and Boris received an advance for it along this time schedule, requiring its completion. He didn’t separate from Marina until 2018, however. That would have been some impressive preparation…

On spending time writing the book at the start of the year, this is more plausible. An old clip from of a February People’s PMQs – the period he was supposedly writing the book – sees Boris fill time by waffling on about the bard:

Allegations Boris missed five COBR meetings specifically to write the book seem like a stretch, though are the main source of online criticism. Funnily enough Nicola Sturgeon, who missed more COBR meetings at the start of the pandemic than Boris, has not been subject to same criticism. And she doesn’t have a biography of Shakespeare in the works to show for it…

UPDATE: On the Amazon listing, the publishers say this is a mistake and they have not scheduled the book to be released “in the foreseeable future”:

Read More

mdi-timer 24 May 2021 @ 14:59 24 May 2021 @ 14:59 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
[WATCH] Boris: “Nothing in the Data” to Derail Freedom Roadmap

Boris is clearly keen to dismiss the pessimism brought about by the spread of the Indian variant, though he stopped short of denying the use of Covid passports at large gatherings:

“I’m still seeing nothing in the data that leads me to think that we’re going to have to deviate from the roadmap, though obviously we remain cautious […] on Covid status certificiation, people should bear in mind I don’t see any prospect of certificates to go into pubs or anything like that […] we will let people know as much as we possibly can by the end of the month about weddings, for instance […] we must remain cautious in our approach.”

No passports for the pub, though looking increasingly likely for mass events…

mdi-timer 21 May 2021 @ 12:55 21 May 2021 @ 12:55 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
“Don’t Know” Overtakes Keir Starmer in Best Prime Minister Rating

A new poll from Savanta Comres puts Keir Starmer’s net favourability at just 24%, down 6 points from April and now 4 points behind “Don’t Know” on the question of who would make the best Prime Minister. Boris is miles ahead at 48%…

There aren’t many reasons to be cheerful in Starmer’s camp. Last week’s YouGov data had Labour down at 30% for only the second time in a year, and Sir Keir polling lower than Jeremy Corbyn and Andy Burnham. Maybe ‘Don’t Know’ will make a run at the Labour leadership as well…

mdi-timer 19 May 2021 @ 10:08 19 May 2021 @ 10:08 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
WATCH: Boris Says “Nothing Conclusive” to Deviate from Roadmap Despite Variant

Amid gloomy reports that the Indian variant will derail the roadmap, Boris attempted to calm nerves in a pooled clip this afternoon, with a particular emphasis on vaccine uptake:

“We’re looking very carefully at the data, we’re looking at what’s happening with the epidemiology, we’re trying to work out to what extent the new variant, the Indian variant, is maybe more transmissible. But at the moment we see nothing conclusive to say that we have to deviate from the roadmap but obviously we’ll be keeping people informed.”

Not a yes, not a no…

mdi-timer 18 May 2021 @ 12:49 18 May 2021 @ 12:49 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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