Sadiq Khan has had to fess up to his disinformation. Tony Devenish asked the Mayor about an inaccurate tweet, first fact-checked by Guido, and offered this response:
“This tweet was based on research published in a well-known and reputable national newspaper. Following further analysis from City Hall’s air quality research team the tweet was deleted. We are committed to ensuring the information we provide Londoners with is as accurate as possible… social media posts are signed off by senior policy and Mayor’s office staff”
Senior policy and Mayor’s office staff should hold higher standards than unquestioningly repeating newspaper claims. The Mayor claims to be committed to the provision of accurate information, and yet the impact of his debunked claim is still on show. A quick Google search reveals a range of unquestioning coverage of the Mayor’s claims, including from Time Out. If Sadiq really wants to tackle London’s pollution, he should start with his own press office.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without doom-laden headlines about Coronavirus. Yesterday the Guardian published scary new data headlined “Number of people in hospital with Covid in England rises 22% in a week”. 22% sounds high. Is it time to dust off those face masks?
According to the NHS data in the Guardian piece, 6,720 people were in hospital with Covid on 14 December, up from 5,501 the week before. The key point, however, is this, buried towards the bottom of the story:
“Some patients in hospital with Covid are likely to have been admitted for a different reason”.
Some? The Office for National Statistics data for this week shows that around 65% of Covid hospitalisation patients are actually being treated primarily for something else. They just happen to have tested positive. Stand down. No need to renew your Joe Wicks subscription or start baking banana bread at home again…
Chris Bryant is the chair of the Commons Committee on Standards. It is his job to uphold standards in the House and oversee investigations into other members for breaking rules. While confronting Boris at the Liaison Committee in 2021, Bryant slammed the then-PM for failing to correct the record:
“When a minister lies, they should correct the record, I presume you agree… It seems that you very rarely correct the record. Why is that?”
On the evening of Wednesday 19 October, Chris Bryant stood up in the Commons and told MPs the following as a matter of fact:
“As you know, Members are expected to be able to vote without fear or favour and the behaviour code, which is agreed by the whole House, says that there shall never be bullying or harassment of Members. I saw Members being physically manhandled into another Lobby and being bullied.”
On the BBC later that night he ramped up this rhetoric, saying what he saw was “clear bullying”.
Today’s report by the Speaker, summarising the testimony of those involved and with a good vantage point, rejects this claim entirely.
Lindsay Hoyle says, “While there was some physical contact between Members, there is no evidence from our investigation that this was any more than a gesture of comfort”.
Will the ever-virtuous Bryant follow his own advice and correct the record forthwith?
As the government plans to lift the ban on fracking, Labour was quick to issue a press release condemning their action in quite vociferous terms. Guido is happy to cut through the bluster and rhetoric of each claim in Miliband’s statement, so you don’t have to:
FALSE: This statement is unsubstantiated and untrue. Fracking is in the best interests of the British people because it will create up to 64,500 jobs and up to £80 billion in tax revenue and reduce reliance on foreign imported energy. It is also safe, especially under the conditions of the existing regulatory framework. The government, of course, has already imposed a £5 billion windfall tax on energy companies. Guido isn’t quite sure how siphoning off profits from “big fossil fuel” companies is in their interests…
FALSE: Fracking is neither dangerous, nor a fantasy. Over the last 40 years over 200 wells have been hydraulically fractured in the UK. It is also used in the United States, where it contributes 0.2% of GDP secures their energy needs and helped make them an energy exporter for the first time in decades.
FALSE: Although the effect of UK fracking could be marginal, providing more energy supply would obviously lower costs. This has been evidenced in the United States, where fracking has helped secure energy security.
FALSE: A 2018 paper estimated the lifetime costs of various sources of UK energy. At both low and average power plant costs, the life cycle costs of fracking (2.1 and 9.6 pence/KWh) are cheaper than hydro (14.4 pence/KWh), solar (16.9 pence/KWh) and both onshore (12.6 pence/KWh) and offshore wind (10.1 pence/KWh).
FALSE: Although evidence is mixed, polling has previously shown significant support for fracking. It is certainly unfair to call it “deeply unpopular”.
Miliband finished by claiming:
“The Conservatives have broken yet another manifesto promise, this time on banning fracking. Now Conservative MPs must explain to their own constituents why they will have to suffer the danger of fracking in their own back yard.”
Clearly Ed has discovered his inner NIMBY. He also conveniently fails to mention the manifesto provision for fracking to be resumed should it be found safe, as the government is investigating. Disappointing, even by Labour’s standards…
Sir Keir is in a flap trying to work out how to attack Liz’s new energy policy. There are plenty of arguments against it being posed by her free market allies, though given the Government’s policy is much grander than Labour’s own price freeze, it leaves very little room for attack from the left. During today’s debate, Sir Keir came close to misleading the House. His argument, that corporations should pay for the energy bailout, heavily implies to voters that the only way we get money out of energy firms’ profits is via a windfall tax. This is obviously untrue. Energy firms already pay 65% tax on profits, and any rise in profits leads to increased tax receipts…
Labour frontbenchers have been claiming this week that a windfall tax should pay for the energy price freeze, though Labour’s own sums accept the current windfall tax funds just £8 billion of their £29 billion spending proposals. Asked by Tory MP Jacob Young precisely what tax level on energy giants’ profits should be set at, Sir Keir totally dodged the question. Asked again by Mark Harper how high he wants a windfall tax to go, he once again ignored the question. Almost implying this is ill-thought out politicking…
Mark Harper also raised another key point. During his statement Starmer referred to £170 billion of unexpected excess profits by energy giants – a figure being repeated by Ed Miliband and Angela Rayner among others. This £170 billion, Labour implies, is completely up for grabs if only the billionaire-boot licking Tories would take the opportunity to tax it. Unfortunately for Labour this is also wrong. The £170 billion figure is global profits, only a fraction of which are registered in the UK and therefore taxable. As Joe Armitage points out, the figure for the UK, projected in 2022, is around £40 billion. Which is already, as stated, taxed at 65%.
GB News’ Tom Harwood explained this point well:
'Can the UK government really raise £170 billion in tax just like that? The answer, bluntly, is no.'— GB News (@GBNEWS) September 8, 2022
Tom Harwood says Keir Starmer's implication that £170 billion could be raised in a windfall tax is 'nothing short of misinformation.' pic.twitter.com/NAp71fPZVi
“In total, extra profits of oil and gas giants this year amount to just £14 billion.” Even if all of that were taxed, it wouldn’t be a drop in the ocean of the government’s £100 billion-plus spend, and would certainly damage investment in energy extraction if taken off them. The commentariat loves to imply that Sir Keir’s some sort of details-obsessed political centrist. By the looks of it he’s got Diane Abbott doing his sums…
Holidaying politicians can’t catch a break at the moment: Boris is being attacked for his second holiday in a fortnight to his dad’s in Greece, Sir Keir’s finally out on the airwaves after two weeks in Mallorca, and Michael Gove can’t travel without mouthy lefties haranguing him at the airport. Voluble remainiac nutter Candida Jones has already garnered 17,000 likes on a photo tweeted at 5pm last night, claiming Michael Gove had been caught up in a Brexit-related “sh*tshow” over a 30-hour EasyJet delay, which she was apparently told was caused by “lack of staff due to the pandemic compounded, in the case of the UK, by #Brexit”. It’s remarkable she was given an excuse that coincides neatly with her worldview. At least there are no airport staff shortages in any other EU member states to undermine the claim…
Almost 30hr delay to our @easyJet flight now. I'm told the problem's a lack of staff due to the pandemic compounded,in the case of the UK, by #Brexit. So it's at least some consolation to find arch Brexiteer @michaelgove caught up in the same shitshow #BrexitChaos #BrexitShambles pic.twitter.com/mYT7oDD1it— Candida Jones 🇪🇺 (@candidaj) August 14, 2022
Unfortunately for Candida, not only is her Brexit-hating worldview not backed up by facts, neither is her belief that Gove was caught up in the supposed “#BrexitChaos”. While she may have been delayed by 30 hours, according to a source close to Michael, he experienced an hour delay in landing at most after coming back from his holiday in Greece.
It’s not the first time this frothing-at-the-mouth left-wing activist has launched bile at a Tory politician during her holiday. The Guardian archives provide this bizarre piece from Candida in 2008, where for some reason Jones let George Osborne “ruin” her day at the beach in Corfu:
“a motor boat appeared… surely no one would drive a boat through crowded water and, anyway, where was it going? Couldn’t those on board see that there was nowhere to moor as the pier was packed with children playing? Several parents, in several languages, complained loudly that this was an inappropriate place to bring a motorboat. It carried on without any apology from those on board and the bathers made way – the diving games stopped and children were hurriedly helped down from the pier and sent to the beach to play.
I could tell immediately these people were English, by the way they were dressed and their seemingly superior manner. I felt embarrassed that a typically informal, relaxed and inclusive Greek afternoon was being so rudely interrupted by one small, well-turned-out, organised, English family.
I recognised George Osborne as he led the way. Shouts continued from the parents, which made the Osborne family hurry, but none of them looked back or exuded the air of bashful apology one would expect. Osborne, hearing the protests, simply said, addressing everyone, “It’s a pier, that’s what it’s for.” He said it loudly, angrily, without looking at any of those whose afternoon he had spoiled.”
Maybe Candida needs another holiday to calm down…