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The Government’s Anti-Corruption Champion...

responsible for implementing the anti-corruption strategy, is John Penrose MP. He is the husband of Baroness Dido Harding – head of the Test and Trace programme. But the intersection of public sector appointments and political party donations has not only been witnessed in relation to the pandemic.

The Byline Intelligence Team has calculated that a quarter of top Conservative donors – those who have donated more than £100,000 to the party – have received a title or a peerage. Of the Conservative Party’s 20 biggest donors since 2010 – those donating more than £1.5 million – 55% (11) have received an honour or a title. Ten were given these perks in the past decade.

A more recent trend, and one catalogued extensively by Byline Times, has been a concerted attempt to appoint Conservative-leaning figures to public bodies. One former Government official told the Financial Times that “there has been a lot of placement of political cronies” and that “Number 10 has taken a close interest in it for the past year-and-a-half”.

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Comment by Michael Grove on November 11, 2021 at 13:27

We are nowhere near where we need to be” in cutting emissions, former US President Barack Obama told delegatesat the start of this week. Most nations, he said, “have failed to be as ambitious as they need to be”.

Luke Pollard, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, agrees. “The first week of COP showed that the world is willing on a deal, the second week must deliver a deal,” he told Byline Times. “We need to see global carbon emissions halved by 2030 but national pledges are way off achieving this. We need a step change in ambition and action if we are to avert an irreversible climate crisis.”

Comment by Michael Grove on January 11, 2022 at 11:29

Broken Britain” was the phrase deployed by David Cameron in the immediate run-up to the 2010 General Election, to describe a perceived social decay that had occurred under Labour’s leadership since 1997.

Focusing in particular on crime and an alleged growth of social disorder, Cameron said in January 2010 that, “we don’t have a strong enough response to crimewe tolerate too much criminal behaviour. Some would say that we’ve become too selfish, too greedy, it’s all about me and self gratification – not about thinking of others and community”.

However, over the past 12 years, since Cameron won the election and formed the Coalition Government with the Liberal Democrats, the situation has deteriorated. Britain is now suffering from crises of cronyism, inequality, crime, and the private capture of public goods.

Since July 2021, the Byline Intelligence Team has been cataloguing this social, economic and political breakdown – quantifying the scale of the problems facing the UK. These declining circumstances have been the product of successive governments, led by three Conservative prime ministers. Yet the latest, Boris Johnson, does not seem to command the faith of voters seeking a dividend after years of austerity and restraint.

Comment by Michael Grove on February 24, 2022 at 18:18

  The inquiry was told how "lives were ruined” and  
  “families were torn apart” after the Post Office
  implemented the Horizon system in 1999 and
  started pursuing sub-postmasters for alleged
  shortfalls in tills. The company ignored phone calls
  and messages from sub-postmasters who raised
  concerns about the system when it started flagging
  unexplained shortfalls, the inquiry was told. The
  Post Office pursued 844 individuals during the
  period and secured 705 criminal convictions. Many
  were offered plea bargains, which meant that they
  were not allowed to mention the Horizon system,
  the inquiry was told. Others lost their homes and  
  other assets after the Post Office used proceeds of  
  crime orders in an attempt to recover the alleged
  shortfalls. One sub-postmaster told the inquiry that
  the company tried to claim his pension. At least 33
  victims of the scandal died while waiting for justice    
  and four of them taking their own lives.

  Gurpreet Narwan, Consumer affairs editor - THE TELEGRAPH

NB Looking over the Horizon

Tony Blair was warned about the flawed Post Office Horizon computer..., The Telegraph can reveal.

The Labour prime minister was told by officials in 1998 that Horizon was “increasingly flawed”, says a report to Sir Wyn Williams’s statutory inquiry into the scandal.

During the 2000s and early 2010s Post Office managers wrongly prosecuted hundreds of their own staff for theft and fraud. As evidence, they cited flawed accounting records generated by Horizon, which the sub-postmasters used to run their branches.

Despite having the option to renegotiate or cancel the government’s contract to buy Horizon, Mr Blair opted to continue with the project and even suggested giving its makers a bonus.

Comment by Michael Grove on February 25, 2022 at 7:55

Scientists working with one of the world’s largest climate research publishers say they’re increasingly alarmed that the company works with the fossil fuel industry to help increase oil and gas drilling, the Guardian can reveal.

Elsevier, a Dutch company behind many renowned peer-reviewed scientific journals, including the Lancet and Global Environmental Change, is also one of the top publishers of books aimed at expanding fossil fuel production.

For more than a decade, the company has supported the energy industry’s efforts to optimize oil and gas extraction. It commissions authors, editors and journal advisory board members who are employees at top oil firms. Elsevier also markets some of its research portals and data services directly to the oil and gas industry to help increase the odds of exploration success.

Several former and current employees say that for the past year, dozens of workers have spoken out internally and at company-wide town halls to urge Elsevier to reconsider its relationship with the fossil fuel industry.

Comment by Michael Grove on December 29, 2022 at 11:00

'I Will Make You Hurt': 2022 & the Media

Mic Wright on a 'safari of psychic' damage as he reviews a year of mental acrobatics and sycophantic antics from Britain's political-media class

The year of the three Prime Ministers and the two monarchs began with Boris Johnson still firmly ensconced in Number 10, following credulous reporting in autumn 2021 of briefings that he intended to remain there for 10 years. It took just 10 days of 2022 for that idea to be made even more ludicrous than it already was.

On January 10, Partygate, which had kicked off with reporting by the Daily Mirror in November 2021, was shocked back into life after ITV News acquired an email from 2020 about a gathering held at the height of lockdown. 

The least credible thing about Partygate was not Boris Johnson’s Withnail & I-style apologies – “I went to a party by mistake… Are you the farmer?” “No, Prime Minister, I’m your Principal Private Secretary.” – but the suggestion that political hacks had no idea what was happening in Downing Street during lockdown. The Sun’s coverage – which initially tried to ignore the revelations entirely – was particularly pitiful; its deputy editor James Slack was employed in Downing Street when the parties took place and attended some of them. 

As former Sun editor David Yelland tweeted at the time: 

I can easily name ten, maybe as many as 20 political journalists who must have known or should have known about this Johnson party. Their editors should fire them. Except some of those mates of Boris are editors… 

Partygate was a product of tactical leaking; Pippa Crerar at the Mirror and Paul Brand at ITV News were given a series of smoking guns by people within the Tory machine who had decided that Boris Johnson’s usefulness was at an end. 

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