What a couple of weeks it has been in Great Britain. Newly elected Prime Minister Liz Truss singlehandedly managed to accomplish what no other British Prime Minister ever achieved! Collapse the whole economy with one master stroke and now is gone!!!!
So! What’s been happening so far in Old Blighty! Since Liz Truss was selected by her Tory party members in an internal election for prime minister; the queen is dead, the pound crashed along-with the economy and subsequently mortgage rates increased considerably with many looking to lose their homes, while the cost-of-living crisis just got worse for citizens. The Conservative & Unionist Party is now on its knees and going to lose the next general elections by a massive margin. The poll conducted by Electoral Calculus predicts a huge Labour landslide in the next General Election based on current opinion polling – far greater than even the majorities achieved by Tony Blair in 1997 and 2001.The Scottish National Party is poised to be the main opposition with the Tories pushed in third place. The excuse that Russia is to be blamed for the markets collapsing and not the mini budget announced in parliament by the now sacked Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng after a mere 38 days, is proof that voters are not falling for this lie. Liz Truss has now resigned after immense pressure. The Bank of England had to take an unprecedented step to intervene in order to stop the mortgage market from collapsing completely.
Jeremy Hunt was appointed as the new Chancellor and already he has managed to completely bin Liz Truss’s economic policies and promises including her mini budget made during her election campaign within her party. While I am writing this Home Secretary Suella Braverman resigned as home secretary and criticised PM Liz Truss in a blistering resignation letter. Personally, I am glad to see her go just like Priti Patel her predecessor as they both were a stain on Indian heritage and culture while competing to be the most evil and non-compassionate Home Secretary’s ever elected. Under their inhumane immigration rules, their own parents would not be allowed into this country. These individuals like many of their counterparts want to stop people fleeing persecution and torture including those legitimate ones looking to have a better life in this country. Both these individuals tried their very best to demonise and dehumanise refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants and fairly succeeded in raising the ante when it came to introducing brutal and inhumane policies. Grant Shapps has been appointed as the new home secretary and the Tory party musical chairs continues…
What happens next is anyone’s guess. A general election is on the cards and this country has another opportunity to change direction and tact while working with the European Union and all nations of the United Kingdom in bringing back justice, equality and dignity to all its citizens. Will the people now realise the folly of Brexit?
Corporations and scientists in the pockets of big pharma are always on the lookout for a perfect opportunity to peddle their creations on an unsuspecting public. Brexit and the pandemic have given these capitalist opportunists a perfect situation to push for the loosening of legislation controlling the quality and safety of our food; both locally grown and imported from abroad. Westminster is hell bent on removing environmental and health safeguards that environmentalists fought for in this country for decades. So, what is happening now at Westminster? The Tory government in London has introduced a Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill which would set different rules from the EU following Brexit and has asked all devolved nations including Scotland to allow gene-edited crops to be grown. The Scottish governments environment secretary MSP Mairi McAllan dismissed the idea saying that Scotland will set its own food standards under devolution and will not accept any constraint placed on its food policies.
What is gene-editing? Gene editing basically allows scientists to change a plant or animal’s DNA. Many experts would consider it one step before GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organism) which is currently banned in Europe and the UK as a whole. Since Brexit, the UK government is hell bent on eroding all our food and environment safety laws that we as a country fought so hard to achieve over the past many decades. I have previously in my columns highlighted citizens to be vigilant against corporations, lobbyists and greedy politicians who are now convinced that the only way to grow and feed the population in the UK post-Brexit is via gene-edited or GMO foods!
Under the UK’s internal market legislation, introduced by the Tory government at Westminster, anything approved for sale in one part of the UK must be available across the whole of the UK. This legislation basically undermines “Devolution” in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We are already seeing the chaos caused by the “Northern Ireland Protocol Bill” and its hasty signing off as an election promise in their manifesto by the Tories in the 2019 general elections. MSP Mairi McAllan has written to her Westminster counterpart saying: “If the UK government is determined to press ahead with this legislation, it must take steps to ensure that its revisions to the definition of a GMO (genetically modified organism) do not force products on Scotland which do not meet standards here without the consent of the Scottish Parliament”. Simultaneously, also raising concerns about the impact of the bill on Scotland’s food exports to the European Union which currently still has a ban in place for GMO’s.
So, what can we do in Scotland to stop this mad onslaught on our food and its impact on Scottish soil and water in the coming decades if this bill is passed? Once again be informed about the technology that is being promoted, ask questions to your elected MSP/MP and try to understand the link between corporations like Monsanto, politicians and large-scale food producers. The citizens always pay the price when things go wrong, let’s make sure this does not happen to Scotland’s land, water, air and health of its population.
*Originally written & published in the Peeblesshire News and WION.
Having moved to Peebles in 2002, ‘Stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week it’s the Tories toxic Universal Credit system which is disproportionately affecting the disabled, working poor and low-income families.
A very long time ago I had written about the shambles that would be Universal Credit, a policy introduced by Tory MP Ian Duncan Smith to make poverty disappear and work pay. All very good, since he had this epiphany while touring Easterhouse a council estate in Glasgow in 2002. This tour was carried out for his Think Tank Centre for Social Justice which was set up to find solutions to poverty in modern Britain.
Public memory is short-lived and our MPs know this, as even though they are responsible for the worst atrocities (benefit cuts) committed during peacetime on the British public, the Tories have managed to consolidate their power and even influence the working class to vote for them in the last general elections by blaming the ‘other’, in this case European citizens living and working in the UK. Brexit and Covid have decimated the livelihoods of millions of citizens and their families with many losing their jobs overnight and many having to resort to food banks to make ends meet and provide food for their children. The £20 top-up that was provided to every single claimant of universal credit last year has now been withdrawn, leaving many to fall back on food banks, loan sharks and if living in private rented accommodation at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords who are waiting to evict tenants who cannot pay their rent. I have said this before, in principle I do agree with the concept of Universal Credit as it was designed to incorporate six benefits into one. But in practice it was a disaster as the founders of this system; The Centre for Social Justice, were clueless about the complexities of the previous benefit system. There is still no evidence that Universal Credit is getting people into work compared to the previous system by the Labour government in 1999, while the costs of implementing it has risen to over £1.4 billion.
The National Audit Office said that the controversial five week wait for a first universal credit payment continued to exacerbate many claimants’ debt problems and push them into hardship. Vulnerable claimants – including those with physical, mental or learning disabilities, people with few digital skills, or with chaotic lives – were more likely to struggle with their claim, the NAO said, with the complicated process of moving onto the benefit causing payment delays and financial problems for these claimants.
On a final note, the £20 top-up was actually what amount claimants would have been receiving today if taking inflation into account and had the Tories not cut the benefit amount and thresholds of Housing, Working Tax and Child Tax Credits. The rich have got richer and the poor are made to fight among themselves. Divide and rule, the classic British policy is now being used on its own citizens for keeping the status quo.
Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 8th October 2021