Forget this government’s twisted idea of the ‘people’s priorities’: here are some we can unite behind

In Amersham and Chesham, many who traditionally voted Conservative abandoned the party which has abandoned them and whose leadership, priorities and methods they view with increasing distaste. Instead, they voted for the party most likely to remove the Conservatives from a seat they had held since the constituency’s creation in 1974. In this instance, it was the LibDems and they secured 56.7 per cent of the vote against the Conservatives 35.5 per cent.

The Conservative party attempted to spin this as a backlash against HS2 and changes to planning regulations but the word on the street was that moderate Conservatives are disgusted by the corruption and cronyism and that Johnson was toxic.

The outcome provided a glimmer of hope for the many observers and commentators on the parlous state of our democracy not because the LibDems won but because, despite the best efforts of the right wing mainstream media, the scales are falling from people’s eyes and they are seeing this government for what it is. And they don’t like what they see.

Unbidden, constituents voted tactically, voted against corruption and the government’s warped agenda. The message is clear. When voters unite and make common cause against a malevolent power, change can happen…even in the teeth of party tribalism and the first past the post system. Next month, it is the turn of Batley and Spen. The message needs repeating.

For most of us, the opportunity to make our disgust clear is someway off, but it cannot hurt to begin to list those issues, concerns and fears that must surely unite us. This is by no means exhaustive, not least because Johnson and his crew come up with fresh outrages against truth and democracy on a daily basis, but it is a start. Please feel free to write in with your own or with personal stories behind these issues.

  1. Corruption in office
    Follow this link to read of the many instances of corruption and of the government’s exploitation of the pandemic to reward donors and ‘friends’ with our tax pounds or to use taxes to buttress votes in marginal or target seats. You can read and share articles by Byline Times and West Country Bylines for further evidence. But it is Johnson’s plan to remove the powers of the Electoral Commission to bring prosecutions that should be sending alarm bells into overdrive as should dark mutterings about curbing the powers of our courts and access to crowdfunding for cases to be brought against government. Without scrutiny, accountability and recourse to the law or its enforcement, this government can do as it pleases and you can be sure that it will. It must be stopped.
  2. Johnson aka the #KnownLiar
    Need any more be said? Lying is now the norm and occurs with impunity. He’ll even lie about who paid for his holiday or curtains. Unacceptable. Unfit for office.

  3. NHS privatisation
    The Test and Trace fiasco, the PPE scandal, the possibility of Dido Harding heading the NHS, the very many connections between Conservative MPs and US healthcare providers or think tanks hellbent on privatisation, the buying up of GP practices by US companies all give clues to the sell-off agenda. People working in the NHS know what’s happening behind the scenes. The brand may well be kept along with the less lucrative procedures, but don’t count on it. Read more here.
  4. Patel’s agenda at the Home Office
    The list of assaults on decency, freedom and justice perpetrated or proposed by this once-sacked minister is a long one. It beggars belief that she is not the twice-sacked ex-minister and ex-MP.
    Bullying, breaching the ministerial code
    Attacking the right to peaceful protest and right to roam
    Treatment of and cruel plans for asylum seekers…and misleading MPs about Covid control measures at Napier Barracks
    Ongoing mishandling of the Windrush scandal
    Detention and treatment of EU citizens
    Detention policies in breach of human rights
    Potential measures to quell whistleblowing and investigative journalism
    The so-called ‘Spycops’ Act
    Personally intervening in the XR Murdoch blocade
    Attacking human rights lawyers and campaigners
    Implicated in a PPE scandal
    She has presided over a Home Office which has lost 400,000 criminal records, sent letters to former EU but now longstanding UK citizens demanding proof of right to remain; and so it goes on and on and on…
    See also police powers and corruption below
  5. Brexit
    Let us park for now the illegitimacy of the referendum and focus instead on the abject disaster that is Brexit reality and the ongoing lies, denials and blame-shifting from its perpetrators and proponents. Throwing farmers, fishers, Northern Ireland, the union, food and animal welfare standards, all manner of businesses, the rights, freedoms and protections we once enjoyed as members etc etc under the Brexit bus. There isn’t enough sugar in the world to sugar this pill and Truss’s traducing trade deals certainly won’t compensate.
  6. Urgent public inquiries needed NOW
    … and with teeth so that there are consequences! People are sick of the whole ‘getting away with it’ thing.
    Handling of Covid-19. The APPG has done a great job. Now we need the public inquiry with powers to summon witnesses/ministers and get to the bottom of Johnson’s scrapping of the Threats, Hazards, Resilience and Contingency Committee, the herd immunity strategy and the PPE scandal. We need to know where all those Serco/Harding Test and Trace billions went, too.
    Covid-19 and Care Homes
    Leveson 2 not least because of the Daniel Morgan case
    Russian interference in our democracy and Brexit
    Corruption in public office
    Police corruption (see below)
    Pollution of our rivers and waterways by water companies
  7. Electoral Reform (and stop voter suppression)
    The age of governments being elected into power with a majority of seats on a minority of votes has to end. Every party beyond the Conservatives and, to an extent, Labour can agree about that. Arguably, with proportional representation, Brexit would never have happened. Make votes matter!
    This government want to put up obstacles to voting (ID), change constituency borders to favour them and do away with the fixed term parliaments’ act so that they can call elections whenever they feel it suits their chances. Where will it end? Badly!
  8. Police corruption (plus racism and susceptibility to political influence)
    Look no further than the findings of the Daniel Morgan report. This cannot be ignored. Trust in the police is essential for a fair, safe and inclusive society. Denials don’t cut it. Heads must roll and sweeping changes made.
  9. Threats to GDPR , relaxation of money-laundering rules and other deeply-troubling deregulation
    Regulation exists to protect consumers, workers, the environment etc. Why would a government wish to eliminate or weaken these protections? The threat to GDPR is particularly worrisome in the context of the NHS data grab. Read Kyle Taylor’s ‘The Little Book of Data and Democracy” to understand why this is an issue which should concern us all. In addition, see Brexit and dangerous precedent-setting trade deals to understand threats to food and animal welfare standards.
  10. Education
    Do you think this government is doing a good job? Do you think £50 (paid to an external tuition provider!) per pupil will allow children to catch up on the schooling lost to the pandemic? Is Gavin Williamson even remotely competent? This government talks a lot about levelling up, but is there any evidence?
  11. Bypassing Parliament
    If Brexit was all about sovereignty, then it’s doing a very poor job indeed. A combination of the Henry VIII powers and the Covid special powers plus the majority in the HoC have allowed this government to indulge its authoritarian and anti-scrutiny impulses. From illegal prorogation to refusals to make statements in Parliament or committees to refusals to debate key issues like law-breaking cuts to overseas aid and to deny sight of and votes on the details of trade deals, this is a government that wants as little to do with your elected representative as possible. In what world can this be defensible? Even the weak and often sycophantic Speaker has had enough.
  12. Liesagain
    We’ve all had enough of the lies, haven’t we? Let’s have some priorities that emphasise truth, justice and democracy.