We Don’t Need This Fascist Groove Thing, 26th November 2020, ‘Tiers are not enough..’


brexit ‘Searching for certainty
When it’s such an unstable world
Searching for something good..’


This week we focus on ‘tiers’ and ‘tears’, tiers of restrictions, and tears of joy, pain, frustration, and disappointment.

We start with the crocodile tears of the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, who publicly apologised after she was found guilty of bullying her staff and the immediately ‘pardoned’ by Johnson.

The inquiry, led by Sir Alex Allan, was launched by the PM following the resignation of Rutnam, a senior civil servant in Patel’s department, over her alleged behaviour.

We start with the crocodile tears of the Home Secretary, Priti Patel


Rutman is suing the government for constructive dismissal, an action they then used as an excuse not to allow Rutnam to be interviewed, which Allan felt was a deliberate obstruction to his investigation.

Despite this, Allan uncovered sufficient material about her behaviour in three separate departments to conclude Patel had broken the code governing ministers’ behaviour. However, on Friday Allan resigned after Johnson took the unprecedented step of rallying his MPs behind an effort to defend Patel, who has refused to resign.

Patel seized on Allan’s finding that she had received no feedback on the impact of her behaviour, however this was challenged by Rutnam, who said she was clearly advised not to shout and swear at staff the month after her appointment in 2019 and that he told her to treat staff with respect ‘on further occasions’.

The latest revelation undermines one of the main mitigating factors in Allan’s report – that ‘no feedback was given’. Had Rutnam been interviewed, it appears unlikely it could have concluded she had not been made aware.

Sir David Normington, a former Home Office permanent secretary, said on Saturday that Boris Johnson ‘doesn’t seem willing to stand up for high standards in public life’. The prime minister had ‘simply put aside the findings of a report, and of the independent adviser Sir Alex Allan, that she is a bully, and you shouldn’t have bullies in government’.

Boris Johnson ‘doesn’t seem willing to stand up for high standards in public life’


‘We have to put ourselves in the position of the bullied. No one has spoken up for them. Some of them are junior staff who will be sitting there today thinking that their voice has not been heard and you cannot rely on the prime minister to stand up for them.

A former Tory cabinet minister said the fact that Patel could survive was extraordinary enough, but equally incredible was the prime minister’s behaviour in rallying his MPs behind an effort to defend her.

The senior figure, now on the backbenches, said: ‘He [Johnson] has a formal role, a kind of judicial role. He should at least try to show respect for that. Instead he just sticks two fingers up at the whole process.’

This really is sleazy behaviour of the first order, whilst Trump was more appalling, more outrageous, and more incompetent than Johnson’s horde could ever manage, with him gone they can no longer hide behind his edifice.

‘But the sad is a very special thing
It can leave you at the start…’



Whilst Johnson stopped short of suggesting that we inject bleach to counter the pandemic his own handling is still shambolic; delaying the first lockdown is estimated to have cost 25,000 lives, and a second one that he delayed by five weeks; sending infected people back into care homes without testing; the decision to allow mass gatherings to go ahead and to allow air travellers to keep arriving without even the most basic checks; the serial failures to set up a functional test-and-trace system. Small wonder that Britain has the highest death toll in Europe.

From useless to callousness, as his government was twice dragged into extending free school meals to hungry, poor children when they need them, with his failing highlighted by his nemesis, Marcus Rashford.

Small wonder that Britain has the highest death toll in Europe.


And we must all shed a tear for the public-sector workers, who will bear the cost of funding the pandemic in the form of a wage freeze.

Admittedly, NHS staff are to be exempt, but still it is the teachers and key council workers, whose indispensability has been confirmed anew during this crisis, who are once again to bear the brunt of austerity. And to cap it we have the economic tsunami Brexit only weeks away.

Yet more tears, this time of pure frustration, were shed when Matt ‘foot-in-his-mouth’ Hancock asked: ‘Why in Britain do we think it’s acceptable to soldier on and go into work if you have flu symptoms or a runny nose, thus making your colleagues ill?’ He went on, blaming those who believe that ‘as long as you can get out of bed you should get into work’.

Oh please, Matt, engage your brain; Britons stricken with coronavirus have the lowest mandatory sick pay of the OECD industrialised nations as a proportion of average earnings. They aren’t workaholics, Matt, they need to pay bills and feed their children.

to cap it we have the economic tsunami Brexit only weeks away


Many of these people are among the millions of key workers we, and government ministers applauded from windows, balconies, and front doors. ‘Applauding us was a lovely gesture,’ one said. ‘It showed solidarity among the people of our country and gave a morale boost, but unfortunately praise doesn’t pay the bills.’

However, perhaps the worst behaviour is the potentially corrupt way in which up to £17.3bn of taxpayers’ money was spent in the first phase of the crisis, examples of which are numerous:

  • £155m spent on unusable face masks.
  • Saiger, a Miami jewellery company was awarded a £250m PPE contract, paying £21m of that, with the promise of £16m more, to a consultant who helped broker the purchase of the gear.
  • Hanbury Strategy, a lobbying firm founded by a former Vote Leave buddy of Dominic Cummings, was handed contracts worth £640,000 without competitive tender.
  • Then there is the £550,000 awarded, without competition, to Public First, the political consultancy whose two directors are former colleagues of Cummings’ patron Michael Gove
  • Kate Bingham, the ‘vaccine tsar’, is shelling out £670,000 of our money to a firm of PR consultants whose company secretary appears to be a longtime business associate of Cummings’ father-in-law.


As the National Audit Office report said this was ‘bias’. As this column reported last week there was a ‘high-priority lane’, a VIP channel, in the procurement process, where preferred bidders were more than 10 times more likely to win a contract than the plebs in coach.

There is also evidence of massive overcharging by preferred suppliers, as the government would ask questions about value for money only when a bidding company demanded more than 25% above the average paid to other suppliers.

All of the above has led to the tears of sorrow for some, and of frustration and anger by many others.

And tiers are now causing tears of frustration and anger from Johnson’s backbenchers as he unveiled the new post-lockdown regime for the country.

tiers are now causing tears of frustration and anger from Johnson’s backbenchers


Steve Baker, the deputy chair of the Covid Recovery Group, which sent a letter on behalf of 70 Tory MPs warning the prime minister that any new measures must be justified, said he was ‘reassured’ at news that shops, gyms and places of worship would remain open in all the new three tiers.

We’ll have to hear what the prime minister says before we decide how we’re voting,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Baker reiterated his group’s demand that the government produce a full cost-benefit analysis of the new tiers. He said: ‘Yes, and I think it’s a very modest and reasonable thing to ask for.’

On Sunday, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said such an analysis was unlikely. Baker said: ‘We do need to stand up for people, because we know that livelihoods matter, we know that there’s nothing quite like poverty for shortening your life and diminishing your life chances. So all of these things continue to matter.’

Baker concluded by saying that he welcomed the Christmas plan, a 5-day piss-up, while saying any restrictions over the festive period were ‘a major infringement on the right to a family life’.

‘I walk along the city streets you used to walk along with me
And every step I take reminds me of just how we used to be..’

There are several points to make here, firstly the term ‘a major infringement on the right to a family life’, is a crass overstatement.

Yes, it’s a pain, disappointing, but its preferable to attending a funeral.

Secondly, given the price we will likely pay in the new year for this 5-day orgy, wouldn’t 2 be sufficient?

As part of the new tier system, the government has said it will expand a system of mass, instant coronavirus testing being trialled in Liverpool. Among the plans is a scheme to stop people who have come into close contact with someone who has coronavirus from having to isolate for 14-days if tests show they have not contracted it.

Matt Hancock the health secretary, said using mass testing to track down asymptomatic carriers of the virus could be hugely effective. He said: ‘The combination of the mass testing and the measures, in Liverpool, have brought the cases down really quite remarkably, much faster than I would have thought was possible.’

A study led by academics from the University of East Anglia said; ‘Our conclusion is that the problem with the tier system was not actually the tiers, but the inability of the government in England to allocate local authorities to their most appropriate tier quickly enough.’

When the tiers were announced it was the north and midlands who fared worse, being placed into Tier-3, further their economic and social misery. I doubt Steve Baker will shed too many tears as people here suffer another ‘major infringement on the right to a family life’,

This is all part of the Johnson’s rebooting of his government post-Cummings, who, despite winning the PM the biggest Tory majority in over 30-yrs, has been the recipient of no tears of gratitude or farewell.

Johnson has promised something for Tories, those of a greener persuasion have electric cars to look forward to, whilst the typical more macho-Conservatives were promised more spending on defence.

In short, we will have homes powered by hydrogen and streets full of electric cars, whilst at the same time British warships will be exterminating the enemy with ‘directed energy weapons’, which will destroy targets with ‘inexhaustible lasers’. Tears of joy will be shed if these weapons can be recycled or use ‘clean’ energy.

The problem with the reboot is that the root cause of the governments problem is the PM himself


The problem with the reboot is that the root cause of the governments problem is the PM himself. These self-congratulatory grand visions for the future are, for him, manna from heaven, and preferable to the now where he defends his indefensible home secretary, or the self-inflicted embarrassment when he described devolution as ‘a disaster’. Not to mention the squandered £17bn discussed above.

If Johnson’s premiership is to recover, he needs to move on from hyperbolic promises about the future and discover the ability for governing well in the present. If that happens, we will shed tears of disbelief.

As we all know the problem with extravagant projects and promises is that they can come back to haunt you!

Last years rash promises to ‘level up’ seduced traditional Labour voters to embrace Johnson and gave us the ‘temporary-55’, unfortunately for many it will be tears of disappointment not joy as he lets them down.

Whilst the chancellor is going some way to fulfilling Johnson’s lavish electoral bribes, the message is clear, its for ‘one Keynesian year only’. The chancellor is a natural fiscal conservative and any plan of his to be prime minister depends on wooing his ultra-shrink-the-state party members.

NHS will still be under funded, and already threadbare public services face deeper cuts


This year’s give away isn’t much of one, over the last decade each of us has lost 25% in public spending. Even the ‘protected’ NHS will still be under funded, and already threadbare public services face deeper cuts, not growth.

Many councils are on the brink of bankruptcy after losing more than 50% of government grants since 2010, Northamptonshire and Croydon have gone bust, and many more are shredding everything they can to balance their budgets by January.

For example, Tory-run Bexley council it is cutting 304 jobs but hasn’t the reserves to pay the redundancies. One in five staff will go – from social care, libraries, parks maintenance, and there’ll be no one left to check CCTV.

Dan Francis, the opposition Labour group leader, protests in vain: forget ‘building back better’. Bexley once had 13 children’s centres now it will have only one which, typically, is in a more affluent area.

The Tory-controlled Local Government Association says that councils need £4bn just to stand still.

No 10, meanwhile, prefers to let councils take the blame for cuts, leaving social care funding in limbo.

Council leaders resemble rabbit in cars headlights, Tory leaders want honours and power, while Labour fears being branded as 1980s Militant-style renegades, or, worse still, being humiliated as Andy Burnham was.

A public-sector pay freeze is a political way of leading up to austerity II; the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) finds public servants are already paid 1.5% less than in 2010. This is levelling down in action.

freeze will hit ‘red wall’ seats hardest, given they have higher proportions of public-sector workers


This freeze will hit ‘red wall’ seats hardest, given they have higher proportions of public-sector workers. In addition, these constituencies will be hardest hit by the benefits freeze: the UK is already at the bottom end of the G7 for benefit generosity, and also among the most miserly in our compensation for those hit by Covid.

I wonder what term will replace austerity in the government’s vocabulary.

This week’s final tears are reserved for Brexit, for some this will be tears of sheer delight, for others it will be sadness and fear. Tears for Fears, perhaps?

On Tuesday, President elect Biden, repeated his call for the border between Ireland and the United Kingdom to remain open as the contentious issue threatens to complicate the final stages of the Brexit process. ‘We do not want a guarded border,’ he said, answering a question from a reporter on what he would say to Brexit negotiators.

Biden has stressed the importance of protecting Northern Ireland’s peace deal in the Brexit process in a call with Johnson, and with other European leaders.

Johnson, whilst seeking a trade deal with the European Union, has repeatedly said he is willing to leave without one, a move that would complicate the situation at the sensitive Northern Irish border with Ireland.

Interestingly, as we prepare to once again ‘stand alone’, one writer compared this to ‘a Churchillian delusion that has been a generation in the making.’ This makes a great deal of sense; Brexit was sold to the populace as the answer to all our problems by ‘growling of Churchill wannabes exploiting English exceptionalism.’

As Johnson said during the 2016 referendum campaign, ‘Winston Churchill would have joined me on the battle bus’. Who can forget when Farage, in 2019, opened Brexit party rallies to the sound of air-raid sirens?

Brexit, whatever it might be, comes at a time when the country can ill-afford any more economic shocks and uncertainty.

A sane leader would have delayed it, the EU would have agreed as, like everyone else, they have enough to worry about with Covid.

Instead we stick to the dogma preached by a few and echoed in the media, that all will be well!

Is this the Tears of a Clown?

‘But don’t let my glad expression
Give you the wrong impression
Really I’m sad, oh I’m sadder than sad..’


Another hard hitting piece from Philip this week, and there’s plenty of ammo – tears of joy, tears of despair, tears for fears and fears for tiers; they all feature.

It seems that Boris is determined to keep pitching ’em up for Philip to dispatch over the bleachers; how can the man stand there and protect Priti Patel, and how can she think that such a hollow performance would be acceptable?

The number of additional deaths caused by Boris’ dithering can only be guessed at, and he still can’t bring himself to bow to Marcus Rashford, despite the fact that the sums required to address child hunger is a drop in the ocean compared with the eye watering sums that have been dished out in government contracts, often to mates without competitive tender.

With overseas aid very much in the spotlight, these so called ‘banana republics’ would surely blanche at this government’s behavior.

Inequality has been a recurring theme, and it’s not getting any better; as Grant ‘Two Planes’ Shapps manages to ensure his well-heeled chums get some much needed winter sun, public servants are facing a pay freeze, almost certainly as a precursor to austerity 2.0.

And there are fears and tears a plenty where those subject to the most extreme Tier 3 measures throw in the towel as hospitality businesses finally run out of puff.

32 points up for grabs this week, but because the teary theme threatened to give a couple away, Philip has come up with a couple of fiendish bonus point challenges; big prize potential, not to be sniffed at.

First, ‘early-80s pop was rarely sharper than this band. I pt for ABC 1pt for ‘Tears are not Enough’ and 5 pts for naming the producer*

Next ‘a Liverpool band that flickered and never quite got there’ 3 pts for ‘Like Leila Khalid Said’ and 1pt for Teardrop Explodes; next ‘the lyric is too easy and the song has been covered numerous times, so…., 1pt for ‘Always Something There to Remind me’ 5 pts for naming the writers**, and a further 5 for the early 80s synth band which covered this song***

Last. ‘5 pts for the two-tone band that had a hit with the song****. Two members of this band then left and joined a singer to form one of the coolest bands of the 80s***** –  5 pts.

*Trevor Horn

**Burt Bacarach and Hal David

***Naked Eyes

****The Beat

*****Fine Young Cannibals



Philip Gilbert 2Philip Gilbert is a city-based corporate financier, and former investment banker.

Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s

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