Published On: Fri, Jun 5th, 2020

Radical roundup: 10 stories that got buried this week

In no particular order…

PS: Got a story tip? Email us: editor@leftfootforward.org

10. Around half a million people have now signed a petition calling for the UK to suspend exports of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields to the USA, in just three days.

LFF first reported that the UK has granted dozens of riot gear export licenses to the US since 2010.

9. The cause of Welsh independence is “truly in the mainstream” the Leader of Plaid Cymru Adam Price has said, after a new poll found support for an independent Wales was at 32% (when don’t knows are excluded).

The latest Welsh Political Barometer Poll, conducted by the Wales Governance Centre, ITV and YouGov, found an increase of support for independence of four points since the last poll.

Professor Roger Scully of the Wales Governance Centre said this was the highest level of support yet recorded for Welsh independence.

8. Social media platforms remove fewer than 1 in 10 posts reported for coronavirus misinformation, it emerged this week.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are failing to take action against more than 9 in 10 posts containing misinformation about coronavirus which are reported to the platforms, new research from the Centre for Countering Digital Hate finds. It came as a parliamentary select committee found real examples of people’s lives being endangered by misinformation online.

7. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons’ short scrutiny published a report on the state of women’s prisons.

Inspectors visited Bronzefield, Eastwood Park and Foston Hall prisons on the same day (Tuesday 19 May) during the coronavirus pandemic. The prisons had imposed restricted daily regimes. Video calls had yet to start and some women had not seen their children for two months.

Women in Foston Hall prison received only half an hour of exercise each day; women at Bronzefield and most women at Eastwood Park received an hour. Face-to-face education had been largely suspended. Rates of self-injury had risen at Bronzefield and Foston Hall.

Across the three prisons, 120 women had been reviewed as potential candidates for the end of custody temporary release scheme, but only two had been released.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “In its attempt to restrict the spread of the virus, the government is holding women in conditions of solitary confinement, putting their physical and mental health at risk.”

6. The latest Ipsos MORI political pulse poll shows a plurality of people now have a negative view of the PM: 39% are now favourable to the Prime Minister while 43% are unfavourable.

Last month 45% of the public had a positive opinion of Johnson and 38% viewed him negatively. This is the first time more Britons have been unfavourable towards the PM than favourable since the beginning of March.

More Britons are forming an opinion on Keir Starmer over time; 62% now hold a positive or negative opinion of him compared to only 41% when Ipsos first asked in January. More than one third of Britons (36%) have a favourable opinion of Starmer, up 10 percentage points from April, while only 26% see him negatively.

5. Whoopi Goldberg has teamed up with Extinction Rebellion in a new animation set in the future. The three minute film looks back from 2050 to show how people came together to save the world from the climate crisis.

The film, entitled The Gigantic Change goes live on Friday, World Environment Day.

4. The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is applying to intervene in a High Court legal challenge brought by multi-millionaire Simon Dolan. Dolan, a Monaco-based businessman, is attempting to force the government to prematurely end the lockdown, a move that the IWGB say would disproportionately impact low-paid and BAME workers.

The IWGB will argue that the Government was obliged, under Articles 2 (Right to Life)  and 14 (right to freedom from discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights, to impose the lockdown because in order to protect lives, particularly those of BAME and low paid workers.

BAME workers are disproportionately represented in low-paid and precarious sectors. These workers are more likely to attend work in spite of the restrictions because they face destitution otherwise. This dramatically increases their chances of contracting – and dying from – Covid-19.

3. Labour announced a consultation on its plans for a green economic recovery.

You can find it here.

Labour for a Green New Deal also published a petition calling on Labour to back public ownership of failing airlines in order to manage a just transition. The petition gained the backing of more than 800 Labour members in twelve hours.

2. The SNP has slammed Labour’s newly-appointed DWP spokesperson for a controversial interview on welfare.

In an interview with PoliticsHome, Shadow Secretary for the Department for Work and Pensions, Jonathon Reynolds, claimed that those who have made “greater contributions to the system” should receive more out of it. He added: “One of the reasons that support for social security has diminished amongst parts of the country is the sense that people put into the system and they don’t get anything out of it.”

SNP MSP Shona Robison said: “Sadly it looks like Keir Starmer’s front bench wants to turn back the clock to the worst aspects of Blairism.”

However, other commentators considered it a ‘back to Beveridge’ approach: universalism, with a basic safety net but more if you’ve ‘paid in’.

1. ONS statistics suggest thousands of people with undiagnosed COVID-19 were sent back to care homes from hospitals. Commenting, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“These ONS figures show the sheer scale of the coronavirus crisis in our care homes. The figures suggest many people with undiagnosed COVID-19 were released from hospital back to care homes, which clearly fuelled the coronavirus tragedy in our care homes leading to the UK having the worst death rate in Europe.

“Each one of these deaths is a tragedy, and the toll on families that couldn’t attend funerals for their loved ones is heartbreaking.

“The Government must explain how this crisis in our care homes happened and confirm there will be a full and speedy independent inquiry so we can learn from these serious mistakes and keep people safe in the future.”

Josiah Mortimer is co-editor of Left Foot Forward.

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