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Keir Starmer Criticises PM’s ‘Whack-A-Mole’ Approach To Staff Shortages

Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer criticises PM’s ‘whack-a-mole’ approach to staff shortages

Keir Starmer has blamed the fuel crisis on Boris Johnson’s “whack-a-mole” approach to running the country, urging him to plan ahead or risk staff shortages in a string of other industries in the coming months.

Ministers have suspended competition law in the energy sector and called in the army in recent days as they scramble to alleviate the shortages on forecourts caused by a lack of HGV drivers.

Other sectors including social care, hospitality and food production have also highlighted difficulties in finding staff as a result of Brexit and the Covid pandemic, and the CBI said this month the problems could persist for up to two years.

Starmer said: “The government at the moment is playing whack-a-mole: it’s trying to whack down one problem and another one pops up somewhere else. And that is a pathetic, lamentable lack of planning.”

He said a Labour government would “plan across the board with the different sectors”.

Starmer’s party voted for Johnson’s Brexit deal last Christmas, saying it did not want to risk a no-deal exit, but the Labour leader has accused the prime minister of failing to “make Brexit work”.

Labour believes the spectacle of empty shelves and shuttered petrol stations sends voters a powerful message about the government’s incompetence, though some of Starmer’s colleagues felt he failed to intervene forcefully enough last weekend when the crisis was raging.

Back in London after delivering a party conference speech that ridiculed Johnson as “a trivial man”, Starmer said he believed the prime minister’s appeal was “wearing a bit thin” with voters.

“People know the difference between a slogan and actually getting things done, and what they’re not seeing is him getting things done,” he said. “They see a government that simply can’t govern and can’t plan, and of course that’s going to wear thin.

“You’ve got that collection of failures, whether it’s energy, fuel, empty shelves, people can’t get to work because they haven’t got the petrol, people aren’t doing the journeys that they need to do.”

Starmer said he believed his 90-minute conference speech, which pressed home the themes of “work, care, inequality, security”, had helped to address critics’ claims that he lacks political pizzazz.

“People did say the delivery was pretty good, so let me cast off some of the characteristics that are always piled on me,” he said.

Asked if he was deliberately unshowy, in contrast to Johnson whom he called “a showman with nothing left to show,” Starmer said: “I’d like to think I put on a pretty good show yesterday.”

However, he conceded that he hoped his serious approach contrasted with Johnson’s. “In the end, I think people want a degree of seriousness about the problems that we confront,” he said.

Labour’s internal divisions were on display this week, not least during Starmer’s speech when he was heckled repeatedly by a small number of party members.

Despite accusations of abandoning the radical prospectus on which he won the leadership, Starmer insisted Labour was setting out radical policies that should give activists from across the party “something to get behind”.

He cited plans to put first-time buyers at the front of the queue for new-build homes; to ensure workers are granted full employment rights from day one; and the shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves’s £28bn-a-year climate fund.

“If people who want to change our country for the better want something to get behind, we have put a bold set of policy proposals on the table on housing, employment, education and climate,” he said. “I would invite everybody to say ‘there is now something we could do’.”

Starmer has pushed through a series of changes to Labour’s governance rules that he and his team hope will allow Labour MPs to focus more on the concerns of voters and less on disgruntled grassroots members. But it sparked a backlash, including from the Corbynite campaign group Momentum.

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Supreme Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Adeleke’s Candidacy

The Supreme Court has affirmed Ademola Adeleke as the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the just concluded Osun State Governorship Election.

This has laid to rest the suit filed by Dotun Babayemi, a governorship aspirant of the party who sought the invalidation of Adeleke’s victory.

In a judgement delivered by Justice Amina Augie, the five-member panel held that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit after counsel for the appellant, Adebayo Adelodun, withdrew the earlier notice of appeal that was filed within time.

At the resumed hearing, Adelodun, who represented the appellant and Babayemi informed the court that he sought to withdraw the earlier notice of appeal to replace it with the fresh application he filed.

But the panel held that Section 285(11) of the constitution stipulated that an appeal on a pre-election matter must be filed within 14 days from the day of the decision, and that having filed the second appeal out of time, the apex court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Justice Augie, therefore, dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Babayemi had asked the court to invalidate the primary election that produced the governor-elect, citing non-compliance with a court order.

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400 Staff To Lose Jobs As BBC Goes Digital

The British Broadcasting Corporation BBC world service has on Thursday disclosed that about 400 of its staff will lose their jobs as part of a cost-cutting programme and move to digital platforms,

The BBC said its international services needed to make savings of £28.5 million ($31 million) as part of wider reductions of £500 million.

In July it detailed plans to merge BBC World News television and its domestic UK equivalent into a single channel to launch in April next year.

BBC World Service currently operates in 40 languages around the world with a weekly audience of some 364 million people.

But the corporation said audience habits were changing and more people were accessing news online, which along with a freeze on BBC funding and increased operating costs meant a move to “digital-first” made financial sense.

BBC World Service director Liliane Landor said there was a “compelling case” for expanding digital services, as audiences had more than doubled since 2018.

“The way audiences are accessing news and content is changing and the challenge of reaching and engaging people around the world with quality, trusted journalism is growing,” she added.


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Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian made landfall at around 15:10 local time (19:10 GMT) on Wednesday, smashing into the coast with wind speeds of up to 241km/h (150mph).

Dramatic scenes saw a hospital roof blown off, cars submerged and trees ripped out of the ground.

The category four hurricane was later downgraded to a tropical storm.

However, Floridians were warned that the most dangerous 24 hours lay ahead and the mayor of Tampa urged people to shelter in place through the night into Thursday morning.

“We are going to get the majority of the rain and the higher winds starting about 20:00, and they are going to last throughout the night,” Jane Castor said during a Wednesday evening briefing.

In a message posted on Facebook, the Weather Prediction Center told residents in the Central Florida Peninsula to expect “widespread life-threatening, catastrophic flash and urban flooding” continuing into Friday morning, with potentially up to 76cm (30ins) of rain falling locally.

Residents were ordered to leave their homes, but many have decided to remain and seek shelter indoors.

Mark Pritchett, who lives in the city of Venice, some 95km (60 miles) south of Tampa, described the “terrifying” moment he stepped outside his home as the hurricane made its way across the Gulf of Mexico.

“Rain shooting like needles. My street is a river,” he said in a text message to the Associated Press news agency.

In Lee County – the south-west region where Ian made landfall – police were prevented from responding to reports of looting at a petrol station because of the storm damage.

As a result, a curfew has been declared “until further notice”.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said that the Fort Myers community had “been – to some extent – decimated”. According to news agency AFP, some neighbourhoods in the city of 80,000 had been left resembling lakes.

State Governor Ron DeSantis described Ian as the “biggest flood event” south-west Florida had ever seen, and announced that 7,000 National Guard troops are ready to lead rescue operations in flood zones.

President Joe Biden will receive a briefing on Thursday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ian is now continuing to move north through Florida. Jacksonville International Airport, based in north-east Florida, cancelled all flights scheduled for Thursday.

The storm is forecast to emerge into the Atlantic by Thursday morning.

It is expected to reach Georgia and South Carolina on Friday. Virginia has also joined Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida by declaring a state of emergency.

Cuba’s western coast was hit by Hurricane Ian on Tuesday. Power has now been restored in some areas after the island was plunged into a total blackout. Two people are understood to have been killed in Cuba and more than 20 Cuban migrants are believed to be missing at sea.

Predicted path of Hurricane Ian. Updated 27 September

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