Guilty, guilty, guilty

Sienna Rodgers
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The man who murdered George Floyd has been found guilty on two counts of murder and one of manslaughter. That the former police officer is being held accountable will hopefully bring comfort to Floyd’s family, but we don’t know what the outcome would have been without the crucial video recording by 17-year-old Darnella Frazier. As Floyd’s nephew noted, “it’s still scary to be a Black man or woman in America encountering police”. David Lammy, Labour’s justice spokesperson, commented: “No judgement can ever make up for murder, but it means everything that justice has been served tonight for George Floyd. Let this send a clear message both in the USA and across the world: BlackLivesMatter”.

The dominance of football news over recent days may be coming to an end. Plans for a new ‘European super league’ have fallen flat after fans, commentators, footballing bodies and politicians expressed outrage, prompting the teams involved to pull out last night. The risk is that everyone takes their eye off the ball (sorry) and the idea pops up again in a year’s time when bosses take a less obtuse approach. There is also now, er, every other problem in the game to sort out. Labour’s shadow sports minister Alison McGovern is determined not to let the issues raised this week get brushed under the carpet: in a LabourList piece today, she urges “all those who care about football to join us in organising to put supporters back at the heart of the game”.

Another important development is likely to be buried in this heavy news cycle. Johnny Mercer threatened to resign as veterans minister over changes to the overseas operations bill, so Downing Street – fearing he would create a stink at the despatch box today, according to Politico – sacked him. This is the legislation that aims to protect UK soldiers from prosecution for crimes committed abroad after five years. It is understood that the government is now prepared to accept that torture, genocide and crimes against humanity should be excluded from the time limit. That this was even being considered (and was passed by MPs) is astounding, but nonetheless it appears critics of the bill have chalked up a significant win.

Two other bits of news play into key Labour attack lines – Tory cronyism and reckless spending. The first is around Boris Johnson’s texts to James Dyson, which show the Prime Minister promising to “fix” concerns around the tax status of Dyson’s employees when the businessman planned to make ventilators. Labour has called the revelations “jaw-dropping”, and there are definitely questions over access, as with the Greensill scandal, and whether Johnson followed the correct procedures. But people may be ready to accept the defence that exceptions should be made for a crisis moment. “I find it hard to get worked up about this,” Tony Blair told the BBC earlier when asked about the leaked messages.

The second story is that £2.6m was spent on a room for press conferences that will never take place. Boris Johnson had planned White House-style affairs, and hired Allegra Stratton to lead on them, but the idea has been thrown on the scrap heap. This means the stupendous spend went on an ugly room that will now be used irregularly, while Stratton will instead be the Prime Minister’s COP26 spokesperson. Labour has called it a “pointless vanity project” by a PM “running scared” of scrutiny around “sleaze” and “dodgy lobbying”. If only a few million here or there could be treated so casually when it came to measures that substantially improve people’s lives. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.

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