Tag Archives: ban

More gay and bisexual men can give blood – after wait of more than six years (at least!)

It is more than six years since I tore metaphorical shreds off of Michael Fabricant for suggesting the ban on all gay men giving blood should be lifted – and this announcement proves I was right.

At the time, Fabricant reckoned the ban on sexually promiscuous gay men should be lifted as straight men who behave in the same manner do not suffer the same discrimination.

I stated that this was insane – partly because it misrepresented the issue.

The problem, I said, was that the ban did not only affect sexually promiscuous gay men, but any man who had had sex with another man, with or without a condom.

This clearly discriminated against gay men who were in a monogamous relationship in which both partners were free of infection. They should not be covered by the ban, I said.

Fast forward to the new announcement:

Men who have sex with men in a long-term relationship will now be able to donate blood at any time.

The new criteria [focus] on individual behaviours, lifting a blanket ban for any men who have had sex with men in the last three months.

All blood donors who have had one sexual partner and who have been with their sexual partner for more than three months, will now be eligible to donate regardless of their gender, the gender of their partner, or the type of sex they have.

Under previous rules, all men who have sex with men had to abstain from sex for three months in order to donate.

It is as though the authorities had (belatedly) read my article.

There was more to it than is being stated by the BBC, though. Here’s what I wrote, back in 2014:

The ban was put in place – unless the memory cheats – because blood supplies donated by gay men were discovered to be infected with HIV. Anybody can see that a ban on anything that could spread HIV is entirely sensible and should only be lifted if technology has moved on enough for doctors to spot infected blood immediately or screen out the infection in blood that has been donated.

The issue then was that people who had been in a monogamous relationship for a long period of time, and who did not have HIV when they started it, were not going to have it when they applied to give blood either, and it was discriminatory to ban them from doing so.

The new change rectifies that. I welcome it.

Source: Blood donation: Rule change means more gay and bisexual men can give blood – BBC News

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Who are the troublemakers pretending that Welsh shops will be banned from selling alcohol?

It isn’t true – and that’s official.

Rumours have started circulating that the Welsh Government is to ban the sale of alcohol anywhere in the country from December 17.

But the Welsh Government itself has stated categorically that the claim is a lie.

Clearly somebody thought they could capitalise on the ban on pubs selling alcohol by spreading a scare story. Who are these troublemakers? Name and shame them where you can.

Obviously Christmas is a time when more people like to sit back and enjoy a taste of their favourite tipple (but drink responsibly, folks!) and an alcohol ban would be an extremely unpopular move.

It would also be completely pointless. The ban on alcohol in pubs was to curb the spread of Covid-19 through the hospitality industry and there is no perceived need to stop alcohol entering socially-distanced homes.

So the rumour can only be an attempt to discredit the Welsh Government and score political points.

Let’s find out who started it so we can discredit them instead.

Source: Rumour of imminent ban on buying alcohol in shops in Wales ‘simply not true’ – Nation.Cymru

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Hodge wants ban on social media anonymity – what a great idea! It will curtail fake anti-Semitism claims

It’s the first time This Writer has agreed with Margaret Hodge in years.

She has said the government must ban online anonymity or make social media directors personally liable for defamatory posts, revealing that she receives tens of thousands of abusive tweets a month:

Hodge accused the government of deliberately delaying the online harms bill in order to avoid difficult conversations with powerful social media companies, and said she was prepared to take up a campaign to make sure the law was tough enough.

The Online Harms Bill arises from a White Paper produced last year – and This Site commented on it at the time.

The White Paper – and now the Bill (I expect; I haven’t actually seen any information on it since April last year) proposed a statutory duty of care, to be conferred on media companies including platforms such as Facebook and Google, online messaging services like WhatsApp and file hosting sites.

They would be required to comply with a code of practice, setting out the steps they must take to meet the duty of care. This may include designing products and platforms to make them safer, directing users who have suffered harm towards support, combating disinformation (for example by using fact-checking services), and improving the transparency of political advertising.

They would be expected to co-operate with police and other enforcement agencies on illegalities including incitement of violence and selling illegal weapons.

And they would have to compile annual “transparency reports” detailing the amount of harmful content found on their platforms and what they are doing to combat it.

The government would have powers to direct the regulator – initially Ofcom, with a dedicated regulator to follow in the future – on specific issues such as terrorist activity or child sexual exploitation.

I pointed out last year that the White Paper did not include any measures to stop people creating anonymous accounts.

If Ms Hodge wants to see that happen now, then I am all for it.

It will stop me receiving much (but not all) of the abuse I get from people wrongly accusing me of anti-Semitism after the Labour Party expelled me under false pretences (as shown in court).

But that’s not what was on offer in April last year. As I made perfectly clear, “regulating online media platforms will not stop people posting “harmful” content to them, if there is nothing to stop them from doing so. It is farcically easy to create anonymous accounts, from which to post objectionable and/or abusive content.

“Shut one down? That’s fine – the individual responsible can have another up and running in a matter of minutes, if they don’t have multiple aliases working already.”

And I made that point that “it has been argued that people must have a right to be able to post anonymously, because of personal circumstances that make it important – possibly for their personal safety.”

My response: “Fine. A system can be devised in which people apply for anonymity and the number of people or organisations able to ascertain their real identity is strictly limited. That would allow these individuals to continue functioning in the online world. And it would prevent others from abusing social media platforms. Any posts from an unrecognised anonymous account would be easy to flag up and isolate.”

If Ms Hodge is proposing such a system then I am behind her every step of the way, and never mind all the other differences we have.

Although – as a staunch witch-hunter herself – I wonder whether she would approve of that outcome.

Source: Margaret Hodge calls for ban on social media anonymity | Online abuse | The Guardian

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Pub ban for curfew-backing MP: he says it’s political but they say he ‘killed us’

Don’t shed any tears for Warrington South MP Andy Carter, who has been banned from 30 pubs, clubs and bars in his town after voting in a 10pm curfew for them.

He has retaliated to the ban by the local Pubwatch scheme, saying it had been used for political aims that brought it “into disrepute”.

But this is nonsense. His own colleague Victoria Atkins, minister for safeguarding, said in 2019 that “Pubwatch enables licensees to take collective action against troublemakers”, and what could make more trouble for local pubs than a Parliamentary decision that one local Pubwatch member said “absolutely killed us”?

He said people were angry and Mr Carter had shown “no support for the hospitality industry at a time when we need as much as we can get”.

Carter’s own claim that the hospitality industry had enjoyed a huge amount of government help is risible as he mentioned Eat Out to Help Out, Rishi Sunak’s scheme that has been proved to have accelerated the second wave of Covid-19.

Sunak has refused to rule out bringing the scheme back.

Who will take him up on it, I wonder?

Source: Lifetime pub ban for Warrington MP who backed 10pm curfew – BBC News

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Rees-Mogg’s hypocrisy over England-Wales travel ban is borderline schizoid

Rees-Mogg: doesn’t he look properly psychotic in this image? Little did we know that it reflects his actual personality. Or did we..?

See what I did there? No? Allow me to explain:

Jacob Rees-Mogg has supported to the hilt plans that would put permanent borders within the United Kingdom – in the middle of the Irish Sea and on the inland border of Kent.

But he reckons a plan by Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford to ban entry into that country by people from other areas of the UK with higher Covid-19 lockdown restrictions is “unconstitutional”.

It isn’t; it simply puts those other parts of the UK in the same situation as those parts of Wales that are under more stringent restrictions and Drakeford is well within his rights to impose this temporary rule.

It seems, regarding internal borders, Rees-Mogg is schizoid – he is literally of two minds.

Here’s Nation.Cymru:

Jacob Rees Mogg replied: “What would you expect of a hard-left Labour Government?

“The approach to putting a border between England and Wales is unconstitutional and will place the police in an invidious position considering that they serve the whole of the United Kingdom.

“We are one single United Kingdom and we should not have… borders between different parts of the United Kingdom.

“And I’m afraid that is what you get when you vote for socialists.”

He did not offer any evidence that the Welsh Government’s plan was unconstitutional. Health is a devolved issue in Wales and can be legislated upon by the Welsh Parliament.

Police are not devolved but organised on an England and Wales, Scottish, and Northern Irish basis.

The measures regarding people coming to Wales from England are the same as those that exist between Welsh authorities.

You can see him making his comment here:

Phew, what a loony!

“Hard-left Labour government”? Rees-Mogg’s own constituency of Bath and North-East Somerset is very close to Wales. All he has to do is cross a bridge to realise that this is not a country full of Bolshevik revolutionaries.

Drakeford himself always struck me as being more of the ‘New Labour’ persuasion than a socialist. Perhaps he’ll take the hint from Rees-Mogg and adopt a more left-wing policy from now on (that would be welcome).

Realistically, we could suggest that Rees-Mogg’s attitude is that of the spoilt boy who finds that someone else has been playing with his toys; perhaps he thought nobody else was allowed to do as Drakeford has – now he knows better.

Alternatively, he’s mad as a bag of cats.

Our friends in the social media have an opinion about that, of course:

Come to that, so do a few people from Wales itself:

Of course it is perfectly permissible to travel out of Wales in order to give Rees-Mogg a verbal battering.

And if you don’t travel through any English Covid hotspots, it’s perfectly permissible to travel back in again.

The only people under any restrictions are those who should not be travelling anyway.

So this Tory fool is making a fuss about nothing.

Source: Rees-Mogg incorrectly claims new Welsh Covid-19 restrictions are ‘unconstitutional’ – Nation.Cymru

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Tories have Commons Twitter account banned from tweeting vote results

He fought propagandists – but did he expect his own party to become the enemy? Churchill’s statue stares toward Parliament. If it was the man himself, it would probably turn its back in disgust.

Can you believe this? The Tories have contrived to have the House of Commons Twitter account stopped from tweeting vote results – because Johnson’s party said it was biased against them.

The House of Commons Twitter account has been banned from tweeting the results of votes after Tory MPs complained it was breaking impartiality rules when one tweet went viral.

During the passage of the trade bill, intended to pave the way for post-Brexit trade deals, the Commons Twitter account shared the outcomes of votes on amendments and new clauses: a 326-263 defeat for a clause relating “to parliamentary approval of trade agreements”, and approval without division for amendments about “sharing information and ministerial functions relating to trade”.

The descriptions were taken from the explanatory statement written by the MP who proposed the motion, and the tweet about new clause 17 was no different. That clause, the tweet said, was “intended to protect the NHS and publicly funded health and care services in other parts of the UK from any form of control from outside the UK”, explaining that it had been defeated 340 votes to 251.

The defeat allowed Labour to argue that Conservative MPs had voted against protecting the NHS from overseas control. The tweet itself was a key piece of evidence, which is why it gained 5,000 likes and almost 17,500 retweets in less than 24 hours.

That drew the attention of Tory MPs, who were bombarded with questions from constituents about why they had voted against such protection. The day after, MPs from the party made a complaint to the clerk of the House, the politically neutral civil servant who oversees the work of the support staff, including the social media team.

They argued that the tweet was in breach of the Commons’ requirement for impartiality. By the end of the day, the Commons team had deleted it and posted an apology.

So it was perfectly permissible for the offending words to be published in the explanatory statement by the MP who proposed the motion; the Tories just didn’t want them to get to the public.

What does that tell us about the Conservative government?

That they don’t want us to have full information about what happens in Parliament?

That they think Parliamentary media should not provide information to the public?

That they want such media to offer pro-Tory propaganda instead?

Johnson and his cronies have really taken the Josef Goebbels method to heart.

But the act has been a huge turn-off to the public – including This Writer (but you’d expect that, I’m sure):

I would have thought the answer was obvious: a would-be fascist dictatorship. But Johnson’s Tories are even failures at that.

Source: Commons Twitter account banned from tweeting vote results | Politics | The Guardian

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Schools are now for indoctrination, not education, as teaching of non-capitalist ideology is forbidden

Education secretary Gavin Williamson: he’s too stupid to realise the best way to get people interested in something is by banning it.

Boris Johnson’s government has lurched further towards fascism with an edict banning any anti-capitalist ideology from schools.

Any ideology other than capitalism is to be considered an “extreme political stance” from now on, according to guidance issued by the Department for Education and its secretary of state, Gavin Williamson.

Resources from organisations that have expressed a desire to end capitalism are henceforth to be considered equal to opposition to freedom of speech, anti-Semitism and endorsement of illegal activity.

As former shadow chancellor John McDonnell said, the measures effectively outlawed reference in schools to key events in British history, and symbolised growing authoritarianism within the governing Conservative party.

McDonnell said: “On this basis it will be illegal to refer to large tracts of British history and politics including the history of British socialism, the Labour Party and trade unionism, all of which have at different times advocated the abolition of capitalism.

“This is another step in the culture war and this drift towards extreme Conservative authoritarianism is gaining pace and should worry anyone who believes that democracy requires freedom of speech and an educated populace.”

Totalitarianism is nearer the mark.

Economist and former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said the guidance showed “how easy it is to lose a country, to slip surreptitiously into totalitarianism”.

He added: “Imagine an educational system that banned schools from enlisting into their curricula teaching resources dedicated to the writings of British writers like William Morris, Iris Murdoch, Thomas Paine even. Well, you don’t have to. Boris Johnson’s government has just instructed schools to do exactly that.”

Of course Mr Varoufakis will be among the first to be banned:

Critics of the new policy have come out in force.

Emyr Lewis added a few names to the list of banned authors: “We’ll have no more of your William Blake, your Shelley, your George Bernard Shaw, your D. H. Lawrence…”

And here’s mention of one highly notable person that the Tories ought to ban, if they’re serious:

This, from Jessica Simor QC, makes the point that the Tory government itself has broken its new guidance on multiple occasions:

How about this:

This makes the point in coarser terms:

Opinions of the Johnson government have been… frank:

Rohit K Dasgupta put it mildly, commenting on Tory racism: “Teachers: Rosie has 10 apples and gives Rashid 4. How many apples does Rosie have now? DfE: Stop that at once. This is straight up communism. Rashid has to prove he is a legal immigrant and can buy those apples.”

Then there’s this:

But there is an optimistic side to this. Here‘s Martin O’Neill:

Schools in England told not to use anti-capitalist material in teaching”. – My optimistic prediction is that this will backfire spectacularly. This government are creating a generation that will forever despise them and everything they represent.

And it is creating a generation that will want to know why alternatives to capitalism are being banned from schools.

This Writer certainly intends to put as much information about those alternatives into the public sphere as possible.

I’m happy to take suggestions too.

Source: Schools in England told not to use anti-capitalist material in teaching | Education | The Guardian

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Spectators told ‘stay away’ from St Leger after This Site’s story about it

Jam-packed: This is how the crowd at the St Leger event in Doncaster usually looks. With Covid-19 back on the rise in the UK, Boris Johnson’s Tory government was happy to allow it to go ahead. Fortunately, the local authority was more interested in public safety than private profit.

This Writer would love to take credit for the latest u-turn but I don’t really think it is anything to do with me.

Shortly after This Site asked whether the decision to impose new Covid-19-related restrictions on public gatherings after the weekend had anything to do with the St Leger horse racing event being during the weekend, organisers were told to forbid entry to the public in any event.

I had pointed out the extraordinary business interests in horse racing held by Health Secretary Matt Hancock and ‘Test and Trace’ boss Dido Harding.

As MP for horse racing centre Newmarket, he receives significant donations from the horse racing industry, while she is a director of the Jockey Club.

So it seemed reasonable to ask whether these facts had anything to do with the delay in the new restriction. Many others have pointed out that you can’t do a deal with Covid-19 to wait until after the weekend, after all.

And we should all be reminded that the Cheltenham Festival, in March, was allowed to stay open to the public – and expert evidence suggested that this led to “increased suffering and death”.

In the end, it seems, any personal interests people like Hancock, Harding, or indeed Boris Johnson may have in the St Leger turned out to be immaterial:

Doncaster Racecourse has been told by local health officials to stop spectators attending its St Leger meeting after Wednesday’s opening day.

“On the grounds of public health and public safety I have instructed the course to hold the St Leger Festival behind closed doors from tomorrow,” said Dr Rupert Suckling, director of Public Health for Doncaster.

So any corrupt or greed-motivated reasons for delaying the restriction have been thwarted.

Good. It is the right decision for the health of the nation.

Source: Doncaster Racecourse told to stop spectators attending St Leger meeting – BBC Sport

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Social gatherings to be banned: are the Tories using Covid to make themselves the fun police?

Closed: social gatherings for more than six people will be banned from September 14, with only a few exceptions – because the Tories are clamping down on fun.

Some people may be pleased by the introduction of a ban on social gatherings for more than six people after September 14 – but it won’t stop the Covid-19 spike currently raging through the UK.

All it will do is confirm that Boris Johnson and his gang are using the pandemic to stop anybody in the wider population from having a good time.

Just look at what the new rule covers:

A new legal limit will ban larger groups meeting anywhere socially indoors or outdoors, No 10 said.

But it will not apply to schools, workplaces or Covid-secure weddings, funerals and organised team sports.

It will be enforced through a £100 fine if people fail to comply with police, doubling up to a maximum of £3,200.

Where are people most likely to catch the disease? Schools, workplaces and on their way to and from them.

This measure will not stop the second wave at all.

But it will stop us having fun – and it will stop us getting together to complain about the fact that our country is being run by a moronic gang of entitled fat-heads.

A new dark age is descending on the UK.

Source: Coronavirus: Social gatherings above six banned in England from 14 September – BBC News

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Tory u-turn over eviction ban – but is it really the reprieve renters needed?

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Faced with a widespread campaign, supported by the media, the Tories have done what they always do – and u-turned on the plan to restore tenant evictions.

Landlords would have been able to evict tenants from August 24 – for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed in March.

But now the Tories have extended the ban… for just one month.

Why so short a period? And what’s going on with all the conditions and caveats they’ve applied?

Apparently, after the ban ends, landlords won’t be able to evict anybody for a further six months – until March 2021 – because they’ll only be able to issue notice of evictions from the new date the ban ends (September 20).

So when is the ban actually ending? September 2020 or March 2021?

And Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has said possession cases brought by landlords will be heard again “when the courts reopen” – after the summer vacation? After lockdown restrictions are lifted? Where’s the clarity.

It is fair enough that what Jenrick calls “the most egregious cases, for example those involving anti-social behaviour or domestic abuse perpetrators” be handled as soon as possible.

But I wonder exactly what will be done for renters who are falling behind on their payments during the four week delay that couldn’t be done during the previous six months.

People need protection from losing their homes; they are more vulnerable to it now than at any time since This Writer was born.

But most of that vulnerability has been created by Conservative politics.

So what are the Tories going to do? And why haven’t they done it already?

Source: Eviction ban extended for another month in last-minute government u-turn – Mirror Online

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