Tag Archives: channel

Dorries defies public opinion to push ahead with Channel 4 privatisation

Cash cow: campaigning organisation We Own It created this banner, with a highly-relevant message. And why DO the Tories want to privatise Channel 4 so much? For their own profit?

What is the point of the government running a public consultation if it is only going to ignore the result because it disagrees with it?

That is the question we should ask after a public consultation on Nadine Dorries’s plan to privatise Channel 4 showed that a massive 24/25 of the public don’t want it to happen.

96% of responses to a Government consultation said they did not agree with the statement that there are “challenges in the current TV broadcasting market” that present barriers to “a sustainable Channel Four” staying in public hands.

Just 2% said they agreed.

A large number of responses to the consultation came through the social campaigning organisation 38 Degrees, which rephrased the Government’s statement as: “Do you think Channel Four should be privatised?”

But even with these stripped out of the figures, the vast majority of the other respondents – 89% – disagreed that Channel Four is facing challenges to a successful future in public ownership, while 5% agreed.

Dorries has unilaterally decided that the 55,737 UK citizens who responded to her consultation don’t matter.

In a response, she reiterated her claim that the broadcaster faces “serious challenges” and that anyone “choosing to dismiss them” is “burying their head in the sand”.

It seems to This Writer that it is the Culture Secretary who is burying her head in the sand!

Her counter-claim is that Channel 4’s current ownership model, as a publicly-owned, advertising-funded broadcaster, is too restrictive.

But it is a model dictated by the government. Dorries says after the channel is privatised it will be better-able to make its own programmes, because the government will then lift restrictions on borrowing money or raising private sector capital by issuing shares.

While remaining in public ownership would preclude the issuing of shares, it would be perfectly possible for the government to vary Channel 4’s current ownership model to provide it with other forms of revenue generation in order to make, and then sell, programmes.

There is absolutely no need at all – and no public desire – for Channel 4 to be privatised.

But Dorries is determined to do it anyway.

Governments don’t make any changes lightly. They always act (in the case of good governments) in the public interest or (in the case of bad governments like that of Boris Johnson) in their own members’ selfish self-interest.

Look at the increasing influence on the National Health Service of private health companies who count dozens (if not hundreds) of MPs as shareholders.

Dorries’s decision means it is appropriate for us to ask: what do the Tories hope to get out of this? And why should we tolerate the loss of another great public institution to their greed?

Source: Nine in 10 people disagree with Government plans to privatise Channel 4 – survey

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Did Patel drop her ‘pushbacks’ policy against asylum-seekers – or did it never exist at all?

Patel: did she deliberately mislead members of the House of Lords last autumn and is the Home Office trying to cover up for her now?

This is odd.

The BBC is reporting that Priti Patel has abandoned her plan to turn back migrant boats crossing the English Channel, ahead of a court challenge.

But The Guardian has already told us that this policy never existed at all.

It certainly seems true that the High Court was going to hear a legal challenge by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), and the NGOs Care4Calais, Channel Rescue and Freedom From Torture on May 3.

But it also seems true that the court had already refused the Home Office permission for public interest immunity against publishing the details of its alleged pushback policy – and those details, once brought into the light, showed that there was never any plan to turn back asylum seekers.

The Home Office comment that “there are extremely limited circumstances when you can safely turn boats back in the English Channel” therefore rings true.

But the Graun also said that Patel had assured a House of Lords committee that turning boats full of asylum-seekers away from the UK was “absolutely still policy”, last autumn.

The claim that the policy has only now been dropped has muddied the issue.

So it seems to This Writer that the Home Office needs to publish the policy that was written into the Nationality and Borders Bill at the time she spoke those words, to allow us to establish whether she lied to Parliament then and an attempt is being made to deceive us now.

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The DWP doesn’t want you to see this disability deaths documentary. Please tune in

Make a note in your diary: Channel 4, Friday, December 17 (tomorrow), 7.30pm, Dispatches: The Truth About Disability Benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions doesn’t want anybody to see it, apparently.

It’s a documentary investigating the unexpected deaths of disabled benefits claimants, including those who have taken their own lives.

It’s been scheduled at short notice – but the DWP will be taking very careful note of viewing figures for this programme, hoping that it attracts a smaller audience than usual, as this can then be shown as proof that there really isn’t any great public interest in the lives and deaths of benefits claimants.

As the website Benefits and Work states,

If that’s the case, they can carry on denying there’s a problem and keep on covering up the suffering inflicted on disabled claimants by a heartless system.

But the more people who watch the documentary, the harder it will be for the department to brush aside its findings.

And the more likely that others will begin investigating the secrecy surrounding almost everything the DWP does.

Long-term readers of This Site will know that I spent more than two years fighting for the DWP to release up-to-date death statistics on people claiming the sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance (and its forerunners).

The Information Commissioner’s Office eventually forced the government department to release its figures in August 2015 – but it could only provide those for people who had died within two weeks of having their benefits cancelled as civil servants do not follow up on what happens to people beyond that time.

This means that a lot of information about the fate of claimants whose benefits have been cancelled is hidden from the general public – but the little I was able to secure was damning, as it showed that thousands of people had died for unexplained reasons within the three years covered by my Freedom of Information request.

I would have pursued the matter further but we all know what happened next: I reported on false claims of anti-Semitism against members of the Labour Party and was then accused of anti-Semitism myself. I’ve spent the last five years fighting those falsehoods in one form or another.

So I’m glad that John Pring of the Disability News Service has been pushing matters forward.

It seems he was the one who contacted TV production companies around three years ago (2018?) calling for a documentary to be made, and the Dispatches film will apparently tell the stories of the DWP’s disabled victims.

Benefits and Work quotes Mr Pring as saying:

“Those stories are shocking. What is almost as shocking is that we are still waiting for an in-depth, independent inquiry into DWP’s repeated failures over the last decade – and even earlier than that – to learn from its mistakes and make its assessment system safe. 

“Countless disabled people have died because of that failure. We need an inquiry now.”

The documentary is filmed and presented by disabled film-maker Richard Butchins, who has had personal experience of the DWP’s ways.

Relatives of deceased claimants will be speaking out on television for the first time, to explain how the system contributed to the deaths of their loved ones.

And there is testimony from a DWP whistleblower who describes a dismissive and mocking attitude toward claimants among staff at the department.

Allow me to reiterate: the Tory government wants this show to get low viewing figures so it can put out propaganda saying the British public don’t care if a few (hundred)(thousand) cripples croak it after being denied the payments they need to live.

So we need as many people to be told about it as possible.

If you can tell your family and friends, please do. Let’s make sure this is something the Tories can’t lie about.

Source: The Truth About Disability Benefits The DWP Don’t Want You To See

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Hastings lifeboat crew blocked from launching Channel rescue. Will the criminals be punished?

Homicidal hate: Priti Patel has already tried to stop lifeboat crews from rescuing refugees with planned legislation. Now, hate-filled racists are apparently lining up on beaches to make sure that innocent people drown in the Channel.

Hate-filled xenophobes blocked a lifeboat crew from launching to save refugees in danger of drowning in the Channel, it has been confirmed.

Everybody involved in the obstruction is guilty of a criminal offence punishable with an unlimited fine – it has been an explicit crimes since 2006. But will they face justice?

The lifeboat was able to launch, but crews had to call on police to end the obstruction.

The incident came to national attention last week when a caller on James O’Brien’s LBC radio show told him she had witnessed the group blocking the lifeboat, shouting: “don’t bring any more of those home, we’re full up, that’s why we stopped our donations, and that kind of really horrible stuff.” She added: “It was really upsetting, and you could hear the hatred in their voice.”

She said as the “lifeboat crew pulled the boat out and were going to go into the water”, a group of people “stood directly in the line of the boat so the boat couldn’t be put in the water.”

Sussex Police confirmed the incident to LBC:

In a statement, Sussex Police said: “Just after 4pm on Saturday, November 20, police were made aware of reports of a disturbance near to the Hastings RNLI Lifeboat Station.

“A police officer attended the scene while also being supported by colleagues monitoring the situation on CCTV.

“No arrests were made.”

So it seems nobody will be punished for the crime – this time.

But will it embolden others to do the same – or worse?

And what does it say about the United Kingdom, that people here are willing to stand in the way of rescuers in order to ensure that other people drown in the Channel?

The incident has sparked outrage in many people – but not everyone.

Liam Thorp tweeted: “It must take a special level of hate in a person’s heart to try and block a lifeboat from saving people from drowning. This is despicable.”

His views are representative of many.

And Labour MP Nadia Whittome added her support to the RNLI volunteers:

I won’t publish the bile that has emerged from the haters.

The fact that racists feel emboldened to physically try to stop a life-saving rescue from taking place shows just how low the Conservative government has dragged the country.

It shows that everybody in the Tory government, from Boris Johnson to Priti Patel, down to the lowest-level civil servant pushing through her policies of hate, is also a racist who wants innocent people to die.

And it shows that everybody working in the media organisations that promote this hatred is a homicidal racist too.

Is that you?

If so, This Writer would like to know how you justify yourself – and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

How do these people sleep at night, knowing that they have tried to ensure that another person – who has done them no harm at all – will die?

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Did refugees who died in Channel include Afghan soldier endangered by UK withdrawal?

Not ‘migrants’ – ‘refugees’, ‘asylum-seekers’ or simply people: and the boat pictured here is much sturdier than the one in which 31 people have died.

Now the Tory government is twice damned over the deaths of 31 refugees while they were trying to cross the Channel to the UK.

It seems one of the people in the boat that sank was an Afghan soldier who had worked with Armed Forces from the UK.

It has been revealed that UK authorities left behind a wealth of information, including the identities of Afghan nationals who worked with them, when they scuttled off like rabbits for the planes out of that country.

Afterwards, it seems, no help has been provided to those people, despite the evidence that their lives are in danger as a result of UK government bungling.

So it’s no wonder if one family had tried to make their own way out to seek asylum – rightly, of course – in the country they had helped:

Sadly, that family ran into the wall of exclusion that has been put up by the same Tory government that had endangered them. Court action has been launched against the Tories over that policy, but too late for these people:

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary whose policy is the basis for the court action, has dutifully expressed her sorrow at the loss of lives, and done… nothing else. This casts doubt upon her sincerity:

And she’s not the only one:

(Labour’s Keir Starmer attacked the Tories, only last week, for failing to block all refugees from getting onto UK shores.)

Of course the Tories and their client journalists are closing ranks. The cover story is that refugees are not safe because they are resorting to people traffickers to smuggle them into the UK, and these criminals are putting them on craft that are deathtraps:

Fine words from Natalie Elphicke, who herself was caught trying to pervert the course of justice by influencing legal proceedings against her husband Charlie. Her punishment was one day’s suspension from Parliament, which is an odd penalty for a criminal offence.

Ms Elphicke was also found to be one of the MPs who have a second job – at the height of the corruption scandal over these forms of employment – and to be a hypocrite who said Marcus Rashford should concentrate on his day job (football) rather than campaign for school children to have decent meals during the Covid pandemic.

In her comments she also ignored the fact that all the legal routes into the UK have been closed by her colleague in the Home Office. And there’s also this:

So the Tory government had closed legal routes into the UK, but if someone manages to get here by other means and then claim asylum, that claim is legal.

Enter Tory journalist Quentin Letts to trot out the lie that these people come to the UK with “expectations” that they can get benefits here, that they can get a job here, and that the UK is “a soft touch”. When he appeared on Good Morning Britain with that nonsense he got short shrift:

Bringing this back to the Afghan soldier who was said to be in the boat: if the claim is true, he wasn’t coming because he thought the UK was “a soft touch”; he was coming because he had been endangered by the UK government – the Tories who are now so desperately trying to justify themselves with lies about criminals and benefits.

Lies told by killers – whether overt or inadvertent. The refugees and asylum-seekers are the innocent and blameless.

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Tragedy in the Channel as 31 PEOPLE die. The real refugee crisis is these deaths


Public figures including Priti Patel and Boris Johnson have rushed to mouth condolences after 31 people, including five women and a girl, died in the English Channel while trying to reach the UK.

It’s sickening hypocrisy from the government that has done its best to ensure that people are more likely to drown than reach our shores.

And what happens if we find evidence that Patel’s Home Office policies contributed to the deaths?

Remember: Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill proposes that anyone arriving in the UK by an illegal route, such as by a small boat across the Channel, could have their claim ruled as inadmissible, receive a jail sentence of up to four years, have no recourse to public funds, and could have their family members barred from joining them, in breach of the UN refugee convention and the European Convention on Human Rights.

It states that refugees should use safe legal routes – but there are no such routes.

Clause 38 of the Bill potentially criminalises rescuers of asylum seekers if they are deemed to be “facilitating” their arrival in the UK. It has already set Patel at odds with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which has a Royal Charter to rescue anybody facing drowning within UK territorial waters – no matter what their legal status may be.

The Home Office has said the Bill is intended to target “ruthless people smugglers” and organisations like the RNLI – and individuals – would be allowed to continue humanitarian rescue work – but mere assertion doesn’t cut any ice. If so, why amend the law to criminalise all rescues?

Now consider the rhetoric coming from the Tories after today’s tragedy – the biggest single loss of life in the Channel since the International Organisation for Migration started collecting data in 2014.

Boris Johnson said the UK would leave “no stone unturned” to stop human trafficking gangs.

He was trying to justify the unreasonable and potentially fatal policy in his government’s Bill.

As for Priti Patel: It turns out she was told back in November 2019 that her policies were causing asylum-seekers to use more dangerous routes into the UK:

“A policy that focuses exclusively on closing borders will drive migrants to take more dangerous routes, and push them into the hands of criminal groups,” the report said.

She wasn’t interested then – possibly because the report’s advice was to provide more legal routes for asylum-seekers to enter the UK, and to address their reasons for wanting to leave their own lands. She is keen to continue ensuring there are no legal routes.

So Tory policy is to ensure that refugees/asylum seekers have no choice but to use illegal means to arrive in the UK – even if it means they may drown.

They have stoked hatred against these people – who may be fleeing the effects of warfare in their own countries, either caused directly by Western governments like the UK’s Tory administration, or using weapons sold to the combatants by those governments.

And they have falsely claimed there is a refugee crisis in the UK, with the number of refugees spiralling out of control.

Take a look at the graph below. Does it look like the UK has a serious crisis to you?

Oh, and Keir Starmer and his Labour racists aren’t blameless either.

Only last week, Starmer accused the government of failing to do enough to stop crossings: “The home secretary repeatedly says in strong language what she is going to do about the immediate problem and delivers absolutely nothing,” he said.

But it isn’t Starmer’s opponents’ territory; it’s his own because he is as racist as Patel and Johnson.

Given his comments, he should not be allowed to claim any moral high ground if Tory government policy is indeed found to have contributed to this tragedy.

The solution is to open up legal routes into the UK and treat people using them as human beings who deserve to have their reasons for coming here judged fairly. It always was.

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Is Johnson taking us back to war with France, over FISH?

Some of us have spent years saying the Tories are living in the past; now Boris Johnson’s Brexit is proving the truth of it.

He is putting us on the brink of war with France for the first time in 206 years.

Over fish.

He has made us the villains by trying to impose rules on fishing near the Channel Islands that were not part of the UK-EU trade deal. The French are – rightly – refusing to countenance them and are threatening to cut off Jersey’s power supply.

So he has reacted in a manner that is not only arrogant, it is also typically – for a Tory – archaic: he is sending a gunboat. Two, in fact,

Spike Milligan was writing jokes about this, back in the 1950s; rulers of a country whose empire is falling into ruins, desperately trying to hold on to a greatness they no longer have with brinkmanship. The comedy is that they would be fools to launch the military expeditions they threaten.

But there is nothing funny about this. It merely proves that those who claimed that the EU – a pan-European alliance of nations – was created to prevent another war on that continent were right; the UK’s hardly been out for five minutes and we’re setting ourselves up for a rumble.

It is ridiculous. It is insane.

Johnson will lead the UK into a humiliating defeat – both legally and militarily, if he takes it that far.

And he’s going to make the rest of us – right-thinking UK citizens – look ridiculous too.

If nobody reintroduces him to sanity, I wonder where it will end.

Source: UK sends Royal Navy to patrol Jersey port amid fishing row – BBC News

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George ‘Useless’ Eustace doubles down on lie that Tory government has provided money to feed kids

Defending the indefensible: Environment Secretary George Eustice believes children should starve during the holidays, asylum seekers should drown and people should die of Covid-19 rather than let the economy be harmed.

There’s a good reason his nickname is ‘Useless’.

Environment Secretary George Eustace has repeated the insistence of Boris Johnson’s government that it will not provide any funding to feed poverty-stricken children at Christmas.

Interviewed by Kay Burley on Sky News, he said:

Burley provided robust rebuttals of his claims, and could have also pointed out that there is a five-week wait before Universal Credit claims are honoured (if they are allowed) – and that free school meals were provided outside of term time earlier this year because of the Covid-19 crisis that has forced millions of people to take a huge pay cut and that crisis is still going on.

As for the £63 million fund to councils…

Useless – sorry, Eustice – covered himself with shame during his trip round the TV stations today (October 28).

After two adults and two children died on a boat trying to get into the UK, he supported Priti Patel’s line that, rather than creating a new system which would allow asylum seekers to apply for refuge in the UK from outside its borders, the UK should block off all legal channels to do so.

This, of course, creates a huge market for illegal traffickers to send would-be migrants on unsafe channel crossings in which they may die. To Dan Walker on BBC Breakfast, Eustice said:

As you can tell, he doesn’t care if Johnny or Jane Foreigner dies; he just wants to keep them out.

To top it all, when Walker asked why the Johnson government ignored the advice of SAGE to have a lockdown in September in order to avoid having more than 200 deaths a day by mid-November – advice which seems to have been borne out by the fact that 367 deaths were recorded yesterday (October 27) – Useless Eustice said Johnson had chosen to do what he thought was right for the economy, not for the people:

Eustice is a former public relations executive who apparently learned his journalism at Cornwall College in Pool, Cornwall – which happens to be where This Writer did a postgraduate course in journalism.

I don’t think he was there when I was. Otherwise I would now be filled with regret for missing the opportunity to contribute to the national well-being by putting him off politics.

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Ice Cream giants take on Priti Patel over refugees. But are their motives really so pure?

Yes, it’s great fun watching Priti Patel losing whatever’s left of her sanity shouting at Ben & Jerry’s.

The ice cream manufacturer took a side in the debate over asylum-seekers taking to boats in attempts to get into the UK:

And Patel ill-advisedly responded:

It seems the company has a history of political activism, and recently made quite a hit by supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

But a lot of political commentators should have done a bit of research before voicing wholehearted praise for the purveyors of ‘cookie dough’ ice cream (my personal favourite, although I have to try to source it from other makers now).

Steve Topple, of The Canary is the only journo (I’ve seen) who actually understood what’s going on:

That’s exactly what this is.

It is impossible for me to support Ben & Jerry’s making a stand in support of refugees because Ben & Jerry’s has a factory on a former Palestinian village of Qastina, that was destroyed by Israeli troops in 1948. When that land was stolen, it undoubtedly turned a lot of people into refugees. Yes, it was a long time ago but I hope nobody is stupid enough to try to make a point out of that.

Ben & Jerry’s also sells into illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – land that has been occupied by the use of armed force, its rightful owners displaced.

It is unacceptable for a firm that is complicit in the creation of so many Palestinian refugees to claim the moral high ground over the issue of refugees coming to the UK – much though This Writer would wish the opposite to be the case when the other disputant is Ms Patel.

Still, we can always enjoy the fact that she’s #ShoutingAtIceCream – just for the absurdity of it:

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Racist Sajid Javid wants Tory government to break international law on asylum seekers

Sajid Javid: Pleading the cause of racism against asylum seekers.

It’s a common argument against the refugees coming across the Channel to the UK at the moment – why don’t they just stop in France?

The answer is obvious: They don’t feel safe there.

And the legal position is clear: The 1951 refugee convention acknowledges that refugees may enter countries through irregular routes and should not be penalised for this. The outcome of an asylum application cannot be pre-judged, irrespective of how that person reached the country. Asylum claims have to be determined according to the law and the circumstances of every individual case.

All of the above seems to have been lost on Sajid Javid, who seems to think it would be big and tough of him to refuse asylum to anybody who manages to cross the Channel safely.

The Prole Star is correct. It would be illegal to refuse asylum to anybody who arrives in the UK and demands it, based on the method of their arrival or the fact that they did not stop in another country instead. It is not up to him to make such a decision.

As Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott pointed out: “It is not for Sajid Javid to claim that asylum seekers may not be genuine. He cannot know. We have a system for determining that.”

Can you imagine what would happen if Mr Javid went through with his racist idea?

No?

Well, don’t worry – all you have to do is watch events in Israel, where the racist Likud government has announced that it intends to expel around 38,000 African refugees.

(I say racist because the hatred of people of other ethnicities is clear; Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the expulsions are necessary to protect Israel’s “Jewish character”.)

Many of the people concerned say they came to Israel to seek asylum after fleeing persecution and conflict, but the authorities in that country regard them as “economic migrants”.

The BBC report of this outrage states that the group affected by this policy “includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status”.

But the Guardian‘s report on Sajid Javid’s racism includes a comment by immigration and asylum barrister Colin Yeo as follows: “Sending genuine refugees to face persecution in order to dissuade others from seeking to come here is plainly illegal.” If Israel is signed up to the same convention as the UK – and it is – then it is illegal in that country as well.

And the words of Yvette Cooper, quoted in the Guardian report, may also be applied to Israel: “Asylum claims have to be determined according to the law and the circumstances of every individual case, not as an arbitrary political decision supposedly to deter others.”

Sadly, it seems there is no penalty for non-compliance – other than bad publicity in the newspapers, and that depends on the political leanings of their owners.

Perhaps Mr Javid thinks a little bad publicity is worth risking. It seems likely he’ll be watching what happens in Israel with great interest.

Of course, if a general election is called in the meantime, there’s a chance his racist ideas will come to nothing.

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