Tag Archives: controversy

Greensill controversy proves Cameron’s lobbying law was NOT about restricting lobbyists

Cameron: we used to joke about him often having spit dribbling down his chin – maybe he was salivating at the thought of all the money he was (allegedly) lining up for himself post-premiership.

Remember the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act that David Cameron forced on us, back in 2014?

Some of us called it the “Gagging Act” because we knew it was about preventing some organisations and individuals from having a voice in Westminster.

You see, the remit of the lobbying and non-party campaigning part of the act was extremely narrow.

Of course, this meant it also allowed others to carry on bending the ears of government ministers, and I seem to recall that concerns were raised about high-level MPs receiving payoffs from these people in return for privileged access…

…Or indeed, taking jobs for these people – as seems to be the case with former Prime Minister David Cameron.

We need to get our ducks in the right row here, though: Lex Greensill, of financial services firm Greensill Capital, is alleged to have been afforded privileged access to government departments in 2012, two years before the Lobbying Act became law. That would not have been illegal at the time – would it?

Apparently Greensill had been promoting a financial product for pharmacists – The Pharmacy Early Payment Scheme, announced in 2012, that saw banks swiftly reimburse pharmacists for providing NHS prescriptions, for a fee, before recovering the money from the government.

Greensill Capital went on to provide funds for the scheme.

It was later accredited to supply lending under the government’s Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), before Greensill went bust.

The dodgy part is Cameron’s role. He would have been responsible for giving Greensill privileged access in 2012.

He would have been able to ensure that the 2014 law did not affect that privileged position – by narrowing criteria to make sure that Greensill didn’t have to appear on the register of lobbyists, perhaps.

He definitely joined Greensill – as a lobbyist – in 2018 and lobbied on behalf of that firm. The Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists, investigating, has ruled that Cameron’s activities did not fall within the criteria that required him to be registered as one – according to rules laid out in Cameron’s 2014 Lobbying law.

It looks very much like Cameron rigged the law to make it possible for him to feather his own nest. That would be a serious case of corruption, of course.

He certainly seems to have blocked rules that would now apply to him.

It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Source: Lex Greensill: Labour questions ex-adviser’s No 10 business card – BBC News

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Confusion over sign removed from outside Labour conference. Was it anti-Semitic? If so, why?

Is this sign anti-Semitic? It shows Israeli political leader Benjamin Netanyahu, in a plan marked “Israel lobby”, launching “defamation” missles at Jeremy Corbyn, who is speaking on Palestinian rights.

Police have removed a sign depicting Jeremy Corbyn being attacked with “defamation” missiles by Benjamin Netanyahu, while the Labour leader speaks on Palestinian rights. Mr Corbyn himself had complained that it is anti-Semitic but members of the public seem confused about his reasons.

The Mirror reported:

An “anti-Semitic” poster from outside the Labour Party conference has been removed.

The Labour leader said he was “disgusted” that the poster had been put up outside the conference centre.

He said: “We asked the police to remove it and I’m glad they did.

“This kind of antisemitic poison has no place whatsoever in our society.”

Benjamin Netanyahu is depicted flying a plane which represents the Israeli lobby and dropping bombs of “defamation” accompanied by the speech mark anti-Semite, anti-Semite, anti-Semite.

It bore the slogan “IHRA tell the NEC how you feel” referring to the huge row about the party’s refusal to adopt the full internationally-recognised definition of anti-Semitism.

It suggests that accusations of anti-Semitism in Labour are being created by an Israeli lobby.

Firstly, an aside: one of the reasons I was expelled from Labour was for putting “anti-Semitic” in quotation marks in an article about material that clearly was not. Will Labour complain to the Mirror for doing exactly the same thing? If reporter Nicola Bartlett was a Labour member, would she be expelled? There’s a possible double-standard here, before we even start discussing the meat.

And the meat is a simple question: Is the image anti-Semitic?

Anti-Semitism is hatred toward Jews. If anything, the image is a depiction of hatred toward Mr Corbyn, and toward Palestinian rights. Isn’t it?

My personal opinion is that this is not an attack on Mr Netanyahu and/or the critics of Mr Corbyn he represents because they are Jews. There is no criticism here of Jews who do not wish harm (political or actual) upon Mr Corbyn, and anti-Semitism is a hatred of Jews, because they are Jews. The image would have to attack all Jews. It seems clear to me that it attacks people who call Mr Corbyn an anti-Semite, because they are liars.

The question of whether an “Israeli lobby” has been directing hate, including false accusations of anti-Semitism, at Mr Corbyn and his Labour Party is one that has been asked since the first allegations against his supporters, back in 2016 – and it has never been investigated by Labour, let alone answered.

Middle East news channel Al-Jazeera did investigate, and broadcast a four-part series entitled The Lobby, showing very clear evidence that the Israeli government was interfering in UK politics.

It may seem strange, then, that some have condemned a poster pointing this out. Legitimate criticism of Israel is not to be labelled anti-Semitic, even according to the flawed IHRA definition and examples.

The demand for the poster to be removed has triggered a huge debate on Twitter, with many people asking what is wrong with it:

Consider this dialogue:

That’s right, isn’t it? The missiles in the image are marked “defamation”, and it is true that false claims of anti-Semitism against Mr Corbyn have been made time and time again over the last four years. It is clearly a metaphor.

Then again, can anybody forget Rachel Riley’s comment about Jeremy Corbyn, wishing that someone would “take him out” (if I recall correctly)? She has (falsely, in my opinion) set out her stall as an advocate for Jews in the UK – although I feel certain that a vast majority of the 300,000 or so Jews living here may be extremely unhappy to have this said by somebody who claims to be speaking for them.

https://twitter.com/Norma_Daiquiri/status/1176063989865992192

This refers to a comment by Tracy-Ann Oberman, who was quoted in the Mirror article, claiming she would come to Brighton and rip it down herself if it wasn’t removed. Ah, but young Tracy-Ann doesn’t have a good record on factual accuracy when it comes to anti-Semitism…

I note also that a comment on the Mirror story suggested people should follow certain Twitter accounts including “David Collier, GnasherJew, Emma Picken, Lee Kern”. While I’m unfamiliar with Lee Kern, the other three are notorious troll accounts, part of an organisation known as the “GnasherJew troll collective”. Here’s David Collier, spreading a little unwarranted hate himself:

Most people just responded in confusion:

https://twitter.com/LizstChopin/status/1176068000396566530

https://twitter.com/Wirral_In_It/status/1176091459164016640

There are many, many more such comments.

This is what happens when the Labour Party tries to accommodate hate, rather than addressing it.

I mean, of course, the hatred of the people attacking Mr Corbyn constantly with fabricated claims that he is an anti-Semite.

His capitulation to them – fortunately the only sign of weakness by this hugely popular Labour leader – has merely worsened a situation that reached appalling levels of discrimination with the expulsion of anti-racist campaigners including Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and – yes – myself.

And when challenged over its attitude, both Mr Corbyn and the Labour Party run away.

I have never had an answer from the party as to why it pursued me as an anti-Semite. That process was started by an official who is now no longer a member of the party and was himself being pursued over allegations that he had leaked (in my case, false) information about anti-Semitism allegations to the press.

So – yes. This sign has exposed the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Not Labour’s failure to deal with anti-Semitism – but its failure to challenge false accusations and the people who make them. That is Labour’s shame today.

The Mirror article and its comments may be read at: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/sign-taken-down-labour-anti-20146095

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UKIP in Wales: ‘No longer a party of democracy’. Was it ever?

150202james-coleUKIP

UKIP Wales have been rocked this week by the resignation of their deputy chairman James Cole, according to Exposing UKIP.

To make matters worse, Cole posted a scathing attack of the party as his Facebook status, claiming that UKIP in Wales are ‘no longer a party of democracy’.  Here is his post in full:

150202UKIPcoleresignation

Exposing UKIP goes on to highlight some of the possible “manipulation of power and core principles” in which Mr Coles took part, including his selection and deselection as UKIP’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Llanelli: “Firstly, he was controversially declared (by UKIP Llanelli chairman Barry Clark) as PPC despite not achieving a two-thirds majority in a members’ vote.  Non-committee members were not given the chance to verify the count.  After a complaint made from within UKIP Llanelli to UKIP’s head office, party chairman Steve Crowther ruled the vote invalid.  Cole was deselected.  To add to the events, during UKIP Llanelli’s next meeting in November, a journalist was ejected and UKIP were accused of curbing press freedom.”

Mr Cole’s claim to be against racism appears to be countered by a glance at his Facebook ‘likes’, including Britain First and the “hate-filled” page ‘We demand an immediate end to immigration’, the admin of which admits being a ‘passionate’ ex-BNP supporter.

150202UKIPcolelikes

Readers will be aware that Vox Political is based in Mid Wales, where UKIP has an active membership. What hope is there that any of those people will be any different, if this is the state of Welsh UKIP’s (former) deputy leader?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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If BBC News was a barrel of apples, would Nick Robinson really be the rotten one that spoiled the whole bushel?

How the Daily Record reported the 4,000-strong demonstration outside the BBC's Glasgow headquarters, after the social media revealed that Nick Robinson had misrepresented Alex Salmond in a report.

How the Daily Record reported the 4,000-strong demonstration outside the BBC’s Glasgow headquarters, after the social media revealed that Nick Robinson had misrepresented Alex Salmond in a report.

When TV licence-fee payers take to the streets in protest against BBC news coverage, you know there’s something rotten in New Broadcasting House.

The Corporation’s political editor, Nick Robinson, is apparently responsible for kicking up the stink – by broadcasting a misleading report about SNP leader Alex Salmond. Robinson claimed Salmond failed to answer a question during a news conference but footage has emerged on the Internet providing no less than seven minutes of proof to the contrary.

Did you notice the word “apparently” in the immediately preceding paragraph? It is there for a very good reason.

There is no doubt that Robinson knowingly misled the viewing public by making a false claim about Alex Salmond. The SNP leader definitely answered his question as this Pride’s Purge article makes clear. It is surprising that, after multiple debunkings of the mainstream media by their social media counterparts, organisations like the BBC still think they can get away with this kind of behaviour.

The operative question is, why did Robinson ignore what Salmond said? Was it not what he wanted to hear? Was the reference to information that should not have been divulged to the BBC too sensitive for the Corporation to allow onto our screens? Or was there a more deep-seated political agenda?

Frequent Vox Political commenter Jeffrey Davies reckons that Robinson’s report is a breach of the Trades Descriptions Act 1968.

In his comment, he says he bought his licence in the belief that the BBC would follow its Charter and Agreement (Section 3: Accuracy, Principles) commits it to fair, unbiased coverage:

“The BBC must not knowingly and materially mislead its audiences. We should not distort known facts, present invented material as fact or otherwise undermine our audiences’ trust in our content.”

Regarding the Salmond incident, he said it breaches Article 44 of the BBC Trust Charter Agreement, which states: “(1) The BBC must do all it can to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality in all relevant output.”

He is right, and it is right that Robinson should pay for what he has tried to do.

But what about Fran Unsworth, deputy director of BBC news and current affairs; Mary Hockaday, head of newsroom; and Gavin Allen, news editor, BBC News? According to Private Eye (issue 1369, 27 June – 10 July 2014, p12), “all vie for control of the [New Broadcasting House] newsroom and the historic task of ‘driving the news agenda’.” If that is correct, which of them carries the responsibility for this cock-up?

Come to that, what about Keith Blackmore, managing editor of news and current affairs; Jonathan Munro, head of newsgathering; and their boss James Harding, the director of news? Did they have a hand in this balls-up?

Or did the rot emanate from the new chair of the BBC Trust, Rona Fairhead – who only took up her position last Tuesday (September 9)? What’s her involvement in this cock-and-ball story?

Why mention these directorial types when a news report is the responsibility of the person making it? Simple.

Most – if not all – of these distinguished personnel are also distinguished Conservatives, and it is known that the Conservative Party supports the ‘No’ camp in the referendum campaign.

Robinson is also a dyed-in-the-wool Conservative, as the following (again from Pride’s Purge) makes clear:

NickRobinsonConservative

Therefore we must ask whether any or all of them agreed to ‘slant’ BBC reporting in favour of the ‘No’ camp in an effort to influence voters on behalf of their Tory masters.

We should demand their suspension while an impartial investigation takes place – followed by their resignation if they are found to have any responsibility in this matter.

Do you think that is overstating the matter?

Then perhaps some other matters should also be taken into consideration, including the privatisation of the National Health Service, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the abuse of sick and disabled people by the Department for Work and Pensions – all of which are considered to have enjoyed either biased reporting or have been ignored altogether by lovable, licence-fee-funded Auntie.

38Degrees has launched a petition calling for an independent inquiry into BBC bias regarding the Scottish referendum campaign. To sign, visit this site.

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Cameron in Afghanistan was no Lawrence of Arabia

131218afghanistan

How does one mark the passing of Peter O’Toole, if not by watching Lawrence of Arabia? It was his first film role and, some say, his greatest.

I’m sure I cannot be the only one to have drawn comparisons between T.E. Lawrence, as played by the great O’Toole on the silver screen, and David Cameron – who behaved like a tool when he said of British forces in Afghanistan, “Misson accomplished”.

In the film, Lawrence is shunned by his colleagues in the British military because of his unconventional ways, but accepted by the Arabs – firstly because he is able to quote the Koran to them, secondly because he goes out of his way to accomplish feats that seem impossible (like rescuing one of his Arab friends from The Sun’s Anvil) in order to give them hope of military success, and thirdly because he achieves these things for their good, not his own.

David Cameron is a different matter. Unlike Lawrence, he is not an original thinker – or indeed any other kind of leader. He is a follower. British military policy in Afghanistan was not his policy, and he made no effort to take control of it. He has made no effort to understand the admittedly-complicated history and culture of a country that has rightly been described as “troubled”, although few people bother to remember that much of that trouble has been caused by invaders including the British. And if he has gone out of his way, it was to avoid actions of distinction. But he’s happy to take the credit for everything that has been done.

This is why, when Cameron said the mission in Afghanistan will have been accomplished by the time the last British troops leave in 2014, so many commentators jeered.

Cameron is currently saying that the mission was to build up security in Afghanistan, to ensure it cannot become a haven for terrorists again, after our forces leave. This might seem reasonable if it were not merely the latest in a long list of mission statements provided for Afghanistan over the incredible 12 years since we arrived there in 2001.

Others, according to The Guardian, include “removing Al Qaida’s bases, eradicating poppy cultivation, educating girls and helping forge a form of democracy”. While we cannot comment on the first of these, the others either failed abjectly or have become the subjects of fierce controversy. The government of Hamid Karzai has long been criticised as corrupt.

Cameron’s choice of words also creates an unhealthy comparison with Iraq, which fell into chaos for a considerable period after then-US President George W Bush declared “mission accomplished” there.

Even the comedy Prime Minister’s attempt to put the soundbite across to the media seemed hesitant. “The purpose of our mission was always to build an Afghanistan and Afghan security forces that were capable of maintaining a basic level of security so this country never again became a haven for terrorist training camps,” he said.

“That has been the most important part of the mission… The absolute driving part of the mission is the basic level of security so that it doesn’t become a haven for terror. That is the mission, that was the mission and I think we will have accomplished that mission,” he added, unravelling completely by the end. He mentioned security three times, “haven for terror” twice, and the mission no less than six times!

And the experts disagreed. The British ambassador to Kabul from 2010-12, William Paytey, said: “Afghanistan has got a long way to go and it could be many decades before we see real peace there.”

So Cameron cuts a poor figure in comparison with Lawrence – and even, returning to our starting point, in comparison with Peter O’Toole. In his hellraising days, Cameron and his Bullingdon friends used to smash up restaurants; Peter O’Toole and his buddies would have tried to buy them.

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