Tag Archives: Damian

Priti Patel gains – and loses – security minister role while Johnson dithers

UK aid: Priti Patel’s previous attempt to get the UK to provide aid to Israel, to help that country’s soldiers occupy part of Syria, is not what that stands for. But did Boris Johnson even consider that when going back on his decision to give her the duties of the former Security Minister?

There’s a little debate about what exactly happened here.

The role of security minister was handed to Home Secretary Priti Patel around a month ago, after then-incumbent James Brokenshire announced that he had to give it up to fight cancer. He had had the disease before but it had returned.

This should have been on a strictly temporary – emergency – basis while Johnson found a replacement.

But Johnson dithered.

He left Patel in charge of the brief for more than a month and then – yesterday, the day after a gunman shot five people in Plymouth in the worst shooting incident on UK soil since 2010 – it was reported that Patel was taking over the role on a permanent basis.

If that decision actually came from Johnson, it didn’t last.

It was announced that Damian Hinds would take on the brief, last than a day after we were told Patel would keep it.

How messy.

One is encouraged to speculate on the reason for the apparent confusion – and one logical answer presents itself immediately.

The ‘Security’ brief includes counter-terrorism, serious and organised crime, cybercrime, economic crime, hostile state activity, extradition, and royal and VIP protection.

It also covers online harms; the common travel area between the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands; aviation and maritime security; Grenfell; and flooding, hurricane, and natural disaster relief.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the minister also oversaw the functioning of the domestic national security system, including MI5 and counter-terrorism policing, as well as the functioning of the serious and organised crime system, including the National Crime Agency, and cybersecurity.

Backtract a little…

“Hostile state activity”?

Didn’t Priti Patel go on a junket to Israel while pretending to be on holiday, hold meetings with a series of heavyweight Israeli politicians including then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and then try to use her influence as (then-) International Development Secretary to divert some of that department’s budget to fund the Israel Defence Force occupying the Golan Heights in Syria?

And didn’t this happen only a few months after an Israeli Embassy employee conspired with at least one Conservative to have Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan removed from his position because he was perceived to be hostile to that country?

Both those actions could be deemed to be activity by a hostile state.

And one of them involved Patel herself. Clearly she is unfit to be trusted with such a sensitive government brief.

So I wonder whether Johnson was reminded of this, and changed his mind.

That would at least suggest that he has some sense of judgement.

The alternative – that he made his decision without even realising that his Home Secretary is herself a security risk – is horrifying indeed. Isn’t it?

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How can anyone support Boris Johnson, knowing the contempt he has for them?

Contempt: Boris Johnson exhibits his honest reaction to the ordinary people of the United Kingdom who voted him into the highest office in the land.

If you know anybody who still thinks Boris Johnson gives a damn about their interests, or has the well-being of the UK at heart, tell them what happened to Damian Furniss.

Mr Furniss is now a writer and a worker in health and social care, based in Devon. But in 1984, he was awaiting an interview for a place at Balliol College, Oxford, when he encountered Johnson at the bar:

“Three years older than me, and half way through the second class degree in Classics he coasted through with the diligence he later applied to journalism and red box briefings, you’d have expected him to play the ambassador role, welcoming an aspiring member of his college.

“Instead, his piss-taking was brutal. In the course of the pint I felt obliged to finish he mocked my speech impediment, my accent, my school, my dress sense, my haircut, my background, my father’s work as farm worker and garage proprietor, and my prospects in the scholarship interview I was there for. His only motive was to amuse his posh boy mates.

“In short, he demonstrated all of the character flaws that make him unfit to be our Prime Minister. Nothing I see today suggests he has changed. He’s not Falstaff, he’s Faust. If you are an ordinary working person and think he has your interests at heart, think again.”

Read it for yourself, if you are able to read text in images:

The trouble is, there are millions of ordinary working people who still – unaccountably – reckon that Johnson does have their interests at heart.

If you know any of them, please do the rest of us a favour.

Tell them about what happened to Mr Furniss. Get them to read this article if you can.

And then make it clear to them that Boris Johnson would treat them in exactly the same way.

He’s an overprivileged, entitled posh boy whose only interest is his own enrichment. He thinks you exist purely to supply him and his oiky buddies with free money, or to entertain them by submitting to his insults and bullying.

He doesn’t care about you and he never will – and everything he does is intended to harm you.

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Are the Tories covering up political collusion in the murder of Pat Finucane?

Pat Finucane was shot dead in 1989. Isn’t that long enough ago that his surviving family deserve a little closure?

Isn’t it funny how highly sensitive and controversial issues like the deaths of 96 people at Hillsborough or the murder of Pat Finucane get kicked into the long grass when there’s a hint of political involvement?

No, not funny… convenient.

Finucane was a Northern Ireland solicitor who had become noted for representing republicans during the Troubles (although in fact he also represented loyalists).

In February 1989, while his family were enjoying Sunday lunch, loyalists burst into their home in north Belfast with a sledgehammer and shot him 14 times in front of his wife and three children.

Inquiries led by Sir John Stevens, a former Metropolitan Police commissioner, concluded that “the murder of Patrick Finucane could have been prevented” and that “there was collusion”.

In another inquiry, Judge Desmond de Silva found that “a series of positive actions by employees of the state actively furthered and facilitated his murder and … in the aftermath of the murder, there was a relentless attempt to defeat the ends of justice”.

According to Rory Cormac in his book Disrupt and Deny,

Fingers pointed towards the FRU,

[Force Research Unit, a covert military intelligence body responsible for handling British agents inside paramilitary organisations. The book says, “although it also recruited republican informants, [it] is alleged to have been involved in a number of murders, often through providing intelligence files and weapons to loyalist terrorists]

which had used Brian Nelson, the intelligence chief of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), as an informant at the height of the Troubles. Nelson used this relationship to provide loyalist terrorists with intelligence to help them target their victims, including a dossier on Finucane, and served 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder.

Cormac added,

Some commentators have alleged collusion at the highest levels of government, almost forming a state policy.

But he stated:

This is highly unlikely. There was no policy of collusion. De Silva found no evidence suggesting that ministers tasked intelligence agencies with assisting terrorist groups in any way. Briefed only at the strategic level, ministers had no involvement in tactical aspects or knowledge of the actions of specific agents. Neither is there any evidence that ministers knew about the plan to kill Finucane. Instead, they were kept unaware of intelligence leaks from security forces to loyalist para-militaries.

That said, he continued:

British propaganda enabled collusion. Prior to his murder, MI5 had spread information referring to Finucane amongst the loyalist community. De Silva found that MI5 material “effectively involved fanning the rumours and speculation linking him to the IRA.” The aim was to discredit and unnerve him rather than to incite violence, but it ensured that loyalists associated Finucane with the activity of his clients and could also have legitimised him as a target.

His conclusion?

Whitehall, unwittingly or otherwise, did preside over a system conducive to collusion.

Having read that, This Writer finds it very easy to believe that the system – if you can call it that – was wide open to abuse. It would have been very easy for someone with a grudge against Finucane to ensure that someone with a grudge against republicans eliminated him.

So I tend to sympathise with his family members. If it had happened to one of my relatives, I’d want to know for sure exactly who was responsible.

And Brandon Lewis’s decision not to hold a public inquiry “at this time” sets alarm bells ringing – especially when one remembers that the UK’s government committed itself to holding an inquiry 20 years ago.

Lewis says other review processes must run their course first. Do those processes refer to events that took place after this 1989 murder, or before? If before, shouldn’t the Finucane inquiry take precedence?

And it adds veracity to John Finucane’s words in the BBC article:

The British government, at every opportunity, will continue to make the wrong decision, and will put all of their efforts into ensuring that the truth as to what happened with the murder of my father – the full truth – will not see the light of day.

Source: Pat Finucane: No public inquiry into Belfast lawyer’s murder – BBC News

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Bryant gets burnt over ‘gammon’ gag

Chris Bryant: He’s starting to learn that careless tweeting can cost careers.

If this wasn’t so deliberately disingenuous it would be absolutely hilarious. It’s still funny, but tinged with the malevolence that accompanies all right-wing Labour MPs claims of anti-Semitism in others.

You may be aware of the slang term “gammon” – used to describe (according to the Wikipedia page on the subject) “older white men, especially those who are particularly patriotic or supported Brexit, who appear pink-faced when emotional. The term is a comparison of their skin colour to the pink of salted pork hind leg, i.e. gammon.”

The term came into common usage after 2012, although its use can be traced back to Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, in 1838.

The Wikipedia page even carried a photograph of Labour MP Mike Gapes, listing him as “an example of prime gammon“, until it was edited off on August 27.

This may be the reason:

You may be aware of rumours that Mr Gapes has been set to resign from the Labour Party in response to the latest wave of (false) anti-Semitism accusations against Jeremy Corbyn.

As Mr Gapes is a member of Labour Friends of Israel, the organisation that was famously offered £1 million by Israeli government conspirator Shai Masot to remove Mr Corbyn from his position as Labour leader, this is unsurprising.

It attracted a tweet by “Damian from Brighton” to Mr Gapes, linking these two threads as follows: “Your departure from Labour is completely understandable. You are a supporter of an organisation associated with an apartheid state so it isn’t tenable for you to remain in the party.”

He added: “Could you confirm your leaving date? I will be holding a gammon supper to celebrate.”

Enter Chris Bryant, Labour MP for the Rhondda, who is not a supporter of LFI but seems to be a supporter of Mr Gapes:

Twitter did a collective double-take – and then piled on on Mr Bryant like a pack of hungry wolves.

Here’s part of the conversation. Note the number of different contributors:

https://twitter.com/matteoj17/status/1034151964718841856

At this point, Damin from Brighton re-enters the narrative, with a tweet to the Labour Party Whips’ Office, party general secretary Jennie Formby, and the party’s general purpose Twitter feed:

He was absolutely right to do so. At best, Mr Bryant was being wilfully ignorant; at worst, he was deliberately (and lamely) trying to create another false accusation of anti-Semitism.

Mr Bryant failed to retract his statement, so Damian decided to take matters further:

Anyone wishing to support him can email [email protected]

During this time, Evolve Politics (who brought my attention to this issue via the tweet at the top of this article) published a piece about the row, it’s well worth reading and contained a tweet from Mr Gapes:

One can only imagine he thought he could bully Damian off.

Not so:

This is what happens when people in authority abuse their position.

Both Mr Gapes and Mr Bryant are now facing the possibility of punishment for their attempts to bully, browbeat and otherwise batter a person who was expressing a perfectly acceptable opinion.

They thought the public would lie down and quietly accept that they knew best.

But the public has had enough of the false accusations and its members are determined to have their say.

We have the facts, we have the arguments and – by the way – we have the numbers.

Visit our JustGiving page to help Vox Political’s Mike Sivier fight anti-Semitism libels in court


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