So the UK has a worse record for supporting United Nations recommendations on human rights than Saudi Arabia. That’s shaming.
Among those who should be particularly ashamed is Home Secretary Amber Rudd. We are being criticised over the fact that we can hold people in detention centres for unlimited periods of time and she is a serious offender – ignoring even court orders telling her to release at least one detainee.
Ms Rudd is also notorious for deporting people – sending them back to their home country where they may face danger or even death.
But that isn’t all. The Department for Work and Pensions, its ministers, and the minority Tory government in general, along with those who were Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs during the time of the Coalition Government and the short-lived Tory government of 2015-17, are all guilty of failing to uphold the human rights of people with long-term illnesses and disabilities.
At the present time the Tories are busily denying having caused any harm to the sick and/or disabled, even though the statistics tell a different story.
It is hard to imagine the UK doing anything regarding recommendations on abortion either, with the minority Conservative government dependent on the anti-abortion DUP to win votes in the Commons.
And what will happen after this week’s showdown? I’ll tell you:
The UN has no power to force the UK into upholding the human rights of its citizens – and, it seems, is unable to impose sanctions on this country for failing to do so.
Therefore the Tories can continue to do exactly whatever they like to the vulnerable. And they will.
There isn’t even the possibility of the Tories feeling ashamed. They don’t get embarrassed about hurting anybody in a weaker position then themselves.
Just look at Amber Rudd.
Britain is heading for a confrontation this week at the UN human rights council over its failure to support more than 100 recommendations on subjects ranging from the rights of children to the international law on abortion.
David Isaac, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), will attend the UN’s universal periodic review (UPR) of the UK’s human rights record in Geneva, a process which takes place for every country once every five years.
Among the recommendations that the government has declined to back, a number outline the need for the UK to limit how long someone can be held in an immigration detention centre. The UK is the only European country without such a time limit.
Britain has also declined to support recommendations on the detention of children in immigration centres. Of a total of 229 recommendations by UN members, the government will confirm that it is supporting just 96 – 42% of the total. The government has chosen simply to “note” the remainder.
George Osborne: During the debate on the Charter for Budget Responsibility, one person on Twitter suggested, “George Osborne would be better off coming to the despatch box & folding a towel into a swan than talking economics.”
The only difference is that, in 2015, a Conservative had suggested it.
Tuesday’s ‘fiscal charter’ debate in the House of Commons was full of these hilarious U-turns.
The one that’ll be in all the news media will be John McDonnell’s decision to reverse a policy he announced two weeks ago and oppose George Osborne’s Charter for Budget Responsibility. It is bitterly unfortunate for him that, trying to be heard over the usual Tory catcalls and childishness, he repeated the word “embarrassing” four or five times. That’s what the right-wing media will quote.
And that’s a shame, because he also put to bed – definitively – Tory claims that Labour was responsible for the financial collapse of 2007/8/9 and the global crisis that came with it. He said (boldings mine): “Over six years, the Conservatives have managed to convince many people that the economic crisis and the deficit were caused by Labour Government spending. It has been one of the most successful exercises in mass public persuasion and the rewriting of history in recent times. Today I am going to correct the record.
“The Conservatives backed every single penny of Labour’s spending until Northern Rock crashed.
“The average level of spending under Labour was less than it was under Mrs Thatcher.
“It was not the teachers, the nurses, the doctors and the police officers whom Labour recruited who caused the economic crisis; it was the recklessness of the bankers speculating in the City, and the failure of successive Governments to ensure effective regulation.
“In opposition, this Chancellor and his colleagues wanted even less regulation of the banking sector that crashed our economy.
“The deficit was not the cause of the economic crisis, but the result of the economic crisis.”
John Redwood tried to claim the Tories had warned about the possibility of collapse but, having read numerous accounts of those times, This Writer finds his comment unconvincing. For the record, he said: “I chaired the economic policy review for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor and there was strong advice that tougher regulation was needed on bank cash and capital. We expressly warned that the banks were over-borrowed and over-geared and that the whole system was very shaky, and I remember the Opposition constantly warning about excess debts in the system.”
An economic policy review does not necessarily equate to Conservative Party policy, but nevertheless his claims will have to be checked. Isn’t it interesting that nobody has mentioned this in seven years since the crash happened?
Mr McDonnell also warned us about the consequences of Tory economic policies. Responding to criticism by former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke, he said: “His Budgets balanced, but when they balanced, there were 40,000 homeless families in London. People were dying on waiting lists before they got their operations. Those were the consequences of his economic policies.”
He said if he were Chancellor, he would reverse tax cuts that favour the richest.
He would empower HM Revenue and Customs to chase tax avoiders and end the ridiculous situation that allowed Facebook to pay just £4,500 in its annual tax return – less than many low-income earners.
And he would invest in the UK economy to grow us out of debt.
Let’s have another U-turn – the SNP. According to Stewart Hosie, it now opposes the Charter for Budget Responsibility again. That’s nice, after Nicola Sturgeon’s little speech in support of it on May 26.
In seriousness, Hosie gave a cracking little speech. This Writer’s favourite part was the response to Tory James Cartlidge. Hosie said: “I will happily give way to the hon. Gentleman if he can tell me why he is going to support the economics of the madhouse.
Cartlidge’s reply was: “He talks about punishing the poor, but last week the Office for National Statistics showed that the number of workless households is at the lowest level on record. Does that not show that our strong economy is delivering not only stability, but social justice?”
Not according to Hosie! Without hesitating, he said: “I am absolutely delighted when workless households get one or more people into a job and have the opportunity to better themselves, but what I am not prepared to tolerate is people who work harder than us having £1,300 a year cut from their tax credits, which stops making work pay.”
Also U-turning were the Liberal Democrats, whose Tom Brake told the Commons the party would not support the fiscal charter. This is strange, since the Liberal Democrats helped introduce it, while in coalition with the Conservatives before the general election. Now reduced to just eight MPs, it’s a little late for them to have seen the error of their ways.
But the biggest U-turn was, of course, that of George Osborne and the Conservative Party itself. In 2010, quoting economist Willem Buiter, he said: “Fiscal responsibility acts are instruments of the fiscally irresponsible to con the public.” At the time, 181 of his Conservative Party colleagues agreed with him.
Yesterday, he said: “This budget charter provides the discipline we need along with the flexibility we might require” – and again led his Tory colleagues through the lobby in support of his argument, which was a clear and utter contradiction of their position in 2010.
Making hypocrites of themselves yesterday were:
Amess, Sir David
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Bottomley, Sir Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Burns, Sir Simon
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Sir William
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davies, David T.C.
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Duncan, Sir Alan
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fox, Dr. Liam
Gale, Sir Roger
Garnier, Sir Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gray, Mr. James
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Sir Oliver
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Howarth, Sir Gerald
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Leigh, Sir Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Lidington, Mr. David
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Osborne, Mr. George
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pickles, Sir Eric
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Syms, Mr. Robert
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Watkinson, Dame Angela
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Wilson, Mr. Rob
I make that 92 Tories who are quite happy to throw their principles to the wind.
Oh… There was a question of whether a large number of Labour MPs would abstain in a gesture of defiance against the party’s new direction, and there were a very few abstainers – 21, in fact.
They were: Rushanara Ali, Ian Austin, Adrian Bailey, Ben Bradshaw, Ann Coffey, Simon Danczuk, Chris Evans, Frank Field, Mike Gapes, Margaret Hodge, Tristram Hunt, Graham Jones, Helen Jones, Liz Kendall, Chris Leslie, Fiona Mactaggart, Shabana Mahmood, Jamie Reed, Graham Stringer, and Gisela Stuart.
Some of these names were expected, such as those of Liz Kendall, Tristram Hunt, Simon Danczuk – all of who have earned rebukes from This Blog for behaviour unbecoming of a Labour MP. Jamie Reed resigned as a shadow health minister, practically the instant after Jeremy Corbyn was named the new leader of the Labour Party. And Gisela Stuart covered herself in ignominy when she proposed a “grand coalition” of Labour with the Conservatives, prior to the general election. The SNP had a lot of fun with that one.
Clearly these chumps are out to cause trouble and their future behaviour – or misbehaviour – should be watched very closely. They need to be told in no uncertain terms that their future membership of the Labour Party may be jeopardised if they continue to be embarrassments.
What do their grassroots members think of these antics?
If The Guardian‘s story yesterday is correct, it seems the Conservative Government of the 1980s was perfectly happy to protect child abusing cabinet members, because the harm they caused to “small boys” was deemed to be less important than “the risks of political embarrassment to the government”.
In fact, the risk posed to children was not considered at all; the only concerns set out in correspondence between then-director general of MI5, Sir Anthony Duff, and then-Cabinet Secretary Sir Robert Armstrong were dangers to security (national security?) and political embarrassment for the Conservatives.
If that does not make you physically sick with disgust at the attitudes that pervaded the top level of government in the United Kingdom, read it again until it does.
Implicated in the papers are the recently-deceased former Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, along with Margaret Thatcher’s parliamentary private secretary, Sir Peter Morrison, former diplomat Sir Peter Hayman and former minister Sir William van Straubenzee.
Note carefully the fact that everybody implicated had a knighthood – indicating just how institutionalised child abuse appears to have been.
The other connection between them is that they are all dead – meaning that, if they did commit crimes against children, all of them escaped justice because they were connected with a Conservative government.
The papers came to light months after an official review concluded that claims the Home Office covered up child abuse allegations in the 1980s – including when Lord Brittan was Home Secretary – were “not proven”, and also several months after the sudden death of Lord Brittan himself – it was claimed he had succumbed after a long battle with cancer but, if so, it is strange that nobody seemed to have heard of it before.
The Cabinet Office is saying that the papers have only come to light now, because they had been kept in a store of “the Cabinet Secretary’s miscellaneous papers” at the National Archive where they had lain, largely uncatalogued and unregistered, with others accumulated over several decades up to 2007.
Do you believe that cover story?
Cabinet Office permanent secretary Richard Heaton wrote to Peter Wanless, head of the NSPCC and author of the official review, in May apologising for a “flaw in the way the Cabinet Office initially responded” to his, and fellow review author, barrister Richard Whittam’s, request for documents, and confirming that three categories of papers had since been identified as potentially relevant.
In a supplement to the review, released online yesterday, Wanless and Whittam said: “We are concerned and disappointed that the Cabinet Office was aware of the separate Cabinet Office store of assorted and unstructured papers, yet informed us that the searches covered all records and files held.”
So there it is. A previous Conservative Government hid evidence of child abuse among its ranks.
And the current Conservative Government obstructed investigations into these historic abuses until after all those involved were dead.
This may have happened last week, but is well worth highlighting again. Political Scrapbooktells us:
With Iain Duncan Smith touring the Potemkin Village jobcentres actually delivering Universal Credit last week, DWP spinners may regret inviting the local press — after a member of staff told the work and pensions secretary to his face that his flagship initiative was hamstrung by “regular glitches” and “poor communication” from officials.
The trip went off-message on a visit to Nelson jobcentre in East Lancashire, described by IDS as ‘small but perfectly formed’ — a poignant description given the difficulties in scaling the new benefit when you’ve been forced to write off at least £140 million of IT.
The North West embarrassment comes after an internal DWP memo entitled “Ideas please: Sinking”was leaked to Channel 4 Dispatchesamid reports that backlogs were growing at the handful of centres operating the scheme.
Underqualified: This Labour Party campaign meme highlights the drawbacks of Michael Gove’s foolish and expensive ‘free school’ experiment.
The country has been concentrating on government sleaze for the past week or so – and this is a mistake. We should also monitor government incompetence and thankfully Michael Gove is around to provide plenty of it.
He wants organisations that are part of his struggling ‘free schools’ pet project to receive special fast-track attention – to avoid the political embarrassment that would be caused by their failure.
Last year the project was rocked by the failure of the Al-Madinah Free School in Derby, and the resignations of unqualified head teachers at Pimlico Free School in London and Discovery School in Crawley. Vox Political discussed all three at the time.
The Discovery School was one of four that were declared inadequate by Ofsted and closed down at the end of March.
Last week, The Observer revealed that Gove wants to hush up any further damaging revelations by ensuring that problems are tackled before Ofsted can publicise them.
The article stated: “It suggests that party political considerations are now driving education policy a year ahead of the general election.”
Quite. It is also a sharp reminder of how far the Coalition government has deviated from its original claim, to be uniting “in the public interest”.
The plan adds extra pressure to the Education department, where morale has already plummetted due to Gove’s determination to employ his own advisors, to overrule the expert advice provided by civil servants in favour of ideologically-motivated dogma.
It also shows that Gove is giving preferential treatment to his pet project. State schools go into special measures after receiving a ruling from Ofsted that they are inadequate – and can remain there for more than a year.
More damaging still is the fact that many of the problems with free schools have nothing to do with education, but are organisational in origin. According to the article, these include: “Operating in temporary sites without a clear permanent home; new, inexperienced and often isolated trusts needing to upskill themselves to run a school for the first time; instability in principal appointments and senior leadership teams.”
So when you hear that your child’s school has been under-performing because it has been deprived of resources and support from the Department for Education, just remember that this has happened because we have an Education Secretary who is more concerned with hiding his own inadequacies – problems that could have been avoided if he had concentrated a little more on the details.
On the basis of this term work, Mr Gove, we’ll have to give you an ‘F’ – for ‘Fail’.
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What have they got to hide, and can it be any worse than what we’re all thinking?
There’s a bad smell surrounding the correspondence between David Cameron and Rebekah Brooks, and it has nothing to do with the horse she let him ride.
The Observer is today reporting details of “intimate” texts sent between the current UK Prime Minister and the former head of Rupert Murdoch’s News International. One of them, from Brooks, states that she felt so emotional listening to his (2009) conference speech she “cried twice”, and that she “will love ‘working together’.”
In what way, exactly?
There are too many loose ends here for anyone to feel comfortable. Everywhere you turn, one of them whips you in the face (like a riding crop, perhaps).
Let’s bear in mind all the embarrassment fomer Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (Con) had over the plans for Mr Murdoch’s firm to take over Sky TV, granting it an unprecedented dominance over the UK mass media. Working together?
Let’s remember that Andy Coulson, a former News International employee and editor of the News of the World, became Mr Cameron’s Downing Street press officer for a time, until he was implicated in the phone hacking scandal and stood down. Working together?
Let’s also consider the way the right-wing press – of which News International and Sky News form an uncomfortably large cohort – has suppressed stories about the harmful effects of Mr Cameron’s policies, such as the deaths of 73 sick or disabled people every week (on average) who had their benefits cut after reassessment by the Department for Work and Pensions and its contractor, Atos. Working together?
Cameron has refused to allow publication of any more of these texts – and it is understood that around 150 may exist. The Observer states that it understands many of them would prove to be “a considerable embarrassment” to the government.
We don’t know what is in those texts, and we are being told that we never will. The only possible conclusion is that they contain information that is damaging to Mr Cameron, and therefore to his Conservative-led government. Because of the identities of the correspondents, we can also conclude only that this damage relates to them working together.
It’s obvious he’s got something to hide.
He’s not going to come clean about it either.
So he’s being dishonest to us, the British public.
It is not in our interest for him to behave like this.
What else has he been doing that is not in our interest?
I think we have a right to know.
After all, he didn’t win the 2010 election; he’s only in Downing Street because of a dodgy deal with the Liberal Democrats.
The correspondents: Can anything transmitted between Rebekah Brooks and David Cameron be as bad for them as a naked photograph was for a Conservative councillor?
How embarrassing are these emails that David Cameron withheld from the Leveson Inquiry?
I’m sure you know the story by now – Mr Cameron held back dozens of emails, including (it’s believed) messages to Andy Coulson while he was still an employee of Rupert Murdoch, after taking legal advice. It seems they’re not “relevant”.
The trouble is, things that aren’t “relevant” have a nasty habit of grabbing the public interest. I want to know the contents of every single one of those emails, and I don’t think I’m the only one.
… Most especially since the contents of these private emails have been described as “embarrassing“.
Here in Mid Wales – only last week – we have had experience of “embarrassing” material, sent between individuals electronically, resurfacing to the detriment of a political reputation.
It concerns a very young county councillor, who took a naked photograph of himself on a mobile phone and transmitted it to a girl he claims was his enamorata at the time. That photo subsequently went public, and recently a campaign was launched against the councillor, casting doubt on his character due to the fact that he had taken the photograph in the first place, and the age of the girl to whom he sent it (my understanding is that she was aged under 16).
Putting his side of the story to a local newspaper, the councillor reportedly said: “A private communication between myself and my girlfriend at the time was shown to others. It was a foolish thing to do and it caused much embarrassment. I apologised at the time to all concerned.”
That’s not actually good enough, as we have no information from the young lady who received the photograph. Was she really his girlfriend? This might actually be a case of a 17-year-old sending a naked picture of himself to a random girl several years younger – in which case it’s a completely different affair.
But let’s go back to Mr Cameron. It occurs to me that, whatever those emails to Rebekah Brooks may contain, they can’t be anything like as damaging as what this young councillor (who also happens to be a Conservative) did.
So, unless Mr Cameron emailed naked pictures of himself to Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson, there is less harm in producing the emails and letting the public make up its own mind than in not producing them – and watching the public decide anyway!
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