You’ll be aware that there have been many legal challenges against Workfare/The Work Programme/Mandatory Work Activity, on the basis that they are slave labour schemes.
The Department for Work and Pensions, under slave-master Iain Duncan Smith, has worked tirelessly to dismiss these challenges – with only limited success, as our courts are populated by judges who still believe in something called justice.
However, the repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998 means the end of the ban on slavery. Conservatives are already making plans to force any young person without a job to work for 30 hours a week in exchange for benefits – or starve.
Do you think that’s acceptable?
Let’s put it another way:
Would you accept it if they did it to you?
Here’s a handy infographic about it for you to share:
Slavery in the UK: This image was part of a campaign against it – but the Conservative Party wants to extend it to include you.
One has to marvel at the twisted logic of modern Conservatives; right before their last party conference in the run-up to the general election, they can normally be expected to be trying to bribe us all with tax cuts and benefits (maybe they will come later).
Instead they are promising to remove the safety net that keeps us free of exploitation by – what a surprise! – the Conservatives and their friends.
It’s not a new plan – Vox Politicalreported on the policy back in March last year, when Theresa May announced that they would scrap the Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights if they win the 2015 general election. They aren’t saying anything different now.
Back then, she claimed it would be “in the national interest”, and now Injustice Secretary Chris Grayling is saying more or less the same thing, dressing it up as an attempt to return power to the UK.
He told the Daily Telegraph: “Decisions like ‘do prisoners get the vote?’ or ‘can you send brutal murderers to prison for their whole lives?’ seem to be outside our control. I want our supreme court to be supreme. Decisions that affect this country should be taken in this country.”
He did not mention all the other rights you are likely to lose if the Conservatives are allowed to get away with this.
The European Convention on Human Rights was co-drafted by the UK – in fact by the Conservatives’ greatest Prime Minister, Winston Churchill – just after World War II. It states that nation states’ primary duty is to “refrain from unlawful killing”, to “investigate suspicious deaths” and to “prevent foreseeable loss of life”.
VP commented in March 2013 that “the Coalition government has been reneging on this obligation – wholesale – since it came into power”. Look at the Department for Work and Pensions’ work capability assessment for Employment and Support Allowance, and the thousands – possibly tens of thousands – of deaths related to it.
Article 4 of the Convention prohibits slavery, servitude and forced labour, so removing it would give the Tories free hand to impose their Mandatory Work Activity or Workfare schemes on us – despite the fact that these schemes are worse than useless at getting people into employment. The real reason for them is that they are a money-making scam to ensure the businesses involved support the Conservative Party.
Article 6 provides a detailed right to a fair trial, which is something Mr Grayling has been working hard to take away from you for a considerable period of time. It’s where you get the right to a public hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal within a reasonable time (the Coalition’s secret courts have removed this right already), and where the presumption of innocence until proven guilty is enshrined.
Article 8 provides a right to respect for another person’s “private and family life… home and… correspondence”. This has been violated, of course, by the Tory-led Coalition’s recent Surveillance Act.
Article 10 provides a right to freedom of expression, so removing it would allow the Tories to censor the Internet and remove blogs such as Vox Political, leaving only their own propaganda.
Article 11 protects the right to freedom of assembly and association, including the right to form trade unions. Obviously the Tories would love to ban the unions, but removing this would allow them the ability to ban anti-government demonstrations and it is probably why Boris Johnson bought his water cannons.
The Human Rights Act 1998 (brought in by the Labour Party) is the UK legislation that makes the European Convention binding on this country, meaning that breaches of it may be remedied in British courts, rather than the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. It is only appeals against the decisions of the British courts that go to Europe.
Grayling doesn’t like the idea of impartial foreigners ruling on whether his government’s politically-motivated human rights violations are legal.
That’s why he said; “I want our supreme court to be supreme. Decisions that affect this country should be taken in this country.” He wants absolute power over you.
Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney-General who got the sack during the summer, described the Tory attack on human rights as “incoherent”. It is widely believed to be one of the reasons he got the push.
The Tories are also determined to tie this policy in with anti-European Union rhetoric, even though the ECHR is nothing to do with the EU.
The Guardian‘s story on Grayling’s announcement includes a coda in which Savid Javid, our Sontaran* culture secretary, tried to reassure people that Britain could still prosper if it leaves the EU, despite the possible loss of hundreds of billions of pounds worth of trade deals (as reported in this blog previously).
But that’s another fact they’d rather you did not know. Misdirection is the only way forward for modern Conservatives.
Remember “There will be no top-down reorganisation of the NHS”?
*It’s a Doctor Who reference. Look up pictures of Javid and a Sontaran and you’ll spot the resemblance.
Extremists: Theresa May (left) and Michael Gove. [Image: BBC.]
The alleged rift between Michael Gove and Theresa May over claims that Muslim extremists have taken over 25 Birmingham schools is bizarre.
These are government ministers who most closely share the extremist attitudes that the ‘Trojan Horse’ school governors are said to have; their methods are the same, even if their aims are different.
Consider this. The claims made about the Birmingham school are that:
A ‘Trojan Horse’ (stealth) takeover of schools in Birmingham, by Islamic extremists, has taken place.
Governors were installed who undermined and then replaced school leaders with staff who would be more sympathetic to their agenda.
Boys and girls have been separated.
Assemblies put forward extremist Islamic views.
Other religions are downgraded.
Now let’s look at Theresa May, who:
Took part in a backdoor (stealth) takeover of the UK government after the Conservative Party failed to win a majority in the 2010 general election.
Wants to repeal the Human Rights Act as it protects UK citizens against some of her favourite policies:
The duty to refrain from unlawful killing, investigate suspicious deaths and prevent foreseeable loss of life runs against the results of the Coalition’s changes to incapacity/disability benefit assessment which led to the unnecessary deaths of 73 people per week between January and November 2011.
The prohibition of slavery, servitude and forced labour is contrary to the government’s mandatory work activity schemes.
The right to a fair trial contradicts the changes the government has been making to Legal Aid.
The right to respect for one’s privacy, family life, home and correspondence runs against the “snooper’s charter” that Mrs May wished to impose.
And so on. The Tories would dearly love to remove your rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association, as that means they could outlaw this blog and abolish trade unions.
Authorised a plan to use a fleet of advertising vans telling illegal immigrants to “go home”, which split the London communities in which they were used and led to false accusations against British citizens.
The phrase “go home” on the vans attracted criticism from the Advertising Standards Authority as it was a reminder of an extremist racist slogan.
And Michael Gove:
Took part in the backdoor (stealth) takeover of the UK government.
Has imposed an army of independent advisors on his education department, to overrule the opinions of expert civil servants, grind down their morale and force them out of their jobs.
Planned to give a Bible to every state school in the country, clearly implying an intention to assert the supremacy of Christianity over every other religion practised in the UK, with others downgraded.
Many a truth told in jest: This Labour advert was withdrawn after claims that it was in bad taste (although this could be said equally well of the television programme it references) – but it accurately summarises the Conservative approach to the European Union and our place in the world.
Here at Vox Political it has come to our notice that some of you are still thinking of voting ‘Conservative’ in the European Parliament elections. This would be a mistake.
The Conservative Party is trying to hoodwink you into thinking it has a host of great ideas dependent on having a large number of MEPs after May 22, but its own manifesto tells a different story.
Here are just three examples:
1. The lynchpin of the Conservative campaign is the pledge to hold an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. The party’s European manifesto states, “The British people now have a very clear choice: if you want a referendum on whether Britain should stay in the EU or leave, only the Conservative Party can and will hold one.”
This has nothing to do with your vote on May 22. It is a General Election promise involving the UK Parliament, not the Parliament of Europe. It is Westminster MPs who would push through the Tory plans for a referendum during the next UK Parliament, not MEPs in Brussels.
The suggestion that the proposed referendum – which is heavily promoted in the manifesto – has anything to do with these elections is a flat-out lie.
Long-term readers should not be surprised that Conservatives are lying again, but this may come as a surprise to Tory adherents. To them, we should say: “Wake up!”
2. One of the “key changes we will fight for”, listed on page seven of the manifesto, is “National parliaments able to work together to block unwanted European legislation”. If this seems like a good idea to you, it may come as a surprise to learn that it is a key feature of the Lisbon Treaty, that was signed by the last Labour government in 2007. That’s seven years ago!
It’s called the Ioannina Compromise, and it means that, if Member States who are against a decision are significant in number but still insufficient to block it (1/3 of the Member States or 25 per cent of the population), all of the Member States must commit to seeking a solution.
It seems likely that the reason the Conservatives are even mentioning it is that this part of the Lisbon Treaty is only due to come into force this year – 2014.
3. One change the Conservatives are determined to impose is the removal of your ability to defend your human rights.
The manifesto states that they will “Undertake radical reform of human rights laws and publish a detailed plan for reform that a Conservative government would implement immediately: we will scrap Labour’s Human Rights Act, curtail the role of the European Court of Human Rights in the UK and make certain that the UK’s Supreme Court is in Britain and not in Strasbourg.”
Conservatives hate human rights laws because they forbid slavery, servitude and forced labour – such as the Tory-led government’s ‘mandatory work activity’ schemes; they provide a right to a fair trial – currently being removed in the UK by the Tories’ restrictions on Legal Aid; and most importantly they oblige nation states to “prevent foreseeable loss of life” such as that caused by the assessment regime for disability benefits, imposed by the current UK government.
The European Court of Human Rights is – as everyone should be aware – nothing to do with the European Union at all. It is part of the Council of Europe, which is composed of 47 European nations. The Conservative Party does not need a majority of MEPs to withdraw from it.
However, such a withdrawal would represent a betrayal of the Conservative Party’s great Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the man who is considered most directly responsible for the creation of the Council of Europe and the court. Dedicated Conservatives should consider this point well. None of the people currently running the Conservative Party have anything approaching the stature of a Churchill, yet they are taking it upon themselves to cut Britain off from his legacy – and they are lying to the public about how they need to do it.
In fact, let’s face it, the Tory European Manifesto for 2014 is a pack of lies.
The Conservatives currently have more MEPs than any other UK party, but any unbiased examination of their claims will lead to the conclusion that they deserve to have none at all.
Prove who you are: Theresa May and David Cameron check the credentials of two police officers, to ensure they aren’t illegal immigrants. No, not really – but don’t be surprised if police checkpoints start appearing everywhere with people in peaked caps demanding your papers, just like in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 40s!
Experts say this will require a system of identity checks for everyone, requiring British citizens or those with permanent residence to prove that their own presence in the UK is legal.
In a move that seems designed to appease the Daily Mail and its readers, she wants banks to check the immigration status of people applying to open accounts, and private landlords to make similar checks on their tenants.
You will notice that this means the government wants other people to carry out its responsibilities.
The Home Secretary also intends to “streamline” the appeals process in immigration cases. Under the current government, this word generally means “make less fair”, and this is borne out by a passage stating the measures aim to “deport foreign criminals first and hear their appeal later”. In such circumstances, how can we be sure they really are criminals?
There will also be a requirement for temporary migrants like overseas students to contribute towards NHS costs. This is not necessarily a bad thing – although it would be unfair if this money found its way to the private companies now infesting the NHS, rather than the public service itself.
But there will be no tightening of border controls, no “streamline” for bureaucratic deportation procedures, and no measures to tackle forced labour or lack of enforcement of the minimum wage.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper was quoted on the BBC website, saying: “The law must be on the side of people who respect it, not those who break it.” Fine words from the man who was unable to say whether flak-jacketed immigration officers had discriminated against people of ethnic minorities when they carried out their spot-checks at railway stations in August.
The BBC article also quotes Don Flynn of Migrants’ Rights Network, who reiterated that evidence contradicts the view that immigrants are attracted to the UK by benefits and free services; and Dr Richard Vautrey of the BMA, who said a system is already in place for hospitals to recover the cost of treating patients who are not eligible for NHS care – and introducing a system for GPs could be a “bureaucratic nightmare”.
The Guardian tells us the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) has warned Theresa May her plan, for millions of private landlords to face “proportionate” fines of up to £3,000 if they fail to conduct checks on the immigration status of new tenants and other adults living in their properties, is unworkable.
“British citizens, European economic area nationals and third country nationals alike would be required to produce identity documents at many turns in a scheme that would be intrusive, bullying, ineffective and expensive and likely racist and unlawful to boot,” said the ILPA response.
And the Residential Landlords Association said landlords would need to know about a potential 404 types of European ID documents, in order to operate the scheme – saying some landlords would refuse to house migrants, for fear of falling foul of the new rules – and isn’t that the point of the exercise?
The Guardian quotes Habib Rahman, of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, who predicted that “these measures will divide society, creating a two-tier Britain, a return to the days of ‘No dogs, no blacks, no Irish’ and of ill people with no access to healthcare walking the streets of Britain. This bill is a travesty and must be stopped,” he said.
BBC home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani tells us the ultimate goal is increased public confidence in the system.
But if we are doing all the work ourselves, why should this add up to increased confidence in the government?
This dribbling liar wants to abolish your human rights and replace them with an exploiter’s charter, designed to make it easy for his friends in business to work you until you drop and pay you a pittance for it. He thinks you’re stupid enough to vote for it. Are you?
It seems certain people are starting to think in some extremely self-defeating ways – opening themselves up to exploitation by our government of millionaires.
Look at this, from a Facebook thread started by a person asking when it became normal for working people to be asked to do 14-hour shifts. He said it seemed that companies were cutting down on staff and doubling everyone’s hours up, because it is cheaper, and voiced the opinion that making anyone work that long is barbaric.
In response, another person wrote: “A job is a job. I’d do anything to get one. Even if it was 14 hours a day… No one wants to hire complainers. There’s plenty of people who would work for pennies.” Worst of all (because it shows a lack of awareness that is staggering: “I’d rather keep my family fed, clothed and warm than worry about me.”
This person clearly did not understand that they were buying into a situation in which employers can reduce pay and increase hours as they please, exploiting workers to the limits of their endurance, because “there’s plenty of people who would work for pennies”. Not only is were they accepting the conditioned helplessness against which this blog warned in early 2012 (Stand up, you slaves! – published in Vox Political: Strong Words and Hard Times, available now in print and as an ebook), but this is exactly the sort of treatment the Human Rights Act, the minimum wage and the European Working Time Directive were set up to prevent.
Just think about that. The Prime Minister of the UK wants to remove the human rights of its citizens. If ever there was a reason not to vote Conservative, it’s that.
He’s arguing that abolition is necessary to make it impossible for “people who are a threat to our national security, or who come to Britain and commit serious crimes” to “cite their human rights when they are clearly wholly unconcerned for the human rights of others”.
This is a legitimate concern but it does not require the scrapping of a law that protects people from exploitation in many, many other ways. Besides, concern over this single issue may be addressed by amending the legislation (admittedly not a simple matter as it would involve negotiations with Europe, and this is unpalatable for Conservatives as it suits their purposes for the EU to appear unreasonable).
Do you want the Human Rights Act scrapped?
This would legalise “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (although not torture itself, which would still rank as an assault offence against a person), including poor working conditions.
It would legalise servitude and forced labour – which would be handy for Conservatives who have been forcing jobseekers into such situations for several years, contrary to article 4 (2) of the European Convention on Human Rights (which the UK Human Rights Act ratifies in British law).
You would lose the right to a fair trial. Coalition plans, under inJustice Minister Chris Grayling, mean you are likely to lose this right anyway, but the UK would be in contravention of the HRA and the European Convention if it puts these plans through and the Act is not repealed.
There is an article regarding retroactivity – nobody may be punished for an act that was not a criminal offence at the time it took place. It is a matter of debate whether this could be used to combat the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act that was brought in so hastily in March, to retroactively legalise the government’s Workfare/Work Programme schemes (the kind of forced labour that the Act also seeks to prevent). Thousands of people were owed millions of pounds in illegally-removed benefit before the Act was passed. It meant that this money would not have to be paid. Isn’t that punishing somebody for an act that was not criminal when it took place?
You would lose your right to privacy in your family life, home and correspondence. Again, this would be useful for a government that wants to poke around your emails, as Theresa May wants with her snooper’s charter.
You – and I – would lose the right to freedom of expression. We would no longer be allowed to hold opinions, receive and transmit information and ideas, that run against the wishes of the government of the day. This blog would be banned.
(Actually, some of you may think this is a good idea – but do you really want the government to tell you what to think? Do you want people to be imprisoned, or heavily fined, for holding a different opinion?)
You would lose the right to free assembly and association, including the right to form trade unions. So any congregation of a large group of people would be illegal, and groups of workers would lose any legal right to have their collective interests represented in an organised way to management. This opens the door to exploitation in a big way.
The prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status would be lost – meaning, for example, that nobody could object to the so-called ‘racist vans’ that were patrolling London recently, telling Conservative voters that the government was being tough on illegal immigrants.
There are others. It is worth looking up the Act, and the Convention, just to see exactly what protections they provide – and what the Conservatives want to take away from you.
They say they would produce a ‘Bill of Rights’ protecting the freedoms they want to keep. These would naturally include only those rights they believe would not interfere with their plans to render you powerless, with no right of redress against their exploitation of you.
Think about it hard.
Are you really so stupid that you’ll let a proven liar distract you, just because he has honey on his forked tongue (as a far better writer once put it)?
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