Tag Archives: hostile

£2.6 million Downing Street briefing room was built by Russians. Not ‘very sensible’!

The new government media briefing room: your local parish council could have done a better job, and cheaper, but Boris Johnson gave the contract to a company based in a hostile state.

After This Site’s article yesterday showing that Boris Johnson is trying to hide the idiocy of his decisions by claiming they are “very sensible”, this:

His government paid £2.6 million to a Russian company for construction of the new media briefing room – in Downing Street, the heart of the UK government.

Despite being sued for unlawfully withholding details of contracts, the Tory government has refused to say whether the work was put out to competitive tender. It should have been, because the contract was not awarded as part of an emergency.

In fact, no details of the contract with Russian-owned Megahertz have been published.

Megahertz carried out the main work on the project, including installing computers, cameras, microphones and a control desk. Its owner Okno-TV has previously carried out similar technical work for Russian state-controlled broadcasters Russia Today, Channel One, and Public Television of Russia.

It has not been suggested that the company is influenced by the Russian government, but the question has to be asked:

Why did Boris Johnson hire a company from a country that has been designated a “hostile state” to build a communications hub for the UK government?

It’s a security nightmare.

And, after the Salisbury poisonings, a public relations disaster.

Worse still, the briefing room itself looks amateurish.

Advance photos of the space, released before it goes into daily use, show a layout that could have been put together at a village hall, with a central podium backed by two Union flags and a TV screen on one side facing rows of the kind of chairs you see stacked at the side of your local meeting-room.

It doesn’t look like a £2.6m facility. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t look like it cost £2,000.

Admittedly, the broadcasting equipment was probably expensive. But, coming from a Russian firm, who knows what might be included in it, alongside what Johnson asked for?

The work also comes after a Tory government had to end the involvement of Chinese firm Huawei in the rollout of 5G telecommunications in the UK.

So This Writer is in a rare position of agreement with Labour’s Chris Bryant, who chairs the all-party Parliamentary group on Russia, who said,

What shocks me most is that the Johnson government seems to have learnt nothing about the involvement in sensitive UK projects of companies with [links] to autocratic regimes, whether in Russia or in China.

Fundamental to the whole issue, of course, is the fact that Johnson spaffed this cash to Russia while do the dirty on nurses by giving them a pay cut.

It is clear that Johnson’s claim that he could not afford to pay any more to the people who saved so many from Covid-19 is bunkum; he’s got money to burn.

The problem is that his priorities are wrong.

Source: Exclusive: Russian-Owned Firm Played Key Role In Downing Street Media Refit | HuffPost UK

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Home Office ignored warnings to prevent Windrush suffering. Why isn’t this a scandal?

The Empire Windrush: if the people who arrived on it to help the UK rebuild after World War Two had known how they and their descendants would be treated after 2010, would they have bothered?

If at first you don’t succeed (in persecuting and killing people), try, try and try again seems to be the Conservative motto.

The Windrush scandal was a national outrage. Now we learn that the Home Office could have avoided harming people – but deliberately chose not to.

Where is the fury over this?

the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration (ICIBI) said the department had failed to implement a series of recommendations he has made since 2016 calling for better monitoring of the impact of the hostile environment.

“Had they been, some of the harms suffered by the Windrush generation and others may have been avoided,” said the chief inspector, David Bolt.

The Windrush Lessons Learned review, published in March last year, demanded a “full review and evaluation” of the hostile environment policy devised while Theresa May was Home Secretary – and current incumbent Priti Patel accepted the recommendation in July.

But Mr Bolt said ministers had done little to evaluate the measures, both in terms of the efficiency of the processes underpinning them, including the costs to third parties carrying them out, and their effectiveness in delivering the hoped-for outcomes.

Chai Patel, legal policy director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said the hostile environment must be scrapped before “more lives are lost or destroyed”.

“Even the government’s own immigration inspectorate no longer has any faith that Ms Patel’s Home Office intends to fix the mess it has made of the immigration system,” he said.

Does anyone?

But this story seems to have been buried.

Do thousands more people have to be harmed, deliberately, by Priti Patel before we all wake up again, or are we going to let her get away with it next time?

Source: Home Office ignored warnings that could have prevented Windrush suffering, finds watchdog | The Independent

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‘Hostile environment’? The sick and disabled have been living there for years

A protest outside Atos in London in 2017. Atos is one of the private companies that carries out sickness and disability benefit assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.

Some of you may be wondering why This Site is publishing fewer articles lately. The simple answer is: time. I’m trying to fight back against malicious accusations that have been made against me, but the arguments need to be correctly phrased.

So I am grateful that there are people like Mo Stewart around.

Mo has spent years researching the government-engineered (by both the Tories and New Labour) plight of those claiming sickness and disability benefits, and is the author of Cash Not Care: The Planned Demolition of the UK Welfare State, which is available for purchase if you click on the link.

Along with eight other experts, Mo has just had a letter published in The Guardian, reminding us of exactly what the DWP does to the sick and disabled.

It isn’t pretty.

Read:

The British public have reacted to “a sense of betrayal of that so-called British value of fairness” (The hostile environment? Britain’s disabled people live there too, theguardian.com, 26 April). This “sense of betrayal” was only possible because the national press reported the plight of the Windrush scandal, but this is not always the case. Some of the press were happy to promote the exaggerated claims of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which, during five years of coalition government, knowingly misled the public regarding “fake” claimants of disability benefit. Coincidentally, disability hate crimes increased by 213% during the coalition’s term in office.

Influenced by a US healthcare insurance “consultant”, who funded DWP-commissioned research used to justify welfare reforms, the work capability assessment (WCA) adopted the bio-psychosocial model of assessment which has failed all academic scrutiny. The WCA is used by the DWP to resist access to the employment and support allowance (ESA) sickness and disability benefit, which is the financial equivalent of jobseeker’s allowance, so there is no financial incentive when claiming ESA.

This DWP assessment totally disregards diagnosis, prognosis, past medical history and all medical opinion. Deaths of genuine claimants were always inevitable. There is a reason why the DWP has refused to publish updated ESA mortality totals since February 2014, as suicides linked to the ESA assessment climb. It’s time for this ideological DWP tyranny to end, and for the national press to stop disregarding another national atrocity impacting on disabled people.

The letter is signed by:

Mo Stewart Independent disability studies researcher 
Professor Woody Caan Editor, Journal of Public Mental Health 
Dr Tanya Titchkosky Professor of disability studies, University of Toronto 
Professor Peter Beresford Professor of citizen participation, Essex University
Dr Marion Hersh Senior lecturer, biomedical engineering, Glasgow University
Dr Dominic Griffiths Senior lecturer in Inclusive Education and SEN, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr Anne Daguerre Assistant professor in work, employment and welfare, Middlesex University
Dr Simon Duffy Director, Centre for Welfare Reform
Vin West Chair, Arfon Access Group

Source: Disabled people facing government hostility in the UK | Letters | Society | The Guardian


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Toxic Theresa May’s “hostile environment” is the worst scandal of recent years. She must resign or be removed

[Image: Pride’s Purge.]

As long as Theresa May remains in the government, the wrong that has been done to the Windrush Generation is not going to be corrected.

Theresa May must go. She can resign, or she can be forced out – I don’t mind which – but she cannot be allowed to stay.

The appointment of Sajid Javid – a BAME minister who Mrs May doesn’t like, let’s not forget (she demoted him when she became PM) – seems to be a token gesture: “Let’s put a second-generation migrant, son-of-a-Pakistani-bus-driver in as Home Secretary and everybody will think we’ve changed – so we won’t have to.”

And – bearing in mind it’s more than a week since the Windrush scandal broke – nothing has changed so far. Let’s consider what that means, with a summary of Mrs May’s attacks on immigrants – both legal and otherwise – courtesy of Dylan Strain on Twitter:

Not only did Mrs May allow this “abomination” to grow to such proportions that it is now a “stain on our national character” – she rewarded those who were responsible for it:

When Mrs May became unelected prime minister (remember: she became Conservative leader because her opponent stood down, and at last year’s general election she lost her party’s Parliamentary majority), she appointed Amber Rudd as Home Secretary. At the 2016 Tory conference Ms Rudd gave an address that led to her being reported to the police on a charge of making racist hate speech.

Ms Rudd wrote a letter to Mrs May in January 2017, promising to increase deportations of people the Conservative government has decided should no longer be allowed to live in the UK by 10 per cent. I cannot, in good conscience, say that this policy was directed at illegal immigrants – as the Conservatives are rather desperately trying to assert – because it has become clear that people with every right to remain in this country were targeted from the moment Mrs May became Home Secretary, never mind Ms Rudd.

(I’m not sure Natalie Rowe’s suggestion is accurate; we don’t know that this was the intention. But it is certainly what happened, and we may deduce that legal residents were targeted in order to meet the increased targets being demanded by Ms Rudd and Mrs May.)

Last week, Ms Rudd lied to a Parliamentary committee, claiming that there were no deportation targets. Then she lied to the Commons themselves, saying she had not known the targets existed – despite having set them in January last year. When her letter discussing these targets with Mrs May became public, she had no choice other than to resign.

Instead of going, Mrs May is trying to draw a line under the matter. But the fact exists that she did receive a letter from Amber Rudd discussing deportation targets.

James O’Brien discussed the implications on his LBC show:

So – as Rachael Maskell argued in Parliament, it seems Amber Rudd was the scapegoat – just one more of Mrs May’s subordinates who was sacked for carrying out her policies:

Mrs May herself has confirmed that she knew the Home Office had targets for the removal of illegal immigrants. Note the word “illegal”. She said: “When I was home secretary, yes, there were targets in terms of removing people from the country, who were here illegally.”

But she didn’t lift a finger when it became clear that people with every right to be in the UK were also being deported – and, as Dylan Strain has pointed out in his Twitter thread (above), she has known for years.

So the argument that Mrs May is in the clear because she may not have heard Amber Rudd misleading a committee, or may not have bothered about it because Ms Rudd corrected what she said the following morning, simply doesn’t add up. Ms Rudd’s correction was also a lie and Mrs May knew it, because she knew all about the targets. But she still allowed her MPs to make public displays of support for Ms Rudd, despite knowing that they were based on false information.

It implies an intention to mislead the public, from which Mrs May cannot slither away.

We should tackle the use of “illegal immigration” by Conservative MPs.

It is, indeed, a disgrace. The prime minister of the UK has known for years that legal citizens of the UK were being targeted by her “hostile environment” policy, that she and her party are still claiming was aimed at “illegal immigration”. If she had done anything at all to stop legal citizens being targeted, then they might be justified in using this excuse. She did not, so they are not.

Now we have a new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid – just another human shield for Mrs May, as Owen Jones explains:

And the “hostile environment” policy goes on – renamed the “compliant environment” by Mr Javid. Those two words mask a multitude of sinister – no, call them what they are: downright evil – meanings, as David Lammy explained:

These crimes against UK citizens are still happening, with the blessing of Theresa May’s government – and will continue happening as long as she is prime minister.

Mrs May has inflicted the policy on the country and has lied repeatedly and bare-facedly in order to keep it going. It is intolerable. She must not be allowed to get away with it. We must demand her resignation – or removal.


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He’s been Home Secretary less than a day and already Sajid Javid is messing it up

According to Larry the Cat’s Twitter account, “The cabinet stand like this because a body language expert thought it would be a laugh to see if they would.” And on his first day as Home Secretary, Sajid Javid was stupid enough to do it.

Result:

The Tory Powerstance Workout Video – Featuring Sajid Javid [Image: The Agitator].

And:

“Ladies and gentlemen,” wrote Gary Barker, “I give you your new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid and your surviving (just) Prime Minister Theresa May.”

Worse than that, he used his first appearance in the Commons, in his new role, to promise to “do right by the Windrush Generation” – and then lied to everyone.

Responding to a question from Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, on whether he would restore the protections that were taken from the Windrush migrants in the 2014 Immigration Act, he said: “No such protections have been removed. People who arrived pre-1973 – they have the absolute right to be here and that has not changed.”

Ms Abbott begs to differ. Refused the opportunity to respond in the House, she took to Twitter with this:

The Guardian report shows that a clause giving longstanding Commonwealth residents protection from enforced removal was taken off the statute book by the 2014 Act. The Home Office claims it was redundant – but who’d believe it?

Mr Javid also said that he disliked the term “hostile environment” as a description of Home Office policy relating to immigrants and would not be using the term – which shouldn’t be too hard, as the Home Office ditched it a while ago.

Instead, he said he preferred to talk about having a “compliant environment”.

Interesting word choice.

“Compliant” means “disposed to agree with others or obey rules, especially to an excessive degree; acquiescent; meeting or in accordance with rules or standards” [Boldings mine].

So Mr Javid wants to create an environment in which everybody slavishly obeys the rules he makes up – no matter what they may be.

Vile.

And what of the rules that are already in place – the really ugly, racist rules that mean thousands of people, including British citizens who have been unjustly accused of being illegal immigrants?

They remain in place. After a crippling scandal for the Tories, more innocents are being deported this week.

So the “hostile environment” is still in place, no matter what Mr Javid says.

That’s a series of lies racked up in his first Commons appearance.

Home Office employees are probably saying to each other: “Meet the new boss… Same as the old boss.”

Maybe, but as the title of the old Who song, from which that lyric is taken, states:

We won’t get fooled again.


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Daily Express censors letter from British Red Cross criticising it – Pride’s Purge

Tom Pride has requested that we all share this as widely as possible. He writes:

The Daily Express – like most of the UK press – doesn’t like to be criticised.

And – like most of the UK press – it doesn’t like to give a right of reply to anyone, not even to respected organisations such as the British Red Cross.

That’s why the newspaper is refusing to publish a joint letter from the British Red Cross, Refugee Action and the Refugee Council which is critical of it.

This is the letter the Daily Express doesn’t want you to see. So please share it as widely as possible.

Dear Sir,

The stream of aggressive stories about asylum seekers appearing in this paper in recent days is of serious concern to all of us who work with and support people fleeing persecution.

Your readers would be forgiven for thinking the UK is being flooded by asylum seekers. This couldn’t be further from the truth, with asylum applications around the 23,000 mark a year the UK is home to less than 1 per cent of the world’s refugees and takes proportionately below the EU average.

To characterise the people housed in Folkestone as having a ‘lovely break’ by the sea that Brits would be envious of is hugely misleading and dangerous.

Asylum seekers are people who have often fled horrifying experiences in their home countries. Some have been raped. Some have been tortured. Many have witnessed the death of a loved one. Be assured, people who have suffered extreme trauma and whose lives are hanging in the balance will not be focusing on the sea view of temporary room.

There are no refugee visas available for people fleeing persecution. The fact that people are forced to travel clandestinely is recognised within the Refugee Convention and British Law. Entering Britain illegally can be a necessity; it is not an indication of the validity of someone’s asylum claim.

Additionally, appealing a refusal does not indicate someone cheating the system. Decisions on asylum claims can be life or death and the appeal overturn rate shows the Government frequently gets it wrong the first time.

Stirring up hostility against asylum seekers is as unwelcome as it is unsavoury in a country with a proud tradition of protecting refugees.

Maurice Wren, Chief Executive, Refugee Council

Mike Adamson, Acting Chief Executive, British Red Cross

Dave Garratt, Chief Executive, Refugee Action

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Another wasted opportunity: Back to business as usual between Israel and Gaza

140808gazahostilities

Three days after it started, the ceasefire between the Israeli military and Hamas terrorists (one might describe both sides as terrorists in this instance) ended with the resumption of rocket attacks by what the BBC describes as “Palestinian militants”.

Hamas said it had resumed the rocket attacks because Israel had failed to meet its demands.

This raises several issues.

Firstly, is Hamas saying that it wanted Israel to capitulate completely to every demand made by the Palestinians? That was never going to happen because Hamas is not in a position of power. If Israel wanted, it could pound the entire Gaza Strip into rubble and defy the rest of the world to do anything about it. Both sides seem determined to be unreasonable about what negotiation can achieve, and cavalier about the fate of their own civilians while hostilities continue.

Secondly, Hamas is stupid to risk losing international sympathy by sending rockets towards Israeli civilians. With 1,890 Palestinians dead, against only 50 Israelis, many onlookers have seen this as a ‘David and Goliath’ contest, with plucky Muslims utterly outmatched by their Jewish neighbours – but these attacks suggest that it is a false interpretation; we are watching two equally vicious politically-motivated opponents acting in their own interests, without a moment’s thought for the collateral damage.

Thirdly, a saying has been doing the rounds, here on the Net, for some time now. It contends that a definition of madness might be the belief that doing the same thing repeatedly will yield different results. By this definition, the leaders of Hamas must be mad. With Israel reacting in typical manner, their leaders must be equally unhinged.

Israel has refused to negotiate while Hamas is firing upon its citizens, and that very violence is a good reason to refuse other Palestinian demands, such as the release of prisoners (to add to the violence?) and lifting the blockade of Gaza (to allow terrorists access to more deadly weapons?) – but of course this makes Israel appear the overbearing bully in this situation.

Let’s be honest – it was futile to expect a three-day ceasefire to resolve the situation. The more one examines it, the more reminiscent it becomes of the Irish Question. Peace in Northern Ireland was gained over a period of around 10 years – and remains fragile to this day. Even now it must be defended, to prevent either side from returning to the old ways.

For peace efforts to have any chance of success, talks must be overseen by an impartial mediator, with no interest – either moral or financial – in either side.

And that means the UK is ruled out of the process straight away.

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