Tag Archives: interference

Floundering Johnson outflanked over publication of ‘Russia Report’

Facepalm: Boris Johnson could be in serious trouble with members of his own party, depending on the contents of the so-called ‘Russia Report’.

Any hope Boris Johnson may have had that he could further delay or hide the revelations in the so-called ‘Russia Report’ on interference by that country in UK politics must now be gone.

And that’s a good thing for British democracy!

A panicking Johnson furiously threw Julian Lewis out of the Parliamentary Conservative Party after he joined Labour and SNP members of the new Intelligence and Security committee to get himself elected as its chair instead of Johnson’s choice, the incompetent Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling.

And it seems Johnson is considering attempting to have Lewis removed from the committee altogether.

But Lewis has moved too fast for it to make a difference. The committee met today (July 16) and ordered that the Russia Report will be published within the next week – before Parliament rises for the summer.

It has been suggested that the report contains details that are embarrassing for the Tories – or at least for Boris Johnson. But the government has claimed that political considerations were not involved.

However (1): while it is true that Downing Street cleared the report for publication last November, Downing Street also ordered a general election, meaning that the previous Intelligence and Security committee, that would have overseen its publication, was disbanded and nothing could be done until the new committee was set up.

However (2): the creation of the new committee was delayed by eight months while Parliament waited for Boris Johnson to nominate MPs to be its members.

However (3): if there are no political considerations, why remove the Conservative whip from Lewis after his so-called ‘coup’? This committee does not operate on political lines – it was established by an Act of Parliament and must act impartially – so it is inappropriate for Johnson to claim that Lewis acted for political gain, and far more likely that, in doing so, it was in the interests of his own well-being.

However (4): it has been suggested that Johnson may now put a motion before Parliament to remove Lewis from the committee he now chairs, in order to replace him as chair with another Tory (not Grayling, who seems to be backing out) of Johnson’s choice. This really would be seen as political interference as it would indicate beyond doubt that Johnson wants to control, for his own purposes, a committee that is intended to be impartial.

He would be better-off leaving well alone.

But it seems a lot of damage has already been done.

Former Tory Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind has verbally attacked Johnson, just for removing the Tory whip from Lewis.

He said: “The Act of Parliament is quite clear the Prime Minister has no role in the choice of the chairman of the committee

“Once the committee has been appointed it is for the committee itself to decide its chairman.

“The idea of using the Whips to try and force Conservative members to vote for a particular candidate goes totally against the way the committee under statute has operated since it began.

“It’s never been a partisan committee, I think the Prime Minister has handled this – or his advisers whoever is dealing with it – in an extremely incompetent way.”

And he continued, damningly: “What I most object to, was the attempt of Prime Minister and the government or whoever, Dominic Cummings, whoever is involved in these things I don’t know, to try to control the way the intelligence committee operates by choosing for its chairman and putting pressure on MPs to make him chairman.

“If they had succeeded, that destroys the whole purpose of the Intelligence and Security Committee. It is a unique committee. They are the only people who have access to the highest levels of intelligence.

“They need the confidence of the intelligence agencies and of Parliament. If they are thought to be creatures of government they have no authority to do the job that the law requires them to do.”

So with the committee chaired by Lewis, it actually has more authority than under anyone chosen by Boris Johnson. So much for his claim that it’s Lewis who was politically-motivated!

Sir Malcolm Rifkind’s intervention suggests a deeper problem for Johnson, though:

The Conservative Party still has a strong contingent of members who believe very firmly that the UK should be the most powerful country in the world and they should be running it because that makes them the most powerful people in the world.

The implication that the Russia Report has been suppressed because it indicates some form of collusion – of subservience – by representatives of their party to Russia is anathema to them.

They want to know the facts – now – so they can work out what to do about Johnson.

His troubles may be only just beginning.

Source: Russia ‘interference’ report to be published – BBC News

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Do you believe Downing Street’s story that the Russia report may soon be published?

Parliament’s committee responsible for publishing the report on Russian interference in UK politics may be reconvened “imminently” – according to Downing Street sources.

Do you believe that?

Or do you think that, even if it happens, it’s only because Boris Johnson has found another way to delay the report – or hide what it says?

According to the BBC, the government is denying that Johnson has stalled the process:

A source close to the process has told me they are hopeful the committee will be confirmed by Downing Street “imminently”.

That would remove the most significant obstacle to the Russia report being published and means it could happen soon.

Number 10, meanwhile, has denied deliberately stalling the process.

The PM’s spokesman said the government wanted to get the committee up and running as soon as circumstances allowed.

But the spokesman said the last few months has seen an unprecedented situation in government and Parliament.

So the Covid crisis has made Johnson so busy he hasn’t had time to restore this vital organisation that could release damning information?

What’s he been busy doing? Changing nappies?

Apparently so. But while This Writer approves of equality in the parenting process, as prime minister, Johnson has a responsibility to the nation.

He seems to have forgotten that. But did you anything different from him?

Source: Russia report committee to be set up ‘imminently’ – BBC News

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Johnson is feeling the pressure to publish report on Russian interference in UK affairs

Boris Johnson: he’s making this gesture to the public – metaphorically, if not actually – increasingly often these days.

Boris Johnson and his government are facing mounting pressure to publish a long-delayed report on Russia’s influence in UK politics.

The report was finalised by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee last October – but Boris Johnson refused to sign it off before the general election.

The committee itself was dissolved in advance of that poll, but has not been reconvened since – because Mr Johnson has not approved the Conservative Party’s nominations of members.

Here’s the BBC’s Nick Eardsley:

Ultimately, members are appointed by the prime minister. But political parties are asked to nominate MPs – based on their relative size in the Commons – and there are also members from the Lords.

I understand opposition parties confirmed their nominations months ago. Sources said there had been enough time for relevant vetting to be carried out for new members.

But there is a lack of clarity on the Conservative candidates, with Tory MPs kept in the dark about whether a final decision has even been made six months after the election.

That’s led to frustration among the other parties in Westminster – with Labour, the SNP and the Liberal Democrats all calling for the committee to be reconvened urgently.

Downing Street has said work to re-establish the committee is going on “as quickly as current circumstances allow” – without explaining exactly which current circumstances are stopping Johnson from finalising his nominations.

The spokesperson said: “The Investigatory Powers Act allows the UK to maintain one of the most stringent scrutiny regimes in the world through the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal and both executive and judicial oversight.”

Fine words if you want to be reassured. But of course they omit the fact that only the Intelligence and Security Committee can make the so-called “Russia Report” public.

And the fact is that Johnson could rubber-stamp Tory nominations tomorrow, and the committee could meet to approve publication of the report on Monday.

So the question is: why doesn’t he do that?

Is there something in the report that he doesn’t want us to know? That’s the logical conclusion to draw from his actions.

Source: Government criticised for delay in setting up security committee – BBC News

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Grayling put in charge of intelligence committee – we live in an age of Orwellian doublespeak

Chris Grayling: He’s as clever as he looks.

This announcement makes it extremely unlikely that we’ll ever see the so-called ‘Russia report’ on interference by that country’s government in UK politics:

Chris Grayling has been named as Downing Street’s choice to head the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), that is responsible for publishing the report.

It’s further proof that the Conservative government has adopted George Orwell’s concept of “doublethink” – the acceptance of two diametrically-opposed concepts at the same time.

Why else would they put a dimwit of Grayling’s magnitude in charge of an intelligence committee?

The Russian interference report has been ready to be published since the end of October 2019, but was delayed when the election was called, and then subsequently delayed again until the ISC reconvened.

So it’s already five months late.

With Grayling in charge, that report may never see the light of day.

The choice has provoked fury, even from Conservative MPs.

But here’s a thing: If they kick up a fuss that delays the committee from reconvening, won’t that set publication of the ‘Russia report’ back even further? Is that what Boris Johnson wants?

Source: Chris Grayling set to head up committee in charge of releasing Russian intelligence report | Latest Brexit news and top stories | The New European

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Boris Johnson’s ‘Russia Report’ – leaked – TruePublica

Boris Johnson: He didn’t want the report published. Why?

What do you make of this?

Russia’s influence has reached deep into the British establishment and successive UK governments have turned a blind eye to it, British parliamentarians were warned, according to multiple sources familiar with testimony given to a parliamentary inquiry in this leak.

Members of the cross-party Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) were told that Moscow had built up a network of friendly British diplomats, lawyers, parliamentarians and other influencers from across the political spectrum. One witness described the development as “potentially the most significant threat to the UK’s institutions and its ways of life,” according to testimony seen by America’s CNN.

The committee’s unpublished final report into Russian meddling in UK politics, titled simply “Russia,” is at the centre of a political storm in the UK, where parliament was dissolved last Wednesday ahead of the general election now due in little more than four weeks time. The ISC committee chairman, Dominic Grieve, has already accused Boris Johnson of sitting on the report and claimed Downing Street had given “bogus” explanations for not publishing it and was scathing that the report may not now be published for months – as ISC reports can only be released when parliament is sitting and the committee is constituted.

The contents of the ISC report, the product of an extensive investigation, have remained tightly under wraps. But the CNN network has been provided with written testimony from two of the committee’s witnesses, and has been briefed on oral testimony given by two others, all of whom warned that Russia had established deep ties to the UK political scene and that not enough had been done about it.

Source: Boris Johnson’s ‘Russia Report’ – leaked – TruePublica

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Government introduces plan to prevent interference in elections – while claiming there’s no evidence it is needed

The Conservative government has introduced new plans to “crack down on intimidation, influence and disinformation” and safeguard UK elections – while strenuously denying evidence of any such behaviour.

New laws will bar people from running for office for five years, if they are found guilty of intimidating or abusive behaviour.

In future, online election material must clearly show who has produced it – one hopes the Brexit Party will take note of this.

And there will be a consultation on ways to strengthen laws on foreign donations.

The last two measures are intended to prevent interference in UK elections and referendums by foreign organisations, and to ensure that domestic political organisations can’t breach electoral spending restrictions.

They address concerns that targeted advertisements, on social media platforms like Facebook, seen only by the intended recipient, do not contain statements showing who has funded them and on whose behalf they have been made.

Bizarrely, the government’s spokesman denied that there is any need for these planned new laws.

Kevin Foster (who?), Minister for the Constitution (oh, that’s who), said: “There is no evidence that British elections or referendums have been compromised.

“One of Britain’s most valuable safeguards is the use of pencil and paper to vote.

“But we need to review and refresh our analogue laws for a digital age, and ensure there are robust safeguards against hostile states, foreign lobbyists and shadowy third parties.”

But Jo Stevens, a Labour member of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, tweeted her scepticism:

Cognitive dissonance?

Source: Government safeguards UK elections – GOV.UK

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Judge rules David Gauke was wrong to push Parole Board chair out of his job

Wrongly forced to quit: Former Parole Board chair Nick Hardwick.

This is further evidence to add to the mountain we already have, demonstrating the corruption inherent in any Conservative government.

The simple fact is that they think they can do anything they like.

A high court judge has ruled it was unacceptable for the justice secretary to pressurise the Parole Board chair Nick Hardwick into resigning, and that the board lacks independence from the government.

Hardwick resigned in March when David Gauke told him that his position was untenable following the Parole Board’s decision to release serial sex offender John Worboys.

The case was brought by Paul Wakenshaw, a British prisoner, who argued that although the Parole Board was a de facto court under both common law and the European convention on human rights, Hardwick’s removal proved it lacked the independence of a true court.

He said it was constitutionally improper for the justice secretary to have requested that the head of a judicial body resign without any procedure being followed to determine whether there were grounds for his removal. Wakenshaw also sought an order postponing the recruitment of a new chair, for which interviews are scheduled to take place this month.

On Tuesday Mr Justice Mostyn granted Wakenshaw permission to judicially review the independence of the board on the grounds there was a lack of security of tenure for Parole Board members (including the chair) – as evidenced by the circumstances in which Hardwick offered his resignation.

The judge also said that if the justice secretary decided to remove a member of the Parole Board, there was no mechanism to ensure it was a fair decision.

Source: Justice secretary wrong to push Parole Board chair to quit, judge rules | Society | The Guardian

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The Tories have run out of momentum, ideas and even arguments

Old Labour: Oversaw the longest periods of economic growth in British history and DIDN'T cause the biggest crash (that was neoliberalism, beloved of Conservatives). There is nothing wrong with it.

Old Labour: Oversaw the longest periods of economic growth in British history and DIDN’T cause the biggest crash (that was neoliberalism, beloved of Conservatives). There is nothing wrong with it.

Dear old Fraser Nelson has been trying to generate some momentum against Ed Miliband’s plans for a Labour government.

But, bless ‘im, not only did he hit the nail on the head when he wrote (in The Spectator), “Tories seem to have lost interest in ideas”, he might just as well have been talking about the Tory press because – other than the parts in which he praises Miliband for his political acumen and perception, Fraser has nothing new to say at all.

“Why, if he is such a joke, has Labour led in the opinion polls for three years solidly? And why has he been the bookmakers’ favourite to win the next general election for even longer?” These are the questions Fraser asks, and then goes on to answer in the most glowing terms possible.

“His agenda is clear, radical, populist and … popular. His speeches are intellectually coherent, and clearly address the new problems of inequality,” writes Fraser.

“His analysis is potent because he correctly identifies the problem. There is [a] major problem with the recovery, he says, in that the spoils are going to the richest, and it’s time to act… George Osborne does not talk about this. He prefers to avoid the wider issue of inequality. This leaves one of the most interesting debates of our times entirely open to Miliband.”

All of the above is a gift to the Labour leadership. Fraser has scored a huge own-goal by admitting the Labour leader – far from being “a joke”, has correctly identified the problem and can say what he likes because the Tories won’t even discuss it!

Worse still (for Fraser), he seems to think that telling us Ed Miliband is mining Labour’s past policies to get future success will put us off.

Hasn’t anybody told Fraser – yet – that it is current neoliberal policies, as practised by both Labour and the Tories, that caused the crash of 2007 onwards? With that as our context, why not go back and resurrect policies that offer a plausible alternative?

As a Conservative, Fraser should appreciate the irony that it is Labour who are now looking at the past to create the future.

“The philosophical underpinning is rehabilitated: that the free enterprise system does not work, and should be put under greater government control,” writes Fraser. “That companies, bankers and markets have buggered up Britain — and it’s time for people, through Big Government, to fight back.” Who could argue with that?

Then Fraser goes into some of those policies, like the plan to revive the 50 per cent tax rate. “But Miliband isn’t taxing for revenue. He’s taxing for the applause of the electorate and he calculates that the more he beats up on bankers and the rich, the louder the masses will cheer.” The answer to that is yes! What’s wrong with that? The Coalition came into office on a ticket that said bankers would pay for the damage they caused, and yet bankers have been among the principal beneficiaries of the ongoing raid on the public finances that the Coalition calls its “long-term economic plan”. In the face of dishonesty on that scale, Fraser should be more surprised that the North hasn’t invaded the Square Mile and strung anybody in a suit up on a lamppost – yet.

Next up, Fraser tries to attack Miliband’s proposed revival of a Kinnock plan for a state-run ‘British Investment Bank’ and two new high street bank chains. To this writer, the prospect of two new, state-run and regulated, banks is a brilliant idea! No more rip-off charges for services that should be free! Investment in growth, rather than short-term profit! And all run the way banks should be run – prudently and with the interests of the customer – rather than the shareholder – at heart. How can Fraser (bless ‘im) argue with that?

Argue he does. He writes: “As Simon Walker, head of the Institute of Directors, put it: ‘The last time the government told a bank what to do, Lloyds was ordered to sell branches to the Co-op’s Reverend Flowers. And we all know how that ended.’ Wrong. European regulators ordered the government (then principle shareholder in Lloyds) to sell the branches, and it happened on the Coalition government’s watch. In fact, George Osborne welcomed the deal. That’s an argument against Conservative mismanagement.

Fraser goes on to claim that Miliband doesn’t care how his bank project will work out – he just wants it done. He’s on an ideological crusade. Again, this provokes comparisons with the Tories that are (for the Tories) extremely uncomfortable. The Tories (and their little yellow Tory Democrat friends) have spent the last four years on an ideological crusade that has robbed the poorest people in the UK of almost everything they have, and are now starting to attack people who are better off (but still not posh enough) – they can hardly criticise Labour for having an ideology of its own.

The line about green policies which cost nine jobs for every four created – in Spain – is risible. Fraser has chosen a country where green policies have not worked well. How are they managing in Scandinavia?

Fraser says Labour’s energy price freeze “magically” makes good a 1983 pledge for everyone to afford adequate heat and light at home – without commenting on the fact that energy companies have been ripping us all off for many years and failing to invest in the future of power generation; they are an example of the worst kind of industrial privatisation.

Fraser says Labour has revived a 1983 demand for “a supply of appropriately qualified teachers” as though that is a bad idea (it isn’t. Bringing in unqualified people to act as teachers in Michael Gove’s silly ‘free schools’ sandpit was the bad idea). Note he says Labour wants “union-approved” qualified teachers – depending on mention of the unions to get a knee-jerk reaction from his readers, no doubt.

Fraser says Miliband attacks “predator” companies – moneylenders who offer short-term loans; people who make fixed-odds betting machines; landowners who stand accused of hoarding and thwarting housebuilding. “When Miliband talks about the future, he says very little about what he’d do with government. He talks about what he’d do to British business. All this amounts to a blitz of regulation, edicts and interference,” he writes.

This is to suggest that “regulation” is a dirty word – a synonym for “interference”. Let’s help Fraser out by suggesting a word he can use instead of “regulation” or “interference”.

That word is “help” – and it exemplifies what regulation is, in fact, about – helping companies to provide the best service possible, with the least possible corruption or profiteering, to ensure that customers get what they want and are happy to come back – boosting prosperity for everybody.

Substitute that word for the others and Fraser’s remaining rhetoric looks very different:

“All this amounts to a blitz of help” evokes the response, about time too!

“[Tristram] Hunt does not pretend that help at this level is being attempted in any free country” begs the question, why not?

While Fraser may have set out to write an assassination piece on Ed Miliband’s Labour, there can be no doubt that he ended up doing the exact opposite. It wasn’t his intention – look at his final few lines: “Miliband is bold enough to think that, in a country midway through the worst recovery in history, there may be a market for all this now. And most terrifyingly of all, he might be right.”

This botched attempt at scaremongering only exposes right-wing ideology for what it is: Out-argued, outclassed and badly out-of-step with the thoughts of the British people.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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