Tag Archives: legislation

The UK’s criminal government is authorising undercover cops to commit sex crimes – and Starmer is supporting it

Keir Starmer: in abstaining on the Bill to give government agents carte blanche to commit crimes including murder, torture and rape, he is supporting the commission of those crimes. The perpetrators will be protected from prosecution by the law.

In one sense, it was only to be expected: a criminal government authorises its enforcers to commit criminal acts.

So the Johnson government – an international criminal due to the Internal Market Bill that is currently going through the House of Lords like a dose of salts – is authorising its spies to commit crimes as part of their duties.

These crimes include murder, torture, and sexual offences:

According to the BBC,

the legislation would explicitly authorise MI5, the police, the National Crime Agency and other agencies that use informants or undercover agents to commit a specific crime as part of an operation.

Security officials will not say which crimes are authorised, on grounds that this may give away the identities of undercover agents to terrorists and other serious criminals.

So the sky is the limit and the legislation offers the UK’s secret police a licence to do anything they like, to anybody.

Yes, the legislation does require MI5 officers and others to show the crime is “necessary and proportionate”, but what happens when they encounter what’s known as “mission creep”?

The definition of “necessary and proportionate” will stretch over time to encompass anything, laying it open to corruption – and agents may find themselves committing ever-more-extreme crimes because they are told to do so on the spur of a moment.

Home Office minister James Brokenshire said the legislation would “help keep our country safe”, but he did not elaborate on whose country he meant, or who it would be kept safe from.

Both Labour and Conservative MPs have expressed opposition to the Bill as it currently stands, saying the safeguards were “very vague and very broad” and must be strengthened.

But Labour’s leadership said it would not oppose the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill at its second reading on October 5.

This has led to further claims that current Labour leader Keir Starmer is nothing more than a closet Conservative, forcing party members to accept acts that are directly opposed to their principles as he supports the Johnson government time and time again – and his MPs support him.

Only 20 Labour MPs defied his order to abstain on the Bill’s second reading, including former leader Jeremy Corbyn and former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, and others including Ian Lavery, who tweeted this:

Note the hashtag #spycops – others include #LabStainers and #NoOpposition, with #StarmerOut being the most popular (although it is also infested with supporters of ‘Sir Keith’ who are trying to stifle the views of the majority).

Here are a few examples of the #StarmerOut tweets, to show the strength of feeling about this:

Supporters of Starmer say he is acting strategically in order to demonstrate that Johnson and his ministers have nobody to blame for their mistakes but themselves. This is a trap for Labour.

Having abstained from voting on this Bill, Starmer and his followers in the Labour Party have said they accept the necessity of agents of the Financial Conduct Authority committing rape (to put forward an extreme example).

Are their supporters seriously trying to tell us this won’t come back and bite them?

There is only one reasonable response to legislation that authorises government agents to commit crimes – especially extreme crimes such as those contemplated here, and that is opposition.

But opposition is not in Keir Starmer’s vocabulary.

Let’s have a leadership challenge. He has to go.

And if he isn’t ousted this time, let’s have another challenge, and another, until he is. He has turned Labour into a travesty.

Source: MPs back bill to authorise MI5 and police crimes – BBC News

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Commons Speaker refuses bid to debate government diktats – but it may IMPROVE democracy

Speaking up: Lindsay Hoyle wasn’t quite this active in his speech, but his words were strong.

What was the point of Lindsay Hoyle’s intervention about Boris Johnson treating Parliament with contempt?

He spoke up to say the way the government has used secondary legislation – statutory instruments – to exercise power in the Covid-19 crisis has been “totally unsatisfactory”.

But then he said he’s blocking an amendment of the temporary provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 – that allows Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock to use those powers!

See for yourself:

He did say that he’ll be extremely sympathetic to motions that call for the government to send ministers to the Commons to defend undemocratic moves to restrict citizens’ freedoms in the future.

And it seems likely that Tory backbenchers will take advantage of this; all is not well between Downing Street and the Tory backbenches.

It raises a crucial question:

Could Tory rebels bring Johnson down – in the middle of a national health crisis – in the name of democracy?

Amazingly, because of Keir Starmer’s assurances of support, it seems the government is more likely to be defeated by members of its own party than by Her Majesty’s Opposition – and that’s an unhealthy position for a Labour leader.

The public will see that Starmer is not doing the job for which he was elected and will turn further against him.

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Tory Coronavirus Bill removes vital rights from people with disabilities. The persecution goes on…

Tories just can’t stop aiming spite at vulnerable people, the sick and the disabled – can they?

They have just passed new legislation, apparently to help safeguard the UK’s population against the coronavirus.

But what good is it if it still puts people in danger?

A personal friend of This Writer has written to our MP, pointing out this problem, along with others. My friend states that the new law will:

• Remove disabled people’s entitlement to social care. In practice, this will mean local authorities will no longer be legally required to provide support to people who they already recognised as needing it.

According to the Government, this is to ensure local authorities can prioritise and meet the needs in new cases.

The Government made more funding available, so it is hard to see why it is necessary to remove the entitlement to social care for those who already get very little. It is worth remembering that community groups and volunteers cannot deliver the support many disabled and older people need.

Experience and research have illustrated that the lack of social care support puts more strain on the NHS. Surely this is a wrong thing to do at a time when the Government tries to free up resources for the NHS. This way of dealing with the immediate crisis can have considerable and devastating consequences in the longer run.

• Change the duties to educate to meet children’s educational requirements to a ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty.

• Make it easier to detail and treat people involuntarily under the Mental Health Act. The existing safeguards are already too weak, and the number of people who are detained has grown significantly in the last few years. Detention will be a severe interference with a person’s fundamental human rights to liberty and freedom. Moreover, detaining people will cost the NHS a lot of money. Instead of making it easier to detain people, more support should be put to help people in the community.

My friend isn’t the only one complaining. Disability Rights UK, alongside other national disability organisations, has urged the government not to withdraw Care Act rights from disabled people as proposed in the Bill.

As that organisation states, these are unprecedented times.

But removing rights and protections from disabled people who are most at risk cannot be justified.

One has to question why a government would even contemplate that – let alone pass it into law as an emergency power.

Source: Government urged not to remove Care Act rights from disabled people – Welfare Weekly

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Right again, Vox Political! Tories admit This Site’s claim that Brexit may be delayed to allow needed legislation

What plan: This image was originally used to illustrate a story about Mr Hunt’s mismanagement of the NHS but it is appropriate here, as the Conservative government does not currently have a Brexit plan that will be accepted by both the UK and the remaining countries of the EU.

Once again, This Site has been proved correct as Jeremy Hunt admitted the EU may agree to extend the deadline for Brexit if a new deal is struck – to allow the UK to pass necessary laws.

According to The Guardian (other news sources are available), Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted article 50 may have to be extended if an agreement with the EU is reached with only a short period of time left before the March 29 deadline.

Vox Political asserted this here.

Asked if a technical delay would be necessary, Mr Hunt said: “We might need some extra time to pass critical legislation.”

Vox Political said this was likely here.

It should be noted that Mr Hunt said if an agreement was reached earlier, a delay may not be necessary. I think that is building castles in the air. With nine major Parliamentary Bills and more than 600 pieces of secondary legislation to be passed, it seems highly unlikely the government would get through it all if it started today (January 31).

Mr Hunt’s words demonstrate not only that the Conservative government has been misleading the nation on the necessity for Brexit to be delayed because of the way Theresa May has run down the clock…

… but also that This Site is the best place to find informed commentary and opinion about political matters. While the mainstream media hysterically parrot their right-wing masters, Vox Political has the balanced view.

Forgive me for sharing my pleasure at that fact.


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Is Theresa May resorting to more bribery to get MPs supporting her duff Brexit deal?

Dark arts: If Theresa May can’t get her Brexit agreement through Parliament honestly, it seems she’ll bribe its way through.

First she offered a knighthood to John Hayes.

Now it’s peerages all round, and changes to future legislation that could change the lives of millions – most likely for the worse, considering the Conservative Party’s track record.

Here‘s the Daily Mail – not the most reliable of sources, I admit, but Mrs May’s track record suggests the story is believable:

“Theresa May’s team are said to be offering rebel MPs peerages and other sweeteners in a bid to buy votes to get her Brexit deal through Parliament.

“Mrs May has vowed to ‘make the case for this deal with all my heart’ to persuade restless MPs to back her. But it appears she will also resort to horsetrading.

“Some Brexiteers were said to have been offered peerages while other MPs are being bought off with changes to bills, according to reports.”

It seems Theresa May is willing to do anything to secure support for her Brexit agreement with the European Union…

… Except negotiate a worthwhile Brexit agreement, that is.

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Detention of leftie journo’s sister shows police are letting themselves be political tools AGAIN

Political activist: Eleanor Jones.

This is disgraceful.

As the story shows, Eleanor Jones is a political activist – but there’s nothing wrong with that.

She is also the sister of leftie journalist Owen Jones, and that makes this story even more sinister – in the opinion of This Writer.

Are the police using anti-terror legislation to gather information on the political enemies of the current (Tory) government?

That would be a misuse of their powers. But when police can arrest people who are not under suspicion, and don’t have to divulge the information they possess about those people, how can anything be proven?

Clearly the law is inadequate and the public need proper protection.

A political activist has accused Police Scotland of “disgraceful” treatment after officers used controversial anti-terror powers to detain and question her for hours at Edinburgh Airport.

Eleanor Jones, who had been in Edinburgh to attend her grandfather’s funeral, said she felt “violated” after handing over her mobile phone and laptop passwords to the officers.

She was also quizzed about the political beliefs of family members, including her twin brother Owen, who is a high-profile columnist for the Guardian.

Her treatment has fuelled calls for a rethink of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 – the legislation used by the single force – which gives police sweeping powers in an airport.

The force was able to detain Jones in this way due to the Terrorism Act 2000.

The legislation’s notorious Schedule 7 gives police huge powers to stop, search and hold individuals at ports, airports and international rail stations.

It can be invoked without an individual being suspected of involvement in criminal activity and there is no right to remain silent.

Officers can detain a person for hours and retain their belongings for up to seven days. It is an offence to wilfully fail to comply with a request made by an officer under this legislation.

Jones said Police Scotland was responsible for a “misuse of the Act” in her case and said the legislation was used as a “power tool”. She added: “Being an activist is not the same thing as terrorism.”

She added that the force will not tell her what, if any, information Police Scotland retains on her.

Source: Revealed: how Police Scotland treated a political activist like a terrorist | HeraldScotland


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Labour launches plan to attack political corruption

westminsterfromwater

If there’s one area of British life that needs reform, it’s politics.

Every day, Vox Political receives at least one comment from somebody saying that the system is corrupt and desperately needs an overhaul. Today (Tuesday, March 3), Labour is due to announce its plans for tackling this very issue.

The trouble is, of course, that many people are saying Labour is part of the problem.

The claim is that the party and its high-level members have a vested financial interest in keeping the system as it is – and the gravy train rolling along. How will Labour combat these?

Well…

There are plans to consult on new powers for the Speaker to tackle the worst and repeated instances of rowdy behaviour in the Chamber with a so-called ‘sin bin’.

Former Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans described the idea as “rubbish”, pointing out that the speaker already has the ability to remove MPs in certain circumstances and has lots of discretion at present.

But the Speaker himself, John Bercow, has given a cautious welcome to the suggestion that MPs face a rugby-style “yellow-card” temporary ban for bad behaviour in the Chamber. Answering questions at a Hansard Society event at Westminster, Mr Bercow said: “I think there is merit in it, it’s not for me to decide, it’s for the House to decide.”

Other measures will be revealed at an event in Parliament, by Shadow Leader of the Commons Angela Eagle. They include:

  • Overhauling elections with measures including introducing votes at 16 and trialling online voting
  • Changing how Parliament works with a Prime Minister’s Questions for the public and a new process for law-making that gives people a say
  • Tackling vested interests by regulating MPs’ 2nd jobs and creating compulsory rules for lobbyists, and
  • Devolving power across the UK and replacing the Lords with a ‘Senate of the Nations and Regions’.

Some of these measures have already been trailed, like votes for 16-year-olds, public PMQs and regulation of MPs’ second jobs. One has been claimed by the Conservative Party, although Labour’s Austin Mitchell describes the plan for devolution to Greater Manchester as a “deathbed repentance by a government which had centralised continuously in a country that is over-centralised already”. He claimed that a concentration of power in London and the south-east of England “needs to be reversed so the rest of us can have a chance”.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Angela Eagle said: “The recent debate over MPs’ second jobs reminds us that so much needs to change in Westminster. When trust in politics and politicians is already at a record low, only radical reform will restore faith in our political process.

“Labour’s plan will deliver the reform our politics needs. We will reform the Commons to strengthen its ability to hold the government to account. And we will ensure our political system always puts people before rich and powerful vested interests.

“Our politics works on an adversarial system, but sometimes MPs take it too far and it turns the public off. A Labour government will consult on new powers for the Speaker to curb the worst forms of repeated barracking.”

This writer is particularly keen on online voting. It is to be hoped that the trials go well, so that this may help restore interest – and confidence – in democracy.

Does it go far enough? Undoubtedly people will say it does not – but at least, it seems, Labour will do something to arrest the corruption that seems to have seeped into the very bones of the Palace of Westminster (the building will be unusable within 20 years, it seems, unless expensive restoration work is undertaken).

What would you do?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Anti-fracking Labour critics are singing from Green Party and SNP songsheets

Nobody wants to see this in the United Kingdom: Fracked water is set ablaze in the film Gasland.

Nobody wants to see this in the United Kingdom: Fracked water is set ablaze in the film Gasland.

Vox Political’s report on the outcome of yesterday’s fracking debate in Parliament prompted a predictably shrill response from supporters of the Scottish Nationalist and Green parties.

Now, why would that be?

Could it be that these organisations want to split the Left vote, attracting more voters to themselves by presenting an unpleasant image of Labour?

And isn’t this irresponsible at a time when Conservative policies, propped up by Liberal Democrat votes, are causing so much damage to the United Kingdom – including the deaths of many vulnerable people?

Why are they attacking Labour, rather than the real enemy of the people?

Some have claimed that Labour did a deal with the Coalition, agreeing to abstain on a vote for an absolute moratorium on fracking in return for the inclusion of Labour’s list of 13 regulatory procedures – to be carried out before any fracking may be performed – in the legislation.

Even if this is true, it is simply good politics. The entire Parliamentary Labour Party, combining its votes with any others who opposed the Bill, could not have amassed the more-than-300 votes necessary to topple the Coalition’s absolute control over the passage of the Infrastructure Bill into law.

The only reason this writer can see for the Tories to have given even this concession is that we are in an election year and they fear the adverse publicity that would be generated by refusing any kind of regulation at all could harm them at the ballot box.

So, for the Tories, Liberal Democrats, Greens and SNP, it seems to be all about the election. Only Labour seems to have spare a thought for the protection of British citizens from harm.

And what thanks did the party get?

Here’s Nicola Ronnquist: “Labour abstained on clause 9 calling for a moratorium! I would hardly call that a victory! labour is a disgrace! The labour supporters have gone very quiet tonight on some of the threads after pointing out they abstained from a moratorium! ! After the EA commitee recommended it!!! Well done labour!!! No vote on the tresspass law! So they will now be able to frack under our homes. The labour traitors! Im voting green now!”

This Green supporter has posted a further 14 comments on the fracking article thread, stirring up anti-Labour sentiment.

Here’s Chris Lovett, another Green supporter: “Bugger Labliar. Go Green.” No argument – just abuse and a call to split the Left vote.

For the Scottish Nationalists, here’s Lee Thompson, who quoted figures on the moratorium vote from Wings Over Scotland, the ScotsNat blog. No bias there, then! He wrote: “The Head of Scottish Labour [Jim Murphy] was all the way in Scotland playing football! My understanding of politicians is that they are there to represent the wishes of their constituents at all times? 52 managed to vote despite knowing they couldn’t win [including Labour MPs – it is a party that does allow its members to speak their minds]… Let’s consider the example set by our politicians, they get paid by us to vote but don’t. If I told my boss there was no point in doing something, I’d get the sack.”

In fact, MPs are paid to represent their constituents to the best of their ability – and we’ll see how Labour achieved this later in the article.

Clare Tereasa Gallagher, who appears to be both Scottish Nationalist and Green, wrote: “The labour party abstained! Red tory scum, only care about the lifestyles they’ve become accustomed to… Jim Murphy was playing keepy Uppy at Pittodrie!

There were many other comments. Some of them even seem to be by people who were genuinely concerned, rather than pushing their own party line.

The most sensible comment on Vox Political‘s Facebook page came from Steve Gogerly: “The price of oil falling through the floor has made fracking a less than profitable enterprise which suits all of us dubious of its environmental safety. Hopefully a safer method will be discovered before the price rises again.

It seems entirely likely that Labour is aware of this and the regulations that are now part of the Infrastructure Bill are merely a stop-gap measure. Tom Greatrex MP wrote at length about “the reality behind… Tory rhetoric” in an article for LabourList as long ago as last April.

this is not an imminent revolution,” he wrote. “Shale gas in the UK is unlikely to really get going this side of 2020 – peak production is not expected to be reached until 2024. Hinting that shale gas offers a solution to the potential tightening of our supply margins in the next couple of years, as some Tories do, is therefore completely misleading.”

He continued: “Cameron promised that shale gas would deliver 74,000 jobs. This week’s report [from Ernst & Young] cuts that down to 64,000, but within that number there are just 6,000 “directly employed”, 39,000 in the supply chain and 19,000 “supply chain induced” positions. In short, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

“But perhaps the key line from the report was on page 4, when EY acknowledge that ‘it is not yet possible to make any forecast of potential recovery rates’. Whilst we know that the gas is in the ground, we don’t know how much of it is extractable.”

He went on to say that shale gas extraction should only happen within a framework of robust regulation and comprehensive inspection, and with local consent – and must not be allowed to develop at the expense of the UK’s climate change commitments.

Put that all together and you’ve got an industry that is on (forgive the poor taste) extremely uncertain ground. Is fracking worth the potential disruption of who-knows-how-many British citizens, not to mention the further harm to our environmental credentials, for the sake of an unknown – possibly very low – yield and only around 6,000 jobs?

The more one examines this matter, the more likely it seems that Labour has skilfully employed a delaying tactic; these new regulations will put any fracking operations on hold while the businesses involved go through the regulatory procedures. After this has been done, it is possible that a Labour government will have been returned to power, and will put an end to the process altogether, in favour of methods that are proven not to harm the environment.

Of course, this won’t happen if the Greens and the SNP succeed in their greedy bid to split the left-wing vote. If the Left is divided between several parties, the way will be clear for the Tories to sweep back into office and do whatever they like, to anyone.

Is that really what you want?

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‘New Scottish powers’ Bill published – but is it any good?

The Smith Commission, which included members of the SNP [Image: PA].

The Smith Commission, which included members of the SNP [Image: PA].

Today’s big news has to be the publication of draft legislation to give the Scottish Parliament more powers – in line with the recommendations of the Smith Commission and three days ahead of the government’s self-determined deadline, Burns Night.

As Vox Political has previously reported, the Smith Commission was set up to find ways of enacting the promises made by the UK’s unionist political parties in what has since been dubbed ‘The Vow’. It reported back in November with recommendations that, in fact, added and expanded on those in The Vow. Scottish Nationalists condemned the report, claiming the opposite – that promises had been “watered down”.

It is worth noting that the Smith Commission gave equal representation to members of all main parties in the Scottish Parliament, including the SNP, and its recommendations were supported unanimously.

The new draft legislation is written in a form that seems to go out of its way to demonstrate that it is taking nothing away from either the Smith Commission recommendations or The Vow. It is available for download here.

This blog is not going to offer an opinion on the draft legislation at this time. Instead, readers are invited to download the document, compare it with what was offered, and then provide an informed opinion in the ‘Comment’ column.

Be aware that “It’s a load of pish” is not an informed opinion; if you disagree with any part of what is on offer, you should state where the offending passage can be found and how it diverges from what was promised.

Does the offer live up to the promise?

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Peers defeat government over judicial review curbs – BBC

Cracked: Chris Grayling's plan to stop ordinary people from demanding judicial review of crazy Conservative legislation has been defeated by the Lords. But does the Coalition have time to force them back into the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill?

Cracked: Chris Grayling’s plan to stop ordinary people from demanding judicial review of crazy Conservative legislation has been defeated by the Lords. But does the Coalition have time to force them back into the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill?

Remember Vox Political‘s article last week, warning that Chris Grayling was trying to price judicial review out of the reach of ordinary people, in order to stop us challenging insane Tory legislation?

Yesterday a group of Conservative and Liberal Democrat lords rebelled against the government and voted with Labour and crossbench peers to defeat the plan.

Here’s how the BBC reported the events [observations from Yr Obdt Srvt in bold]:
The government has been defeated three times in the House of Lords over plans to limit the ability of individuals and organisations to challenge public decisions in the courts.

Former judge Lord Woolf said recourse to the courts was a key “last resort”.

Former Conservative ministers Lord Howe and Lord Deben and senior Lib Dems Lord Steel and Baroness Williams were among those to vote against the government, as it lost three parliamentary votes on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill.

The rebel amendments to the bill maintaining the right of judges to decide whether to grant a legal challenge were passed respectively by majorities of 66, 33 and 33.

MPs must now decide whether to reinstate the measures when the bill returns to the Commons.

The government argues there has been a proliferation in the number of judicial reviews in recent years, with frivolous challenges being used to hold up policies when there is little or no chance of success. [What “frivolous challenges”? We’ve had many high-profile challenges that were upheld by the courts, with several against the Department of Work and Pensions including one that led to a hurried and highly dubious new Act of Parliament to legalise previously-illegal behaviour by the Conservative-led government.]

But leading crossbencher Lord Pannick said judges already had the power to dismiss “hopeless and abusive cases” and judicial reviews were vital to hold government to account and to ensure the legality of their decision-making.

“The risk of a public hearing before independent judges encourages high standards of administration,” he said.

Lord Woolf, a former lord chief justice, said the legislation was “worrying”, suggesting it was “dangerous to go down the line of telling the judges what they have to do”.

And former lord chancellor Lord Irvine said the ability to challenge government decisions in court was “indispensable in a democracy”.

But for the government, Lord Faulks insisted ministers were not trying to “fetter or undermine” the process of judicial reviews or circumscribe the discretion of judges.

In cases where the government had clearly followed due process, he said its time was “better spent taking forward the reforms the country needs” rather [then] defending decisions in the courts. [But the entire point of the findings of the judicial reviews mentioned above was to stop the government bringing in changes that were not only unneeded but actually harmful to the country and the public good!]

“The measures represent a sensible and considered package which will improve the process of judicial review for those with a proper case put well and founded on flaws which would have made a difference to the outcome,” he said. [Does that make any sense at all? The measures represent an attempt to price judicial review beyond the reach of ordinary people.]

The amendments, he added, would rule out any reform of the current system.

Good. Conservative ‘reforms’ would set justice back into the Dark Ages.

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