Tag Archives: Margaret

Police agree payouts for Hillsborough ‘cover-up’. What about the Tories – and Murdoch?

The disgrace – no, the word ‘disgrace’ isn’t strong enough: this is the Sun story that mentally scarred survivors of the Hillsborough disaster and the families of those who died. It wasn’t ‘The Truth’ at all; it was a pack of lies.

More than five years after a jury ruled that 96 people were killed unlawfully in the Hillsborough disaster – and that their behaviour did not contribute to the situation – police forces have agreed to pay compensation to more than 600 people for mental distress caused by the attempted cover-up.

I have two questions.

Firstly: why did it take so long for South Yorkshire and West Midlands police to agree to pay up?

Secondly: Why aren’t the Conservative Party and Rupert Murdoch’s News International paying compensation, too?

Let’s go into the circumstances:

We all know that the Hillsborough Disaster was a fatal human crush at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, hosted at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium on April 15, 1989.

It happened due to gross negligence by match commander David Duckenfield of South Yorkshire Police.

The police service then attempted to hide the fact that its failures caused 96 deaths and 766 injuries – the worst disaster in UK sporting history – by trying to blame it on the fans who were injured and died, saying those people caused the tragedy by being drunk and misbehaving.

West Midlands was the force appointed to investigate the disaster, but has since been accused of malpractices and failures that have been subject to a long-running investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Not only that, though: the prime minister of the day, the Conservative Margaret Thatcher, refused to release information that made the police look bad.

And The Sun, a newspaper published by Rupert Murdoch’s News International, published a story headlined The Truth that was nothing but a pack of lies, supporting the fantasy created by the police.

This Writer believes a strong argument could be made that the newspaper story – which led to The Sun being boycotted in Liverpool ever since – caused more distress, more anguish, to survivors, and to relatives and friends of the deceased, than the police cover-up on which it was based (although I know it could not have been written if the police and the Tory prime minister had not lied in the first place).

Civil claims for compensation due to malfeasance in public office by the two police forces were submitted in 2015, during inquests into the reasons the 96 died.

The claimants said the lies had caused them to suffer trauma and psychiatric damage, and the compensation is to cover not only those injuries but also the cost of treatment and counselling.

Those claims were made nearly six years ago and the payments haven’t been made yet (at the time of writing). So I repeat: why not?

And how much are these people getting, to make one of the claimants describe the payout as “insulting” in The Guardian‘s news article about it?

The behaviour of the police was shocking, and undermines public faith in the reliability of our law enforcement officers across the UK – not just in the forces concerned.

But – as mentioned above – they weren’t the only organisations caught lying; they weren’t the only people who deliberately caused further distress over Hillsborough.

Margaret Thatcher withheld information – which was as bad as lying because it presented a false impression that the police were blameless.

She was able to do so because she was prime minister at the time – and she was prime minister because she was leader of the Conservative Party that had formed the then-current government.

She died in 2013 but it seems perfectly reasonable to hold the Tories responsible for putting her in a position where she could distort the facts.  Why has the Conservative Party avoided compensating these people?

And that Sun headline has gone down in the history of journalistic infamy. The disgust of the city of Liverpool – in perpetuity – is not enough. Why has News International not offered compensation as well?

All three of these organisations should have offered payouts voluntarily, considering the enormity of the harm they have done, but they didn’t.

The police are only paying up because they were forced to.

Perhaps that aspect of this tragedy is the most damning of all.

Source: South Yorkshire and West Midlands police agree payouts for Hillsborough ‘cover-up’ | Hillsborough disaster | The Guardian

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Beckett’s ‘silly cow’ comment shows Starmer has turned Labour into a cess pit

The shenanigans after yesterday’s (March 11) meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee make This Writer glad not to be a member of that party any more.

The fact that Margaret Beckett is being allowed to continue as chair of the NEC after calling fellow committee member Laura Pidcock a “silly cow” on a Zoom meeting is unacceptable.

Pidcock had made a perfectly reasonable point after a motion to recall Labour’s party conference had been rejected with no vote taken, in a snub to party democracy.

The motion sought to recall the full party conference, possibly to coincide with Labour’s women’s conference in June, for reasons This Writer set out in a previous article:

The motion… reads: “Discussion in local Labour Party meetings has been suppressed; motions banned; scores of activists suspended; and anger and disillusionment is exploding across our lay membership across the party.

“Members are leaving in droves and many more are expressing frustration and dissatisfaction at the attack on democracy and free speech. Many members are saying it doesn’t feel like the Labour Party anymore.”

There is also frustration after several ex-officials suspended over the contents of a damning leaked report have been let back into Labour. 

These are serious, party-splitting concerns, and it is unacceptable that Laura Pidcock, asking how members could have this out-of-hand rejection of those concerns explained to them, was dismissed as a “silly cow”.

The reaction on the social media was unequivocal:

The last commenter is right: this is indeed Keir Starmer’s Labour.

And he has made it a cess pit.

I am delighted that I am not a member of an organisation that puts Starmer and Beckett in positions of seniority that they clearly do not merit. I have a feeling that many other Labour members will also abandon the party in the face of this ill-treatment.

And I expect the general public will do the same at the May elections.

Source: Labour MP Margaret Beckett apologises over ‘silly cow’ remark – BBC News

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Hodge wants ban on social media anonymity – what a great idea! It will curtail fake anti-Semitism claims

It’s the first time This Writer has agreed with Margaret Hodge in years.

She has said the government must ban online anonymity or make social media directors personally liable for defamatory posts, revealing that she receives tens of thousands of abusive tweets a month:

Hodge accused the government of deliberately delaying the online harms bill in order to avoid difficult conversations with powerful social media companies, and said she was prepared to take up a campaign to make sure the law was tough enough.

The Online Harms Bill arises from a White Paper produced last year – and This Site commented on it at the time.

The White Paper – and now the Bill (I expect; I haven’t actually seen any information on it since April last year) proposed a statutory duty of care, to be conferred on media companies including platforms such as Facebook and Google, online messaging services like WhatsApp and file hosting sites.

They would be required to comply with a code of practice, setting out the steps they must take to meet the duty of care. This may include designing products and platforms to make them safer, directing users who have suffered harm towards support, combating disinformation (for example by using fact-checking services), and improving the transparency of political advertising.

They would be expected to co-operate with police and other enforcement agencies on illegalities including incitement of violence and selling illegal weapons.

And they would have to compile annual “transparency reports” detailing the amount of harmful content found on their platforms and what they are doing to combat it.

The government would have powers to direct the regulator – initially Ofcom, with a dedicated regulator to follow in the future – on specific issues such as terrorist activity or child sexual exploitation.

I pointed out last year that the White Paper did not include any measures to stop people creating anonymous accounts.

If Ms Hodge wants to see that happen now, then I am all for it.

It will stop me receiving much (but not all) of the abuse I get from people wrongly accusing me of anti-Semitism after the Labour Party expelled me under false pretences (as shown in court).

But that’s not what was on offer in April last year. As I made perfectly clear, “regulating online media platforms will not stop people posting “harmful” content to them, if there is nothing to stop them from doing so. It is farcically easy to create anonymous accounts, from which to post objectionable and/or abusive content.

“Shut one down? That’s fine – the individual responsible can have another up and running in a matter of minutes, if they don’t have multiple aliases working already.”

And I made that point that “it has been argued that people must have a right to be able to post anonymously, because of personal circumstances that make it important – possibly for their personal safety.”

My response: “Fine. A system can be devised in which people apply for anonymity and the number of people or organisations able to ascertain their real identity is strictly limited. That would allow these individuals to continue functioning in the online world. And it would prevent others from abusing social media platforms. Any posts from an unrecognised anonymous account would be easy to flag up and isolate.”

If Ms Hodge is proposing such a system then I am behind her every step of the way, and never mind all the other differences we have.

Although – as a staunch witch-hunter herself – I wonder whether she would approve of that outcome.

Source: Margaret Hodge calls for ban on social media anonymity | Online abuse | The Guardian

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Labour civil war: unions weigh in, former MP signs out, and Margaret Hodge contradicts herself

.Margaret Hodge: she once praised Jeremy Corbyn glowingly but is singing a different tune now. Why the change of heart? Political expediency?

For a leader who said he wanted to bring unity to the Labour Party, Keir Starmer has certainly caused a lot of division.

This Writer thinks the best conclusion to be drawn by those of us who are watching is that he lied; Starmer’s plan was always to cause the maximum amount of upset possible and ensure that Labour is incapable of opposing the Conservatives at a time when the Tory government is itself weak.

That is the only explanation that makes any sense at all.

So today the antagonism has intensified – as witnessed in the articles of that exhaustive follower of Labour’s woes, Skwawkbox.

I’ll level with you: this story is likely to develop so quickly and in so many different directions that it will be hard to keep up. But I’ll try to keep tabs on developments and point you to those that are of interest.

Skwawkbox tells us first that the unions have condemned Starmer’s continuing persecution of Jeremy Corbyn:

Unite’s Len McCluskey condemned Starmer’s ‘vindictive and vengeful decision which despoils Party democracy and due process‘ – and for acting in ‘bad faith’ in his ‘continued persecution’ of Corbyn – and accused him of destroying ‘party unity and integrity’ while undermining the EHRC report he has pledged to implement in full.

Fair comment, I think…

CWU general secretary Dave Ward went even further, describing Starmer’s action as ‘shocking’ – because it gives Boris Johnson a free ride over the serious issues of the day. Millions face redundancy, hundreds are dying every day and the government gets away with it. But Starmer wants a civil war.

Also fair. Read the full report here.

Meanwhile a well-respected former Labour MP has quit the party in disgust at Starmer’s behaviour.

Former Colne Valley MP – and PPS to John McDonnell, meaning she worked as part of his shadow Treasury team – Thelma Walker has resigned her membership of the Labour Party, while expressing solidarity with former party leader Jermey Corbyn.

She made her feelings clear in a tweeted response to another former Labour MP:

“Labour MPs used [the PLP] as a vehicle for self-aggrandisement and personal attacks on those they didn’t agree with.”

“[I] witnessed the toxic atmosphere [in the Parliamentary Labour Party] every Monday evening. My stomach used to turn over before I went in the room. The same people would leave the meeting and report to journalists.”

That’s not the kind of Labour Party This Writer wants to have and I don’t think you want it either. But thanks to Starmer and his cronies, that’s the party we have.

Read the sad details here.

On the subject of Starmer’s cronies, one of the reasons he kept Corbyn from rejoining the PLP seems to have been a threat by Margaret Hodge that she would quit the party if it happened.

Hodge has been a vociferous opponent of Corbyn, having spent several years denouncing him as an anti-Semite. It seems she is also a hypocrite, as a comment uncovered today shows:

“I was fighting fascism and that would be completely up his street. He takes stands on things and he fights his corner. I like that about him.”

How times change. The Skwawkbox article is here.

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StarmerLabour supports Biden because he supported Thatcher’s Falklands war. What does that say about StarmerLabour?

Nandy: all mouth, no brain?

StarmerLabour mouth Lisa Nandy was doing the media rounds this morning, telling us that her party’s leadership wants Joe Biden to be the new US president.

There’s nothing wrong with that if she had stopped there but she didn’t.

She went on to say that this was because Biden had supported former Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s Falklands war.

That is not a good position for Labour to take and I’ll explain the reason,

Once the Falklands had been invaded by General Galtieri’s Argentinian forces (he wanted control of huge oil reserves beneath the South Atlantic), the UK had to go out and liberate the people who lived there and identify as UK citizens – there’s no doubt about that.

But it is widely argued that the reason they needed rescuing in the first place is that Thatcher withdrew naval support from the area, deliberately making the Falklands an attractive target for the Argentinian dictator.

The intention was tacitly to invite him into starting a war that Thatcher could win, in order to create a surge of public support for herself and the Conservative Party here in the UK that would carry them to a stronger victory at the next general election. And it succeeded.

That’s the belief. In the light of it, Nandy’s comment is tone deaf:

It shows that StarmerLabour rejects its own party as it was in the early 1980s, preferring to trumpet its support for the Tory leader who championed the neoliberal ideology that brought disaster down on working-class families across the UK.

It should come as no surprise that Nandy said this was a good thing. Her talent for media stupidity is fast becoming legendary. Here…

… is a clip of her from the BBC’s PM on October 29, presenting the anti-Semitic view that all Jews are rich and that hatred of them is “punching up”. She gets away with making racist comments – and inciting racism with them – because she is on Starmer’s side and for no other reason.

Sadly, she would probably have got away with such a comment, even under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, either because complaints would have been dismissed by right-wingers in the Governance and Legal Unit who would want her to continue as an embarrassment to Corbyn, or because Corbyn, assailed by false accusations, did not want to rock the boat. That was his weakness and ultimately the reason he lost two elections and his Labour Party membership has now been suspended.

Fortunately the tweeting public has no such restraint:

Other comments by the daft Nandy have also attracted justified criticism:

Finally, this comment stands as a harsh reminder to us all of the backstabbing ways adopted by Nandy and her kind of Labour MP:

If they get into power, they would backstab all of the voters who put them there.

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Nicola Sturgeon can’t stop calling Margaret Ferrier ‘Margaret Covid’; where’s Dominic Eyetest?

Margaret Ferrier: she doesn’t look well, does she?

It’s no more than she deserves.

Margaret Ferrier is an MP for the SNP (whip currently suspended) who took a Covid-19 test on September 26 after experiencing symptoms.

Then, instead of self-isolating (just in case) she visited a gym, a beauty salon and a gift shop.

On September 28, while still awaiting her test results due to the lamentable slowness of the UK’s privatised testing system, she took a train from Scotland to London and spoke in a Parliamentary debate.

That evening she received a positive test result. Then, knowing she may have infected anybody in the gym, beauty salon, gift shop, on the train to London, and in Parliament itself, what did she do?

She took another train back to Scotland and lied to her party whip that a family member was unwell.

She admitted her offences on October 1, in a public statement. Afterwards Ferrier was suspended from the SNP, and referred herself to the police and the Parliamentary standards authorities.

Party leader Nicola Sturgeon has been referring to her as “Margaret Covid” ever since.

The reference may be to Typhoid Mary – a person who carries a disease to many others.

This Writer thinks other key players in the Covid-19 crisis should also be granted appropriate nicknames – and I see that I am not alone:

And if that idea doesn’t amuse you, there’s always Janey Godley:

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A 10ft plinth to deter people from vandalising Thatcher statue? That’s begging for graffiti

Look at all that white space: What a wonderful – free – canvas for any would-be Banksy to pass comment on the woman whose image stands at the top of it. At least, that’s what this artist’s impression suggests.

It seems nobody wants to have a statue of Margaret Thatcher on their doorstep.

Westminster Council rejected plans to put it up in central London last year, basing the decision on a report that it could attract “potential vandalism and civil disorder”.

Now, according to Metro, councillors in Baroness Thatcher’s hometown of Grantham, Lincolnshire, are considering putting the £300,000 statue on a 10ft plinth – also to deter “politically-motivated vandals”.

They haven’t thought it through at all.

A 10ft plinth will be a blank canvas for every wannabe Banksy who wants to try their hand at satirical graffiti.

They’ll come from every corner of the United Kingdom to make their mark on that wonderful 10ft expanse of white stone – and to make a point about the woman whose image will stand at the top of it.

And with 17 objections to the statue plan, and only seven in support, it is doubtful that many people will be upset if they do.


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Plans for an anti-Thatcher museum in London to showcase her “genuine terrible legacy” – Mirror Online

Does anybody know anything about crowdfunding? Perhaps something could be done to make Mr Cullen’s exhibition a permanent feature of the London scene.

Plans to open an anti-Thatcher museum in London are being hatched by artist Darren Cullen.

The 32 year old, originally from Leeds, says he is in the early stages of planning, but has already been looking into finding potential locations and raising the funds for a temporary exhibition on the Iron Lady.

In 2013, Cameron gave his backing to a £15million museum and library called The Thatcher Centre, that would celebrate her life to “ensure Thatcher’s legacy lives on”.

But Darren thinks that there should be an alternative to this: a museum which exhibits the negative side of Thatcher and the UK under her rule.

Darren says:” I wanted to start this project because I think there’s going to be a serious need to counteract the whitewashed version of Thatcher’s legacy the official museum will present.”

Source: Plans for an anti-Thatcher museum in London to showcase her “genuine terrible legacy” – Mirror Online

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The hellish legacy of Thatcher

Martin Rowson's Guardian cartoon of April 13 satirises the spectacle of Baroness Thatcher's funeral, calling it as he sees it: A primitive tribal ritual.

Martin Rowson’s Guardian cartoon of April 13 satirises the spectacle of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral, calling it as he sees it: A primitive tribal ritual.

“This is Hell, nor am I out of it.” – Mephistopheles, Doctor Faustus.

As I write these words, the funeral of Margaret Thatcher is taking place at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Unemployment stands at 2.56 million (7.9 per cent of the workforce).

The banks are not lending money.

More small firms are going out of business every day.

The economy is stagnant and the outlook for growth is bleak, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The rich elite prey on the poor – Britain’s highest-earners are billions better-off than in 2010, while wages for the lowest-earners are increased by so little that most of them are on benefit and sliding into debt (0.8 per cent rise in the year to February).

The cost of living has risen by around three per cent.

900,000 people have been out of work for more than a year.

The number of unemployed people aged 16-24 is up to 979,000 (21.6 per cent of all those in that age group).

Politicians lie to us, in order to win our support by deceit.

Assessment for disability benefits is on a model devised by an insurance company to avoid paying money to those who need it most.

Health services are being privatised, to make money for corporate shareholders rather than heal the sick.

Government policies have reinstated the ‘Poll Tax’ principle that everybody must pay taxation, no matter how poor they are.

Government policies mean child poverty will rise by 100,000 this year. It will not achieve the target of ending child poverty in the UK by 2020.

Government policies are ensuring that many thousands of people will soon be homeless, while social housing is being sold into the private sector.

And Legal Aid is being cut back, to ensure that the only people with access to justice are those who can pay for it.

This is Thatcher’s Britain, nor are we out of it.

She died; we went to hell.

Place your bets on Osborne’s next excuse for economic failure

This is not a good time to run a retail business - the effect of the Coalition's benefit cuts will trickle up and bite our rich retailers and industrialists hard.

This is not a good time to run a retail business – the effect of the Coalition’s benefit cuts will trickle up and bite our rich retailers and industrialists hard.

According to the BBC website, business activity was hit hard by last month’s exceptionally cold weather, with the number of people visiting shops down by more than five per cent.

For one person, this will have been an extremely pleasant piece of news, because for once he won’t have to explain himself.

That person is, of course, Gideon George Osborne.

For one month, he hasn’t been in the unenviable position of having to root around in the political undergrowth for a reason the economy has tanked – that isn’t related to his own hopelessly inadequate economic policies.

For one month only!

He will not have an excuse when the figures come in for April, worse than for March, as sane economic forecasters should expect.

Instinct says he will tell us the funeral of Margaret Thatcher will have something to do with it. He used the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as a shield – what goes for ‘matches’ must surely apply also to ‘dispatches’.

The real reason will be the effect of the huge benefit cuts, that will take £19 billion out of the economy over the next year, if commentators are to be believed.

That’s just in money terms. Add in a conservative estimate of the fiscal multiplier (the effect on the economy) and we’re staring into the black pit of a £30.4 billion loss. That would be £500 for every person in the UK, if we were all affected.

But the richest among us won’t be. It is on the poorest and least able to defend themselves that this hammer blow has fallen. The government has been giving money back to the richest, as we all know.

In fact, this show of support for his cosseted buddies might protect them from the storm that’s coming, and may therefore prove to be a shrewd move – but we must all remember that Osborne is not an intelligent man and good fortune coming to anyone as a result of his policies is pure chance.

Because the rich will be affected by the benefit cuts. Poor people have no choice but to spend the money they receive. They have to buy things they need and pay the bills, so it goes on food, heat, light, water, the rent, repairs and other necessaries. With less money available to them, they will not be spending as much in the shops, and will be more careful about how much gas, electricity and water they use, as well.

Who owns and runs the shops? Who owns the shares in the utility companies (now that the bulk of shares have been bought up from the middle-class speculators who bought them in the 1980s)?

The rich.

After a few months of this, we’ll see what happens to their profit margins. My guess is that a £100,000 tax rebate won’t help very much.

The propaganda machine keeps spewing out nonsense, of course. Only last weekend we heard Francis Maude telling Jonathan Dimbleby and the Any Questions audience in Exeter: “The Coalition government, which is two parties which have come together from a different place, in the national interest, to do something quite big and difficult, which is to address the biggest budget deficit any country in the west had.”

It wasn’t the largest budget deficit of any western country – either by size or percentage of GDP. That was a flat-out lie and I wish Jimbles would pull him up on it.

The deficit in the United States is greater than ours in percentage terms; in money terms, it dwarfs the UK.

Across the whole world, Japan has the biggest deficit.

Strangely, you don’t hear the Japanese making a big fuss about it.