Tag Archives: NI

Brexiteers’ justification for breaking international law on Brexit is illiterate. Why hasn’t Braverman resigned?

Suella Braverman: She used to chair a secret group of Brexit-supporting MPs and is now Attorney General. Yes, she is as daft as she looks.

In trying to humiliate a leading Remainer – and justify its own contempt for international law – Boris Johnson and his government have made the UK a laughing-stock once again.

And our Attorney General, Suella Braverman, should be offering up her resignation. Rather than uphold the rule of law, she has sided with a government that intends to break it, turning the UK into nothing better than a rogue state.

Almost as bad, she offered as justification for this lawbreaking a Supreme Court ruling that Parliament is sovereign in domestic matters – a ruling won by Remain campaigner Gina Miller in a challenge to previous Brexit legislation.

But the same Supreme Court ruling made it clear that this does not excuse the UK government from honouring its obligations under international law.

Here’s Braverman’s statement, as exulted by Brexiteers. I’ve found a more level-headed response to it:

What is the appropriate response? This:

Perhaps. This:

Mmm… How about two in-depth Twitter threads? First this:

(After that lesson in the law, I think the Secret Barrister may be allowed to advertise a book about it.)

And then there’s this:

It is not for members of the public to challenge this.

I have a feeling that the Tory government will face serious and well-funded legal challenges both from within the UK and outside.

I am concerned that this will lead to an equally serious financial penalty – a bill that, once again, the taxpayer will have to pay.

We always end up bailing out these incompetent Tories when we should be sending them to jail instead.

Last word goes to Mark Elliott (again):

It is par for the course in a government that is as bent as a nine-bob note.

But Suella Braverman’s resignation is definitely required.

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Coronavirus: the Tories are trying to blackmail other UK countries into lifting lockdown early

Rishi Sunak: he seems to be denying the facts of the coronavirus crisis, in order to force an early end to the lockdown.

Never underestimate a Tory minister who apparently has mass murder in mind:

It seems Rishi Sunak is upset that the Scottish Parliament is more concerned with saving people’s lives than getting the economy back up and running for the benefit of a cadre of lazy billionaires, and has threatened to withdraw funding for the “furlough” scheme that pays for workers to stay at home if Holyrood extends the lockdown longer than Westminster.

The UK-wide furlough scheme has been extended until October, but when Scottish ministers called for clarity about the future, they received a discouraging response:

Scottish economy ministers Kate Forbes and Fiona Hyslop … appealed to the Treausry for assurances that workers will continue to access support even if Scottish firms are not reopened at the same time as English ones.

In a letter to the Chancellor, they wrote: “We understand that the support will need to be scaled back over time, but it is imperative that is done in a carefully considered way, and reflects the economic priorities of each of the four nations and the different sectors of our economies.

“The ability to stagger the closure of the scheme may be beneficial in considering how we safely exit the restrictions currently in place.”

But [a] Downing Street source said that furlough payments are now likely to be distributed by the Treasury on a “sector-by-sector” rather than geographical basis.

The Conservative government has made it clear that it intends to lift the lockdown as soon as it considers this to be possible – but has given no reassurances at all that it will carry out any tests to prove that it is safe to do so.

Indeed, the plan to force schools to reopen at the beginning of June has become a raging controversy, with fears that teachers, parents and friends could fall victim to Covid-19, and children themselves (who seem likely to suffer only light symptoms of that disease) may succumb to a follow-on infection that bears similarities to Kawasaki disease.

Conservatives have shown no concern about these issues at all.

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Coronavirus: Tories threaten tax increase on self-employed after non-offer of help

Rishi Sunak: his promises are worthless – but you can bet he’ll follow through on his threats.

Typical Tories: they make a long list of promises that get broken within a week and then try to charge us a fortune for them.

So, with the self-employed, they’ve offered to pay 80 per cent of normal profits (not wages, as with employees).

But they won’t even start providing this until some time in June.

And self-employed people will be taxed for receiving that money.

And in the meantime, they want any of us whose income stream dries up to claim Universal Credit, joining an online/telephone queue of tens of thousands, as the Department for Work and Pensions is completely unable to cope.

This is the (bad) deal that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has offered – to 85 per cent of self-employed people.

And now, days later, he’s telling us he’ll increase National Insurance paid by all self-employed people because he says this excuse for a bailout makes it impossible to justify them paying less than others.

It’s a con.

Chances are that self-employed people won’t get anything – or will receive next-to-nothing; certainly not enough to cover their outgoings.

And they will be made to pay many times more than they receive in the years to come.

That is what’s “harder to justify”.

We don’t have a government – we have a gang of thieves. And they are using an epidemic to justify their daylight robbery.

Source: Coronavirus: Chancellor warns self-employed they face tax hike after crisis – Mirror Online

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Johnson is pressing ahead with money-wasting Scotland-Ireland bridge plan

Remember the Garden Bridge: Boris Johnson spaffed nearly £60 million on this while he was Mayor of London – and not a single minute’s work was spent trying to build it. The NI-Scotland bridge is just his latest pie-in-the-sky project.This is arrogant lunacy and it will cost a fortune.

I’m not even talking about the price of building a bridge from Northern Ireland to Scotland; the consultants will bleed the public purse brutally before it can ever get that far.

In fact, we already know it can’t be done – at least, not for any acceptable price.

But then, Mr Johnson’s plans aren’t about cost-effectiveness. They’re about keeping public funds away from those members of the public who need them.

And, judging from Twitter, we all know it:

No; I don’t think there will.

But a lot of money will be spent before then – cash that could go on much better things but won’t.

Bid to halt NI abortion law change fails. How will Boris Johnson get the DUP on-side for his Brexit now?

How interesting – last week we were told Boris Johnson’s government was working hard to get the devolved government in Northern Ireland working again, to bribe the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) into supporting his Brexit deal.

The idea was that, as the DUP is firmly opposed to the legalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland – which will happen by law after the Westminster government supported it and could only be stopped if the Stormont assembly voted to do so, then the Stormont assembly must be restored.

It seems clear that attempts were made to facilitate this, but it was impossible for MLAs to agree on the election of a speaker so the attempt failed.

Now it seems Mr Johnson has no way of getting the DUP to support his deal, other than by making concessions.

Or will Arlene Foster’s party have a miraculous conversion to his way of thinking?

A last ditch attempt at the Stormont assembly to stop abortion law changes in Northern Ireland has failed, with the law set to change at midnight.

Unionist parties, who oppose the upcoming liberalisation, triggered the assembly’s recall with a petition.

But politicians were told the assembly could not do any business until a speaker was elected with cross-community backing.

That became impossible when the nationalist SDLP left the chamber.

As a result no nationalist representatives remained, meaning no new speaker could be elected and the sitting was suspended after less than an hour.

In July, MPs at Westminster passed legislation which requires the government to change abortion laws and extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland if devolution is not restored by 21 October.

Source: Abortion: NI politicians’ bid to halt law changes fails – BBC News

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Court rules that current NI abortion law breaches human rights in blow to anti-abortionists targeting Stella Creasy

Stella Creasy: the pregnant MP was targeted by anti-abortion campaigners after she sponsored an amendment decriminalising it.

This is important: the High Court in Northern Ireland has ruled that current laws that criminalise abortion are in breach of the UK’s human rights commitments.

It comes after an amendment sponsored by Labour MP Stella Creasy was passed by MPs, decriminalising abortion if there is no deal to re-establish the devolved government in Northern Ireland by October 21.

Ms Creasy, who is pregnant herself, has since been targeted by an anti-abortion organisation calling itself the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) with a series of posters in her Walthamstow constituency.

She raised the fact with a point of order in the Commons yesterday, prompted Speaker John Bercow to describe the campaign as “vile, unconscionable and despicable”.

The case was taken in Belfast by Sarah Ewart, who challenged the law after she was denied a termination.

The judge said she ruled in Mrs Ewart’s favour as it was not right to ask another woman to relive the trauma that she had already experienced.

A formal declaration of incompatibility would not be made at this stage, the judge said.

Mrs Justice Keegan made that decision in light of impending legislation, already passed at Westminster.

Source: Abortion: NI law ‘breaches human rights’ – BBC News

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WATCH: ‘Vile, unconscionable and despicable’ – MPs respond to targeting of Stella Creasy by anti-abortionists

Abuse:’ This poster was put up in Stella Creasy’s Walthamstow constituency in what is seen as an attempt to intimidate her.

An anti-abortion group that targeted pregnant Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy has been labelled “vile, unconscionable and despicable” by Commons speaker John Bercow as MPs vowed to help her take action.

Ms Creasy raised the issue after an organisation called the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) put a poster of her alongside a picture of what it claimed was “a 24-week-old aborted baby girl”, with the claim “Your MP is working hard … to make this a human right” and the address of a website established against the MP.

The abuse targeted at Ms Creasy follows the approval from MPs of her amendment to extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland – the only part of the UK where it is illegal. The vote passed by 332 to 99.

She has reported the matter to the Metropolitan Police – only to be rebuffed by officers who say this is a “free speech” issue.

A clearly-emotional Ms Creasy raised the issue with a point of order in the House of Commons, after Prime Minister’s Questions today (October 2).

I managed to capture most of the exchange with Speaker John Bercow on video (I happened to have a camera handy and grabbed it up as soon as I realised what was happening). Apologies for the shaky picture and possible poor sound quality – the camera was hand-held. You may hear voices over the top – they belong to This Writer and Mrs Mike:

The point of order prompted the appropriate Tory government minister to promise action.

Abortion is a sensitive and complicated issue, and I don’t propose to go over all the arguments here.

But I do believe that there are many possible reasons for a woman (or a couple) to consider abortion and if that option is available to them, it is not for anybody else to tell them what to do. It is a matter for their conscience and it should be a human right.

The action of the so-called charity (as you will have heard, it has been refused charity status in the UK) – against a woman who is herself pregnant – is as Mr Bercow described it: vile, unconscionable and despicable. I’m sure many readers could add a few choice words themselves.

It is the sort of behaviour that could affect the health of an unborn baby, contrary to that organisation’s stated aims. Do these people even care about that double-standard?

It has no place in UK society.

Our charities exist to campaign for measures that improve the quality of life – not to victimise people who have done nothing wrong (the fake charity Campaign Against Antisemitism should also take note of this).

The advertising company that hosted the offending posters has agreed to take them down.

Let us hope that the organisation behind it faces legal action (this behaviour is a criminal offence under the Public Order Act) and is chased out of the UK for good.

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Northern Irish judges rule Boris Johnson prorogation won’t harm the peace process

Was anybody expecting an earth-shattering turnabout as a result of this ruling?

I wasn’t. Here’s what we know at the time of writing:

Judges in Belfast have ruled that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament for five weeks was lawful and would not damage the Northern Ireland peace process.

Lawyers for the applicants in Belfast argued that a no-deal Brexit on 31 October would undermine agreements involving the UK and Irish governments that were struck during the peace process and which underpin cross-border co-operation between the two nations.

Source: Northern Irish judges rule Boris Johnson prorogation is lawful | Politics | The Guardian

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Historian’s bigotry sparks Twitter ignorance over Northern Ireland peace process

Lines of communication: If anyone tries to tell you photos like this show Jeremy Corbyn in league with terrorists, they are either mistaken or deliberately lying.

David Starkey’s appearance on the BBC’s Politics Live seems to have triggered an outburst of ignorance on Twitter, the like of which This Writer hasn’t seen for months.

Mr Starkey spent almost the entire 45 minutes advertising his ignorance of the achievements of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and his disdain for Mr Corbyn’s politics (despite knowing so little about it).

At one point, he prompted me to write this tweet:

It has had more than 100,000 impressions in the 34 hours since I wrote it (at the time of writing). I think supporters of Mr Starkey’s point of view wanted to start a dogpile (see here if you don’t know what that is) but it attracted fierce support as well, dragging the detractors into a debate they couldn’t hope to win.

If you agree with them, consider the evidence in Another Angry Voice‘s article here.

Skwawkbox has useful material here.

The FT provides relevant information in this piece.

There’s more all over the Internet, but it seems my critics haven’t bothered to check.

Their claims were varied, with only one connection – they were all false, and easily rebutted. So:

There were flat-out claims that Mr Corbyn had nothing to do with the GFA – answered with an eyewitness response (among other things).

https://twitter.com/AndrewMansell12/status/1116963012001378304

This testimony was attacked, of course…

Some claimed that although Mr Corbyn was involved, he had no right to be.

Some claimed Mr Corbyn was a supporter of the IRA. Not true.

Of course one could mention the Conservative councillor who was a member of the IRA in response. Search “Maria Gatland”.

In the face of evidence, some tried to modify their claims. Too little, too late?

Some claimed he only spoke to loyalists. Also untrue.

Some lied, claiming I had said Mr Corbyn was responsible for the GFA, or played a greater part than I had suggested.

Key figures were name-checked, both for and against Mr Corbyn:

https://twitter.com/broxi78/status/1116974080979238914

https://twitter.com/HardREMAINIAC/status/1116988986969460736

(This one was particularly amusing as it had its origin in The Spectator, which can hardly be considered a reliable source of information about Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. It once listed me as an anti-Semite, for crying out loud!)

There were many bald claims made in pure ignorance.

(That would be apart from those who very clearly did, as evidenced by other comments in this discussion.)

And there has been an awful lot of foul-language abuse, some of which even attracted a civilised response.

https://twitter.com/paulwilkinson4/status/1116971318065414144

https://twitter.com/MrAndyR1963/status/1116986834838609920

https://twitter.com/HarryTheRed_/status/1116991285779476482

So we see a multiplicity of wild fantasies being pushed at me without a scrap of supportable factual evidence (whatever has been put forward is easily defeated), and also a huge amount of evidence supporting what actually happened.

And what did happen?

Well, let’s start here:

It is true that Jeremy Corbyn, together with John McDonnell and possibly others, is known to have started talking with representatives of Sinn Fein – the democratically-elected political wing of the Northern Irish republican movement – and not the IRA, in 1983 – after Mr Adams became the first democratically-elected Sinn Fein MP in Westminster.

This was two years after then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher (later Baroness Thatcher) opened up negotiations of her own – although these really were with the IRA. At the time – and for years after, Mrs Thatcher and her Tory successors denied having any such contact with the paramilitary organisation, claiming, “We do not negotiate with terrorists.”

BBC investigative reporter Peter Taylor said when the information was released under the Thirty-Year Rule: “That was nonsense, that was going on all the time behind the scene.”

So we see that Mr Corbyn was involved in the peace process at least 15 years before the Good Friday Agreement was signed, in open talks with Sinn Fein that fostered goodwill while the Conservative government was holding secret negotiations with the IRA that came to nothing. Mr Corbyn has received a large amount of criticism for his actions, and Mrs Thatcher had none for hers. That’s the wrong way round.

Still, the fact of Mrs Thatcher’s negotiations shows that critics of Mr Corbyn now needed to find a way of discrediting his activities. References to photographs of him with Gerry Adams (for example, the shot at the top of this article) and Martin McGuinness (who was also democratically elected) don’t cut the mustard in this respect as they do not show him in discussions with terrorists.

For this reason, Mr Corbyn’s invitation for Gerry Adams to come to Westminster for talks, along with other members of Sinn Fein and Linda Quigley and Gerry MacLochlainn – who had been arrested and convicted of conspiracy to cause explosions and possession of explosives in 1980 – caused uproar as the meeting was scheduled to take place just two weeks after the IRA bombed the Conservative conference in Brighton in 1984. The two former prisoners had been invited to discuss prison conditions; the meeting was nothing to do with the bombing.

Mr Maclochlainn went on, along with Mr Corbyn, to become part of the campaign to free the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six, innocent people who had been falsely convicted of carrying out IRA bomb attacks in 1974. As a result of their efforts – and those of many others – the convictions of the Four were quashed in 1989, and those of the Six were quashed in 1991.

Oh, and in 1994, as Sinn Fein’s representative in London, he was in the first delegation to meet with the British Labour Party front bench for discussions that eventually led to the Good Friday Agreement. Apparently this is nothing to do with his connection with Mr Corbyn. I find that hard to believe.

Mr Corbyn himself described the release of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four as one of the high points of his career, back in 2013: “The release of the Birmingham Six in 1991 and the Guildford Four in 1989 was amazing. I had helped campaign for them because of a miscarriage of justice and I could paper the walls with abusive letters I got at the time.”

It seems that some have claimed that Mr MacLochlainn’s – and Ms Quigley’s – convictions are evidence that Mr Corbyn has met and supported members of the IRA. In fact, it is clear that they had nothing to do with the IRA at the time, with Mr MacLochlainn going on to a – law-abiding – career in politics. Mr Corbyn himself said in an interview with Robert Peston: “I have not spoken to the IRA… I’ve met former prisoners who told me they were not in the IRA.”

Similarly, it seems some have claimed that Mr Corbyn’s arrest for obstruction when he joined 15 demonstrators protesting against the “show trial” of IRA suspects including Brighton bomber Patrick Magee, who would be convicted of murdering five people, was a show of support for terrorists, terrorism and murder. But this was at a time when Mr Corbyn had been in dialogue with people involved in the Northern Irish question for several years and it is entirely possible that he was protesting against a deliberately provocative act that could have wrecked his efforts toward peace. You decide.

The same could – again – be said about Mr Corbyn’s appearance at a meeting of the Wolfe Tone Society, an Irish republican support group, in which eight IRA members and one civilian who were shot dead by the British Army in an operation to defend a police station known as the Loughgall ambush were commemorated. Mr Corbyn said he attended the event and took part in a minute of silence to “call for peace and a dialogue process”. He was trying to prevent the deaths from causing a rift that could ruin attempts to end the violence altogether.

It seems to me that we’re seeing bad faith misinterpretations of Mr Corbyn’s actions, made for political gain rather than in any attempt to reveal the facts.

And what about claims that Mr Corbyn was on the editorial board of a magazine called London Labour Briefing when it published material that seemed to praise, or make light of the Brighton bombing? Well, there is absolutely no evidence connecting him with the offending material. In May 2017, he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge: “I read the magazine. I wrote for the magazine. I was not a member of the editorial board. I didn’t agree with it. I don’t agree with that position.”

Mr Corbyn has been accused of hindering the peace process by opposing the Anglo-Irish Agreement between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, that was signed in 1985. This, again, appears to be based on a false interpretation of events.

The treaty gave the Irish government an advisory role in Northern Ireland’s government while confirming that there would be no change in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland unless a majority of its people agreed to join the Republic, and was intended to help end the “Troubles”. In this intention, it failed utterly.

One reason for its failure was the fact that unionist political parties were excluded from the pre-treaty negotiations. They also rejected the agreement because it gave the Republic a role in the governance of Northern Ireland. And republicans hated it because it gave formal recognition to Northern Ireland’s status as part of the UK. It did nothing to end the Troubles.

Mr Corbyn, speaking in Parliament at the time, made clear his own reasons for opposing the treaty: “We believe that the agreement strengthens rather than weakens the border between the six and the 26 counties.” He saw that as contrary to efforts for peace and it seems clear that he was correct. He continued his efforts to bring all involved parties to the negotiating table – including unionist and republican representatives who had been excluded from the Anglo-Irish Agreement talks.

In 1987, The Times tried to claim that Mr Corbyn gave money to an IRA bomber – and was forced to publish an apology in short order.

The Sun revived the claim in 2015 – and was swiftly put in its place.

Notice that Mr Corbyn’s first act, on hearing that an operative of the Provisional IRA might be in London, was to phone the police. That is not the act of a supporter of terrorism.

On August 11, 1988, the Irish Times ran an article praising Jeremy Corbyn as a “tireless campaigner for the Irish”. I don’t have a copy of the article but comments about it elsewhere suggest it referred to his work to clear the Guildford Four, and his call for the Bloody Sunday inquiry to be re-opened.

Turning now to the unionists who Mr Corbyn isn’t supposed to have met, let’s discuss David Ervine. He was a member of the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force), an armed loyalist group, and was arrested in 1974 while driving a car containing a significant quantity of explosives. Released from prison in 1980, he eventually became the leader of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP). As a socialist, he was invited to attend the Labour Party Conference in 1994, where he met Jeremy Corbyn. One week later, a ceasefire was called in Northern Ireland.

I know – coincidence, right?

Also vital in that 1994 ceasefire was Gary McMichael, a leader of the now-defunct Ulster Democratic Party. And both he and Mr Ervine were among four loyalist leaders, some or all of whom met Mr Corbyn on at least five occasions that year to discuss the allegedly wrongful imprisonment of Neil Latimer, a member of the “UDR Four” – Ulster Defence Regiment men who were convicted of killing Catholic Adrian Carroll in 1983. Nine years later, three of the four were released, their convictions overturned, but Mr Latimer remained in jail despite three appeals that many felt should have been upheld.

For those who claim that Mr Corbyn never condemned the IRA bombings: He is of course on the record as having condemned all violence during the “Troubles”. But in respect of IRA bombings, his feelings are also very clear because on November 29, 1994, he signed an Early Day Motion condemning the Birmingham bombing of 20 years previously.

It stated: “That this House notes that it is 20 years since the mass killings of 21 people in Birmingham as a result of terrorist violence; deplores that such an atrocity occurred and again extends its deepest sympathy to the relatives of those murdered and also to all those injured; and strongly hopes that the present cessation of violence by the paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland will be permanent and thus ensure that such an atrocity as took place in Birmingham as well as the killings in many other places both in Northern Ireland itself and Great Britain will never occur again.” There was also an amendment stating that MPs believed consideration should be given to building a civic memorial to those who died.

The ceasefire lasted until February 9, 1996, when the IRA committed the Docklands bombing that killed two people and injured 39 others. Sinn Fein said it had ended because of the refusal of the UK’s Conservative government to begin all-party negotiations on a lasting peace until the IRA decommissioned all its weapons.

Gerry Adams visited Westminster in November 1996 to meet Labour MPs, including Jeremy Corbyn, to find a way to resurrect the ceasefire. Mr Adams had previously visited the United States at the request of then-President Bill Clinton, who appointed George J Mitchell as the United States Special Envoy to Northern Ireland in the same year. The governments of the UK and the Republic of Ireland agreed that Mitchell would chair an international commission on the disarmament of paramilitary groups and he subsequently recommended a series of rules – the Mitchell Principles – to which organisations had to agree if they were to take part in talks on the future of Northern Ireland.

Following the talks involving Mr Adams, Mr Corbyn and others, a new ceasefire began after the election of Tony Blair’s New Labour government, in July 1997. Negotiations for what eventually became the Good Friday Agreement began at the same time – but without Sinn Fein, which had not yet signed the Mitchell Principles. That party did so in September that year, and was admitted to the talks then.

Valerie Veness was Mr Corbyn’s assistant at this time. She has insisted that he played a small but vital part in the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement – holding discussions with republicans over the release of prisoners, one of that contingent’s demands if it was ever to sign a peace deal.

It seems clear that he was asked to do this by Mo Mowlam, the late Northern Ireland secretary who is credited with having sealed the GFA. According to Ms Veness, Ms Mowlam needed someone she could trust and whom the republicans also trusted, and that is why she chose Mr Corbyn.

This runs directly contrary to claims made by critics of Mr Corbyn and myself in the Twitter discussion (remember that?) – but in fact it also fits in perfectly with the facts.

Yes, Ms Mowlam criticised Mr Corbyn in 1996. Mr Corbyn had invited Gerry Adams to launch his autobiography in Westminster. She told the House of Commons she “unreservedly” condemned the invitation, which happened after the IRA’s Docklands bombing. It is entirely in keeping with the behaviour that we have seen from Mr Corbyn in previous years that he may have been seeking a way to keep lines of communication with Sinn Fein open with the offer. Ms Mowlam said: “Gerry Adams should be concentrating his efforts on encouraging the IRA to return to its ceasefire, rather than promoting his book,” and history shows that this is exactly what happened.

Is it really beyond the realms of possibility that, having seen the good relationship between Mr Corbyn and Mr Adams, Ms Mowlam would not have asked the former to approach the latter to discuss an issue of such delicacy as the release of prisoners? I don’t think so, and I certainly don’t think there’s enough evidence – in a Parliamentary statement made for diplomatic reasons – to support a claim that Ms Mowlam hated or despised Mr Corbyn.

So that is the evidence supporting claims that Mr Corbyn was involved in the Northern Ireland peace process. It seems conclusive.

Those involved in that process speak highly of him. Ian Paisley described him as courteous and polite; a “gentleman”.

And Gerry Adams said he would like to see Jeremy Corbyn become the UK prime minister, describing him as “outstanding”.

Mr Corbyn himself doesn’t talk about this part of his life because he is respecting confidences – things that were said and done in private. We can see clear evidence of this in the lack of any details in his speech on receiving the Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award for his efforts to bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Yes – Jeremy Corbyn has received an international, and highly-prestigious, award for his efforts toward peace in Northern Ireland. But my Twitter feed is full of people claiming there’s no evidence he did anything. And I bet they’ll still ignore the facts after reading this.


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Sign our petition to kill Osborne’s ‘tax statement’ propaganda sheet

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[Image: Daily Mirror.]

Remember when the Transparency of Lobbying, Third-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act (otherwise known as the Gagging Act) was passed, in January this year? Vox Political warned that it marked the end of free speech and free protest in the UK.

The article showed that the new law means you may no longer link up with others to protest government actions in any meaningful way – as such action may breach Liberal Democrat and Tory government-imposed spending limits. Your personal complaints will be deemed unrepresentative of the people.

In that article, this blog asked why the government has launched its attack on free speech and free protest, and suggested the following: Perhaps it wants to control the information you receive, on which you base your voting intentions?

This week we received confirmation of that theory – or at least, some of us did.

The ‘tax statements’ being sent out to Income Taxpayers by the Treasury – on the orders of George Osborne – are nothing less than party political electioneering, being carried out using those taxpayers’ own money rather than the Tory Party’s funds. The leaflet is worded in a very carefully-chosen way that betrays a clear intention to mislead readers – most particularly about the amount of our Income Tax that is spent on ‘welfare’.

To illustrate the extent of the problem: We cannot say this is the same as social security, as – according to the terms of the leaflet – it isn’t. Apparently a quarter of our money is spent on ‘welfare’, which is then broken down into bizarre categories like ‘social protection’ – including, alongside social security, personal care services which nobody has defined as ‘welfare’ until know, and the pensions of retired mandarins, colonels and lowlier public servants who will be appalled to hear their hard-earned retirement provision re-labelled as ‘welfare’, according to The Guardian‘s editorial on the subject. David Cameron’s pension would be defined as ‘welfare’, according to this categorisation.

Meanwhile, state pensions have been defined as being paid from an entirely different source (they aren’t), in order to safeguard the Grey vote from the indignation that – clearly – this piece of politically-prompted propaganda is intended to stoke.

The fact is that – as the Mirror points out – Income Taxpayers put a lot more than 12p in every pound towards pensions, and a lot less than 24p in every pound towards working-age benefits.

Here are another couple of tricks – possibly the nastiest of the lot: Firstly, the leaflet does not make it clear that ‘welfare’ payments are made to people who have a right to them “because of family or medical circumstance, or indeed a record of national insurance contributions”. The impression foisted on the reader is of “unearned handouts to the poor”, according to the Guardian editorial.

Secondly, the leaflet as a whole does not mention the contribution of VAT payments to the national purse. This is because the government has cut Income Tax (irrationally – it has a huge deficit and debt to pay off but has reduced its own income). The thinking behind this is that people will think they have been allowed to keep more of the money they have earned. But the same government has increased VAT, meaning that – in fact – people are being taxed more heavily!

What is the intended result of all this deception? It is as Vox Political described, back in January:

“You would be led to believe that the governments policies are working, exactly the way the government says they are working.

“You would not have any reason to believe that the government is lying to you on a daily basis.

“You would be tranquillised.

“Anaesthetised.

“Compliant.”

What a relief that nobody believes that filthy liar Osborne – even his own backbenchers!

This is how they see him – offering empty promises as a ‘carrot’ to encourage voters to support the Tories.

Osborne’s behaviour is so appalling that this blog has started a petition, calling on the government to withdraw these propaganda sheets that pretend to be official government information – and apologise for ever releasing them in the first place.

It is on the Change.org website, please sign it by clicking here.

Other blogs on the ‘tax summaries’ are available from Virtual Gherkin and Same Difference.

We must not allow this abuse of public authority – and public funds – to take place.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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