Tag Archives: privilege

#CharlieElphicke sex assault sentence exposes the privilege of the ruling class

Charlie Elphicke: his sentence is not proportionate to the anguish he has caused his victims.

Charlie Elphicke is not the alleged “Tory rapist” who’s currently still a member of Parliament although barred from participating in debates.

That matter has yet to be concluded.

But his two-year sentence for sexually assaulting two women reveals several damning truths about the UK’s justice system and how it cushions convictions against the privileged few.

Here’s the story:

Ex-Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke has been jailed for two years for sexually assaulting two women.
Elphicke, 49, the former MP for Dover, was convicted of groping the women in similar situations, nine years apart.
He denied the charges, but was found guilty of one count of sexual assault in 2007 and two further counts in 2016, after a trial at Southwark Crown Court.
The judge told Elphicke he was a “sexual predator who used your success and respectability as a cover”.
Within minutes of his jailing, Elphicke confirmed he would appeal against his conviction, arguing he had not had a “fair trial”.

That’s the official view. Now let’s hand over to people on Twitter who know far more about this subject than I do. Firstly:

He’s not the #ToryRapist, as stated at the top of this article. But the Conservative whips knew about him.

He is described in the so-called “dodgy dossier” of Conservative MPs with unsavoury sexual histories as: “Charlie Elphicke: inappropriate with female researchers.”

That’s an interesting euphemism to describe a man who had already committed sex crimes against two such researchers by the time the dossier became public knowledge in 2017.

This information should have been enough to put everybody in the Tory whips’ office at the time – along with then-prime minister Theresa May – right in the dock with Elphicke as accessories.

But that didn’t happen because they are above the law.

Yes: he used his success and respectability as a cover – exactly the same success and respectability that keeps his former Parliamentary colleagues from being investigated.

Elphicke himself was given a two-year custodial sentence, meaning he’ll serve 12 months unless he disgraces himself in prison somehow.

And to what kind of prison is he being sent – while he appeals against that sentence?

Contrast that with the life sentence that he handed down to the women he sexually assaulted. Their statements make horrific reading:

You can click on the images for the statements but let’s save you the bother.

According to Prosecutor Eloise Marshall QC, the first victim had a “significantly increased sense of caution” when coming into contact with men, including taxi drivers and butchers.

“The logical part of my brain is telling me to be polite to them but the emotional side is making me stressed.”

[This went] even to the extent that when the (police) officers came to take an account from her, she found it difficult to be alone with them.

She says she avoided being alone with men in general.

The second victim said in her impact statement, “I still remember how he made me feel, I still know those feelings of fear and helplessness.

“I do believe as a result of what happened, it changed how I perceived myself.

“Because of his acts, he stole a large part of my self-worth and self-esteem.

“My inner scars will always be there.”

There is one small element of poetic justice in this story, though: Elphicke voted to restrict the provision of legal aid, and then fell foul of the new restrictions.

At the time, he probably expected the change to affect only poor people, who need legal aid to have access to the justice system; without it, they can’t challenge the privileged few.

He didn’t realise that he was giving away his house as well.

Not to mention his liberty.

But then, it wouldn’t have happened if he could have kept his hands to himself.

Source: Charlie Elphicke: Ex-MP jailed for sex assaults on women – BBC News

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Racist coward Home Secretary uses Parliamentary privilege to label Jeremy Corbyn a racist

Un-Priti: the smirking, smug Ms Patel used Parliamentary privilege to lie that Jeremy Corbyn was a racist, and to spread falsehoods after Labour MPs complained about her own misbehaviour.

Priti Patel: what a nasty piece of work she is!

This Writer feels comfortable in calling her a racist; she supported – by which I mean she voted for – the racist legislation that created the “hostile environment” policy at the Home Office, leading to the Windrush scandal.

And of course she is a close ally of Boris Johnson, who has proved himself to be a racist on many occasions.

Perhaps, then, she was trying to deflect attention away from her party’s, her government’s, and her own racism when she smeared Jeremy Corbyn as a racist in the House of Commons. The Independent reports:

Answering questions about recent protests linked to the death of George Floyd in the US, Ms Patel turned her fire on Keir Starmer for supposedly not breaking with the policies of his predecessor.

She said: “I’m saddened that the leader of the opposition has effectively failed to depart from the divisive, hateful, racist politics of its former leader.”

Ms Patel did not make clear exactly which of Mr Corybn’s policies she regarded as racist.

She could not; Mr Corbyn is said to be the only MP in Parliament who has voted against every piece of legislation that contained even the slightest possibility of a racist application.

https://twitter.com/Cornish_Damo/status/1272578747946991617

And she knows her claim was a lie – otherwise she would have made it outside the Commons chamber, where she would not be protected from prosecution by Parliamentary privilege. As it is, her words come across as cowardly, craven. And she was unable to support her claims in the Commons Chamber. Here’s The Independent again:

Her allegation came in response to a question from the Conservative MP for Wakefield, Imran Ahmad Khan, in which he referenced a letter to Ms Patel last week from black and minority ethnic Labour MPs – including a number of members of Sir Keir’s front bench – who accused her of using her own experiences of racism to “gaslight the very real racism faced by black people and communities across the UK”.

“It must have been a very different home secretary who as a child was frequently called a Paki in the playground, a very different home secretary who was racially abused in the streets or even advised to drop her surname and use her husband’s in order to advance her career,” she told MPs. “A different home secretary recently characterised … in The Guardian newspaper as a fat cow with a ring through its nose, something that was not only racist but offensive, both culturally and religiously. So when it comes to racism, sexism, tolerance or social justice, I will not take lectures from the other side of the house.”

Mr Ahmad Khan said: “The home secretary and I, along with other Conservative colleagues, have been subject to torrents of hateful prejudice and frankly racist abuse from the left’s legions outside – as well as, in the case of my right honourable friend, sadly from sources on the benches opposite – as we refuse to conform to their prejudices.

Last week’s letter came after Ms Patel told the Commons she would not “take lectures” from Labour MPs about her understanding of the issue of structural racism.

“We all have our personal stories of the racism that we have faced, whether it has been being defined by the colour of our skin or the faith we choose to believe in,” [it said].

“Our shared experiences allow us to feel the pain that communities feel when they face racism, they allow us to show solidarity towards a common cause; they do not allow us to define, silence or impede on the feelings that other minority groups may face.”

The letter was coordinated by the shadow community cohesion minister, Naz Shah, and signed by senior Labour MPs including Diane Abbott, Tulip Siddiq, Kate Osamor, Chi Onwurah, Seema Malhotra, Dawn Butler and Rosena Allin-Khan.

For perspective: just one of the people who signed the Labour letter – Diane Abbott – receives more racist abuse on a regular basis than every other member of Parliament put together.

Priti Patel’s claim that she will “not take lectures” from someone like that is an insult of the grossest kind – made worse by the fact that, even though Ms Abbott’s experience of racism is so much more acute, she, along with her colleagues, had written that their experiences “do not [italics mine] allow us to define, silence or impede on the feelings that other minority groups may face” – which was exactly what Ms Patel was trying to do.

How two-faced of the smirking Ms Patel – who, let’s not forget, was forced to resign in disgrace from a previous Tory cabinet after trying to conduct her own foreign policy, contrary to that of the government of the day.

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The double-standard that is crippling Labour

Tom Watson: As a member of the Labour Party’s privileged few, he can say whatever he likes. It is only rank-and-file members who are threatened with suspension and expulsion for expressing an opinion.

On Monday (March 11 – possibly today, by the time you read this), Tom Watson will launch his new Future Britain Group of Labour Party MPs – and it will be based on at least one enormous hypocrisy.

It can be explained very quickly:

When I attended Labour’s tribunal – the kangaroo court set up to find me guilty of anti-Semitism, no matter what the evidence showed – I was not questioned on the facts of my case. My argument was not disputed at all.

Instead, I was asked repeatedly why I had discussed an internal Labour Party matter in public. As a party member, did I not think that such things should remain confidential?

My response was that the anti-Semitism row was not an internal Labour Party matter, and had not been an internal Labour Party matter since Labour MPs had created such a fuss about it in the media, starting in 2016 with the Naz Shah affair. It was now a matter of public interest and it would be a mistake for Labour Party members to avoid the debate; false arguments would be allowed to go unchallenged.

Of course the tribunal’s members were well in favour of those false arguments, as their verdict shows.

Mr Watson, on the other hand, has done little else but agitate about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party since the current allegations first came to public attention. I don’t see him having to argue for his continued membership of the party before a tribunal.

The contradiction is clear.

Labour was founded to be a party representing those who did not have the benefits of privilege, in which ordinary people would have an equal voice.

But the party as it currently exists doesn’t want to hear the voices of ordinary members; our their purpose is to work for those who are privileged enough to be elected representatives and/or candidates; to listen, but not to speak. And under the Blairite system, elected representatives and/or candidates owed their positions to the patronage of the leadership. It became a system of privilege – exactly what Labour had been founded to oppose.

Mr Watson considers the party’s current direction of travel to be away from this; his Future Britain Group is an attempt to halt that movement and restore the Blairite system of patronage and privilege.

You can hear the proof of it every time he speaks up in support of the anti-Semitism witch-hunt, while ordinary party members who dare to do otherwise have their memberships suspended and are threatened with expulsion.


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The revolving door – between PARTIES – that keeps the privileged in power

Nicola Blackwood: It isn’t what you know, it’s who you know that counts.

It’s hard to tell what’s worse about this:

The fact that Nicola Blackwood, rejected by the voters of Oxford West and Abingdon, has been given a free peerage so she can return to the government?

The fact that she has been given this despite (due to?) a Commons record that includes voting against gay marriage (why does she think she should have a right to meddle in other people’s affairs?) and supporting fox hunting (does she enjoy cruelty to animals?) among her support for other abhorrent Tory policies?

The fact that the tax-paying public is having to fork out an extra £300 for every day she spends in this occupation?

Or the fact that she has spent the time between being voted out of the Commons and nominated into the Lords, working for New Labour grandee Peter Mandelson?

Some might say he can employ anybody he wants, and political leanings should not get in the way of professional suitability.

But it looks like more evidence that New Labour was too similar to the Conservative Party, by far.

You see, if one is willing to employ a person because of their political views, it doesn’t seem logical to belong to an opposing political party.

It isn’t an age since a Labour cabinet minister described the Conservatives as “lower than vermin” yet we find another, former, Labour cabinet minister giving one a job.

We should thank our lucky stars the Party of the People has gone back to its roots.

The government has used a loophole to make unelected Nicola Blackwood a health minister.

Blackwood was the Tory MP for Oxford West and Abdingdon before being defeated by Liberal Democrat Layla Moran in the 2017 general election.

As an MP, she was criticised for voting against gay marriage and supporting fox hunting.

After losing her election, she went to Peter Mandelson’s lobbying agency Global Counsel, advising its clients on political risks.

Now the government is giving her a peerage so that she can re-join the government as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department of Health.

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Snoopers’ Charter: Lawyers’ have been fighting to protect legal privilege

court

The article quoted below is from July. Does anybody know what happened with this?

In yet another case of lawyers vs politicians, the legal profession’s concerns about the Snoopers’ Charter are going to be debated in the House of Lords today.

The legal profession has long resisted the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill, dubbed the Snoopers’ Charter, which will allow the government to ‘snoop’ on our communications.

The fear is that the anti-terrorism legislation will end up undermining legal professional privilege (a client’s right to talk to his lawyer in confidence), something solicitors and barristers alike feel very angsty about.

Source: Snoopers’ Charter: Lawyers’ fight to protect legal privilege reaches the House of Lords – Legal Cheek

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Government’s ‘troubled families’ programme is failing; we knew it would

[Image: historyextra.com]

[Image: historyextra.com]

Remember back in April last year, when Vox Political said the Coalition government’s plan to stop children in ‘troubled’ families from playing truant, while finding work for the adults and stopping both from committing crime, was doomed to failure?

If you don’t, it’s not surprising (our readership back then was around a quarter of its current level) – and you haven’t missed much, because the scheme is back in the news as it is (again, unsurprisingly) failing.

The VP article pointed out that the government had been fiddling the figures in its bid to make it seem that 120,000 such families exist in the UK; in fact, “the number came from Labour research on disadvantaged families with multiple and complex needs, rather than families that caused problems,” according to ‘trouble families tsar’ Louise Casey at the time.

The article pointed out that local councils, offered a £4,000 bonus for each ‘troubled’ family they identified and helped (for want of a better word) were shoehorning families into the scheme – whether they qualified or not – just to make up the numbers.

It was doomed from the start.

So today we have figures obtained by Labour’s Hilary Benn, showing that around 106,500 families have been identified for the scheme (according to averages worked out from councils that responded to a Freedom of Information request). Of these, only around 35,500 were engaged by the scheme, which then failed in three-quarters of cases (around 26,600 families).

That leaves 8,878 families who actually came back to the straight-and-narrow – less than one-thirteenth of the target figure.

A success rate this low could have been achieved if the government had done nothing.

(That seems to be a running theme with the Coalition. What else does it remind us of? Ah, yes… The Work Programme. In this context it is extremely interesting that Mr Benn said the biggest obstruction to the scheme was the Work Programme’s failure “to deliver jobs to the poorest people in society”.)

According to The Guardian, “Data from 133 councils out of the 152 participating in the scheme found that almost one in seven families that had been “turned around” were either still on drugs, had children missing from school or involved in criminal acts.

“Another 60 per cent of households deemed to have been successfully helped by the scheme in March still had adults on unemployment benefits after leaving the programme.”

Bearing in mind the £4,000 ‘carrot’ that was waved in front of councils as encouragement for them to take part, you’ll enjoy the revelation that each local authority claimed to have found an average of 812 troubled families – 20 per cent more than central government had estimated.

Again, this is hardly surprising. Government-imposed council tax freezes have starved local authorities of money and £4,000, multiplied by 812, brings an average of £3,250,000 into each local authority that they would not, otherwise, have had.

So much for David Cameron’s plan to “heal the scars of the broken society”.

The Guardian also tells us that the ‘troubled families’ programme was launched by Cameron as a Big Society (remember that?) response to the riots of summer 2011.

In fact it doesn’t matter what the Coalition government does – or, indeed, what Labour plans to do if that party comes into office in 2015; schemes that are imposed on people from above will never succeed.

The problem is that the United Kingdom has become an increasingly unequal society, with money and privilege bled out of the majority of the population (who do most of the work for it) and into the hands of a very small number who have power and – it seems – no responsibility at all.

The vast majority of us are seen as disposable commodities by these exploiters – whose number includes a large proportion of MPs with interests in private business; they use us to make their huge profits and then throw us into unemployment.

Is it any wonder that such betrayal breeds families that turn away from the system and take to crime instead?

When David Cameron slithered into Downing Street he said he wanted to “re-balance” society. In fact, he over-balanced it even more in favour of privilege and wealth.

Now we need a proper re-balancing of society. The only way to solve the problem of ‘troubled families’ – a problem said to cost us £9 billion every year, by the way – is for people to be born into a society where everybody is valued and receives a fair (in the dictionary sense of the term, rather than the Conservative Party definition) reward for their contribution.

That will mean a fundamental shift in attitudes that should be taught to everybody from the cradle upwards.

You won’t get it under the Conservatives or any other right-wing government because they are exploiters by definition.

Will you get it under Labour?

Possibly. But a lot of right-wing Blairite dead wood will have to be cleared out first, and Hilary Benn is not the man his father was.

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Are these gibbering buffoons really the Conservative Party’s hope for the future?

The caption on this picture reads: "Nick Robinson, former Young Conservatives chairman and current BBC political editor, taking a selfie with some young Tories (Photo courtesy of theblueguerilla.co.uk). Perhaps you'd like to dream up your own caption for this image of wild-eyed, slack-jawed decadence (he's the political editor at the BBC and people still think it's left-wing; the mind boggles).

The caption on this picture reads: “Nick Robinson, former Young Conservatives chairman and current BBC political editor, taking a selfie with some young Tories (Photo courtesy of theblueguerilla.co.uk).” Perhaps you’d like to dream up your own caption for this image of wild-eyed, slack-jawed decadence (he’s the political editor at the BBC and people still think it’s left-wing; the mind boggles).

How bizarre. Apparently the right-wing social media want us to believe that, even though Conservative Party membership is believed to have dropped below 100,000, the number of young people joining up or supporting that party is reaching its highest in a decade.

Never mind. If, like Alice, you try to believe six impossible things before breakfast, you still have five more slots available to you.

The new information comes from a website called Vice.com, in an article entitled ‘Rise of the Tory Youth: Meeting Britain’s Young Conservatives’.

And meet them we do, along with some of the most spectacularly ignorant and ill-informed opinions this writer has encountered in a month of Sundays.

Try this, from 24-year-old Louisa Townson, current Tory Society President at University College, London. She tells us she became a member because of Tory economics: “We’d had this huge crash and we knew we had to sort out the national debt and the deficit.” Doesn’t she know that the last four years of Tory economics have cost the UK more than Labour spent in its entire 13 years of office and reduced the deficit by a staggeringly meagre £10 billion?

Louisa thinks the tripling of tuition fees was “fair” – presumably she won’t be saddled with student debt until she’s in her fifties, then.

As for workfare, she thinks “it would be good if [the unemployed] can give something back”. So this young woman, who joined the Conservatives for their economic policies, thinks it’s a good idea to remove paying jobs from the economy by making unemployed people do them – at the taxpayers’ expense – while the rate of corporation tax has nosedived so the host companies take all the profits? How will that help reduce the national debt?

And this is supposed to be an example of the brightest Young Conservative thinking. Oh my word. Oh dear.

Oliver Cooper, president of Tory youth movement Conservative Future, is still under the impression that his party stands for “economic freedom” – the party that, in government, has pushed millions onto the dole to keep wages down; destroyed much of Britain’s remaining industrial base, decimating the economies of entire regions of the UK, to undermine working-class self-confidence and security; de-democratised nationalised industries through privatisation; created a mushrooming of homelessness by promoting house ownership, creating a chronic shortage of social housing and perpetuating it by denying councils the ability to build more; and increased inequalities of income and wealth by cutting the relative value of benefits along with wages, boosting the social exclusion of the poorest in society.

This is supposed to show that it is cool to be a Tory again? Oh good heavens no. It demonstrates the “cancerous… classist and out-of-touch view of the modern middle class youth of today”, as Theodor Ensbury states in the comment column.

“Mix privilege with a lack of life experience … and you have a heady cocktail of political and social empowerment without understanding of consequences,” he adds.

There is much more of this, but there really isn’t any need to go into further detail. Read it yourself, if you can stomach it.

Today’s Tory youth, ladies and gentlemen: Ignorant, insular and insolent.

The last thing they deserve is responsibility.

I wouldn’t give them the time of day.

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Sleepwalking out of the EU – the gap between rhetoric and reality

131105europe

The British people’s support for staying in the European Union is “wafer thin”, David Cameron told the CBI yesterday. Labour’s Ed Balls warned that the UK could “sleepwalk” away from its biggest trading partner at the same meeting.

Why?

Is it because most people don’t understand our relationship with the European economic area? Is it because they have been infected with propaganda from the right-wing press?

Is it because there really is a plan to make the UK a third-world country, and withdrawal from the EU is necessary to remove citizens’ human rights, thereby making them easier for the ruling class to exploit? The idea seems paranoid but the actions necessary for it to happen have been coming together.

Isn’t it time we had a public debate about the Union – how it works, how we function within it – in order to find out whether we really are better or worse-off? And why – considering all the bluster – hasn’t this happened already?

Let’s look at the main issues: cost of membership, perceived over-regulation, immigration, and our place on the world stage.

The UK contributes around 14 billion Euros (£11.9 billion) to the EU budget every year, but receives 10 billion Euros (£8.5 billion) back – so in fact we contribute £3.4 billion to other countries within the union; the UK is a net EU payer. A study by UKIP MEP Gerard Batten has claimed that red tape, waste, fraud and other factors adds another £62.3 billion a year to the cost.

But the EU is the UK’s main trading partner, with contracts worth more than £400 billion a year. That kind of money make the membership fee look like a pittance. And the EU has been negotiating with the US to create the world’s largest free trade area in a move that could hugely boost our businesses (although this has a huge potential downside that nobody is talking about).

Perhaps the problem is that the companies profiting from these trade deals aren’t paying their taxes properly? The UK Treasury should receive £92 billion at the current rate of Corporation Tax. How much does it actually get?

Let’s not forget that the Coalition government is trying (ineffectually) to pay down the annual deficit. Any money saved by leaving the EU would not go into domestic projects but would contribute to debt repayments. In effect, it would be dead money; at least, in the EU, it helps bring in business.

Okay, so it’s possible that the UK makes more cash from the EU than it spends on it. But what about all those pesky regulations bogging us down all the time? Wouldn’t we be better-off without them?

Sure – if we didn’t mind losing those £400 billion worth of trade deals. If the UK left the European Union but still wanted to trade with its member states, then we would still have to abide by EU regulations. UKIP’s Nigel Farage points to Norway and Switzerland as countries that have access to the single market without being bound by EU rules on agriculture, fisheries, justice and home affairs – but he doesn’t mention the fact that those countries must abide by EU market regulations without having any influence over how they are created.

A break from the EU, allowing the UK to trade with other nations around the world, means Britain’s exports would be subject to EU export tariffs – and would still have to meet EU production standards.

Yes, the EU burdens us with rules when it probably doesn’t have the right. Why does the EU dictate our policy on water? So there is room for negotiation – but within the Union.

Well, what about immigration? The UK has a huge problem with its borders having been opened up to millions of incomers – mostly from Eastern Europe, with millions more on the way next year, right? Wouldn’t leaving the EU put an end to that?

Yes. It would also put an end to Britons’ chances of living and working in EU countries. 711,151 UK citizens were living in other EU countries in 2011, according to Eurostat. Their right to work and live there might be restricted if Britain quit the union.

While 2.3 million EU citizens were living and working in the UK in 2011, their effect on the country’s economic well-being has been hugely exaggerated. There is no ‘open door’ immigration policy. The immigrant population does not have access to a vast majority of the benefits available to UK citizens, the benefits they do receive are nowhere near the same value as those received by UK citizens and they are a third less likely to claim benefits than UK citizens. Meanwhile, they contribute to the local economy and pay their taxes.

The UK would definitely lose stature on the world stage. There can be no amicable divorce from the EU, as the other leading members are unlikely to allow this country any special privileges or influence. We would surrender our ability to influence EU policy while remaining hostage to EU decisions. The ‘special relationship’ with the United States would also be in jeopardy as that country has made it clear we are a more valuable ally as part of the EU.

As a member of the EU, Britain is viewed by many non-European manufacturers as a key point of access to the European market – but this reputation would be lost if the UK quit the union.

British banks and businesses also see membership as important because it provides access to crucial foreign markets.

Oh, and the UK would still have to deal with the European Court of Human Rights, which is separate from the EU, even after ridding itself of the pesky Human Rights Act that ratifies so many EU employment laws and social protections that prevent Theresa May and her friends from exploiting us all.

Add it all up and the evidence seems clear: Britain is better off with Europe. Yes, there are problems, but these are matters for negotiation, not reasons to run away.

Don’t you agree?

Perverting the course of justice: Once a crime, now government policy

Chequebook justice: Your unelected government wants to ensure that nobody can challenge its policies and decisions - by putting justice within the reach of only the wealthy.

Chequebook justice: Your unelected government wants to ensure that nobody can challenge its policies and decisions – by putting justice within the reach of only the wealthy.

David Cameron and Chris Grayling have been messing with the justice system again. This time, according to The Telegraph, they are planning to make it “tougher” for judicial reviews to be brought to court, to stop the process being “abused” by pressure groups and campaigners.

There’s a lot of Telegraph-speak in that first paragraph, as the Tory-supporting newspaper was working desperately to make governmental perversion of justice acceptable. What this actually means is that Cameron wants to make it impossible for organisations that are capable of mounting legal opposition to unreasonable Conservative/Coalition policies ever to do so.

The only people able to seek judicial reviews of government policy would be individuals who are directly affected – and the government is hoping that these mostly poor people would be unable to afford the cost, thanks to changes in Legal Aid that mean it could not be claimed for welfare or employment cases.

You see how this works? With those changes to Legal Aid and the possibility of wholesale privatisation of the entire court system, where justice was once open to everyone, it will soon be a privilege available only to the wealthiest in the UK.

To Cameron, and his crony Grayling, justice isn’t for you. In fact, it won’t be for anyone. The UK will be about money and power, just as Michael Meacher stated in his recent blog article.

So, for example: The ‘Poundland’ case, which The Guardian reported was to be heard in the Supreme Court yesterday (Monday). The original judicial review was launched in the names of Cait Reilly and Jamieson Wilson, who were both directly affected – but were both unemployed and penniless, and therefore could not afford to take the case to court on their own. Their case was brought with the aid of Public Interest Lawyers – who would most likely be barred from taking part, being considered a pressure group with no direct interest in the matter.

The original case resulted in the government taking the unusual – and highly suspect (in legal terms) – step of passing an emergency retroactive law to legalise its employment schemes, after the tribunal ruled that all of the Coalition’s schemes were acting illegally and opened the government up to a potential £130 million worth of claims for wrongfully-withheld benefits.

PIL has now started a second judicial review – on the retrospective law – claiming it undermines its clients’ right to justice and violates article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Under the new procedures this, too, would be inadmissible.

On the same lines, the judicial review that ruled (in May) that the test used to decide whether people are fit for work actively discriminates against the mentally ill, brought by the Black Triangle Campaign with the charities MIND and Rethink Mental Illness, would also be inadmissible.

So we have examples in which it is clearly in the interests of justice for new laws to be challenged – but which would be blocked outright under Cameron and Grayling’s plan.

According to The Telegraph, “Ministers plan to change the test for applying for a review so that only people with a direct link to policies or decision can challenge it, rather than anyone with a ‘sufficient interest.’

“The concerns echo those of the Prime Minister who previously said the judicial review process was slowing the country’s economic growth as well.”

In fairness, the paper adds: “There are fears that changing the judicial review process could lead to government decisions going unchecked, and charities have also raised concerns about not being able to use the process to challenge decisions and ensure the government is meeting its obligations.”

Meanwhile, Unison has been given leave to launch a judicial review of the introduction of fees for workers seeking employment tribunals.

The BBC reported that people wanting to bring tribunals must now pay a fee for the first time since they were created in the 1960s. It will cost £160 to lodge a claim for matters such as unpaid invoices, with a further charge of £230 if it goes ahead.

More serious claims, such as for unfair dismissal, would cost £250 to lodge, and a further £950 if the case goes ahead.

The plan here is clearly to make it impossible for an unfairly-sacked worker to take a firm to judicial review; how many poorly-paid working class people (and remember, wages have fallen by nine per cent since the credit crunch) have twelve hundred quid knocking around in their back pockets?

“The introduction of punitive fees for taking a claim to an employment tribunal would give the green light to unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over already basic workers’ rights,” Unison general secretary Dave Prentis told the BBC.

“We believe that these fees are unfair and should be dropped.”

The judicial review will take place in October. Considering Lord Judge’s recent change of heart over privatisation of the courts, it’s a safe bet that by then the government will have ‘persuaded’ any judges hearing the case to support the new charges.

As Mr Meacher wrote: David Cameron’s instincts are “that there is no such thing as the rule of law, and that the only things that ultimately matter are power, fear and money”.

“Tax the rich” says Clegg – in search of the ‘poor’ vote?

Nick Clegg seems to have had a change of heart.

In a Guardian interview (quoted by the BBC) he has called for a “time limited contribution” from the richest in society beyond his party’s current policy for a mansion tax – taxes on properties above a certain value.

This is a departure for the Deputy Prime Minister who voted solidly for the millionaires’ income tax cut (from 50 per cent to 45 per cent) in George Osborne’s most recent attempt at a Budget.

Some might say that the turnaround is genuine, that Mr Clegg has rethought his position and, in light of the Coalition’s failing economic plan – which has put government borrowing up by a quarter so far this year – admitted that the Tory plan, to cut public services to the bone and tax the poor for the remainder, simply won’t make the grade.

But then we see that, in the same interview, Mr Clegg said he wants to see the return of David Laws to a cabinet position. Laws quit after having to admit he had claimed £40,000 in Parliamentary allowances to pay his partner’s rent. He spent 18 months on the backbenches. If you or I were to overclaim £40,000 in housing benefit, we would be jailed for six months.

So you can see that Mr Clegg is still a big fan of privilege and the principle that, when you’re in power, you change conditions to help your friends.

That’s why I say: Don’t be fooled by this man. He’s seen the state of the opinion polls; he knows his party could be cut down to a maximum of 10 MPs in 2015, and he wants to stop that from happening. That’s why he’s appealing for the sympathy of those of us on low or middle incomes. He wants us to believe that he identifies with us against the rich. In fact, he’s banking on it, even though he himself is a rich man from a privileged background.

What a morally bankrupt attitude (as I’m sure David Cameron might describe it, since he’s fond of that phrase).