Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen of Britain First have been charged with religiously aggravated harassment [Image: PA].
The Labour Party is to put a motion before its National Conference for stronger action against abusive behaviour within the party.
This Writer – and bear in mind I’m still accused of anti-Semitism by certain malicious malcontents – has read the motion and it seems reasonable. In fact, it might help put a stop to the frivolous accusation of innocent people like myself.
The problem, it seems to me as a victim of such accusations, is that – particularly with regard to accusations of anti-Semitism, they were used to try to shut down legitimate criticism of Israel, and to curtail reasoned investigations into accusations of anti-Semitism against other people. I was accused because I found no evidence to suggest Ken Livingstone was being anti-Semitic when he passed his comments in defence of Naz Shah last year. He made a legitimate reference to history, that was relevant to what she had stated, but his detractors hastily drew attention away from those facts.
Contrast that with the current court case against two leaders of Britain First.
It relates to alleged religiously aggravated harassment in leaflets and online videos. It seems to This Writer that the court will see concrete evidence that will either be clearly abusive against other people’s religion – or not. That is a far cry from the carryings-on in Labour, where, it seems to me, the anti-Semitism accusations come with tortuous arguments that desperately try to make mountains out of nothing.
Don’t get me wrong – two wrongs don’t make a right and it is perfectly possible for some people in the Labour Party to be guilty of anti-Semitism.
But the contrast is useful as it highlights the difference between what may be genuine concerns and what may be politically-motivated fabrications.
Two leading members of far-right group Britain First have been charged with religiously aggravated harassment.
Kent police say the charges relate to leaflets given out in Thanet and Canterbury and online videos posted during a trial at Canterbury crown court.
The trial involved three Muslim men and a teenager who were convicted and jailed for rape.
Leader Paul Golding, 35, has been charged with three counts of harassment and deputy leader Jayda Fransen, 31, has been charged with four.
Both were bailed to appear before Medway magistrates court on October 17.
Richard Page says televised remarks opposing gay adoption stemmed from his Christian faith [Image: Matthew Walker/SWNS.com].
It is interesting that Richard Page’s claim to have suffered religious discrimination over his Christianity follows Theresa May’s claim that her own Christian beliefs are informing her conduct regarding Brexit.
This Writer’s opinion is that it is right that Mr Page should have been sacked as a magistrate and as a director of an NHS trust if he was allowing his religious bias to override the value of the evidence that was put before him, as he carried out those roles.
This story raises the following question, then (let’s run it as a poll):
A former director of an NHS trust is suing Jeremy Hunt for religious discrimination after he was effectively barred from applying for positions following his public opposition to gay adoption.
Richard Page has lodged a claim at the employment tribunal, saying his televised comments in 2015 that it was in the best interests of a child to have a mother and father stemmed from his Christian faith.
His remarks led to him being sacked as a magistrate in March for serious misconduct, after 15 years on the bench. Two years earlier, the lord chancellor and lord chief justice reprimanded Page after finding his religious beliefs, rather than evidence, had influenced his decisions during a family court hearing.
Page, 70, was also a non-executive director at the Kent and Medway NHS and social care partnership trust. In March, following a complaint by the trust’s LGBT staff network, Page was suspended for the final three months of his four-year term in office.
In August, the NHS Termination of Appointments Panel told Page “it was not in the interests of the health service for you to serve as a non-executive director in the NHS”, in effect barring him from applying for directorships in the future.
Page, a former NHS manager from Headcorn, Kent, is bringing a claim against the health secretary and NHS Improvement, which has the power to appoint non-executive directors. He is pursuing a similar case against the lord chancellor over his sacking as a magistrate.
Theresa May: She falsely claims to be a Christian but – by the terms of that faith – in fact worships the false god Mammon (money).
It was horrifying to read UK prime minister Theresa May’s claim that she is guided by her belief in God. The only god she has is Mammon – the Biblical false deity associated with wealth.
You cannot serve God and money at the same time, according to the Bible (Matthew 6:24) – but whenever Theresa May’s announced policies clash with the wishes of the wealthy, she changes her mind.
Look at the way she changed her plan to cut childhood obesity after the food manufacturing giants leaned on her to strip away possible impediments to their profits.
Some might say her membership of the Church of England (along with many other Conservatives) is enough to prove her good character. I disagree: The Devil can quote scripture too, as William Shakespeare noted (in The Merchant of Venice. If you want a Biblical reference, try Matthew 4:1-11).
So, when she says she has sleepless nights over Brexit but is convinced her faith in God and moral sense of right and wrong will guide her, should we have faith in Theresa May?
Because her God is money, and she will do whatever she can in the service of those who have it.
By her own actions, this daughter of a priest has scorned her religion, falsely claiming to keep the faith while her actions show that she worships a false deity. This is the sin of idolatry.
Those of sincere faith should encourage her to seek the help of the Church to atone for this sin, in accordance with the rules of the religion she claims to follow.
Until she achieves this, then members of the Church of England should certainly be encouraged to reject this woman, the political party she leads and the government of which she is the head.
A healthy man was sacked from his job because he had caring responsibilities for a daughter with cystic fibrosis, a tribunal heard.
The employee – a Mr Truman – had indicated to Bibby Distribution Ltd that he would have to spend more time caring for his daughter because his wife, the primary carer, was starting her own business.
He was dismissed from his job on the day he reached one year’s service with the company, on the grounds that “his heart was not in the business” and his primary customer was dissatisfied with his work. Significantly, Mr Truman would have become entitled to unpaid ordinary parental leave after notching up one year’s service. His dismissal on the first anniversary of his employment meant that he was denied this right.
An employment tribunal found there was no satisfactory explanation for the dismissal. The primary customer had not indicated any issues with Mr Truman’s performance – nor had the company’s management.
As a result, the tribunal found that the employer committed associative disability discrimination and a remedy hearing was arranged.
Associative discrimination is the act of discriminating against an individual because of an association with another person who has a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. The individual who brings an employment tribunal claim would not have the protected characteristic him or herself. A protected characteristic is a trait that the law has determined should not a basis for employment decisions, the equality Act 2010 lists protected characteristics as age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnerships; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation.
Carers need to be aware that employers may try to discriminate against them in this way.
Have they already suffered without knowing they are protected by the law?
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity will be holding a mass demonstration against the government’s austerity measures on Wednesday (July 8) – which is when George Osborne is set to deliver his benefits-bashing ’emergency’ budget.
They have invited Maggie Zolobajluk, who organised the petition in support of my bid to find out how many people have died while claiming sickness/disability benefits, to speak – but not me.
Maggie kindly asked me if I would be able to make it to London and speak instead of her – and I’d love to – but I don’t think it’s possible. The distance is too great, and I can’t justify being away from Mrs Mike – and also the blog, on a day that will affect the way the UK develops for the foreseeable future.
I started drafting out a few words for her to deliver on my behalf – but they turned into a full-blown speech instead. I ended up writing far too much – so, rather than ask her to say it, I’m publishing it here instead.
A previous demonstration, staged by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity in 2014.
I am neither sick, nor disabled – but I choose to side with the sick and disabled against oppression.
It isn’t an entirely altruistic choice. Mrs Mike – as she is known on my blog, Vox Political – has been ill for many years, and we have fought battle after battle with the Department for Work and Pensions over the benefits to which she is entitled.
You’re probably sick of hearing the famous verse by Pastor Martin Niemoller, but he was right. Who’s going to stand up for me, if I don’t stand up for other people first?
Mrs Mike and I are used to winning those battles, and I wonder how much of that success is due to the fact that I am able-bodied. Think about it – if you are battling constant pain, or are a victim of depression, or your condition fluctuates so you simply don’t know if you’ll be able to get out of bed in the morning, or you have any number of the other maladies that may affect the sick or disabled – then the last thing you’ll want to do is argue over tiny details with a gang of suited pedants in Whitehall.
Additionally, these pedants have employed private contractors to make sure they judge the severity of a person’s sickness using information that is wrong.
If you’re sick, or disabled, the pressure can be too much to bear. And not every sick or disabled person has an able-bodied partner like me to take up the slack.
So, inevitably, the worst happens.
Only last weekend I learned about Graham Shawcross, of Manchester. Mr Shawcross had lived – and worked – with Addison’s Disease for 40 years before having to claim sickness benefit. It is a potentially fatal condition whose symptoms include exhaustion, muscle weakness, dizziness, fainting and cramps that can lead to adrenal crisis, which can be fatal. But that isn’t what killed him!
No – Mr Shawcross died of a heart attack in February, after being ruled “fit for work” by the DWP in November last year. He had been preparing to present an appeal against the decision – writing out the details several times a day, and talking about it constantly.
His widow said the stress of having to do this – stress that was created by, and only by, the DWP’s “fit for work” decision – was what killed him.
You should be aware that the DWP says it is “irresponsible to suggest a causal link between the death of an individual and their benefit claim”, and “mortality rates among people with serious health conditions are likely to be higher than those among the general population”. We’ve seen that comment in the newspapers very often over the last few weeks.
It’s a statement that falls flat when the DWP’s own position is that the individual was “fit for work” at the time of his death.
Months after Mr Shawcross passed away – and despite being told this had happened by his widow – the DWP initially invited him to an appeal hearing, and then admitted he was seriously ill and deserved Employment and Support Allowance.
It’s a bit late for that now!
How many other benefit denials have been reversed after the claimant has died?
We don’t know – but it’s the subject of my next Freedom of Information request!
The man responsible for this regime, Iain Duncan Smith, is said to be religious so he should understand me when I say people claiming benefit must feel as though they have been crucified by their physical or mental ill-health. Instead of offering relief, Mr Duncan Smith and his department complete the job with a ‘crown of forms’ that push them into an early grave.
One has to question the morality of a supposed Christian who approves of crucifixion!
But then, it seems even leading members of the Catholic Church to which he belongs have tried pleading with him to alter the fatal direction of his policies – there was an article to that effect in the most recent edition of Catholic newspaper The Tablet.
But government ministers say it is “irresponsible” to claim that the benefit assessment system had anything to do with the death.
I wonder if they’ll say that to Mrs Shawcross, who is adamant that the system is what killed her husband. That would be a conversation worth hearing!
I first became concerned about the number of people who were dying while claiming benefits when the DWP itself revealed that 10,600 deaths had occurred between January and November 2011. Note that the official figures did not include December, which is considered to be a season of increased suicides.
This concern became alarm after I learned that Freedom of Information requests by other individuals, calling for updated figures, had been refused for no reason other than that the 2011 statistics had been part of an ‘ad-hoc’, one-off, release.
So I sent off a request, and asked readers of the blog to support it with requests of their own – to show that it was a matter of wider public concern. Only 23 did, but that was enough for the DWP to refuse me on the grounds that I was being “vexatious” – trying to flood the Department with work.
I’m still not sure how that claim can be justified. It’s the same information – all they had to do was put it together and send it off to the people who wanted it. It seems that creating a mailing list of email addresses is too much for a government department with more than 100,000 employees.
The tribunal that turned down my appeal did express considerable sympathy for my position, and suggested that another FoI request should result in publication of the statistics. So I wrote another one.
I won’t go into the details – it’s enough for you to know that, after several months of fighting with the DWP, I won.
The DWP then chose to take the matter to a tribunal, employing an expensive Treasury barrister to make out the case. It seems that, while Freedom of Information requests cannot cost more than £600 – that’s the legal limit – the government can spend as much of your money as it likes, if it wants to withhold the facts.
That’s when Maggie Zolobajluk started her petition, calling on the tribunal to refuse the appeal.
Now, instead of 23 supporters, my request has 230,000.
So David Cameron told Parliament that the figures will be published. What he didn’t tell Parliament was that they would be homogenised, amortised, Age-Standardised Mortality Rates, that show the deaths as a ratio compared with the death rate amongst the wider population – and he certainly won’t tell anyone how many people have died while claiming sickness and disability benefits since November 2011.
And now the Justice Secretary is trying to make it harder for Freedom of Information requests to succeed. It seems the embarrassment they cause is just too much for the administration that once said it intended to be the most open government ever.
Michael Gove wants to include “thinking time” in the cost of handling FoI requests.
What does that even mean?
Parliament’s Justice Select Committee has already stated that including “thinking time” in FoI costs would introduce an unwelcome variable into the system, which relies on everyone having equal access to the facts. The cost of “thinking time” would depend on the abilities of the civil servant dealing with the request.
Not only that, but we should ask what “thinking” has to do with it in any case. When a request is made under the Freedom of Information Act, the only questions a public authority may ask are whether it has the information and can publish it within the £600 cost limit. Questions about – for example – the motives behind the request are immaterial.
What are we to conclude?
That we have a government that intentionally complicates benefit claims for the sick and disabled.
That people who might live decent and, in many ways, productive lives are having those lives cut short because of goverment policy.
That the government does not want the wider population of the UK to know the true number of deaths.
That the government wants to shut down the Freedom of Information system so inconvenient questions like this can no longer be asked.
In short, that the government wants to smother any attempt to question it.
Too many sick and disabled people have been smothered already.
Laughing at the law-abiding: IS militants at a captured checkpoint in northern Iraq [Image: AFP/Getty].
David Cameron has no strategy to protect Christians who are threatened by violent religious groups like IS, and his policy is determined by the “loudest media voice”, according to the Church of England.
There’s no arguing with it. A letter from the Bishop of Leeds, Nicholas Baines, endorsed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, points out that Cameron’s UK has turned its back on the suffering of tens of thousands of Christians fleeing IS jihadists in Mosul, Iraq’s second city, while the government responded promptly to reports of Yazidis trapped on Mt Sinjar.
The letter also condemns Cameron’s failure to offer sanctuary to Iraqi Christians who have been driven from their homes, when the French and Germans have already done so. Parliamentary questions tabled last month to find out whether the UK intends to offer asylum to Iraqi Christians have lain unanswered. Perhaps this is a political decision as Cameron thinks more foreigners coming here will push up support for UKIP; if so, that would support the Church’s view that he is reacting to the media, rather than following his own policy.
In fact, Cameron’s approach is becoming clearer. He wants to involve us in another war.
But, burned by his defeat in Parliament last year over Syria, he is taking a ‘softly, softly’ approach.
“He warns that Britain will have to use its ‘military prowess’ to help defeat ‘this exceptionally dangerous’ movement, or else terrorists with ‘murderous intent’ will target people in Britain,” the Telegraph report states.
Didn’t Tony Blair also use the possibility of a threat to the UK to cajole Britain into supporting the last round of wars in the Middle East? The antagonist may change but it seems the script does not.
In fact it is true that something must be done about IS. A lawless gang of murderers is setting up a lawless state in parts of Iraq and Syria that have been weakened by wars we either fought or did nothing to prevent – and fears that they could radicalise gullible Brits and send them home to carry out terrorist acts on our soil are real.
What is needed is a co-ordinated response from all law-abiding powers – not just in the west but Middle-Eastern countries and others. IS is the political equivalent of a rabid animal; its members don’t care who they attack, as long as they cause maximum harm, and every country in the world should be aware of this.
Cameron potters around the edges instead, following the same plan the UK always uses.
We could have sorted out these problems before withdrawing from Iraq a few years ago. We could have done it in the 1990s, after the first Gulf War. We could have sorted them out at any time before then – and with greater ease, but that does not suit a western industrial complex that is geared towards perpetuating warfare.
Cameron’s attitude is media-driven. His defeat over Syria has led him to revise his strategy, waiting for public opinion to be swayed by media reports of the bloodshed taking place abroad, stoked by fears that it could happen here in Blighty. When the public is supportive again, he can announce action – but only just enough action to keep the Middle Eastern countries at odds with each other, making further military conflicts inevitable.
Today, it seems he has decided he can act, if comments like “we need a firm security response, whether that is military action to go after the terrorists, international co-operation on intelligence and counter-terrorism or uncompromising action against terrorists at home” are to be believed.
Cameron also wrote that this is a “struggle against a poisonous and extremist ideology, which I believe we will be fighting for the rest of my political lifetime.”
His political lifetime will end in May 2015, so he’s right about that.
It seems his evil strategy for the Middle East will continue to affect the region long after the end of his physical lifetime, too.
Good humour and a twinkle in the eye: But what did Mishal Husain really think about the stories of racial and religious tension in Friday’s BBC bulletin?
This country becomes more contradictory every day – or at least, that’s how it may have seemed to many people watching the BBC’s six o’clock news bulletin on Friday.
It led with the announcement that the Advertising Standards Authority would be investigating the scheme in which vans sponsored by the taxpayer (via the Home Office) have been driving through London, allegedly stirring up racial tensions by telling illegal immigrants to “go home”. Elsewhere, the vans have been criticised because they have encouraged people to report fellow British citizens as illegal aliens, and immigration officers carrying out spot-checks have also targeted people who were born in this country because they “didn’t sound British”.
Another item was about two British women who suffered traumatic injuries in an acid attack in Zanzibar, where they were working for a charity. The motive was not known but the report concentrated on tensions between Islam, the island’s main religion, and others, remarking on signs asking foreigners to respect the local culture and dress appropriately – covering up, rather than wearing skimpy outfits that would upset local people. It went on to say that the attack victims were, in fact, dressed appropriately at the time.
A third item put a spotlight on Switzerland, where race relations are deteriorating rapidly. It seems the authorities have been passing racial apartheid laws as ways of controlling immigration – and it was easy to imagine why this would be permitted after watching the report on the trouble Oprah Winfrey, one of the richest citizens of the United States of America, had buying a handbag there.
Oprah, in Switzerland to celebrate Tina Turner’s wedding, was continually told by a shop assistant that the item was “too expensive” for her. The knee-jerk conclusion for an onlooker is that the assistant was making a prejudiced judgement based on the fact that Ms Winfrey is not white.
So we were presented with three stories about racial tensions. In the UK, the issue was augmented with unwarranted accusations against people of foreign descent who were, in fact, born here. In Zanzibar the extra factor was the possibility that religious intolerance between Islam and others was behind the attack. And in Switzerland there was the out-and-out racism in the inference that a black woman could not possibly afford an expensive handbag.
These stories were indictments in their own right – made even more uncomfortable viewing by the fact that the news anchor for that bulletin was Mishal Husain who, although born in Northampton, has parents from Pakistan and is a Muslim. We can also expect her to be reasonably well-off, considering she has a high-profile job in television.
Vox Political has huge respect for Ms Husain. Her high-profile appointment as a presenter of Radio 4’s Today Programme is well-deserved and our only regret is that this will take her off our TV screens. She fronted these stories with good humour and a twinkle in her eye – which seems amazing restraint, considering the way they each highlight circumstances that could be applied to her.
There is no way of knowing what she thought of the developments she was chronicling and it would be inappropriate to ask. Having said that, did nobody else wonder what was going through Ms Husain’s mind when she told us the ASA said it had received many messages of support for the so-called “racist vans”?
There is no out-and-out party political message to this article; racism and religious intolerance can spring up among people on all parts of the political spectrum – and is an indictment against those who practise it, wherever it does.
Because it is something that may affect all of us, it is something that we can all fight. In the 21st century the thought that a person may be victimised because their skin is a different colour, or because they have different philosophical beliefs, makes a mockery of our claim to be civilised.
Don’t put up with it. Don’t sit in silence while others are attacked. Complain. Campaign. Turn back this ugly tide.
Otherwise, one day, you might wake up to find that it’s your turn to be the victim.
Skewed view: This image (not mine) provides a startlingly accurate representation of the way British Conservatives see Europe. Do you honestly think they can be trusted to honour the human rights that European laws have granted us?
You do realise what David Cameron means when he says he wants to re-negotiate our membership of the European Union, don’t you?
For a start, he means he wants to abolish laws that protect the human rights your ancestors fought tooth and nail to win for you.
He won’t make any deals in your interest. That’s not in his nature.
If he gets his way, you could lose the right to:
Written terms and conditions of work, and a job description – and the right to the same terms and conditions if transferred to a different employer.
Four weeks’ paid leave from work per year.
Not be sacked for being pregnant, or for taking time off for ante-natal appointments.
Come back to work after maternity leave, on the same pay, terms and conditions as before the leave started.
Health and safety protection for pregnant women, new and breastfeeding mothers.
Equal treatment for workers employed through an agency.
Tea and lunch breaks during the working day for anyone working six hours or more
One day off per week.
Time off for urgent family reasons.
In addition, Cameron could relieve employeers of the legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of their workers, including undertaking risk assessments, acting to minimise risks, informing workers of risks, and consulting on health and safety with employees and their representatives. In his cost-cutting brave new Britain you’d just have to take your chances.
Health and safety representatives from trade unions could lose the right to ask employers to make changes in order to protect workers’ health and safety, and they would lose their protection against unfair treatment by their employer for carrying out their duties in relation to this.
The ban on forcing children less than 13 years of age into work could be lost, along with the limit on the hours children aged 13 or more and young people can work.
Children who could then be forced into work, regardless of the effect on their education, would have no rules protecting their health and safety, and the rules that say they can only be employed doing “light work” could also be abolished.
Protection from discrimination or harassment at work on grounds of gender, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation – direct or indirect – could be dropped.
And the right of disabled people to expect their employers to make reasonable adjustments for them at work could also be abolished.
These are just your rights at work!
Cameron himself has said, as leader of the Opposition: “I do not believe it is appropriate for social and employment legislation to be dealt with at the European level. It will be a top priority for the next Conservative government to restore social and employment legislation to national control.”
And as Prime Minister: “Complex rules restricting our labour markets are not some naturally occurring phenomenon. Just as excessive regulation is not some external plague that’s been visited on our businesses.”
To find out what he meant by those words, we must turn to the former leader of the British Conservative MEPs, Martin Callanan, who said: “One of the best ways for the EU to speed up growth is to … scrap the Working Time Directive, the Agency Workers Directive, the Pregnant Workers Directive and all of the other barriers to actually employing people if we really want to create jobs in Europe.”
Of course, they distort the facts. These rules aren’t barriers to employing people at all; they are structures within which people may be employed responsibly.
The Tories want to ban responsibility in the workplace. They want a return to dangerous employment conditions, abuse of workers and the removal of any legal protection from such abuse that they may have.
They will tear apart your rights at work.
So, if you are living in the UK and you’ve got a job, please take a moment to consider what this means for you. You might agree with the Coalition on its benefits policy that has led to thousands of deaths of sick and disabled people; you might agree with its bedroom tax and too-low benefit cap that has led to a rapid rise in debt and homelessness among the unemployed and those on low wages.
But now you know they’re coming for you, too.
What are you going to do about it?
Are you going to sit on your thumbs and do nothing – just meekly wait for them to rock up and tell you they’ve abolished all your rights at work and you can now go and slave for them in appalling conditions with absolutely no legal protection at all?
In other words, when it’s you that’s threatened, are you going to let it happen, just like you let it happen to the sick, disabled, unemployed and low-waged?
Or are you going to take action and make a difference?
It doesn’t take much. You could write to David Cameron and to your MP at the House of Commons. You could email them – just look up the addresses on They Work For You, or you could add your name to the letter being created by Unions Together. Yes, I know Mr Cameron says the unions are a bad thing, but in this case the enemy of your enemy is your friend.
As the leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, Glenis Willmott MEP, says: “Our rights at work are not ‘red tape’ to be slashed away. Don’t let Cameron and the Tories get away with this great European scam.”
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