Tag Archives: safety

Angela Rayner jumps on the ‘threat to safety’ bandwagon. Playing the victim?

Angela Rayner: she got into deep water over the Stockport incident and is now trying to get out of it by playing the victim of intimidation and threats. Do you believe her?

Does this seem like bandwagon-jumping by Angela Rayner?

For context, this is the incident to which she is referring:

As you can see, there was no attempt at physical contact, let alone violence, by the bereaved Palestinian and his fellows upon Rayner or her colleague Jonathan Reynolds. In fact, they were subjected to violence by police who were in the hall in Stockport within seconds. Clearly they had been told to be on hand in case such an event happened, to rob protesters of their voice.

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The only criticism that may reasonably be levelled at the hecklers is that they were too forceful – but these are people who have witnessed appalling atrocities and are experiencing deep difficulties in getting anybody to listen, due to mainstream media and political support for Israel. Rayner and Reynolds are a part of that.

Fortunately, people are seeing through the smokescreen:

Rayner said she had altered her behaviour and was no longer leaving her house after the Stockport incident and the resignation from politics of Tory minister Mike Freer, who said he had received threats:

The article said the Justice Minister had received several threats to his personal safety, but admits that these have been since the Tories negotiated their way back into government with the Liberal Democrats in 2010.

These include narrowly missing a meeting with Ali Harbi Ali, who murdered fellow Tory MP David Amess, at his constituency office. It seems Freer has worn a stab vest at public events in his constituency since then.

The MP has said he was first targetted by a group called Muslims Against Crusades in 2011, who said the stabbing of Labour MP Stephen Timms should be “piercing reminder” to politicians that “their presence is no longer welcome in any Muslim area”.

He told The Daily Mail a suspected arson attack at the constituency office in December was “the last straw”.

The MP, who has pro-Israel views and represents a heavily Jewish constituency, said: “No MP can operate effectively without the support of their spouse and wider family. Sadly the serious incidents place intolerable stress on them too.”

His decision not to stand for re-election led to a debate in Parliament:

Threats to personal safety are never an acceptable form of behaviour – but they are, sadly, a normal part of day-to-day life if a person is a public figure. Even This Writer – working on and publishing a comparatively low-popularity political website – has received numerous threats since starting Vox Political in 2011.

And what exactly constitutes threatening behaviour? Rayner suggested the incident that we can see above has changed her own behaviour, but also mentions other incidents. What are they? Does she mean messages like this?

That’s just free speech; a person pointing out – in a forceful way, certainly – the kind of atrocities that have spurred others to make such impassioned pleas to politicians as we saw in Stockport.

There is also the issue of selectivity; we are being asked to sympathise with people like Rayner and Freer, but it seems Rayner and her supporters like Lucy Powell have no sympathy for MPs in their own party who have also suffered:

Here’s a bit of background on Ms Begum:

She was (allegedly?) a victim of domestic abuse, coercive control and financial abuse during her short marriage to a Tower Hamlets councillor, Ehtashamul Haque, between 2013 and 2015.

She was falsely accused of council housing fraud and had to go through a lengthy trial, at the end of which she was cleared of all charges.

Then details of her home address were distributed to all members of her local Labour Party in a letter to her that was described as “potentially libellous and intimidatory”.

She has been involved in a lengthy Labour Party complaints procedure ever since, and released an update on it in which she says she has felt “gaslit” by the party while continuing to suffer “harassment” and – yes – death threats.

Here’s her statement:

She wrote:

The process has been extremely distressing and damaging to my health in and of itself.

I have felt gaslit and have continually expressed my serious concerns at the Labour Party complaints procedure and whether it is able to respond appropriately to domestic abuse.

I have persevered because all I have ever wanted is a chance to live freely and have equal opportunity as a Labour Party member and a Labour Member of Parliament.

This has just not been the case.

The ongoing harassment, the brutal vexatious eight-day trial in 2021 and the illegitimate trigger process conducted whilst I was certified off sick in 2022 are unjust, undemocratic and unacceptable.

I have had to cope with this alongside the heightened Islamophobic abuse, the death threats and risks to my safety.

Have Rayner, Powell or any other supporters of Keir Starmer had the decency to say or publish a single word in support of their colleague?

This Writer hasn’t seen any.

Couple all of the above with StarmerLabour’s apparent willingness to deselect MPs who oppose Israel’s genocide in Gaza, before the general election…

… and what does it all look like to you?

To me, it seems Rayner and the others in the Labour leadership are just another gang of Islamophobe cheerleaders for the Gaza genocide. Will they even try to prove me wrong?


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Rishi Sunak wins Rwanda vote despite threat of Tory rebellions – but who cares?

Rishi Sunak and his priorities: he appears to be apologising for getting them all wrong; if only that were true!

Rishi Sunak has won a Commons vote on his controversial policy to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda – but the crucial element to notice is not the way he’s crowing about it; instead it is the response of others.

Here’s an example. Note that it doesn’t help Sunak’s cause that he lies about what his Rwanda Bill is supposed to do:

Here’s a fairly accurate summary of what actually happened:

And here’s one with a little more depth, courtesy of the ever-reliable Peter Stefanovic:

Would you like to know what happened in the debate?

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Let’s start with this:

Here’s what I suspect was the more prevalent Tory behaviour – apparent racism from one Nick Fletcher, representing the Don Valley:

According to this drone, failures in local council services and the NHS are entirely due to illegal immigration. In fact, services are falling apart because his party has withdrawn funding. This is scapegoating of the meanest kind.

In contrast, Labour’s Bell Ribeiro-Addy provided an excellent analysis – only to have it undermined by objections to a single word that some honourable members found distasteful:

The entire Bill is distasteful but they objected to that one word in a dissenting speech. If you are in the UK, it tells you everything you need to know about your government.

Of course the Bill still has a way to go yet, before it becomes law. The House of Lords will not debate it until the New Year – and some are salivating in anticipation:

Finally, the commentariat are having a field day:

This Writer’s opinion is that, once passed, this law will become a millstone around Rishi Sunak’s neck. Even if he succeeds in sending people to Rwanda, they won’t be enough to placate the racist anti-immigration crowd in his own party, and it won’t deter more people from crossing the Channel.

It will simply show that he was lying about the influence of foreign courts on what’s happening in the UK.

He would, indeed, be better-off calling a general election and putting himself out of our misery.


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Sunak’s ‘plan’ for motorists is enough to drive you round the bend

Rishi Sunak: he likes cars.

Like a bored toddler, Rishi Sunak seems to have abandoned his five-point plan for the UK’s recovery in favour of a populist attention-grab about drivers that is disingenuous, to say the least.

Look at this rubbish:

The UK was not always a nation of drivers.

It would be more accurate to say that we were pushed (nudged?) into increased use of cars by a decades-long Tory attack on public transport (I seem to recall they said they were giving us more choice by forcing us into personal transport, rather than public transport like buses and trains).

Tory-aided businesses that withdrew from local shopping parades to centralised or out-of-town malls added to that reliance by forcing us to travel further for our basic necessities.

And of course the increased emphasis on individuals driving wherever they wanted put vehicles in the hands of lunatics who insisted on driving dangerously, having collisions and generally creating a huge threat to the lives of themselves and anybody around them.

If we had better, cheaper public transport (in other words, not run as profit-making businesses by owners in foreign governments) and if businesses had not been encouraged to increase profits for the tiny minority of shareholders who benefit from them, the UK might not be as reliant on the automobile for its transport needs.

And that might make it a safer place.

In addition, much is currently being made of the fact that most cars still run on petrol and diesel – fossil fuels – rather than the emerging, cheap, clean fuels that won’t ruin the environment but aren’t money-makers for huge petro-chemical conglomerates.

Sunak and the Tories have supported those fossil-fuel giants for generations; they are contributors to the greenhouse gas pollution that is causing climate change.

And his response to measures aimed at putting a stop to these problems, and improving our lives, is to try to put a stop to them.

He has already delayed a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars for five years – much to the disgruntlement of manufacturers who have lost the certainty they previously had about the future of their industry.

Now he wants to stop the introduction of “blanket” 20mph speed limits and LTNs – Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – which This Writer had understood to be linked with the idea of “15 minute cities”, where essential amenities are always intended to be within a 15-minute walk.

This would require those businesses that had withdrawn to out-of-town malls and centralised business districts to come back out to the people they serve, instead of making us go to them – and it would be easy to conclude that those firms may have leaned on Sunak to change his policy.

And it is his policy; these measures were introduced by the Conservatives.

Remember also that the Welsh government expects the 20mph speed limits to save up to 100 lives and prevent 20,000 casualties within 10 years.

Sunak can’t even get his story right:

And he isn’t the only one. Look at this response to Transport Secretary Mark Harper’s attempt to demonise left-wingers and the “Metropolitan bubble” (whatever that is) with false claims that we “vilify” the private car:

Let’s put the record straight. I live in one of the most rural counties in the UK, where public transport under a penny-pinching Tory government simply isn’t a viable means of getting about; we have buses and trains but they are few and far between, operating only at profitable times. I have to have a car to get about.

I would like that car to run on renewable fuels but I don’t currently have the wherewithal to buy such a vehicle. I hope that will change when they become the default but am frustrated by Sunak’s decision to delay the moment when that will happen.

Being in Wales, 20mph speed limits have already been imposed in my town – but not in a “blanket” way, and to be honest, such a “blanket” limit would probably be better. At the moment, constant changes between 20mph and 30mph zones are confusing and may cause motorists to fall foul of traffic police if we fail to realise we’ve passed from one zone to another and are breaking speed limits.

I don’t think there can be an argument for leaving the limits at 30mph in residential areas or near schools and shops; that is just begging for more road collisions and casualties.

As for LTNs and 15-minute cities – bring them on! My small town does have a range of shops within a 15-minute walk (if you’re able-bodied) – but we still don’t have access to everything we need. The banks have been withdrawing from this, and all nearby towns, forcing us only for our banking and business needs. And if the few cashtills that are left run out of notes, we become a cashless society whether we want to or not.

So here’s the common-sense response to Sunak’s silliness:

Sunak’s arguments simply don’t make sense. This Writer can only conclude that he may have an ulterior motive that has more to do with the demands of profit-motivated businesses than the needs – and health – of the general public.


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Asylum barge is potential new Grenfell Tower-style deathtrap

Suella Braverman considers a kinder, ‘compassionate Conservative’ response to asylum-seekers.

Isn’t it good to know the Tories are taking their responsibilities seriously?

Oh, wait…

Once they have detained people they believe have come to the UK illegally, they have a legal responsibility to ensure the well-being of those people until their future can be decided.

So, do they house these people in safe and secure accommodation? No!

They say: “We’ll put them up in a floating firetrap with no means of escape if it burns; that’s good enough for ’em!”

Or at least, that’s what This Writer gets from the following:

Here’s the supporting information:

Bizarrely, if I recall correctly, the Tory government could have put the same number of people into luxury hotel rooms for less money than it has cost to hire this floating incinerator.

The Fire Brigades Union has now written to the Home Office, and you can read the letter here:

It says: “Firefighting operations on vessels such as the Bibby Stockholm provide significant challenges and require specialist training and safe systems of work.”

Then it describes safety provisions on the Bibby Stockholm as “diminished” and warns that the nature of those provisions “exacerbate our operational concerns”.

The letter also states that “The FBU believes fire safety standards are universal and apply to everyone… Fire does not discriminate and therefore neither should safety regulations.”

The implication is clear: the boat is unsafe and the FBU believes it has been deliberately made unsafe on Home Office orders.

This Writer looks forward to hearing Suella Braverman’s excuse for housing asylum-seekers in a deathtrap.

I’m willing to bet it will include a lot of bullying talk and probably a bit of racism as well.


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Is porn allegation MP the best to oversee online safety bill? Really?

Damian Green: he described the claims against him as ‘untrue and deeply hurtful’, when they were made.

Let’s get this straight: the chairman of the committee overseeing the Online Safety Bill has recused himself because of serious sexual assault claims – to be replaced by an MP who lost his cabinet post for having porn on his Parliamentary computers.

Is Damian Green (for it is he) really the best person to see this legislation onto the Statute Book?

He has replaced Julian Knight, who is being investigated by police.

Green lost his Cabinet job in 2017 after breaching the Ministerial Code by making “inaccurate and misleading statements” suggesting he was unaware of indecent material on his parliamentary computer.

In his resignation letter Green said that while he “did not download or view pornography on my parliamentary computers” he “should have been clear in my press statements that police lawyers talked to my lawyers” about it in 2008 and then raised it in a subsequent phone call in 2013.

Wouldn’t it be better if the Culture, Media and Sport committee was chaired by somebody who didn’t have any allegations of dodgy sexual behaviour in their past – either online or in real life?

Source: MP sacked over porn allegations to oversee online safety bill

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Online Safety Bill is watered-down – but should it really legislate for ‘hurt feelings’?

Social media demon: it seems the new Online Safety Bill won’t protect anybody from abusive other users. So what good will it do?

Parts of a planned law to protect people using the Internet from seeing illegal material have been watered down – to protect free speech, it seems.

The government has removed a section of the Online Safety Bill that refers to “legal but harmful material”.

This means the largest, high-risk online platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, that would have been tasked with preventing adults from being exposed to content like self-harm, eating disorder and misogynistic posts will no longer have to.

Children will still be protected from such material, if the Bill is passed into law as planned before Parliament dissolves for the summer recess next year.

The change has been prompted by critics like Tory Kemi Badenoch who said the section on legal but harmful material was “legislating for hurt feelings” by demanding a crackdown on free speech.

In July, nine senior Conservatives, including former ministers Lord Frost, David Davis and Steve Baker, who has since returned to the government, wrote a letter to then Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, saying provision could be used to clamp down on free speech by a future Labour government.

Mr Davis has gone on to urge the government to axe other measures that could “undermine end-to-end encryption” that he said we all rely on to keep safe online.

He said measures permitting the government to direct firms to use technology to examine private messages were a threat to privacy and freedom of expression.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said the revised Bill still offers “a triple shield of protection – so it’s certainly not weaker in any sense”.

This requires platforms to:

  • remove illegal content
  • remove material that violates their terms and conditions
  • give users controls to help them avoid seeing certain types of content to be specified by the bill

This could include content promoting eating disorders or inciting hate on the basis of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender reassignment- although there will be exemptions to allow legitimate debate.

But Labour’s Lucy Powell said removing obligations over “legal but harmful” material gives a “free pass to abusers and takes the public for a ride”.

This Writer tends to agree – to a certain extent.

It seems the changes mean users would be able to control what they see, rather than tech companies being given active duties to tackle “bad actors and dangerous content”.

So – it seems to me – abusers will still have carte blanche to use social media platforms to attack anybody they like, with the onus on the abused to put measures in place to stop themselves seeing such material.

Won’t that mean other users – on platforms like Twitter, for example – will still be able to see the abusive material and form their own conclusions about the people for whom it is intended?

The problem is partially that the UK’s legal system simply doesn’t understand how online abuse works. I tried to explain it to a High Court judge in July but her recent judgment shows that my words flew over her head.

Either she did not understand how abusive techniques are employed on social media platforms, or she didn’t care. That’s how it seemed to me.

We need legislation to prevent online abuse and harassment by criminalising the abusers – or we risk huge harm, both psychological and physical – being inflicted on our children, in spite of what this Bill pretends to be.

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Why is the Transport Secretary trying to force ‘reforms’ on unions that want better pay?

Mick Lynch: he’s frustrated because the rail companies and Network Rail say they don’t have the power to negotiate meaningfully with him over pay and safety conditions for RMT Union members.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper reckons rail unions need to accept “reforms” that would free up money for pay rises.

Why?

On the Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show, he said: “It is the reforms that free up the savings that then unlock the ability for the companies to make an offer to the trade unions on pay.”

But that is to assume no more money could be brought in – and that is a political choice by the Tory government.

He also said: “I do not have a bottomless pit of taxpayers’ money to throw at this problem.”

And he doesn’t, because taxpayers’ money doesn’t pay for any public services at all. Public money – created by the government – does. It’s time our politicians stopped trying to hoodwink us with this lazy lie.

The government can very easily create as much money as is needed to provide a “proper seven-day rail network” – also Harper’s words, and why doesn’t the UK have that network any more since privatisation anyway?

Taxation relieves inflationary pressures that may be created by investing money into public services – and may be used by progressive governments to re-balance the gap between the richest and the poorest citizens in the country, by taking money from those who can most easily bear it. Of course the UK’s Tory government is as far from progressive as one can get.

And Harper said any money saved through reforms would have to be split “fairly between the taxpayer and the people who work in the industry”. Why give savings back to taxpayers when so much needs to be done to improve the rail service? Is he looking for another tax cut for the rich?

The whole spiel strikes This Writer as self-serving claptrap.

If Harper really wanted to do some good, wouldn’t it be better for him to offer to give the private rail operators and Network Rail the mandate for meaningful negotiations with the RMT union that its general secretary, Mick Lynch, has been told they don’t have?

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Who does Boris Johnson think he is, trying to tell us what we like or don’t?

Big ugly party bore: rather than act on the criticisms implicit in his double by-election defeat, Johnson is trying to tell us that people who voted his Tories out were letting off a “safety valve” and really want him to carry on as if nothing has happened. WRONG! We’re sick of him and the endless torrent of nonsense that flows from his mouth.

Boris Johnson isn’t going to win back voters by trying to tell us all what we think.

After being defeated in two by-elections last Thursday (June 23), Johnson tried to play down their significance by claiming voters are fed up of hearing about things he had “stuffed up”:

Mr Johnson said: “For a long time people were hearing not enough about the things that really matter to them.

“People were absolutely fed up hearing about things I stuffed up, this endless churn of stuff, when they wanted to hear what is this guy doing.”

No – we were fed up of having a prime minister who continually “stuffed” things up, and angry that everything he ever did was wrong, or corrupt, or outright illegal.

“Politics is about allowing people to have the democratic safety valve of letting off at governments, such as in by-elections.

No – politics is about doing what the people tell you to do, not about trying to tell them what they think.

“But then the job of a leader is to say, well, what is the criticism that really matters here?”

No – well, only partially.

And from this evidence, Johnson has drawn the wrong conclusion and is doing the wrong thing yet again.

Source: Voters fed up of hearing how I ‘stuffed up’ PM says as he plays down by-election defeats

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Tory hypocrisy: they can’t sort out fire safety in your flat after Grenfell, but support huge payments to redecorate Johnson’s

Grenfell: this is what happens when inflammable cladding on tower blocks catches fire. Tenants in many more blocks have had this stuff inflicted on them, and the Tories want to force them to pay to get rid of it.

Isn’t it typical of the Tories that they’re happy to nod through possibly corrupt funding of Boris Johnson’s flat redecoration, but won’t protect people in blocks of flats from fires like that at Grenfell Tower?

They have just been knocked back – yet again – by the House of Lords, who have voted to shield residents of tower blocks from fire safety costs.

MPs had rejected the Lords amendment but, after their fourth defeat on this subject, it will now be reinserted into the bill.

The bill modifies a previous law to clarify that building owners must manage and reduce the risk of fire in their properties.

However, last week the House of Lords added an amendment which sought to ensure building owners do not pass on the costs to leaseholders and tenants until a support scheme is in place.

Housing minister Chris Pincher described the amendment as “ineffective and defective”, claiming that it would prevent any remediation costs from being passed to the leaseholder, even in instances where the cost was very minor – such as replacing a smoke alarm.

As a tenant in a rented property myself, I can inform Mr Pincher that my landlord pays for the cost of replacing the smoke alarm here as a matter of course.

It should not be used as an excuse to continue denying tower block tenants improvements that could save their lives.

And it could – because there are only hours left before the end of the current Parliamentary session, when the Bill will be dropped – unless the Tories decide to carry it over to the next session (which seems unlikely to This Writer).

All of this takes place in the shadow of the row over prime minister Boris Johnson’s own flat. Who pays to replace the smoke alarm there?

Tory MPs would have been happy to let £200,000 be paid, just to redecorate the rooms above 11 Downing Street, with no questions asked.

But members of the public have pointed out that this means they are happier for huge amounts to be paid on a single person’s flat – if that person happens to be one of them – than for cash to be spent on potentially life-saving work for many people.

That’s not a good attitude to have with an election next week.

Source: Grenfell: Government defeated on fire safety costs bill – BBC News

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How long until Gove’s ‘safety net’ that breaks international law becomes ‘the right thing to do’?

Michael Gove: This Site has better pictures but the Spitting Image dummy reflects his shifty personality so well that it is hard to find an excuse not to use it.

Michael Gove is living evidence that you can get further by talking nonsense constantly than by rational behaviour.

He has just said that talks on implementing the EU withdrawal agreement are at a “healthy stage”.

That’s odd, when the EU side is that the UK’s negotiating position is still “far apart from what the EU can accept”.

The issue is the Internal Markets Bill – or at least those parts of it that override the EU withdrawal agreement where it concerns customs borders in Northern Ireland.

The European Commission’s Maros Sefcovic… said there was a “window of opportunity” to come to an agreement on the Northern Ireland protocol, but added that was “rapidly closing”.

And that’s what Gove calls a “healthy stage”!

Mr Sefcovic says the EU wants the UK to remove the “contentious parts” of the bill by the end of September – that’s Wednesday.

He said the EU would “not be shy” in using “legal remedies” written into the withdrawal agreement to address any “violations”.

What do you reckon the chances are that the EU will have to use those remedies – and that when it happens, Gove and the other Tories will say the EU is to blame for the failure of the Withdrawal Agreement?

Source: Michael Gove: Brexit provisions to stay in Internal Market Bill – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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