Tag Archives: secret court

Isn’t it interesting how Lib Dems change their policies when there’s an election coming?

Here’s a meme that’s appropriate to the subject. Click on it and you should go to a linked article on Another Angry Voice:

quislings

Here in Brecon and Radnorshire we have a Liberal Democrat MP – Roger Williams – who voted to support the Bedroom Tax (and probably all the others) at first and has now turned his back on it to support the Affordable Housing Bill, put forward by his party colleague Andrew George.

In local newspaper the Brecon and Radnor Express (of which Yr Obdt Srvt used to be the editor), he defended his actions by saying: “We found first of all it doesn’t work and secondly it creates hardship for many tenants. We’re not stupid enough not to amend legislation which has proven to be not fit for purpose.”

Further into the article Mr Williams admitted he initially supported the policy in the belief that it would actually do what the Conservatives said it would, and get people moving into appropriate housing: “My support was on the basis I get so many young people and couples coming to my office about inadequate housing while so many are living in social housing that is bigger than necessary. My support was on the basis we would get some mobility in social housing; that hasn’t happened.”

What utter, dissembling bilge!

We all knew the Bedroom Tax would never succeed in its stated aim of getting social tenants to move into more appropriately-sized accommodation because there simply wasn’t enough available – the Tories had sold off most of it during the 1980s and 1990s, while denying councils the ability to build replacements.

When the Bedroom Tax became law in April last year, only a tiny fraction of the amount of appropriate social housing was available for people affected, who wanted to downsize. The others were captives in their own homes, forced to pay a tax because they had been allocated a home that was larger than the law said they needed. In most cases, this was in turn because it was the only size accommodation available.

The Conservatives all knew that. Vox Political published it. It is unrealistic of Mr Williams to expect us to believe that he and the Liberal Democrats did not know it.

If you can’t believe what they’re saying about what they’ve done in the past, why should you believe what they say they’ll do in the future?

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Conservatives set to launch ‘incoherent’ attack on human rights

Sacked: Dominic Grieve's reservations about Legal Aid cuts put him at adds with the Coalition government; it seems his concern over a planned attack on human rights led to his sacking.

Sacked: Dominic Grieve’s reservations about Legal Aid cuts put him at adds with the Coalition government; it seems his concern over a planned attack on human rights led to his sacking.

Now we know why former Attorney General Dominic Grieve got the sack – he is said to have opposed a forthcoming Conservative attack on the European Court of Human Rights, which he described as “incoherent”.

Coming in the wake of his much-voiced distaste for Chris Grayling’s cuts to Legal Aid, it seems this was the last straw for David Cameron, the Conservative Prime Minister who seems determined to destroy anything useful his party ever did.

The European Court of Human Rights was one such thing; Winston Churchill helped set it up after World War II and its founding principles were devised with a large amount of input from the British government. It is not part of the European Union, but is instead connected to the Council of Europe – an organisation with 47 member states.

It seems the Conservatives want to limit the European Court’s power over the UK, because they want Parliament to decide what constitutes a breach of human rights.

The opportunities for corruption are huge.

Considering the Conservative-led Coalition’s record, such corruption seems the only reason for the action currently being contemplated.

The plan could lead to the UK being expelled from the Council of Europe, and the BBC has reported that Mr Grieve had warned his colleagues that the idea was a plan for “a legal car crash with a built-in time delay”, an “incoherent” policy to remain a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights but to refuse to recognise the rulings of the court which enforces it.

This blog has already discussed the Tories’ plan to take away your human rights but it is worth reiterating in the context of the latest revelation.

The United Kingdom helped to draft the European Convention on Human Rights, just after World War II. Under it, nation states’ primary duty is to “refrain from unlawful killing”, to “investigate suspicious deaths” and to “prevent foreseeable loss of life”.

The Department for Work and Pensions has been allowing the deaths of disabled people since 2010. Withdrawing from the European Convention and scrapping the Human Rights Act would mean this government would be able to sidestep any legal action to bring those responsible to justice.

Article 4 of the Convention prohibits slavery, servitude and forced labour – in other words, the government’s Mandatory Work Activity or Workfare schemes. The government has already faced legal action under this article, and has been defeated. It seems clear that the Tories want to avoid further embarrassment and inflict the maximum suffering on those who, through no fault of their own, do not have a job.

Article 6 provides a detailed right to a fair trial – which has been lost in the UK already, with laws allowing “secret courts” to hear evidence against defendants – which the defendants themselves are not permitted to know and at which they are not allowed to be present. The Legal Aid cuts which Mr Grieve opposed were also contrary to this right.

Article 8 provides a right to respect for one’s “private and family life, his home and his correspondence” – and of course the UK’s violation of this right has been renewed only this week, with the Data Retention Act that was passed undemocratically within a single day.

And so on. These are not the only infringements.

Clearly the Tories want to sideline the European Court so they never have to answer for their crimes against the British people.

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RIP Hugo Chavez – when can the UK have a Prime Minister like you?

Which would you rather have - Chavez or Cameron?

Which would you rather have – Chavez or Cameron?

Isn’t it amazing, the amount of joy the right-wing press and its adherents can project over the death of a man who improved conditions in his country beyond all expectations?

That is what we are seeing after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

But we should not be surprised – after all, these are the same newspapers (and their bosses) who support the nation-wrecking policies of David Cameron and the Coalition – an unelected dictator and a cadre of manipulators whose only linked interest is their own enrichment at the expense of anybody else.

Chavez was not perfect. There are some aspects of his personality that would give any reasonable person cause for second thoughts. His support for foreign dictators is one. Any man who can draw tributes from Ahmadinijad and Assad is questionable. The rise of violent crime in his country is another – and extremely worrying. Violent crime is linked with poverty, and yet…

And yet any criticism of his presidency on economic grounds is absurd. His nation’s wealth tripled during the first 12 years he was in office. Tripled!

As for his association with unelected dictators – this seems beyond strange as he was not one himself. In fact, his share of the popular vote at his last election was enough to turn every British Prime Minister since Winston Churchill pale with envy.

That last election was won under one of the fairest and most robust voting systems in the world – that was implemented by his own party. Former US President Jimmy Carter thinks its system is superior to that of the US. Turnout was more than 80 per cent, with 55.1 per cent of voters casting for Chavez. It’s notable that the 44.3 per cent of votes cast for rival Henrique Capriles would shame every single UK Prime Minister since Harold Wilson in 1966.

In other words, Venezuela’s former president was elected by one of the most democratically-sound systems in the world, and gained more support from his people than any British PM since Churchill.

Not a despot, then.

He has cut extreme poverty by two-thirds, and general poverty by almost half.

He has cut infant mortality and improved equality; and he has cut unemployment by almost half, to 8.2 per cent (strikingly close to the UK level).

He has improved his nations infrastructure and public services.

And he has proved that left-wing policies can improve prosperity and increase economic growth.

That’s why the right-wing press hate him. He shows there is a better alternative to the nightmare we are living through.

So let’s look at David Cameron, shall we?

Only 23.47 per cent of eligible voters supported David Cameron in the UK general election of 2010 (compared with 44.32 per cent for Chavez in January this year).

That election was marred by the fact that many voters were prevented from casting their vote at polling stations that closed at exactly 10pm. This was incorrect – all voters who had arrived and were queueing by 10pm should have been admitted to the building and allowed to cast their vote. So the UK election of 2010 was carried out in an improper way.

The result was a hung Parliament, with no single political party gaining power. The Con/Dem Coalition was formed in a backroom deal between Cameron and Nick Clegg, and had nothing to do with the will of the electorate. Therefore Cameron can be said to be unelected. Less than a quarter of the eligible voters wanted him and he did not win enough Parliamentary seats to justify taking office.

Then we come to dictatorship. How many unwanted policies have we had since this rabble slithered into government, determined to restrict our freedoms just as much as possible?

Policies like, for example, the cuts to Legal Aid?

Secret courts?

The Internet snooping Bill?

The plan to gerrymander the number of Parliamentary seats and the boundaries of constituencies, in order to deliver an unfair advantage to the Conservative Party in the next election (which, thankfully, failed)?

How many policies have been imposed on us with the intention of impoverishing the poorest in society?

The Welfare Reform Act?

The Localism Act, with its reintroduction of the hated Poll Tax (that’s the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, for those of you in England who have to deal with it)?

The Bedroom Tax?

AUSTERITY?

And then there’s the Health and Social Care Act, an attempt to ‘fix’ the National Health Service when it wasn’t broken, in order to let private operators get their hands on the huge cash opportunities it offers. Has anyone noticed that the nation’s health has worsened, according to many indicators, since the ConDems took over?

And there has been no mention yet of all the policies to put money in the pockets of the very rich, donors to the Conservative Party, bankers, people who park their money in offshore tax havens (thereby keeping it away from the taxman) and the many other corrupt ways this government’s members have been filling their own pockets with cash (and those of their friends and donors) when they should have been looking after the national interest.

Yet the right-wing press supports Mr Cameron and his cronies, despite the fact that they have been a worse disaster for the UK than the financial crisis that preceded their arrival.

Can we ever hope to have a champion like Chavez in this country?

Or is the British system now so badly corroded that it can only ever attract the worst that society has to offer?

Mind your tweets and shares, activists are warned

Political activists had better be careful what they put on social media – presumably including blogs like this one – or face the possibility of imprisonment.

According to The Independent, police are monitoring key activists online, in the same way that they used to seize suspected drug smugglers’ Filofaxes and mobile phones, back in the day – it seems the villains used to record the weights of the drugs in graphs at the back.

According to John Cooper QC, a human rights lawyer, political activists can use Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere to get their message across.

But if they use those sites to discuss tactics, they might as well be having a meeting with their opponents sitting in and listening.

Obviously he was talking about people who incite riots and other illegal behaviour.

But here’s the thing:

We have a government, and a Prime Minister, who want to introduce ‘secret’ courts. If that happens, what’s to stop them monitoring activists who oppose them, in ‘secret’? What’s to stop them arresting those people, in ‘secret’? What’s to stop them imprisoning those people, in ‘secret’?

Are we, perhaps, only a few short steps away from the kind of police state they had in Chile under Pinochet, where the mothers of people who had been taken by the ‘secret’ police danced silent and alone in protest? Former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a big fan of General Pinochet, I believe.

I’m not going to modify my comments to give credence to such threats. If I disappear, you’ll know it’s time to batten down the hatches and get ready for full-on repression.

Mr Cooper QC said the principle that the police need to establish relevance should not be diluted and it would be wrong to establish a general rule that private communications should be handed over to the police.

But isn’t that what Theresa May wants? The ability to monitor private Internet communications? As Home Secretary, the option of handing over whatever she finds to the police would be an easy one.

I’ll be back soon… I hope!