Tag Archives: Shami

Lords inflict two defeats on government over ‘spy cops’ bill – but Keir Starmer could have made it three

Keir Starmer: he thinks the government and its agents should be above the law.

The Tories bid to allow spies working for government agencies like the Financial Conduct Authority to commit crimes like murder and rape without fear of prosecution has been foiled by the Lords.

Peers supported amendments to the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill as follows:

Peers inflicted two significant defeats on the government on Wednesday evening over a bill to regulate the use of undercover informants, passing amendments to stop them participating in murder and rape, and to curtail the use of children as informants.

The government was also defeated by 299 to 284 on an amendment from the peer Doreen Massey, which proposed explicitly banning those acting undercover from being allowed to participate in a list of serious crimes, including murder, torture, rape or other sexual offences as they gained information.

Ministers had ruled out introducing such a list previously, arguing that creating a list of forbidden offences could give terrorists and serious criminals ways to unmask infiltrators by asking them to engage in such banned activities.

Campaign groups welcomed the result, arguing that it would put the UK on a par with similar western countries in setting clear limits.

Sadly, this result is notable for another reason – Labour leader Keir Starmer’s unacceptable support for the Bill with all immunities against criminal prosecution intact.

If he had whipped Labour to oppose it in the Commons, it would never have got as far as the Lords. But he didn’t.

Worse still, after former shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti put forward an amendment to remove immunity from prosecution for crimes from government agents who commit them, saying there would otherwise be a “grave risk” of human rights abuses by undercover agents, Starmer whipped Labour peers to abstain and it failed:

Peers were debating the bill at the second day of its report stage. On Monday, an amendment from Shami Chakrabarti seeking to strike out immunity for undercover agents acting within authorised guidelines was defeated by 309 to 153, after the Labour leadership chose to abstain.

It seems clear that this former Director of Public Prosecutions thinks the government and its agents should be above the law.

It is an unacceptable attitude for any potential national leader to have.

Source: Lords inflict two defeats on government over ‘spy cops’ bill | House of Lords | The Guardian

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Marr’s meltdown over ‘patronising’ Chakrabarti couldn’t have been more poorly-timed. Here’s why (Part Three of Three)

Meltdown: Andrew Marr.

We have seen that a story broke yesterday (November 18), confirming a UN inspector’s claims about the Conservative government’s policies on benefits – and BBC anchorman Andrew Marr helped a Tory minister brush it under the carpet.

This is not acceptable behaviour for a member of our national news media. We expect them to hold power to account. It might be understandable, at least, if he showed similar leniency to people of all political persuasions – but events were to prove that this was not the case.

It lays both Mr Marr and the BBC open to serious questions about their competence, impartiality and fitness to continue as a news reporter of record.

Shortly after the incident with Kwasi Kwarteng, Mr Marr interviewed Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti, discussing Theresa May’s 585-page Brexit deal.

Baroness Chakrabarti showed remarkable restraint when he – patronisingly – asked her if she had read all of the document she was there to discuss – especially as he had not.

But what happened next went beyond the pale. Mr Marr tried to put his interviewee in an impossible – if fake – position, contrasting Labour’s manifesto commitment to honour the result of the 2016 EU referendum with her own preference for remaining in the European Union. When she responded that she was a democrat, he leaned in and warned her not to patronise him.

It’s a completely false argument. Baroness Chakrabarti had said “I don’t know about you, Andrew, but I am a democrat.” His claim to be “as much a democrat as you are” strikes hollow, considering he was suggesting that she should have ignored the result of the referendum to follow her own preference. Is that what he would have done? Her excellent response was, in the circumstances, remarkably restrained.

Commenters on the social media were, understandably, less calm about the matter:

Nooruddean pointed out: “Andrew Marr doesn’t speak to Theresa May or Nigel Farage or Marine Le Pen like this. It’s really unprofessional.”

And Dr Lauren Gavaghan demonstrated that the attitude is evident elsewhere among BBC political anchormen: “Oh lord. Andrew Marr – really? Is this as good as you’ve got? A man with your years of experience?

“It’s as bad as Dimbleby telling me “don’t wag your finger at me young lady” once upon a time on Question Time.”

And James! drew attention to the tactic Mr Marr used to prevent Baroness Chakrabarti from upbraiding him about his own behaviour: “I can’t stop thinking about this from Andrew Marr. Totally unprofessional & uncalled for.

“Note the ‘anyway’ after his attack.

“He wants to draw it to a close and move on.

“Shameful behaviour & really quite sinister. When the mask slips…”

Many made the point that Mr Marr went on to give Dominic Raab – the former Brexit Secretary who did not understand the significance of the Dover-Calais crossing – exactly the same kind of easy ride he had provided to Kwasi Kwarteng earlier in the show:

Ash Sarkar added: “It’s Andrew Marr’s job to put politicians through the wringer, no matter what their political stripe. I support that. But I just don’t understand why Dominic Raab is getting handled with kid gloves, while Shami Chakrabarti got treated like this?”

But it was MP Dan Carden who made the crucial connection – that Mr Marr supports Conservatives and undermines Labour politicians because that is the current culture at the BBC.

“We have a media that shows deference & respect to its establishment Tory chums, and derision to those who challenge the utterly broken status quo,” he tweeted.

“As Chomsky once brilliantly told Marr – ‘if you believed something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you’re sitting’.”

Here’s the proof:

This corresponds perfectly with the words of UN special rapporteur on poverty, Professor Philip Alston, whose report on poverty in the UK had been dismissed with a query about whether it was “appropriate” by Mr Marr earlier in the programme.

So we see a situation in which Professor Alston’s assertion, that poverty is deliberately inflicted on people by the Conservatives, is proved with an example – that of Emily Lydon. His further claim that the Conservative government is in a “state of denial” is proved by the response of Mr Kwarteng. And the assertions by commenters – that the BBC (and others in the mainstream media) have disguised or hidden the reality, and that the mainstream media are complicit with the Tories – is demonstrated by Mr Marr’s behaviour.

However, in the name of the “balance” that the BBC tries to present in its reporting, I should point out that there were some who supported Mr Marr’s meltdown.

Mennie Maahes tweeted: “I have no problem with anyone telling this mouthy foreigner where to shove her views, Marr did it from the wrong standpoint but still applicable. Interesting Marr is getting annoyed because people will not accept Remain is right-perhaps he now knows what Leave folk feel like?”

However, in the name of accuracy I must add Rachael Swindon’s response: “Referring to The Right Honourable Baroness Shami Chakribarti as a “mouthy foreigner” is rather stupid, what with her being born in the London Borough of Harrow.”

It all contributes to a standard of reporting that falls well below what we should demand of our public service – and publicly-funded – broadcaster. We don’t fund the BBC in order to be force-fed Conservative Party propaganda, no matter what Andrew Marr might think.

Sadly, we are let down by those other members of the national press who we might reasonably expect to hold the BBC to account (for not, in its turn, holding Tory politicians to account). Consider Eoin Clarke’s summary of the way the exchange between Mr Marr and Baroness Chakrabarti was reported:

These are serious criticisms.

Sadly, as the BBC is self-regulating, there is no possibility of any change for the better – at least in the immediate future.

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If Chakrabarti would convict Livingstone without evidence, then perhaps she SHOULD quit Labour’s front bench

Ken Livingstone: It seems Baroness Chakrabarti would dismiss him from Labour because it’s the easy thing to do – not because it’s right.

I didn’t see the BBC’s Sunday Politics interview with Baroness Chakrabarti, but the Guardian report on it, below, is deeply disturbing.

Ken Livingstone was accused of bringing the Labour Party into disrepute after he made a series of accurate comments about the relationship between the German Federation of Zionists and the Nazi government of that country in the 1930s.

It seems certain people did not approve of those facts being aired, so they tried to smear Mr Livingstone as an anti-Semite. They are the villains of this story.

The attack on Mr Livingstone is just part of a wider assault on the Labour Party, based on entirely false claims that anti-Semitism is running rife since Jeremy Corbyn became leader. In fact, there are fewer anti-Semites in the party since he took over.

As a lawyer (she’s the Shadow Attorney-General), Baroness Chakrabarti should know that an accused person is innocent unless they are proven guilty. No such proof has been provided to establish any guilt by Mr Livingstone.

It is true that he has questions to answer, relating to statements he made during and immediately after his disciplinary hearing at the end of March last year.

But Baroness Chakrabarti does not seem to have been referring to that.

Instead, she spoke of “what has happened in the last two years”.

I take that as meaning she thinks it would not be expedient for Mr Livingstone to be allowed to remain a member, because it would attract too much criticism to the party from those who have stirred up what is, basically, a storm in a teacup.

Instead of trying to appease the aggressors, she should be advocating a thorough investigation of them – their methods, their motives, what they stand to gain.

She isn’t.

If she would rather take the easy option – if she doesn’t have the guts to do the right thing – then perhaps she should step aside in favour of someone who does.

Shami Chakrabarti has hinted she may quit the Labour frontbench if Ken Livingstone is not expelled from the party at his next disciplinary hearing.

The shadow attorney general, who authored a report on dealing with antisemitism and racism in the party, said she did not believe there were circumstances where the party’s disciplinary panel could decide not to expel Livingstone.

The former mayor of London, who is suspended from the party after comments he made about Adolf Hitler’s support for Zionism, is expected to face his latest disciplinary hearing within three months.

“I’m sorry to say it but I don’t believe that Ken Livingstone can any longer be in the Labour party,” Chakrabarti said when asked about Livingstone’s case on the BBC’s Sunday Politics.

She said she would have to “look at the rationale” before deciding how to respond, when asked if she would step down from the frontbench, but said she found it “very difficult to see that any rational decision-maker in the light of what has happened in the last two years could find a place for Mr Livingstone in our party at this moment”.

Source: Chakrabarti: Ken Livingstone should no longer be in Labour party | UK news | The Guardian


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