Tag Archives: UK

POLL: is the Supreme Court right to refuse Shamima Begum’s bid to return to the UK for trial?

Shamima Begum: she won’t be allowed to return to the UK and fight for her citizenship.

The Supreme Court has ruled that Shamima Begum should not be allowed to return to the UK to fight for her citizenship to be restored.

Its members unanimously overruled a decision by the Court of Appeal that said she would not be able to make an effective appeal from the camp in northern Syria where she is currently living.

The Home Office had appealed against the decision on the grounds that allowing her to return would create “significant national security risks”.

The Supreme Court agreed:

Lord Reed said: “The Supreme Court unanimously allows all of the home secretary’s appeals and dismisses Ms Begum’s cross-appeal.”

He said the Court of Appeal’s judgment “did not give the home secretary’s assessment the respect which it should have received” given the role’s “responsibility for making such assessments” and accountability to parliament.

Lord Reed added the Court of Appeal had “mistakenly believed that, when an individual’s right to have a fair hearing… came into conflict with the requirements of national security, her right to a fair hearing must prevail.”

He said the right to a fair hearing did “not trump all other considerations, such as the safety of the public”.

Ms Begum has proved extremely divisive among some members of the UK community.

She was enticed abroad to join Islamic State, aged just 15, and married a Dutch IS fighter – with whom she had three children. They have all died.

After IS largely collapsed, she found herself in a refugee camp and appealed for the UK’s government to return her to this country, so she could rely on the National Health Service to care for her and her last child, before that child died.

But then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid instead stripped her of her UK citizenship, citing the by-then-20-year-old’s still-apparent enthusiasm for the bloodthirsty regime she fled the country to join.

Some said she had been groomed and did not know what she was doing; some said she knew exactly what she was about.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), a semi-secret court that hears national security cases, ruled that Mr Javid was right and Ms Begum could appeal for citizenship to Bangladesh, to which she may have a claim to nationality through her mother.

The Court of Appeal overruled that judgement and now the Supreme Court has reversed that decision.

Some are now saying that Ms Begum is now in legal limbo. She isn’t – she can still make her appeal from Syria, using lawyers in the UK.

But is that a reasonable course of action? Let’s have a poll:

Source: Shamima Begum cannot return to UK, Supreme Court rules – BBC News

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Schoolkids know the score: reopening all schools in England will infect the nation with Covid-19

“Perfectly safe”: this photo was taken on a school staircase after Boris Johnson ruled that it was “perfectly safe” for children to go back there in September – no social distancing, no PPE… not safe at all. Now he is planning to do it all again, with infection rates nearly seven times higher than when this image was made.

Boris Johnson loves announcing big plans without giving us the facts and figures behind them, and he has done it again with school reopening.

How humiliating for him that it has been up to school pupil Jamal Elaheebocus to explain that when schools were recklessly reopened in June last year, one in 1,100 people were infected with Covid-19. When they were recklessly reopened in September, this had fallen to one in 2,000.

In mid-February, the infection rate was one in 115 people. It is hoped this will have fallen to one in 300 but that is nearly seven times more than in September last year – and look how that turned out!

Jamal reminds us of a few more uncomfortable truths:

the prevalence of the virus in communities remains high. As Johnson himself admitted on January 4, schools are vectors of transmission.

To any of us working or studying in schools, the reasons why schools are hotspots for infection are obvious.

Fitting thirty students and a teacher in a classroom makes social distancing impossible, overcrowded buildings means that several year groups who are separate bubbles then mix together.

Students are then packed on buses and trains to get home, spreading infection not only among themselves but among the wider public as well.

The latest data from Imperial’s React programme showed that 5 to 12 year olds had the second highest infection rate of any age group. Given this, there is no doubt that schools will increase the infection rate again. The difference this time is that infection rates will be much higher.

While the vaccine may help limit the rise in infection to an extent, infection rates will undoubtedly increase. This is a reckless gamble just to get children into schools for three weeks before Easter holidays.

Yes.

So why is Johnson doing it?

This was inevitable, thanks to the pressure from the mainstream media and Keir Starmer.

How low Labour has sunk! Its leader is now counted among those responsible for inflicting an inevitable increase in Covid-19 infections on the UK – yet again. People will die because Starmer did this.

Yes, some of the arguments in favour of re-opening schools have influence – but only because prolonged closures have placed pupils at the mercy of the Tories’ neoliberal system – one that Starmer wholeheartedly supports.

The combined incompetence of the government and the cruelty of the neoliberal system has meant many kids have missed out on free school meals, families are struggling to cope in overcrowded homes and kids have not been able to access online learning because of lack of access to a laptop or good broadband.

Lockdown has been made so difficult for school pupils because of the government’s decision to continue to punish the poorest in society. It is a disgrace that the Tories and the right-wing media are attempting to manipulate the stress and hardship and use it to back up their reckless campaign to open up society and let the virus run rampage.

It is a disgrace.

And the Tories’ adherence to the neoliberal system that demands minimal investment for maximum return (to the very, very rich) means that the reopening will be done on the cheap.

Jamal proposes a series of measures to make schools safe – or at least safer. None of them have been supported – or even mentioned – by Boris Johnson because they cost money.

Teachers should be prioritised for the vaccine since they will be mixing with such a large number of people. This should have been done months ago and as more and more of the clinically vulnerable and elderly are vaccinated, there is no reason not to now prioritise teachers.

There should also be plans to repurpose public buildings as classrooms or put money into new buildings on school sites to facilitate social distancing in classrooms and allow for proper separation of year group bubbles.

Supply teachers and newly-qualified teachers who are not employed can be utilised to allow for smaller class sizes and more social distancing.

The vaccine is not the cure-all that Johnson and his cronies have claimed. It wont protect you as fully as you think, and it won’t protect as many people as you think.

And, of course, it has only been applied to a minority of the population – on a first-dose basis.

How sad that Johnson is so keen to prolong the UK’s Covid-19 agony, just to please his backbenchers, the baying hounds of the mass media… and Keir Starmer.

Source: A school student speaks: 8 March ‘big bang’ reopening just isn’t safe – Counterfire

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Record annual slump for UK economy in 2020 – but should Johnson be slammed for it?

Johnson’s blunders: he made promise after promise – and mistake after mistake. And the UK’s economy suffered.

Yes he should, although it may have seemed a tricky one to call.

The simple fact is that the UK’s economy was bound to suffer in the year of Covid-19.

Business – and school – closures were inevitable. Even though Johnson didn’t want to do it, eventually he had to.

And that’s part of the reason he should be blamed: he had to be dragged into every correct decision he made – and usually too late to prevent some harm from being done.

His lockdowns were only ever partial (so not really lockdowns at all), and he pulled out of them too early.

We recently learned that he ignored scientific advice to do so.

He diverted commercial contracts connected with tackling the virus away from experts in order to hand billions of pounds to friends of the Conservative Party who knew little or nothing about the work they were being asked to do.

Test and trace work, to quote a much-criticised example, suffered badly because he put an ex-jockey in charge, who didn’t realise that a virus can mutate – something that seven-year-old children read in school textbooks.

As a result of all this, the pandemic affected the UK far more than it might otherwise have, and the economic effect was worse, as we can see:

The UK economy shrank by a record 9.9% last year as coronavirus restrictions hit output, official figures show.

The contraction in 2020 “was more than twice as much as the previous largest annual fall on record”, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Muddying the issue is the fact that previous governments had dismantled the UK’s ability to cope with a pandemic infection over many years. But Boris Johnson was part of some of those governments, so he still can’t dodge some of the responsibility.

And, because it is a deadly infection, we don’t know how many people were likely to have been infected – or died – if Johnson had acted more responsibly… or indeed if he hadn’t bothered to do anything at all.

So we don’t know what would have happened in either a worst- or best-case scenario.

So we are left with the knowledge that the economy was going to suffer in 2020, no matter what.

But Johnson did not act fast enough to minimise the damage – and his choices were either wrong or, on the rare occasions they were right, delayed.

We don’t know how badly the economy would have been affected in different circumstances.

But it’s a fair bet that it would have fared better if Johnson’s choices had been wiser.

Source: UK economy suffered record annual slump in 2020 – BBC News

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Is this yet another example of Tory racism?

The Tories said that EU nationals would be encouraged to apply for “settled status” rather than being forced to leave the UK after Brexit.

That’s what they said.

But they have put obstacle after obstacle in the way – barriers to application and delays in Home Office decision-making being significant factors in pushing vulnerable EU citizens out.

And from January 1, EU citizens were quietly added to the Tory government’s voluntary returns scheme, offering them paid flights and £2,000 resettlement money to get them to leave of their own accord.

It seems clear that Tory policy hasn’t moved an inch since Theresa May was attacked so bitterly for sending advertising vans around London telling people from foreign countries to “go home”.

Worst of all, this is cutting our collective nose off to spite our face.

The UK relies on EU migrants to do a lot of important work. Without them – especially in the Covid crisis – we’ll struggle.

Either the Tories haven’t thought about that or – more likely, considering the Covid death toll – they simply don’t care.

Source: EU citizens offered financial incentives to leave UK | Brexit | The Guardian

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Tory hypocrisy exposed again as Brandon Lewis won’t explain why the UK has worst Covid-19 death rate in the world

Caught out: Brandon Lewis was happy to trumpet the UK having the highest vaccination rate in the world but could only say it was “too early” to compare Covid-19 death rates.

Tory minister Brandon Lewis was left struggling to find words after his government’s hypocrisy was exposed (again) on live television.

Interviewed on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Lewis was challenged to explain why the UK has the worst Covid-19-related death rate in the world. He said it was “too early” to make comparisons.

But, Piers Morgan pointed out, this government is happy to compare itself with the rest of the world when it suits – such as its claim that the UK is leading the world in vaccinating the population.

Lewis had nowhere to go. He and his government were exposed; their attempt to hoodwink us marked out – for all the world to see:

And the world did see:

For clarity and completeness, you’ve seen Lewis failing to explain why the UK has the worst Covid-related death rate, so here’s the Conservative boast about vaccination:

It is typical Tory policy and, yes, it is an attempt to mislead the public.

There is no point in crowing about a large number of injections if the UK still has more people dying of Covid-19 than any other nation in the world.

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Dutch Rutte government resigns over child welfare fraud scandal – Vox Political Scrapbook

I brought this to your attention yesterday, remarking on the similarity between this and the wrong done to UK child benefit claimants by the Conservatives, with their so-called ‘rape clause’.

Now this has happened:

Mark Rutte’s government has stepped down after thousands of families were wrongly accused of child welfare fraud and told to pay money back.

Families suffered an “unparalleled wrong”, Dutch MPs decided, with tax officials, politicians, judges and civil servants leaving them powerless.

An “unparalleled wrong”.

The Dutch can recognise when their government mistreats their benefit claimants abominably.

Why can’t we show the same perception, here in the UK?

Source: Dutch Rutte government resigns over child welfare fraud scandal – BBC News

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In London’s mayoral race, UKIP pins its hopes on Gammons

Once again, the UK Independence Party has made itself the butt of the joke.

You’ll be familiar with the expression “gammon”, meaning “a middle-aged or older white man with conservative, traditionalist views, stereotypically characterized as having a red or flushed complexion”. It has been linked with supporters of UKIP for many years.

Today (January 15) we all discovered the name of the party’s candidate in the London mayoral election… and the fun began:

We all had a few giggles about the coincidence:

But the real punchline is the fact that this is not the first time UKIP has been ham-strung (sorry) by an unfortunately-resonating name:

This Writer, for one, is grateful to Mr Gammons.

He has brightened up an otherwise miserable day.

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A week after Brexit, how are the UK and the EU getting on? Not very well, it seems

I was going to leave the headline as a rhetorical question but too many people would have tried to answer without reading the article.

And who can blame them? It all seems a nasty mess at the moment. But are these really only teething problems?

Here comes the list:

The UK and the EU are heading towards a confrontation over financial services after trading in £6 billion worth of euro-dominated shares started moving to European continental stock exchanges in Amsterdam and Paris.

UK financial service providers and banks have lost the so-called passport that gave them the right to operate without restrictions throughout the EU, and now depend on unilateral decisions from European authorities to extend them an “equivalence” based on regulatory convergence, sector by sector.

Bank of England boss Andrew Bailey has said the UK should not become a so-called “rule taker” by mimicking EU regulations just for the sake of obtaining an access to European markets.

To This Writer’s uncultured eye, he seems to be saying we should lose a lot of business. Or is he he suggesting that trade will come back to the UK if businesses see an advantage in trading outside EU regulations?

This is not likely to sort itself out for several years.

Marks & Spencer has discovered holes in the so-called “zero tariff” trade deal with the EU that means its Percy Pig sweets – manufactured in Germany, transported to the UK, and then re-exported to other countries like Ireland – would face taxation and bureaucratic “red tape” costs.

The firm has already dropped hundreds of products, including chocolate fudge pudding and sweet and sour chicken, from its Northern Ireland stores after it saw competitors’ lorries barred from travelling between the mainland and Northern Ireland.

John Lewis has scrapped deliveries of its products to EU countries (although the firm says this is because of a business decision to concentrate on the UK). Debenhams and Fortnum & Masons have also suspended deliveries to Ireland and the EU respectively, blaming uncertainty over post-Brexit trading rules.

Scottish seafood firms are already facing financial difficulty as new post-Brexit rules demand that every single box has to be offloaded from lorries, opened and checked by vets before leaving Scotland – creating five-hour delays per lorry.

And overseas customers are cancelling orders – putting the £1 billion-per-year business in jeopardy.

Expect much more of the same in the future.

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Four dead after Trump provokes US Capitol riot – and the UK Tories are taking notes

Buddies: Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. Johnson has refused to condemn Trump’s involvement in the US Capitol riot; indeed, he was probably too busy taking notes.

It has been claimed that what happens in the United States is brought to the UK several years later.

With that in mind, watch this clip of Priti Patel refusing to condemn Donald Trump for provoking a riot in Washington DC yesterday:

UK prime minister Boris Johnson also condemned the riots but stopped short of criticising Trump:

The reason? They’re taking notes.

Trump has spent the last two months protesting against the result of last November’s presidential election, which he lost decisively to Democrat Joe Biden.

He triggered a scandal earlier in the week when it was revealed that he had engaged Georgia’s (Republican) Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in an hour-long telephone conversation in which he appealed for his colleague to “find” 11,780 votes – one more than the 11,779 majority that Biden achieved in that state.

This is electoral fraud and Raffensperger wouldn’t have it.

Trump went on to spout a series of conspiracy theories that (it has been claimed) far-right internet sites have been promoting – including that his opponents tampered with voting machines in the state. His claims were greeted with a blunt “no” from the leading lawyer on Raffensperger’s team.

The revelation was greeted as a scandal bigger than Watergate. The only reason Trump wasn’t facing impeachment after the recording of his call was published by the Washington Post is that unlike Richard Nixon, his own party leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives are not willing to condemn him.

Then came the riot.

Congress was due to meet yesterday (January 6) for a purely ceremonial event to confirm Biden’s election victory – but Trump wasn’t having it.

He tweeted a call for his supporters to attend and protest, appealing for them to “stop the steal”.

Events escalated out of control into a riot in which members of the US public stormed the Capitol, and now four people are dead.

One, unofficially named as San Diego-area US Air Force veteran and Trump supporter Ashli Babbit, was part of a group that forced entry into the House room while it was still in session. They were confronted by plain-clothes police officers, one of whom pulled out a weapon and fired it. She was rushed to hospital where she was later proclaimed dead.

Another woman and two men died as a result of “medical emergencies”, officials said, without giving details. At least 14 members of the police were also injured.

Trump has not apologised for instigating the riot or for the deaths to which it led. He is still denying the legitimacy of the election result but has agreed to an “orderly transition” of the presidency to Biden.

Add it all up and it amounts to a shocking degeneration and indictment against Trump in the last days of his presidency.

And the silence from the UK’s government is equally appalling.

But then, we should remember that Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has been a wholehearted Trump supporter – with Johnson himself even suggesting the soon-to-be ex-president should receive the Nobel Peace Prize:

But let’s not restrict this to Johnson (and Patel, above). Plenty of other UK political figures have supported Trump:

That is why I feel the need to amplify these comments:

Think about it – because you can be sure Johnson and his planners are.

They’ll be looking at what happened and how it happened, and working out how they can create the same situation in the UK and spin it to make them look good.

Then they will have a little ace-in-the-hole if their policies look like creating civil unrest in the future.

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Brexit: EU firms refuse UK deliveries (Vox Political Scrapbook)

So much for the big tory “bonfire of red tape”.

It was a David Cameron project, as was the EU membership referendum of 2016. Cameron succeeded in creating more red tape than any previous UK prime minister, it seems.

Oh, and the bureaucracy that he destroyed? That was saving us from the corruption that is now the hallmark of Boris Johnson’s administration.

A growing number of retailers in the EU have decided they won’t deliver to Britain because of the new costs involved in sending packages after Brexit. Companies have said they are unwilling to register for VAT in the UK, with one Dutch firm calling the red tape “ludicrous”.

Brexit disruption means Sainsbury’s has reportedly lost around 700 product lines in Northern Ireland – where it has been forced to stock goods from Spar. And Marks & Spencer said new trading rules in place since Britain left the EU were delaying deliveries of food to its stores in France – where branches had empty shelves on Tuesday.

Source: Brexit news – live: EU firms refuse UK deliveries as Boris Johnson’s India trade trip scrapped

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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Health Warning: Government! is now available
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HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
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SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook