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Archive for the tag “UK politics”

Brit politicans’ expense claims and censorship

For the last ten days or so the media have been full of the scandal of British Members of Parliament’s claims for expenses, something that puts our own Travelgate scandal of a few years ago in the shade.

But it seems that some MPs have fought back, and have accused the media of stirring the pot for sinister reasons of their own. And this has led to media censorship of an MP’s blog.

St. Aidan to Abbey Manor: Fightback MP silenced – what do you think?:

Well, if you can find anything libellous at the cache of Ms Dorries blog, you’re more perceptive than I am. Here is what I think is the offending passage (if you’ve read her blog, it could be any one of several, e.g. reposting a ‘Private and Confidential’ letter the Telegraph sent just hours before splashing her personal finances all over the next issue), which I’m posting because

a) this is a free and democratic society, and if MP’s have to have their expenses open to scrutiny then their arguments should be open to scrutiny too.

b) I dislike censorship, whether it’s happening to Dave Walker, Nadine Dorries or anyone else. Hey, even people I dislike. Most of them.

Dave Walker posted cartoons on his blog about the mismanagement of the SPCK Bookshop chain when it was taken over by a couple of American businessmen, who then tried to bully Dave Walker into silence because he had exposed their unethical practices.

This looks even more sinister, however Craig Murray – Support Nadine Dorries’ Freedom To Blog:

It is now confirmed that Nadine Dorries blog has been taken down by her webhosts after threats by lawyers acting for the creepy and anti-democratic Barclay Brothers. I particularly dislike them because they destroyed the Scotsman, which was once a good newspaper.

Nadine Dorries had accused the Barclay Brothers of outing the sleaze about MPs in their Daily Telegraph as part of an anti-democratic plot. The same accusation was in this Independent piece at 2am yesterday. The Independent has edited it out.

It almost inclines one to believe in conspiracy theories. Let’s do away with elected government, and have the world ruled by the media for their own profit. Big Brother, in Orwell’s novel, was an evil dictator who took over the reins of government and controlled the media and everything else. But Big Brother has now been reinvented by the media as a “reality” TV show, and popularised, and suddenly The Daily Telegraph is Big Brother, and British MPs are the “housemates”.

The Daily Telegraph used to be known as the Daily Torygraph, but the opinion that it is trying to suppress is that it is actually trying to score votes for a couple of parties way to the right of the Tories.

UK: European Court Rebuke Over Indefinite Detention | Human Rights Watch

It’s worse than I thought. It took six years for South Africa to become a fully-fledged police state, from the appointment of B.J. Vorster as Minister of Justice in 1961 to the passing of the Terrorism Act of 1967 (since repealed) which provided for indefinite detention without trial.

Britain seems top have done it in four, since Tony Blair asked for 90-day detention.

In fact I thought that Britain had not even reached the 90-day mark yet, and that Gordon Brown had only managed to push it up to 48 days. Hat-tip to Big Blue Meanie for this news.

UK: European Court Rebuke Over Indefinite Detention | Human Rights Watch:

The ruling today by the European Court of Human Rights on the United Kingdom’s detention policy for foreign terrorism suspects confirms that indefinite detention violates basic rights, Human Rights Watch said.

The court ruled that the previous detention policy violated the European Convention on Human Rights. A and Others v. the United Kingdom concerned 11 foreign citizens who were held in indefinite detention for varying periods of time between December 2001 and March 2005 under Part IV of the 2001 Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act.

‘The court has reaffirmed unequivocally the fundamental rights to protection from arbitrary detention and to a fair hearing,’ said Judith Sunderland, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. ‘The principles at stake can’t be sacrificed even in the name of counterterrorism.’

Congratulations, Gordon Brown, for turning Britain into a fascist state. That’s quite something to go down in history for, even though the British media choose to call fascism “the moral high ground”.

See also The last Straw man.

Forced conversion to Islam in the UK?

It seems as though the Westminster City Council in the UK is forcing Christian children to be brought up with Muslim families.

St. Mark’s London:

We, the Coptic Community in the UK, petition the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, the Rt. Hon. Ed Balls, MP to consider the placement of 3 Coptic Christian children , by Westminster City Council, with a Muslim foster family. Section 22 of the Children’s Act 1989, sub-section(5) states that the local authority, in making any decision, has a general duty to give due consideration to the child’s religious persuasion, racial origin and linguistic background. The placement of those 3 children has failed to support their racial, cultural, linguistic and religious identity. There is evidence that it is seriously undermining their religious beliefs and we are gravely concerned about the confusion of identity of those looked after children.

It sounds a bit strange to me. Is this really happening? Or is it actually all part of an Anglo-American plot to eradicate Christianity in the Near/Middle East, and in people of Near/Middle Eastern descent (the Christian population of Iraq has halved since the US-led invasion in 2003).

Forced conversion to Islam in the UK?

It seems as though the Westminster City Council in the UK is forcing Christian children to be brought up with Muslim families.

St. Mark’s London:

We, the Coptic Community in the UK, petition the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, the Rt. Hon. Ed Balls, MP to consider the placement of 3 Coptic Christian children , by Westminster City Council, with a Muslim foster family. Section 22 of the Children’s Act 1989, sub-section(5) states that the local authority, in making any decision, has a general duty to give due consideration to the child’s religious persuasion, racial origin and linguistic background. The placement of those 3 children has failed to support their racial, cultural, linguistic and religious identity. There is evidence that it is seriously undermining their religious beliefs and we are gravely concerned about the confusion of identity of those looked after children.

It sounds a bit strange to me. Is this really happening? Or is it actually all part of an Anglo-American plot to eradicate Christianity in the Near/Middle East, and in people of Near/Middle Eastern descent (the Christian population of Iraq has halved since the US-led invasion in 2003).

Terrorism Acts and police states

I understand that South Africa’s notorious Terrorism Act of 1967, which made South Africa a fully-fledged police state, has been repealed.

In Britain, a Terrorism Act has recently been introduced, and, has been having a similar effect to the South African one, of turning Britain into a police state. This incident, which took place a few years ago, is an example.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Labour issues apology to heckler:

The Labour Party has apologised after an 82-year-old member was thrown out of its annual conference for heckling.

Walter Wolfgang, from London, was ejected from the hall after shouting ‘nonsense’ as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw defended Iraq policy.

Police later used powers under the Terrorism Act to prevent Mr Wolfgang’s re-entry, but he was not arrested.

When such draconian legislation is introduced, government spokesmen give the usual reassurances that the innocent have nothing to fear, that the police can be trusted not to abuse their powers, and so on.

And almost inevitably, the powers are abused to suppress the civil rights of ordinary citizens, which seems to have happened in this case. In the light of this kind of thing, Gordon Brown’s Vorsterian urge to introduce 90-day detention to Britain is even more scary.

Terrorism Acts and police states

I understand that South Africa’s notorious Terrorism Act of 1967, which made South Africa a fully-fledged police state, has been repealed.

In Britain, a Terrorism Act has recently been introduced, and, has been having a similar effect to the South African one, of turning Britain into a police state. This incident, which took place a few years ago, is an example.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Labour issues apology to heckler:

The Labour Party has apologised after an 82-year-old member was thrown out of its annual conference for heckling.

Walter Wolfgang, from London, was ejected from the hall after shouting ‘nonsense’ as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw defended Iraq policy.

Police later used powers under the Terrorism Act to prevent Mr Wolfgang’s re-entry, but he was not arrested.

When such draconian legislation is introduced, government spokesmen give the usual reassurances that the innocent have nothing to fear, that the police can be trusted not to abuse their powers, and so on.

And almost inevitably, the powers are abused to suppress the civil rights of ordinary citizens, which seems to have happened in this case. In the light of this kind of thing, Gordon Brown’s Vorsterian urge to introduce 90-day detention to Britain is even more scary.

Mbeki: ‘Thank you and goodbye’

The Prez has gone.

President Thabo Mbeki resigned under pressure from his own party, after hanging on for nine months after he was replaced as ANC president at its conference at Polokwane last summer.

The Times – Mbeki: ‘Thank you and goodbye’:

Announcing his resignation as president last night, Mbeki defended his legacy, which suffered a major blow when a Pietermaritzburg High Court judge ruled that he and his cabinet had interfered with the work of the independent prosecuting authority.

‘We have never done this and therefore never compromised the right of the NPA to decide whom it wished to prosecute or not to prosecute. This applies equally to the painful matter relating to the court proceedings against the president of the ANC, comrade Jacob Zuma,’ Mbeki said.

Other bloggers have commented ad nauseam, so why am I adding my chirp? I suppose it’s because of the reference to his legacy, and because the manner of his going is reminiscent of the departure of Tony Blair last year, which invites comparisons.

Thabo Mbeki and Tony Blair were pretty much political contemporaries, though in character they were very different. Tony Blair was more extrovert, Thabo Mbeki was always more taciturn. But they both dominated the politics of their countries from 1997-2007 — though Mbeki only became president in 1999 he was nevertheless taking a more active role in the couple of years before that as Nelson Mandela neared retirement.

Both made an impact on foreign affairs, though in different ways. Tony Blair was a belligerent warmonger, and led his country into three foreign wars — in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Thabo Mbeki was more of a peacemaker, trying to bring peace to troubled areas of the continent, though his extraordinary patience with dictators like Robert Mugabe did not seem to produce much fruit.

When I looked at the leaders of other countries, like George Bush and Tony Blair, I was glad we had Thabo Mbeki.

At home, however, he was far more ruthless, and just how ruthless is only now beginning to be revealed. He was ruthless in eliminating potential rivals — like Tokyo Sexwale, Cyril Ramaphosa and Jacob Zuma. When Sexwale and Ramaphosa abandoned politics for business I at first thought they were selling out, and showing that they were more concerned with making money than nation-building. But it now seems that they were keeping quiet out of loyalty to their ANC struggle comrades, and preferred not to cause a split. Only now has it been revealed to those outside the inner circle how they were forced out of politics.

One day historians will have to add up the pros and cons of Thabo Mbeki’s legacy, but on the whole I’m inclined to be sympathetic.

For me the most memorable moment of his career, and perhaps symbolic of the positive aspect of it, was when he acted out of character, threw aside his usual taciturnity, and joined in the celebrations of South Africa’s victory in the rugby world cup last year. The team hoisted him on their shoulders and that moment captured the best of his presidency and the best of South Africa and South Africa’s hopes. I can’t imagine the English team doing that to Gordon Brown if they had won.

It didn’t last, of course. The rugby team came home to acrimonious in-fighting and the dismissal of the successful coach, and Thabo Mbeki came back to much the same thing. But whatever his faults, and they are many, history can’t take that away from his legacy. It was a glimpse of what might have been, and in some sense still is.

The swing to fascism in the USA and the UK

The swing to fascism in the USA and the UK seems to be becoming more pronounced. The rule of law is being undermined.

Justices Rule Terror Suspects Can Appeal in Civilian Courts – NYTimes.com:

The detainees at the center of the case decided on Thursday are not all typical of the people confined at Guant�namo. True, the majority were captured in Afghanistan or Pakistan. But the man who gave the case its title, Lakhdar Boumediene, is one of six Algerians who immigrated to Bosnia in the 1990’s and were legal residents there. They were arrested by Bosnian police within weeks of the Sept. 11 attacks on suspicion of plotting to attack the United States embassy in Sarajevo — “plucked from their homes, from their wives and children,” as their lawyer, Seth P. Waxman, a former solicitor general put it in the argument before the justices on Dec. 5.

The Supreme Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina ordered them released three months later for lack of evidence, whereupon the Bosnian police seized them and turned them over to the United States military, which sent them to Guant�namo.

Mr. Waxman argued before the United States Supreme Court that the six Algerians did not fit any authorized definition of enemy combatant, and therefore ought to be released.

Adventus comments on this:

One wonders how many ‘radical Islamists’ were individually identified as parties in this case, and why the evidentiary rulings of the Supreme Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina were dismissed so summarily.

I always thought Justice was blindfolded so it couldn’t see radical Islamists, but only facts and law, and rule accordingly. Well, at least 5 justices see things my way.

Earlier in the week the British Parliament extended detention without trial, and I watched horrified as they came up with the same arguments repeated ad nauseam by B.J. Vorster and his henchmen when they introduced detention without trial in South Africa in 1963.

The only person who made a stand for the rule of law was the Tory shadow home secretary, David Davis, who subsequently resigned his seat in parliament. In answer to him the Labour spokesman on Sky TV said that people should “look into their hearts” — and what he was saying, in effect, was that all the evil in their hearts, they should call good. And the media and parliamentary colleagues rounded on Davis, condemning his resignation as an egocentric publicity stunt. But given their fascist bias, I suspect that he is the only one of integrity among the lot of them.

A year ago, when Tony Blair tried, but failed, to get 90-day detention, the British media were speaking of him taking “the moral high ground”, and that was the worst of all, because what they were calling “the moral high ground” comes from the very pit of hell itself.

In the USA the majority of the Supreme Court upheld the rule of law, but there were some judges who did not, as Adventus notes.

What neither Adventus nor the New York Times remarked on, however, was the behaviour of the Bosnian police, which was, if anything, the scariest of the lot. That is the kind of thing that happened here in South Africa before 1994. That is the kind of thing that happened in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany. That is the kind of thing that is happening right now in “Mad Bob” Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, and that is the kind of thing the British media are calling “the moral high ground”. And it was to establish this kind of contempt of the rule of law that Nato rained bombs on Yugoslavia and established the Bosnian state.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20).

______________

Hat-tip to Tygerland for this list of links on the topic:

  • Liberty – Shami Chakrabarti’s statement and Liberty’s points of contention.
  • Amnesty – Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen’s statement.
  • OurKingdom – Anthony Barnett, OpenDemocracy’s founder and editor, ponders a new ally in David Davis.
  • Iain Weaver – takes a historical look at other MP’s who have put their career on the line for principle.
  • Chicken Yoghurt – Justin swings both ways as he weighs up Davis’ resignation.
  • Labour Outlook – has quotes and links-aplenty from around the media. Including news that Labour won’t stand against DD, with the view to making the Tories appear soft on terrorism. *sigh*

Conservatives are little pink liberalists

I just caught on Sky News the Conservative shadow Home Secretary in Britain, David Davis MP, denouncing the Labour government’s plans for detention without trial.

When B.J. Vorster, the South African Minister of Justice, introduced 90-day detention in 1963, he dismissed those who objected as “little pink liberalists”. Gordon Brown, like his predecessor Tony Blair, wanted 90-day detention, and they seem to be coming to resemble Vorster more and more.

So it seems that in Britain, if you want a liberal government, vote Tory.

The sermons of cowards

The powerful nations of the West are fond of preaching sanctimonious sermons about freedom and democracy to tin-pot dictators like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, but are too chicken to speak the truth to power when it come to the evils in their own back yards.

Kishore Mahbubani: The sermons of cowards | Comment is free | The Guardian: “Ten years ago, if anyone had suggested the US would reintroduce torture, the answer would have been ‘impossible!’ Yet the impossible has happened. Amnesty International has described Guant�namo as ‘the gulag of our times’. Despite their history of condemning human rights violations, no western nation has condemned the US government for Guant�namo. Miliband’s speech rightly applauded several brave Burmese people for standing up to the military government. They spoke truth to power, and at great personal risk. Sadly, even though he faced no personal risks, Miliband could not muster the courage to speak truth to power regarding Guant�namo.”

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