Wednesday, 26 July 2017

12 reasons Chris Grayling was an absolutely dreadful Justice Secretary


The fact that a serial failure like Chris Grayling still has an important cabinet position is indicative of the absolute dearth of talent in the Tory party.

Grayling started off as one of Iain Duncan Smith's henchmen at the DWP, the then spent three years as the worst Secretary of State for Justice imaginable.


Despite his almost unbreakable tolerance for abject incompetence from his ministers* David Cameron finally saw sense in 2015 and moved Grayling into largely ceremonial roles where he had little ability to wreak havoc over ordinary people's lives.

After David Cameron's EU gamble backfired so spectacularly Theresa May gave Grayling a lifeline back into a position where he could cause more damage by making him Transport Secretary.

Since then he has bee pursuing policies like handing the Southwestern franchise to the Chinese government to operate (because Tory ideology prohibits the UK state from running UK transport networks, but is fine with the Chinese state running UK transport networks!), deciding to hand operation of the UK taxpayer funded HS2 line directly to foreign governments to profiteer from (France, China and Italy are the bidders), and sneakily cancelling several rail electrification upgrades in Wales and the north of England just days before parliament went off on summer break.


Here's a recap of 12 things that make Chris Grayling not only the worst Justice Secretary ever, but possibly even the worst government minister in David Cameron's dreadful coalition of failure with the Lib-Dems.

Unqualified

Since 2007 the role of Secretary of State for Justice has included the job of Lord Chancellor. Before David Cameron appointed Chris Grayling to the position, every single Lord Chancellor for centuries had been a qualified legal professional. 

Grayling was the first head of the legal system to have no legal qualifications whatever, and this Tory anti-expertise trend has continued after his departure in 2015.

Grayling's successor Michael Gove was the 2nd unqualified Lord Chancellor in modern history, Gove's successor Liz Truss was the 3rd, and her successor David Liddington is the 4th legally unqualified Lord Chancellor in succession.


Unlawful Tribunal fees

It's taken four years and an epic battle all the way up to the Supreme Court to get Chris Grayling's discriminatory anti-worker employment tribunal fees declared unlawful (thanks to Unison for fighting to protect workers' rights).

Despite their claims to the contrary this legislation was always intended as a bad bosses' charter to give terrible employers the freedom to abuse their low-income workers and sack them at will, safe in the knowledge they wouldn't be able to afford the employment tribunal fees.

Not only did these fees act as a deliberate Tory barrier to the justice system for low-income workers, they also demonstrably discriminated against women. It's telling that instead of quitly backtracking on this depraved policy of pricing people out of seeking justice Theresa May carried on fighting tooth and nail to keep these sexist Tory rules in place long after Grayling was gone.

Probation service privatisation

Chris Grayling's ideologically driven privatisation of the probation service was criticised at the time as a reckless gamble, and the resulting chaos is probably even worse than predicted.

Grayling decided that the taxpayer should keep responsibility for probation services for long-term prisoners while probation services for prisoners sentenced to a year or less were carved up and distributed to 21 different private outsourcing companies.

A 2016 report found that ex-prisoners are being failed and the public put at risk. Of the 86 released prisoners the research team investigated not a single one of them had any help in relation to training, education or employment. A third were released with nowhere to live, and one registered sex offender simply disappeared after release.

Legal aid cuts

Legal Aid is a fundamental part of the modern welfare system which prevents the justice system from being just a plaything of the rich by providing adequate legal representation to people from poor and ordinary backgrounds.

Grayling is a fanatical right-winger so he attacked legal aid funding with glee, stripping legal aid entitlement from all kinds of cases. The result was a predictable rise in the percentage of people attempting to represent themselves in court, meaning thousands upon thousands of wasted hours in court (especially family courts) as proceedings had to be abandoned due to procedural cockups from self-representing legal novices.

Aside from the costs and the wasted time, there's also the fact that unknown thousands have been denied justice altogether as they simply gave up on the idea of seeking legal redress for the injustices they've suffered for lack of legal representation.

Restrictions on legal aid for domestic violence victims

As part of Grayling's assault on legal aid he decided to slash women's entitlement to legal aid for domestic violence cases.

If a woman couldn't prove that they'd been subjected to domestic abuse with either medical evidence or legal records from the previous five years they wouldn't get legal aid. This attack on domestic violence victims was widely condemned at the time, and in February 2017 it was finally reversed when the government caved into the pressure to accept evidence from charities, solicitors and housing officers.

Tendering for legal aid contracts

Aside from cutting legal aid to the bone another of Chris Grayling's brainwaves was to introduce tendering for legal aid services, so that people needing legal aid would have no longer have freedom to chose their own lawyer (from a local company, or from a firm of legal specialists in the field required) and simply be handed one from a pre-approved government list.

This planned shakeup was designed to benefit big legal companies and drive small independent legal practices out of business. One of the big players in this get-what-you're given strategy was, believe it or not, the haulage company Eddie Stobart!

Thankfully Grayling's successor Michael Gove listened to the absolute chorus of condemnation from the legal profession and scrapped Grayling's madcap plans.

Selling prison advice to the Saudi tyrants

One of Grayling's most widely condemned schemes was the establishment of a shady commercial offshoot of the Justice Department called Justice Solutions International which won a £5.9 million contract to advise the brutal Islamist tyrants in Saudi Arabia how to run their prisons.

In October 2015 Jeremy Corbyn forced one of his first significant U-turns out of the Tory government by calling for the contract with the Saudi tyrants to be scrapped, which Grayling's successor Michael Gove eventually did due citing "human rights concerns".

Criminal court fees

In 2015 Chris Grayling introduced fees for defendants found guilty at a magistrates court to pay £150 and those convicted at crown court to hand over £1,200.

People complained that the fees were incentivising innocent people to plead guilty to crimes they didn't commit out of fear of being hit with Grayling's fees if they tried to plead their innocence.

Over 100 magistrates resigned over the charges. Grayling's successor Michael Gove scrapped the charges saying the "intent has fallen short".

Cutting legal aid for prisoners

Chris Grayling loved playing up to the hard-right press by devising policies to be tough on prisoners. One of these schemes was a 2013 ruling banning legal aid for prisoners.

In my view you don't have to be a tree-huggling liberal leftie to believe that a prisoner who has been denied any kind of education, offender behaviour programmes or training while locked up should have the right to seek legal intervention to ensure they do get the help they need to avoid re-offending in the future.

In 2017 Grayling's cuts to legal aid for prisoners were ruled unlawful and overturned.

Banning books

Another of Grayling's attacks on the prison population was his ruling banning them from receiving books. This one really hit the headlines because there's nothing quite as right-wing authoritarian as banning books.

In December 2014 a High Court ruling found that banning prisoners from receiving books was unlawful, and Grayling's successor Michael Gove sensibly decided not to bother appealing against the judgement and binned the policy.

Unlawful prison absconder policy

One of Grayling's most ridiculous blunders came when he decided to introduce a knee-jerk policy after the right-wing press whipped up a huge fuss when an armed robber called Michael "Skullcracker" Wheatley went on the run from day release.

Grayling's new policy was to rush through a ban on any prisoner who had absconded from serving in open prison. The problem was that this new policy glaringly contradicted a previous Grayling policy that inmates serving indeterminate sentences should go through a phased release from closed to open prisons "in order to test their readiness for release into the community".

In 2015 Grayling's knee-jerk prisoner absconder policy was declared unlawful at the High Court after a case was brought by a prisoner called John Gilbert who technically absconded from day release because he missed his last train, but handed himself into a police station first thing in the morning.

The judges said the inconsistency between Grayling’s new absconder policy and his long-standing directions to the parole board was "irrational", and they were also "not impressed" by Grayling's absurd claim that since the ban and the parole board directions had both been issued by him, he had the power to ignore or contradict either of them at will!

Making Michael Gove look good

Michael Gove is a Rupert Murdoch hack turned politician. As education secretary he vandalised the education system by privatising thousands of state schools into the hands of unaccountable private psuedo-charities (many operated by major Tory party donors). He also oversaw a proliferation of unqualified teachers into our classrooms and once famously claimed that all schools should attain above average status!

The fact that a bumbling right-wing fanatic like Michael Gove had to come in and clear up so many of Grayling's messes just goes to show how utterly crap he must have been.

Just imagine how ideologically extreme and incompetent a person would have to be in order to end up making a right-wing fruit loop like Michael Gove look level-headed and competent in comparison!


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* = Despite their serial incompetence Iain Duncan Smith, George Osborne and Theresa May were never sacked, but Grayling's monumental blunders at Ministry of Justice were so huge, and so regular that even David Cameron couldn't ignore them.

Theresa May's "feminism for the rich"


When the BBC announced the pay rates of their highest earning stars Theresa May was quick to wade into the debate to blast the gender disparity between the top earning male and female stars.

While the gender disparity amongst the top six-figure salary BBC stars is an issue, it's worth pointing out that Theresa May has absolutely no qualms about imposing policies that discriminate heavily against the poorest women in society.

Two high profile examples I mentioned at the time were the fact that 86% of the economic burden of Tory austerity dogma has been loaded onto the shoulders of women, and the Tory income requirements for non-EU spouses are twice as likely to force women to live in exile from the UK for the "crime" of falling in love with a foreigner as men*.

Another example of Tory discrimination against ordinary women has been catapulted into the news agenda as their outrageous anti-worker tribunal fees have been ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court on the grounds that the fees have the effect of preventing access to justice.

The Supreme Court ruling found that the Tory tribunal fee regime isn't just unlawful for preventing access to justice, but also because the way it puts women at a particular disadvantage is banned by the 2010 Equality Act.

The fact is that while Theresa May was crying tears of faux outrage about the earnings of extremely wealthy women earnings not matching the pay of extremely wealthy men, she was simultaneously fighting tooth and nail to preserve a system of tribunal fees that discriminates most heavily against low-income working women.

Just think about the searing hypocrisy of posing as a feminist when it comes to the salaries of some of the richest women in society whilst simultaneously battling all the way to the Supreme Court to defend her party's unlawful policy of pricing low income workers out of the justice system that hits the lowest income female workers the hardest of all.

This shocking hypocrisy from Theresa May is evidence that she's only a feminist if it's super-wealthy women like her facing injustice. If it's working-poor women facing injustice then she's determined to make the injustice even worse by deliberately pricing them out of the justice system when their bosses discriminate against them, sack them for getting pregnant or taking maternity leave, or sexually harass them at work.

Some people think that the misandrist anti-men ranters are the worst kind of feminists, but I disagree. These people certainly give feminists a bad name, but in reality they're not feminists at all, they're bigoted female supremacists.

The worst kind of feminist is the kind of feminist who only stands up for women's rights for their own elite class because they are totally and completely immune to their own privilege, or even worse, because they're driven by such hatred and contempt for "the lower orders" that they consider them unworthy of having the same rights as elites, like the right to freedom from discrimination for example.

Theresa May is a woman who is so riddled with elitism and class hatred that she's continued David Cameron's policy of economically persecuting low income women with austerity dogma to fund tax cuts for the mega-rich, and has fought tooth and nail all the way to the Supreme Court to continue the unlawful Tory policy of deliberately pricing low income female workers out of the justice system as a favour to bad employers.

She is only capable of caring about women's rights when it's comes to her own super-wealthy class because she believes in an elitist "feminism for the rich" where deliberate Tory gender discrimination against low-income female workers is perfectly fine as long as millionaire women have pay parity with millionaire men.

What's more Theresa May sees the even greater suffering faced by women in grotesque misogynistic societies like Saudi Arabia, or the women of Yemen suffering horrific Saudi war crimes, cholera and starvation as a small price worth paying in order to make £billions flogging the Saudis the British weapons they use to commit their war crimes with.

Theresa May doesn't give a damn about low income British women because she's a leading member of a political party that has been economically persecuting them and deliberately pricing them out of the justice system for years, and she gives even less of a damn about the even greater suffering of women in countries like Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

One of the most important things about feminism is recognising that the worst gender discrimination, misogyny and violence is almost always suffered by the most vulnerable women in society. 


Feminism isn't something that needs to be addressed top-down by ensuring gender parity amongst privileged millionaires as a priority, it's something that needs to be addressed from the bottom upwards by combating the harshest injustices as a priority, and one of the biggest obstacles to this bottom upwards approach to feminism is demonstrably Theresa May's Tory party.

It's beyond doubt that Theresa May believes in a sickeningly elitist form of feminism where women at the top of society deserve parity with men, but the lower down the social hierarchy, the fewer rights women deserve. 


She believes in this "feminism for the rich" so strongly that she actively and deliberately discriminates against low-income British women in numerous different ways whilst crying tears of outrage over the pay packets of millionaires.

In reality she gives so little concern to women she considers beneath her on the social hierarchy that she even wilfully colludes with the misogynistic Islamist tyrants who rule over Saudi Arabia.

Anyone who imagines that Theresa May is a legitimate feminist just because of her gender, or just because she cries faux tears of outrage over the suffering of her own elite class is a ridiculously gullible idiot who knows nothing about feminism whatever.



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* = During her time at the Home Office Theresa May was the actual architect of this deeply discriminatory policy of using economic apartheid rules to force British people to live in exile for the "crime" of falling in love with non-EU citizens. She doesn't give the slightest damn that these rules discriminate against women, especially women who live in poorer regions of the UK like the north east, south Wales, and Northern Ireland.

The Supreme Court has outlawed anti-worker Tory tribunal fees


In 2013 the Tory party introduced a truly sickening attack on workers' rights designed to deter from seeking justice when they'd been unfairly treated by their employers, but this attack on workers has been overturned by the Supreme Court.

Chris Grayling

The then-Justice Secretary Chris Grayling* introduced £1,200 fees for employment tribunals as a deliberate economic barrier to the justice system.


This callous Tory attack on the workers' right to seek compensation from bad employers meant that if your boss stole your wages, abused you in the workplace or sacked you for your age, gender, political views, pregnancy, illness, sexual orientation, trade union activities, ethnicity, or your refusal so suck his dick, you'd be assumed to be guilty of inventing the accusations and hit with a £1,200 fee in order to seek justice.

Adrian Beecroft

The idea of launching an ideological attack on the employment tribunal system dreamt up by the massive Tory donor Adrian Beecroft, who the Tories invited to draw up a wish-list of pro-corporate legislation he'd like to see enacted, and then rushed it through parliament with the help of the ever servile Lib-Dems.

Beecroft is a major investor in the payday loan company Wonga, and anyone should be able to see how further impoverishing low-paid workers by preventing them from seeking compensation for being unfairly sacked would create new profiteering opportunities for exploitative "legal loan shark" companies like Wonga.

It's sick enough that the Tories invited one of their mega-rich corporate donors to write up a wishlist of ro-corporate laws then enacted them for him, but that the guy had such an obvious financial conflict of interest in impoverishing sacked low-paid workers is absolutely outrageous.

Vince Cable

The Lib-Dems love to pretend that they moderated the Tories during the coalition years, but the new Lib-Dem leader Vince Cable was a principle cheerleader for these deeply illiberal and unlawful tribunal fees, describing sacked workers as scroungers with "time on their hands".

Now the Lib-Dems have the brass neck to pretend that they oppose these sickening and unlawful fees, but without their votes this ideologically driven Tory attack on workers' rights would never have seen the light of day.

Unison


The trade union Unison has been fighting these monstrous Tory tribunal fees all the way to the Supreme Court where they won a victory meaning that the tribunal fees must be scrapped, and the £27 million extracted from ordinary workers seeking justice must be refunded.

It's worth remembering that as the Tories continually try to pose as the party of hard working people, they're the ones who have overseen the longest sustained collapse in workers' wages in recorded history, they're the ones who introduced these grotesque and unlawful anti-worker tribunal fees, and it's trade unions who are fighting the anti-worker Tories every step of the way.

Tory sexism

Unfortunately this ruling will be no compensation to the tens of thousands of (majority female) workers who were deterred from seeking justice by impossibility of scraping together over a grand to pay these unlawful Tory tribunal fees.

The most affected workers of all were low-paid women seeking compensation for sex discrimination, or discrimination based on their pregnancy or maternity leave.

The number of women lodging pregnancy discrimination cases fell 40% because of these unlawful Tory fees, and the number lodging sex discrimination cases fell 82%!

It's astounding that Theresa May cried her crocodile tears over the gender disparity between BBC celebrities earning six figure salaries, but she was simultaneously fighting, all the way to the Supreme Court, to defend her party's unlawful tribunal fees that hit poor working women the hardest of all.

The Tory bad bosses' charter is dead

The £1,200 Tory tribunal fees simply acted as a bad bosses' charter, giving them the ability to abuse and discriminate against their lowest paid workers with impunity, safe in the knowledge that their workers would be highly unlikely to scrape together £1,200 in order to seek justice, especially if they've just been sacked.

During Theresa May's vanity election Labour pledged to scrap these obscene anti-worker tribunal fees, and thankfully the Supreme Court have ruled that Labour were right to want to scrap this unlawful Tory attack on workers.

Well done to the Supreme Court judges for recognising these fees as the affront to justice that they are. Well done to Labour (and the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party) for fighting to scrap these fees before they were outlawed. And most of all well done to Unison for fighting on behalf of ordinary workers all across the UK to tear down this outrageous Tory anti-worker barrier to the justice system.


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* = Chris Grayling is a serial failure of a politician who has made an absolute mess of every brief he's been given, yet he keeps bouncing back because the Tory party is suffering such a dearth of talent that he's all they've got. He's now working as the Tory transport secretary and his "achievements" so far include handing the Southweatern franchise over to the Chinese government to run (because Tory ideology bans the UK state from running UK transport infrastructure, but is fine with the Chinese state running UK infrastructure), proposing to hand the operation of our taxpayer-built HS2 direct to a foreign government (Italy, China or France) and scrapping much-needed rail infrastructure improvements in Wales and the north of England.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The proposed Trump-Tory trade deal is absolutely nothing to celebrate


The disgraced Liam Fox has been in America begging the United States for a trade deal to save face over the absolute shambles his Tory colleagues are making over Brexit, but be warned, any such Trump-Tory trade deal will be a disaster for Britain and the British people.

Donald Trump has scrawled a lunatic Twitter rant to talk up a trade deal and deride the EU as "protectionist". It's as if Trump sees EU nations protecting their own economies, workers and environments from monstrosities like chlorine-washed chicken products, US deregulation demands, the rapacious US private health sector, and the opaque and anti-democratic US-based ISDS legal industry as terrible "crimes" that he's confident that the Tory government won't dare to commit when grovelling for the trade deal they need so very much more than he does.

Trump may a bigoted loudmouth, but he's not too thick to see a dupe to be taken for every penny they've got when he sees one. And a nation that's backed itself into a diplomatic corner by turning its back on its main allies (8 of Britain's 10 biggest trading partners are in the Single Market) is just such a dupe as far as Trump is concerned.

Especially since it's a nation led by a bunch of inept self-serving charlatans with a long history of gleefully selling off their nation's assets and selling out their fellow citizens for a few pieces of corporate silver.

Brexiteer-in-chief Nigel Farage was quick to retweet Donald Trump's deranged raving as if it represented some kind of proof that Brexit Britain has a glorious future, rather than being proof that Mr "America First" is a total hypocrite when it comes to protectionism.

What Trump seems to be referring to with his accusation that the EU is "protectionist" is the breakdown of the of the proposed TTIP trade deal between the EU and the US, which is dead in the water because several EU27 nations have sworn to veto it.

Aside from the astounding hypocrisy of an accusation of protectionism from a President who keeps on espousing protectionist policies and blabbering on about "America First", there's also the fact that Brexiters like Nigel Farage who cynically used legitimate concerns about the TTIP corporate power grab to fearmonger about the EU are now wildly celebrating the idea of a Trump-Tory corporate power grab that would make TTIP look almost acceptable in comparison.

Nigel Farage and the Brexiters have manoeuvred the UK in this desperate position where we have to go begging Trump for a fanatically right-wing corporate feeding frenzy of a trade deal when the Americans know we're in such a diplomatically weak position that we'll have to cave in to all of their pro-corporate demands.

When it comes to your common Brexiter they're likely to be way too ill-informed to even acknowledge that we've put ourselves in such a desperate position of diplomatic weakness where we need a trade deal with the US a hell of a lot more than they need one with us.

But when it comes to the likes of Nigel Farage, the disgraced Liam Fox, and US-born Boris Johnson, you really wouldn't put it beyond them to have deliberately manoeuvred the UK into this position of subservience to US corporations because their loyalty to their corporate paymasters far exceeds their loyalty to Britain and the British people.


When the Americans begin demanding that we allow their chlorinated chicken and other abominations onto our supermarket shelves, that we trash our environmental standards and our workers' rights, that we carve open our NHS for the benefit of US health companies, and that we abandon our national sovereignty to allow secretive US based corporate tribunals to override our democratic and judicial systems, just remember Nigel Farage's smug face, and remember who was to blame for manipulating the UK into such a position of weakness that such a TTIP on steroids Trump-Tory corporate power grab could even be possible.

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Monday, 24 July 2017

Is anyone actually gullible enough to believe the Tory student debt lies?


Does anybody know a student or graduate who has actually been convinced by the Tory campaign of lies that Jeremy Corbyn has broken a promise to wipe out all student debt that he never actually made?

Everyone I've chatted to about the issue has said basically the same things:
The Tories relying so heavily on these ludicrously deceptive smears proves how absolutely bereft of ideas and policies they are.
The Tories have got incredible brass neck to try to weaponise student debt after they hiked tuition fees to £9,000 per year, lumbering 75% of graduates with debts they will never be able to pay off despite paying a permanent 9% social mobility tax on their disposable income.
The evolution of this deceptive propaganda story from an extreme-right Guido Fawkes blog post, to official Tory HQ propaganda, to the BBC Sunday politics shows (where the new Tory chief propagandist used to work until a few weeks ago) is yet more proof of the incredible pro-Tory mainstream media bias.
The fake Jeremy Corbyn-student debt smears are being used to divert the news agenda away from yet more malicious policies and blunders from the Tory party like ripping off some 7 million 1970s born people to the tune of £10,000 each by increasing their pension age, the absolute shambles they're making of the Brexit negotiations, the fact the UK is the slowest growing economy in the developed world, and the way they sneakily cancelled a load of much needed infrastructure investment projects on the last day of parliament.
If the Tories really wanted to attract the under-40 vote, they'd propose some actual policies to benefit under-40s, not spread easily disprovable lies about what Jeremy Corbyn said as a pathetic attempt to drive a wedge between Labour and the student vote.
I've not yet come across a single student or graduate who voted for Corbyn under the impression he'd ever vowed to write off all student debts (because he didn't), nor one who is gullible enough to have actually taken the Tory Corbyn/student debt fake news smear campaign at face value.

It's amazing that the Tories and their chums in the mainstream media have managed to stretch this completely fake story out for more than an entire week.

So why are they continuing to push it if it's so easy to disprove. The only conclusion is that they're assuming that students/graduates are so thick they can't differentiate between their own existing student debt burdens, and the student fees of future generations that Jeremy Corbyn did promise to scrap!

Assuming that students and graduates are a bunch of absolute thickos who are incapable of spotting such an obvious deception is definitely a gutsy move from Theresa May's propaganda team.


They honestly seem to hold students/graduates in such contempt that they think they'll mindlessly lap up their lies about student debt, instead of seeing their staggeringly dishonest framing of the issue as yet another reason to despise the Tory party and their professional propaganda attack dogs in the mainstream media.


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Sunday, 23 July 2017

The extreme-right Brexiter victim complex bites again



One of the most insidious things about extreme-rightg Brexit propagandists is the way that they deliberately foster victim-complex thinking. 

The latest example is an article on the Arron Banks bankrolled propaganda page Westmonster crying that the nasty EU is punishing the UK for leaving by not immediately agreeing to let Brits keep one of the primary benefits of EU membership after we leave.

Westmonster/Leave.EU

The EU referendum allowed the extreme-right fanatic Arron Banks a perfect opportunity to massively increase his influence over British politics by setting up a rival pro-Brexit campaign called Leave.EU (the one that used Nazi style imagery to fearmonger about refugees).

Instead of packing the campaign up after the referendum (like the official Vote Leave and the pro-Remain Stronger In Europe), Banks has opportunistically turned the Leave.EU into his own personal propaganda outfit.

Attracting over a million social media followers (867,000+ on Facebook, 133,000+ on Twitter) by waving a Brexit flag at them and then using this huge social media audience to promote the most fanatically right-wing interpretation of Brexit, bigoted xenophobia, pro-Trump propaganda, and endless links to his own Westmonster website (which is absolutely blathered in adverts for Banks' own Go Skippy car insurance company).

The EHIC card

The latest Westmonster/Leave.EU propaganda attack on the European Union entitled "Spiteful EU threatens to scrap free healthcare for Brits abroad" relates to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which currently allows EU citizens to travel in Europe and claim back the cost of any medical treatment from their home countries.

The Tories are arguing that British travellers in Europe should still have access to the EHIC scheme even after we quit the EU, but the EU negotiators have said that they need to study the issue further before making a decision.

Despite Theresa May and the Tories using the lives of EU citizens in the UK as disposable gambling chips in the negotiations, the extreme-right Westmonster/Leave.EU mob are spitting bile that the EU aren't immediately caving in and handing the UK one of the biggest advantages of EU membership!

Project fear

The possibility of the UK losing access to one of the really big benefits of EU membership as a consequence of quitting the EU was always pretty damned obvious, but you'll remember how the Brexiteers shrieked "project fear" at anyone who dared suggest that Brexit might be a highly complex process fraught with pitfalls and dangers for Brits and the British economy.

The likes of Arron Banks and the Leave.EU mob operated on the model of pushing blatant fearmongering and lies (like the Nazi style anti-refugee posters and the "eek Turkey is joining the EU" lies) and then howling "project fear" at anyone who raised legitimate doubts about the fact that the Brexiteers were clearly just making things up as they went along, with no actual plan for what to do if they actually managed to win the referendum with such despicable tactics.

Now they're having an absolute hissy fit because one of the potential consequences they dismissed as "project fear" during the referendum debate is still a possibility.

Brazen Tory propaganda

One thing that jumps straight out of the article is the claim that the UK made a "fair and serious offer" on EU citizens rights.

Anyone who did the slightest research knows that the UK ofer was an absolute insult that has been severely criticised by EU citizens in the UK, UK citizens in the EU, and which came 11 days after the submission of a much better and more comprehensive citizens' rights offer from the EU that went completely ignored by the Tories.

The fact that Westmonster chose to uncritically recycle the "fair and serious offer" Tory propaganda word for word just goes to show what their real agenda is. 

They have no intention whatever to hold the Tory government to account for the inept way they're handling Brexit because their primary objective is to spread hatred of the EU, not to get a good deal for British citizens.

Bullying

The word-for-word repetition of Tory propaganda appears in the most sickening paragraph of all:
"It's especially bad considering Theresa May has already made a 'fair and serious offer' to EU citizens living in Britain, allowing them to apply for settled status. But that was on the condition that British citizens living abroad would maintain their rights. So has the EU just kiboshed its own citizens getting a good deal too?"
There is no other way to read this than as a threat against EU citizens' living in the UK if the EU doesn't cave in and give Brits one of the main membership benefits of their "spiteful, vengeful dictatorship"!

If the EU don't let us keep our access to EHIC even after we've left, then the absolute insult of an offer on EU citizens' rights is going in the bin, presumably to be replaced with a very much worse collective punishment policy against EU citizens in the UK.

The Westmonster article basically says "give us what we want or we'll deliberately punish EU citizens living in the UK" and has the absolute gall to accuse the EU of being the spiteful bullies at the same time!

Endangering the negotiations

Framing the EHIC debate as a plucky honest UK taking on a "spiteful EU" is exactly the kind of extreme and divisive rhetoric that endangers the negotiations.

Just think about it for yourself for a moment: Which proposition would you be most likely to accept?

Arron Banks' extreme-right propaganda machine is poisoning the political debate over the EHIC card with divisive rhetoric accusing the EU negotiators of being "spiteful" people "sticking two fingers up at Britain" and the describing the EU as a "spiteful, vengeful dictatorship" all based on the fact that the EU aren't immediately caving in to Tory demands that Brits get to keep one of the primary benefits of membership of the ... err ... "spiteful, vengeful dictatorship"!
Could we continue with the existing arrangement we already have in this area because it has obvious benefits to both of us?
Give me what I want immediately you fucking spiteful bully or I'll collectively punish people you care about.
Even infant school children know that you're more likely to get what you want by being nice than by lobbing a load of insults and threats around.

Anyone who thinks that toxifying the Brexit negotiations with this kind of divisive extreme-right rhetoric is anything but an impediment to Britain getting a good deal has to be suffering extreme diplomatic illiteracy.

And only the most terrifyingly delusional of halfwits could possibly imagine that Brits will somehow retain access to the benefit of EHIC if the divisive rhetoric from the Arron Banks' propaganda mob succeeds in triggering a nuclear "no deal" Tory strop out of the EU.

 Victim-complexing

The idea that the EU are horrible bullies because they won't immediately cave in and hand the UK one of the prime benefits of EU membership is a classic example of the extreme-right victim-complexing propaganda tactic.

It doesn't really matter what the story is, the extreme-right will always find a way of framing it as a piteous victim narrative in order to dupe people into wallowing in self pity instead of actually engaging their critical thinking skills.

This tactic works a treat because once the extreme-right have inflated people's victim complexes to the size of hot air balloons, it only takes the slightest puff of hot air to get them all floating in the political direction they want them to, and the direction the Arron Banks/Westmonster/Leave.EU mob are blowing towards a socially and economically ruinous nuclear "no deal" Tory strop out of Europe.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.




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Saturday, 22 July 2017

Jack Straw helped create the illiberal secret court rules he's now using himself


In 2013 Tories and their Liberal Democrat enablers colluded to launch an an astounding attack on the concept of fair and open justice by creating a system of secret courts to protect the political establishment from scrutiny.

Secret courts (or Closed Material Proceedings as they are officially known) create the bizarre Kafkaesque circumstances that people can have their fates decided in courtrooms that they are not allowed to enter, based on evidence they are not allowed to see.

Not only does Theresa May's secret court legislation prevent citizens from seeing the evidence that is being used to determine their fate, it prevents their lawyers from seeing it too.

In March 2013 it was clear that the Tories and Lib-Dems had enough votes to pass Theresa May's attack on the justice system, but the Green MP Caroline Lucas tried to make two key amendments to the legislation in order to try to at least prevent outright abuse of the system.

One amendment was to prevent the use of secret court proceedings in civil cases, and the other was to ensure that judges have a legal obligation to consider the "public interest in the fair and open administration of justice" before any secret court proceeding could be launched.

Both of these amendments were voted down by the Tories, their Lib-Dem sidekicks and four liberty-hating Labour MPs.

One of the four Labour MPs who voted with Theresa May and the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition to defeat these amendments was the former Labour Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Fast-forward to 2017 and Jack Straw is facing a civil lawsuit alleging his complicity in the abduction and torture of a Libyan dissident and his pregnant wife in 2004.

After the fall of the Gadaffi government in 2011 incriminating documents were found that showed how members of the British security services tipped off the Americans about the whereabouts of the anti-Gadaffi Libyan dissident Abdelhakim Belhadj and his pregnant wife.The couple were then were then kidnapped by US forces, transported out of Malaysia on a torture flight to Tripoli and then handed over to the Libyan government, where they were then tortured and subjected to interrogation with numerous questions supplied to them by MI6.

Not only is there strong evidence that the UK colluded with Gadaffi's secret police torture centres under Jack Straw's watch, he also deliberately and brazenly lied in the House of Commons 2005 when he claimed that Britain had never been involved in any US torture flight operations.


Now Jack Straw and the MI6 agent Mark Allen are being sued for damages by the torture victims for their role in this kidnap-torture plot, and the judge Andrew Popplewell (a privately educated establishment insider) has decided to invoke secret court rules to allow the defendants to present secret evidence that cannot be seen by the victims, their lawyers, members of the press, or the public.

Had Caroline Lucas' amendments to Theresa May's monstrous attack on the justice system been passed (with the help of Jack Straw's parliamentary votes) then Jack Straw wouldn't now be able to obstruct the fair and open administration of justice by using secret court proceedings, presumably to hide evidence of his complicity in the plot from public scrutiny.

After the decision to allow secret court proceedings in the case was announced, Belhadj said that "I went through a secret trial once before, in Gaddafi’s Libya. It took about a half hour, and I never saw any of the evidence against me. Later a guard came to my cell and tossed in a red jumpsuit – that was how I found out that the secret court had sentenced me to die ... Fatima and I have stuck with this case for all these years because we believe the British system, unlike Gaddafi’s, can deliver justice. But what kind of a trial will it be if we put in a mountain of evidence and government officials can simply refuse to answer us?"


It's impossible to deny that Belhadj has a point here, especially in light of the fact that one of the actual defendants in the case actually voted this shockingly illiberal system of judicial secrecy into existence in the first place.

You really couldn't get a clearer example of a self-interested politician making up laws for their own personal benefit than this, but that's how the British establishment operate, with the likes of Theresa May and Jack Straw colluding to scratch each others' backs.

And that's why Jeremy Corbyn is seen as such a huge threat by the Westminster establishment, because he's never shown any inclination to participate in this cross-party collusion to protect establishment elitists from the consequences of their own actions.



 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.




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