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Theresa May’s Britain

I have only ever been able to discern two underlying motivations in Theresa May’s career; a love of office and a hatred of immigrants. It is possible to love office without loving power; loving power means you want to do something with it, whereas loving office is just for prestige and personal economic opportunity. I do not imagine May’s hatred of immigrants is driven by actual racism, easy though it is to read that into her hostile environment, go home van, end free movement, career. It is rather that the incredibly successful Tory narrative remains the false attribution of working class poverty to immigration, rather than its actual cause, massive inequality and an entire legal structure and system of government geared to promoting the interests of the super wealthy.

I do not understand the notion that we have a constitutional crisis. The solution seems self-evident. England and Wales voted to leave the EU, by a large margin if you take those two countries, which share a legal system, alone. Let them leave the EU. Scotland voted by a still larger majority to remain in the EU. Let it become Independent, remain in the EU, and not need to thwart the will of the English and Welsh to leave. And let Ireland forget its bigots and be a united country.

Constitutional crisis over. Indeed, that there is no other viable solution, and the UK is no longer a viable political unit, I can guarantee you will be universally recognised by the year 2030 as having been a self-evident truth. The actual dissolution of the UK will come ten years before that.

The BBC TV News was hyping the success of the British economy under Theresa May a couple of days ago on the basis of figures from the Office of National Statistics showing that the economic inactivity rate had fallen to 21%, the lowest since records began. But that needs to be considered alongside the fact that purchasing power of average wages is still below where it was ten years ago, and a huge swathe of the population is in insecure, part time and low paid employment.

The decline of leisure is not something to be celebrated. The shrinking of the “economically inactive” figure to 21% means that many pensioners are forced to keep on working because they cannot make ends meet on the developed world’s most miserly pensions, that parents of young children are forced both to stay in jobs rather than provide all the love, protection and affection they may wish. Every time Theresa May is questioned on the heartless fiasco of universal credit, she states its aim is to “get people back into work”, by which she means choose between starvation and vicious drudgery; with no rights, no prospects and low paid hours handed down as a favour.

Whether or not May stays as head of the Tory government, or is replaced by some other heartless Tory bastard, I really do not care. I have not been blogging much recently, in sheer exasperation at the enormity of societal injustice and the utter irrelevance of the available political system. But I guess we have to get back to chipping away at the marble facade of power with our tiny social media picks. One day it will fall.

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For Once, Theresa May is Very Accurate

Theresa May today chose to compare herself with Geoffrey Boycott. For once, she was being very accurate, especially when it comes to relationships with her own team. Boycott’s players hated him so much during his captaincy they actually ran him out on purpose during a test match.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/604169.html

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Theresa May’s Bad Faith

The Salzburg debacle was a low point of British diplomacy, because neither Number 10 nor the Brexit ministers paid any attention to the information being provided by Britain’s Embassies, which was that there is fizzing resentment in major capitals at what is viewed as Theresa May’s rank bad faith.

Good faith is an intangible, but it is the most important asset you can have in diplomatic negotiations, and building up trust is the most important skill in international relations. The EU remains genuinely concerned for the future of Ireland, which unlike the UK is a continuing member.

In December, after hard talks, the UK signed up to the Joint Report as the basis for negotiation. This contained the famous “backstop” on North/South Ireland relations. It is worth looking on what the text of the “backstop” actually says.

49. The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to
its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible
with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom’s intention is to achieve
these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible,
the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique
circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United
Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the
Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all island
economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.

What May is now saying is that it is impossible for Northern Ireland to maintain alignment with the rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union, when as per her Chequers plan the rest of the UK will not maintain that alignment. This would involve a border in the Irish Sea which, she repeatedly declaims, “no British government could accept”.

The problem is, she has already accepted it. There is no possible meaning of last December’s backstop agreement which does not involve profoundly different customs and regulatory rules for Northern Ireland, unless the UK remains part of the single market, which May has rejected. To state now that such difference for Northern Ireland is unacceptable for reasons of unionist fundamentalism, is too late. You signed up to it last December.

The humiliation of Salzburg occurred because there was never chance of any sympathy from EU member states for an attempt to dishonour the agreement of nine months ago. There is no way out of that conundrum. The government has belatedly remembered the existence of the FCO as a potential tool in international relations, and ambassadors in our Embassies in EU countries are currently staring in bafflement at dense and complex instructions urging them to convince their hosts that black is white.

I have refrained from comment on the Brexit negotiations, but among the rafts of mainstream media coverage, I have not seen this issue of May’s bad faith given the prominence it deserves. Whatever your stance on Brexit, conducting negotiations in this manner – the cliche of perfidious is in fact the best description – is a ludicrously ineffective way to behave. On the most profound political, economic and social transformation the UK has embarked on in decades, the Tory government is an utter shambles.

I personally changed my rose-tinted view of the EU after seeing its leaders line-up to applaud the Francoist paramilitary forces for clubbing grandmothers over the head for having the temerity to try to vote in Catalonia. My interest in Third Pillar cooperation ended there. But leaving the customs union appears to me a ridiculous act of self harm.

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Ripping Up Human Rights – Is This Theresa May’s Sheffield Rally Moment?

Confident of victory off the back of large numbers of murdered people changing the media agenda, a triumphalist Theresa May yesterday vowed – contrary to the Tory manifesto – to “rip up” human rights legislation.

This feels to me like it could be Theresa May’s “awright! awright! awright!” moment. Most of my readers will recall the 1992 election, where Neil Kinnock finished with a rally in Sheffield at which his high octane triumphalism was viewed by many of the public as revealing a rather unpleasant character, which possibly helped engender a shock last minute swing which lost him the election.

May’s Slough meeting is very different to that Sheffield rally – for one thing May’s crowd of Tory activists was tiny, and as always that BBC video uses tight focus to hide her lack of enthusiastic support. But what it has in common with Sheffield is hubris. I strongly suspect that ditching human rights is wildly popular among the rabid racist Brexiteers who constitute her core vote. Locking up Muslims without charge and throwing away the key will appeal to them. But a great deal of the rest of the population are bright enough to work out that proposal is likely to cause more, not less, terrorism. They will view May’s performance as presumptive and alarming.

Of course, abandoning human rights would make May’s Saudi friends feel more at home when they come to London to entertain call girls in their penthouses. But I expect May’s declaration may cost the Tories several seats, not least to the Liberals in South West London.

There is one very obvious point that the mainstream media has deliberately avoided. The Tories having made Brexit central to May’s campaign, there is no minister more crucial to the election than David Davis, the Brexit Secretary. Davis is a libertarian with a long and genuinely distinguished record in opposing human rights encroachments made in the name of the War on Terror. There is no way Davis is going to go along with substantial censorship of the internet, increased surveillance powers, and detention without trial. If May pushes ahead with her draconian plans, she will need a new Brexit Secretary.

For this reason, Davis has disappeared from the Tory campaign since the focus was shifted by the mainstream media to those conveniently timed terror attacks. They were especially conveniently timed for the Saudi sponsors of terror, as a Labour government would be committed to ending arms exports to Saudi, and would not support bombing Assad forces in support of jihadists in Syria.

Why has nobody in the mainstream media pointed out that Davis will not support May’s new anti-human rights proposals? Why have they not attempted to interview him on the subject?

Mainstream media spend thousands of hours probing differences within Labour. Yet this massive disagreement on what the media themselves have described as the main issue of the election, between the two major figures of the Conservative campaign, goes completely unremarked. Media silence. We must not question our masters.

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Those Theresa May Police Cuts

Here is a vivid illustration of how Theresa May crippled the Police during her seven years as Home Secretary. The figures and charts are from an official parliamentary document. I have merely added the wobbly red lines to indicate when Theresa May became Home Secretary. It is extremely plain what she did to the police.

Red Line = Theresa May Becomes Homes Secretary

Red Line = Theresa May Becomes Home Secretary

Red Line = Theresa May Becomes Homes Secretary

Red Line = Theresa May Becomes Homes Secretary

MEANWHILE IN SCOTLAND

This is a matter of choice by Theresa May. In Scotland in exactly the same period, policing was devolved to Holyrood. The SNP faced precisely the same budgetary pressures as the Home Office, but managed to maintain police numbers.

It is also worth noting that we were not comparatively over-policed. England and Wales are now well below the norm.

Finally this stunning riposte to the BBC tweeting out Tory propaganda.

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Theresa May Goes the Full Farage

Theresa May’s breathtaking claim that the EU is interfering in the general election has moved the Brexit negotiations to a whole new level of confrontation. Those who think that international negotiations on future trade relations are best conducted in an atmosphere of extreme mutual hostility, are nonsensical.

Good deals come from good relationships.

It is also extraordinary that May appears to be staking out her appeal exclusively on UKIP territory. I am quite sure she is following her own, natural, very right wing instincts. But by taking this aggressively right wing position, she is opening up a flank to the Liberal Democrats and severely endangering her prospects in Scotland, where UKIP never achieved anything like the traction it did in England. She also seems to be calculating that the ordinary Brexit voters take an extreme view and would welcome an absolute dust-up with the EU, irrespective of its long term effects on the UK.

Doubtless all of this was comprehensively polled and focus grouped, but I suspect she has miscalculated on a great many levels.

Now let us examine the truth of May’s claims of EU interference in a British election – a very serious charge indeed. These are May’s words today, presumably very carefully considered.

The European Commission’s negotiating stance has hardened. Threats against Britain have been issued by European politicians and officials. All of these acts have been deliberately timed to affect the result of the general election which will take place on 8 June.

Let us examine these claims. Firstly she says that the European Commission’s negotiating stance has hardened. But it has not. The European Council has just adopted the negotiating positions, which are precisely the same ones circulated by Donald Tusk before May announced the election. So those positions have not hardened. The Commission has today made plain that the financial settlement and rights for EU residents will have to be broadly settled before trade negotiations start. But again that was precisely their position before the election was announced.

So what has happened since the election was called which is new? Well, the European Council has affirmed that if, in accordance with the provisions of the Good Friday agreement, Ireland were to unite, the expanded Republic of Ireland would remain in the EU. But that is not a “negotiating stance” it is purely a reiteration of the pre-existing legal position in regard to the Good Friday Agreement.

Two things have arguably changed. An estimate of 100 billion euros has been put unofficially on the UK’s residual obligations, which is higher than previous estimates, but as this is a matter of collation of innumerable programme agreements different estimates are bound to emerge. As the Commission very reasonably pointed out today – while refusing to endorse the 100 million estimate – the residual obligations will depend on the date of actual Brexit, as yet unknown. The only real new point is the Commission’s legal claim that the UK is not entitled to a share of EU fixed assets. But the timing of this was dictated by a claim by Boris Johnson, so it was hardly an interference in the election.

So the alleged hardening of the Commission’s negotiating positions is a fiction. It simply does not exist.

May then says that threats have been made against the UK. I can find nothing that remotely constitutes a threat. To state that the trading position of a non-member must necessarily be weaker than the trading position of a member is not a threat, it is a statement of the obvious. May’s perception of threats is a paranoid delusion.

Finally, she claims that all this has been timed to affect the result of the general election. That is the weirdest claim of all.

The Downing St dinner at which May made a fool of herself was an initiative by May. She issued the invitation and she dictated the timing. It was not vicious foreign enemies who are all out to get her. She may be forgiven for being aggrieved that the poor opinions of her were leaked to the press. But anyone who knows anything about the EU knows that everything leaks, all the time. In general it is a very open institution. The Commission has in any case to report progress in the negotiations regularly to the European Parliament.

The other recent events – the European Council summit and the approval of the negotiating stance by the European Parliament – were all on schedules decided before May announced the election. So it was impossible that they were “deliberately timed to affect the result of the general election”, when nobody knew there was a general election at the point the timings were decided. The Council, Parliament and Commission press briefings which were set in train by these events were all absolutely routine and in no sense specially timed or orchestrated.

May’s attack on the EU is therefore demonstrably and indisputably untrue. All the events she alludes to happened either on dates agreed before the election was announced, or on dates decided by herself. It is an impossibility for them to have been timed to influence the election.

Having disposed of May’s cataclysmic rant, here is an interesting thought. From all round the country, TV news has been showing me constantly for days placards bearing Theresa May’s name but no mention of any political party. These placards therefore cannot count as national party advertising as they advertise no party. So they must count against May’s personal candidate spending limit in Maidenhead, where they are beamed wherever the placards may be held up, plainly doing no function other than to promote May personally as a candidate.

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Theresa May’s Fake “Meetings”

The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that many of those forming the “audience” for Theresa May’s speech in Crathes looked even less enthusiastic than usual.

The real Tories are very obvious to spot. But when you look at the BBC video from which this picture is taken, you can see that the others not only do not look enthusiastic, they do not join in the clapping. Do not take my word for it, watch the video – the body language, apart from the obvious Tories, is more of hostages than supporters.

My contacts in Banchory tell me that this is because, in a weird Tory return to the 19th century, it was made clear to tenants of the Crathes estate that they were expected to turn out to support strong and stable leadership. The heir to the estate, in whose name the hall was booked, is Alexander Burnett, old Etonian and Tory MSP. Which century are we in?

The area, “Royal” Deeside, is a magnet for rich retirees from Surrey and had the highest UKIP vote in the Scottish EU elections. It is perhaps the only part of Scotland in which May could truly feel at home.

The popular theory among election advisers is that the electorate are stupid and do not pay attention to elections. There is therefore no point in trying to discuss detail or make any intellectual explanation of policy dilemmas. All the electorate will notice are simple slogans, which can be repeated infinitely because most voters don’t pay attention and will only hear them two or three times.

The Tories are testing this theory to destruction in this election. Shielding May from any “real” encounters, from any debate with opponents, and from any questions except a very few from picked right wing media, they intend to coast to victory. In Scotland this approach is so at odds with the active citizenship that was inculcated by the referendum campaign, I believe it will fail badly. We will see.

So what did May say in Crathes? Well, according to the Guardian

“she had told her supporters that she was the only leader capable of providing “strong and stable leadership” for Britain as the country headed towards Brexit.
“At this election, people will have a clear choice between five years of strong and stable leadership with me and my team or a coalition of chaos led by Jeremy Corbyn,” she said.”

Which funnily enough is exactly what she told her supporters in Leeds at her last “meeting”. That was remarkable because, in one of the most ethnically diverse districts in the UK, she spoke to what looked exactly like a Broederbond gathering.

I was delighted that the Metro newspaper conducted a sober appraisal of my statement that Tory policies are identical in most important respects to the BNP manifesto of 2005, and found I was right. You might imagine that might cause May’s advisers at least to try to make her meetings not look like BNP gatherings. But evidently they have decided it is more important to continue to prioritise the racist vote. The are banking on it being all white on election night.

May meets nobody except ardent Tories or those in no position to argue – employees of companies in their workplace or tenants. It is appalling abuse of power.

May is simply refusing to participate in democracy – which involves candidates being open to question and debate. There is really little point in having an election of this kind. Which presumably explains this question being asked in YouGove’s current political poll.

It is all extraordinarily sad, and I suppose the saddest thing of all is media complicity in this non-election – of which the latest and dreadful example is STV’s decision to exclude the Green Party from the Scottish leadership debate.

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Theresa May’s Brittle Shield Wall

Pollster YouGove is into full on propaganda mode. They present results dished up with explanatory press releases for right wing journalists to push. This one was commissioned by Murdoch.

But if you burrow down into the actual data, which no journalist ever does, sometimes there are results which are quite interesting. It is important of course to note that the sample is a self-selecting one of the kind of people who volunteer for online polls, and is then adjusted to account for a number of things including a historic tendency to underrate the Tory vote, so the Tory numbers are consciously increased.

The first warning light flashes at me in the subsamples. The headline 48-24% Tory lead over Labour includes an extraordinary 29% Tory vote in Scotland. That is quite simply impossible. If it proves to be true, I will walk the length of Holyrood Road on my knees. It is bollocks.

That aside, the brittleness of the support the media have whipped up for hard Brexit is shown in a series of questions about the EU. Now it is true – and this was headlined by YouGove and the media – that by a narrow 46-43% the poll states that people believe Britain is right to leave the European Union. (32-60% in Scotland).

But dig into that and you find that support for May’s Brexit is quite extraordinarily brittle. This is the truly striking lesson from this poll, and nobody has picked up on it.

Look at the answers to these questions. In each case I have excluded the don’t knows and recalculated from the table:

Do you think Britain will be better off or worse off after we leave the EU?
Better off: 33%
Worse off: 44%
No Diff 23%

Do you think Britain will have more or less influence in the world after we leave the EU?
More influence: 23%
Less influence: 43%
No Diff: 34%

Do you think leaving the EU will have a good or bad effect on British jobs?

Good for jobs: 29%
Bad for jobs: 41%
No Difference: 30%

Do you think leaving the EU will have a good or bad effect on British pensions?

Good for pensions: 10%
Bad for pensions: 32%
No Difference: 58%

Do you think that leaving the EU will have a good or bad effect on the NHS?

Good for the NHS: 30%
Bad for the NHS: 34%
No Difference: 36%

Do you think there will be more or less immigration into the UK after we leave the EU?

More immigration: 3%
Less immigration: 56%
No Difference: 41%

So Theresa May wishes to hustle to a quick election victory on what she views as a national consensus building around hard Brexit. But that consensus is extremely brittle.

A majority of the population believe that Brexit is bad for the economy, bad for jobs, bad for the NHS, bad for pensions and bad for British influence in the world. The population are being stampeded into a direction that they plainly believe to be against their own self-interest. This makes May extraordinarily vulnerable to pushback on the EU. That should benefit the LibDems. It also shows that the SNP is wrong to backpedal on the EU to placate the Sillars vote. The pro-EU answers to each of those questions in Scotland alone are simply overwhelming.

Brexit’s only salience is on one single issue: immigration. But this poll does something still more interesting. It provides absolute proof of what I have been observing and commenting on for the past ten years, that the anti-immigration movement is founded on pure and simple racism.

Cutting immigration is the only alleged positive a majority see from Brexit. But they do not believe that this cutting of immigration will improve jobs, the economy, pensions, or the NHS. All the canting justifications for cutting immigration are cut through, because this poll reveals that people do not expect to see any of those effects. No, Brexiteers want to cut immigration simply because they are racists and do not like foreigners.

But given that May wants to fight this election solely on Brexit, and given that the only area of traction Brexit has is immigration, we can expect to see the nastiest anti-immigration campaign ever waged by a mainstream party. We can also expect to see repeatedly what Adam Boulton did to the Lib Dems Sarah Ludford on Sky News and hour ago. As soon as the EU was mentioned, Boulton aggressively intervened by invoking dog-whistle anti-immigration racism.

That is why Conservative policy today is near identical to the BNP manifesto of 2005, which promised:

– Severe cuts in immigration
– Leaving the EU
– Bringing back grammar schools
– Increased military spending
– More “security” and “strong leadership”
– Foreign policy driven by “British national interest” not human rights
– Reduce development aid

A Tory vote is a racist vote. Full stop.

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Theresa May Moves to Replace Devolution with Westminster Control

Forget media spin. Read Theresa May’s actual unvarnished words. In Glasgow today she notified Scotland of a specific intention for Westminster to intervene in devolved areas to “improve outcomes” in Scotland. There is no other possible logical analysis of the following long passage:

But the devolution of powers across the United Kingdom must not mean we become a looser and weaker union.
We cannot allow our United Kingdom to drift apart.
For too long the attitude in Whitehall has been to ‘devolve and forget’.
But as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I am just as concerned that young people in Dundee get a good start in life and receive the education they need to reach their full potential as I am about young people in Doncaster and Dartford.
I care as much about the dignity and security of older people on both sides of the River Tweed or the Irish Sea.
The economic prosperity of the UK as a whole depends on young people in all parts of the UK having the skills they need to reach their full potential.
And people who have worked hard all their lives and made a contribution to society are everyone’s concern.
It goes back to the fundamental unity of the British people which underwrites our whole existence as a United Kingdom.
We are all diminished when any part of the UK is held back, and we all share in the success when we prosper.
In Government that principle is called ‘collective responsibility’.
We need to build a new ‘collective responsibility’ across the United Kingdom, which unites all layers of government, to work positively together to improve the lives of everyone in our country.
As the Government serving the whole United Kingdom, formed in a Parliament drawn from the whole United Kingdom, the UK Government exercises a responsibility on behalf of the whole UK that transcends party politics and encompasses all aspects of our national life.
While fully respecting, and indeed strengthening, the devolution settlements and the devolved administrations across the UK, we must unashamedly assert this fundamental responsibility on our part.
So in those reserved policy areas where we govern directly for the whole United Kingdom, we will explicitly look to the interests of the Union – both the parts and the whole – in our policy-making.
And in policy areas where responsibilities are devolved, we will look for ways to collaborate and work together with the devolved administrations to improve the outcomes for everyone.

The meaning could not be more clear, especially following a long litany of claims that SNP rule in Holyrood had failed in every area of devolved power. You can read the full text here.

May seems to be suffering an extraordinary degree of hubris; she sees the Tories having achieved very slightly over half of the SNP vote at the Holyrood elections as a sign of mass popularity. She is laying down that Unionism means Unionism just as purely as Brexit means Brexit. Devolution is only represented in her speech as an evil that must be guarded against.

It is perhaps unsurprising that May did not mention anywhere that Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, and did not mention any possibility for special provision in Scotland’s future relationship with the EU. But that she did not even pay lip service to the notion of devolution as a good thing is surprising, and I am frankly astonished that she boldly asserted an intention for greater Westminster interference in current devolved areas.

This is a colossal act of hubris from a woman confident she faces no serious political resistance. That she adopts in Glasgow the false Thatcher like voice and rhetorical style that goes down so well with UKIP leaning Tories is indicative of the shallowness of her experience and the depth of her misjudgement.

Theresa May’s declaration of war on devolution today will come to be seen as a key moment in our path to Independence.

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Theresa May’s Terrible Instincts

In December 2002 I cooperated closely with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, who was paying an inspection visit to Uzbekistan. As I recorded in Murder in Samarkand “against the protocols, the Uzbek authorities refused to let him enter the SNB holding centre in Tashkent, the most notorious of all the torture sites.” I upbraided the Uzbek Foreign Minister for this.

That kind of contempt of the UN is perhaps expected of dictatorships. But consider this. The Immigration detention centre at Yarls Wood became notorious for the sexual exploitation of female detainees by staff, on a large scale. In April 2015 the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo, visited the UK. The government denied her entry to Yarls Wood. In accordance with UN protocols, she went anyway, and was blocked from entering – on the direct orders of Home Secretary Theresa May

You very probably did not know that, because the great problem our society faces is an over-mighty executive government backed by corporate wealth which controls a corporate media. But it is typical of May’s instincts, and they are terrible. Her default position is retreat into secrecy and blatant abuse of power. That is precisely what we are seeing over Brexit, where there is no plan and much to hide. May’s natural instinct is to brook no opposition, debate or discussion of her actions, but to proceed on the basis of executive fiat, with as little information as possible given to parliament, devolved authorities and – Heaven forfend – the public.

Everything you do on the web is now stored for twelve months by the security services. They can hack into your laptop or phone to see what is on there without any conditions at all. Not only do they not need to convince a judge you are suspected of a crime, they do not need to even pretend to actually suspect you of anything at all. They can just decide to target you and go fishing. The UK has now zero right to online privacy and the most vicious security service powers of any democracy. Indeed when you combine powers with capability (and the security service are recruiting tens of thousands more staff to our stasi state) the UK is now the most authoritarian country in the world. The legislation. passed this week, was framed by Theresa May as Home Secretary and received no significant opposition from the UK’s complicit political class.

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This mass gathering of data is nothing to do with fighting terrorism – being lost in a massive ocean of irrelevant data is actually a major hindrance to fighting terrorism. It is about social control. I have nowhere heard this better explained than by John Kiriakou, former senior CIA agent who was jailed as part of the Obama administration’s vicious war on whistleblowers, after Kiriakou blew the whistle on CIA torture. Kiriakou’s speech on receiving the Sam Adams award in Washington is well worth hearing, and beings 1 hour and 3 minutes in here.

It was May who sent poster vans around London urging immigrants to go home, and whose anti-immigrant instincts were so strong she banned the tiny number of Afghan interpreters for UK armed forces from being given asylum in the UK. That May is intellectually out of her depth is plain even to Conservatives every Prime Minister’s question time in the Commons. Expect her to fall back more and more on those instincts for secrecy and authoritarianism – and the abuse of the massive powers of the state.

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The Significance of Theresa May’s Disgraceful Quote

Theresa May’s disgraceful quoting with approval at Prime Minister’s Questions an anti-Corbyn twitter user has been grossly under-reported – and that under-reporting is itself part of what makes this of enormous signficance. But first just consider this sample of the account from which the UK’s Prime Minister quoted:

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Collins right wing laddism crosses the line into the grossly offensive and unacceptable. It is a puerile display of sexist, racist and anti-disabled hatred.

May’s folly in quoting Collins is extremely important for two reasons.

Firstly, if either Nicola Sturgeon or Jeremy Corbyn had done this they would be under simply colossal pressure from the mainstream media. Tarring by association has been the backbone of the mainstream media campaigns against both Corbyn and the SNP, and pages after page and headline after headline have been concocted around the slightest association of Corbyn, Sturgeon or Salmond with people a great deal less vile than Collins, over just single intemperate social media entries.

Will anybody attempt to deny it is true that if Corbyn or Sturgeon quoted a twitter account as offensive as this one it would be massive front page headlines?

Secondly, it is important because May’s tactic at Prime Minister’s Questions is to ignore the question asked, but reply with a pre-arranged jibe about Jeremy Corbyn. That is precisely what happened here. The “joke” quoting Lewis Collins by name was written by one of May’s political advisers – paid by the taxpayer – and then read out by her. May claimed that “Lewis’s” comment had been selected from replies to a Corbyn social media tweet canvassing public opinion. It seems to me massively improbable that this is true. Tory advisers are not sifting through tens of thousands of public social media replies to Jeremy Corbyn, and then happening to hit on this Tory commenter.

The truth is rather that Collins’ gross Tory laddism appeals to Tory professionals, and that May’s adviser who wrote the question is almost certainly a follower or fan of Lewis Collins’ output. And that seems to me to tell us something very significant indeed about this Tory government.

May needs not only to apologise profoundly for having quoted Collins, she needs to identify who wrote this answer for her. And sack them.

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Theresa May, Your New Islamophobic Prime Minister?

A quick Google news search for “Theresa May and “Abu Qatada” reveals over 2,000 mainstream media articles in the last three days combining both. This is hardly surprising, as in her speech announcing her candidacy for Tory leader (and thus PM) May dwelt on her deportation of Abu Qatada as evidence she was qualified for the job. The May supporting Tory MP who was put up for Sky to interview immediately afterwards managed to say “Abu Qatada” three times in a two minute interview.

Abu Qatada should indeed be a powerful symbol – but not the symbol he has become, a hate figure. He should rather be a symbol of the hate-filled and intolerant place Britain has become, and the dreadful injustice meted out to individuals both by the state and the media.

Abu Qatada spent, over a thirteen year period, a total of nine years in jail in England despite never being charged with any crime. It is not just that he was not convicted. He was never charged. Nine years, think about it. In all that time, neither he nor his lawyers were ever permitted to see the accusations or evidence against him.

Britain has draconian anti-terrorism laws that would make a dictatorship blush. It is an offence to “glorify” terrorism. It is specifically “terrorism” for me to write, here and now, that Nelson Mandela was justified in supporting the bombing campaign that got him arrested. I just knowingly committed “glorifying terrorism” under British law. It is specifically “terrorism” to deface the property in the UK of a foreign state with a political motive. If I spray “Gay Pride” on the Saudi embassy, that is terrorism. We also have secret courts, where “terrorists” can be convicted without ever seeing the “intelligence-based” evidence against them. We have convicted young idiots for discussing terror fantasies online. We have convicted a wife who “must have known” what her husband was doing (at least that one was overturned on appeal).

Yet even with the bar so low it is resting on the ground, from his first arrest in 2001 to his deportation in 2013, through innumerable arrests, police interviews, wiretaps, computer seizures and searches, no evidence against Abu Qatada was ever found which would stand up in court. It is worth noting that if almost any of the vast number of accusations the tabloids made against him had been true, for example if he had actually said in sermons the things he was stated to have said in the UK press, he could have been charged and convicted. But investigation by the police and security services found every single one of these claims to be false.

It is true that Theresa May did succeed in deporting him. To Jordan, where he faced charges of association with terrorist groups. In two trials, one before a military tribunal, Abu Qatada was found not guilty of association with terrorism and all other charges. It should be very plainly understood that the Jordanian monarchy is no friend at all to Palestinian salafist clerics like Abu Qatada, and he had good reason to fear being deported there. But even they found that the evidence Abu Qatada is a terrorist does not exist.

Now I have never met him, though I have met his lawyers and doctor. Abu Qatada holds views with which I do not agree; I dislike the bigoted in any religion. But his main crime appears to have been to be a Palestinian cleric with a perfect comic opera appearance for the right wing media to make up quotes and hate stories around.

Abu-Qatada_2111808c

This picture is taken from a hilarious Daily Telegraph article in which that author complains that Abu Qatada had “fooled us again” – by the dastardly expedient of not actually committing any crimes.

So if you are proud of a world in which people against whom there is not one shred of court-worthy evidence, who have never been charged, can be detained for nine years and then deported, vote for Theresa May as PM. I expect the Tories will, happily.

Abu Qatada should indeed be a symbol. He should be a symbol of the deepest national disgrace of unjustified imprisonment and of the foul place the United Kingdom has become under successive far right Labour and Tory governments. And I say far right with deliberation. In what other kind of country could the story of Abu Qatada happen?

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Theresa May Condemns Majid Ali and Defies Scotland

Despite numerous representations and an Early Day Motion signed by the large majority of Scotland’s MPs, Theresa May has ordered that Majid Ali, a Glasgow City College student, be deported back to almost certain torture and probable death in Pakistan in just twenty minutes from now. I attended the demonstration on his behalf yesterday at the Scottish Office.

Majid is a member of the much persecuted Baloch minority. Two of his immediate family have been “disappeared” by the Pakistani military since his asylum application was submitted. There is no doubt that given the numerous MP’s who have raised his case, and the well-supported early day motion, civil servants will have put the decision to May personally. She was however not even prepared to grant a delay for a look at the evidence. May is very likely not merely pandering to the racist UKIP voting electorate – she is on the far right of politics herself. The callous sacrifice of Majid Ali is proof, if any more were needed, that this Conservative administration is nothing to do with Cameron’s purported “compassionate conservatism.” They are the nasty party indeed.

But it also gives a stark example of the meaningless nature of the “enhanced devolution” in the new Scotland Act. Majid Ali’s community and Scotland’s elected representatives all want to keep him here, as an asset to his community and to our country. But even once the new Scotland Act is passed, it still would be Theresa May and the London Home Office who are the arbiters in all immigration and nationality matters.

For me, independence is the answer, and the only way Scotland will be able to operate as an ethical state. But for those Scots gradualists who actually believe in this devolution distraction, the absence of any input in immigration matters is a crucial example of how inadequate the proposed “new powers” are.

The majority of all extant UK statute laws apply equally in England and Scotland, but in Scotland are enforced by different administrative and judicial processes. While the UK is unfortunately a single state, it will have the same laws and regulations on immigration applying throughout. But there is no reason whatsoever that, as with so many other areas of law, the administration, judicial function and discretionary powers under the laws should not be devolved from London to Scotland as regards persons in Scotland.

That this is not so much as on the table shows how sham are the proposed “extra powers”. And that Majid Ali is being deported by Theresa May against universal Scottish opinion, shows the contempt which this Tory government intends to display against Scotland.

Assuming the deportation go ahead, the next useful step is to put pressure on Theresa May through letters to MPs to account for what happens to him after his return. There is a chance that forcing the British Government to make enquiries of the Pakistani Government about him may just keep him alive.

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Theresa May Must Resign

There was never any doubt that the accusation of terrorism against Moazzam Begg was, once again, a tissue of politically motivated lies. What is still more appalling, I am told by a Home Office source that the decision to arrest and detain him was taken by Theresa May herself. This involvement of politicians in the abuse of individuals by the state is appalling.

Jacqui Smith did the same thing as Home Secretary, grandstanding about her role in the front page arrest of twelve Muslims in the North West of England, not one of whom was charged with any offence. The “bomb ingredient” the police found on that occasion turned out to be nothing but sugar.

Theresa May was lording it at the Tory party conference with a ludicrous speech about combating the “terrorist menace” which we are bombing Iraq to enhance, not decrease. At the same time as being acclaimed for further attacks on civil liberties, she was responsible for the completely unjustified imprisonment of the Muslim community’s most elegant spokesman against abuses, including torture, of state power against Muslims.

The other disgusting aspect of this case is the complicity of the judicial system with the state in the abuse of liberty by right wing politicians. There are no longer any effective checks on executive power in the British state. To cap this cycle of total power, Sky News last night were suggesting (and I understand behind the Murdoch paywall it is being propagated today) that Moazzam really is a terrorist and had been released as an appeasement to aid Islamic State British hostages. This total lie is a further snide attack by the terror state.

The truth of the persecution of Begg, who was detained to stop him researching British complicity in extraordinary rendition to Syria by Blair and Straw, is evidently something the Establishment does not want to enter a wider public consciousness.

In any decent society, Theresa May would have to resign over her involvement in the appalling mistreatment of Moazzam Begg. Instead she is touted as a future Prime Minister for the toughness on “terrorism”. That tells you everything about what a stinking, corrupt society the United Kingdom now has become.

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Theresa May’s Threats

The problem with not being independent is that Scotland would continue to be ruled by people like Theresa May. Her threat to close the border is a patent bluff, and motivated by racism.  Her fear is that “Buried deep in Alex Salmond’s white paper is the admission that, just like the last Labour government, a separate Scotland would pursue a looser immigration policy.”

It is neither hidden nor an admission.  Scotland welcomes immigrants who contribute to its economy and its culture.  Scotland doesn’t have a politics of pandering to racists. That is one of the things which so many Scots want to get away from.

There is no way that independent Scotland will be forced out of the EU.  First, there are no grounds for the assumption that WENI will be the successor state and Scotland a legal new entity; the Czechs and Slovaks, for example, both inherited the entire treaty obligations of the former Czechoslovakia.  But even if Scotland did have to reapply – which I doubt strongly – Scotland already meets the acquis communitaire, by definition.  The Commission report establishing that would be prepared in the transitional period between the referendum and actual independence, and Scotland’s application and acceptance would be a same day process.  If Spain wanted to stop that – and many anti-Catalan Spanish politicians are intelligent enough to realize that extreme hostility to the Scots would provoke more, not less, Catalan nationalism – Spain does not have the political clout within the EU, and is in too dependent a position to isolate itself by a veto.

I worked for four years as First Secretary in the British Embassy in Warsaw specifically on Polish preparations for EU entry, and I know what I am talking about – indeed I have no doubt I know a great deal more about EU accession than Teresa May.  I also know that there is enormous sympathy for Scottish nationalism right across the EU’s international relations community, be it national politicians and diplomats or EU staff.  You would be surprised just how much ground has been quietly prepared by Scottish diplomats and civil servants in advance, sotto voce, in our spare time! With Scotland firmly committed to the EU, and the Conservative Party committed to a referendum on leaving, those who believe the EU’s sympathies lie more with May than with Scotland are deluded.

Actually nobody does really believe that, the propagandists of the mainstream media merely want you to believe it.

 

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Crushing Dissent: What Theresa Erdogan May’s “Election” Really Looks Like

This taxi driver was the only member of the public who managed to get anywhere near Theresa May on her much publicised “meet the people” election visit to Bolton yesterday. As not one local person was allowed to speak to her, he is expressing his views in the only way available. He is also exercising his essential democratic right to make his views plain during an election.

This is a policeman from May’s escort immediately moving in to crush any sign of dissent.
The still below does not capture how aggressive the policeman on the motorcycle is. He repeatedly thrusts his pointing finger towards the drivers’ face in an aggressive gesture I have seen used by “law enforcement” in dictatorships all around the world. You get the full idea only by watching the video.

That May’s police escort see it as their job to prevent any expression of dissent says everything about the kind of Britain she is creating. It goes along with her failure, twice, to accept Angus Robertson’s invitation to distance herself from the Daily Mail’s “Crush the Saboteurs” headline.

Disciplinary action should be taken against the policeman for the harassment of that driver – who it should be noted had already been forced to halt and pull aside for a period of time to let May’s convoy pass, and had complied. That we have a police force who think you are not allowed to show dissent to the Prime Minister is deeply troubling.

Visiting Bolton yesterday, May arrived by helicopter, was whisked through town in an armoured convoy, spoke to a tiny audience of vetted conservatives, refused to answer any questions, and was whisked out again. In a precise example of what we have to expect in the next six weeks the BBC reported she had been to “meet the people”, and then gave us a series of vox pops from Labour voters in Bolton who were switching to Conservative.

The media picture with which we are presented is not just a distortion, it is the polar opposite of the reality. It was not a “meet the people” visit, it was an “avoid the people” visit. With not even other members of the political establishment being allowed to question her in debate, this is an Uzbek style election in the UK.

Hat tip – and link above – to Tom Pride.

UPDATE: For those having video troubles – here it is below

Direct Link

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Johnson and May Hide as their Lies Dissolve

The government has attempted to control the narrative by finally admitting, as they have known for three weeks and just ahead of the OPCW experts coming out and saying so, that there is no evidence the substance used in the Salisbury attack was made in Russia. You can see the interview with the Chief Executive Officer of Porton Down only in this tweet from Sky here.

If anyone can make a copy and send me, or make a safe permanent posting I can link to, I should be grateful (contact button top right). Only a very short clip is on Sky’s website and I am anxious to preserve it for reasons I shall explain.

In modern Tory Britain, it should be no surprise to anybody that, to be the Chief Executive of Britain’s chemical weapons establishment, they recruited a radio salesman:

Aitkenhead’s PR skills were clearly thought sufficient to get across the government’s key propaganda points, and his struggle to do this throughout the Sky interview is telling. Aitkenhead has been in an extremely difficult position for the past three weeks, standing between his scientists who are adamant they will not say the substance was made in Russia, and the government who have been pushing extremely hard for them to do so.

At 5 mins 30 sec into this interview Boris Johnson directly lies about what Porton Down had told him:

It is very plain that what Aitkenhead is saying to Sky is “the scientists cannot establish it is from Russia. But the government claims to have intelligence sources that show that it is.” His struggle to fit the formulations he has been given to parrot this sense as more effective propaganda, into answers to the pretty good questions he is being asked, is almost comic: “ummm” and “errr” come into it a lot. You have to remember that the precise forms of words to be used in official parlance had been the subject of tense negotiation between the scientists and the Porton Down bureaucrats, and then between the Porton Down bureaucrats and MOD Whitehall officials, and then between MOD officials and FCO and security service officials in the Joint Intelligence Committee, before being signed off by ministers. It is a process I know intimately from the inside. This reconciliation of conflicting interests is why at the start Aitkenhead says it is “Novichok” confidently, but at 1 min 30 sec in he says the more truthful “Novichok or from that family”, which accords with the evidence Porton Down gave to the High Court.

But the key moment comes at 3 min 27 secs in. Aitkenhead’s government minders were evidently unhappy with the interview, and the last passage is a statement, not in answer to any question, of the government’s propaganda position which is a very bad edit and clearly tacked on after the interview had finished. They get the continuity wrong – it is not only a wider shot, the camera and tripod have clearly been moved. It is in this final statement that, in a desperate last minute attempt to implicate Russia, Aitkenhead states that making this nerve agent required

“extremely sophisticated methods to create , something probably only within the capabilities of a state actor.”

Very strangely, Sky News only give the briefest clip of the interview on this article on their website reporting it. And the report is highly tendentious: for example it states

However, he confirmed the substance required “extremely sophisticated methods to create, something only in the capabilities of a state actor”.

Deleting the “probably” is a piece of utterly tendentious journalism by Sky’s Paul Kelso. Interestingly, I have never seen such large scale and coordinated social media activity by the Tories as kicked into action immediately following Aitkenhead’s interview. Hundreds of openly identified Tory activists sprang into action using the “state actor” line – omitting the probably – and “government has other sources” line. The BBC contribution was completely to ignore the Porton Down statement and pretend nothing had happened. As part of what was clearly a coordinated PR strategy to pre-empt the OPCW and get over the hurdle of government lies while still blaming Russia, Boris Johnson and Theresa May simply lay low, unavailable to the media.

I shall post shortly a considered assessment of the wider analysis of what could have happened in Salibury. Here is my immediate reaction to Aitkenhead’s statement on Russia Today. Strangely the BBC did not invite me.

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BBC Question Time Corbyn and May

Good finish by Corbyn on tuition fees. But overall not a clear win for either, with a peculiarly lacklustre audience. Probably better for May as she exceeded expectations by not positively falling on her arse.

Corbyn finally showing some real passion in responding to a particularly Neanderthal Tory. Dimbleby steps in to undercut him.

Nuclear destruction, IRA, anti-Semitism, Diane Abbott, Brexit – every dull Tory attack line been trotted out. Audience seem half asleep.

Corbyn being helped by some really nasty arrogant Tories being allowed questions on keeping people’s wages down.

Audience Adam thinks that firing a nuclear weapon would preserve his safety. No Adam you would be dust very quickly after that. Without a huge diminution in intelligence evidently.

Dimbleby “I may come back to education and the economy”… but let’s get on to the firing nuclear weapons Tory attack meme. More important obviously.

Corbyn should reference the continual vilification of Diana Abbott as a gross example of racism.

BBC kick off with Corbyn on Brexit followed by coalition with SNP – BBC exactly following Tory attack agenda.

May got out of that without major damage. Unsympathetic and flinty to nurses and slipped into prepared rhetoric on education, but less stilted than usual.

May getting through this OK, aided by the BBC having selected audience critics who are mostly unusually inarticulate.

May told a blatant lie about Diane Abbott wanting to remove terrorists from DNA databases. I don’t think this kind of slur really helps her.

May stuttering and stumbling horribly as she lies about whether her manifesto changed over social care policy

For Theresa May the BBC immediately steer the subject straight on to the Tories’ preferred subject of Brexit.

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The Gospel According To May

Thanks @ROBN1980 for this illustration

On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethseda.
When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing.
Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, Lord the people are hungry.
Now Jesus turned to them and said “There are many complex reasons why people are hungry. The best way out of poverty is for them to get a job. Now bugger off while I eat these five loaves and two fishes.”
Now one amongst the faithful, a man named Marr, arose and said, “Lord, many of them do have a job, and yet they are still hungry. Behold, even here are hungry nurses”.
And the people were sore perplexed.
And Jesus looked upon the nurses and he said “Physicians, heal thyselves. Ha! See what I did there? Now bugger off and let me eat these loaves and fishes.”
Upon having refreshed himself with the loaves and fishes, Jesus turned to the text of his authorised biography.
On reading the story of his birth, Jesus called Luke and said unto him “Thou art my beloved biographer, in whom I am well pleased”.
“Verily, this story of my birth is well written. It will sell for many years. The Nativity will have a strong stable readership. Ha! See what I did there?”
“Now clear off and give me some peace, I have to send a letter to Tim Farron upon the evils of sodomy.”

Explanatory note: On the Marr programme today, Theresa May responded to an Andrew Marr question about nurses having to use foodbanks, having suffered a 14% wage cut since 2010. May, a strongly professed Christian, replied “there are many complex reasons why people use foodbanks” and “the best way out of poverty is to get a job.”

One Tory line which May used on both Marr and Peston, I have seen trotted out by the media themselves repeatedly in the last few days. May stated that under the Tories, the wealthiest 1% of taxpayers pay a higher proportion of taxes than ever under Labour. Adam Boulton was pushing this line on Sky News recently, using the figure that the wealthiest 1% pay 29% of income tax.

I have seen nobody make the obvious rejoinder. Under the Tories the wealthiest 1% have the greatest percentage of national income in modern political history. That is why they pay more tax. But due to tax avoidance, it remains the case that the wealthiest pay a lower percentage of their income in tax than any other group. There is no chance that this obvious reply will be given to Theresa May by an interviewer, or that Adam Boulton will start proclaiming it on the airwaves.

The above post is designed to highlight the hypocrisy of May and her unchristian attitudes. It in no way intends to insult the teachings of Jesus; rather the opposite.

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Can Anybody Find Any Significant Difference Between May’s Policies and the British National Party Manifesto of 2005?

I was struck by how entirely similar Theresa May’s discourse is to that of the British National Party candidate I fought in Blackburn in 2005. That led me to turn to the BNP 2005 Manifesto, and I can see little significant difference between it and current Tory policy.

The British National Party in 2005 advocated:

– Severe cuts in immigration
– Leaving the EU
– Bringing back grammar schools
– Increased military spending
– More “security” and “strong leadership”
– Foreign policy driven by “British national interest” not human rights
– Reduce development aid

Indeed, the few differences I can find between the BNP 2005 manifesto and the current Tory platform are in areas like the NHS, where the Tories are more right wing than the BNP were.

Thankfully it was still considered by most people socially beyond the pale to support the BNP in 2005. Today the media portray anyone perceptibly to the left of those positions as mad. Society has changed markedly – and not for the better.

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