British Elections Neither Free Nor Fair 92

Am posting my CiF article here – with my own original heading – just to safeguard it for eternity.

I was very pleased with the comments on CiF – 73 positive and 3 negative. But less pleased with the Guardian’s treatment of the article. It was never referenced on any of the main pages. It was linked from the CiF front page for only 14 hours – 11 of which hours were between 10pm and 9am.

By contrast, for example, a rubbish right wing article from Charles Crawford claiming that David Cameron’s East European allied parties are not really objectionable, was on the front page of Cif simulatenously and for a total of over 48 hours. Until it was whisked off and hidden at 9.48am, my article was garnering comments quicker than any other.

Here is the article again:

In my diplomatic career, I spent a great deal of time assessing the democratic merit of elections in various countries abroad. That gives me a peculiar perspective in looking at elections in the UK, and wondering what a foreign observer would make of them. I can do this also with the insight of having twice run as an independent parliamentary candidate.

Against international standards, British elections leave a great deal to be desired. The first crucial failing is the lack of an independent administration of the elections. In each constituency, the election is not run by the Electoral Commission, but by the local authority. The national Electoral Commission has only an advisory role and cannot even monitor or instruct local returning officers. The returning officer is almost always the chief executive officer of the local authority.

The problem is that, de facto, those chief executives are party-political appointments. Particularly in the long-term New Labour rotten boroughs of the north, local government appointments are a New Labour nexus. Bluntly put, the New Labour council of a northern town is almost never going to appoint a Tory chief executive.

In fact, the lines between council appointments and party appointments are often blurred. Bill Taylor was Jack Straw’s agent and full-time organiser in Blackburn in 2005. His pay came as a youth organiser for a neighbouring New Labour-controlled council. It would have been illegal for him to be thus employed by Blackburn itself and to campaign in the constituency. Reciprocal agreements between New Labour councils to provide full-time party staff ?” at the council taxpayer’s expense ?” are not uncommon.

There was a time when honesty in public life was such that the party allegiance of a local authority and its staff would not affect confidence in its ability to conduct a free and fair election. The parliamentary expenses scandal has killed the myth that our politics are honest and well motivated. I do not accept local authority chief executives as genuinely independent returning officers.

I will continue to use Blackburn as an illustration, because I have an intimate knowledge, having stood there in 2005. An independent candidate standing against Jack Straw in the coming election, Bushra Irfan, has already been told by the local election office that she will not be able to exercise her right to place her own seals on the ballot boxes, as the hasp only has room for the council’s seals.

She has just erected an election banner on her own property. Within hours, council officials arrived to dismantle it on the grounds that it did not have planning permission. This ignores the fact that election advertising for a “pending election” is specifically exempted from need for planning permission. But aside from that, one wonders whether other planning issues in Blackburn draw the same instant hit-squad response from the council?

Postal voting is a further major area of concern ?” and again, that concern principally centres on the northern cities. New Labour deliberately brought in a massive expansion in the use of postal voting, which was previously available only to the infirm or to those with other legitimate reason for not making it to the polling booth.

The polling booth is the vital question here. Those bits of board that prevent anyone from seeing how you vote, are an essential element of the secret ballot. New Labour has, in effect, deliberately removed it. Any vote made at home is a vote that may be filled in under the coercive eye of an individual able to enter your home and intimidate you ?” something nobody can do in the polling booth.

I am not theorising. Particularly among some patriarchal Asian communities, community leaders and heads of extended families can and do demand to see the postal ballot of those under their sway, before it is posted. Belated “safeguards”, like having to sign the accompanying form, do nothing to stop this domestic intimidation. It is widely recognised that one result of this postal ballot system has been the effective disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of Asian women. Just as bad, it has also disenfranchised lower-status men in many Asian communities.

Again, I speak from experience, having listened to many first-hand accounts from intimidated people in Blackburn ?” and, in every case, the intimidation was to vote New Labour. In the Blackburn constituency in 2005, an incredible 12,000 postal ballots were cast: that represented 29% of the vote, compared to a national average of under 13%. What does that suggest?

But it is still more blatant than that. You will find this next fact astonishing. The regulations have been designed specifically to prevent the exposure of postal ballot fraud. By law, the postal ballots have to be mixed undetectably with the polling booth ballots before they are counted. Therefore, there is no way to prove if, as I suspect happened in Blackburn, a candidate received 25% of secret ballots but 80% of postal ballots.

It is this compulsory destruction of the voting evidence that convinces me that the motivation for extending the use of the postal ballot can only have been a self-serving act by the New Labour government.

But there is a still more fundamental point, which raises doubts about the democratic validity of Britain’s elections ?” and that is the question of whether a real choice is being presented to the voters.

International electoral monitoring bodies pay a great deal of attention to this. For example, in December’s parliamentary elections in Uzbekistan, it was the lack of real choice between five official parties, all supporting President Karimov’s programme, on which the OSCE focused its criticism.

How different is the UK, really? For example, I want to see an immediate start to withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan; I am increasingly sceptical of the EU; and I do not want to see a replacement for the vastly expensive Trident nuclear missile system. On each one of those major policy points, I am in agreement with at least 40% of the UK population, but on none of those points is my view represented by any of the three major political parties. And remember, only those three major political parties will be represented in the televised leaders’ debates that will play such a key part in the election.

Those debates will take place between three representatives of a professional political class whose ideological differences do not span a single colour of the wider political spectrum. Voters in Wales and Scotland are luckier, but for most people, there is little really meaningful choice available.

The Lib Dems are the nearest most people have to a viable alternative. At the last election under Charles Kennedy, they reflected public opinion in opposing the Iraq war, but under Nick Clegg they have become less radical than at any point in my lifetime.

The media limitation of debate to a narrow establishment consensus is not merely a problem at the national level. When I was a candidate in both Norwich North and Blackburn, the BBC broadcast candidates’ debates, but on each occasion I was not allowed to take part ?” even though I was a candidate ?” because the BBC was terrified their audience might hear something interesting. The Electoral Commission specifically recommends that all candidates be invited to take part in all hustings and candidates’ debates ?” but the Electoral Commission is a paper tiger with no powers of enforcement.

Censorship extends far beyond that. A traditional feature of British elections is the electoral communication, under which each candidate can send out a copy of their electoral address, delivered to every voter free by Royal Mail. Under another bit of Kafka-esque New Labour legislation, the Royal Mail now vets the content of every electoral address. The text must be seen and approved by a central Post Office unit before the leaflet can be printed and prepared for delivery.

So much for freedom of speech. The New Labour rationale for this is that the Royal Mail is checking the candidates’ election address does not fall foul of Britain’s notorious libel laws ?” the harshest and most restrictive of any western country. It also has to be cleared for many other laws restricting free speech, many of them introduced by New Labour ?” for example, that it does not “glorify” terrorism, or incite racism or homophobia.

So, if a candidate were to say in their election address that they believe Tony Blair and Jack Straw are war criminals, or (to take a topical example) that Christian bed and breakfast owners ought to be allowed to refuse gay couples, then their election address would be locked by the Royal Mail.

This is crazy. The Royal Mail delivers millions of letters every day. Some of them doubtless contain libellous and even racist statements. The Royal Mail does not open them all and check they are “legal”.

Actually, whisper that softly, we don’t want to give New Labour ideas.

Furthermore, in this case, it is not a court that decides if a statement is libellous, it is the Royal Mail. This is censorship of candidates during an election and without any court injunction. It says yet more about the cosy establishment clique that governs us that none of the major parties is up in arms about this.

Now, we come to the most fundamentally undemocratic aspect of British elections: the electoral system. It delivers massively disproportionate results with minority parties virtually unrepresented in parliament. At the last election, it delivered a good majority to an unpopular Tony Blair, even though New Labour received only 36% of votes cast ?” which represented just 22% of those entitled to vote.

But it does not favour the big parties evenly. New Labour can get a working majority with 34% of votes cast, while the Tories need 39%. If New Labour and the Tories both got 36%, New Labour would probably have almost 50 more seats. The Lib Dems could get 34%, yet win under half the seats that New Labour would get with the same percentage.

On top of which, we will see the irony of politicians rejected by the electorate being given comfy, paying seats in the House of Lords.

So, there we have British elections today: an unfair electoral system, censorship of candidates’ electoral addresses, little real political choice for voters, widespread postal ballot-rigging and elections administered by partisan council officials in a corrupt political climate.

Don’t be surprised if New Labour do that little bit better, when the votes are counted, than you might expect. As Joseph Stalin said, it is not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes.

So are British elections still free and fair? If this were a foreign election I was observing, I have no doubt that my answer would be no.

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92 thoughts on “British Elections Neither Free Nor Fair

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  • arsalan

    Tech the reason why I don’t acknowledge Atheists as Jews is when you do so things become contradictory.

    This idea is key to the Zionist’s false sense of nationalism. And this idea is also key to why religious Jews so firmly reject Zionism as a heresy and not just a sin.

    The idea can be summed up by a question:

    Is Judaism a race or a religion?

    If you consider it a race, so include people who do not believe in Judaism in to it why end the definition at Jews and Atheists?

    If a Jew who rejects Judaism and God is still a Jew, is a Jew who converts to another religion still a Jew?

    Is a Jew who converts to Christianity still a Jew?

    If so, what of Jews who convert to Islam?

    If it is about race and genetics, and not about belief what about their Children? For have many generations would they remain Jewish? Because if there is a number, then the same will apply to all the Atheist Zionists.

    And if there is no number, then it would mean the Palestinians are Jews!

    Jews with a much Purer genetic Judaism than the white ones from Europe or the black ones from Ethiopia.

    So if you want to say Judaism is a race than Zionism means the extermination and expulsion of true Jews from their homeland by European with little or no Jewish ancestry.

    It would mean Zionism is a genocide against the Jewish people, not one perpetrated by them.

    Some use this argument, but I don’t because it is silly. Palestinians even the many who have their family trees documented so know their ancestors were once Jews do not call themselves Jews, they call themselves Christians and Muslims.

    People can convert in to and out of Judaism, so it can not be a race or ethnicity in any shape or form.

    So the AntiZionist Israeli convert to Christianity Israel Shamir a Christian not a Jew, The once Israeli but now living in Mororoco convert to Islam Yusuf khattab, ex Josiph Cohn a Muslim not a Jew. So I call all Zionists atheists not Jews.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Who needs enemies…? Mr Crawford, the deliberately provocative tone and content of your remark, if taken without irony, is as profound an indictment of The Guardian in this regard as any I can imagine.

  • technicolour

    Charles, you consistently fail to reply to questions, after your occasional ninja postings. I’m sure you’d like more business on your blog, but it is quite rude, like shouting at people & then running away. Otherwise I’d ask you what ‘rubbish’, specifically?

    Arsalan. This is silly, as you say. You know very well that an atheist Jewish person can still consider themselves Jewish and be perceived to be Jewish, by virtue of birth, tradition and community. The same would apply to an Aran Islander, though being an Aran Islander is neither a race nor a religion. How God would judge it, I don’t know and nor, as Suhayl has pointed out, do you.

    I appreciate that splitting hairs on this may in fact be a way to stop appalling knee-jerk bigotry. I hope it is. Would your arguments have convinced the people who beat up my friend? They were not interested in whether he was Jewish or not, remember. Never mind whether he was a Zionist atheist Jew or a Zionist Orthodox Jew, or a non-Zionist atheist Jew or a non-Zionist religious Jew. They beat him up because he *looked* Jewish.

    Do you not think that associating Zionism with just about every evil perpetrated by man might encourage this attitude?

    And, after all, why Zionism? In your book the Zionists were not really Zionists at all, in fact, but Boers (the aggressive racial/nationalist movement which came first). Was Hitler a Boer?

    And since you use it about Afghanistan, surely Crusadism is more appropriate? Or colonialism? Or, bearing Chechnya in mind, Russianism?

    As you say, silly.

  • Arsalan

    Tech The reason why I use the terms Zionism and Nazism interchangeably is because they are interchangeable terms for identical ideologies.

    Just as some Zionists fain a religious justification for their racist beliefs.

    Nazis do the exact something, using exactly the same words and references.

    You have heard of the CHRISTIAN IDENTITY MOVEMENT, that is the religious arm of Nazism. I wasn’t just saying what I did in earlier posts about swapping words between Nazism and Zionism.

    I was quoting.

    That is exactly the religious justification the Nazis used for what they did. Word for word, dead for dead.

    Tech people who smash up Jews or people who look like Jews are Zionists, not anti-Zionists.

    They have exactly the same objectives.

    Nazis want Jews out of Europe and in to Palestine and Zionists want Jews out of Europe and in to Palestine.

    That is why Zionists organisations helped Hitler. You say Hitler used them, while they claim they tried to use Hitler. But whoever was using who, what is in agreement is they did work together on their common objective and it hasn’t ended.

    You can see NeoNazi skin heads marching hand in hand with Israeli Zionists on the streets on England waving each others flags.

    It is not us who are smashing up Jews in the UK, it is them, the Zionists, the Nazis. And as far as I can see they are both the same.

    It isn’t us who link hands with neonazis with Jewish blood on their hands, it is the Zionists.

    They are the cause of Jews being beaten up, not us. It is part of their objective to get Jews to leave the UK, and enter Palestine, not ours.

    We want Jews to be as comfortable as possible here, because ever Jew that leaves here to go their results in a Palestinian family being expelled or exterminated.

  • technicolour

    So now there are Zionist Neo Nazi Muslims, since they were the people who beat my friend up. Great.

    “The Nazis denounced both capitalism and communism, accusing both of being associated with Jewish influences and interests.[16] They claimed that capitalism damages nations due to international finance, the economic dominance of big business, and Jewish influences within it.”

    It’s the ‘Jewish’ bit that’s sinister. Why? Because generalised blame of ‘Big Business’ (popular among us all, hey) is suddenly switched to a specific and vulnerable minority. Now replace ‘Jewish’ with ‘Zionist’. Does it sound familiar? It’s on wiki.

    Arsalan, the Nazis were not Christians. The Nazis persecuted Christians. Read Corrie Ten Boom, or Alfred Andersch. Zionism and Nazism are not interchangeable ideologies, unless you also want to throw in the Boers, the Crusaders and the Roman Empire. Zionism is the creation of a *Jewish* homeland.

    Nazism “was a unique variety of fascism that involved biological racism and anti-Semitism” (wiki).

    I appreciate your answers, and have found them interesting, and informative, so thank you. But you’ve not addressed many of my points, although I keep trying to contemplate yours, so let’s stop now, shall we?

  • Ethical Foreign Policy

    The likes of Charles Crawford dare not engage in debate.

    Their whole world is one of fabrication, evasions, half truths and outright lies. To engage in genuine debate would expose them the frauds..

    Ironically their only honesty is in running away from genuine debate, relying instead on smears and an occasional sniping from the periphery.

    Sadly media is today filled to overflowing with such creatures.

    Occasionally though one of them lets the mask slip and blurts out a truth. This is generally followed by shock, astonishment, much concern in media circles, followed by abject apologies until the media world is at ease again.

    Sometimes, just sometimes, there is a Craig Murray who doesn’t apologise.

    There’s an altogether different treatment for them, not unlike the one Charles prefers.

  • Moshe

    You can quite bogged down in language and definitions of this and that.

    I suppose it’s more important to ask what the experience of Zionism has felt like to the Palestinians.

    It’s probably the decent thing to do, to allow the victims of Zionism to call it as they wish. They’ve sufferered enough to be allowed that at least.

    If they want to call it Nazism, who am I to object, especially since it does appear quite like Nazism to me too.

    If Sir Gerald Kaufman can use the term Nazism in connection with the current Israeli regime, who is anyone to obect, especially on grounds of abstract definitions.

  • Arsalan

    “So now there are Zionist Neo Nazi Muslims”

    They were probably just the local thugs looking to beat anyone up.

    We have them too.

    “Now replace ‘Jewish’ with ‘Zionist'”

    It is the Zionists who say attacking Zionism/Israel is attacking Judaism to silence people. And I have no problem with attacking Zionists. Attacking it is attacking people for being racist because Zionism is a racist ideology.

    Attacking Zionism has as little to do with attacking Jews as attacking Nazism has to do with Attacking German people.

    So yes, may attacking on Zionists may seem like other peoples attacks on others. But that is irrelevant. Zionism is a nasty belief, so there is nothing wrong in attacking it.

    I am against Zionism because it preaches

    extermination and expulsion of natives.

    In the past Zionists claim being against

    Zionism would make me anti Jew because NeoNazis claimed they were Anti Zionism too.

    But they can’t do that any more because now Zionists and neoNazis have formed an alliance.

    And they deserve each other.

    “Arsalan, the Nazis were not Christians”

    Tech: Zionists are not Jews.

    The Zionists persecuted Jews and helped Hitler slaughter them.

    Read the Jewish links that I keep putting up.

    ” Zionism is the creation of a *Jewish* homeland.”

    Please tell me how that would be different to creating an Arian homeland?

    Please tell me how the Hitler’s expulsion and extermination to create his homeland was any different to Zionism expulsion and extermination of lesser races?

    I think I have addressed all your points?

    at least I have tried to and think I have?

    To be honest tech I am against all nationalism, especially if it means extermination, expulsion or discrimination against the other.

    And Craig I don’t regard your friends in the SNP as nationalists, they are patriots. This is because they regard everyone living in Scotland as a Scott.

    Nationalism in SNP is referring to nation as a land, not as a people.

  • technicolour

    “If Sir Gerald Kaufman can use the term Nazism in connection with the current Israeli regime, who is anyone to obect”

    Oh, I daresay I could object to things that Gerard Kaufman says, if I put my mind to it. But in this case, he compared the behaviour of the Israeli government and military to the behaviour of the Nazis, and I agree with him.

    He did not call all Zionists Nazis, or call the invasion of Afghanistan Zionist. He did not describe Zionism as ‘interchangeable’ with Nazism. He did not, in fact, form part of this discussion.

  • technicolour

    I mean, I agree with Kaufman’s right to do that. I wouldn’t compare them to Nazis. Along with Pilger, I feel the term is unhelpful. It brings up such specific, historical images that the current and real suffering of the Palestinians threatens to be overwhelmed by them.

  • Arsalan


    The victims of Nazism are themselves stating Zionism is Nazism.

    I had a discussion with a young Nazi once(It does happen, I’m a pale skin so it is hard for them to know whether I am a potential recruit or a lesser race), and he stated “What ever is fruitful is true”.

    That is their belief, not ours. For us whether something is useful of unhelpful is irrelevant. Truth is truth and falsehood is falsehood.

    So Zionism is Nazism, that is a statement of fact whether it is unhelpful or not.

    The might believe in a different master race, but they both have a master race.

    They might believe in a different fatherland but they both have a fatherland. They might believe in different lesser peoples, but they both believe in lesser peoples that need to be exterminated, expelled or dominated.

    I say they are the same, because they are.

    I use Zionism as an insult to describe the invasion of Afghanistan because Zionism is a horrible thing.

    Being called a Zionist is as bad as being called a Nazi, because they mean the same thing.

    True Zionist wont regard it as an insult if you call them Zionists, but Nazis don’t regard it as an insult if you call the Nazis.

    But once a Nazi did complain to me when I called a Zionist a Nazi, because he took it as an insult to Nazism.

    I don’t care, I have them both and they are both as bad as each other.

  • technicolour

    Arsalan, we seem to have covered a lot of ground. If I said ‘unhelpful’, it was because I meant that, for me, the truth of the historical images of Nazi atrocities was in danger of obliterating the truth of what is happening here and now.

    And I do not want the image of thousands upon thousands of piled up bodies of skeletal people in death pits to replace the images of a civilian population being bombed with white phosphorous. Or the queues of Palestinians standing for hours to cross the borders. Or the famers being shot at while they try to collect olives. Or the ambulance drivers being shot. Or.

  • technicolour

    Did he really say ‘whatever is fruitful is true?’ Is that what they’re parrotting?

    ‘By their fruits shall ye know them’, I say, and I’m not even claiming to be a Christian.

  • Arsalan

    For the Palestinians the images that you do not want to imagine are life.

    And Israel has piled up thousands upon thousands of corpses. Sabra and Shatil for example.

    The only difference between the way Israel is doing things and the way the Nazis done things as Norman Finklestien said, is the Nazi made an attempt at hiding what they did, locating the extermination centres in places like Poland to hide their true face from their population while the Zionist do what they do in plane view.

    In Deir Yassin massacre for example, they killed everyone in the attack. The few women and children that survived were taken to West Jerusalem to be paraded, beaten spat on by cheering crowds just before they too were tortured and killed.

    Another difference is When what the Nazis did became known, the Nazis were tried and executed for their crimes, while the commanders of both the above massacres were elected prime minister.

  • Arsalan

    Yes, that was an exact quote.

    And that is really what Nazism and Zionism is based on.

    The people who invented it knew all that racist crap was nonsense.

    They just thought they can use it as a unifying force.

    the Nazi didn’t use the word lie for their one version though. They stated the Jews lie about their Nationalism, while we have invented a myth for ours.

    Both of them know they have identical ideologies, to the extent that both claim theirs is for a good reason while the other’s is for a bad.

  • arsalan

    The Jenin Refugee Camp Massacre of 2002: ‘Horrific beyond Belief’

    13/04/2010 01:30:34 PM GMT Comments (1) Add a comment Print E-mail to friend

    a??They were warned by loudspeaker to get out of the house before I come, BUT I GAVE NO ONE A CHANCE. I didna??t wait. I didna??t give one blow, and wait for them to come out. I would just ram the house with full power, to bring it down as fast as possible. I wanted to get to the other houses. To get as many as possible, I didna??t give a damn about the Palestinians, but I didna??t just ruin with no reason. It was all under orders.a?

  • Tech

    To be honest with you, I don’t know. That is one of the main reason I don’t want to be here any more. I want to be somewhere

    Where I might be able to make a difference.

    You are probably already doing everything it is possible for you to do.

    I’m not a superhero, you probably do much more than me anyway.

    I am going to contradict most people’s perceptions of me now by saying I don’t think the cause of any of this is to do with the evil of Zionism.

    Or their strength.

    I am not someone who believes the Jews are an all powerful people, with invisible hands everywhere.

    I believe all this isn’t to do with their evil, but our own failures.

    I don’t believe it is to do with their strengths, but our own weaknesses.

    I think when the Ottoman empire sickened, all of its territory was there for the taking. That was one of the major causes of ww1, bickering between the remaining powers on how to divide up its territory.

    My view is if it wasn’t the Zionists claiming Palestine, it would have been someone else.

    The something goes for Iraq and Afghanistan. If America didn’t it could have been another power, Russia has already had its turn invading Afghanistan, and Britain had a turn before them.

    At the same time I don’t think Israel is the only problem in the Middle East.

    When you have petty little defenceless, disunited countries, they are all their for the taking.

    The middle east in particular and the Muslim world in general need a heavy dose of reunification.

    And this reunification can only come from within.

    They need to want to reunify. This is easy for the poor to choose, because reunification and wealth redistribution would mean they wont be so poor any more. Not quite as easy for the rich though? But it is still to their advantage, because without reunification, maybe their nation would be next on the list for American style democratisation, and the bloodshed that comes with it.

    Without reunification things will only get worse. And things can only start getting better after reunification.

    Take a look at Gaza for example, Israel is starving them in to submission, but so is Egypt.And if the two state solution ever gets passed, no prizes for guessing that Jordan would help Israel do the same to starve the west bank.

    To free Palestine from the Zionists, the whole Middle East needs to be freed from the despots and puppets.

    And this can only come from within those

    peoples themselves.

  • technicolour

    Arsalan, thanks. You don’t surprise me, actually. Or I don’t think we’d have been having this discussion for so long and so informatively. Am thinking, and agreeing, but must go to bed. Sleep well.

  • technicolour

    Arsalan, just so you know, I do ridiculously little. I haven’t joined a convoy, for example. Thanks for concluding that this is not really the time to direct hatred at any particular group of people.

    And you are right, most countries are as bad as each other. Plainly these old traditions of hate between cultures or races or classes are ridiculous. I think that’s the common theme on this blog; from Alfred to Clark.

    But until Clark’s One World Government or the Caliphate, or anarchy, or whatever, it seems we must elect better small governments which will not attack each other. We have to be involved in our own country’s politics.

    It’s a horrible thought in many ways, I agree.

  • dreoilin

    “Plainly these old traditions of hate between cultures or races or classes are ridiculous.”

    Tech, I agree with you 100%. But somehow the notion of a One World Government worries me far more.

  • technicolour

    dreoilin; to be fair, any form of government worries me. But yes, a One World Government, with its One World dictator, and its One World armies and its One World rules, ah. Starship Troopers, or Dune?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    How about Tony Blair, for One-World Government Leader…?

    “I believe with every fibre of my being… that that would be…” [close-up of nystagmic shift, the vacant, Pre-Raphaelite babe-in-the-woods glazed affectation of primal innocence]


  • technicolour

    Yes, thanks Suhayl. In a desperate attempt to close that image, I’ve been trying to imagine the positive (good old Kant). I suppose a OWG could be nice, if it evolved very, very slowly & peacfully, say over about 3000 years. We don’t seem to be blessed with that pace, though: quite the opposite. OWG! Yeah! Now! Whatever it takes! Bang!

    Whereas snails have probably already got one.

  • arsalan

    Mass deportation feared after West Bank permit ruling

    News Watch

    Monday, 12 April 2010


    diggThe Israeli army is to enact a ruling that could leave tens of thousands of Palestinians vulnerable to deportation from the West Bank, human rights groups have claimed. A coalition of ten Israeli groups appealed to the Defence Ministry not to enact the military order, due to come into effect tomorrow, that would define anyone in the West Bank who does not hold an Israeli permit as an “infiltrator”.

    Those without a permit would be liable to seven years in prison and the cost of their deportation from the West Bank ?” most likely to the Gaza Strip.

    “Most of the people there don’t have any permit at all. It’s a question of how the permit is defined, and it’s not defined at present,” said Elad Cahana, a lawyer acting for HaMoked, one of the rights groups.

    They believe that the main target is tens of thousands of Palestinians whose original addresses are registered in the Gaza Strip, but who have lived for many years in the West Bank in areas administered by the Palestinian Authority. Others include those of Palestinian descent who have either married West Bank residents or have been reunited with families there, as well as international activists such as the International Solidarity Movement, whose members often accompany Palestinians on protests and demonstrations.

    “There’s an estimated 25,000 people in the West Bank whose homes are registered in Gaza, and tens of thousands more who don’t have ID cards at all: people of Palestinian descent who have been applying for them,” said Sari Bashi, of Gisha, another group.

    “Israel has territorial claims in the West Bank, and is implementing … draconian policies to empty the West of Palestinians,” she said. The groups said in a statement that the orders were worded so broadly that they theoretically allowed the military “to empty the West Bank of almost all its Palestinian inhabitants” because most have never been required to hold any permit.

    They also said that “despite the severe ramifications of the orders, the authorities did not publicise their existence among the Palestinian population as required, which raises grave concerns that they intended to pass them secretly without public debate or judicial review.”

    The Palestinian Authority issued a furious denunciation of the plans, which it said threatened to “turn Palestinians into criminals in their own homes”.

    “These military orders belong in an apartheid state,” said Saeb Erakat, a senior official. “Most of all, they reveal the invidious design behind Israel’s settlement policy.

    “The fewer Palestinians there are in the West Bank, including in occupied East Jerusalem, the more settlers there will be. Israel’s endgame is not peace. It is the colonisation of the West Bank.”

    The Israeli army said that the aim was the extradition of those residing illegally in Judea and Samaria [Israel’s term for the West Bank]. “This is a pre-existing order, which was corrected to assure judicial oversight of the extradition process,” it said.

    But Rights groups said that the orders failed to define what constituted a valid permit, leaving it open to the interpretation of the army.

    “The vast majority of people now living in the West Bank have never been required to hold any sort of permit to be present therein,” they said.

    The Israeli army has already deported a number of Palestinians from Gaza who rights groups argue were living legally in the West Bank.

    One of them was Berlanty Azzam, a 22-year-old studying business at Bethlehem University who was picked up at an Israeli checkpoint while travelling from a job interview between two Palestinian Authority areas of the West Bank last year.

    She was immediately deported to the Gaza Strip despite military assurances to her lawyer that she would not be removed until an Israeli judge had heard her case.

    When Gisha finally managed to bring the case before the Supreme Court, Ms Azzam’s request to return to Bethlehem was denied and the army had taken away and “lost” her original 2005 permit to cross Israel and enter the West Bank, Ms Bashi said. She is still living in Gaza.

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