Reply To: Elections Aftermath: Was our 2019 Vote & the EU Referendum Rigged? #TORYRIG2019

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Kim Sanders-Fisher

There has never been a more crucial time to fight the gross injustice of far-right Tory Government, BBC and Corporate Media political smears and defamation than right now as we appear set to lose a robust Labour opposition under Keir Starmer and solidify the Tory Dictatorship under Boris Johnson. The attack from John Ware against Corbyn has rallied the Left in solidarity raising close to £325,000 so far from those outraged over Starmer rewarding the ‘Poison Dartblowers’ who have lied for personal gain and to demonize the former Labour Leader. Of equal importance, Chris Williamson has set up a legal crowdfunding account vowing to challenge EHRC and set right the grotesque injustice of the fake ant-Semitism witch-hunt that is long overdue for correction. The EHRC has totally abandoned its most fundamental duty to the Muslim and other minority communities in order to protect the Tory Party from justified criticism over Islamophobia, as Johnson and Tory MPs scapegoat the Muslim community for their failures.

So when did it all go so wrong? The delegitimizing and marginalization of EHRC goes back away, to when Tory Ministers first started to overreach with regard to appointments and they still got away with inappropriate or ‘conflict of interest’ choices that were reluctantly accepted. This urgently needs to change as what should constitute a core demand of the Black Lives Matter movement as it is so fundamental to achieving racial equality in the UK. The Tories have got serious form when it comes to stacking the deck against minorities and the poor. In a four year old Guardian Article entitled, “Nicky Morgan under fire for choosing City Lawyer to head equality body,” they report on the, “Obvious conflict of interest in appointing lawyer whose firm works for government as chair of Equality and Human Rights Commission.” They said that, “The education secretary, Nicky Morgan, has come under fire for choosing a City Lawyer with an annual income of £500,000 to chair Britain’s leading equality and human rights body.”

The Guardian said, “Two parliamentary committees have written to Morgan, who is also minister for women and equalities, to warn that there could be a conflict of interest if David Isaac was appointed to the role; his legal firm carries out ‘significant work for the government’. Appearing in front of MPs, Isaac admitted that his salary as an equity partner at law firm Pinsent Masons would ‘dwarf’ the £50,000 he would collect as chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission,” according to, “Harriet Harman, chair of parliament’s joint committee on human rights, said there was ‘obviously a conflict of interest’ as the EHRC often took cases against the government.” She said, “What you should be having for the EHRC is someone who is a champion for human rights … You have to be fearless against the vested interests. You’ve got to be an agent for change.” She proclaimed that, “The lion’s share of his income will be coming from an organisation that has a vested interest. As they say, ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune’.”

The Guardian reported that, “Harman said the issue was not about Isaac, who chaired the gay rights group Stonewall from 2003 until 2012, but about a wider trend for the government to pick individuals with “illustrious careers in business, management, law” rather than proven campaigners. She said she would prefer them to opt for people like Shami Chakrabarti, the former director of Liberty, or Sam Smethers, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society. Isaac was put forward by a Whitehall selection panel and then chosen by Morgan, who asked Harman’s committee and the women and equalities committee, led by Conservative MP Maria Miller, to carry out a ‘scrutiny session’ with him.” Realistically today we know that such quasi scrutiny would no longer be at the discretion of Tory Ministers, but dictated by Dominic Cummings based on his personal warped eugenics prejudices and neurotic paranoia. This is no way to run a country for the good of the vast majority of its people.

The Guardian reported that, “Isaac faced tough questioning from politicians including the former lord chief justice, Lord Woolf. He asked Isaac to envisage a situation in which someone had made an application to the commission and then was disappointed by the response.” He was asked, “Do you think there is any risk that that person, knowing that you are a partner of the sort you are, would say, ‘I know why I have not been helped by the commission: it is because the chairman is actually in a firm of solicitors, and, directly or indirectly, his earnings from that firm are going to be affected by the amount of work the firm gets from the very department of government that he wants the commission to bring an action against’?” Woolf said “that would be a difficult problem to redress.” Isaac told MPs that, “he would not be carrying out any work for government clients during his chairmanship.” He felt “his pledge not do any Government work while Chair of EHRC should have prevented him from being disbarred from entering this role.”

But “Harman argued that conflict of interest was as much about ‘perception’ as anything else. She and Miller have jointly written to Morgan to say that rather than recommend Isaac at this stage, they would like to summon the education secretary and key figures from the appointment process in front of the committees.” Miller told the Guardian it was not a question of Isaac’s ability. “For an organisation like the EHRC it is clearly vital that we have a chair that has no conflict of interest that would call into question their ability to perform the role.” The Guardian had said, “Harman argued that there was a way to mitigate any potential conflict of interest- for example by Isaac stepping down from his role as an equity partner at the law firm temporarily.” To be fair, “a source close to Nicky Morgan hit back saying ‘we are baffled why Harriet Harman wouldn’t prefer someone with direct experience of working with the gay community, who also has experience of working in the business community over two people who lack his breadth of experience on these issues’.”

The undermining of public agencies set up to deliver scrutiny, accountability and justice got underway during the period of Coalition Government led by David Cameron. Few of us were made aware the road we were heading down back then as the issue garnered precious little attention in the media. However, three years ago a Guardian Article entitled, “Labour: new public appointments rules are ‘power grab’ by Tories warned of the consequences of this shift, if as it reported Ministers to have more say than independent commissioner on top job appointments at BBC and other agencies.” According to the Guardian, “Theresa May’s government has been accused of changing the rules on public appointments to make it easier in future for ministers to pick their political allies for senior jobs at the BBC and regulators such as Ofsted.” The Tories wasted no time stacking the deck to minimize public scrutiny, drafting in their cronies to compliantly adhere to the Tory agenda and eliminate any potential for their accountability for bad policy.

The Guardian reported that, “The new code on public appointments will give ministers greater powers over who oversees a raft of agencies, watchdogs and advisory committees, while weakening the involvement of the independent commissioner for public appointments, who scrutinises the system. Labour said the changes, which will come into force on 1 January, represent a ‘power grab’ by ministers and risk returning to the days of patronage and cronyism in public life. Ministers have always had the final say over appointments to senior public sector jobs, advised by a panel that shortlists ‘appointable’ people. However, independent assessors, chosen by the commissioner to oversee the most important competitions, will be abolished in favour of independent senior panel members picked by ministers.” We now have a revolving door of worthless reviews and inquiries that rarely produce actionable changes to be implemented by the Government; they are just kicked into the long grass by demanding further review!

In a convoluted system designed specifically to manage PR damage control by abolishing scrutiny and neutering the regulatory system we entered the zero accountability world that allowed Grenfell Tower to claim the lives of residents whose legitimate safety complaints were easily ignored with tragic consequences. The Guardian reported that, “The members will have to be independent of the departments and not currently politically active, but the commissioner will only have a consultative role. Ministers will also be able to overrule the panel by choosing candidates not deemed to be appointable and have the right to dispense with an open competition without the permission of the commissioner, although they will have to consult with the watchdog and openly justify the decision.”

While the Guardian said that, “The government argues that the decision increases the accountability of ministers,” they quote the concerns of Labour MP Andrew Gwynne who had warned about the greater risk of them “appointing chums and donors to public office”. He also said, “This Tory power grab is divisive and a worrying undermining of the role of the independent commissioner for public appointments.” They said, “The code was welcomed by Peter Riddell, the commissioner for public appointments, as an improvement on previous proposals set out by Sir Gerry Grimstone, a businessman who conducted a review for the government.” Riddell had stated that there had been a commitment to consult him “both about the appointment of senior independent panel members to assessment panels and about cases where exemptions are sought from holding competitions to make appointments.”

The Guardian note that at the time Riddell was reportedly said, “I believe that the real test for the new arrangements will be how they are interpreted by ministers. To preserve the balance between their right to be fully involved in the process and to take the key decisions, while ensuring that appointments are made on the basis of merit, with candidates being judged on a fair and equal basis.” Replying to Labour criticism they said, “Chris Skidmore, the minister for the constitution, defended the new code, saying it ‘rightly places ministers at the heart of the appointments process, given their accountability to parliament for public bodies. The new code introduces greater transparency into the system and reiterates the role of a strong, independent regulator of the process through the commissioner for public appointments. I want to see a process that champions diversity and builds a democracy that works for everyone.” But, we now have the unelected Chief Advisor Cummings forcing Ministers to abide by his selected picks!

In July 2016 the standards committee said: “The committee fears that the changes will remove some of the independent checks and balances of the public appointments process and may have the unintended effect of offering limited protection for ministers who wish to demonstrate they have appointed on merit alone.” According to the Guardian, “It comes after a number of cases in recent years in which ministers have been criticised for appointing allies to senior public positions. Under David Cameron, Philip Dilley, an engineering chief and former business adviser to the prime minister, was given the job of chair of the Environment Agency and David Prior, a former Tory MP and now minister, was appointed as chairman of the Care Quality Commission. There were also criticisms of some of Cameron’s appointments he made on his departure from No 10.” Our lawless PM, Boris Johnson manipulated and controlled by Cummings is intent on abusing this zero accountability system to the maximum degree possible.

Then in late 2017 another Guardian Article entitled, “UK ministers blocking appointments to rights watchdog, say lawyers” as it noted that the Government was, “accused of meddling by vetoing recruitments to EHRC board in attempt to iron out dissent.” It noted that, “The Equality and Human Rights Commission is running short of board members and struggling to fulfil its duties because, lawyers allege, ministers are repeatedly vetoing appointments on political grounds. Several experienced candidates supported by the state-funded independent body are understood to have been blocked in recent months after, it has been claimed, intervention by Downing Street or the Cabinet Office.” They say, “Confirmation is contained in published minutes of its board meetings” which warn that, “current vacancies on the board … [have] presented immediate quorum issues”.

The Guardian reported, “Some former board members allege the difficulties date to the arrival of Theresa May as prime minister, at which point stricter selection criteria are said to have been imposed. The government’s distraction over Brexit may also have delayed appointments. The shortage has coincided with the introduction of a new governance code on public appointments, which is said to have made it easier for ministers to pick their political allies.” With Boris Johnson under the control of Dominic Cummings the major emphasis in appointments will be to manage PR spin as we careen towards crash-out Brexit. Then only need to create a public façade of regulatory control to placate the masses through compliant BBC and Mainstream Media intervention as the Covid crisis becomes compounded by the devastating impact of crash-out Brexit. There will be winners and losers; the wealthy elite being the former while the vast majority of the population suffer immeasurably: equality and Human Rights are simply not on the menu.

The Guardian featured the case of Sarah Veale, “a former head of equality and employment rights at the Trades Union Congress, sat on the board for several years. The EHRC tried to renew her appointment but she was notified of her dismissal in a letter from the education secretary, Justine Greening, this year. Veale, who has been awarded the CBE and previously sat on the boards of the Health and Safety Executive and Acas, the mediation service.” She said: “It was really quite extraordinary. I have been told [the decision not to reappoint] was because a political adviser in No 10 had noticed a tweet I made disapproving of some government policy. They are obviously determined to iron out any kind of dissent. The chair of the EHRC [David Isaac] had specifically asked to reappoint me.” She had added, “There have been concerns about too much political interference. Ministers are meddling in areas in which they have no legal, let alone moral right to interfere. The board may lose out on appointing good people in the future.”

Noting at the time that, “At full strength the board of the EHRC is supposed to have 10-15 commissioners but it is currently down to eight participating members,” the Guardian reported a deficiency in the number of members available to serve on sub committees “…and longer-term risks in terms of the board’s breadth of expertise, and how the commission’s independence of government was perceived.” They said, “several highly experienced lawyers were supported as candidates by the EHRC chair but have not been approved, despite their extensive experience.” They noted, “A spokesperson for the EHRC said questions about appointments were a matter for the government. The EHRC recently asked to be given greater powers, including the right to make appointments to its board. A government spokesperson said: ‘All public appointments adhere to the governance code on public appointments’.”

It is a really sorry state of affairs when UK journalists fail to report important political news stories that we then learn about through foreign press outlets. However the UK news media refuse to keep us informed until shamed into reporting as they are so desperate to provide cover for the corrupt Tory Government. In a Newsweek Exclusive entitled: “Ex-Equalities Commissioners Say Calling Out Racism Cost Their Jobs,” the disgraceful truth emerges regarding lack of diversity in the agency charged with monitoring equality in the UK. Newsweek broke the story of how, “Two former commissioners at the U.K.’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the country’s equalities watchdog, say they were not reappointed to their roles because they were ‘too loud and vocal’ about issues of race. Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece, who at the time was the only Muslim commissioner and Lord Simon Woolley who was the only black commissioner, both lost their positions in November 2012.”

This does not look good just as a controversial report into anti-Semitism is about to be published as it will call into question the impartiality of EHRC as a commission that seriously should be diverse to fully represent the discrimination issues faced by minority ethnic communities in this country. Now that the public Corporate heavy predominantly white panel is in the spotlight people are asking about political motivations for targeting the Labour Party while ignoring copious blatant racism in the Tory Party. This is not going t get any easier as Chris Williamson’s case is bound to increase public scrutiny of EHRC and not a day too soon. Although the leaked Labour Report was not submitted by Labour layers under Starmer’s orders the genie cannot be rammed back into the bottle with a pretence that this evidence does not exist. A full unredacted copy was submitted by Craig Murray and must be taken into account as valid evidence. It will just prove a serious embarrassment for Starmer that he tried to shelve the report.

With Black Lives Matter protests erupting all over the country there we must put serious pressure on EHRC to finally create a more diverse Equality and Human Rights team now, “as the Government Equalities Office (GEO) advertises for four new commissioners for the EHRC,” as this is supposed to be, “an independent body responsible for the promotion and enforcement of equality and non-discrimination laws in England.” Newsweek report that, “The EHRC says its simple goal is to make Britain fairer, with its set of enforcement powers to challenge discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect human rights. It has been awarded an “A” status as a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) by the United Nations.” But the report, “At present, it has no black or Muslim members among its board of ten commissioners, which also includes the chair.” Also, “It currently stands accused of not standing up for British Muslims and being too close to the ruling Conservative Party, both claims the EHRC firmly denies.”

“We were too loud for what the new coalition government wanted,” Lord Woolley told Newsweek. “Our job as commissioners was to do exactly what they were supposed to do, to raise the fundamental issues of tackling race inequality in education, in health, in employment, within the criminal justice system and I saw that as my central role, but it was made very quickly aware to me that that strong voice was not wanted. “They [the government] didn’t want the voices that challenge the big structural inequalities, which of course is the raison d’être of the commission, and then to work out plans to use its powers to demand change.”The commission should not be a space for a chit-chat, this is perhaps one of the only bodies that we have in our country to hold our big institutions to account when it comes to racial injustice.” Baroness Hussein-Ece said “that she too feared that being vocal about issues of race worked against her.” She said: “We were the ones who spoke more about race. Race equality generally was put on the back burner during that period.”

Many of their comments were reported in a recent Skwawkbox Article that quoted from Newsweek, but the mainstream Media have yet to take notice despite the imminent publication of the report on anti-Semitism in the Labour party or more likely because of it. Newsweek report that Baroness Hussein-Ece, “described the decision not to reappoint herself and Lord Woolley at the time as an ‘appalling’ thing to do. ‘We were told to apply for the next term because it’s a four-year term, our performance was deemed good, and that we should reapply’. When we did reapply, we were told we weren’t even shortlisted.” Newsweek note that, “She also said that she was told by the Equalities Office at the time that more commissioners from business backgrounds were desirable. They wanted business people running it apparently, the budget was really slashed and the number of commissioners was slashed as well,” Baroness Hussein-Ece said.

According to Newsweek, “Both former commissioners said they felt the EHRC did not have the resources or budget to carry out its functions effectively, with significant cuts to its budget taking place since it was set up in 2007, taking over the responsibilities of three former separate organizations: the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission. The EHRC was founded, it says, to challenge discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect human rights.” Baroness Hussein-Ece said: “When I was there, it had more staff, more resources and the ability to take on more work.” Newsweek report that “Lord Woolley claims that replacing the former Commission for Racial Equality and amalgamating the former bodies into one, meant that it was difficult for the EHRC to maintain a focus on tackling racial inequality.”

Newsweek revealed how the budget had been slashed as Woolley said, “When we had the commission for racial equality, we had the budget, a focus to move the dial, we hoped we could, we hoped that with the amalgamated commissions, that we could maintain a focus but we always knew that would be a huge challenge, sadly we were proven right. In 2007, the commission had a budget of £70 million ($90 million). In June 2010, the EHRC’s budget was reduced from £62m ($79 million) to £55m ($70 million). It currently stands at £17.4 million ($21 million). The EHRC now has 206 members of staff. In February 2009, it had 425 fixed-term members of staff. ‘Less budget, less staff, no black commissioners, and I think that, in many ways, the commission couldn’t assert themselves,’ Lord Woolley says. Out of its core funding of £17.4 million for 2019/20, most – over £12 million ($15.4 million) – was spent on administration costs and around £5 million ($6.4 million) on program costs.”

This story featuring in a prominent US news magazine should cause considerable embarrassment to the Tory Government despite keeping the UK press gagged. Newsweek report that, “Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC, who was a legal adviser to the Commission for Racial Equality echoed the concerns of the commissioners regarding the claim that the EHRC lacked the resources to carry out its role effectively.”It has not really tackled the big issue which is now very current which is racial disadvantage and discrimination that exists.”

According to Newsweek, “Sir Geoffrey thinks without government support, it’s difficult for the EHRC to succeed in its stated aims and ambitions of challenging discrimination and protecting and promoting human rights. Ultimately the commission itself and the commissioners are perhaps not most to blame for the inadequacies, it’s much more a question of commitment by the government, willingness to put the sufficient resources in and their belief in the validity of anti-discrimination legislation.” This point was echoed by Lord Woolley. “Particularly after austerity, particularly after the coalition government, it (EHRC) lost its funding, it lost many of its staff and at times it seemed to be frightened of its own shadow,” Woolley said. “Both former commissioners and Sir Geoffrey also said that the EHRC had not done enough to investigate and tackle Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.”

Just imagine how incredibly incompetent and corrupt this Government will look after several years of politically motivated smears are exposed in Court as primarily fabricated by the Tory Party. There is already the hard evidence that they used public money to fund the anti Corbyn propaganda through a fake charity the “Institute for Statecraft” and its so called ‘Integrity Initiative.’ There is also the evidence from the leaked report from the Labour Party that Starmer is trying to bury that blows holes in Ware’s case and demonstrates the collusion of the BBC, plus there’s the Aljazeera video proving Israeli interference. The Courts cannot ignore all of that evidence and with that level of corruption the Government should fall even without the full exposure of an Investigation into the Covert 2019 Rigged Election to uncover the Industrial scale postal vote fraud. Once the British public are fully informed that they have been exploited yet again by the Tories people will take to the streets as, despite Covid 19, they are getting bolder by the day. DO NOT MOVE ON!