Category Archives: Politics

Posts about politics and politicians

Barking

Our dog very rarely barks. So when he does, it comes as a bit of a shock. I found my wife in the garden this morning laughing at our barking dog. The reason that she was laughing was because he was barking at his own reflection in one of the house windows.

yellow labrador
Dog very like our own!

Barking. Own reflection. That reminds me of something.

Reflection

It reminds me of the current state of what laughably passes for our government. Theresa May’s indecision is like being in a hall of mirrors. She is torn in indecision between the sensible majority of her party and the barking mad: the Dunces as I have described them in an earlier blog. She takes more notice of the dunces and the barking DUP, who exemplify the worst of 17th century bigotry and hatred – not least over their attitudes to the rights of women. When it comes to representing public opinion in Northern Ireland, the DUP is certainly barking up the wrong tree.

Hall of mirrors
Hall of mirrors

Whichever way she turns, she sees just the Dunces, the DUP and Paul Dacre. What she will do after November when Geordie Greig takes over at the Daily Mail, we shall have to wait and see. Inside her hall of mirrors, she takes no notice of the 48% who, like me, voted Remain. Businesses, specifically the CBI, have reduced UK growth forecasts because of the uncertainty caused by the dithering and disagreements within the Cabinet. As Prime Minister, therefore, she pays no regard to the National Interest. That’s the behaviour of someone who is either scared or barking mad. Probably the former.

Up Shit Creek

May has wasted two whole years engaged in futile debates between the wings of her party. These arguments are usually between two options, both of which have already been rejected by the EU27. Every deadline has been missed. She has now announced that the government’s White Paper will be delayed until after the crucial European Council meeting on June 28-29. That’s barking.

So where does that leave the country? Up Barking Creek without a paddle.

up shit creek
Up Shit Creek

Barking. Woof!

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Fed Up

Are you fed up with the way this country is being run? I know I am. Or rather, how it’s not being run. It’s certainly not being run by any government worthy of the name and, in my eyes, Theresa May has quickly overtaken David Cameron as the worst Prime Minister in my lifetime.

Here’s a random selection from recent new stories.

  • Theresa May refuses to do the right thing, morally and in accordance with international law, to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland following the overwhelming 2 to 1 vote in the Irish Republic. The UN has already declared this a violation of Human Rights, to be tested in the UK Supreme Court later this year. The wholly unrepresentative DUP, led by arch-bigot Arlene Foster is needed to prop up her minority government. There’s a clear majority in the Commons for reform, in line with recent Northern Irish public opinion polls. Let’s hope Parliament is sufficiently embarrassed and fed up to force a vote.
  • May refuses to sack Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary – too many gaffes to find a suitable web link for Johnson! We’re fed up with having such a clown as our chief diplomat and the UK’S official spokesman for Foreign Affairs.
  • Michel Barnier’s frustration is beginning to show. He’s clearly fed up with the UK government wasting two years and still not knowing what it wants out of the EU exit negotiations. His reference to Britain playing “hide and seek” is most telling.
  • Why is the arch-Dunce J Rees-Mogg given so much airtime? Here’s a post from January. Things haven’t improved since then. He was on Andrew Marr’s show on Sunday. Surely we’re all fed up to the back teeth of the sight of him.
  • I note that David Davis took time out from whatever he does instead of being our chief EU negotiator to visit the Hay Festival. He was in the front row to hear Margaret Atwood, author of the novel The Handmaid’s Tale, at the weekend. She famously writes dystopian novels, and was dubbed the “prophet of dystopia”. Perhaps he was fed up with trying to do the impossible and simply tried to imagine Britain after it had left the EU?

Laugh at the Idiot

This is really in the same mould, but worthy of special attention. I’ve always thought  that Gavin Williamson is a trumped-up little shit. Here’s more evidence of the “Spiderman”, chosen by May as our Defence Secretary, being a complete prat. Richard Madeley was clearly fed up with Williamson not answering his question and did a sort of Paxman on him today. Lie back and enjoy!

Here’s a link to the video

And this man is in charge of our military? Does that make you feel safe? No, me neither.

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Some Way Out

There must be some way out of here
Said the Maybot all alone
There’s too much confusion
I must do this on my own.

Rabid dogs have caught my mind
Sane men ground to earth
Remain was forty-eight percent
But fuck all now that’s worth.

Good reason to expedite it
Barnier he kindly spoke
There are many voters out there
Who feel that life is but a joke.

But you and I have been through that
We don’t have long to wait
Stop messing; make your minds up
The hour’s getting late.

Don’t forget about Good Friday
I heard the Taoiseach say
Unless you believe in unicorns
You must find a better way.

Outside in the distance
The CBI did growl
The exit day’s approaching
Rees-Mogg began to howl…

 

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Grudging, As Ever

On Friday, the Government announced another U-turn, this time on the composition of the Grenfell enquiry panel. In December, May had rejected this request from survivors. It’s the latest in a long line of resistance by the powerful for ordinary people to have more say in the political process. Let’s examine a few examples from the last 800 years.

Grenfell Enquiry Representative Panel

The Grenfell panel is to be widened to include people with the skills to examine the cultural and community reasons behind the fire. This follows a prolonged period of pressure from survivor groups.

Windrush Concessions

After six months of constant coverage by the Guardian, giving heart-breaking case study after case study, the Government finally admitted there was a problem with the Home Office’s hostile environment policy. But their solution was very, very narrow in scope indeed. They have commissioned Capita to set up a small, poorly trained group to handle any injustices that may have befallen this relatively small group of people. Everyone who has studied the institutional racism within the Home Office knows that the total number who may be affected runs to tens, if not hundreds, of thousands.

So far, May has done the absolute minimum required to keep the Daily Mail happy. How much more pressure needs to be applied, and how many more cases does the Guardian have to highlight, before the Home Office and May admit the problem is much wider? Grudging approach number two.

Lords Reform under Blair and Cameron

Now that the House of Lords has resoundingly defeated the government 14 times over plans to leave the EU, I find it highly amusing that the right-wing press has suddenly discovered that the Lords are unelected and therefore “undemocratic”! The leading exit extremists, including Rees-Mogg, were basically the same group who voted down attempts at reform under Blair’s New Labour and the 2010-15 coalition led by David Cameron.

Blair did succeed with a feeble compromise to reduce the number of hereditary peers to 92. Cameron’s attempts, half-hearted at best to appease his coalition partners, failed totally.

After over 100 years since the initial reform (see below), the Lords lives on as the largest unelected legislative chamber outside the People’s Republic of China. Resistance to the inherently corrupt Lords appointment system lives on.

End of Empire

After the costs of fighting World War Two, Britain was skint and heavily in debt to the USA. Our ignominious rush out of India and Palestine is well-documented elsewhere.

We did some pretty awful things as we finally left our colonial past, particularly in Africa. Here are a few examples of British Empire atrocities to be going along with. Independence for our former colonies, particularly those with majority non-white populations, was given grudgingly and often bloodily.

NHS Introduction 1948

Despite the lack of money and the high level of UK national debt, Nye Bevan pushed forward his plan to introduce a National Health Service, free at the point of use. He did this in the teeth of opposition from the Conservatives and (initially) the doctors’ professional body, the BMA.

Over time, as the people came to love – and treasure – the NHS, the Tories have tried to forget this part of our history. During the 1950s the Tories grudgingly accepted that the NHS was part of the fabric of our society.

Lords Reform 1911

The Parliament Act 1911, introduced by the Liberal Government, was passed in the face of bitter opposition and resistance. Its effect was to reduce the powers of the upper house and in its powers over budget setting. The preamble to the Bill included the words “it is intended to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis, but such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation“. You can say that last bit again! I’m sure the original 1911 reformers would never have dreamt we would still be debating this issue 100 years later.

Once again, change was resisted and introduced grudgingly.

Women’s Vote

The Representation of the People Act 1918 finally brought the franchise to women over the age of 30 and extended male franchise. A vicious rearguard action against the suffragists and suffragettes had been waged for decades before; the issue was often bound up in Parliament with horse-trading over independence for Ireland. Measures, including the infamous Cat and Mouse Act 1913 and forced-feeding meant that women were subjected to treatment that would be classified as torture today. Resistance took on a very sinister tone.

Universal suffrage came very grudgingly!

Irish Independence

The fight for Irish Home Rule was resisted by the establishment at every turn, often entangled in the “and Unionist” element of the Tory Party. The Government of Ireland Act 1920 introduced the controversial border which created Northern Ireland as part of the UK from six northern counties of Ireland. We live still with the consequences of this decision.

True independence for the Republic of Ireland came in stages and finally in 1948. The changes were resisted for decades and the UK has never fully understood the colonial nature of its earlier relationship with the people of Ireland. Grudgingly again.

Electoral Reform 1830s

The 1832 Reform Act was the first small step to widening the franchise, passed by a Whig Government and fiercely resisted by the Tories at the time. It did also do away with the notorious “rotten boroughs” and introduced constituencies with roughly the same populations.

The number of people allowed to vote increased only by a tiny amount – grudgingly.

Abolition of Slavery

Practically everyone knows that compensation was paid to the slave owners, not the slaves, when slavery was abolished by the Slavery Abolition Act 1933.  The bribe was huge: £20 million: 40% of Government income for the year. It was paid as part of a grubby scheme to overcome resistance of those in the establishment who had benefited from the slave trade and slavery.

Glorious Revolution

The so-called “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 saw King James overthrown by force and led to the Bill of Rights. Although much bound up in Protestant – Catholic antagonism, it was a case of Parliament challenging the absolute power of a monarch. During the machinations, James turned to the Tories for support.

Runnymede by force

Even in 1215, Magna Carta would never have come about voluntarily by King John. Although hardly a revolution by “the people”, the rebels used force (and the threat of it) to force the king to sign.

Tories inheritors of this tradition

None of the above is exactly news. And the last two examples pre-date political parties and are more examples of aristocracy versus absolute monarchy. But my general point is this: all progressive reforms have come about by fierce – and often bloody – pressure and have been resisted by authority figures. You can be assured that May’s recent grudging acceptance of the inevitable in relation to the Grenville Tower fire enquiry is just the most recent example of whose side the Tories have always been on. And it’s never the side of those pressing for reform.

If we want to see Britain as an open European-orientated, welcoming, diverse, multicultural country, we need to fight for it all the way.

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Split Down the Middle

Thanks to the uselessness of David Cameron, the split in the Tory Party has spread to the whole country.

Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
I’m so scared in case I fall off my perch,
And the Dunces leave me here in the lurch,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Split down the middle with you

Split?

Yes I’m split down the middle with you,
And I’m wondering what it is I should do,
It’s so hard to put a smile on my face,
Losing control, yeah, I’m all over the place,
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, split down the middle with you

Well you started out as Mayor,
And you’re proud that you’re been there,
And your fans, they all come crawlin,
Slap you on the back and say,
Please, please

Trying to make some sense of it all,
But I can see that it makes no sense at all,
Is it cool to show Jack Rees-Mogg the door,
‘Cause I don’t think that I can take anymore
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, split down the middle with you

Well you started at the MOD,
You’re as proud a Brit as there can be,
Your corrupt friends, they come crawlin,
Slap you on the back and say,
Please, please

Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
I’m so scared in case I do something wrong,
‘Cos all can see I’m really not that strong,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Split down the middle with you,
Yes I’m split down the middle with you,
Split down the middle with you, here I am split down the middle with you

 

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Telling the Truth

Theresa May is reported as taking the lead in consolidating the anti-Russia alliance of nations against “fake news” and propaganda (particularly via social media).

Common Ground

This seems like sensible politics. All the UK’s European allies, and several other countries, were convinced at Russia’s guilt in the Salisbury poisonings and were very supportive. This obviously included the “sanctions” of sending home diplomats. Russia’s response has been harsh words but no real action. Within the UK, there has been genuine bipartisan support. Pretty much everyone agrees that Russia is a key source of fake news. So far, so good.

 

There is, however, a major flaw in May’s approach. Her sycophantic approach to the US President, first in her dash to Washington soon after Trump’s inauguration, her offer of a state visit (subsequently downgraded to a working visit to avoid protests) and her continuing support for Trump’s deceptions are very worrying. The adoption of the hardest of hard terms and her silly red lines – to appease the Dunce minority in her party – in the negotaitions with the EU leave Britain hopelessly exposed to a man “not morally fit” to be President (so said James Comey, former FBI chief, on April 15th).  [At the time of writing this, The UK Government has not responded to Trump’s lies about knife crime and blood-covered floors at a prestigious London Hospital. This was in part of his love-affair speech to the National Rifle Association yesterday. Martin Griffiths, the apparent source of the Trump story (in an interview recently for Radio 4’s Today programme), has replied on Twitter. He said he is happy to invite Trump to visit his hospital to see the success in reducing knife crime. Will May speak out? We’ll have to wait and see.]

And the UK Government has got quite skilled in generating Fake News of its own.

Fake News: An Example

The most recent, and egregious, example is the success the Government propaganda machine had this week getting the NON-STORY about Breast Cancer screening top billing on  BBC TV and Radio and front page headlines in all the newspapers on 3 May.

AgeX breast cance trial
AgeX trial

The (inconvenient to Government) facts, given in detail below from the Guardian on 3 May, can be summarised as follows:

  • Running trials of this type has 3 effects:
    • It costs money
    • A few women have their cancer detected earlier and this reduces the risk of an early death
    • Several more women will get “false positive” results and will undergo unnecessary distressing surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.

Following some inconclusive Scandinavian result, NHS England set up a project: AgeX to see if offering routine screening to younger and older women was cost-effective. The objectives of the trial are reproduced from the Official AgeX website.

“The National Health Service (NHS) routinely offers breast screening every 3 years to all UK women aged 50-70. In 2012, an independent panel concluded that, while routine breast screening at ages 50-70 confers significant benefit to UK women, the advantages and disadvantages of starting breast screening at younger or older ages were uncertain. The AgeX trial will assess reliably the risks and benefits of offering an extra screen to women aged 47-49 (who will all be offered routine screening anyway three years later) and, separately, of offering additional screening to women after age 70 (who will already have been offered routine screening every 3 years at ages 50-70).”

  • At most, 40,000 women lost out on an offer of an extra screening, not 450,000.
  • There was NO COMPUTER ERROR: it was all part of the trial’s design with a control group to make the results statistically valid.
  • There was nothing for Jeremy Hunt to apologise for!
  • If AgeX had screened all women over 68, about 200 would have been correctly diagnosed earlier with breast cancer. 30 would die within 5 years, but only a small fraction of this number, unknown and unknowable, would have been saved by earlier screening. Another 600 would have undergone unnecessary treatment because of the “false positive” effect.
  • Nobody in the know recognises Hunt’s 135 to 270 deaths figure.

A Mathematical Joke

As a maths graduate who spent the first seven years of his career in statistics and computer modelling, I am confident of the numbers. So let’s have an old mathematical joke to break the boredom.

An astronomer, a physicist and a mathematician were travelling by train through Scotland. They notice a black sheep in an otherwise empty field. The astronomer says: “Look! All the sheep in Scotland are black!” “No, no!” says the physicist. “All you can say is that SOME of the sheep are black.” There is an awkward silence. It lasts no more than a second or two, but seems much longer. The mathematician raises his eyes skyward, a look of utter contempt on his face. He intones, in a flat, monotonous voice: “In Scotland, there exists at least one field which contains at least one sheep, AT LEAST ONE SIDE OF WHICH is black.”

Mathematicians laugh at the joke. Everyone else laughs at the mathematicians for finding it funny.

Meanwhile, back to the politics.

Burying Bad News

Some clever person in 10 Downing Street (i.e. an adviser, not May!) obviously decided they wanted to bury some bad news on 2 May. It wasn’t the local election results, which were inconclusive and proved nothing. So my guess is that the bad news was this: May’s inner War Cabinet met to hammer out which of two competing options they wanted to create a (near) “seamless” border in Ireland. Both options had been rejected as unworkable, “magic” even, 18 months ago, and again rejected in early March. Barnier gave the UK until 18 April to come with a non-magical solution: the date has obviously been fudged a bit and the Cabinet meeting on 2 May was meant to sort this out: it didn’t. So my guess is that the Government needed blanket coverage of something else, and the non-news about breast screening worked like a dream.

So what has happened?

  • 10,000 worried women phoned the helpline on Friday, rising from 5000 on Wednesday. It sounds chaotic, with call centre staff insufficiently trained.
  • Up to 450,000 women will be unnecessarily worried, but with only a few worried enough to call the helpline or go their GP (although NHS England has specifically asked women NOT to go to their GP).

So, one question remains. Was Jeremy Hunt in on the game? We don’t know.

  1. If Hunt didn’t understand the numbers, that makes him even more incompetent than the eye-watering levels of incompetence already set by all the members of May’s Cabinet (including May herself). That takes some beating, but Hunt would have achieved it. In which case, he should resign.
  2. Or else Hunt is complicit in the conspiracy to spread fake news. In which case, he should resign.

Meantime, the EU negotiations descend ever further into farce and tragedy.

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Tail Wags Dog: Dunces All!

Back in February, in my post Call It Out: Crazies!, I coined the term I have been using for the irreconcilable Leavers in the Tory Party: Crazies. In the light of recent events, I’ve changed my mind – and my name for them. Here’s why.

dunce
Dunce

Taking stock

First, let’s take stock of where we are.

  • 62 MPs signed a pre-emptive letter to Theresa May demanding the most inflexible arrangements (almost certainly unacceptable to the EU officials and EU27) for the UK and a customs union. That represents 20% of the Tory party and less than 10% of the membership of the House of Commons. Tail wags dog.
  • May boxes herself into a position where she is beholden on these unrepresentative idiots, because of her extreme weakness and vulnerability as party leader.
  • Inner “War Cabinet” kicks the can further down the road on a seamless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. The EU deadline was 18 April for the UK to come up with a solution. Two years wasted.
  • In short, government paralysis, led by the most stubborn, useless Prime Minister in my lifetime.
  • All credible options involving leaving the EU still worse than the status quo.

How did we get into such a mess, with the UK a laughing-stock? The EU27 view us with a mixture of frustration (for not knowing what “we” want) and pity.

So, let’s clarify my new name for the people who are being allowed by May to hold us to ransom.

Deluded

D is for Deluded. Specifically, I’m referring to the post-imperial, nostalgic seekers after Empire 2.0, largely based upon the old white Commonwealth: racist as well as deluded.

Unhinged

U is for Unhinged. I don’t go in for cod-psychology. But the mind-set required to deny reality smacks of elements of mental illness.

Nasty

N is for Nasty. May has, ironically, fulfilled her earlier warning and prediction: the Tories are now a fully-fledged Nasty Party, extending far beyond the Windrush generation. Hasn’t everyone noticed yet?

Crazy

C is for Crazy. Still crazy after all these weeks, as I said in February.

Europhobic

E is for Europhobic. These people see the EU and our nearest neighbours as the enemies. I see them as our closest friends internationally, with whom we share the most values. This Europhobic disease is usually associated with an unhealthy addiction to the mythical “special relationship” with the USA. Is there anyone sane who would want a special relationship with Donald J Trump?

DUNCE Ratings

So my new acronym is to call these people Dunces.

How about a little game: some key politicians and my assessment of their DUNCE scores (marks out of 5).

Jacob Rees-Mogg (plus many long-standing Tory backbenchers such as Bill Cash): 5+5+5+5+5=25

Liam Fox: 5+5+5+5+5=25: no trade deals signed yet, or for the foreseeable future.

Boris Johnson: 3+2+5+3+3=16: hard to assess, as his Trump-lite narcissism heavily disguises his true motives.

Theresa May: 2+1+5+0+5=13. The final 5 is based upon her actions since taking over as PM, not on the fact that she was a (shy) Remainer in the vote.

Jeremy Corbyn: 0+0+0+0+3=3. Corbyn has never fully shaken off his Eurosceptic approach; practically the whole of the Labour Party’s MPs would score a total of 0 to 1 points. Opportunity missed?

Keir Starmer: 0+0+0+0+0=0. Saw him at Cambridge when he was DPP. Sane, rational, best man to present Labour’s position (but not necessarily as Party leader).

A Fine Mess

So where does this leave us? In a fine mess. Let’s see what the local election results and a few more defeats in the Lords – and Commons – do for us. We live in unprecedented times. In the meantime, don’t let the Dunces destroy all we progressives value in Britain!

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Equal Under the Law

We no longer live in a democracy. The UK is now more a sort of elective dictatorship – and will remain so for as long as Theresa May continues to be Prime Minister and she continues to approach her role as she does currently.

What Makes a Modern Democracy?

A common fallacy is that it is all about the voting. As long as all adults have chance to vote every few years, everything will work out in the long term. That’s just a tiny part. Modern democracies have evolved over centuries and it is the interplay of several components (which we take for granted) which are all needed.

The terms “democracy” and “liberal democracy” are almost interchangeable these days. Wikipedia, as ever, has a go at defining both: Democracy and Liberal democracy. Its components can be broken down in many ways. Here, I’m using those stated by political scientist Larry Diamond. I shall mention two of them only very briefly and concentrate on the last two.

According to Diamond, democracy consists of four key elements: a political system for choosing and replacing the government; the active participation of the people; protection of human rights of all citizens; and the rule of law.

Political System

Basically, this is a system for choosing and replacing the Government through free and fair elections. The British system requires that Parliament is sovereign. A basic requirement for any democracy is that the system produces a government broadly in line with the public’s wishes, i.e. that it is representative of the people who voted for it, but not beholden to their every whim and wish. This is not the place to discuss the merits of our “first past the post” electoral system, so I will say no more except, by world standards, I think we’re still pretty good. Obviously, the unelected House of Lords is a major aberration, but again, this is not the place I wish to discuss reform of the Lords.

Active Participation

Diamond’s view of this includes not only voting, but also embraces active “citizens”, i.e. active in politics and civic life. Implicit in this is that the electorate are reasonably well-informed about what they are voting for. I contend that this last point was simply not true for the EU referendum.

election turnout
Election turnout since 1945

The election turnout figures since WWII from Wikipedia show a broadly steady trend at about 75% until the New Labour years, which mark a significant fall to about 60% in 2001, followed by a slow recovery back to around 70%.

For comparison, the turnout for the EU referendum was 72.2%, only slightly above the figures for recent general elections. I draw no conclusions from these figures here.

Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists five fundamental rights: Right to equality; freedom from discrimination; right to life, liberty, personal security; freedom from slavery; freedom from torture, and degrading treatment. To these, for a “liberal democracy”, I would add the freedom of expression, which includes freedom of speech and of the press.

By European standards, Britain fares badly under “freedom of the press” with the vast majority (by circulation) of the media owned by foreign or non-domiciled billionaires with agendas far removed from public opinion. I have commented on this in the past and simply draw attention to this fact here.

But I do want to say some words on the right to equality and on freedom from discrimination. Linton Kwesi Johnson in a rare and interesting interview in Saturday’s Guardian, states “I believe that racism is very much part of the cultural DNA of this country, and most probably has been so from imperial times”. Evidence for this is overwhelming and endorsed strongly in an excellent book I read recently: Inglorious Empire by Shashi Tharoor. He has particularly harsh words – repeatedly – to say about the extreme racism of Winston Churchill, for example. The Windrush generation has just brought the institutionalised racism of UK immigration policy into the limelight. It affects many, many more than those who arrived on the Empire Windrush. UKIP (when it was a force to contend with) and the Tories (by adopting UKIP-type policies) have strongly encouraged the rise of the racists and bigots in our midst.

But this is still not the reason I say we’re living in an elective dictatorship.

Rule of Law

The rule of law divides into four key areas: an independent judiciary, the right to a fair trial, presumption of innocence and equality under the law.

A judiciary independent of the executive arm of Government is hard-wired into the Constitution of the USA and has, so far, saved us from the full evils of Trumpism. Britain succeeds in this area too, but more by custom and practice than anything concrete – until the European Convention on Human Rights was incorporated into UK law, by the Blair government. The Tories have threatened to overturn the Human Rights Act 1998, so beware.

I think we do fairly well on fair trials, so no further comments on this.

And so to the factors supporting my assertion we are becoming more like a dictatorship: presumption of innocence and equality under the law.

Presumption of Innocence

For centuries, this has had two practical effects. Defendants have the right to have their evidence considered by the magistrate, judge or jury (alongside all the other evidence). And the onus is on the state (i.e. prosecution) to prove (beyond reasonable doubt in criminal cases) the guilt of someone accused.

Theresa May’s hostile environment policy has effectively removed this right from immigrants, including the Windrush generation. The same problem has spread, via the DWP, to the much harsher sanctions regime for poor and disabled people applying for benefits. In both cases, aspiring immigrants and benefit seekers are disbelieved (i.e. assumed guilty) and it is they who must prove their “innocence”. This is a flagrant violation of natural justice and of the rule of law. Such practices can normally only be found in fascist-type dictatorships, not democracies.

Equality Under the Law

The hostile environment applies to undocumented (i.e. NOT illegal) immigrants and to the poor and disabled. It follows, as night follows day, that this is discriminatory: race, gender, disability, you name it. So we no longer have equality under the law. QED.

With Amber Rudd gone, the spotlight turns to Theresa May herself. Good. And about time. She’s at the dead centre of Britain sliding into some kind of elective dictatorship. I’ll leave it there.

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A Fine Bromance

I’m sometimes a bit behind with the news. I don’t always watch the Ten O’Clock News: it’s just too mad and depressing. So it was courtesy of Have I Got News for You that I saw the gut-heaving video of Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to the USA. Here are some stills to give you the flavour:

Bromance
Bromance

YUK, YUK, YUKETY-YUK!

For those who want to see the videos, iPlayer streams the whole programme at:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0b124gz/have-i-got-news-for-you-series-55-episode-4

The relevant stuff is between 10:19 and 15:36.

Another Singalong

Meantime, here’s another old tune (from the 1930s) with new words for you to sing along to:

A Fine Bromance

A fine bromance: I groped the missus
A fine bromance, mon frère, this is
You bring to the White House a charm and some genuine cachet
So don’t be as cold as yesterday’s pommes de terre hachées.

A fine bromance, it began well
A fine bromance with Emmanuel
I needed a friend and I’ve found one with him now, dear mon ami
I hope that the world can see all our wonderful bonhomie

A fine bromance, we’ve no morals
A fine bromance, so no quarrels
You’ve spoken to Congress and said that you don’t like my plan
For climate change and for Iran
But this is a fine bromance.

A fine bromance, I’m so needy
A fine bromance, and so greedy
I don’t know if he’s into the huntin’ and shootin’
But anyway, I’ve still got that Vladimir Putin.

A fine bromance, I’m primordial
A fine bromance, entente cordiale
Our relationship’s strong, and we don’t want to see it all blown apart
I love him ‘cos he looks like Napoleon Buonaparte

A fine bromance, you look fitter
A fine bromance, my heart’s a-Twitter
Poor Angela and T’resa, the don’t stand the slightest chance
They won’t get a second glance
‘Cos this is a fine bromance.

 

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David Who?

Have you seen this man?

David Cameron wanted poster
Wanted?

Many rumours exist about this man:

  • He is believed to have once been Prime Minister of this country
  • If you see him, he is probably safe to approach. He is believed to be no longer dangerous.
  • At one time, he was seen as extremely dangerous: his laid-back attitude to the job allowed his henchman, Wild Gideon Osborne to wreak havoc and destitution amongst the poor and disabled
  • He put Party interest above the National Interest
  • He caved in to the Crazies (no, not the Crankies, but he’d probably do that too)
  • He split the country down the middle by calling an ill-advised referendum, thereby encouraging racists and bigots to commit acts of violence (Remember Jo Cox MP)
  • He made no plans in the event he would lose
  • He lost
  • He buggered off to write his memoirs.

Location

He is rumoured to be lying low in an expensive caravan somewhere in rural Oxfordshire. If you find this caravan, take the following steps:

  • Creep softly up to the door of the caravan
  • Turn the key to lock it
  • Take the key
  • Throw it away where no one can find it.

    Paxman on Cameron

    In the more informal surroundings of Room 101, Jeremy Paxman finally told us what he thought of Cameron:

    “The worst Prime Minister since Lord North”. Probably just about sums him up. Enough said.

 

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