Lib-Dems abandon Liberalism and confirm that they are Tory scum

The night the Lib Dems gave up their last remaining principles

Image of Tories David Cameron and Nick Clegg

[L]ast night the party sold out whatever remaining principles it had after four years in office. There can be no excuse for what it did yesterday evening.

It was a debate on judicial review. Judicial review sounds boring but it is one of the most democratic legal mechanisms available to the British citizen. It allows us to challenge illegal government decisions, to fight government irrationality and to challenge the decisions made by authorities. In the words of one peer, it is “the British defence of freedom” and the means by which we avoid “elected dictatorship”.

Chris Grayling has lost several judicial review cases this year, for the simple reason that he keeps acting illegally and irrationally. So he has decided to try and eradicate it. That’s not what it’s called, of course. It’s called ‘reform’. But his reform will make it impossible for anyone but the very rich to use it.

The Lords fought back and voted down several of the bill’s measures. Last night the criminal justice and courts bill returned to the Commons.

The press do not cover judicial review for the same reason the public are not interested in it – because no-one really knows what it is. Why waste a principled stand on a matter of principle alone, when tomorrow there might be a more popular principled stand to take?

But judicial review goes to the heart of what it is to be a liberal. It is the individual against the state. It is like liberalism triple-distilled and poured into a bottle. One struggles to imagine a more perfect encapsulation of liberal philosophy.

No Lib Dem MP outside of Sarah Teather can call themselves a liberal this morning. They have betrayed the central tenet of the philosophy they claim to hold dear.

 

Continue ReadingLib-Dems abandon Liberalism and confirm that they are Tory scum

DRAFT: I’m just starting to get a grasp on this ISIS BS – and strangely enough it’s about oil

I’m just starting to get a grasp of this ISIS BS. I wonder if any newspapers will be publishing this story with me tomorrow.

Kurdistan has control over its natural resources according to the constitution of the federal Iraq.

Kurdistan sold its oil in Texas independently of the central Iraqi government despite legal action by the central government to prevent that sale.

Basra in the south of Iraq is the region responsible for the vast majority of Iraq’s oil production – about 75% – together with huge oil and gas reserves.

Basra has also been attempting to assert its control over it’s oil resources in federal Iraq.

This Independent article raises objections to UK government claims that military intervention is legal since it is requested by the Iraqi government. It should also be appreciated that the Kurdish Regional Government has legitimate control of Kurdish oil.

This is a DRAFT and I will publish a fuller article

21.25 Still working on this. The least UK MPs can do if they’re going to vote on military intervention tomorrow is to try to comprehend the wider context and legal issues.

Continue ReadingDRAFT: I’m just starting to get a grasp on this ISIS BS – and strangely enough it’s about oil

Commentary and analysis

Commentary and analysis of recent UK political events …

Good to see that blind old cnut David ‘airy-fairy civil liberties’ Blunkett announces his resignation at the next general election. Not a moment to soon, eh?

The Liberal-Demonrats are out for Nick Clegg while the Labour Party are out for Ed Miliband.

Image of David Cameron and Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg is described as ‘toxic’ on the doorstep which seems about right. He is a very hated figure having abandoned election pledges and supported nasty Tories. The truth is that Nick Clegg has always been a Tory – he was a member of Cambridge Uniersity’s Conservative Association, worked in Leon Brittan’s private office in Brussels (after Leon was relocated by Thatcher under some very nasty – scandalous even – er, alleged circumstances) and is an out-and-out Tory according to the Orange book and his calls to privatise the NHS.

I’m disappointed that the Labour Party is pursuing a policy of continuing the Conservative-Liberal-Democrat (Conservative) coalition’s austerity measures instead of pursuing tax evasion and avoidance. I am disappointed, for example, that Rachel Reeves has stated that Labour intends to be harder on benefits claimants than the Tories and that she has recently announced benefits cuts on young people – exactly the opposite to previous claims.

Image of Tony Blair and Ed Miliband

Ed Miliband seems to be adopting a policy of doing nothing to differentiate himself and the Labour Party from the Tories or Liberal-Demonrats Tories in an attempt to preserve his narrow poll margin. He most certainly won’t have my support while he is trying to out-Tory the Tories.

Tens of thousands march in London against coalition’s austerity measures

Image of Russell Brand at anti-austerity march 21 June 2014

Tens of thousands of people marched through central London on Saturday afternoon in protest at austerity measures introduced by the coalition government. The demonstrators gathered before the Houses of Parliament, where they were addressed by speakers, including comedians Russell Brand and Mark Steel.

An estimated 50,000 people marched from the BBC’s New Broadcasting House in central London to Westminster.

“The people of this building [the House of Commons] generally speaking do not represent us, they represent their friends in big business. It’s time for us to take back our power,” said Brand.

 

* Plans for this blog include regular updates and ‘monetizing’ (making money from it). I have resisted this but I can’t really see any alternatives. I’m sorry to say that ads are on their way.

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UK politics

A few recent UK (& other) politics articles

Continue ReadingUK politics

UK politics review – the lurch towards Fascism

UK political events combine into a lurch towards Fascism.

The gagging law is passed. Called the Transparency of Lobbying Bill, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act it has nothing to do with transparency of lobbying and everything to do with silencing the government’s critics and opponents. It’s a huge blow against trade unions and other campaigning groups like 38degrees and charities. The Conservative-pretendLiberal coalition have attacked democracy by passing this law.

Fascism is described by it’s creator Benito Mussolini as corporatism – the unification of corporations and government. This is entirely the action that the gagging law continues to excuse. Fascism is right-wing authoritarianism typified by attacks on trade unions and political opponents.

Home secretary Theresa May wants to strip suspected terrorists of their nationality and leave them stateless. This is to be done through the use of secret courts. Theresa May has previously stripped dual-nationals of UK nationality so that they could then be renditioned, etc.

This is intended to be done to suspected terrorists. If there was any evidence against them they would be terrorists. Political activists and dissidents are suspected terrorists. Terrorism as defined in UK law is not necessarily anything to do with explosives or arms or similar threats. Once again the government is seen to be silencing it’s critics and opponents.

Madman and London Mayor Boris Johnson wants police to use water cannon and “get medieval” on protesters. The riots of 2011 were sparked by the police murder of Mark Duggan.

Tory MP calls police on handful of retired constituents delivering petition against lobbying bill ‘gagging law’

Mark Duggan: profile of Tottenham police shooting victim

later edit: Home Secretary Theresa May’s intention is to deprive ‘naturalised’ subjects i.e. from abroad and granted UK status, of UK nationality. It’s still disproportionate since it only needs suspicion rather than any evidence and the powers are bound to be extended later. Politicians love terrorism because it gives them cover for Fascist laws.

Although reported almost universally as suspected terrorists it is actually “… the Secretary of State is satisfied that the deprivation is conducive to the public good because the person, while having that citizenship status, has conducted him or herself in a manner which is seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom, any of the Islands, or any British overseas territory.” [source] That seems far wider than suspected terrorists.

5/2/14
Rise in citizenship-stripping as government cracks down on UK fighters in Syria | The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Former British citizens killed by drone strikes after passports revoked | The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

‘Medieval Exile’: The 41 Britons stripped of their citizenship | The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Continue ReadingUK politics review – the lurch towards Fascism

Commentary on recent UK political events

Hey Ho, Hey Ho …

 

How the Orange Bookers took over the Lib Dems


What Britain now has is a blueorange coalition, with the little-known Orange Book forming the core of current Lib Dem political thinking. To understand how this disreputable arrangement has come about, we need to examine the philosophy laid out in The Orange Book: Reclaiming Liberalism, edited by David Laws (now the Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Paul Marshall. Particularly interesting are the contributions of the Lib Dems’ present leadership.

Published in 2004, the Orange Book marked the start of the slow decline of progressive values in the Lib Dems and the gradual abandonment of social market values. It also provided the ideological standpoint around which the party’s right wing was able to coalesce and begin their march to power in the Lib Dems. What is remarkable is the failure of former SDP and Labour elements to sound warning bells about the direction the party was taking. Former Labour ministers such as Shirley Williams and Tom McNally should be ashamed of their inaction.

Clegg and his Lib Dem supporters have much in common with David Cameron and his allies in their philosophical approach and with their social liberal solutions to society’s perceived ills. The Orange Book is predicated on an abiding belief in the free market’s ability to address issues such as public healthcare, pensions, environment, globalisation, social and agricultural policy, local government and prisons.

The Lib Dem leadership seems to sit very easily in the Tory-led coalition. This is an arranged marriage between partners of a similar background and belief. Even the Tory-Whig coalition of early 1780s, although its members were from the same class, at least had fundamental political differences. Now we see a Government made up of a single elite that has previously manifested itself as two separate political parties and which is divided more by subtle shades of opinion than any profound ideological difference.

 

Continue ReadingCommentary on recent UK political events

Commentary on and analysis of recent political events

Merry Christmas.

The New Statesman reports on Britain’s new Victorianism whereby the filthy rich get filthier rich and that the poor get poorer. Just in case you haven’t realised, we are most definitely not all in this together.

We are re-living a traditional Victorian Christmas – of excess for the few and struggle for the many

Like the Victorian poor, Britons on low and middle incomes are often treated as a different caste of people to those which in the nineteenth century were called the “upper ten thousand” and are now the “super rich” 0.1%. The practice of sacrificing workers’ need for reliable incomes to the desire of employers to have flexibility is spreading – through zero-hours contracts and false self-employment – up the income scale. This is reflected in how our incomes are described: too often, the business pages of refer to the pay of the 0.1% as “reward” (they are valuable creatures to be nurtured and thanked) whereas the rest of us are “labour costs”.

At the other end of the scale, the rich are getting richer. The UK’s 1,000 wealthiest people last year got richer by £35bn: they now have assets, on average, of £450m each. London now boasts the world’s most expensive home, and we are seeing the return of the butler. The share of national income that the top 1% get fell throughout most of the 20th century, but is again heading towards Victorian levels.

And this new gentry are not, for the most part, talented hard-working who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. As in the Victorian era, the rich are the privileged offspring of privileged parents. The UK has one of the lowest levels of social mobility in the developed world. A child whose parents send them to private school is 11 times more likely to go on to run a major company than his state-school equivalent, and 30 times more likely to become a high-court judge.

Martin Robbins reports on Cameron and the illiberal Con-Dem coalition government’s progress in censoring the internet. He asks what the porn filter is all about? I think that you can see what was intended by looking at the consequences: it was intended to censor huge swathes of the internet and allow only a prudish flaccid anodyne vacuity and it was intended to disempower individuals so that using the internet should be passive like watching television.

Cameron’s internet filter goes far beyond porn – and that was always the plan

As Wired reported back in July, Cameron’s ambitions extended far beyond porn. Working through secretive negotiations with ISPs, the coalition has put in place a set of filters and restrictions as ambitious as anything this side of China, dividing the internet into ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ categories, and cutting people off from huge swathes of it at the stroke of a key.

“As well as pornography, users may automatically be opted in to blocks on “violent material”, “extremist related content”, “anorexia and eating disorder websites” and “suicide related websites”, “alcohol” and “smoking”. But the list doesn’t stop there. It even extends to blocking “web forums” and “esoteric material”, whatever that is. “Web blocking circumvention tools” is also included, of course.”

And the restrictions go further still. Over the weekend, people were appalled to discover that BT filters supported homophobia, with a category blocking, “sites where the main purpose is to provide information on subjects such as respect for a partner, abortion, gay and lesbian lifestyle, contraceptive, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.”

It was never really clear what the so-called porn filter was supposed to achieve; what problem it was trying to prevent. Filtering seems to have become a crutch for inept parents looking for an easy way to avoid having real conversations with their kids about sex, porn and the world outside their comfortable little cul-de-sacs. If their first sight of a vagina traumatizes your teenage child, then you have brought them up wrong – but of course the problem here is often the parent more than the child; the embarrassed mother of father – projecting their own feelings of discomfort and embarrassment around the topic of sex onto their child. There remains, despite a wave of public hysteria, no good evidence that porn has any detrimental effect on children.

What clearly does have an impact on children though is denying them sex education, suppressing their sexual identity, and shutting off access to child protection or mental health charities. In all this talk of porn filters, the rights of the children campaigners supposedly want to protect have been ignored or trampled. Children should have a right to good quality sex education, access to support hotlines and websites, and information about their sexuality.

Chris Grayling and the illiberal Con-Dem Conservative coalition government are accused of being petty and killjoys for banning prisoners from receiving gifts from friends and families.

 

Prisoners Won’t Receive Parcels This Christmas

Convicted prisoners will not be able to receive parcels from their loved ones this Christmas under new rules introduced by the Government.

The rules forbid prisoners from receiving any items in the post unless there are “exceptional circumstances”.

The new measures were introduced in November, meaning this is the first Christmas for which the new rules will be in effect.

A Prison Service spokesperson confirmed the rule change, saying it was part of a raft of Government reforms.

But Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “These new mean and petty prison rules just add stress and strain while doing nothing to promote rehabilitation and personal responsibility.”

OurNHS in 2013 – some highlights

OurNHS is on a publishing break until the New Year. Why not check out some of our stories you may have missed?

Dr Clare Gerada, outgoing Chair of the Royal College of GPs, asks ‘What do we want – a good doctor, or “patient choice”?’ 

How did we get here? Marcus Chown explains in The great NHS robbery.

Could young doctors have done more to fight NHS ‘reforms’, asks Guddi Singh in Asleep on the job – young doctors and the NHS reforms.

Dr Jacky Davis questions the media presentation of hospital deaths.

Dr David Zigmond challenges the poor quality of decision making in the new NHS structures in ‘NHS decisions, Eurovision-style’. Richard Grimes wonders whether the Deregulation Bill is even more worrying than the Lobbying Bill in ‘A Bonfire of Citizens’ Rights’.

OurNHS editor Caroline Molloy investigates the rising threat of NHS charges in Zombie policies walking into Downing Street, the scandal of Peterborough Hospital and the PFI racket and asks ’What is G4S doing in England’s NHS’? She also exposes how predictions of compulsory tendering are coming true, and how the NHS pays millions to end contracts which have put patient lives at risk.

In The Race to Privatise England’s NHS Paul Evans of the NHS Supporters Federation lays bare just how many contracts are going out to the private sector.

In ‘The NHS and dog whistle politics’, Dr Kamliz Boomla highlights the problems of charging migrants for the NHS, and Shibley Rahman asks whether we should be worried about personal budgets in ‘Shop til you drop’.

The sale of personal medical data to private interests is exposed in “Your medical data – on sale for a pound” by Phil Booth of MedConfidential.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett speaks out on the sell-off of NHS land.

Clive Peedell (National Health Action Party Leader) tells us how David Cameron has lied about his intention to privatise the NHS.

Rachael Maskell, Unite National Officer for health, highlights the scandal of low pay in the NHS & the NHS’s electoral impact.

Ex-Children’s Commissioner Sir Al Aynsley-Green sets out how the health and welfare ‘reforms’ are failing children.

Professor Dexter Whitfield asks should we turn the NHS into mutual and co-ops?, Professor Rosemary Mander questions whether charities are losing their way in healthcareand Andrew Robertson of Social Investigations exposed how the charity sector has lobbied for NHS privatisation.

Professor Marianna Fotaki of the Centre for Health & the Public Interest suggests the NHS learn from how privatisation has damaged social care.

Dr Kailash Chand OBE urges Labour to ‘Shout from the rooftops’ to save the NHS, Grahame Morris MP of the Health Select Committee) exposes how privatisation is harming Freedom of Information and Roger Kline asks if private sector secrecy will stop the NHS becoming more open.

In 2013 OurNHS was the first to highlight and promote campaigns including the privatisation (Section 75) regulations, the EU/US Free Trade Treatyand the Hospital Closure clause.  

We recently launched an up-to-date resource guide, the most comprehensive collection of the best NHS campaigning resources on the Web, and hope to build on our work supporting grassroots campaigners.

2014 will be a big year for NHS campaigning. There are big questions to address on healthcare funding, charging, cuts and privatisation, and democratic accountability. OurNHS wants to continue to ensure a range of progressive and sometimes challenging voices are heard in the debate.

OurNHS continues to campaign hard for an ‘NHS restoration bill’ to restore the Secretary of State’s duty to secure a comprehensive health service, abolished by the 2012 Health & Social Care Act.

See you in 2014!

Donate to OurNHS

Continue ReadingCommentary on and analysis of recent political events

Commentary on and analysis of recent political events

Why did Jack Straw try to make it illegal for children at childrens’ homes to speak out about abuse? Was Jack Straw influenced by the fact that some of his friends and fellow politicians were paedophiles? Was this a desperate attempt to stop the truth coming out not only that Labour politiicans are paedophiles but highest level politicians of ALL parties?

Fifty new nuclear plants could be goal in official energy plans

Up to 50 nuclear power stations could be built under plans being looked at by the government. The remarkable figure – 10 times the number the government is openly discussing – is revealed in documents submitted to the Department of Energy and Climate Change by one of its own advisory bodies.

The documents are likely to raise questions as to what extent the government’s energy policy is weighted in favour of nuclear and away from renewables such as wind turbines. It comes as Brussels begins an investigation into whether Britain is providing up to £17bn of potentially illegal public guarantees for the first nuclear power plant in a generation, Hinkley Point C in Somerset, which aims to provide 7% of the country’s electricity.

Image of GCHQ donught building

NSA leaks: UK and US spying targets revealed

More details of people and institutions targeted by UK and US surveillance have been published by The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel.

The papers say that the list of around 1,000 targets includes a European Union commissioner, humanitarian organisations and an Israeli PM.

The Guardian writes that GCHQ targeted the UN development programme, Unicef, German government buildings and the EU Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia.

Latest Snowden revelations expose Obama’s lies on NSA spy programs

Just hours after receiving a report from his hand-picked advisory panel on National Security Agency surveillance operations, President Barack Obama used his end of the year press conference Friday to deliver an Orwellian defense of unrestrained US spying both at home and abroad.

“I have confidence that the NSA is not engaging in domestic surveillance and snooping around,” Obama said, despite the cascade of revelations proving just the opposite. These revelations, including the latest from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, have established that the agency is collecting and storing billions of files recording the phone calls, text messages, emails, Internet searches and even the daily movements of virtually ever US citizen, not to mention those of hundreds of millions of people abroad.

“The United States is a country that abides by rule of law[!], that cares deeply about privacy[!], that cares deeply about civil liberties[!],” he added. Who, at this late juncture, does the American president think he’s fooling? One only has to read the ruling by a Washington, DC Federal District Court judge—which was then stayed in the interest of “national security”—finding the surveillance methods of the NSA to be “almost Orwellian,” and its activities unconstitutional, i.e., criminal.

UK reneges on promised independent inquiry on rendition, torture

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has abandoned its promise to carry out an independent inquiry into Britain’s involvement in “extraordinary rendition”, detention”and torture carried out by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Instead, the inquiry will be undertaken by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), whose record is one of covering up the activities of the intelligence services.

Only last month, the ISC questioned the head of the internal security service MI5, Andrew Parker; the director of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Sir Iain Lobban; and Sir John Sawers, head of the foreign intelligence department MI6. The hearing was meant to demonstrate unprecedented openness and accountability to Parliament of the secret state apparatus, after revelations by US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden that the UK agencies worked with the US to monitor the Internet and phone activity of most of the world’s citizens.

 …

Clare Algar, executive director of the human rights organisation Reprieve, criticised the decision to hand the investigation to the ISC: “If the government takes this course, it will be breaking its promise to hold a genuine, independent inquiry into the UK’s involvement in torture.

‘Megrahi was my friend. He did not kill my daughter’: Lockerbie father says British government is not telling the truth about the bombing

The father of one of the 270 victims of the Lockerbie bombing has asked mourners to pray for the “innocent family” of the only person convicted of the worst mass murder in British history, as the nation marked its 25th anniversary.

In his address to a memorial service at Westminster Abbey yesterday evening attended by relatives of the victims, Dr Jim Swire also accused the British government of failing to tell “all the truth they know about this terrible tragedy”.

Before the service, the UK, US and Libyan governments in a joint statement promised to work together to “reveal the full facts of the case”, saying that they wanted “all those responsible for this most brutal act of terrorism brought to justice, and to understand why it was committed”. [BS: positive identification]

Employment tribunal claims fell by more than half after introduction of fees

Theresa May strips citizenship from 20 Britons fighting in Syria

Abandoned: Theresa May turns back on American-held terror suspect

Labour should “do god” BS …

Continue ReadingCommentary on and analysis of recent political events

Commentary on and analysis of recent political events

Today’s politics news …

Hinkley Point Nuclear Deal With EDF Faces Probe

An inquiry has been launched into whether a £16bn government deal with French energy giant EDF to build a nuclear plant in the UK meets EU rules.

Britain has agreed to subsidise the project to build two reactors at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, promising guaranteed power prices from the plant for 35 years.

The European Commission said it wanted the views of third parties because of the unprecedented nature and scale of the Hinkley deal.

It said it had “doubts that the project suffers from a genuine market failure” and it would assess whether the nuclear plant could in fact be built without government support.

Theresa May, citizenship and the power to make people stateless

Theresa May has already used her power to revoke citizenship to brutal effect. Now it is believed she wants to re-write the law so that she can make people stateless. The implications are worrying.

Now May is believed to be planning a dramatic expansion of her powers to revoke citizenship by rewriting the law so that she can issue orders even where it will make people stateless, which is currently illegal under the British Nationality Act, and even though Britain is a signatory to international treaties aimed at reducing statelessness.

This would put Britain in uncomfortable company, alongside nations such as Bahrain, which has been criticised by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights for making dissidents stateless. In the US, the government is banned from removing the nationality of its citizens since a Supreme Court ruling in 1967, when judges ruled the US constitution did not allow for ‘fleeting citizenship, good at the moment it is acquired but subject to destruction by the Government at any time.’

HMRC ‘loses nerve’ chasing big firms, says MP

The UK tax authority “seems to lose its nerve” when chasing multinational companies for owed tax, the head of a committee of MPs has said.

Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, said that the approach was firmer when HMRC was pursuing small businesses.

A report by the committee said HMRC failed to demonstrate it was on the side of people who paid tax in full.

The committee said that HMRC failed to use the full range of sanctions at its disposal to vigorously pursue all unpaid tax.

It said it should pursue prosecutions to test the boundaries of the law, the committee said, and had yet to test how existing tax law impacted on global internet-based companies.

“The lack of prosecutions against multinational corporations seems at odds with HMRC’s stance on pursuing tax debt from small and medium-sized businesses in the UK,” the committee said.

MI5/MI6 torture collusion report published: Politics live blog

Rolling coverage of all the day’s political developments as they happen, including the publication of the Gibson inquiry report into allegations that MI5 and MI6 colluded in torture, and Kenneth Clarke’s statement about it to parliament

Continue ReadingCommentary on and analysis of recent political events

Commentary on and analysis of recent political events

The big story today is the current UK coalition government’s attempts to hide the UK’s part in torture and rendition under the Tony Blair government. Despite repeated denials by liar Jack Straw at the time, evidence has surfaced that Tony Bliar’s government conducted illegal renditions. It is widely accepted that Blair’s government had little regard for the law, truth or justice.

Image of liars Jack Straw and Tony BlairUK inquiry on rendition and torture to be handed to ISC

The stalled official inquiry into the UK’s involvement in rendition and torture in the years after 9/11 is to be handed to the controversial intelligence and security committee (ISC), the government will announce on Thursday.

The decision follows years of assurances by ministers that the inquiry would be headed by a senior judge.

It is a move that will dismay human rights groups. The ISC is the oversight body that failed to report publicly on the bulk surveillance operations being conducted by the UK’s signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, and it has already conducted one inquiry into rendition, after which it cleared MI5 and MI6 of blame.

The extent to which the agencies were involved in the abuse of terrorism suspects may be outlined on Thursday with the publication of a redacted version of an interim report of the stalled inquiry that was led by Sir Peter Gibson, a retired appeal court judge.

Gibson is said to be calling for further investigation into the UK’s involvement in the rendition of two Libyan opposition leaders and their families to Tripoli in 2004, and the role played by Jack Straw, who was foreign secretary at the time. Straw was not available for comment but has previously denied any wrongdoing. MI6 is reported to have confronted him with documentary evidence that he personally authorised the agency’s involvement in the rendition operations.

NHS sign

Poorest areas to get extra NHS money to tackle ill health

The poorest parts of England are to receive extra money to tackle ill health after NHS bosses rejected plans to divert resources from there to wealthy areas.

NHS England’s decision means that scores of GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in deprived areas will no longer see their budgets cut from April. Its board has defied the Department of Health by throwing out its plans to make the age of the local population, not the level of deprivation, a key factor in the allocation of NHS funding.

Labour MPs had claimed that such a move would lead to almost £1bn being shifted from poor areas which have low life expectancy to wealthier places where residents live longer.

Instead NHS England has opted to give all 211 CCGs rises of at least the rate of inflation both next year and in 2015-16, and give those serving the most deprived places extra money to help cope with the demand caused by ingrained health problems. It was obliged to do that to help meet its legal duty to reduce health inequalities and differences in life expectancy between rich and poor areas, said chief financial officer Paul Baumann….

For the Sake of Humanity Society Must Unleash War on the Tories

The campaign of hate being waged by this government of rich, privileged, and privately educated sociopaths against the poor, the unemployed, and those who dare try to claim the benefits to which they are entitled is unparalleled in modern history. Even Thatcher in her pomp was not as malicious in her treatment of the aforementioned demographic. This was not because she didn’t wish to be more malicious than she was, it was because when she came to power we still had trade unions capable and willing to resist such an onslaught, meaning that the cost involved in even attempting to rip up the foundations of the welfare state and the collective ethos which lies at its heart would have been too damaging to her government and party to make worthwhile.

Three decades on and the fruits of Thatcherism – with the corresponding neutering of the unions and other forms of working class solidarity – have culminated in a new normal of demonisation and the near criminalisation of poverty in Britain. Austerity has been sold to the country as a policy of necessity in response to years of Labour profligacy and a bloated public sector. It is a lie so bold and barefaced that even Joseph Goebbels would blush while repeating it.

Prisoners serving less than a year should be allowed to vote, says Parliamentary committee

Prisoners serving sentences of 12 months or less should be given the vote, the Government is today told by an all-party parliamentary committee.

It also called for all inmates who are within six months of release to be entitled to take part in elections.

The recommendations will not be welcome in Downing Street as David Cameron has said he would feel “physically sick” if prisoners were allowed to vote.

Britain is locked in an eight-year battle with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which has ruled that the blanket ban on prisoner voting is incompatible with European law.

Government to make 40 per cent of Britain available for fracking

The vast disruption that could be caused across the country by fracking has been laid bare, with the Government announcing it would make 40 per cent of Britain available to companies to explore for oil and gas next year.

Local communities could be subjected to thousands of wells being dug every year in the search for fossil fuels – requiring billions of litres of water, with dozens of lorries passing by every day – after the Coalition said it would put oil and gas licences covering 100,000 square kilometres up for auction next summer.

The auction, which would give the licence-winners exclusive rights to explore an area for oil and gas, but would require additional permits for fracking, would add to the 19,000 square kilometres of licences that have already been sold to hydrocarbon producers.

Ian Watkins abuse: police forces to be investigated by IPCC

Investigations are under way to find out if three police forces should have done more to pursue allegations of sex abuse, dating back to 2008, against Ian Watkins.

Watkins, the 36-year-old former Lostprophets lead singer, is to be sentenced on Wednesday for a string of offences including the attempted rape of a baby.

Before his sentencing, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it was investigating police forces in South Wales, where Watkins lived, but also South Yorkshire and Bedfordshire. One line of inquiry is whether officers failed to look properly into Watkins’s activities because of his celebrity status.

The IPCC’s commissioner Jan Williams said: “No one can fail to be shocked by the vile details of Ian Watkins’s offending that emerged in court last month.

“Questions are now rightly being asked as to whether Ian Watkins could have been brought to justice sooner, what steps were taken by police in response to allegations made against him as far back as 2008 and whether his celebrity status had any impact on the investigation.” He added, however, that the investigation was complex and would take time.

Continue ReadingCommentary on and analysis of recent political events