Posts Tagged ‘Hillsborough’

Tory Press Scaremongering about Sinn Fein Taking Seats in Westminster

June 14, 2017

In addition to the DUP’s links to Loyalist paramilitaries in Ulster, it seems the Tory press over this side of the Irish Sea have been trying to scare people with the spectre of Sinn Fein MPs taking their seats in the British parliament in Westminster. The Scum, Express and the Scotsman have been running stories about this.

This was too much for the French Philosophical Feline, who has produced a whole post showing how this very definitely won’t happen. He points out that Sinn Fein haven’t taken their seats in the British parliament ever since they became the third largest British party under Eamonn De Valera in the Coupon Election of 1918. If I remember correctly from when we did the ‘Irish Question’ as part of 19th century history at school, the Irish Nationalists’ policy of refusing to take their seats in Westminster goes back that far.

The Cat quotes a long section from an article by Sinn Fein’s Danny Morrison, stating the reasons the party won’t ever take up their seats in the British parliament. It’s partly because they’re Republicans, and so won’t swear an oath to the monarchy. It’s also partly because they can’t see themselves, as a minority party in parliament, ever passing any useful legislation.

But it’s mostly because they don’t recognise the validity of British government in Northern Ireland. They see Britain as a foreign, occupying power and so refuse to collaborate with it. Morrison also makes the point that it would be hypocritical of them to deny the authority of the British government over Northern Ireland, while actively claiming to have a right to interfere in British politics.

The Cat concludes

The British press has a terrible reputation for propagandizing and stirring up trouble, and anything it says with regards to Ireland and Irish sovereignty should be taken with a ton of salt – especially if its in The S*n, a paper that lied about Hillsborough and hacked people’s phones.

See: https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/dont-get-too-excited-sinn-fein-are-not-taking-their-seats-at-westminster/

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Vox Political: Inquiry Demanded into Smears by Police and Courts of Orgreave Miners

September 12, 2016

Mike has also put a report that tomorrow, a delegation from the Orgreave Truth and Justice campaign will meet with the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, to demand an inquiry into the wrongful arrest of 95 miners at the colliery during the Miner’s Strike, the construction of a false narrative about them, and the presentation of this false narrative to the media, which then uncritically accepted it. These allegations are based on previously unseen documents which show that there was collusion between the police and the courts in the attack on the miners at the Orgreave during the strike in 1984.

Mike states that there is clear prima facie evidence that there was undue political interference in the police and the courts. In light of the ongoing investigation into the way the police and the government doctored the evidence in the Hillsborough tragedy, Mike states that it seems to him that an inquiry must be launched. He wonders, however, how the Tories will try to slither out of it.

Inquiry demanded after Downing Street ‘used police and courts to smear Orgreave miners’

There is in my mind absolutely no question whatsoever that the miners’ campaign is exactly right. There’s abundant evidence about the way the media deliberately misled the public about Arthur Scargill and the Miners’ Strike, and Mike and numerous commenters on this blog have frequently remarked on the way the BBC edited footage of the violence at the colliery to show the police being attacked by miners, when the reality was the other way around.

I also went to a meeting in Bristol of the Fabian Society, in which the guest speaker was a member of the NUJ. She was discussing the threat posed by the increasing right-wing media bias and the concentration of the press and media in the hands of a very small number of magnates. The bias against the Miner’s Strike was one example of this, and she described the way Conservative politicians and officials moved around the country to coordinate and direct the attacks on the miners.

Seumas Milne, a former advisor of Jeremy Corbyn, has also written a history of the Miners’ Strike attacking the campaign against the NUM. I wonder if this is one of the real reasons Private Eye has also been running stories attacking him as part of their campaign against Corbyn. After all, a Prime Minister, who decided that Arthur Scargill was exactly right and showed how the union was correct about the unnecessary destruction of Britain coal industry, and Thatcher’s determination to break the unions, would just be too much for the Blairites now writing for it. And far too much for a political establishment that has been more or less thoroughly Thatcherite since her election victory in 1979. We can’t have anybody shattering the popular illusion that she made Britain great again, by showing that she did the exact opposite. The 1% would never allow that.

Chunky Mark The Artist Taxi Driver Interviews Frankie Boyle

June 13, 2014

Earlier this week, I wrote about the late, great Bill Hick’s brand of highly political comedy, and how he used it as a weapon to attack everything he considered to be oppressive, stupid and malign in politics and popular culture. Hick’s comedic description of the Reaganite senator Jesse Helms as murderous child-killer now strikes me as a pretty good description of our own Iain Duncan Smith. Smith’s reforms are leading to mass starvation and despair, with an estimated death rate of about 220 per week, or three every four hours. I cannot, however, see RTU finally having his conscience catch up with him, so that he ends it all by cutting his wrists in a bathtub under a pecan tree, while investigators find the bloody skins of all the children he’s murdered up in his attic. He’s also very self-aggrandising and self-promoting, so I doubt very much he’d ever write a suicide note saying ‘I been a bad boy’ either.

I did, however, find this interview on Youtube between Chunky Mark, the Artist Taxi Driver, and Frankie Boyle. Boyle is, of course, the comedian, whose remarks were so offensive he left the satirical panel show, Mock The Week, for his own late night show, Tramadol Nights, on Channel 4. Left-wing, outspoken, and with a seeming indifference or actual hostility to polite sensibilities and what is considered to be acceptable public discourse, Boyle shows himself in the interview to be intelligent, articulate and very well-informed, as well as political active for highly contentious and controversial issues. In the interview he discusses how he went on a hunger strike in support of Shakir Ahmed, a British internee in Guantanamo Bay, whom Boyle considers to have been wrongfully imprisoned. The conversation also touches on a number of esoteric, mystical subjects, like Vedantic (ancient Hindu) pantheism, Gnostic Christianity, Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, semiotics and conspiracy theories, the MKULTRA mind control programme, and the Bilderberg group. Fans of a certain Galaxy’s Greatest Comic will also note the way he compares the situation in Gitmo, where people have been interned without trial on a tropical island, with a 2000 AD strip. Zarjaz!

Boyle Careful in Speech about Non-Western Societies, also Concerned about Women’s Role Models

For someone, who became notorious for his offensive humour, it’s interesting to note how careful and well-thought out Boyle actually is about what he says. For example, at one point he talks about ‘primal’ societies. This is the approved, ‘pc’ term for tribal cultures. Note he does not say ‘primitive’. One of the reasons the term ‘primal’ was adopted in preference to ‘primitive’ was to make the point that these peoples are not primitive, but have their own, often very sophisticated culture.

He is also very definitely not a misogynist. He describes Pippa Middleton and other, upper-class women like her, as essentially Stepford Wives, promoting notions of female passivity. He defends making jokes about ‘rape’ but arguing that it is absurd to make it off-limits for humour, and points out that it depends on the type of joke being made. He wanted to make jokes that stigmatise the perpetrator, not the victim, and contrasted proper jokes of this sort with the type of treatment that is considered acceptable. He specifically mentions here two-part drama series on ITV, which he describes as the lowest kind, and pop songs about ‘rape’ that rhyme it with ‘cape’. As for the abuse doled out to women on Twitter, he agrees that this is part of an extremely twisted, misogynist culture. He sees it very much as part of a general ‘rape culture’.

Growth of Culture Where Attacks on Disabled and Poor Permissible

It’s clear that Boyle believes that there should be no limits to comedy, nor what should be able to be discussed, joked about, lampooned and satirised, in order to attack the oppressive and vicious. He and Chunky Mark, discussing the government’s welfare reforms, are shocked that Grant Shapps can actually declare – without shame!- that he’s proud of putting 5,000 cancer victims on workfare. Boyle states that he believes the government can get away with this because there is a silence about discussing disability in our culture, and so they can get away with attacking and bullying the disabled.

He is, however, extremely sceptical about the way humour is being used in the West to attack and criticise authority. He believes that it is now acceptable to make jokes attacking austerity, because there is now no difference between parties so that it doesn’t matter if these jokes are made. He argues that it was New Labour that began the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich under PFI, and that this had been going on for fifteen years with no pretence that anything different was happening. Thus, Cameron can state that he is not worried about getting votes because of his policies, because he knows that a few days after he announces a policy, Ed Miliband will appear on TV agreeing with him.

British Satire and Romanian Comedy for State Propaganda

He also describes how shocked he was when a Romanian guide with whom he was working pointed out the similarity between a Romanian comedy programme and Britain’s own Have I Got News For You. The Romanian show featured a comedian, who started making jokes about the country’s minister of defence. The politico in question was actually in the audience at the time, covered in medals. And the comedian then went over to him for a bit of friendly badinage. Boyle says it was blatant propaganda, and when he remarked on it, his Romanian guide said, ‘But you have it in your country!’ When Boyle disagreed, the Romanian continued, ‘Yes, you do. It’s Have I Got News For You’. And Boyle states that when you see Boris Johnson on the programme, pretending to be a lovable oaf, and receives cheers and applause when it’s announced he’s going to be on there next week, that’s exactly right. ‘Satire should not be doing that’, he comments.

Scandals, Official Racism and Miscarriages of Justice Now Acceptable in British Political Culture

Boyle and the Taxi Driver also make the point about how British society has declined to the point where things, which would have provoked riots a few years ago, like the privatisation of the NHS and the racist vans, are suddenly possible. They criticise the public’s passivity in the face of the Health Service’s sell-off by the Tories, and discuss not just the racist vans encouraging immigrants to go home, but also the racial stereotyping of the Border Control Agency. They apparently stood at several stations in London, making note only of ‘people of colour’. He and Mark also discuss manifest injustice in the case of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian student shot by mistake as a terrorist by the police. Despite the fact that many of the police officers committed perjury at the trial, they were not punished. Similarly wicked is the fact that it has taken over 20 years to break the silence surrounding Hillsborough and the authorities’ lies about that tragedy.

Media Bias Keeping Voters Ignorant

Boyle also discusses at length the problem of media bias. He defends the BBC, stating that there are some very good people in it, who do an excellent job by their standards, but its mixed in with their received class prejudices. He notes the way the Right-wing media have demonised nurses, teachers and firefighters. He also states that with the rape joke, he had 2,000 people laughing. The outrage there wasn’t public, it was that the TV companies were afraid of the outrage created by the media barons.

He also talks about the way the media shapes opinion by not reporting events and opinions. Mike’s covered this topic in his comment to his reblog of Inforrm’s review of The Knowledge Gap. In this case, it’s the way the media has omitted some of the real fears of the Iranian people. Chunky Mark states that he had an Iranian student, who told him how that country’s people were genuinely afraid of an American and British invasion. This is all too likely. Bush was banging on about the possibility of invading Iran when he was in office, and there were certainly protest meetings organised against it up and down Britain. Boyle points out that the Iranian government suggested that there should be a central bank of nuclear material, and that countries should be able to use it, after first getting permission from the controlling international authorities. This was turned down by America and Israel because they were for non-proliferation, which meant stopping other countries acquiring nuclear power.

Boyle is concerned about the way so little information now reaches the general public, because of the way the media is selectively managed. He states that a little while ago, the media used to talk about ‘low information voters’ when organising election coverage. These were people in the rural parts of America, who didn’t read newspapers or have the depth of knowledge to make an informed choice while voting. The term has now fallen into disuse, as so few people now have that depth of knowledge about politics that the media considers everyone to be a ‘low information voter’.

This selective reporting also extends to western environmentalists. Boyle points out that whereas a few years ago, the Green movement produced characters like Swampy, this is now absent from contemporary reporting. He feels it’s because the news corporations have learnt that if they concentrate on characters and personalities, like the above marshy gentleman, then the public will become sympathetic towards them. This is something the corporations wrecking our planet do not want.

British and American Exceptionalism and Imperialist Brutality and Exploitation

Boyle and the Taxi Driver also discuss and express their outrage at the way Britain, the US and their allies have slaughtered and exploited the developing world. For Chunky Mark, the banks, oil industry and arms industries are the motors of the economy, and so peace is definitely not something that their leaders want. Boyle here points out that Palestine is the test-bed for new military technology, which the Israelis then sell elsewhere. The full-body scanners now used at airports are an example. They also discuss the mining companies, and the murder, atrocities and misery inflicted on the developing world. Britain built its wealth through the exploitation of other nations when it was an imperial power. This has since changed, so that Britain is no longer an imperial power in its own right, but a client state of America. They also describe and criticise the exceptionalism that permits Britain and America to behave like this. Britain and America are terrorist states, but refuse to recognise this, as terrorism is only something that is done by their enemies. Boyle makes the point that when another country behaves like Britain or the US, it provokes an invasion. When we do it, it simply causes another meeting about the definition of ‘terrorism’. Boyle does not, however, blame the troops. He points out that there are some very good people in the British army. The atrocities and massacres come from the people who lead them.

Obama Greater Global Tyrant than Bush

Somewhat unusually, Boyle considers Barak Obama to be actually worse than Bush. Bush was constantly concerned to justify himself and win over the American public. Hence, he merely imprisoned people without trial in Gitmo. Obama is more credible than Bush, and so much more dangerous. He doesn’t stop at merely vanishing them into America’s gulag, but assassinating people without trial through drone strikes.

Criticism of SNP, Labour and the Lib Dems; Scotland Should be Independent, Best Party Green

Boyle is also outspoken in his views about Britain’s domestic politicians, and the institutions that support them. He describes London as a gigantic tax haven, which sucks in illegal money from around the world, citing the book Treasure Islands on the role of these places in the global economy. He and Mark both attack Tony Blair for his morally corrupt business interests around the world. He is dismissive of Ed Milliband, and notes with sardonic humour the absurdity of the Lib Dems, who have now started talking about what they would be able to do, if they weren’t in power. Boyle is unusual in that he supports Scots independence, but not the SNP. He states that it’s absurd that Scotland should be ruled by a completely different centre of power 500 hundred miles away, whose culture and interests are so markedly different. He believes that the SNP and Alex Salmond, in their heart of hearts, don’t actually want independence, just ‘autonomy max’, but within the framework of the British state. That’s why he believes the ‘Yes’ campaign is so lacklustre. He suggests that what should happen is that the Scots should vote ‘Yes’, then stop voting for the SNP altogether, and go and vote for someone, who would create the socialist republic the country needs. Like the Greens, who have a genuinely alternative agenda. It’s a point that has been made by the Angry Yorkshireman over at Another Angry Voice. And, of course, he is highly critical of the monarchy and its role in preserving Britain’s class structure. He’s also suspicious of Snowden’s revelations of mass NSA snooping. Not because they aren’t true, but merely because they’re being released now. So do the authorities want us to believe we’re being monitored in order to keep us in line. This might be a bit too paranoid. But even so, as someone once said, ‘Even paranoiacs have enemies. They just don’t know who they are’. Another conspiracy watcher also one observed that whatever you think they’re doing to you, the reality is far worse than you image.

Boyle’s views are controversial, and I know there are those, who take exception to his criticisms of the Labour party. Kittysjones in her blog has made the point that Labour aren’t as Right-wing as has been claimed. The interview was clearly filmed some time ago before Milliband began making some of the more radical promises that will undo much of the Tory programme. Nevertheless, it’s stimulating and worth listening to for the depth of knowledge and a different perspective Boyle brings to these issues. Like Hicks, Boyle is a comedian with a point. Not just a joke-blower being pointlessly offensive.

Private Eye on the Government’s Proposal to Introduce Secret Courts

July 20, 2013

I’ve recently linked to Another Angry Voice’s blog post attacking the government’s proposal to introduce secret courts. Last year Private Eye also ran a piece in its edition for the 21st September – 4th October. The article ran as follows:

‘Secret Courts

Open and Shut Cases

The first lesson the apologetic David Cameron should learn from the Hillsborough inquiry is that there can be no justification for his plan to press ahead with a new raft of secret courts.

While the scale of the cover-up by the authorities in the wake of the football tragedy was breathtaking, the fact that police and other agents of the state can lie and fabricate damning evidence while burying other material that doesn’t help their case has been a long and unhappy feature of our justice system.

It is often only because of a tireless campaign by families, sometimes working with dedicated lawyers, trawling through boxes of evidence and material, that the injustice is finally put right-not before many lives have been destroyed. Non-disclosure of material which could prove someone’s innocence, of police, scientific or state malpractice, have long been major factors in these cases.

Such cover-ups happen even when the courts are open to public scrutiny and defendants or those challenging the state and their lawyers have rights of access to evidence. Imagine how much easier it would be behind closed court doors.

However, the Ministry of Justice is pressing ahead with plans to establish new secret courts, which will allow ministers to apply for special ‘closed material procedures’ (CMPs) in civil courts when it or its intelligence agencies and forces are being sued. It has also recently conceded in the Lords that CMPs could be employed in habeas corpus claims – the ancient law to ensure that people are not unlawfully detained – meaning yet more people will be locked up without knowing on what basis and without the means to contest it properly.

Cleverly, the prime minister used his “liberal” justice secretary Ken Clarke to steer through the controversial legislation, before ditching him for Chris Grayling in the reshuffle to the right. Clarke duly maintained that the measures are needed to prevent sensitive intelligence material provided by friendly states being revealed in open court.

The previous Labour administration always claimed, dubiously, that the US had been outraged at the use of American evidence in the UK courts which showed MI5 officers were involved in the torture and unlawful interrogation of British resident and Guantanamo Bay detainee, Binyam Mohamed. Lord Neuberger, the then master of the rolls, found that the security services had failed to respect human rights, had misled parliament and had a culture of suppression. All this was damning and hugely embarrassing for the service and Labour government which had tried to keep the material secret; and no doubt this is the driving motive behind the new secret court legislation for which MI5 has been lobbying ever since.

Under the proposals an application by the government for a court to sit in secret might itself remain secret as in the discredited superinjunction cases. The public would be prevented from learning about cases like that of Binyam Mohamed and the more recent cases of rendition to Iraq.’

The article then considered the case of another Guantanamo detainee, whose case was reviewed behind closed doors, rather than in open court.

‘It has now emerged that other Guantanamo detainees who were promised an inquiry and investigation into claims that they had ben illegally detained and ill-treated are again being thwarted by the government and authorities.

In January the judge-led Gibson inquiry – which was also to take place behind closed doors – into allegations of wrongdoing by the UKI’s security services was scrapped because Ken Clarke said it would interfere with a new Met police investigation into the Iraqi renditions.

Others making similar allegations were invited to complain formally to the police. But last month human rights lawyer Louise Christian, representing Guantanamo detainee Martin Mubanga, was told that a “scoping panel” which includes director public prosecutions Keir Starmer and senior police chiefs was deciding which cases to prioritise.

Curiously, the panel’s view was that the evidence in Mr Mubanga’s case would be best examined in the first instance “within the wider context of the detainee inquiry”, ignoring the fact tha the Gibson inquiry has been axed – and with no firm plans for any further inquiry.

Ms Christian told the Eye she knew of no precedent where police and the Crown Prosecution Service, which are supposed to be independent of government, postpone criminal investigations for a behind-closed-doors inquiry,m which would not in any event meet international human rights law governing serious allegations. More successful lobbying by the spooks, no doubt.’

Now I doubt that many people have much sympathy for the Guantanamo detainees, the majority of whom are there for very good reasons. There is, however, the wider issue of justice involved here. Justice has to be impartial. It has to operate, even in the cases of individuals accused of the most terrible crimes, regardless of what we think of them. Moreover, the legal safeguards built into these cases also protect wider society. It is to stop the same laws now being used in Gitmo being applied to other British citizens, to prevent Britain becoming a surveillance state where people disappear without knowing the crime of which they have been accused.

The proposal for these secret courts has been compared to the nightmare denials of justice portrayed in Kafka’s novels The Trial and The Castle. These predicted the situation that existed decades later under the Nazis and the Communists. During Stalin’s Terror people disappeared, taken from their homes and families by the NKVD as it then was, for trivial offences of Thoughtcrime. Simply remarking that Stalin appeared ill could and did get people arrested for being imperialist and Trotskyite spies engaged in anti-Soviet activities. Under the Nazis the phrase was ‘Nacht und Nebel’ – night and fog. Their disappearance into the maze of concentration camps without any statement regarding their whereabouts was deliberately calculated to inspire fear. Saddam Hussein operated a similar regime in Iraq. Under Hussein there were a number of laws relating to spying and national security in the Iraqi penal code, which it was illegal even to know about. These laws were invoked to detain and murder political opponents. it was for violation of these codes that the British journalist, Faisal Bazoft, was arrested and then murdered by the Iraqi regime.

If Cameron’s proposal for such secret courts goes ahead, we will have created the type of justice system against which we fought in the Second World War, and which partly supplied the justification for the wars against Iraq.