Posts Tagged ‘Kafka’

May Moves Closer to a ‘Ministry of Truth’ for Cabinet Unit to Rebut ‘Fake News’

January 22, 2018

The Tories’ movement towards authoritarianism and dictatorship goes on. Mike today put up a story about Theresa May, our unfunny comedy prime minister, wanting to set up a ‘rapid response unit’ in the cabinet office to rebut ‘fake news’ on social media. Mike on his blog raises the obvious question about who will trust such a unit, when the Tories have been responsible for spreading so much fake news themselves. He illustrates this with a piece from the Canary, in which Victoria Atkins, the Undersecretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, by Niamh Eastwood of the drug charity, Release, for the lies Atkins had told about British drug policy and drug treatment.

And this is really just one instance of so many, many others. The Tories lie inveterately and constantly. Another example that comes readily to mind this week is Boris Johnson, once again reviving his lie that the money saved from being in the EU will go to the NHS. It’s been shown repeatedly that we won’t save the £350 million he claims, and when England did vote against EU membership last year, Johnson then went back on the promise, and blustered about how it was just an example of the kind of thing the money could be spent on. But in actually fact wasn’t. He’s revived this lie once before, and last week dragged it back up again.

May’s proposal also shows the massive insecurity the Tories now have. Despite having the overwhelming support of the British press and broadcasting, with the BBC apparently staffed by members of their party and producing constant pro-Tory propaganda through presenters and editors like Laura Kuenssberg, the Tories still feel they have to crack down on a threat from social media.

It’s because people are rejecting established news sources, like the press and the BBC, because they’ve been caught out lying too often. The Tories and their collaborators in the mainstream media have done their level best to vilify and smear the Labour party, and specifically Jeremy Corbyn and Momentum. If you believe them, Corbyn and the true Labour moderates – most definitely not the Thatcherite entryists that came in with Blair – are a load of anti-Semites and Trotskyites. But few people are buying that. Corbyn gained a considerable amount of support on social media, much of which was spontaneous, just as Bernie Sanders did over in the US. The Tories have been unable to compete with this, and so they want to shut it down. Mike’s article on this piece of news concludes

This is not an attempt to ensure a “fact-based public debate”.

It is a bid to hijack the news and turn it into Tory propaganda.

Who are you going to believe if you aren’t given a choice?

Tories hate the freedom of speech employed by the social media. They see this as their opportunity to end it. And they think the people are too stupid to realise they’ll be filling our newspapers and other news media with lies.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/01/22/whos-going-to-trust-theresa-may-to-tackle-fake-news-when-her-tories-are-responsible-for-so-much-of-it/

Absolutely. And May’s proposal is a real danger to free speech and freedom of opinion in Britain. It comes close to the ‘Ministry of Truth’ in Orwell’s 1984, or the rigid state control of the media in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Soviet Russia. Perhaps the functionary Tweezer intends to put in charge of this new unit will be called ‘the Minister for Public Enlightenment’, like Goebbels?

This comes after the various attempts by Thatcherite administrations to set up secret courts. These are closed hearings, where, for reasons of national security, the accused may not know what crimes they are charged with, nor have the evidence against them disclosed to themselves or their lawyers. Blair tried to introduce them, and David Cameron and Nick Clegg passed legislation setting them up. Again, it’s a justice system very much like the Kafkaesque travesties of the Communist and Fascist totalitarians of the last century.

And this has to be stopped. This is another infringement by the Tories on freedom of speech and conscience. If it goes ahead, whatever May or her spokespeople will bluster and say to the contrary, it will be another attempt to dictate to the people of this country what they can believe politically. By a weak, terrified Tory prime minister, and the corrupt, mendacious party and corporate class she serves.

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Arrest of Practical Joker at Tory Conference Shows How Empty May’s Comment about Tackling Injustice Is

October 5, 2017

More Tory hypocrisy revealed by Mike over at Vox Political. Theresa May in her speech was waffling on about how she went into politics to tackle injustice, claiming it was what she ‘was in this for’. This would be a sick joke anyway. However, the events at her own speech have shown this to be another, empty lie. Simon Brodkin, alias the comedian Lee Nelson, has been arrested following his prank of handing May a P45 and saying that Boris had asked him to give it to her.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/10/04/if-theresa-may-wants-to-fight-injustice-she-should-start-with-this/

Brodkin’s committed no crime of which I’m aware. He was not violent, nor threatening. He was not a threat to security. All he did was play a practical joke. But this is too much for the security obsessed Tories, who’ve had him arrested. My guess he’ll probably be released without charge. The arrest is probably meant to be a warning to others, who might want to disrupt the solemn Tory proceedings.

But it’s a good example of the authoritarianism at the heart of the Tory party, particularly under May. May is not a good public speaker, and during her election campaign she consistently ran away from public meetings. Instead, hers were invitation-only events held behind closed doors. They were extremely stage-managed, but her lickspittles in the Beeb and right-wing press nevertheless tried to present her as a brilliant orator of Ciceronian proportions. Meanwhile, even Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Mendip Pishtaco, has complained about the excessive security and mandatory applause at the Tory conference. He stated that it was ‘unBritish’, and was something more suited to Donald Trump’s America or, more specifically, Kim Jong-Un’s North Korea.

He’s right, but Tory conventions have always been stage-managed. And I rather suspect that if the Young Master took over the Tory party, his objections to its authoritarianism would magically vanish. It seems to me quite likely that under Mogg, Tory conferences would be like those of Communist Party of the Soviet Union under Stalin. There’d be hour-long standing ovations, because the first person to stop clapping the Great Leader would be taken out and shot. Or in the case of the Tories, debagged by a pair of giggling old Etonians.

Mogg himself has voted unquestioningly for Britain to become even more authoritarian. He voted for the expansion of the surveillance state, and I think for the secret courts embraced by the Tories, their Lib Dem enablers, and which were being touted by the Blairites in the Labour party. These are courts where, for reasons of ‘national security’, you can be denied every essential part of what constitutes a fair trial. You may not know who your accuser is, and have vital evidence withheld from you or your lawyer. And instead of justice being seen to be done, the trial will be held behind closed doors away from the public. I’ve said before that it’s like something from Kafka, and the monstrous perversions of the judicial system in Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia.

As for the Tories, their party exists to perpetrate gross societal injustice. Under them there has been the largest transfer of wealth upwards from the poor to the rich in post-War Britain. They have consistently voted for cut benefits, and increase indirect taxes, which hurt the poor the most, while giving tax breaks to the increased the already bloated salaries of the upper 25 per cent. And Mogg has been solidly behind this.

One of the cynical remarks about the Tories is the saying, ‘A Tory wants a fairer deal for the rich.’ This is absolutely true. And everything they’ve done since Thatcher, including May’s own government, is for this purpose. And what they consider to be a fair deal for the rich, is a massive injustice for the rest of us. Get them out.

Vox Political on the Denial of Voting Rights to Life-long Members of the Labour Party

September 6, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has also posted up a piece about what looks suspiciously like another ruse by the Blairites to stop ‘Old Labour’ supporters voting. He states that he received a comment from David Chesters, who has a vote in the leadership election as he is a life-long member of the union, Unite. His mother has also been a life-long member, and was also expecting to receive her ballot papers so that she too could vote in the election. But she didn’t. When Mr Chesters rang Unite HQ to inquire about this, he was informed that his mother did not have the vote, as she had reached the age where she no longer had to pay to the contributory fund. As she no longer paid in, she no longer had the right to vote. Mr Chesters is clearly upset about this, and wonders how many hundreds – or thousands – of others have also been denied the right to vote. Mike in his comment is also suspicious, as older members of the party may be more likely to have traditional, ‘Old’ Labour views. He doesn’t mention them, but they are presumably the belief that the party should actually do what it was founded to do, and stand up for the working class, the poor, and the unemployed, and that certain essential industries and services, such as health, electricity, gas and water, are better managed by the state. All beliefs that were rejected by the Blairites in their determination to take voters from the Tories. Such older members are more likely to vote for Corbyn, and this seems to be the reason why they’ve been denied the vote. After all, the Blairites have denied so many others theirs, often on the very flimsy pretext that somehow they have injured the party’s reputation through online comments. One woman was told that she was being suspended because of a tweet she made using strong language to express her enjoyment of the music of the Foo Fighters. The tweet had nothing to do with the Labour party, and such language, though still frowned upon, is so common that it hardly raises an eyebrow. But any excuse will do in the Kafkaesque attitude of New Labour.

Mike’s article is at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/09/06/a-new-twist-non-contributory-union-members-excluded-from-labour-leadership-vote/

I’ve said before that I’m a supporter, but not a member of the Labour party. But it’s my opinion that this excuse for denying someone their vote in the leadership election because they’ve been in it for so long that they no longer pay the subscription, is still wrong. If someone qualifies as a life-long member, then simple, common decency should mean that they also have the right to vote.

This also shows something of the grim, New Labour attitude to politics and political empowerment. You only get a voice if you can stump up the cash. Hence, they’re all too keen to take money from Tory donors like David Sainsbury, and give him some say in how the party is run. But for those, who have a reached the age where they don’t have to pay because of their seniority, they want to do nothing for them but exclude them.

We’re back once again to money talking. And it’s crying out ‘corruption!’.

Vox Political: Cameron Planning Internment Camp for British Radicals

February 17, 2016

This is a really scary piece Mike’s reblogged from the Canary. Apparently, Cameron and Gove are planning to isolate Muslim extremists in special secure unit to stop Muslim radicalisation in prison. This has been compared to Guantanamo Bay in America. Mike instead in his comments asks the extremely pertinent question of whether it’s actually instead something like a Nazi concentration camp, especially with the government’s establishment of secret courts. See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/17/cameron-wants-to-lock-radicals-in-a-single-place-like-a-nazi-concentration-camp/

Mike and so many, many others, like the Angry Yorkshireman, have blogged about the serious dangers these iniquitous courts pose to British justice and liberty. Under this system of, for want of a better term, special justice, the established standards of legal process may waived in the interests of ‘national security’. You may not see the evidence against you, nor know who your accuser is. Indeed, you may not be told what offence you have been charged. It tramples all over Magna Carta, and is exactly like something straight out of Kafka’s novels, The Trial and The Castle.

The motivation here appears to be the very rapid spread of Islam through the prison system through what looks like a very aggressive strategy of dawah, Islamic evangelisation. However alarmed some might feel about the spread of Islam in prisons, this proposal is should be more alarming. Firstly, there is difference between Islam and Islamism, and conversion to Islam does not necessarily lead to converts being set on an automatic path to extremism, at the end of which is ISIS or al-Qaeda. Indeed, the piece Mike’s reproduced from the Canary article states that the idea behind this special prison seems to be that Islamism is like an infectious disease, which isn’t the case.

The model for this special prison seems to be Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay. This was extensively criticised because of the illegality of the vast majority of the incarcerations their. The majority of those imprisoned would simply not have been convicted in ordinary courts of law because of the lack of evidence against them. With the addition of the Patriot Act, which provided for the arrest of anybody George Dubya and his cronies thought wasn’t sufficiently patriotic as a potential terrorist, the system’s critics saw Gitmo very much as the thin end of a totalitarian, Nazi wedge. Conservatives, like the right-wing Canadian cable/web TV host, Michael Koren and the British/Irish journalist Mark Steyn, resident in New Hampshire, have tried to justify Gitmo by arguing that normal standards of justice cannot apply in war. The conditions of battle are just too confused, they argue, for the same standards of reasonable proof to apply when assessing whether or not a suspect is guilty. The men and women interned at Gitmo are nevertheless extremely dangerous, and present a real threat to the public security if they are released. Hence their incarceration of what may be inadequate or flimsy legal grounds is justified. Despite this argument, the majority of those imprisoned at Gitmo have been released, and those still remaining seem to be there out of sheer bloody-mindedness by the authorities rather than any convincing legal reason.

I’m also worried about this, because it points to a long tradition of authoritarianism in the Tory Right. I’ve got a feeling Lobster ran pieces in the 1980s about Tory plans for internment camps in Northern Ireland, to be used against the IRA, modelled on the system of concentration camps the French had used in their campaigns against the indigenous peoples fighting for their freedom in what used to be Indo-China, out of which came the Vietnam War. These were dropped because whatever the threat of paramilitary violence in Ulster, it was felt that the British people would not tolerate other White Brits being rounded up and herded into concentration camps like Black Kenyans during the Mao Mao rebellion.

And the Tory need to incarcerate political and social ‘deviants’ raised its hideous physiognomy again when AIDS appeared in the 1980s. At the time there was a real fear that AIDS was so infectious and deadly, that it would wipe out the world’s population exactly as the population of Europe and Muslim North Africa had been decimated by the Black Death in the 14th century. In five years, that disease killed perhaps somewhere between a third and quarter of the European population, and a similar proportion North Africans in what is now the countries of Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria. Radical measures were being mooted to combat the disease. And this included the isolation of its victims. I can remember being chilled by an article in the Sunday Express that announced that the Swedes were considering building an ‘AIDS Island’ to isolate and treat the victims of the disease. British ministers were looking into the possibility of doing the same. Gay sex between men had only been legal since 1969, and much of society was extremely prejudiced against homosexuals, particularly the Tory party and the police. James Anderton, the extremely right-wing head of Manchester police force, stated that he believed that AIDS was God’s punishment for gays, and described homosexuality as a cesspool, or something similarly offensive. Margaret Thatcher passed legislation intended to ban the teaching that homosexuality was at all normal or acceptable in schools. In this environment, even at the time I wondered if this was an attempt to construct a secure medical facility, like the leper hospitals that were deliberately built on islands to isolate the victims of that terrible disease. Or if instead it was a prison camp to lock up gays, just as the Nazis had done during the Third Reich. Homosexuals were then sent to the concentration camps, and identified by pink triangles placed on their prison pyjamas. This part of the persecution of gays by the Nazis was portrayed in the harrowing play, Bent, starring one of the great gay British thesps. I’ve got a feeling it was Sir Ian Mackellan in the title role, but I could be mistaken.

This strikes me as being pretty much the same squalid, authoritarian instincts rising to the Tory surface yet again. If, indeed, it ever really went away. And the danger here is that once the Tories do it to once section of the community and get away with it, they’ll do it to all of us. Muslim radicals will be the first. Then it could be others suspected of terrorism, like radical nationalists – Irish Republican splinter groups, say. And then it’ll be extended to illegal asylum-seekers, trade unionists, Socialists, Anarchists and Communists. Same as it always has been. Just like Trump in America similarly threatens to introduce real Fascism if he wins the election. This has got to be very carefully watched indeed, if not banned altogether before it even begins.

And if they are considering a round-up of Islamist radicals and other suspects, when should we expect them to stage their own fake attack on parliament to justify it all, like the Reichstag fire?

Labour May Oppose Cameron’s Anti-Terrorism Bill if too Draconian

October 19, 2015

The Guardian has reported today that Labour’s Andy Burnham has said that they will oppose the government’s new anti-terrorism laws if they are too harsh. The article begins

Labour has signalled it is prepared to oppose new surveillance and counter-terrorism legislation if it is too heavy-handed, as David Cameron announces more details about his anti-terror strategy such as measures to prevent teenagers travelling to join Isis.

Andy Burnham, the shadow home secretary, said Labour will support legislation that is “reasonable and proportionate” but stressed the party had a duty to make sure the government gets the balance right.

He warned Cameron to proceed with the utmost caution and make sure his laws do not fuel “resentment, division and a sense of victimisation”, especially among Britain’s Muslim population.

Cameron is planning to spell out more details of his strategy on Monday, as well as making the case for two new pieces of law – the investigatory powers bill and a counter-terrorism bill.

As part of the overall strategy, he will extend the powers of parents to cancel their children’s passports if they are worried that their children may be about to travel to Syria or Iraq to join Islamic State. The powers that currently apply to under-16s will now be rolled out to all those under-18.

There will also be new measures to automatically bar convicted terrorists from working with children and vulnerable people. Cameron will also announce that suspected jihadi returning from Syria and Iraq will be forced to attend classes to address their support for extremist ideology.

The article can be read at http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/oct/19/labour-warns-cameron-surveillance-and-anti-terror-laws-andy-burnham-counter-terrorism

The passage of unnecessarily and excessively harsh legislation under the pretext of combating terrorism by the Tories is a real threat. They’ve already passed laws providing for Kafkaesque secret courts, in which the accused may not know what he is charged with, the evidence against him, or even who his accusers are, if the information is considered sensitive and its divulgence a threat to national security. The have furthermore passed domestic legislation severely curtailing the right to peaceful protest and to go on strike. In the latter, trade unions on picket lines must give their names to the police. And Daniel Gardonyi, a Hungarian man involved in the Sweet’s Way protest, has been threatened with deportation despite the fact that he has not been charged with any offence.

The government has shown itself repeatedly more than willing to use the threat of terrorism to clamp down on domestic dissent. Burnham is absolutely correct to show that Labour is determined here to do something to protect civil liberties if the Tories threaten them further here.

Police Black Sites in America, and the Death of Hilda Murrell

February 28, 2015

Police Black Site in Chicago

This is another video from The Young Turks. Secret CIA Black Sites in American Heartland for ‘Disappearing’ Citizens reports an article from the Guardian a few days ago revealing the existence of a ‘black site’ run by the local police in Homan Square in Chicago. It was a secret detention centre where suspects were taken. They were not allowed access to their lawyers, read their Miranda warning, or booked in, as required in normal police procedure at American police precincts. Those detained were also frequently beaten.

Normally, those arrested and taken to the site were only there for a few days, before being put back in normal police custody. Some, however, have died at the centre, such as a man, who was found unresponsive at an interrogation room, and later declared dead in hospital.

Cenk Uyghur, the Turks’ anchor, links this case to the use of CIA Black Sites used to disappear suspected terrorists throughout the world, including Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. He quotes Tracy Siska, an American civil rights activist and criminologist working in the Chicago justice department. Siska and Uyghur state very firmly that this is the result when the intelligence agencies are able to get away with illegal and unconstitutional actions. These procedures then get back into the American civil system, to corrupt and pervert normal law enforcement. One of those detained without access to a lawyer was a NATO protester.

Hilda Murrell

I’ve reblogged this because it raises important questions about what our security services over here have also been doing. Britain was very firmly complicit in the extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects, who were deported to nations, where they would be tortured to extract information from them. British citizens were also interned at Gitmo.
The death of the NATO protester after being abducted by the cops and illegally imprisoned in Homan Square also seems to me to be extremely and uncomfortably similar to the death in March 1984 of Hilda Murrell.

Murrell was an elderly lady living in Llanymynech, near Oswestry. She was an anti-nuclear campaigner with links to the protest groups END, ECOROPA and MCANW. Her nephew was Commander Robert Green, a naval intelligence officer. When Tam Dalyell raised questions over Murrell’s death, he was informed that Commander Green was the officer, who passed on the order to the Conqueror to sink the Belgrano during the Falklands War. He also passed the message from HMS Endurance to Northwood HQ informing them that the Argentinians were about to invade.

On Friday, 23rd March Murrell disappeared from her home. Her body was eventually found three miles away. The official police investigation concluded that she had been the victim of a burglary. Supposedly, she had caught the burglar in the act. He had killed her, and then taken her body to dump elsewhere. Others at the time were unconvinced. If she really had been killed by a burglar, why, for example, had he put the body in his car and then driven around town, where she was seen by no less than 69 people?

Her now empty house caught fire on the 26th January 1985. This was blamed on arson, but no-one was ever caught, nor was it attributed to Welsh Nationalists, who had begun burning down holiday homes owned by the English. Furthermore, during the investigation the police called in Home Office forensic scientists, which was highly unusual if it was an ordinary arson. Murrell was also a very close friend of Catriona Guthrie and her boyfriend, ‘LM’ or ‘Malcolm’. The three of them used to attend meetings of the Shrewsbury peace group together. Yet Guthrie and her boyfriend were never questioned by police.

Murrell’s death has been investigated and reported by several people and organisations, including Robert Green, Tam Dalyell, Graham Smith, John Osborne, Amanda Mitchison, Bob Parker, David Cole, Peter Acland, Nick Davies, Gary Murray, Lobster’s Robin Ramsay, John Stalker, Judith Cook, West Mercia Police, and the documentary series Crimewatch for the Beeb, and ITV’s World In Action.

Lobster magazine has published several articles on her death. One of these, ‘Hilda Murrell: A Death in the Private Sector’, was an anonymous piece written by a former director of the Institute of Professional Investigators. This described the links between MI5, the Institute, and Zeus Security, a private security firm run by Peter Hamilton, a former major in Army Intelligence. The author stated that MI5 contracted out the surveillance of suspect groups and individual to private security firms, such as Zeus Security. The author of the article stated that one of his informants was a former captain in British Military Intelligence. This informant, according to the article, gave its author detailed descriptions of unlawful killings carried out on the instructions of MI5. He also stated that some of these killings were carried out by ‘renegade SAS types’ just ‘for kicks’. In the opinion of the writer of the Lobster article, Murrell was murdered by a private operation, not an official espionage operation. He believed that Murrell had interrupted a break-in by one of the private security firms contracted by MI5. The gaol of the operation was simply to see if she had sensitive information about Sizewell. When she discovered them, they panicked, abducted and killed her. One of the private operatives used by MI5 through the IPI was Vic Norris, aka Adrian Hampson, who had several convictions for sex offences and violence.

Peter Smith, in another Lobster article, ‘The Murder of Hilda Murrell: Conspiracy Theories Old and New’, reports that Guthrie became a prison visitor after Murrell’s murder. She was told by a convict in Lincoln that he had been a member of the team that broke into Murrell’s house. Their leader reported to the Cabinet Office through an MI5 liaison officer, and they had been ordered to look for papers for Naval Intelligence. One of those suggested as possible members of the team was David Gricewith. Gricewith was an armed robber, and was probably responsible for the killing of Sgt John Speed in Leeds. He allegedly did undercover work, including acting as an agent provocateur, for the intelligences and was also, allegedly, involved in far right politics. Gricewith died after supposedly accidentally shooting himself during his arrest by the police for armed robbery.

The Tories and Lib Dems Attack on Human Rights

If the security agencies really were assassinating British citizens through the use of private security firms in the 1980s, then the threat to the human rights of British citizens is even greater now. The Tories and Lib Dems have passed legislation providing for the establishment of secret courts. These are intended to protect sensitive information and the identities of intelligence operatives in cases involving national security. As a result, the accused may not be present during the trial. They may not be informed of certain pieces of evidence, nor know the identities of their accusers. All of these violate the fundamental principles of British justice going all the way back to Magna Carta.

The law also provides for a system of virtual ‘internal exile’, in which a person suspected of terrorism offences may be removed from his home, family or friends, and relocated as much as 100 miles away, again without legal representation.

Finally, the Tories and UKIP have also made it very clear that they are opposed to the European Court of Human Rights. They have said that they wish to see European human rights legislation repealed in this country, and replaced by a British bill of rights. Several bloggers have pointed out how malign and pernicious this idea is. The Tories and Kippers have claimed that the European Human Rights legislation is the result of the EU. It isn’t, and the European Court of Human Rights is part of the Council of Europe, a separate international body. They also claim that such legislation allows terrorists to remain in Britain and resist the threat of deportation. It doesn’t.

The Tories and UKIP are lying.

Whatever the effect may be on terrorists, if the European Human Rights Act is repealed, the British bill of rights which will replace it will be much weaker. It will not protect British citizens from Kafkaesque secret trials, in which they will not even be told what offence they have committed. It would also make such ‘Black Sites’, like that run by the cops in Chicago, legal.

And then, rather than enjoying the freedom guaranteed by Magna Carta, will be under a system of ‘Nacht und Nebel’ such as that imposed by the Nazis. The phrase means ‘night and fog’, and refers to the extraordinary system of imprisonment in which opponents of the regime simply disappeared.

This is what the Tories and their Lib Dem enablers want for Britain. And they must be stopped. As we have seen, the Tories actively copy and take over American policies. If they get in, the Chicago Black Site will come over here. If it hasn’t already.

Sources

Anonymous, ‘Hilda Murrell: A Death in the Private Sector’, Lobster 16: 25-9.

Peter Smith, ‘The Murder of Hilda Murrell: Conspiracy Theories New and Old’, Lobster 28: 28-30.

Secret Society: 1980s Documentary on British Culture of Political Secrecy

January 16, 2015

The government’s response to the terrible events in France last week, when gunmen murdered 12 people, including the staff of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and then held people hostage in a Jewish supermarket, has been to pass further legislation attacking basic civil rights. This legislation not only gives the security services further powers to monitor telephone and internet communications, it also provides for suspected returning terrorists to be denied entry to Britain. Terrorists and those convicted of ‘terrorist-related activity’ may also be subject to a form of ‘internal exile’, under which they can be removed from their homes and placed anywhere up to 200 miles away from their family and friends.

Dangers of the Government’s Anti-Terror Laws

There are provisions within the new legislation to regulate and protect the public, such as the creation of a human rights committee to oversee the law’s application and prevent abuse. Critics of the laws have pointed out that it is unclear how the proposed committee would operate, and who would sit on it.

This should be a cause for serious concerns, considering the way the government has already tried to cut down on our basic democratic freedoms, all under the pretext of protecting us from terrorism. The Tories and their Lib Dem lackeys have tried to pass legislation creating secret courts. These would try cases relating to national security in secrecy, excluding the press and the public. The accused and their lawyers would denied access to sensitive evidence, and would not know who their accusers are. This is a Kafkaesque travesty of justice, of the type the great Czech writer described in his novels The Castle and The Trial. It is an attack on the basic foundation of British justice since Magna Carta, that you may know who your accuser is, and the crime for which you have been charged. It is telling on this point that Cameron, when asked what Magna Carta was when he appeared on American television, didn’t know.

Official Secrecy, Workfare and ATOS

And then there is the culture of official secrecy, which still continues despite the Blair government’s publication of the Freedom of Information Act after the American model. The government has passed further legislation to weaken it. It has refused to publish the precise figures of the numbers of people dying after they were found fit for work by ATOS after requests by bloggers and disability rights campaigners, including Mike over at Vox Political. Johnny Void and others have described how the government has also refused to release the names of the firms signed up to the workfare scheme. The government’s excuse for this is the frank confession that the measure is so unpopular that if they do, the firms using unpaid workers under the scheme would be placed under such stress that they would be forced to withdraw and the scheme collapse.

Highly Placed Paedophiles and Murderers

The most sinister, odious and pernicious aspect of this culture of official secrecy has been the protection it has given to highly placed paedophiles, such as the Lib Dem politician, Cyril Smith. A dossier of 22 paedophile politicos has now been passed on to the police. Horrifically, three people may have been murdered by a paedophile ring of politicians using the Elm Tree guest house in the 1980s. A male prostitute, who went to these orgies claimed that the ring had been responsible for murders of two boys, one White and one Asian. A worker for Lambeth Council, Bulic, was also found dead a week after stating that he felt his life was in danger due to his knowledge of the ring and its activities. Leon Brittain, Thatcher’s secretary of state, was handed a dossier on such highly placed child molesters by Geoffrey Dickinson in the 1980s. Brittain claims that he passed them on to MI5, who misplaced them.

The obsession with official secrecy, in which successive governments have withheld information from the public, is responsible for serious miscarriages of justice and threatens to undermine basic political and civil freedoms. It has also allowed the vicious, sadistic and exploitative abusers of the young and helpless, such as Thatcher’s friend, the monstrous Jimmy Savile, to escape justice.

Duncan Campbell’s Documentary, Secret Society

Government secrecy was also a major issue of national importance and interest in the 1980s. One of the small, single issue parties that appeared in the 1987 general election was the ‘Deep Throat’ party. This was a group of five men, who refused to make any statements, and refused to show their faces as a protest against ‘excessive government secrecy’. More seriously, that same year the BBC broadcast the documentary Secret Society by Duncan Campbell. In the words of the blurb put up for it on Youtube on Edgar Lobb’s channel, this covered

‘secret groups, committees and societies that operate silently within British government. The first episode about secret cabinet committees features author Peter Hennessy, Clive Ponting and MP Clement Freud amongst others. In this freedom of information tour de force Campbell exposes the secret decision to buy U.S. Trident nuclear submarines as well as laying bare the cabinet level dirty tricks campaign against CND and its general secretary Bruce Kent. Margaret Thatcher, James Callaghan, the British Atlantic Committee, The ultra-right Coalition for Peace Through Security and the cabinet secretary come in for sharp criticism for keeping key decisions secret from MP’s. The series consists of the following 6 programmes: 1. The Secret Constitution: Secret Cabinet Committees; 2. We’re All Data Now: Secret Data Banks; 3. In Time Of Crisis: Government Emergency Powers; 4. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO): making up their own law and policy; 5. A Gap In Our Defences – about bungling defence manufacturers and incompetent military planners who have botched every new radar system that Britain has installed since World War II; 6. Zircon – about GCHQ with particular reference to a secret 500 million satellite. Missing are last two (5 and 6) programmes. His support for this series was one of the key reasons BBC Director General, Alasdair Milne (who was replaced by Michael Checkland, an accountant) was sacked. This Journalistic Coup d’Etat was conducted by Lord Victor Rothschild, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Marmaduke Hussey in 1986. The BBC’s independence has been under sustained assault ever since. Secret Society was suppressed from high above since it was simply too controversial as it openly exposed various secret groups operating invisibly inside British government. They made damn sure no one would ever discover them but they were very wrong. Find out who they are and what are they doing without your knowledge.’

The Situation Today

Maggie’s Politicisation of the State

It’s a very interesting series, and still deeply relevant today. It shows how deeply ingrained the culture of secrecy is in Westminster. Conservative hacks on the Spectator, Daily Mail and elsewhere, like Quentin Letts, lined up to criticise Blair’s administration for politicising the civil service with the immense numbers of SPADs – special advisors – they took in to supplement and replace that of the civil servants, whose job this traditionally was. Yet this programme shows that it really began with Thatcher and her campaign against CND. It also shows how the Maggie’s government was prepared to lie and spread what was basically propaganda in order to support a pro-nuclear stance, as well as spy on and disrupt CND members, meetings and protests, quite apart from the use of government resources and civil servants for her own political campaign.

Official Sale of Personal Data

The episode ‘We’re All Data Now’ also remains relevant. It shows how official bodies were intent on spying on us, and governmental bodies were keen to sell our personal information to private companies right at the beginning of that trend. It’s grown immensely in the nearly thirty years since that programme was first broadcast, and is now, more than ever, a danger to our privacy and personal freedom. Especially as the Coalition believes it has a right to sell our personal medical history to private health companies. All in the interest of promoting greater efficiency and competition, of course.

It’s important here also to note that the weak legislation that was put in place to protect our personal details from government acquisition did not come from British politicians, but was forced on them by the Council of Europe. The Conservatives and Farage’s UKIP would like to scrap the current human rights legislation, because it has, they feel, been imposed on us by the European Community. It hasn’t. As Mike and others have shown, it comes from the Council of Europe. This episode, nevertheless, shows what we can expect if the Tories and UKIP go ahead with their plans. The present protection for personal information was only grudgingly conceded after pressure from the Europeans. With that removed, we can expect the wholesale scrapping of the current human rights legislation, and the further development of an authoritarian surveillance society, which regards its citizens’ personal details as just another product to be acquired and sold.

Nuclear War and the Britain of V for Vendetta

As for the discussion of the secret preparations for the establishment of American military authority in Britain, and the more or less complete dismantlement of democracy and its replacement with a military dictatorship, this is very much the kind of Britain that Alan Moore and John Lloyd portrayed in V for Vendetta. In the original Warrior comic strip, the Fascist British state had arisen after a nuclear war between the West and the Warsaw pact over the Solidarity crisis in Poland. It was a projection of the worst elements of the Thatcher administration, and followed from a general concern in British comics at the time with the renewed anti-immigrant campaigns of the National Front and the Monday Club within the Tory party. The Britain portrayed in V for Vendetta was not under American control. However, the provisions in the secret treaty with America providing for the establishment of secret courts, the mass conscription of labour, the imprisonment and internment of pacifists and political dissidents, and the creation of a dictatorship are very much like that of the dystopian Britain in the strip.

Anderton, ACPO and the Underground Press

As for ACPO, James Anderton was notorious at the time as the right-wing policeman, with a bitter hatred of homosexuals and other social deviants and misfits. A biography of him that appeared a few years ago bore the title, God’s Cop, after his statement that he believed he was doing ‘God’s work’. Manchester’s Picadilly Press, which published, among other literature, the highly transgressive Lord Horror, which cast Hitler, the Nazis and Lord Haw Haw in the style of characters from the fiction of William S. Burroughs, were raided regularly by Anderton. They took their revenge by sending him up in their comics and fiction.

Duncan Campbell remains very much active today, campaigning against the growing encroachment on our civil liberties of state surveillance. There are a number of videos of him speaking on this topic on Youtube, and he also has his own site on the web.

See Part 2 of this article for a description of the contents of individual episodes.

How can disabled people appeal if not told the assessment result?

July 27, 2013

More evidence of the weird, Kafkaesque world of Atos and the DWP, in which you are not told of the decision against you, in order to prevent you appealing. If the system by which Atos and the DWP judge and deal with disability benefit claimants was applied to the justice system, it would be denounced as a ‘kangaroo court’. Comparisons would be made to Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia. As the people being abused in this way are the disabled, and its part of the benefits system, it seems to the media to be perfectly acceptable and of no interest whatsoever.

Benefit tales

2 years ago I was placed in the (disability benefit) Work Related Activity Group without a medical so have to attend job centre every 6 months, my advisor is great and has stated that she is not qualified to over rule my psychiatrist, psychologist or GP so basically we chat for 10-15mins thats it. In late April/early may this year I got the dreaded med form to fill in waited till last minute took all info I could get from what is posted on FB and sent it in, I have been waiting in torture since. This week I had my meetin with my job centre advisor and she asked if I had been for a medical , I said no but told her about the form, she then told me i had been placed in the wrag group again for 2 years, I stated it was bad that they…

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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.