Posts Tagged ‘Parliament’

Open Britain on the Tory Attack on Democracy

January 17, 2023

I got this email from the pro-democracy organisation, Open Britain, on the Tories’ continued campaign against democracy in our fair country. It runs

Dear David,

Over the last four years, we have witnessed a rapid reduction in the fairness and inclusivity of UK politics. Rishi Sunak seems determined to continue Boris Johnson’s all-out assault on the rights, institutions, and norms designed to hold the government to account. Academics have a term for this process: “democratic backsliding”.

It’s worth reflecting on recent years through the lens of backsliding to understand where Johnson, Truss, and Sunak are taking us – and how low we’ve already sunk. Researchers at University College London have identified the following critical elements of backsliding:

  1. Breakdown in the norms and standards of political behaviour
  2. Disempowerment of the legislature, the courts, and independent regulators
  3. The reduction of civil liberties and press freedoms; and/or
  4. Harm to the integrity of the electoral system 

On the first element, it’d be nearly impossible to deny that norms and standards in UK politics have become warped beyond recognition, largely thanks to Boris Johnson.

The sheer quantity of Johnson’s absurd lies to the public. The blatant PPE contract corruption. The unlawful attempt to prorogue Parliament. The repeated partying throughout the pandemic. Truss’ appointment of Mark Fullbrook as chief of staff. Rishi Sunak’s refusal to sack Suella Braverman amid egregious security violations. Take your pick.

But norms have also been eroded at a deeper level. The government now appears comfortable with breaking international law whenever it suits their needs.

The Internal Markets Bill (2020), the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill (2022), the planned Bill of Rights Bill, and the plans to offshore asylum seekers to Rwanda all undermine the UK’s long-held reputation for upholding international agreements on human rights and trade agreements (many of which UK ministers and officials helped to draft). Our government is clearly quite comfortable ignoring its citizens and the international community. It’s safe to say that the first box on that list is checked.

On the second element, backsliding may not be as apparent, but close inspection reveals some seriously concerning changes here too.

The government has attracted robust criticism from the Hansard Society for rushing bills through Parliament and abusing the ‘statutory instruments’ mechanism to limit Parliament’s ability to scrutinise bills properly.

They have also drawn widespread criticism for taking steps that inevitably undermined the powers and independence of the Electoral Commission. Boris Johnson removed the Commission’s powers to prosecute and attempted to give a (then) Tory-dominated committee control over its operations, and a number of Conservative MPs even called for its abolition.

It’s not just the Electoral Commission either. Former Commissioner for Public Appointments Peter Riddell also accused the government of “packing” appointment panels to blatantly place political allies in the House of Lords.

On the third element, we’ve also seen that this government is willing to toss aside fundamental rights and freedoms when they become politically inconvenient. The Policing Act (2022) was a significant affront to our right to protest, including giving police the right to shut down “noisy” protests.

That is now followed by the Public Order Bill (2023), currently in the Lords, which seeks to expand these measures further, giving police the right to pre-emptively crackdown on protests before they happen and keep registers of known activists based on facial recognition data. If that’s not an infringement of civil liberties, then nothing is.

And let’s not forget Dominic Raab’s grubby plans to overturn the Human Rights Act. 

We’ve also recently seen the press and the labour movement under fire from the government. Several journalists were arrested while covering climate protests last November, despite showing valid press IDs. And the government’s plans to privatise Channel 4 last year – finally abandoned under public pressure this January – and their continued hostility towards the BBC betray an instinct for threatening vital public news services when they are perceived to be getting in the way.

The Sunak government’s latest priority is to crack down on the right to strike by introducing government-set minimum service standards, once again choosing authoritarian mandates over dialogue or compromise. It’s hard to deny backsliding is also occurring in this area.

On the final element, it has been clear for some time that the integrity of the voting system used for general elections is in jeopardy. The Elections Act (2022) now requires voters to show ID at polling stations, something that creates a barrier to legitimate electors being able to exercise their democratic right to vote. Worse, the government’s choice of valid ID seems to disadvantage people from demographics less likely to vote Conservative. That bill also mandated the use of FPTP for Mayoral and Police Commissioner elections, entrenching a broken system that does not accurately reflect the true will of the electorate. 

It’s clear that the UK is indeed in a phase of democratic backsliding. But that doesn’t mean we have to continue on this path. 

As we move forward in 2023, OB will continue to work, alone and with partners who share our ambitions and values, to ensure UK democracy is striding forwards, not sliding backwards.

The Open Britain team

P.S. We and a number of partners in the democracy sector are working to put pressure on Labour to commit to making the changes we need to renew our political system. You can help right now by signing our joint petition here to get Keir Starmer to support proportional representation.

Add to this the secret courts that Dodgy Dave Cameron pushed through, in which you can be tried in secret, without you or your defence knowing the identity of your accusers and evidence withheld from you if the authorities deem it necessary for reasons of national security, and we really are heading towards what some commenters call ‘a democratic deficit’.

I didn’t realise this, but the tribune was the Roman magistrate charged with defending the rights of the plebs and the army. Hence the phrase, ‘a tribune of the people’. The late 18th century French revolutionary communist, Gracchus Babeuf, also recommended a panel of officials charged with making sure local politicos performed their duties. If they didn’t, their constituents had the right of recall and out they would go. I like this idea, and the fact that the Romans knew that you needed officials to protect democratic rights and freedoms shows, in my opinion, just how wise they were. Not wise enough not to be ruled by a bunch of raving psychopaths, but you can’t expect too much from past ages.

Boris claims to be a great admirer of ancient Rome. It’s a pity the tribunes aren’t one of them. Instead from the Tories we get a lot of bluster about democracy and free speech right when they trying to undermine all of it.

Questions for the Mosleyites of Correct, Not Political

December 9, 2022

They’ve done it again. The man behind the extreme right-wing vlog and group, Correct, Not Political, held another livestream this week. And once again they gave an indication of their true political colours by prefacing it with black and white newsreel footage of Mosley marching with his BUF storm troopers, all to weeping string music, of course. The group go around staging counter-protests against Drag Queen Story Hour, gay pride, environmentalists, pro-immigrant groups, and people they class as ‘socialists and commies’. They were out today at the ‘Solidarity with Postal Workers’ demonstrations, which they declared to be ‘commies’. Now to be fair to them, they aren’t violent and just try to catch their victims out with awkward questions. They are less fascist in that way than antifa and the militant trans rights protesters, who do threaten violence, scream abuse and hurl smoke bombs around as well as making death threats. But I wonder how well they understand or agree with Mosley’s ideology. For example, at one point their main man said he was a ‘free speech absolutist’. In that case, why support a monster like Mosley? He didn’t, and he tells you over and again he didn’t. It’s in his autobiography, My Life, where at one point he says that free speech is worthless if you’re starving on a park bench. If, God help us! – Mosley had actually got into power and become dictator, the only free speech he would have permitted is the freedom to agree wholeheartedly with whatever nonsense he was spouting that day. If you watch the Channel 4 series about him, there’s one scene at a political meeting where Mosley is expounding his fascist views. And the other politicians condemn it as an attack on traditional British liberties. He denies this, and says it is just marshalling all the forces of the state. But his opponents knew far better.

I also have doubts about their education and intellect. In one of their videos, they urge people to boycott Selfridges, Bella Freud and other stores, whose goods are well out of the price range of ordinary people. Their reason for doing so is because they’re selling branded goods supporting Allen Ginsburg. Ginsburg was a beat poet, and a friend of William S. Burroughs of Naked Lunch infamy and Jack Kerouac, the author of On The Road, a classic of mid-20th century American literature. Except their guy couldn’t pronounce ‘Kerouac’. He got as far as ‘Ker-, Kerw-‘, before giving up. In fact their attack on Ginsburg is actually quite reasonable. They didn’t like him anyway, ’cause he was a Commie, who kept getting thrown out of Communist countries for supporting gay rights. But he was also a paedophile, and the play a recording of him talking about his attitude to people enquiring about NAMBLA, the main American paedophile organisation. Ginsburg didn’t want members to reply, in case it was an attempt to entrap them. If that’s true, then Ginsburg isn’t someone to be celebrated. But I also wondered if lurking behind this boycott there wasn’t a bit of anti-Semitism as well. I don’t know, perhaps there isn’t, but it’s too much like the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.

But back to Mosley. Fascism is a weird mixture of the radical left and capitalist, pro-private enterprise right. Mussolini believed, if the opportunist believed anything, that Italy should be governed as a corporate state. Industry was to be organised into corporations, in this case the successors to the medieval guilds, in which trade unions, management and proprietors represented their industries in a ‘council of fasces and corporations’ which replaced parliament. Mosley initially believed the same, before he rejected it as ‘too bureaucratic’. Under him, the House of Lords would be abolished and replaced with a similar industrial chamber. It’s an interesting idea, but if it was like Mussolini’s Italy, it wouldn’t have done anything except cheered and clapped Mosley and automatically pass every piece of legislation he proposed. But it’s a good question to ask Correct, Not Political. Would they want to replace the House of Lords with a similar industrial chamber following the theories of the corporate state. My guess is that they’d be horrified by the idea, because trade unions = commies. When one of the rival fascist groups wanted to ally themselves with Mosley, he asked them what their views on the corporate state were. They immediately denounced it as Communism. At which Mosley left them. My guess is Correct, Not Political have the same views.

Ditto Mosley’s views on Europe. After the War he turned up, promoting ‘national syndicalism’, his term for his version of the corporate state and calling for the formation of a united Europe, again along fascist lines, against the Communist threat. I think he later claimed to be a pioneer of the idea of the EU, which I’ve no doubt would have horrified the real founders. So, are Correct, Not Political also for the idea of a united Europe against the threat of plutocratic capitalism and Communism? As I’m sure they’re all Brexiteers of the racist stripe, that’s probably another one which would cause them difficulties.

I may well be misjudging them. Perhaps they do have a strong grasp of Mosley’s ideas, and could provide well-informed answers to those awkward questions. But perhaps not.

38 Degrees Petition against MPs Attending Parliament While Being Investigated for Sexual Misconduct

November 19, 2022

I got this email from the internet petitioning organisation 38 Degrees yesterday, and I have absolutely no qualms against signing it whatsoever, because there have been scandals involving MPs sexually assaulting their staff that have caused real outrage already. And I’m really shocked by the claim that 50 MPs are being investigated for such crimes. If you feel the same way, please feel free to sign as well.

‘Dear David,

Did you know that right now MPs who are under investigation for sexual assault by the police cannot be banned from Parliament and can only be asked not to attend? [1] It’s shocking, but it could be about to change.

Because earlier this week, a group of influential MPs in Westminster met to discuss the possibility of MPs being banned from Parliament if they are accused of sexual misconduct. [2] Earlier this year it was revealed more than 50 MPs were being investigated for such behaviour, so this change can’t come soon enough. [3]

The panel is debating this right now, but they could get pushback from some of their fellow MPs, and that’s where we come in. Together we need to show that the public would be in favour of this move – and any other actions they can take to clean up Westminster’s toxic culture and make sure the Houses of Parliament is a safer place to work.

So David, will you sign the petition today which will show those in charge that the public would back a move to ban MPs under investigation for bad behaviour? It takes 30 seconds to sign:

SIGN THE PETITION

NO, I DISAGREE

Earlier this year, an MP who was arrested on suspicion of rape was simply asked to “please stay away”. [4] And MP Ahmed Khan said he’d steer clear of Parliament while under investigation, but kept coming in anyway until finally resigning after being found guilty of sexual assault. [5]

After the party gate scandal, the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson promised to change the culture within Downing Street but it’s clear that the Houses of Commons needs cleaning up too. [6] That’s why, over the summer, more than 78,000 38 Degrees supporters signed a petition and came together demanding change. [7]

One of our demands was to enforce a ban on MPs coming to Parliament when under investigation. It sounds like those in charge are considering this change – so now it’s time we pile the pressure on again.
Will you sign the petition to help them make the right decision?It takes 30 seconds to add your name:

SIGN THE PETITION

NO, I DISAGREE

Thanks for being involved,

David, Megan and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] BBC News: Conservative MP arrested on suspicion of rape
[2] The Guardian: MPs facing sexual assault claims could be banned from parliament
[3] The Mirror: Three cabinet and two shadow ministers facing allegations of sexual misconduct
[5] See note 1.
[6] BBC News: Imran Ahmad Khan: Sex assault conviction MP resigns
[7] BBC News: Boris Johnson will address No 10 ‘party culture’, says Tory chief
[8] 38 Degrees: Clean up the toxic culture of harassment in Westminster

38 Degrees Petition against MPs Taking Second Jobs or Going on Holiday While Parliament is in Session

November 13, 2022

I also had an email about this petition from 38 Degrees come through on Friday. Launched by John Clutterbuck, a 38 Degrees member, it requires MPs to view their parliamentary role as a full-time job. This is another petition I’ve had absolutely no problem signing, because this is how it should be. In the 19th and early 20th centuries there was indeed a strong feeling against MPs having careers outside parliament because of the danger of commercial corruption. But after MPs started being sponsored by the unions as part of the Labour movement, the right argued that there should be no obstacles to figures from industry sitting in parliament. And so we have the wretched situation today where something like 77 per cent of the MPs during Cameron’s squalid tenure of No. 10 were millionaires and directors of companies. It was the same over the other side of the Pond, where a Republican businessman got so fed up with this that he launched a campaign for congressmen and women to wear patches indicating which companies had sponsored their campaigns to show who they were really representing.

Get business out of parliament, and clean politics in!

I’ve therefore signed the petition, and if you feel the same way, please do so as well.

‘Dear David,

How do you feel about MP’s taking on second jobs or going on their holiday when they should be working in the Houses of Parliament?

John, a 38 Degrees supporter, thinks that being an MP is a full time job and taking on other roles or going on holiday outside of parliamentary recess can’t be good for constituents. [1]

While some MPs work second jobs in the NHS, others choose to appear on TV shows, work advising private health companies, or take holidays while they should be in parliament. [2]

John believes these types of jobs should not be allowed. He also thinks that, as with teachers, if you choose to go into politics you should accept that means your holidays have to be taken at a certain time in the year. That’s why he’s started a petition calling for the role of an MP to be considered a full time job, with stricter rules around taking second jobs or going on holiday.

David, do you agree with John? If so, use the button below to sign his petition today calling on a ban on second jobs and holidays outside of recess. It takes 30 seconds to sign:

‘Campaign created by john clutterbuck

Sign the petition

To: The Commons Standards Committee

What: MPs should not be allowed to take holiday while Parliament is sitting or take second jobs while they are a Member of Parliament. Being an elected MP is – or should be – a full time job.

Why is this important: Being an MP is a full time job. It is not something that should be done with half measures.

Right now during a cost of living crisis and government unrest, it is of extreme importance that all MPs serve their constituencies the best they can. Taking on second jobs or going on holidays outside of parliamentary recess can simply not be better for the good of constituents and the UK as a whole.

When someone decides to become a teacher, they do so knowing it means they will be limited on when they can go on holiday. If you choose to run for Parliament it should be with the same understanding.

Read more…

Sign the petition

hanks for being involved,

David, Megan, Robin and the 38 Degrees team

PS: John Clutterbuck started their petition on the 38 Degrees website.

With 38 Degrees anyone can start their own campaign with the click of a button. But that’s just where your journey begins. Creating a petition, then sharing it with friends and colleagues, can soon give you a groundswell of support. Perhaps you’ll end up changing something really important.

Use this link to get your campaign started today, it takes just a couple of minutes and we’ll support you every step of the way: https://link.38degrees.org.uk/start-campaign

NOTES:
[1] 38 Degrees: Make being a Member of Parliament a full time job
[2] The Week: The MPs earning the most from second jobs
Sky News: Matt Hancock to enter I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! jungle following Olivia Attwood’s shock
departure
Guardian: Boris Johnson is back … from his three post-resignation holidays

‘Led By Donkey’s’ Potted Biography of the Horror That Is Jacob Rees-Mogg

October 23, 2022

I found this brief biography, ‘Who Is Jacob Rees-Mogg’ on the Led by Donkeys channel on YouTube. It covers Mogg’s life and career from his birth to today and shows exactly why he shouldn’t be anywhere near government – the greed, snobbishness, mendacity, duplicity and sheer governmental incompetence. Here’s a summary of its contents.

Mogg was born in May 1969 in London, the son William Rees-Mogg, the editor of the Times. He was naturally educated at Eton. In 1982, while he was a twelve-year old schoolboy, he was the subject of a French documentary as he was a financial trader and supporter of Thatcher. In one interview for the programme he said, ‘I love money. I always have done.’ When asked if he wanted to get married, he replied ‘No’, as he didn’t want to get divorced and his wife to get his money. In 1997 he campaigned for the Tories in the traditional Labour seat of East Fife. The image accompanying this shows him stepping over a fence looking exactly like John Cleese as the Minister for Silly Walks, but without the bowler hat. The locals were bemused by the fact that he was accompanied by his nanny, who was there to iron his shirts. 1998 – according to a biographer, his maid and his nanny took turns holding a book over his head at a picnic at Glyndebourne to make sure he didn’t get sunburnt. That same year he campaigned in the Wrekin, where he also lost. In 2006 he made a statement comparing people who weren’t privately educated and who never went to Oxford and Cambridge to potted plants and implied that they were incapable of writing an articulate letter. The next year, 2007, he and two of his friends set up Somerset Investment Capital. This committed itself to business ethics, but then stated that environmental, social and governmental concerns would not form the basis of their ethical policy.

In 2010 he finally succeeded in getting his wretched backside elected to parliament in the Somerset Northeast constituency. Three years later in 2013, Mogg distinguished himself by denying that workers have a right to a paid holiday. Then he took the decision to attend the annual dinner of the far-right Traditional Britain Group, despite being briefed about them by anti-Fascist organisation and magazine, Searchlight. He only decided to disassociate himself from them when they issued a statement denouncing Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered Black teenager Stephen Lawrence, as a ‘monstrous disgrace’ and recommending that people like her should be asked to leave the country. He also described man-made global warming as ‘much debated’ – totally wrong, as the vast majority of scientists are convinced it exists. The next year, 2014, Mogg advises that humanity should adapt to rather than attempt to mitigate climate change. He also lies about a UN report, claiming that it states that if measures were adopted to combat climate changes today it would take hundreds or a thousand years to produce results. The report said no such thing. In March the same year it was revealed his investment company was making a cool £3million from mining and £2.4 million in oil and gas.

In 2015 he stated his opposition to gay marriage and followed this in 2016 with a statement backing Donald Trump, who was then running a very racist, sexist and bigoted campaign. A year after that, in 2017, he revealed that he had never changed a nappy despite having six children. He also lied again, this time claiming that Labour had deliberately not told people they could get help from food banks. He also said that he thought the idea of people giving to these charities was ‘uplifting’. This was much mocked at the time. It is uplifting that people are willing to give to them, but utterly despicable that they have to exist in the first place. He also still opposed marriage equality and abortion in all circumstances as well as the morning after pill. Thus, he suffered no little embarrassment when it was revealed that he had investments in a company producing a stomach pill widely used in illegal abortions in Indonesia. He also had shares in a company producing drugs for legal abortions in India. He sold these shares, but retained those in tobacco, oil and gas companies. He also met Trump’s aide, Steve Bannon, a journalist for the far-right news outlet Breitbart, discussing how the right could win both in American and Britain. This segment has footage of the torchlight fascists marching in the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville. In 2018 it was revealed that Somerset Capital had also invested in Sberbank, a Russian bank that had been sanctioned by the EU since 2014 because of the Russian occupation of Crimea. It was also revealed a year later in 2019 that he’d made £7 million in profit from the Brexit vote. But backing Brexit didn’t stop him establishing two funds in Dublin to take advantage of the fact that it was still in the EU while London was not. Somerset Capital was paying him £15,000 per month and he owned 15 per cent of the shares. His firm was managed by subsidiaries operating perfectly legally in the tax havens of the Cayman Islands and Singapore.

Going back to the far-right, in 2019 he retweeted a comment by the leader of Germany’s Alternative Fuer Deutschland. He was also interviewed by Trump-supporter James Delingpole for Breitbart. The ousting of Tweezer by Johnson that year was also due in no small part to his machinations and that of his European Research Group. He also chose to show precisely what he thought about a debate on Brexit by lying down and appearing to go to sleep on the hallowed green benches of parliament. He also implied in a radio interview that the victims of the Grenfell fire died because they were too stupid to leave the building. He then mysterious vanished from the campaign trail, suggesting that his aides had advised him to lie low for a while. When a voter did try to ask him about his comment, he fled.

This year Truss made him Minister for Brexit Opportunities, despite profiting from investments in a Russian gas company, whose chair was one of Putin’s chums. He did, however, promise to divest himself of these investment after the invasion of Ukraine. Truss then appointed him Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He backed the disastrous minibudget to the hilt, which has resulted in catastrophic mortgage hikes and the reimposition of austerity. Rather than accept responsibility, he blamed the mess on the Bank of England. The video ends with a young female journalist at the Financial Times describing this as ‘bollocks’.

This is who is now in government. And he’s only just down the road from me in Bath and Northeast Somerset. Uuurgh!

And after watching that video, here’s something that might cheer you up. Mogg’s frank statement that he loved money made me think of the Flying Lizard’s cover of the Beatle’s class, ‘Money’. Here it is, also from the TopPop channel on YouTube.

Truss Goes, But There’s No Democracy

October 20, 2022

Well, our farcical Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has finally done the right thing and resigned. She and Khazi Kwarteng together had trashed the economy, and she had succeeded in achieving a poll rating of -70+, making her one of the most unpopular British Prime Ministers. Before then, I thought the least popular PM was Gordon Brown, but I think his poll rating was only -44 or so. She has been in office for only 44 days, so she must also be one of the shortest serving prime ministers.

But there’s no democracy there. She was forced out by her MPs acting on the polls, not by the democratic will of the British people. She wasn’t put in No. 10 democratically either. This was done through Johnson resigning, also because of disastrous polling, and then the Tory party, MPs and ordinary members, choosing who they wanted to succeed him. The British electorate were excluded. And now her successor will be elected by an even smaller group, just the Tory MPs.

Britain isn’t a democracy, it’s a barely functioning oligarchy.

Labour has called for an immediate general election. However much I despise Starmer for his own hatred of party democracy and purging of the Corbynite left, Starmer’s absolutely right. We need a general election. Until then, there is no democracy and we do not have a properly elected prime minister.

# General Election Now

# Get the Tories out!

Megaphone Launch Tool to Show People the Effect of the Cost of Living Crisis in Their Area

October 19, 2022

I had this email from the internet activists at Megaphone earlier this morning. It announces a new internet tool they’ve devised which will show people the harm the cost of living crisis is doing in their area.

‘David,

This government’s failure to deal with the cost of living emergency is taking a heavy toll.

Many families can’t afford to eat or keep warm this autumn. Rent and mortgage costs keep going up.

The Prime Minister may have reversed her disastrous mini-budget — but there’s still nowhere near enough help for families.

Today, we launch a new tool to show the disastrous impact of the government’s inaction in every constituency in the country. Just put in your postcode to see the damning results where you live:

🔍 What’s the impact in my area?

How is the cost-of-living crisis hurting your local area? An animation showing someone typing in a postcode in Hastings and Rye and seeing the shocking results.

This isn’t inevitable — it’s a political choice.

This government wilfully chose to ignore all the warnings; from the Bank of England, economics experts and their own MPs.

But they can’t ignore us, the people who elect them. 

Without public support, this Prime Minister has no mandate to lead and no right to continue as if we’re all okay with her choices. 

We can only turn things around if enough people in our local area know exactly how badly the government is managing this crisis. Can you share this tool with everyone you know?

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share on WhatsApp

We all want to live in a country where working people make enough to live on, and thrive. 

By getting the general public outraged, on-side and signed up to take action, we can force the government’s hand. 

That’s why we’re building towards a mass lobby of parliament and rally in Westminster on Wednesday, 2 November. 

We will demand better, and we will win.

In solidarity,

Anthony,

Megaphone UK'[

I’ve no problem with publicising this internet tool. As Barry and Savile Kushner show in their book, Who Needs the Cuts, austerity wasn’t dictated by economic circumstances. It was a conscious choice by the Tories to impoverish ordinary people. And the Tories are still pursuing austerity, whatever they said about lifting it. According to today’s news, 25 per cent of families are ‘food insecure’, which is a posh way of saying they don’t know whether they’ll be able to eat or not. In a developed country like Britain, this is an obscenity.

Get the Tories out and get them out now!

Email from 38 Degrees Urging People to Contact MPs and Vote Against Fracking Tomorrow

October 18, 2022

I had this email come through earlier this evening, urging me to contact my MP to ask her to attend tomorrow’s opposition day debate and vote against Truss’ proposal to bring back fracking.

David, we’ve got a chance to make sure MPs take a stand against fracking. How? There’s a vote set to take place about the Government’s ridiculous fracking plans on Wednesday in Parliament. [1]

We know the public are against it – it’s why you and 80,000 others signed the petition demanding the Government rethink their plans. And we also know multiple politicians have been speaking out against fracking, including Conservative MPs. [2] Now we need them to back their words up with action, and vote against fracking this week.

But they’ll only do that if they hear from us, their constituents, calling on them to show up tomorrow – and vote against fracking.

So, David, will you ask Karin Smyth to go along tomorrow and vote to stop fracking in its tracks?

EMAIL MY MP

Don’t worry if you’ve never emailed your MP before – here are a few suggestions on what you could say:

  • Make sure you ask them to go along to tomorrow’s opposition day debate on fracking.
  • Mention how harmful fracking is to the local community and environment – it can cause earthquakes, and increase air pollution and road traffic. [3]
  • Remind them that fracking was banned for good reasons in 2019, and science shows the process has not become safer yet. [4]
  • Tell your MP that the real solutions to the energy crisis are more renewable energy and home insulation. In contrast, fracking emits greenhouse gases that contribute to climate breakdown. [5]

So, will you email your MP now asking them to attend the vote tomorrow and stop fracking in England once and for all?

EMAIL MY MP

Thanks for all you do,

Simma, Megan, Matt, Tom and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] The Telegraph: Tory rebels vow to bury fracking as they urge Liz Truss to make policy U-turn
[2] 38 Degrees: Sign the petition: the government must rethink its fracking plans
The Guardian: Tory-led council votes to demand Truss stick to no fracking pledge
[3] BBC News: What is fracking and why is it controversial?
Daily Mail: What is fracking, why is it controversial and will it REALLY solve the energy crisis? MailOnline answers your key questions about the practice after the UK government lifts the ban
[4] The Guardian: Why fracking in UK will not fix fuel bills and is economically high risk
[5] The Guardian: Fracking causing rise in methane emissions, study finds

I’ve had no problem doing this, not least because one of the proposed areas for fracking was part of Keynsham, a small town just southeast of Bristol near Bath. If you click on the link, you get to a general page that asks you for your address so you can contact your local MP, whoever he or she may be, and send them your message asking them to attend the debate. If you also want to halt the return of fracking, please feel free to use the link above to contact your local politico.

My Emails on the Trans Issue to Local MP and the Local Labour Party

July 18, 2022

I hope everyone’s enjoying the summer sunshine, or at least not suffering too much from the heat. I went to a Zoom meeting of the local Labour party here in south Bristol. One of the issues that came up was the Pride march and the attendance of the anti-trans group, Labour Women’s Declaration, at the annual conference where they will have a stall. Bristol had held its Pride celebrations the previous Saturday, and the local Labour party had taken part in the march. Unfortunately, Bristol Anarchists had appeared as well to make a nuisance of themselves and insult the other marchers. They chanted slogans attacking Pride for being too corporate – ‘No Pride But Corporate Pride’, and called one of the Labour men a scab and a Tory, before being shown the door by the cops. They also turned up the following day, Sunday, at the Trans Pride march, where they made a nuisance of themselves again. They’re really not doing their best to make a non-coercive system based on communal ownership and absolute personal autonomy very popular.

Our local Labour MP, Karin Smyth, appeared to give her monthly report. She is horrified by all of the candidates for the Tory leadership and dreads any one of them getting in. She also reported that they are not turning up to the committees set up to scrutinise government activity. This is an important function of parliament, which they’re just breaking. They don’t give any excuse or tell anyone they’re not coming. They just don’t turn up. Priti Patel was particularly mentioned as one of these offenders. I’m not surprised. She’s one of the laziest MPs in the House and has always had a deep contempt for anything except her own political ambitions, as she demonstrated when she was caught conducting her own foreign policy with Israel under Tweezer. This attitude may well show how the Tory candidates intend to behave once their leaders – complete contempt for the dignity and functions of parliament, just like Bozo. Or Charles I or Oliver Cromwell, for that matter.

When it came to questions, the party’s LGBTQ officer raised the issue of Labour Women’s Declaration’s attendance at conference and asked Smyth why she support them. Smyth said that it was because they were concerned with protecting women’s sex-based rights. So the officer said he was on their website, and couldn’t find anything about women’s rights, just stuff about trans. He also said that they thought trans people were communists. Smyth repeated that they were defending women’s sex-based rights. She also said that she wasn’t a member of the group, but felt it was important that they should be heard.

I feel very strongly that in the case Smyth’s right. Trans people, of course, should have the same respect and dignity as everyone else, but the automatic treatment of transwomen as women, especially when they’re still biologically male, does negatively affect women’s sex-based rights, especially their right to safety, dignity and autonomy in sports. As for trans people being communists, that’s obviously not true, but there are trans activists who are strongly influenced by Queer Theory. This is a postmodern revision of Marxism, and it does see campaigns to promote respect for gay and trans people as a method of creating a queer Marxist revolutionary communist. This needs to be weeded out of the gay and trans movement. They should not be used by extremists for political indoctrination.

I therefore sent the following emails to Smyth, supporting her on her support for Labour Women’s Declaration, and to the LGBTQ officer seeking to provide him with further information on the issues involved for women presented by the trans movement.

Here’s the email I sent to Smyth:

‘Dear Karin,

Thank you for your report to the local Labour party at the meeting last night,, and particularly for standing up for the right of Labour Women’s Declaration to have a stall at conference. I’ve been following the issue of the way trans rights also impacts on women’s rights, and believe very strongly that women’s sex-based rights – the right to privacy and security in rape and domestic abuse shelters, prisons, sport and toilets, for example, must also be safeguarded. And there is a Marxist ideological dimension to the current push for transgenderism. Some transgender activism is based on Queer Theory, a postmodernist Marxist view of gender based on the theories of Marcel Foucault. This was founded by Gayle Rubinl in the 1980s in her essay, ‘Thinking Sex’. This is also affecting the Drag Queen story hour events now staged by many school and public libraries here and in the US. Two years ago an essay was published in an American educational journal presenting Drag Queen story hour as a queer Marxist strategy for indoctrinating children to live ‘queerly’ with the revolutionary consciousness required to rise up against bourgeois society. The American academic James Lindsay has made an excellent series of videos going through these papers and critiquing them. See the video ‘Groomer Schools 4: Drag Queen Story Hours’ at his New Discourses channel on YouTube at Groomer Schools 4: Drag Queen Story Hour – YouTube. and this on Gayle Rubini’s ‘Thinking Sex’: The Origin of Queer Theory: Gayle Rubin’s “Thinking Sex” – YouTube..

Thank you for standing up for these women to also have their voices heard in this controversial and emotive issue.

Yours faithfully,

David Sivier’

And here’s the email I sent to the Labour party to go to its LGBTQ officer

”Dear Sir,

At this month’s all members meeting last night the new LGBTQ officer queried Karin about her support for Labour Women’s Declaration having a stall at conference this year. He seemed to believe that their opposition to the trans movement is based on hate and prejudice.

I’ve been following the controversy about trans rights, and do not believe this to be the case in the many feminist groups expressing criticism or opposition to the trans movement. The movement to include transwomen in many areas reserved for natal, biological women does present real dangers to women’s sex based race. There are already cases in America where biological men and boys have raped women and girls in prisons and schools after gaining admission to their private spaces through claiming that they identify as women. There are problems with fairness in sport, as transwomen retain the biological advantages they had when they were men. There are also issues with the medical process of transition, in that the cross-sex hormones can and do have detrimental effects on patients’ health. Many trans people are coming forward to complain that these complications were not sufficiently explained to them when they were seeking treatment. And I could go on.

What concerns me particularly here, though, is that the LGBTQ officer did not know that there really is a Marxist ideological element behind the current wave of transgender activism. This is based on Queer Theory, a postmodernist revision of Marx based on the theories of the French philosopher and paedophile Marcel Foucault. It was founded in the 1980s by activists like Julie Bindel and Gayle Rubin, whose essay ‘Thinking Sex’, remains one of its cornerstones. More recently there has been a paper published in an American educational journal by a transperson and a drag queen, Little Miss Hot Mess, about using Drag Queen Story Hour to indoctrinate young children into living ‘queerly’ and developing a queer revolutionary Marxist consciousness.

I am very much aware that this sounds absolutely barking mad, and sounds very much like some stupid conspiracy theory cooked up by the Sun and the rest of the Tory rags. Unfortunately, this papers exists. See the critique of it by James Lindsay on his New Discourses YouTube channel in the video ‘Groomer Schools 4: Drag Queen Story Hour’.

I’m very much aware that trans people also need to be protected from prejudice, and hopefully there is a way to reconcile their demands with women’s sex-based rights. I also feel very strongly that we need to be aware and very vigilant that there are activists whose desires for the trans movement go far beyond simply combating prejudice against them. The issue of grooming, both sexually and ideologically, is becoming prominent and has been seized on by the far right. Laurence Fox has already put out a video on this, with his party’s programme for combatting it.

We need to be aware of these issues and prepared to combat the challenges over this issue from both the extreme left and the extreme right. And that means we cannot ignore the fringe elements in the trans movement nor the way their presence is being used by the right. I do not want the Labour party and decent trans and gay activists to be smeared as Marxist paedophile groomers through failure to tackle this issue.

Yours with best wishes,

David Sivier’

I don’t know if I’ll get any replies to these messages. Somehow I doubt it. But I am convinced of the necessity of defending women’s sex-based rights and making sure that the Labour party is not one-sided on this issue. The Tory media has had great fun with the inability of senior Labour politicos to answer the question ‘What is a woman?’ after they declared their uncompromising support for trans rights. And this latter is alienating many women from the Labour party. And the concerns over trans and gay issues, and their teaching in schools, is very much being used by far right politicians like Laurence Fox. Only proper, clear debate, hearing from both sides, can stop this and offer the opportunity of protecting both trans people and women.

A Detransitioner and Two Scientists Refuting the Trans Craze

July 13, 2022

But not, I hasten to add, attacking genuinely trans people. The first of these videos is a panel presentation and discussion put on by the Center for Bioethics and Culture, entitled ‘Questioning the “Science” of the Gender Industry’. The speakers include an evolutionary biologist, an endocrinologist and, especially, a female detransitioner. The blurb for the video on YouTube runs

Moderated by Jennifer Lahl, President of the Center for Bioethics and Culture. Lahl is a filmmaker whose films document the stories of exploitation of women and children caused by #BigFertility and #BigPharma @JenniferLahl on Twitter.

Helena Kerschner, is a 23 year old detransitioned woman who identified as transgender during her teenage years and eventually was presrcibed testosterone shortly after her 18th birthday. After being on testosterone for a year and a half, she realized that transitioning was a misguided way of dealing with her social and emotional struggles. Now, years later, she is interested in exploring the cultural and psychological factors that contribute to the sharp rise in adolescents identifying as transgender and choosing to medically transition with hormones and surgeries. @lacroisz on Twitter

Colin Wright, is an evolutionary biologist, Senior Editor at the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR), and Contributing Editor at Quillette. His writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Quillette, The Times, and more. He also writes articles and a weekly newsletter for his website, Reality’s Last Stand, dedicated to keeping the public informed on the sex and gender debate. @swipewright on Twitter

Michael Laidlaw, is an Endocrinologist in Rocklin, CA. He has been specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of gland and hormone disorders for over 16 years. His writings on the topic of medical harms relating to gender dysphoria treatment have been published in medical journals and lay publications. He has spoken on the topic of medical harms and surgical procedures in a number of venues including state legislatures, Washington D.C., and the UK Parliament. He maintains his YouTube channel at “M Laidlaw” and is back on Twitter @@gendersanity’.

The two scientists detail and refute the flawed science used to support the transgender ideology, with Wright also describing how the medical establishment has been captured by younger scientists who are primarily activists. These doctors believe absolutely and unquestioningly in the affirmative care model, even though it is inappropriate for many young people, particularly girls and women, who are experiencing difficulty and confusion with their biological gender. At the same time a very aggressive trans lobby is actively silencing dissenting scientists and medical practitioners by attacking them as prejudice transphobes, using tactics that range from shouting them down to getting them to lose their jobs if they persist.

Helena Kerschner is the first and probably the most important speaker, as she describes the experience of falsely believing that one is trans from her own perspective as someone who has suffered this. And her experience fits exactly the social contagion model of the expansion of girls and young women, who sucker themselves into believing that they’re really boys. She was a lonely child, who didn’t make friends well at school and there was tension with her parents at home, particularly her mother. She was especially unusual in that she had different musical tastes that the other kids around her. Instead of contemporary pop and rock, she was into Elvis. Well, he was the King of rock’n’roll! She found a community of other young Elvis fans on Tumblr, but had a problem fitting in there as it’s very ‘woke’. If you’re White and not trans, you’re one of the racial and gender oppressors. In order to fit in and keep her new friends, she declared herself nonbinary and adopted he/him pronouns. This then led to her wondering whether she really was trans, and set her on the road to medical treatment. She started taking testosterone, but stopped and abandoned the treatment after she realised that she wasn’t actually trans, but simply a mixed up kid with mental problems, partly caused by her home situation.

It’s a long video at 1hr 37mins, but worth watching. If you can’t watch all of it, but are interested in hearing the other side of this issue, please view Helena Kerschner’s talk. It’s from a personal point of view that you won’t hear from the lamestream media or the official gay organisations like Stonewall.