Monthly Archives: November 2012

Rotherham Council takes foster children away from UKIP couple

A foster couple in Rotherham who are members of UKIP have had three children taken away from them by social services. The reason given by the council is that the “children were not indigenously white British”. The phrase “indigenous white British” is one that is often used by parties like the BNP.

The unnamed couple told the Daily Telegraph social workers had accused them of belonging to a “racist party”. UKIP said it was an appalling decision.

Rotherham Borough Council’s Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Joyce Thacker, told the BBC that her decision was influenced by UKIP’s immigration policy, which she said calls for the end of the “active promotion of multiculturalism”.

UKIP’s immigration policy states the party wants an “end [to] the active promotion of the doctrine of multiculturalism by local and national government”, and urges Britain to leave the European Union (EU).

The Labour Party has called for an investigation into the Labour-run council’s decision, after claims from UKIP it could have been politically motivated.

This is a propaganda coup for UKIP, who will use this as a stick to beat the Labour Party. Bravo, Labour-controlled Rotherham council for getting it so badly wrong.

UKIP leader, Nigel Farage is being interviewed on telly. He’s just said that he’s “publicizing the case”. Farage also claimed that the couple in question were former Labour Party members, which adds another dimension to this. I expect this won’t go away. But I also suspect that there is something more to this than the BBC is telling us.

With the Rotherham by-election due to take place next Thursday, this could seriously impact on Labour’s campaign. The choice of Labour candidate has not gone down well with local party members, who walked out in protest. The by-election was called after Denis MacShane, the MP for Rotherham, stepped down after admitting to wrongly claiming over £7,000 in expenses. MacShane has been described as a Eurofanatic.

This has happened with less than a week to the by-election and UKIP will use this case as its battering ram. I only hope that TUSC’s Ralph Dyson can take the seat and wipe the smiles off the faces of UKIP and Labour.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Society & culture, UKIP

What is the Liberty League?

This is your freedom, you can't afford the other kind.

This is your freedom, you can’t afford the other kind.

If it’s one thing that the Right loves to do, it’s to lecture the Left and anyone who’ll listen on the nature of freedom. They’ll wrap their semi-feudal ideas in economic jargonese and present them as unassailable truths, telling anyone who dares to disagree with them and their muddle-headed views that they “hate” freedom. They would deny that they are superstitious but their unquestioning belief in The Invisible Hand of the Market is naive at best and dangerous at worst. It’s another way of saying “We’ll just let the Lord decide this one, shall we”?

I only came across the Liberty League fairly recently and as is always the case with groups that use the word “liberty” or “freedom” in their name, they work to deny others of their freedoms. As it turns out, the Liberty League is not the name of one particular organization but an umbrella name for a network of, some would say, the usual suspects but with one or two names added. At first glance it would appear that they have taken their name from the American Liberty League, an anti-New Deal group of businessmen who were involved in the alleged Business  Plot of the 1930s, but they haven’t.

Have a look at this list, you’ll see some familiar names and some not-so-familiar names. One such name is the Legatum Institute, whose parent company is Legatum.  I can tell you that Legatum is based in Dubai, that free-market paradise in which migrant workers from places like India and Pakistan are treated appallingly. Legatum is an international investment company that was founded in 2006 by New Zealander, Christopher Chandler, who was president of Sovereign Asset Management. It has also created The Legatum Center at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Techonology or MIT.

The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship was founded on the belief that economic progress and good governance in low-income countries emerge from entrepreneurship and innovations that empower ordinary citizens.

The Center was founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2007 through a multi-million dollar gift from Legatum, a global investment firm.

The Legatum Institute has something that it calls its “Prosperity Index”, which it says

is a unique and robust assessment of global wealth and wellbeing, which benchmarks 142 countries around the world in eight distinct categories: Economy; Education; Entrepreneurship & Opportunity; Governance; Health; Personal Freedom; Safety & Security; and Social Capital.

I had a look at the first video and was led to this site, which gives details of how they measure “prosperity”. It also ranks countries in order of their relative “prosperity”. Some countries don’t figure because of “insufficient data”, these are countries like North Korea and Somalia. The colour green indicates “high prosperity”. Guess which countries are listed? You guessed it. The UK, USA and all the Northern European countries plus Australia, New Zealand, Japan the UAE and some others.

While this all sounds rather reasonable and indeed plausible, the fact that Legatum is part of this Liberty League says more than their charts or their methodologies could ever say. Rest assured that when it comes to prosperity, it is clear that they’ve ignored certain factors in order to advance a thesis of ‘liberty’ through laissez-faire capitalism. The UK, for example, is by all accounts, not as socially mobile as Legatum would have us believe. Social capital plays a large part in how power is exercised politically. Those who possess the social capital inherited from aristocratic, landed families and the rest of the old establishment is not considered in the analysis. Money in Britain stays with the same group of people. Prosperity exists for some and not for all.

Freedom, contrary to the claims of the Right, cannot be measured by a set of indicators or benchmarks. Freedom is much more personal and is arguably a more a state of mind than a word or a set of principles that have been decided upon by the high priests of this economic cult or that. No matter how many times they’d like to tell us, capitalism is not congruent with freedom.

The President and CEO of the Legatum Institute is Jeffrey Gedmin, a former president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the international charm arm of the US Congress (it was funded by the CIA until 1972) that once beamed music and messages of “liberty” to the so-called Iron Curtain countries has now turned its signal towards Iran, Central Asia and the Middle East. Gedmin was also a resident “scholar” with the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative think-tank that boasts the talents of Richard Perle, who was one of the principal architects of the Iraq Invasion. The use of the word “scholar” to describe these people is flattering to say the least.

Legatum also organizes Democracy Lab, which appears to be part of its magazine, Foreign Policy.  Here’s the Facebook page for Democracy Lab. It tells us,

Democracy Lab covers the political and economic challenges facing countries trying to make the transition from authoritarianism to democracy.

Why do I get the feeling this has nothing at all to do with democracy? Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall over 20 years ago, neoliberals have have rushed into the former Eastern Bloc countries in their droves. The economic vacuum that was created in the wake of the collapse of European Stalinism was the ideal opportunity for groups like CATO and others to reshape these nations into model free market economies. They have done this through a network of economic think-tanks and pressure groups that share the common goal of free market capitalism. The new leaders of these countries were the antithesis of their predecessors, and threw themselves lovingly into the arms of neoliberalism’s carpetbagger-priests.

The University of Bath Tobacco Control Research Group has a site called “Tobacco Tactics” that “aims to provide up-to-date information on the Tobacco Industry, its allies or those promoting a pro-tobacco agenda”. It lists the Liberty League as one of those groups that acts as front for the tobacco industry.

Back to the Liberty League. They have six staff, all of whom look at though they’ve just walked out of university. Interestingly, two of them have degrees in War Studies.

The site says that three of its staff, Will Hamilton, Anton Howes and James Lawson, are members of the Adam Smith Institute’s (ASI) “Next Generation Project”. But the link is dead. However I have discovered Pete Spence, Operations Manager for the League is one of the project’s “key people”.

Pete Spence is Programmes Officer at the Adam Smith Institute, responsible for overseeing the ASI’s events and student programmes. He holds a BSc in Economics from the University of York.

Pete’s policy interests include agricultural policy, opposition of corporate welfare and internet freedom.

Away from work, Pete enjoys weight training, live music and volunteering as Operations Manager for the Liberty League.

Ah, so he’s only a part-timer at the League? This straddling of two or more groups is quite common. We should remember that Dan the Han is involved with Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF) and TFA. The YBF is, for all intents and purposes, the continuity Federation of Conservative Students.

The Liberty League has invited the Institute of Ideas (IoI), who are part of the LM network to join. Liberty, the civil liberties pressure group, has also been invited. The IoI produces propaganda in the form of ‘scholarly’ research for global pharmaceutical companies and agri-business companies like Monsanto.  The IoI has shared a platform with the League at their “Freedom Forum” events, which were also attended by The Institute of Economic Affairs, Spiked, TFA, Big Brother Watch and Liberal Vision. The latter is formed of Orange Book Lib Demmers.

This is liberty, dear readers. It’s the liberty of corporations and feral capitalists to exploit others for profit. It’s the liberty that holds most of humanity in bondage to the markets.  In other words, it’s an Orwellian idea of liberty.

7 Comments

Filed under Conservative Party, Cultism, Economics, Government & politics, laissez faire capitalism, Young Britons' Foundation

Have you ever wondered why British politicians are so keen to put Israel’s position across in a positive light? Have you ever wondered why Foreign Secretary William Hague went on television and seemed rather biased towards Israel? Well wonder no more. This blog from Occupied Palestine tells how The Conservative Friends of Israel has spent £30,000 since 2010 on taking Tory backbenchers on tours to the Occupied Territories. The Conservatives are not the only British political party to have a “Friends of Israel” group, the Labour Party has one. Luke Akehurst, former member of the NEC, is one of the most vociferous supporters of Israel. The Lib Dems also have their own chapter, so to speak. Now you know why the Palestinians are portrayed as “terrorists”. Now you know why nothing ever changes. Israel has bought political influence in this country. I suspect that these “Friends of Israel” see themselves as helping to hasten the Second Coming of Christ (yes, they genuinely believe that Book of Revelations gobbledegook). Of course, the bonehead Zionists can’t see that.

What’s even more worrying is that 80% of Tories are members of CFOI. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Liam Fox is a prominent member.

Here is an article from The Guardian (16/11/09). Here’s a snippet,

William Hague allegedly accepted personal donations from CFI board members totalling tens of thousands of pounds after being appointed shadow foreign secretary. More than £30,000 from CFI supporters went to the campaign funds of members of Cameron’s team who were first elected in 2005, the film claims, using publicly available information.

Hague’s position as Foreign Secretary is compromised. He shouldn’t be in charge of the Foreign Office. He has blood on his hands.

Labour Friends of Israel, another key group, is described as being “less unquestioning in its support of the Israeli government than CFI”. But it has taken more MPs on free trips to Israel than any other group – more than 60 since 2001.

So if you vote for the three main parties, you’re voting to perpetuate the cycle of violence. You’re also voting for genocide.

Occupied Palestine | فلسطين

Pro-Israeli lobbyists inside the UK have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds since the last general election taking lawmakers on propaganda tours to the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories.


PRESSTV | Nov 23, 2012

British parliamentarians, who have toured the Israeli occupied territories on paid visits, have then gone on to make supportive speeches and statements in Parliament and the media backing the regime’s atrocities against the oppressed Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West bank.

A report has found that Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), a pro-Israeli parliamentary group inside the Commons, spent over £30,000 since 2010 taking more than two dozen Tory backbenchers to Israel and the West Bank on five separate trips.

As many as a few days ago, when the Zionist military launched an all-out invasion against the blockaded Gaza Strip, the CFI immediately released a public letter signed by 17 Tory MPs, 10…

View original post 3,908 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Israel, Middle East, Palestine, Palestine, World

Defending the indefensible: LM’s position on paedophilia – it’s hysteria

The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) had some funny views about child sexual abuse in the 1980s and 1990s. They saw nothing to get worked up about.  It was all hysteria on the part of those who had recently alleged there was a high-level paedophile ring operating in Britain. So it comes as no surprise that Brendan O’Neill, the Telegraph’s chief contrarian writes another blog in which he paints those concerned about child sex abuse as hysterical.

The headline for his blog sums it up “Is it really true that children are being sexually exploited in every ‘town, village and hamlet’ in England”?  I’ve already written about the laager mentality of those who write for the Tory press but this title is mischief-making on O’Neill’s part. Reaching back into the recent past, O’Neill tell us,

In June, the deputy children’s commissioner Sue Berelowitz got tabloid headline writers hot under the collar when she declared: “There isn’t a town, village or hamlet in which children are not being sexually exploited.”Now, in an effort to back up this Grimm-like claim about the horrors facing British children, Ms Berelowitz has issued a detailed report on the allegedly nationwide scourge of sexual exploitation, which is dramatically titled: ‘I thought I was the only one. The only one in the world’

This blog follows in the wake of ITV’s Exposure update last night and I suppose it was only inevitable that one or more right-wing writers would try to throw the public off the scent or chide them for being “hysterical”. Here’s some more,

The media are lapping it up. Some newspapers are slating Ms Berelowitz for downplaying the specific problem of Asian gangs abusing vulnerable white girls, but for the most part hacks seem pleased that there is yet another shock-horror claim about child sexual abuse for them to write and get angry about. The Daily Mail informs us that “some 16,500 youngsters”, or “the equivalent of 20 medium-sized secondary schools”, are at risk of sexual exploitation by gangs and groups. Which sounds genuinely scary.

What O’Neill seeks to do is shift the emphasis back to the notion that it’s only gangs of Muslim Asian men who groom teenage girls for sexual abuse. In the light of the recent revelations, we know that this isn’t true. O’Neill operates in an unofficial capacity to protect the establishment from possible exposure by penning poisonous pieces like this.

Living Marxism (LM) for which O’Neill and the rest of the RCP once wrote, carried occasional discussion pieces about paedophilia. Take this one from Mick Hume, written in May 1998.

As a father, I do not much care what happens to those individuals who are guilty of violent sex offences against children. Throw away the key, throw them down the stairs, whatever; I won’t lose any sleep over one less Sidney Cooke in the world.

But as a father with libertarian principles, I do care about the implications of the national panic about paedophiles that is now gripping Britain (and, it seems, Belgium, Italy, the USA etc).

So far, so good.

To me, the paedophile panic looks like the latest outburst of one of the most destructive sentiments of our age: ‘stranger danger’, the fear and mistrust of other people that has grown stronger as the old communal ties and collective solidarities weaken.

Stranger danger has helped to create a climate of insecurity where, recent surveys show, British children spend more time than ever before alone with their own TVs, CDs and PCs in the gilded cages of their bedrooms, worrying about what might happen to them to the point where some are already on Prozac. And worse is to come if we continue to fill our children with a fear of life.

The trouble is that while there is hysteria whipped up by the very media for which O’Neill and Hume write, there is a serious case to answer about the child sex abuse and its cover up by the authorities. There is nothing “hysterical” about wanting to get to the truth and wanting to obtain justice for the victims who, I might add, figure very little, if at all, in O’Neill’s articles or those of his fellow LMers.

The Moral Maze’s Claire Fox produced this rather typical piece in the same issue,

Dea Birkett thinks another reason she receives a lot of abuse on this issue is ‘because victims feel as though you are personally attacking them. I think the victims themselves become victims of this hysteria, which is no help to them. When you have Michelle Elliot on television with a victim sitting next to her I think that means being twice victimised – once by the abuse that she has suffered and twice by this parading of her victimisation. I get very cross when I watch those debate shows where the victim of abuse responds “I’ve been abused 135 times”. As if that was an argument. As if I’m going to say “no you weren’t abused” or “that’s good” rather than “that’s bad”. I didn’t say child abuse doesn’t exist; don’t parade a victim in front of me as an argument against me. I’m not talking about that. I am talking about our attitude towards offenders. But when the victim speaks, that’s it; it’s like a statement “There’s no debate now”‘.

But where is the victim in this piece? The victim here is transmogrified into a logical fallacy; the blunt instrument of a discursive hijack. Interestingly enough, Fox appears as a speaker at The Freedom Association’s (TFA) “Freedom Zone” Events.

This is another rationalization of paedophilia.

Paedophilia is not a new problem in Italy; the Roman Emperors were, after all, as famous for their favourite boys as for their harems of women. What has changed is the public reaction to it. In particular, unpopular politicians desperate to make links with their electorate are preying on popular fears about paedophiles in a bid to win new authority.

So because Roman Emperors indulged in under-age sex, this makes it acceptable? Has nothing really changed in two millennia? We no longer have the pater familias as head of the Roman family. So what is this writer trying to say?

Back to O’Neill,

Likewise, the definition of “child sexual exploitation” in Berelowitz’s report is dangerously amorphous. To most of us, sexual exploitation means something like prostitution, the effective selling of a person or persons to perverted or depraved men. Yet Berelowitz’s report defines “child sexual exploitation” as including not only situations where a young person “receives something (eg. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affections, gifts, money) as a result of them performing… sexual activities”, but also things like “being persuaded to post sexual images on the internet/mobile phones” and being involved in “exploitative relationships”. When you read through the report, it seems pretty clear that lots and lots of different experiences have been lumped together to reach this figure of 2,409 children who have been sexually exploited by gangs – not only real and terrible cases in which young people have been abused by gangs, like the one in Rochdale that was exposed a few months ago, but also boyfriends pressuring girlfriends to send them rude pictures, men in their twenties having less-than-admirable relationships with teenage girls, and so on.

Once again, O’Neill drags in Rochdale and attempts to racialize the debate and thereby deflect attention from the obvious fact that there has been a high level cover up. Pederasty cuts across ethnic and cultural boundaries but don’t expect O’Neill to acknowledge this. To make things worse, he says,

Who benefits from this conflation of so many different experiences and the inaccurate depiction of Britain as a hotbed of sexual depravity and perversion? No one, I would argue. Certainly not the majority of children, who are encouraged to believe that they aren’t safe in any “town, village or hamlet” in England. In fact, there is one beneficiary of this scaremongering: the Office of the Children’s Commissioner itself, which gets to launch a grand-sounding, self-serving moral mission to rescue the downtrodden and enslaved from the evil scourge of gang culture.

Who’s hysterical now, Brendan? By painting public concern as “scaremongering” is pretty damned dishonest and hysterical.

O’Neill is the editor of the LM network’s journal, Spiked! Here’s Tim Black railing against the child abuse laws,

First came the Sex Offenders Register in 1997. Currently listing around 29,000 people, from children who’ve groped other children, teachers who’ve had liaisons with students, to those who’ve sexually abused young children, it is an unwieldy, indiscriminate testament to the special place the child sex offender occupies in the contemporary imagination (1). Its effect has been profound. The sex offender has now been officially distinguished as a breed of criminal apart, one that requires constant monitoring and house visits. Unlike others who have broken the law, the sex offender is forever stained by his offence, a subject of endless control. For the public the paedophile has become an everyday nightmare; a faceless threat living amongst us, but not like us – the enemy within. Seen in this way, it’s not surprising that since the compilation of the Sex Offenders Register, there have been periodic attempts to have its listed names made publicly available.

One has to treat Spiked and the rest of LM with a great deal of suspicion. These were the people who argued that making a stand against apartheid was a”bourgeois” pastime. We should also remember that TFA supported the apartheid regime in South Africa and was behind the rebel cricket tour of that country.

On 15 October, O’Neill wrote more about “hysteria”. Here he draws some rather weak parallels between Savile and the Salem Witch Trials.

So as in Salem, Savile-obsessed modern Britain has its alleged conspiracy of witches, in the shape of Savile himself, described by the Guardian as ‘the devil who tries, and succeeds, in passing himself off as a saint’, alongside other named or hinted-at individuals. Together, these ‘blood-curdling child catchers’ (Guardian again) apparently ‘stalked children’s homes and hospitals… preying on the most vulnerable victims one could imagine’. They were part of a ‘child sex ring’, say the tabloids, which ‘lurked’ deep within ‘the corporation’ (the BBC). Savile was even worse than JK Rowling’s Voldemort, journalists tell us; he was a beast more wicked than could have been imagined by ‘even the most gifted weavers of children’s nightmares’.

This amounts to a tacit defence of Savile and those who allowed him access to vulnerable children. Elsewhere in the article O’Neill tries desperately to connect the recent child sex scandals with the American Red Scares of the 1950s. It’s intellectually dishonest. He closes his article with this blast,

There it is; this is where we get to the rotten heart of the Savile hysteria. The Savile story is really a vessel for the cultural elite’s perverted obsession with child abuse, and more importantly its belief that everyone is at it – that in every institution, ‘town, village and hamlet’, there are perverts and innocence despoilers, casually warping the next generation. In modern Britain, the figure of The Paedophile has become the means through which the misanthropes who rule over us express their profound fear and suspicion of adults in general, and also of communities and institutions – even of the institutions they hold dear, such is the self-destructive dynamic triggered by the unleashing of the Salem ethos. If Savile had never existed, the chattering classes would have had to invent him, so perfect an encapsulation is he of their degenerate view of the whole of adult society today.

My emphasis. Notice how he paints this as an “obsession” of the “cultural elite”, a phrase he often uses to describe anyone who disagrees with him and his fellow LMers. This is also his euphemism for “the Left”.

James Heartfield had this to say in a 1993 edition of LM,

In the seventies, before it was prohibited, the Paedophile Information Exchange used to argue that children were capable of making their own decisions about who they wanted to have sex with.

Notice how the author tells what the Paedophile Information Exchange said but doesn’t bother to challenge their view. It’s taken as axiomatic. Heartfield’s view is that children should never be believed. He wrote,

Children’s rights are not just a misnomer. If that were all they were it would not matter. But in fact the growing interest in children’s rights is positively dangerous. The extension of rights to children is not an increase in liberty, but a degradation of the meaning of individual rights.

My question to O’Neill and his LM buddies is this: why do you defend the indefensible? They would tell us that it’s because they’re “libertarians”. But can we take this to mean that they seek to dismiss allegations of paedophilia as trivial nonsense or is it the case that they’re actually doing the bidding of the elites that O’Neill rails against? It’s both.

It’s worth considering O’Neill’s position on the Leveson Inquiry. In February he wrote a piece titled “Why we’re launching The Counter Leveson Inquiry”. I shall quote a small portion.

This is about to change. spiked has been raising concerns about the likely consequences of the crusade against ‘unethical’ tabloids since before Leveson was set up, and we have continually criticised the Leveson process for creating a censorious climate in the here and now, even before its recommendations have been made. And now we plan to gather together our arguments, and intensify them, in a Counter-Leveson Inquiry which will put the case against Leveson, against judges and police getting to tell the press what its ethics should be, and against any stricture whatsoever on the right of the press, whether highbrow or low-rent, to investigate and publish what it sees fit.

Why? Not because we hold a candle for tabloid newspapers, but because we carry a torch for press freedom, because we believe that Milton’s rallying cry is as fitting today as it was in 1644: ‘Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.

O’Neill also writes for The Australian, a Murdoch paper. Go figure.

In the 1980s I suspected that the RCP was a state-sponsored front to discredit the Left. It seems that I was, at least, partly right. LM’s successors work tirelessly on behalf of the state, its institutions and the corporations that benefit from state largesse. Its talk of liberty rings hollow when one realizes exactly how close it is to state and corporate power. Their strange brand of libertarianism blinds them to the damage done to those who have been victims of pederasty. They talk of freedom but what about the right of children to enjoy freedom from harm and exploitation? It seems eerily absent from their discourse.

I found this blog from George Monbiot that was written in 1998. Here’s an extract.

As you wade through back issues of Living Marxism, you can’t help but conclude that the magazine’s title is a poor guide to its contents. LM contains little that would be recognised by other Marxists or, for that matter, by leftists of any description. On one issue after another, there’s a staggering congruence between LM’s agenda and that of the far-right Libertarian Alliance. The two organisations take identical positions, for example, on gun control (it is a misconceived attack on human liberty), child pornography (legal restraint is simply a Trojan horse for the wider censorship of the Internet), alcohol (its dangers have been exaggerated by a new breed of “puritan”), the British National Party (it’s unfair to associate it with the murder of Stephen Lawrence; its activities and publications should not be restricted), the Anti-Nazi League (it is undemocratic and irrelevant), tribal people (celebrating their lives offends humanity’s potential to better itself; the Yanomami Indians are not to be envied but pitied) animal rights (they don’t have any), and global warming (it’s a good thing).

O’Neill often refers to himself as a “Marxist”. Some Marxist.

N.B. O’Neill has closed the comments thread to avoid a cyber pasting.

4 Comments

Filed under Media, News Corporation, propaganda, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Israel rejects ceasefire

Surprise, surprise, Israeli officials last night rejected a ceasefire with Gaza. The reason for this is because they want to continue so-called “targeted killings” (assassinations). That and because the Israeli state is firmly committed to the genocide of the Palestinian people.

Meanwhile the BBC continues its pro-Israeli line by only interviewing Israelis, who repeat the line about “terrorists”. Not that the Israeli state isn’t terrorist. No, it wasn’t founded by terrorists at all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Israel, Middle East, Palestine

How Does Israel Attack Gaza?

Great little animation!

Leave a comment

Filed under Middle East

Britain’s libel laws and You Know Who

He’s innocent. He was nowhere near Wrexham, save for a flying visit to a Wimpy Bar with a Conservative Party Agent. He doesn’t know Steven Messham and no doubt he’s never met Dr Julian Lewis, the Tory party’s fixer and dirty tricks specialist either. Furthermore, You Know Who has  never set foot in Dolphin Square and has never worked as treasurer for the Conservative Party. That last part was true but I’m worried that I’ve got it wrong and I’ll get threatened with a libel suit for claiming that You Know Who was party treasurer when he was, in fact, the party’s teaboy and bog cleaner.

In fact, You Know Who is the man who never was. It was his dead cousin who is the guilty party and we can’t ask him questions but rest assured, if he were still alive, he would probably threaten us with libel suits too. Why? People with lots of money and power can shut people up – even if they are speaking the truth or being satirical. Ask any number of whistle-blowers and satirists and they’ll tell you the same thing: free speech in Britain is a myth. UK libel laws are possibly the most exacting in the world, but as is the case with many things in Britain, only the rich have access to defamation suits. Those of us on meagre incomes cannot even afford to defend ourselves in a libel suit, let alone sue someone who defames us. We just have to put up with it. This is one of the things that makes Britain such a brutal and unjust country.

McAlpine doesn’t need the money but he’s quite happily taken £185,000 from the BBC for not naming him. He lives in Italy, where he is out of reach from HM Revenues and Customs and thus pays no tax in this country. He operates a blacklist of construction workers whom he (and others) believe are Bolsheviks and his construction sites are some of the most dangerous in Europe. Yes sir, this is a man who believes in freedom and justice but only on his terms. But I don’t suppose the blacklist has anything to do with milord. He’s probably never seen it and will probably sue anyone who dares to contradict him.

Seriously, if McAlpine was that concerned about his good name, then why haven’t his solicitors served a writ on the Cheshire Constabulary for showing a photograph to Steven Messham when they knew it to be wrong? And what about David Icke, who’s been making allegations against McAlpine for the better part of 20 years? Then there’s Scallywag, whose 4 page article named You Know Who along with several others. No writ there.

Simon Kelner writing in The Independent says,

… Kevin Clash, who was the voice of Elmo in Sesame Street, was falsely accused of having an affair with an underage boy. Again, a similar Twitter storm, but Clash has not threatened any legal action against anyone who shared the incorrect story on Twitter. This is because, in America, the burden in libel cases falls on the claimant to prove the defendant knew the information was false, or likely to be false, or at least was not acting in good faith.

In Britain, the defendant must demonstrate that the accusation is true, nothing less. This is a huge difference, which many have argued has led to an imbalance in Britain in favour of the rich and powerful, who have used our libel laws to suppress information and thus restrict freedom of speech. The British system is overly protective of reputation, they say.

The only reputations that are protected in this country are those of the powerful, whose reputations are often questionable at the best of times.

Such is McAlpine’s arrogance that he thinks he can sue every Twitter user who tweeted or retweeted allegations about him. When this was announced the usual suspects in the Tory press began to cheer and egg him on.  The same people started working overtime to produce smear stories about Tom Watson and Messham. These are the same people who lied about Leveson and demanded an end to the enquiry. At any rate, if McAlpine wanted to sue every Twitter user (there must be thousands), it would take years, possibly decades. Does he really have that many years left in him? His solicitor told people that they should come forward, confess one’s sins and settle to avoid a lengthy and expensive court case. Is McAlpine now the 21st century equivalent to Chaucer’s Pardoner? If so, it is an odd role in which to cast one’s self.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bullying, Child sex abuse, Internet, Media, Society & culture