Priti Patel, the MP for Witham in Essex, was part of the 2010 intake of Tory MPs. She’s also a supporter of Aidan ‘Nazi Boy’ Burley’s Trade Union Reform Campaign (TURC) and a member of the Free Enterprise Group (FEG), which was responsible for Britannia Unchained, a sort of manifesto for a sweatshop economy.
Following from Labour’s embarrassing Falkirk episode and Mr Ed’s knee-jerk response to sever his party’s links to the trade unions, it was only inevitable that the spotlight would be turned on the Tories and rightly so. As much as they wriggle and squirm and point the finger at Labour and whine about union funding, the Conservative party cannot hide the fact that it is supported by faceless millionaires, billionaires, bankers, hedge funds and other corporate interests, many of whom have been invited to 10 Downing Street for a bite to eat and a chance to chat with dippiest Prime Minister in this country’s history.
With this in mind, I always keep an eye on the more rabid extremes of the Tory party, because those who shout the loudest about benefit ‘scroungers’ and workshy Britons are usually the ones who are taking a lot of money from big business. Thus I take a special interest in Patel, Raab, Shelbrooke, Truss, Skidmore and all the others who regularly lambast British workers and propose further attacks on the working class.
So when I went to her entry on searchthemoney.com to do some digging I was not astonished to discover that Patel had been given donations ‘in kind’ by the Government of the United Arab Emirates and the Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the latter was widely reported, the former was not). She was also provided with travel by these two governments. She’s also received donations from property developer, Knight Developments Ltd and Croudace Homes and other companies like Sun Mark Ltd, owned by Dr. Rami Ranger. More on them later.
As most of us already know, Bahrain has been brutalizing its people for the past 3 years in what Orientalists and brand executives alike have referred to as the ‘Arab Spring’. While all eyes were on Egypt, Syria, Libya and Tunisia, the only mention of Bahrain came via the BBC’s Formula 1 coverage last year. Apart from that, there’s no mention of it in the mainstream media. It’s as if someone somewhere in this country doesn’t want us to know what’s happening. And say, didn’t the disgraced former
Murdoch employee Met Assistant Commissioner, John Yates take up a job as an adviser to the Bahraini Police? Oh yes, he did. There have been well over 155 deaths, some of those were caused by torture. No wonder the Tories are working to extricate Britain from the European Convention of Human Rights and replace it with a cheapo ‘British Bill of Rights’ (it fell off the back of a lorry. Honest, guv).
Gulf News tells us that Patel was part of the All Party Parliamentary Group to the UAE.
Lord (Michael) Howard of Lympne, a former leader of Britain’s Conservative Party, who was a government minister for over 10 years until 1997, was elected as Chairman, with Kevan Jones MP, a former Minister of Defence under the last Labour Government, and Lord (Tim) Clement-Jones, a Liberal Democrat, being elected as Vice-Chairmen. Mark Tami MP, Labour, was elected as Secretary and Priti Patel MP, Conservative, as Treasurer.
I guess that’s okay then. Or is it? As you can see this visit to the UAE included members of the three main parties. Nice work, if you can get it.
The House of Commons Register of All-Party Groups informs us that it was just a visit:
To promote good relations between the United Kingdom and The United Arab Emirates
Well, if the House of Commons Register of All-Party Groups tells us that this trip was all about promoting “good relations”, then that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Well, not really.
Dubai, which is a part of the UAE, is often hailed in right-libertarian/classical liberal/neoliberal circles as a kind of free market paradise. But if you’re a migrant worker it can be hell on earth. Migrant workers who go on strike face deportation. Some are driven to suicide. What the free marketeers neglect to tell us is how this country supports repression in the UAE through its sale of arms and other items to that country. Perhaps this is the model that the members of the FEG have in store for us in the UK? How about those Labour members of this group? Kevan Jones, for instance, is a former Defence Minister. Kerching! Need I say more?
Let’s return to Bahrain, where the country’s news agency tells us:
London, March 21. (BNA) – UK MP Priti Patel has lauded the report delivered to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa by the National Commission in Charge of Following up on the Implementation of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), asserting that such a milestone document highlighted the positive steps taken by the government to bring about many changes and landmark achievements that meet the citizens’ expectations.
“Lauded”, eh? Let’s read on…
“I believe that countries of the Arab Spring went through difficult situations last year, and the case in Bahrain was no better. However, the Government of Bahrain has reacted positively and taken bold steps by engaging all parties in a National Consensus Dialogue, the best means through which popular demands can be discussed,” she said.
That was last year and things aren’t getting any better. In fact, they’re getting worse.
Of Patel’s paid visit to Bahrain, The Guardian’s Hugh Muir noted,
Two months later, Patel tabled a parliamentary question aimed at strengthening our cultural links.
Here’s the question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made a recent assessment of the (a) contribution of cultural links to UK relations with Bahrain and (b) merits of taking steps to strengthen such links with Bahrain.
“Cultural links”? Would these “cultural links” have anything to do with cracking skulls? Silly question…
Patel is all for human rights but not for everyone. Below is a question that she asked of David Cameron in Prime Minister’s Questions last year. Notice how it’s preceded by a disclaimer (in italics):
Priti Patel champions the human rights of the law-abiding majority.
Priti Patel (Witham) (Con): If the Human Rights Act is
“a glaring example of what is going wrong in our country”,
when will the Government put the human rights of the law-abiding majority above those of dangerous convicted criminals?
Anyone could be considered a ‘criminal’. Even those who protest could be seen as ‘criminals’ in the eyes of Patel and the rest of the FEG. But who is this “law-abiding majority”? Human rights in the mind of today’s Europhobic, headbanging Tory sounds suspiciously European. We can’t have that kind of effete nonsense getting in the way of making a profit!
Unsurprisingly, when it comes to the ECHR, Patel is as clueless as the rest of her party:
Those who support the current system or who want to see closer integration will often claim that it was British lawyers who drafted the Convention and Winston Churchill who pushed for its adoption, as Nick Clegg alluded to during his speech to the Lib Dem conference. But while Britain has a strong tradition of promoting human rights and after the Second World War and the horrors of the Holocaust were revealed it was right to look at ways to prevent future genocide and persecution in Europe, Churchill would never have allowed Europe to meddle in our laws the way it currently does. He would have stood up to put the British interest first and that is what Government ministers and Parliament must do now. Otherwise, a failure to curtail the Council of Europe and European Court of Human Rights will lead to Britain facing a further unstoppable flow of powers to Europe, which would severely undermine our democracy.
My bold. Notice how she summons up the ghost of Churchill. All a Tory needs to do is rub their Churchill talisman and the entire world will fall at their feet. What Patel and her chums deliberately forget is that the United Kingdom signed up to the ECHR in the aftermath of World War II. It was created in 1959 and is not part of the European Union – as Patel and the rest of her party would have you believe. Removing human rights legislation of any kind would be a massive step backwards and would lead to a relaxation/abolition of workplace health and safety regulations. It would also lead to detention without trial and kangaroo courts. Patel only plays lip service to the idea of human rights. Are you surprised?
It isn’t just the Bahraini and UAE governments that bungs Patel a bit of wedge, she’s also received £2,5000 in donations from Knight Developments Ltd, a property developer in Essex, while Dr Rami Ranger has donated a total of £17,000 to Patel as an individual and through his company, Sun Mark Ltd. No doubt Dr Ranger, who is a big wheel in the British Asian Conservative Link, claimed that his company was giving money to ‘charity’. The thing is, the Conservative Party is not a charity, it is a political party that works in the interests of the rich. Rich people like Dr Ranger. Then there’s Croudace Homes, another property developer (a pattern is beginning to emerge), who provided Patel with £5,000 in 2010. When property developers donate to an MP or a candidate, it’s easy to be suspicious. Last year, Croudace purchased William Julien Courtauld Hospital in Braintree for development. The NHS refused to disclose how much it was sold for. Braintree is the adjoining constituency to Witham; its MP is Brooks Newmark, who is also a member of FEG. Meanwhile in Kent, Croudace are trying to cut down a much-loved ancient woodland to make way for a development against the wishes of local residents. This kind of thing is being repeated elsewhere. Croudace must be pleased that they have someone in the Commons who can bat for them.
She’s also received payment in kind from the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society that comes to £2,500. In total, Patel has received £38,137.97 over the course of three years, which includes her work for ComRes, Ipsos Mori and others. Yes, she’s an MP but she has a second and a third job. Is this why we pay salaries to MPs, who are public sector employees, so that they can moonlight for private companies?
Who says money doesn’t buy influence in the Tory Party? David Cameron? And you believe him?