Tee hee: Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was caught out by Krishnan Guru-Murthy last week. The politician assumed that the journalist had read out a Jeremy Corbyn quote, and so dutifully proceeded to attack the words spoken. But Guru-Murthy then revealed that the quote was actually something that Boris Johnson, a Conservative colleague of Mr Fallon, had written in 2005.
There has been much anger expressed by the Corbyn-supporting left this week, after the Labour leader made a gaffe in a BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour interview. He could not remember the financial figures attached to a childcare policy. Many people (including myself) felt that Mr Corbyn was treated unfairly in subsequent media pile-on: its not as if he and his policy team have failed to publish any figures (which would be genuinely shocking) or that the figures they published did not add up. Rather, he simply did not remember the precise figure that the party had published. This kind of ‘gotcha’ journalism says nothing of interest about the man, the party or the policy. There, but for the grace of God, walk you and I. Continue reading “Blind Trials For Politicians and Journalists?”
The parliamentary Committee on Arms Export Controls is about to publish a report into the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. It appears as though British-made weapons have been used to commit human rights abuses in Yemen.
Its draft report, seen by Newsnight’s Gabriel Gatehouse, said: “The weight of evidence of violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition is now so great, that it is very difficult to continue to support Saudi Arabia.”
The committee said it seemed “inevitable” that such violations had involved arms supplied by the UK which would mean it was in violation of its own legal obligations.
I’m not sure, but I think the phrase “its own legal obligations” means aspects of UK law that prohibt certain kinds of sale.
It’s stuff like this that makes me (and human rights groups) extremely distrustful of the Conservative Government’s proposed ‘Bill of Rights’. This is a proposal to place our human rights protections entirely within the UK legal framework, with no reference to the law and jurisprudence of European Court of Human Rights.
As the Saudi arms sales story shows, this Government, in keeping with all past and future governments, cannot really be trusted to abide by its own rules and laws! There is therefore something extremely comforting about the European Convention on Human Rights, which is a treaty and an obligation that other countries can hold us to (and of course, we can hold them to it as well).
On human rights, I’m glad that Britain is not currently a ‘law unto itself’ and fear for the time when that changes.
Rt. Hon. Jeremy Corbyn MP has two jobs and two job titles. First, he is Leader of the Labour Party, a position to which he was elected by a majority of those eligible to vote, in every voter category (members, registered supporters, affiliates). If that were the whole story then a leadership challenge would be completely undemocratic and wrong.
However, Mr Corbyn is also Leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition. This is not some ceremonial title you get when elevated to a particular position, like Lord of the Isles or Second Lord of the Treasury. Instead it is a post that fulfills a crucial rôle in our democracy, scrutinising Government actions and Bills on behalf of the entire country, including people who did not vote Labour. Just as the Prime Minister (First Lord of the Treasury, by the way) is accountable and answerable to everyone, so too is the Leader of the Opposition. Continue reading “Jeremy Corbyn Is Not Doing His Job And Should Resign”
The perils of not posting your blog post immediately after you’ve written it! I wrote this last night when the two main leadership contenders were Boris Johnson and Theresa May, and he was the bookies’ favourite. Now Michael Gove has entered the race saying “Boris is not a leader”, Johnson’s odds have lengthened significantly and Mrs May is now the favourite. I don’t know how that affects the principles I set out below.
The Conservative Party has begun the nomination process to elect a new party leader and therefore our next Prime Minister.
Boris Johnson is the favourite but my gut tells me that Theresa May will win.
Making pronouncements based on what one’s intensities say is a perilous practice. Often you end up talking shit or vomiting nonsense. Allow me to offer some head-like reasoning for what I feel in my waters. Continue reading “My Gut Tells Me Theresa May Will Be Our Next Prime Minister”
in the end, I didn’t vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Leadership election. I was just too worried about the issue of electability, and therefore the need to show economic competence to the wider electorate. I did not think that potential was something Corbyn adequately conveyed during the campaign. If Labour lose the 2020 election I think the Conservative programme will become too entrenched with deeply unpleasant and inequitable consequences for our society.
So instead, I chose Yvette Cooper. Friends and family have derided her for being boring and equally un-Prime Ministerial, but I disagreed. Her speech on immigration late in the campaign was passionate, and when I saw her speak in person (a couple of years ago) I was mightily impressed. I think she could have found a way to restore Labour’s economic credibility. I think she was – and is – electable.
I won’t deny that I was also keen to see a woman elected Labour leader, although I don’t think identity politics should trump policy.
None of that came to pass, however, and Corbyn was the overwhelming preference of party members and supporters. And yesterday a friend sends me this message:
Btw – am seriously thinking about joining the Labour Party now that Khan is mayoral candidate and Corbyn is at the helm. Are you not excited?
Yes, I am. Continue reading “Corbyn”
More banter from the political past today as John Prescott criticised Tony Blair’s “get a transplant” jibe.
Meanwhile, Margaret Beckett has somehow branded herself a ‘moron’ because she was one of Jeremy Corbyn’s sponsors, nominating-but-not supporting him so the Labour Party could have a debate.
Well, a debate is being had. A wider range of policies are being debated and the other candidates have found they are unable to triangulate their way to a victory on points. The contest is going to be far more interesting than any that has gone before and—here’s a radical thought—it could be that this moment of public disunity and ill-tempered argument could end up strengthening the eventual winner. Survival Of The Fittest, Whatever Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger, &cetera.
Continue reading “What if it’s all just cyclical?”
Crikey. I’m dismayed by the result of the general election.
First, I should note just how wrong my own perception of the election campaign turned out to be! After the leaders debates I said I expected Ed Miliband to be Prime Minister in May. That is clearly not going to happen. And earlier this week I said I perceived a decline in the influence of the mainstream media on election campaigns. After the apparent last minute shift in voters’ intentions, that appears to be incorrect.
However, my dismay comes not from the injury to my pride which results from making poor predictions. Rather, it’s the prospect of what comes next for our unions (yes, unions plural) and our rights as citizens.
First, the fact that David Cameron will attempt to govern alone with a minority government, or a slender majority, will mean that the more Euroskeptic elements to the the right of the Conservative party will be able to hold him to ransom—just as the SNP would have apparently held a Labour government hostage. The Conservatives have already promised that we will have a referendum on our membership of the European Union. We now face the prospect of leaving the EU, sundering and cauterising our cultural and economic links with the continent. This isolation will not be good for the UK.
A ‘Brexit’ will further strengthen the already jubilant Scottish National Party. Despite the slightly skewed results that our ‘first past the post’ system delivers I just do not see how another referendum on Scottish Independence can still be ‘off the table’. For goodness sake—all but three MPs in Scotland are from the SNP! If the UK leaves the EU, and with the other parties’ reduced political presence, another plebiscite on Independence would probably yield a ‘Yes’ vote. Bye bye Scotland.
Finally, the Conservatives have also promised to scrap the Human Rights Act, a pledge that lawyers think is ‘legally illiterate’. The so-called ‘British Bill of Rights’ will water down the rights that we currently enjoy. And since the Tories gutted legal aid provision and squeezed the judicial review process, it will be harder than ever for citizens to hold the government to account when it deploys discriminatory policies against us.
So by the time of the next general election in 2020, there is a very good chance that those of us living in rUK will have lost the political protections of the EU, will have lost the guarantee that out human rights will be protected, and will have lost a progressive political counter-weight to the Tories that may be found in Scotland. And the right-wing media will cheer it all.
Grim, grim grim.
There’s a new app in town, called Meerkat. It allows you to stream live video direct from your mobile phone or tablet, with the link appearing in your Twitter stream.
Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior advisor to Barack Obama, writes:
If 2004 was about Meetup, 2008 was about Facebook, and 2012 was about Twitter, 2016 is going to be about Meerkat (or something just like it).
(He is of course talking about US politics). I wonder whether that’s true though: I fancy there may be a premium on asynchronicity—sending messages to people to read when they have time, rather than in the moment. How much value is there in This Is Happening Literally Right Now over the Twitter news model of This Just Happened? Meerkat does not seem to have any catch-up functionality—if you click on a link to a stream that has ended, there’s no way to view it back. Other services like Ustream and Google Hangouts do offer that functionality and I bet the Meerkat devs are beavering away (or whatever it is a meerkat does) to get this feature into the app. Continue reading “Why not do an extra leaders’ debate via #Meerkat?”
Damain Green has blasted the Government’s overreach into our private lives:
I’ve had personal experience of the coercive power of the state. If freedom was going to die out in this country it was never going to be because of some dramatic seizure of power by a dictator, it would always come about through the gradual erosiuon of the individual freedoms and privacy that we have all taken for granted all our lives. And whether the excuse is the war on terror or the desire to provide better public services, that erosion is precisely what we are seeing today.
Continue reading “Damian Green Warns of ‘The Coercive Power Of The State’”
Over the weekend, I wrote a short piece about the Defamation Bill for Liberal Democrat Voice, urging activists to lobby their party leadership. The Defamation Bill is to be debated in the House of Commons today, so it is worth cross-posting this now, before the crucial votes render it obsolete! This morning, Stephen Tall wrote a follow up post: ‘Lib Dems Libel Reform retreat points to a wider coalition problem‘.
There is a new threat to the Defamation Bill.
No sooner had the proposed law been liberated, after being taken hostage by Leveson negotiations, than Conservative MPs have begun messing with crucial free speech provisions.
Former libel lawyer Sir Edward Garnier MP has tabled an amendment seeking to remove a crucial clause from the Defamation Bill. The clause places some limits on corporations’ use of the libel laws. It does not bar them from suing entirely – just asks that they show financial loss before they do so. It’s an objective and measurable test for companies, who after all do not have feelings.
Such a law would have discouraged the crippling libel cases brought by Big Pharma against Dr Peter Wilmshurst and Dr Ben Goldacre. It would have helped Simon Singh. It would stop the costly ‘lawfare’ waged by the extractive industries around the world against human rights groups like Global Witness. It would stop scientists and doctors from having to decide whether to speak out for their patients and risk selling their house in order to pay legal fees… Or keep their mouths shut. Continue reading “Writing on Libel Reform on Liberal Democrat Voice”