British government peddling xenophobia

This video says about itself:

UK refuses group entry to France’s Syrian refugees

4 October 2013

British border police on Friday ruled out group entry for some 60 Syrian asylum seekers at the French port of Calais who are trying to enter the UK.

By Alex Scrivener in Britain:

‘Rivers of Blood’ rhetoric raises hackles

Thursday 13th August 2015

Philip Hammond’s anti-migrant tirade echoes Enoch Powell’s famous speech, and we should be worried, believes ALEX SCRIVENER

IT IS depressing that so little has changed in almost half a century. In 1968, Enoch Powell gave his infamous Rivers of Blood speech. He predicted that immigration would cause falling living standards, shortages of hospital beds and school places and spoke of the “privilege” that migrants enjoyed over and above the existing population.

Fast forward 47 years and here we are, hearing it all over again. Not, as we would expect, from that open admirer of Powell, Nigel Farage, but from the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

Out came the same old tired lines (or more accurately lies) about how, as the world’s ninth richest country, we don’t have the resources to accept a few thousand desperate refugees camped out in the “jungle” near Calais and how immigration will grind the NHS to a halt. But the language — these people are now “marauders” — took the toxicity of the comments to another level.

When David Cameron referred to “swarms” of migrants last week, many were critical of his unfortunate choice of words, but there was also some appetite to give the PM the benefit of the doubt. After all, it is a phrase used at times to describe shoppers at sales and other more harmless situations. But Hammond’s comments crossed a red line. He consciously used language designed to pander to the xenophobic sentiment of the right-wing press, using many of the same arguments advanced by Powell many years ago.

And as with Powell, none of Hammond’s arguments have any basis in truth. We know now that far from leading to shortages of hospital beds, the Commonwealth migrants of the 1960s and ’70s went on to form the backbone of the NHS (and arguably still do to this day). We also know that research has shown that migrants are generally net contributors to British society, and are far less likely to claim benefits (non-EU migrants can’t legally claim benefits anyway) than the local population. If Britain’s health and welfare systems are under threat it is government policy, not migration, that’s to blame.

But in a very important way, all of this argument about what “we” should do about the people seeking to reach Britain from Calais is a distraction from the real question that should be asked: why are these people so desperate to come here in the first place?

The answer is obvious. Where they are not escaping outright war and persecution, it is because the standard of living here is far higher than that in their countries of origin. But why do people accept this state of affairs as part of some preordained “natural” order of things?

It would be an exaggeration to say that all of migration is somehow “our fault” (in fact, even discussing it in this way presupposes that migration is a bad thing). But British foreign policy, economic structures, and even aid provision have played a role in perpetuating the root causes of migration.

British arms companies sell weapons to dodgy regimes who then use them against their own people. British trade policy forces developing countries into unequal trade relationships that undermine their economic development. And multinational companies based here in Britain extract much more profit from many countries in Africa, than they receive in aid.

All of this contributes to the terrible poverty and unprecedented inequality between rich and poor countries that powers migration.

Of course, if we got rid of the inequality people would still migrate, but it would be for good reasons such as really liking a particular place, or wanting to be closer to their parents. In fact, people would migrate in the same way that hundreds of thousands of British citizens do every year — not because of war or poverty, but because they have the urge to move freely from place to place. But if we got rid of the chasm of economic opportunity that exists between Europe and its southern and eastern neighbours, there would no longer be an immigration crisis and there would be no “jungle” in Calais.

No-one in Britain questions what they have done to deserve all of the privileges that come with a British passport. A British citizen can have breakfast in Paris, lunch in London and supper in New York with little more hassle than an official giving their passports a cursory glance.

To arrive here legally, someone from the global south has to go through a humiliating and expensive process lasting weeks or months, involving embassies and the collation of mountains of paperwork, just to visit Britain for a day. Even with all of this done, they can still be turned away at the border for pretty much any reason and without any recourse.

Only the wealthiest refugees can afford to go through this arduous process and so most have no other option but to try to get here illegally.

This is what Hammond is ignoring when he castigates illegal immigrants, and it’s what Theresa May forgets when she talks of creating a “hostile environment” for them in Britain. These people would certainly avail themselves of a legal way to escape poverty and war if they could. It is the lack of this choice that means people are drowning in the Mediterranean or dying trying to cross the English Channel.

There is a pressing need to fight the ideas of Hammond and his allies who, like Powell before them, see migrants as threatening invaders. Their policies are inhumane and morally wrong, but they are also doomed to fail even on their own terms. No wall, electric fence or xenophobic immigration policy will ultimately stop this movement of people until the root causes are dealt with.

Alex Scrivener is policy officer for Global Justice Now.

Don’t believe the press – Britain is far from a refugee magnet, by Owen Jones: here.

British poetry against government policies

This video from England says about itself:

Coleridge Lectures 2015: Andrew Kelly

17 April 2015

Andrew Kelly: Animals ‘in the Fraternity of universal Nature’

In his utopian community Pantisocracy, Coleridge believed that animals were to be brothers and sisters ‘in the Fraternity of universal Nature’. Animal rights and animal welfare were debated widely amongst the Romantics and remain controversial issues today. Andrew Kelly looks at the views of the Romantics and current campaigns for animals.

Part of Coleridge Lectures 2015: Radical Green. In association with Bristol 2015 European Green Capital and Cabot Institute.

By Jody Porter in Britain:

New Boots and Pantisocracies

Thursday 13th August 2015

Jody Porter talks to ANDY JACKSON and W N HERBERT about the success of their post-election poetry project

THE next few weeks will see a radical web-based poetry project reach its conclusion, with the posting of the final poems out of a planned 100 on the New Boots and Pantisocracies website.

The project is curated by poets W N Herbert and Andy Jackson and takes the theme of “the first 100 days,” which has become something of a post-election meme in recent years.

The website has published poems initially reflecting on the post-election political landscape before moving on to document the state of British society in the last few months since the tumultuous general election. Poets involved include George Szirtes, Helen Mort, Ian McMillan, Roddy Lumsden, Sheenagh Pugh and Sean O’Brien, each one responding to what the curators describe as ”the new unrealpolitik.”

The name of the project brings together the concept of the pantisocracy (where all govern equally) as proposed by 18th-century poets Coleridge and Southey, with the 1977 Ian Dury LP New Boots and Panties, a quintessentially British record, rich in blue collar poetry and musical variation.

This music video from Ireland is called Ian Dury & The Blockheads / Blockheads “Live” in Belfast 03/02/79.

W N Herbert says: “The idea for the blog sprang from an online exchange between myself and my publisher Andy Ching.

The phrase just arose, and the way it bounced Dury’s ripe knowingness off Southey and Coleridge’s early idealism suddenly seemed to make sense of our current bewilderment. It was, we realised, one of those rare spontaneous puns you look again at and think, ‘What can I do with that?’”

Jackson says of the project: “There was a sense of disbelief after the election result came in. A Tory majority without the limited restraints placed on it by its former coalition partners spelt bad news for the arts, education, health, welfare and many other areas traditionally sacrificed to austerity. Poets associated with the project have responded in various ways, looking at the benefits system, human rights legislation, TTIP, Scottish independence and many other topics.”

Co-curator Herbert added: “there’s plenty of anger and bewilderment, but these are lines of poetry rather than unwavering expressions of a party line, and their energy comes from a collision of the verbal with the visceral, a recharging of language even as it is being emptied by our political masters and their envious opposites.”

The initial aim — 100 poems in 100 days — has been a success, and the curators are considering the next steps. Herbert explains: “The plan is to take New Boots into the live arena, organising readings of contributors as we’ve done with previous projects. The other part of the plan is, we can now reveal, to continue past the 100 days as long as the contributors’ political and poetical will is there and until everyone interested in writing something has done so.” Readers can therefore expect an incendiary mix of heads-up poetry in a town near them in the near future.

Jackson concludes: “Poetry has taken a stand in a way that it is rarely afforded the chance to — not just via a few isolated voices on lonely hillsides and street corners, but collectively and loudly. We hope that this project demonstrates that the radical art of the polemic in poetic form still thrives, and that poetry has a place in both reflecting society and politics, and rejecting it where it cannot accept the way things are.”

New Boots and Pantisocracies can be viewed here.

British Prime Minister Heath, more child abuse accusations

This video from Britain says about itself:

Edward Heath abuse claims: the investigations

4 August 2015

Three police forces are now investigating historic child sex abuse claims against former Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Four forces and IPCC now looking at Heath abuse allegations

Wednesday 5th August 2015

FOUR police forces and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) are now investigating allegations that Tory prime minister Edward Heath abused children.

The Star reported yesterday that Heath was at the heart of an IPCC corruption probe into Wiltshire Police, which allegedly dropped the trial of a person arrested on an unrelated charge in the 1990s after they threatened to expose the then-backbench MP who died in 2005.

The probe is being backed up by Wiltshire Police’s own investigation — and now the States of Jersey Police’s Operation Whistle, Kent Police and the Metropolitan Police are also reportedly involved.

Sir Edward Heath does feature as part of Operation Whistle, currently investigating historical allegations of abuse in Jersey,” a spokeswoman for the island’s force confirmed.

Wiltshire Police said that it and children’s charity NSPCC had received “a number of calls” after appealing on Monday for victims and witnesses to come forward.

One man has claimed that the former PM raped him in 1961 when he was just 12 years old, but that when he spoke up about the Conservative MP’s assault he was branded “a liar and a fantasist.”

Whistle was started following revelations about serious abuse at a Jersey care home and now notorious paedophile Jimmy Savile. Detectives on the island said in June that they were looking at 45 suspects, 13 of whom were “of public prominence.”

She said that Jersey officers were working with Operation Hydrant, a Britain-wide scheme that co-ordinates sex abuse probes.

The sprawling web of investigations is yet another indication of a potential cover-up of sex attacks on children by Establishment figures.

The cascade of revelations followed the IPCC’s announcement of its corruption probe into Wiltshire Police.

The force reportedly shelved the trial of a woman who was in charge of a brothel after she threatened to expose Mr Heath.

The Met refused to confirm whether it was looking into Mr Heath. Kent police has confirmed it is investigating a report of a sexual assault committed in East Kent in the 1960s, linked to Mr Heath by the alleged victim.

See also here.

Jersey: Among those who regularly visited the Haut de la Garenne home was the now-disgraced entertainer Jimmy Savile. “Jimmy Savile often stayed in the same hotel as Ted Heath,” McGrath Goodman told the dpa news agency, adding that both men were alleged to have taken children from Haut de la Garenne: here.

Gloucestershire Police has said it has received an allegation involving the sexual abuse of a child against the former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath. It becomes the sixth police force looking into claims against the former Tory leader, after The Met, Wiltshire, Kent, Jersey and Hampshire services: here.

British Conservative politician boasted about child abuse cover-ups

This video from Britain says about itself:

Tim Fortescue from ‘Westminster’s Secret Service’ BBC 1995

A short extract from the Michael Cockerell documentary ‘Westminster’s Secret Service’ broadcast by the BBC in 1995.

Tim Fortescue was a Whip under Edward Heath between 1970 and 1973. In the documentary it was revealed that the Chief Whip kept a little black ‘dirt book‘ which contained information about MPs, and this was used as a method of political control.

According to this list of British Conservative party chief whips, during the early part of Heath’s time as Prime Minister, 1970-1973, the Chief Whip was Francis Pym. From 1973 on, it was Humphrey Edward Gregory Atkins, Baron Colnbrook.

“Anyone with any sense who was in trouble would come to the Whips and tell them the truth, and say now, “I’m in a jam, can you help?” It might be debt, it might be a scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal which a member seemed likely to be mixed up in, they’d come and ask if we could help. And if we could, we did. We would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points. That sounds a pretty nasty reason but one of the reasons is, if we can get a chap out of trouble, he’ll do as we ask forever more.”

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Ted Heath child sex abuse claims: Footage shows Tory whip saying government could cover up scandals involving MPs and ‘small boys’

Tim Fortescue said in 1995: ‘We would do anything we could to help – for brownie points’

by Adam Withnall

Tuesday 04 August 2015

A senior whip in the government of the former Tory Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath boasted that he helped Westminster politicians at the time avoid being exposed for “scandals involving small boys”.

Tim Fortescue, a whip under Heath between 1970 and 1973, spoke to the BBC for a documentary entitled “Westminster’s Secret Service”, in which he said the Prime Minister’s Chief Whip kept a little black “dirt book” of MPs’ secrets to maintain political control.

Heath has this week been named as the subject of claims of child sex abuse, made in the 1990s, and the independent police watchdog has launched a probe in to Wiltshire Police’s handling of the accusations.

Fortescue, who died in 2008 aged 92, was a Tory MP for eight years until 1974. The footage of him speaking to the BBC in 1995 emerged last year as the Westminster child abuse scandal came to light.

Then, Fortescue said problems involving members “might be debt, or it might be a scandal involving small boys”.

“They would come and ask if we could help,” Fortescue said. “And if we could we did, and we would do everything we could, because we could store up brownie points.

“That’s one of the reasons we would get a chap out of trouble – because he’d then be ours forever-more.”

Heath, who died 10 years ago, has been accused of raping a 12-year-old boy in his Mayfair flat in 1961. In an interview with The Mirror, the alleged victim, now in his 60s, claimed he was picked up while hitchhiking.

Wiltshire Police has appealed for potential victims of Sir Edward to come forward, after launching an inquiry on the back of allegations made by a retired senior officer.

Labour MP Tom Watson, who used parliamentary privilege to raise claims of a paedophile ring linked to Downing Street, told The Independent: “I received information in 2012 concerning allegations of child abuse carried out by Edward Heath and a separate claim concerning Heath was made to me subsequently.

“I passed them both to the police, who have confirmed to me that at least one of those allegations is being investigated and taken seriously.

“I continue to call for a central police investigation unit for the country . Maybe this investigation would have moved faster had there been one.”

An IPCC spokesman has said it will investigate allegations concerning the force’s handling of an “alleged claim of child sexual abuse made in the 1990s”.

He added: “It is alleged that a criminal prosecution was not pursued when a person threatened to expose that Sir Edward Heath may have been involved in offences concerning children“.

Edward Heath child sex abuse claims: Convicted brothel keeper Myra Ling-Ling Forde threatened to expose former Tory Prime Minister: here.

British government stops anti-death penalty campaigns

This video is about the death penalty by beheading against a woman in Saudi Arabia who cries out that she is innocent.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

Anti-death penalty campaigns ditched

Tuesday 4th August 2015

Tories scrap support for anti-capital punishment projects

THE Tories are set to scrap Britain’s support for projects working to end the death penalty across the world, human rights campaigners warned yesterday.

Many were left alarmed as a revision of the Foreign Office (FCO) human rights priorities seemed to leave out all reference to abolishing capital punishment.

According to legal charity Reprieve, verbal confirmation was given by the FCO that the government’s Strategy for the Abolition of the Death Penalty will not be renewed in January 2016.

Reprieve’s director of the death penalty team Maya Foa said: “At a time when executions in countries around the world are spiking, it is alarming that the government is ditching its strategy on the death penalty.

“With Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran all executing at a rate we haven’t seen for years, Britain’s move will send the wrong signal.”

Michael Gove – the new Justice Secretary in David Cameron’s Conservative government– called for the return of the death penalty by hanging in Britain. Maybe the British government thinks: ‘If we would like death by hanging in Britain, then we can hardly object to death by beheading in our ally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.’

The policy, which has been in place since 2010, was once described the former foreign minister David Lidington as a “firm goal.”

Campaigners raised further concerns as the FCO seemed to downgrade countries such as China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia from its list of “countries of concern” and renaming them “priority countries.”

In a letter sent to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond last week, Ms Foa said she feared changes meant “the government will end all ring-fenced funding for death penalty projects and significantly scale back the FCO’s human rights department.

“Britain has a long and praise-worthy history of speaking out against the use of the death penalty.

“Reprieve respectfully requests that the government urgently reconsider its current course of action.”

Reprieve, which is not funded by the FCO human rights department, relies on its legal work on death penalty cases to survive.