UK bill wants to remove videos of refugees crossing the channel

The UK Government’s plan to amend the Online Safety Bill is a truly Orwellian move.

Yesterday Reuters reported Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan wants to amend the Online Safety Bill so they can force platforms “to remove videos that show “in a positive light” migrants arriving in Britain illegally using small boats”.

First, people arriving in boats are refugees not migrants. As the UNHCR 1951 Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees states, a refugee is anyone with “a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion” who finds themselves “outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”. Until the facts of each case can be investigated, those arriving in boats are refugees. The alternative, where this government is headed, makes us barbaric.

The other thing to understand, despite what the vested interests, who benefit from this distraction, want you to believe, arriving in the UK “illegally” does not stop anyone from claiming asylum. Again read the 1951 Convention for yourself and you’ll see.

What this government are trying to do is to remove video evidence of refugees fleeing for their lives, arriving on UK shores in appalling conditions, and in desperate need.

That way they can frame these arrivals as a threat.

I’d argue, even those propagandist videos, the kind posted by the deeply unpleasant Nigel Farage, would be taken down. If you turn down the sound, remove his stammering thoughtless monologues, you have footage of desperate people risking their lives, crossing open water, in a raft.

This government’s desire to blind people to the truth, hide the evidence, coupled with their ability to silence protest with the recently enacted Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, means we’re headed towards, if not already in, the kind of authoritarian society we condemn elsewhere in the world.

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Stop subsidising private education

Labour wants to end tax breaks for private education, and use the money we save to fund a state school “excellence programme”.

The Guardian

This isn’t a new idea. What’s new is how Labour are framing it. They’re putting forward a motion that will force Conservative MPs to make a public choice. They can either vote for a House of Commons select committee to “investigate reforming the tax benefits enjoyed by private schools” or they vote against it. If they vote it down they’re telling the British public, your children’s futures aren’t worth as much as the privileged few.

“Conservative MPs voting against our motion are voting against higher standards in state schools for the majority of children in our country.”

Removing charitable status from private schools will be opposed. Back in 2019 The Times ran a propagandist piece bemoaning the “rise of state pupils at Oxbridge”, calling it social engineering, as if private education isn’t already social engineering.

[This is a joke, right?] The Times: Nicola Woolcock: Private school woe over rise of state pupils at Oxbridge

When I wrote about it back then, I included this clip from Question Time.

What it shows, is those who can afford a private education genuinely think they’re better than everyone else. Don’t you think it’s time they were disabused of that idea?

The Westminster Accounts

Sky News and Tortoise Media have created an extensive record of financial interests in Westminster since December 2019, when the current parliament was formed.

Sky News

Sky and Tortoise have gleefully focused on individual MPs who “accepted thousands of pounds in donations without knowing the source of the funds”.

As shocking as all that is, the thing that jumps out at me, are the amounts of money each party receives, and where those donations come from.

Since 2019 The Conservative Party have raked in a staggering £76 million in donations. More than double The Labour Party’s £32.4 million. Which is more than double the The Liberal Democrats’ £15.1 million. Think about this for a second, the Conservatives received over £24 million more than all the other opposition parties combined, combined! That’s a stark financial illustration of the fight for power in the United Kingdom. It’s like Ukraine fighting Russia without the support of the United States or Europe.

The other thing that interests me is where this money comes from. When Unite the Union donates £8.8 million to The Labour Party, they’re using the money they got from their 1.4 million members. That’s 1.4 million people given a voice by Labour. In that same period JC Bamford (JCB) gave The Conservative Party £3.3 million. That’s one person’s interests, Anthony Bamford, given a voice by the Conservatives.

Please don’t try and tell me donations don’t buy influence. Why would anyone give money if it didn’t benefit them one way or the other? I’m not talking corruption, bungs, manila envelopes under the table, although I’m certain that happens. I’m talking funding those who align with your interests. I know that’s a really obvious thing to say, but it’s never framed that way if and when it’s reported.

This same pattern plays out when you look at all party donations. Very wealth individuals donate to the Conservatives, while unions with millions of members donate to Labour.

One party represents the voice of millions, the other just a few.

A thought on voting

Vote as if you have a gun pointed at someone’s head.

I was recently made aware of the reasons some people voted Tory in the 2019 general election. They voted tactically to send a message to Labour; they weren’t happy with the “radicle” agenda of Jeremy Corbyn.

Voting tactically in 2019 has backfired in the most vicious way possible.

We now have 126 thousand deaths from COVID. A no deal “deal” exiting the European Union that’s tanking the economy, and abandoning the Good Friday Agreement, trashing thirty years of peace in Northern Ireland. We have a government intent on making protesting illegal, while at the same time handing lucrative PPE contracts to friends and donors to the Conservative Party. At best they’re hypocritical, at worst corrupt.

My approach to voting is simple. Vote as if you have a gun pointed at someone’s head. Are you willing to pull that policy trigger? Tory policies kill. Ten years of austerity have proven that. The only message anyone sends by voting Tory is you agree with Tory policies, and voting Tory tells me “I’m happy to kill”.

Boris Johnson taken down by a sixth year medical student

Apparently this video keeps dropping off Twitter. I hope Terry Harris doesn’t mind me posting it here. Everyone should watch a very articulate sixth year medical student unwrap Boris Johnson’s PR stunt, and the Tories attacks on the NHS.

Tories are deaf to anything but their own voices

Robert Booth reports in The Guardian, “United Nations poverty expert has compared Conservative welfare policies to the creation of 19th-century workhouses”.

I wanted to write something angry about this government, at the way they have so wilfully and aggressively attacked the poor, but I don’t have the strength to list all of their many failings. I know this, their attacks on the poor are an attack on us all.

For as long as I can remember they’ve promoted an agenda of individualism, while absolutely refusing to see how we individuals interact with all of the other individuals around us.

They can’t see and don’t care, not everyone was created in their image.

Take social care. When you reduce spending on social care, old people who end up in hospital will stay longer. They can’t go home if they don’t have the right kind, any kind, of care waiting when they get there. Most people don’t have the privilege of a private nurse to look after them. Longer stays in hospital are one of the many reasons waiting times in accident and emergency are so long.

Consider the recent rise in knife crime. I have no problem saying it’s a direct result of Tory cuts to youth services. At risk individuals who would’ve been helped by a youth club or a social worker, have been abandoned to the care of gangs. When individuals with little or no self-respect start demanding respect on the streets, challenges are met with violence.

These youngsters aren’t getting the kind of care and support most of Tory politicians enjoyed growing up. They’re being sent the message you’re on your own, you have to survive by any means necessary, but without the wealth and self-belief you need to survive in a world of individuals, fighting other individuals for a slice of the pie.

It’s easy for the Tories to blame bad seed individuals for young people dead on the streets. They point blank refuse to see their part in the problem.

As wealth inequality rises, crime will rise, and the Tories will blame the criminals, not considering their crimes in creating a society in their image.

I know they’re deaf to anything but their own voice.

How else could they behave the way they do?

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