Friday, 17 November 2017

The Spanish knew about Abdelbaki Es Satty's jihadist links, but they didn't bother to tell the Catalan police

The Islamist extremist who masterminded the August 2017 terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils had worked as an informant to the Spanish security services.

Spain's National Intelligence Centre (CNI) have admitted that they had contact with Abdelbaki Es Satty that began during his four year jail sentence for drug smuggling between 2010 and 2014.

It's also been established that Es Satty was known to the Spanish intelligence services when he first arrived in Spain in 2002, and that his contact details were included in the address books of the terrorists who carried out the 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 193 people.

Es Satty was killed in an explosion in the bomb factory he was operating in the small Catalan town of Alcanar in August 2017.

The CNI have refused to admit when Es Satty stopped working as an informant for them, or how much he was paid. They also failed to intervene when Es Satty appealed against his deportation from Spain in 2015 because the court were presented with no information whatever about his links with Islamist terrorists.

The CNI have not offered an explanation for why none of the information on Es Satty's jihadist links and drug smuggling activities were ever shared with the Catalan police when it became clear that he'd settled in Catalonia either.

What's even worse is that despite the Spanish security services having failed to share the information they had on Es Satty with the Catalan police, Spanish sources in Madrid even set about briefing the press that the Catalan police were at fault for "missing opportunities to uncover the plot".

Given how the justice system works in Spain nobody in the Spanish intelligence agencies will ever face criticism, let alone punishment over this scandal, and if Es Satty was still working as an informant while he was actively plotting terrorist attacks, the fact will never be made public.

We know this because if you're part of the Spanish establishment you can walk free even after being found guilty of vast multi-billion Euro frauds (like Rodrigo Rato and IƱaki Urdangarin have), while if you're considered an enemy of the Spanish state you can be imprisoned without trial for "crimes" like peacefully promoting Catalan independence and organising a democratic vote.

It's absolutely no surprise that the Spanish legal system is widely regarded as the most corrupt in western Europe, and it would take an extraordinary display of wishful thinking to expect anything resembling a proper unbiased investigation into the Abdelbaki Es Satty scandal.

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The hypocrisy of the hard-right "taking us back to the 1970s" mob.

We're all familiar with the endlessly recycled right-wing propaganda trope about how Labour are supposedly "taking us back to the 1970s" aren't we?

We're also well aware that the right-wing narrative that the 1970s was unrelentingly crap is an absolute myth, and that despite the oil shocks and the periods of industrial unrest it was a time of affordable housing, full employment, decent wages, rapidly improving social conditions, great music, train fares that cost less than just doing the trip by car, free university education, and the highest levels of social mobility the UK has ever seen.

We also know that stuff like facts and evidence don't matter a jot to the people who mindlessly regurgitate right-wing propaganda tropes as if they're visionary political insights rather than something they've just mindlessly absorbed from the right-wing gutter press.

It barely takes a puff of critical thinking skills to tear this "back to the 70s" trope to shreds, yet the mindless political rote learners just can't do it.

Just look at the headline policies in the Labour manifesto and consider these facts:

  • The rip-off private energy companies only formed after the privatisation of the National Grid in 1990 (long after the 1970s).
  • The shambolic Tory privatisation of the railways happened in 1994 (long after the 1970s).
  • The Royal Mail was only sold off at significantly below its true market value in 2013 (long after the 1970s).
  • The NHS was run as a not-for-profit public service until the Tories carved it open for privatisation with their 2012 Health and Social Care Act (long after the 1970s)
  • The proliferation of exploitative Zero Hours Contracts that Jeremy Corbyn wants to crack down on only happened over the last decade (long after the 1970s).
  • House prices have soared out of the reach of millions of ordinary working people as a result of the Tories overseeing the lowest levels of house building since the 1920s and the worst collapse in the value of UK workers' wages since records began (long after the 1970s).
Labour want to reverse this mess, literally all of which has happened since 1990, and much of the worst of it has been going on since the Lib-Dems enabled the Tories back into power in 2010.

The problem is that stuff like facts and evidence just don't matter to the kind of people who rote learn and mindlessly regurgitate the propaganda they read in the extreme-right press.

They only care about the dopamine reward they get from successfully remembering that they've seen these simplistic extreme-right propaganda tropes before, and from faithfully repeating them like a small child who is ecstatic at having learned the first few letters of the alphabet or the two times table.

Worse even that their immunity to facts, and their aversion to critical thinking skills, is the downright hypocrisy of so many of these Blue-kip blowhards.

They're been trained by their masters in the extreme-right press to pour scorn on any policies designed to undo the damage that decades of hard-right economic madness has done to the UK economy, and to accuse their proponents of living in the past, or wanting to "drag the UK back to the 1970s" ... yet, we know that a huge proportion of the hard-right propaganda reading Blue-kip types are obsessed with bringing back archaic stuff like blue passports, Imperial weights and measures, hunting with dogs, and corporal punishment in schools!

We also know that they voted for a party that wants to bring back the divisive segregation of children into a minority that go to well-funded grammar schools, and the majority who get left to rot in the under-funded secondary moderns.

We also know that they voted for a political party that oversaw the lowest level of house building since the 1920s!

These right-wing blowhards accuse others of wanting to live in the past, whilst simultaneously hankering after the policies of the distant past themselves! 

They crave a return to the times when passports were blue, innocent people were killed by the state for crimes they didn't commit, and children got whipped and beaten with sticks in schools for failing to learn how to divide stuff by 14 and 16 properly.

And in 2017 they flocked to the polling stations to vote for a political party that was plotting to restore the archaic and barbaric practice of ripping live foxes apart with packs of dogs.

The really sad thing is that they don't miss the actual good things about the past like the house prices that weren't way beyond the reach of ordinary working people, the decent wages, the train tickets that were cheaper than doing the trip by car, the affordable energy bills, the social mobilitythe full employment, the decent workers' rights ...

No! The stuff that most Blue-kip blowhards seem to miss about the past is the teachers beating the crap out of the children they didn't like in schools, the ridiculously archaic and impractical weights and measures system, the barbaric blood sports, the 
segregation in the education systemand the bloody blue passports!

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"I'd like to hear an example of a country where Corbyn and McDonnell's ideas have worked"

The bald man in the BBC Question Time audience demanded answers from the Labour shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, but he wasn't remotely interested in what she had to say, because he'd already diligently rote learned his political opinions from the right-wing media.

When he said "I'd like to hear an example of a country where Corbyn and McDonnell's ideas have worked" you might have imagined that he was interested in listening to the answer, but when Thornberry replied "most of central Europe" and when pressed to name specific countries she said "Germany" and "Sweden" he sneered derisively as if she was the delusional one.

Thornberry's response elicited cackling and sneering from the Tory tribailists in the BBC audience, but that just goes to show how these people have been led like sheep into believing that Jeremy Corbyn is some kind of terrifying left-wing extremist, rather than a centre-left democratic socialist who is proposing economic policies that are perfectly normal across Europe and the rest of the developed world.

Of course there is no country on Earth where a government has come to power and enacted absolutely everything in the Labour Party manifesto, but significant elements of Labour's economic policies are absolutely commonplace across the developed world.

One of Jeremy Corbyn's most prominent headline policies is the abolition of  tuition fees (which should more accurately be described as Aspiration Taxes) and making university education free. University education is free (or very low cost) across most of Europe, including Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and let's not forget Scotland either. If Germany and Scotland can afford to offer free university education, why can't England?

Jeremy Corbyn wants to reverse the extreme Tory cuts to Corporation Tax that have been going on since 2010. He plans to increase the rate for major corporations to 26%, while setting a lower rate of 21% for small corporations. 26% would still be the lowest rate in the G7 advanced economies, which means Corbyn's tax policies are so far from being extreme-left that they're actually more pro-corporate than the USA, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada!

One of Corbyn and McDonnell's most interesting ideas is the establishment of a National Investment Bank in order to fund future infrastructure projects. Other countries that have National Investment Banks/Sovereign Wealth Funds include Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, and the Chinese economic powerhouse actually have several.

The Labour Party Manifesto pledged to renationalise the National Grid. Some might see this as radical leftist extremism, but they'd have to be utterly clueless to have been bamboozled into such a position by the right-wing dominated media, because the United States actually has a network of not-for-profit publicly accountable electricity distribution grids. Perhaps if you're so rabidly right-wing that you think Texas is an extreme-left state awash with commies and Marxists you might believe that Corbyn's energy policies are extreme-left, or perhaps you've got some semblance of a grip on reality?

Corbyn and McDonnell also want to renationalise the railways. There are several countries in the developed world with national rail companies including France, Norway, Singapore, Hong Kong and Italy. The really interesting thing is that under the Tories' shambolic privatisation agenda these foreign state rail companies are actually running 74% of the franchises on the UK rail network, and the only country that is banned from bidding to run UK rail franchises is the UK itself. Perhaps a more pertinent question when it comes to national rail networks would be to ask for an example of another country that has made such a godawful mess of their rail network?

Another Labour Manifesto pledge was to bring the Royal Mail back under public ownership. Other countries with national mail systems include Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, and Finland.

Then there's the policy of reversing the Tory strategy of carving up the NHS and distributing the pieces to profiteering corporations (including corporations run by major Tory party donors). You don't have to look very far for an example of a successful not-for-profit public health system. The NHS itself was doing brilliantly before the Tories set about vandalising it. The NHS was ranked as the most efficient health service in the world, and had the highest approval ratings ever, then the Tories imposed huge austerity cuts and imposed a massive top down reorganisation called the 2012 Health and Social Care Act. Since then waiting times have skyrocketed, huge numbers of A&E units, maternity wards and walk in centres have been axed 
(often against furious local opposition), NHS staff are overworked, underpaid and demoralised  and huge numbers of people are dying as a consequence.

The truth is that we don't have to look abroad for evidence that Labour's policies work, we just have to look at the devastating ideological vandalism the Tories are inflicting on the NHS, and recognise that Labour have pledged to stop the vandalism and set about reversing the damage.

The problem of course is that vast numbers of people are so shockingly gullible that they simply believe what the mainstream media tell them about Jeremy Corbyn being some kind of terrifying leftist bogeyman with bonkers extreme-left policies. They're unwilling to even consider the fact that most of Corbyn's headline economic policies are commonplace across the developed world, and in fact it's radically right-wing Tory policies like handing control of state schools to private sector pseudo-charities, privatising police services, and vandalising the health system that are desperately unpopular, and pretty damned rare in successful developed economies.

So the big question has to be how do we reach out to people who are so damned gullible that they uncritically rote learn the mainstream media propaganda about Jeremy Corbyn being an extreme-left bogeyman, and sneer derisively when anyone points out the fact that Corbyn's policies are absolutely commonplace across the developed world while the Tories are the ideological extremists?

How do we reach out to people who prefer to believe in mainstream media lies than in observable reality?

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Thursday, 16 November 2017

Why are the BBC ignoring the shocking death toll that comes with Tory austerity dogma?

Just imagine the howls of outrage in the mainstream media if the British Medical Journal had published a study that showed that the policies of a Labour government had led to 120,000 deaths, which were described as "economic murder" by one of the study co-authors.

The British Medical Journal have published such a report, but the conclusion is that the excess 120,000 deaths are the result of massive ideologically driven Tory cuts to the NHS and social care system.

Co-author Professor Lawrence King of the Applied Health Research Unit at Cambridge University said that "it is now very clear that austerity does not promote growth or reduce deficits – it is bad economics, but good class politics". He added that the results of the study show that the Tories have overseen "a public health disaster" and claimed that "it is not an exaggeration to call it economic murder".

The report also suggests that without a significant increase in health spending there could be an additional 150,000 excess deaths between 2015 and 2020.

150,000 excess deaths is an awful lot of to imagine, so to put it into perspective, this report suggests that Tory austerity dogma comes with a death toll the equivalent of a September 11th 2001 scale terrorist attack every single month for five punishing years.

I'm sure Tory tribalists will find plenty of excuses for this staggering mass of excess deaths caused by their fixation with hard-right economic policies. 

They'll weave their sick little justification narratives about how the economy is better off without the people who have died because most of the dead were economically inactive elderly and disabled people. Or they'll try to cast doubt on the findings of the study with displays of anti-intellectual sneering towards the experts who worked on it. Or they run disinformation campaigns by bombarding people with misleading statistics designed to distract people from the ideologically driven cuts to health and social care funding their party has been enacting.

But the real issue isn't the sick excuses and distraction tactics spewed by the minority of Tories who find themselves cornered on the subject of the death toll that comes with Tory austerity dogma. The big issue is that swathes of the mainstream media are refusing to publicise the fact that Tory austerity dogma comes with this huge death toll.

The left-leaning Independent and Daily Mirror have covered the story as well as the much maligned Russian state broadcaster RT and (somewhat surprisingly) the right-wing Daily Mail & Metro, but somehow the BBC have completely overlooked it, preferring to fixate on the growing number of sexual indecency allegations against Kevin Spacey as their headline news (as if the actions of one indecent actor somehow outweigh the avoidable loss of 120,000 lives due to Tory austerity dogma).

It's easy to understand why right-wing pro-austerity news outlets like The S*n, Express, Times, and Telegraph might want to ignore an academic report that details the body count of their beloved austerity dogma, but it's quite something else that the supposedly impartial UK state broadcaster has decided to ignore a study that suggests the UK state is responsible for over a hundred thousand excess deaths, and will be responsible for a further 500+ more every week from now until 2020.

So next time you hear anyone droning on about how RT is just Russian propaganda, you don't need to disagree with them, but you really should explain that the BBC runs propaganda for the UK state, and remind them of how the BBC didn't even bother to report the fact that Tory austerity has such an obscene death toll when RT actually did.

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Why did the Tories scrap Amendment 58?

The ever deceptive Tories have continually tried to create the fiction that they have no intention of using Brexit as a Trojan Horse to launch ideologically driven attacks on workers' rights, consumer standards, equal rights legislation, environmental protections, animal welfare laws and the like.

On the evening of November 15th 2017 they proved these promises to be outright lies when they voted against Labour's amendment to add Clause 58 to the EU withdrawal bill.

All Clause 58 sought to do was prevent the Tory-DUP government from bypassing parliament in order to revoke EU derived workers' rights, equal rights, workplace safety legislation, consumer protections, and environmental standards (see image).

The amendment sought to ensure that if the government wants to revoke any of these rights and standards, they must submit legislation to parliament in order to do it, rather than just using Brexit as an excuse to scrap them on the sly with no democratic scrutiny whatever.

The Tories came together to defeat the amendment to add Clause 58 to the EU Withdrawal Bill by 311 votes to 299.

This raises the obvious question of why they would defeat an amendment that does nothing other than ensure that they have to seek democratic approval before scrapping our rights and standards, unless they're planning to scrap our rights and standards.

There's no way the Tory vote against Clause 58 makes any sense whatever unless they're plotting to do exactly what they've repeatedly assured the British that they're not planning to do.

The only possible reason for their vote against Clause 58 is that it would have prevented them from using archaic Henry VIII powers so that Tory ministers can trash our workers' rights and standards on the sly, with no parliamentary scrutiny of what they're doing.

The Tories couldn't really have given a clearer indication of their intention to use Brexit as an excuse to create a bonfire of workers' rights, consumer protections, and environmental laws, yet the mainstream media refused to explain the true significance of this Clause 58 defeat, and millions of people remain utterly complacent about the real intentions of the hard-right Tory Brexiteers who are now dictating Theresa May's every move.

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What do Britain and Greece have in common?

The mainstream media rarely draw attention to the ongoing collapse in the value of UK workers wages.

They rarely bother to explain that the real terms value of workers' wages are lower than they were 10 years ago, and that this decline is set to continue into the 2020s.

They rarely bother to explain that the percentage of people living in poverty despite being in working families has been soaring.

And they steadfastly ignore the fact that the only country in the developed world that has suffered a comparably severe collapse in the value of workers' wages is crisis-stricken Greece.

To hear Tories scaremongering that the UK could end up like Greece if the public don't re-elect the Tory party is utterly laughable. Wealthy Tory MPs and their cheerleaders in the right-wing press may be financially insulated from the dire consequences of their austerity wealth transfer con but ordinary working people certainly aren't.

Judged by the collapse in the value of our wages, the UK has already ended up like Greece in the experience of ordinary working people.

We all know that prices have been rising way faster than wages. 

We've all seen people we know struggling on exploitative zero hours contracts, and fake self-employment scams in the gig economy. 

We all know people who haven't had a proper pay raise in years. 

We all know people who have had their in-work benefits slashed by this cruel Tory government. 

We all know people who are struggling to get by on various low paid part-time jobs because there aren't enough real jobs to go around. 

We're all well aware of the scandal of NHS nurses relying on food bank parcels in order to survive.

We all know that the Tory "economic recovery" was only ever a recovery for the rich, while the rest of us have seen our share of the wealth actually eroded away.

The UK is the only country in the developed world where the economy has actually been growing, but the share of the wealth going to workers' has been in decline.

"Where has all of this extra wealth gone?" you may ask. The answer is obvious. While the majority were suffering the worst collapse in the value of our wages on record, the tiny mega-rich minority literally doubled their wealth.

One of the most appalling things about this situation is that the Greek government oversaw the collapse in the value of their workers' wages because they were forced to do it by the iron fist of the Troika. The Tories chose to do it to British workers because they wanted to.

The Tories actually want to turn the UK into a low-skill, low-tech, low-pay, low-welfare economy to compete with China and India on their way up, as we meet them on our way down, and trashing the value of UK workers' wages is one of the ways they've been trying to achieve it.

Even worse than the fact that the Tories imposed this wage repression agenda just because they wanted to do it, not because they had to, is the fact that so many ordinary British workers absolutely refuse to fight back, and even allow themselves to be deluded into thinking that they actually have something to gain by voting for the billionaire-bankrolled Tory party.

Just imagine if this was France. Just imagine if the French government had overseen such a severe collapse in the value of workers' wages to match the wage collapse that British workers have endured. Just imagine the strikes, the mass protests, the riots in the streets, the relentless civil disobedience. Hell, they'd probably blockade Britain to make themselves heard!

Meanwhile in Britain the party that did this to our wages have been re-elected as the largest political party twice (despite being led into the most recent election by a robotic charisma vacuum of a woman who is seemingly hell bent on delivering a socially and economically ruinous "no deal" Brexit strop to make the global banking crisis look like a walk in the park).

Not only are British workers failing to fight back against this sustained Tory assault on the value of their wages, millions of them are still actually queuing up to vote for the party that did it to them!

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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Why are the mainstream media not howling about "entryists" in the Tory party?

We should all be well aware by now how the mainstream media manufacture and disseminate absurdly biased political narratives shouldn't we?

You don't have to be a supporter of Scottish independence to recognise the concerted mainstream media propaganda drive against the independence movement, and you don't have to be a supporter of the Labour Party to recognise the shocking levels of mainstream media bias in favour of the Tories during Theresa May's vanity election.

One of the clearest examples of mainstream media bias is the completely different approaches they've taken to the demographic shifts in support for the two main UK political parties.

When Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party it signalled the end of the centre-right dominance of the party leadership and a move away from pro-austerity neoliberalism-lite rubbish, and back towards democratic socialism.

This seismic shift in the Labour Party triggered a flood of hundreds of thousands of new and returning traditional Labour voters joining the party, and a spectacular 3.5 million increase in the Labour vote at the 2017 General Election (the first actual increase in the Labour vote since 1997).

The mainstream media dealt with this influx of new members by deriding them as "entryists" and framing the surge in support as if it were some kind of sinister take-over of the party by the extreme-left, rather than the return of people who had been turned away from the Labour Party after two decades of them pushing unappealing centre-right economic policies.

As far as the mainstream media (and especially hacks at the faux-left Guardian) were concerned, this influx of traditional Labour voters was an absolute travesty because the conventional mainstream media groupthink was that the only way Labour could achieve success was by following the Tory party ever rightwards, and trying to nick their voters.

Thus the traditional centre-left Labour demographic were endlessly smeared as "entryists", "the extreme-left", "Trotskysists", "Marxists", "usurpers", a "rabble" and much worse, while the centre-right pro-austerity orthodox neoliberals within the Labour Party were endlessly described as "moderates".

In contrast to Labour's democratic shift back towards their traditional centre-left territory, it's absolutely clear that since the 2016 EU referendum the Tory party has been usurped by the fanatical Eurosceptic hard-right fringe. 

Theresa May fought her vanity election by trying to appeal to the basest instincts of ex-UKIP voters. She concocted a sickening brew of fanatically right-wing ultra-nationalism, smear-mongering, and outright authoritarianism, and it succeeded in attracting millions of ex-UKIP voters who mindlessly followed the Brexit flag that she was waving.

Then there's the influx of UKIP councillors who are jumping ship to join the Tory party now that they can see that their Trajan Horse protest party is sinking into political irrelevance.

Now that the Tory party is being infiltrated by Ukippers, have the mainstream media resorted to the same kind of hysterical "entryist vs moderates" narratives they used to attack the Labour Party with?

Of course they haven't. 

Labour attracting back their traditional supporter base by shifting back towards the centre-left (where they belong) had the mainstream media howling with outrage, but a Tory party usurped by hard-right fringe fanatics in front of our very eyes, and rendered utterly dependent on appeasing their brand new ultra-nationalist ex-Ukipper demographic receives no such condemnation!

In fact it's difficult to find any indication that the mainstream media even want to acknowledge that Theresa May only managed to cling onto power because the majority of the 3.5 million UKIP deserters mindlessly followed the Brexit flag she was waving, and that the Tory party are now electorally dependent on appeasing this brand new fanatically right-wing ultra-nationalist demographic of their voter base.

Theresa May and the Tories are literally dancing to the tune of entryists, usurpers, and politicians who were fringe backbench extremists until June 2016, yet the mainstream media are paying this hard-right takeover of the Tory party minimal attention, and certainly spewing nothing like the bile and outrage they generated over traditional Labour voters returning to the fold in order to support Jeremy Corbyn!

It's bad enough that the mainstream media endlessly portrayed Labour returning to their centre-left roots as some kind of evil takeover by entryists, but this deceptive propaganda is even worse in light of the fact that most of them have nothing whatever to say about the Tory party being usurped by a hard-right fringe faction right in front of our eyes, and rendered electorally dependent on appeasing their brand new demographic of ultra-nationalist UKIP deserters.

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The Daily Telegraph's effort to bully these Tory MPs has backfired spectacularly

Seven years of wilfully loading the burden of austerity dogma onto the poor and ordinary whilst lavishing tax breaks and handouts on corporations and the mega-rich is proof that there is no such thing as a good Tory. However it's clear that some Tories are certainly a lot less bad than others.

There are around two dozen potential Tory rebels who are expressing opposition to the fanatically right-wing Blue-kip takeover of their party that is happening under Theresa May's leadership. They don't like the way Theresa May is being edged ever closer to the "no deal" Brexit cliff edge by the ideological fanatics in their party, and they have strong reservations about Theresa May's efforts to sideline parliament and give her ministers the power to rewrite thousands of UK laws with no parliamentary scrutiny whatever.

They're not actually trying to stop Brexit completely, but they are determined to prevent the economic catastrophe that a "no deal" flounce out of Europe would entail.

Take a listen to Ken Clarke's speech during the Brexit bill debate to get an idea of where these "rebel" Tory MPs are actually coming from.

The Daily Telegraph's effort to bully these MPs into conformity to the Blue-kip extremism that Theresa May has embraced has backfired dramatically.

By attacking these MPs in the same way that the hatemongering Daily Mail attacked the judges who ruled in favour of parliamentary sovereignty, and the academics who dare to criticise or critique the shambolic Brexit process, the Telegraph have proven beyond doubt that their descent from respected broadsheet to the depths of the contemptible sewer press (Daily Mail, S*n, Express) is now complete.

It's also backfired because their attempt to bully and shame these MPs into conformity to the Blue-kip agenda has actually created a handy list of the minority of half-decent Tory MPs who still give a damn about stuff like the national economy, parliamentary sovereignty, and holding the government to account:

Heidi Allan, Kenneth Clarke, Jonathan Djanogy, Vicky Ford, Dominic Grieve, Stephen Hammond, Oliver Heald, Jeremy Lefroy, Paul Masterton, Nicky Morgan, Bob Neill, Antoinette Sandback, Anna Soubry, Tom Tugendhat, and Sarah Wollaston.

Assuming that this effort to bully these MPs into compliance is unsuccessful, and they do rebel against the lunatic decision to hard wire the exit date so that negotiations cannot be extended even if both sides desire it, and come out fighting to defend parliamentary sovereignty too, they'll be in the minority of Tory MPs who are prepared to put the interests of the nation above the narrow party political interests of the Tory party.

There's no doubt that these people are still complicit in forcing their ruinous austerity dogma on the nation, and in the savage mistreatment of disabled people, but they deserve credit for finally taking a stand against the fanatical hard-right Blue-kip insanity that Theresa May is embracing in order to cling onto power.

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Monday, 13 November 2017

Why won't Boris Johnson issue an unequivocal apology?

Last week Boris Johnson made one of the most extraordinary gaffes a British Foreign Secretary has ever made by uncritically repeating Iranian accusations against an imprisoned British citizen as if they were fact.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (who remains in an Iranian jail), her family and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office all consistently maintained that she was in Iran on holiday, with the purpose of introducing her young daughter to her Iranian parents. Despite this, Johnson decided to declare that she was in Iran "teaching journalism", which is precisely what the Iranians have imprisoned her for.

The Iranian authorities have taken Johnson's foolish remarks as confirmation that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in the country training propaganda agents, and the case against her has been reopened with the possibility of her jail sentence being dramatically extended.

After a week of blustering, evasions and carefully qualified non-apologies Johnson was called to parliament to answer urgent questions over his disgraceful handling of the Zaghari-Ratcliffe case.

Here's exactly what he said:
"I acknowledge that the words that I used were open to being misinterpreted and I apologise to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family if I have inadvertently caused them any further anguish."
As we can see, this is another half-apology based on the false narrative that his words had been "misinterpreted" rather than being completely at odds with the established Foreign Office position that she was there on holiday.

We can also see that it's a qualified apology which relies on the word "if" to equivocate about whether his refusal to admit his mistake and issue a clear and timely retraction had caused  "further anguish".

Boris even had the gall to bluster that he's tired of apologising, claiming that he's made statements correcting his mistake about a "dozen times".

The problem of course is that for some reason Johnson's ego won't allow him to make an unqualified and unequivocal apology with no ifs, no buts, and no misleading attempts to create the impression that his public statement that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was "training journalists" were somehow misunderstood, misinterpreted, or taken out of context.

If he'd just come out the following day and admitted that he'd made a terrible mistake, and that his assertion that she was in Iran training journalists was 100% wrong, he would obviously still have had his critics for having made the mistake in the first place, but by continually evading this kind of open unequivocal admission, and embedding his apologies in qualifying statements and misleading justifications, he's only making it worse for himself.

Of course right-wingers will start leaping to his defence and recasting him as the poor innocent victim in the whole affair because people are still banging on at him to apologise, but these demands stem from the fact that he still won't apologise in clear unequivocal terms for his mistake.

And that's the thing that has so many people horrified: That even though the life of a British citizen hangs in the balance, Johnson's bloated ego just won't allow him to make a clear and concise apology without couching it in excuses and misleading justifications.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.