This was first posted on Facebook on 16th March 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
I listened to the Second Reading debate on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill on Monday evening and tonight, and I noted that four points were consistently being made by the obedient Tory MPs:
- Gypsy, Roma, and Irish Travellers are bad and dirty and we need legislation to take action against their habit of just parking on common ground and acting as if they had a right to be there, sometimes even when they own the land their vehicle is parked on, it’s got to be stopped.
- Statues/memorials must be protected
- Long sentences mean we’re doing more against crime
- Law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear
The first element of this is the most shocking, of course: basic racism barely even masked. Please remember that any fascist government needs an internal enemy convenient for blame. Brexit will hit farmers and farming economies hard. The Bill grants the police powers to arrest, imprison, and confiscate the mobile home of someone who is, as determined by the police, parked in “illegal encampment” or engaged in anti-social behaviour, also as determined by the police. To be able to distract economically-devastated countryside communities with news that an internal enemy has been arrested, tried, fined, imprisoned, lost their home, may be very useful this year. Certainly the government thinks so, from the consistency of this message from Tory MPs standing up to declare, if anyone doubted, that they were going to vote for the bill.
This was first posted on Facebook on 27th February 2021, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
The Scottish Parliament has been in existence since 1999: Nicola Sturgeon is the present First Minister, and there are five previous First Ministers, four living, as Donald Dewar died within the first 12 months. The other four are Henry McLeish (now 72), Labour: Jim Wallace (now 66), LibDem – who was Acting First Minister on two separate occasions: Jack McConnell (now 60), Labour – and Alex Salmond (now 66), SNP. Jim Wallace and Jack McConnell accepted life peerages when they ceased to be MSPs: Henry McLeish did not, and after 2016 declared he’d support an independent Scotland if Westminster enacted Brexit against Scotland’s will.
Prior to 2010, if a First Minister – or any minister in the Scottish Government – had sexually pestered a subordinate, the Scottish Government had no policy of how to deal with this. In 2010, a policy was developed: we know that none of the women Salmond pestered made use of it – and no previous First Minister could have been affected by it.
This week, Ealing Council made a landmark legal and political decision: patients entering or leaving the Marie Stopes clinic would be protected from harassment by the creation of a buffer zone, a Public Spaces Protection Order, ensuring that no anti-abortion protesters can set up their signs, hand out their leaflets, or otherwise harass patients seeking treatment.
One of the commonest distortions of the resolution Amnesty International voted on this August is that Amnesty want to make sex work a human right.
What Amnesty International resolved to do
develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work. The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence.
I’d say this distortion from “protect the human rights of sex workers” to “sex work is a human right” was bizarre, except that I have seen similar distortions before, when Amnesty finally agreed that in a very limited set of circumstances (such as pregnancy caused by rape, especially in a war zone) they would treat access to abortion as a human right, and that they would treat healthcare – medical support of a girl or a woman who’s had an illegal abortion and needs treatment – as a human right. That got distorted too.
So, Amnesty International are taking the position that sex work should be decriminalised, in order to protect the human rights of sex workers.
“I went past the crash, not even 100 yards away from her. If anything happens I’ve got to tell myself that.”
Lamara Bell and her partner John Yuill were visiting Loch Earn, Stirlingshire, in a blue Renault Clio on Sunday: their car went off the road Sunday evening.
An “experienced officer” was called at 11:30pm on Sunday night on the 101 non-emergency number by a member of the public who had spotted the car in which Lamara Bell and her partner John Yuill were lying – Yuill possibly already dead, Bell critically injured – down the embankment off the M9 near Stirling.
The “experienced officer” neither entered the call “into systems” nor sent out any message to operational teams in the area.
Eventually another 101 phonecall about the crashed car finally led police to it, shortly before 10am on Wednesday morning 8th July: but Yuill was dead, and Bell was dying.
Thirty years ago:
“At one point the police surrounded a coach and it stopped. A woman inside stood up and held her baby up – in a very melodramatic fashion, you wouldn’t normally hold a baby that way for fear of dropping it. But she did. She yelled at the police that there was a baby on board. “There was a pause of about five seconds, then from the back of the police ranks, whistling over our heads came a very large flint that exploded the windscreen over the baby.” Yet that was not the worst thing [the Earl of Cardigan] says he saw that day. “At some point in the crazy melee there was a heavily pregnant woman wandering around. Two policemen came up behind her with batons and clubbed her around the head and shoulders, and down she went.”
These were travellers going to the Stonehenge Solstice festival in 1985, attacked by the Wiltshire Police. The police attacked the convoy using “police tactics used in the miners’ strike to prevent a breach of the peace” (such as mounted South Yorkshire Police attacking picketing miners in Orgreave, on 18th June 1984).
Ten years ago, in 2005, Tony Thompson, the Guardian’s crime correspondent, wrote with apparently sincere bafflement:
It remains a mystery why the police felt compelled to use such violence. With evidence that radio logs of conversations between officers on the day have been altered, the full story may never be known.
In 1962, when Cambridge House in Rochdale was opened to give young men a clean safe place to stay, Cyril Smith was 34, already an important man in the local community, and he seems to have regarded it as his private pleasure centre. The hostel ran from 1962 to 1965, Cyril Smith had keys and could come and go at any time, and was responsible for bringing in several boys to live there who’d been in difficult home situations, often then to work for the local authority, so that Smith would have control both over their jobs and over their home. Continue reading
Josh Williamson is from Brisbane, Australia: he now lives in Perth. Nothing wrong with that: Perth is nice. He’s the new pastor at the Craigie Reformed Baptist Church, induction speaker from Grace Baptist Partnership “Helping Christians Plant Churches”.
The Grace Baptist Partnership doesn’t think much of Scotland:
Those witnessing to urban Scots will be struck by the ‘No Religious Callers’ signs they see at people’s doors. The poor, living on rough housing schemes, refuse to answer. The rich live in apartments with secure entry systems. The elderly reside in care homes where matronly managers prohibit religious visits or literature. The young are predictably fearful of strangers. Many open their doors clutching a phone to their ear; too techno-connected to interface with a person. We live in an isolated society.
One of these things is not like the others? After all, Thatcher’s sole political merit was that she was pro-choice. Let me explain.
Ding Dong the Wicked Old Witch is a jolly song. As Angry Women of Liverpool note in their feminist analysis of how to discuss Thatcher’s death “there are so few songs you can sing joyfully about the death of somebody thoroughly deserving”:
Tough one. The history of witch persecution is fraught with the very foundations of modern capitalist and patriarchal oppression, as anybody who’s read Silvia Federici knows. But there are so few songs you can sing joyfully about the death of somebody thoroughly deserving.
You want a proper argument in defence? Give me a minute. Continue reading