There may have been significant irregularities in the vote counting process at the Copeland by-Election this week.

The SKWAWKBOX

copeland-toryThe fallout from last Thursday’s by-election results continues to lead news bulletins and feature prominently in the all-too-predictable media attacks on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The media continues to try to pin responsibility for Labour’s defeat on Corbyn, even though Labour’s election results in the constituency had been in sharp decline since 1997 and an anti-Corbyn candidate was standing.

But there may be yet more to the story.

Applied IF Limited is an independent, non-partisan company that specialises in the forensic analysis of election results and has the ear of senior civil servants, the judiciary and senior police officers involved in electoral law.

The company contacted the SKWAWKBOX with a preliminary analysis of the Copeland by-election and the results may cause shockwaves.

The crux of the matter is the legislation – from the Ballot Act 1872, though the Representation of the People Act 1983 to the Parliamentary Voting Systems and…

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by Martin Odoni

As we all know, Nigel Farage, ex-leader of the UK Independence Party, and Donald Trump, President of the United States (seriously?! Boy, did I get that prediction wrong…), are firm friends. They are both part of the ‘Alt-Right’ – which is of course a politically correct nametag for “Nazis-who-grail-against-political-correctness” – they are both anti-‘Big-Government –  which is of course a politically correct nametag for “rich-people-who-don’t-like-the-Government-making-them-give-money-to-anybody-else” – and they are both deceitfully xenophobic.

This last week, they have both tried to use Sweden as a platform for spreading paranoia about refugees from the Middle East. Trump initiated it in a typically risible fashion at a rally last weekend, and made himself look even more stupid than usual in the process. He invoked an ill-defined ‘atrocity‘ that he thought had occurred in ABBA’s homeland the previous evening. Of course, there was no such atrocity, and Trump was rightly skewered on social media over the next couple of days.

Attempts have subsequently been made by the right wing media to present statistics that, at first glance, suggest Trump had a point (although it is very clear that he had not seen any such statistics before making his gaffe). Political Scrapbook has done a very comprehensive job of explaining why these stats have been completely distorted, so I shall not bother reproducing someone else’s sterling work here. But I do wish to draw attention to a startling irony, from when Trump’s dear chum Nigel got involved. It shows that Farage is not nearly as clever as some people like to think.

Farage, while speaking on LBC Radio, was another to use those same stats to give the idea that Malmo is the ‘rape capital of the world’. No doubt, he thought he was defending his dear friend manfully by making this claim.

cassidy-donald-trump-nigel-farage-320x240-1472143301

Awww, look at those cute little’uns together like that. But enough about Trump’s hands.

Now, the stats that saw an upswing in recorded rape in Sweden are taken from the years before the surge in refugees from the Arab Spring arriving in Europe, so their relevance to immigration is doubtful in the extreme anyway. But more significantly, they are a reflection on the unusually broad definitions of rape and sexual assault in Sweden.

Rightly or wrongly, activities that are classified as rape in Sweden are not so-classified in other countries. As Doug Saunders of Canada’s Globe & Mail put it in May last year; –

If your boss rubbed against you in an unwanted way at work once a week for a year… in Canada, this would potentially be a case of sexual assault. Under Germany’s more limited laws, it would be zero cases. In Sweden, it would be tallied as 52 separate cases of rape. If you engaged in a half-dozen sex acts with your spouse, then later you felt you had not given consent, in Sweden that would be classified as six cases of rape.

(Italic emphasis mine.)

In other words, Swedish official crime stats actually include many forms of non-consensual touching. (Just to make clear, I am expressing neither agreement with nor disapproval of this definition, I am merely establishing what the Swedish definition is.) Nigel Farage, by using these stats to encourage the notion of sexual offences being out-of-control in Sweden, is endorsing that definition. A definition that includes any non-consensual contact upwards of rubbing up against another person.

In that light, it is hardly a surprise to learn that, just for instance, grabbing another person without their consent by the genitalia, is also classed in Sweden as rape.

If this definition were extended to other countries, then of course the rate of sexual assaults and rapes worldwide would massively increase. But that is not my immediate point. Instead, let us consider the following. With this Swedish definition in mind – the definition that Farage has had to endorse in order to make his argument workable – other than refugees from the Middle East, who else can we think of Farage is effectively accusing of rape? Who can we think of, say, who not only grabs unconsenting women by the genitalia, but then even boasts about it to his friends? Who is classed by Nigel Farage, therefore, as a rapist?

Need a clue?

With friends like Nigel, eh?

Hillsborough & UKIP

February 15, 2017

by Martin Odoni

This blog has, to this point, treated the Hillsborough Disaster and the UK Independence Racket-… er, sorry, I mean the UK Independence Party, as two completely unrelated subjects. I suspect that they still are, in fact. But over the last few days there has been an unmissable furore over whether claims of the new leader of UKIP, Paul Nuttall, to have been in the stadium on the day of Hillsborough are true or not.

NOTE: I have chosen to link to the Skwawkbox blog, because I am getting a little fed-up of the Guardian getting all the credit for identifying the anomalies in Nuttall’s story when the SB blog got there way earlier.

I do not wish to spend too long speculating on whether Nuttall’s claims are true. I myself, despite long years studying the Disaster, was not there, and so I have no possible way of knowing for certain. Even so, I can say that I was skeptical for a long time about Nuttall’s claims, and events over the last week or so have only served to increase my doubts. (His latest attempt to explain away a proven falsity in his claims has been debunked with astonishing speed and ease.) I disagree with suggestions that Nuttall’s account of being at Hillsborough was actually contradictory, but even so I doubt he was there, for reasons I have little need to explain, as they are being discussed widely elsewhere.

nuttal-htt

Whether he was actually there or not, Paul Nuttall has clearly lied about, or at least heavily embellished, his involvement in the Hillsborough Disaster.

So I want to discuss the response of some of Nuttall’s defenders, rather than his detractors. Particularly noticeable and crass was of course the intervention of UKIP’s chief funder (and, some would argue, real leader) Arron Banks, who tweeted last night that he was “sick to death of hearing about” Hillsborough.

For my own part, I have stated more than once in the past that I am sick of hearing people say that they are sick of hearing about Hillsborough. This is not least because there is something nauseatingly insufferable about anyone who imagines their personal boredom-threshold is more important than the grisly deaths of almost a hundred people. It says something about Banks’ self-centred arrogance – always in long supply – that he could put his wish for a change of subject before the fact that, even with the new Inquest verdict last year, there has still not been a single successful prosecution over the Disaster or the cover-up that followed.

Banks’ remarks are also startling vacuous at other points. He tweeted, “if a policemen opens a gate trying to help and makes a bad decision it’s an accident. As for a cover up it was the 80’s.”

Now, the first sentence is just stupid, because it is an implied strawman argument contradicted by the drearily obvious. Nobody is suggesting that the South Yorkshire Police were deliberately trying to get someone killed at Hillsborough. (At Orgreave, probably, but let us leave that on one side.) Everybody knows that the crush was unintentional. That does not satisfy the definition of an ‘Accident’ in a Coroner’s Court, I should mention. But even so, no one imagines that David Duckenfield was stood in the police control box next to the Leppings Lane end, tweaking his non-existent moustache and rubbing his hands together in evil glee, like a stereotype Bond-villain, as over three thousand people were crammed into a space suited for about seventeen-hundred. It is beyond stupid to imply that people are arguing Hillsborough was a deliberate attempt to take lives.

But if the first sentence is stupid, the second sentence is just meaningless. It was the 80’s, you say, Mr Banks? Well knock me down with a feather! Say, Arron, have you noticed? The year was called “1989”! Could that be connected with these “80’s” things you are talking about? There must be some link, right? EUREKA!

Sarcasm aside; again, we already know. Just saying, “It was the 80’s” does not explain anything, nor does it constitute a particularly clear reason for just shrugging the shoulders and dropping the whole subject.

Banks then tried to clarify his ‘point’ (for want of a better word), by adding, “It was the 80’s” [thank goodness he repeated that, there was a real danger we might not have figured out which decade 1989 was in without his repeated information] “I been[sic] at some matches that were squeezed beyond belief. This could have happened anywhere anytime.”

Sadly, this only intensifies the impression of crass stupidity. Again, Banks is saying nothing that has not been said countless times before, so he is enlightening nobody; it is perfectly true that almost all stadia in Britain and Ireland at the time were at least as unsafe and poorly policed as Hillsborough. But also, he in fact defeats his own argument in saying it. It is precisely because the Disaster at Hillsborough could have happened anywhere that the issues surrounding it remain relevant today. These issues are; –

  • Prejudiced, heavy-handed policing against presumed hooligans.
  • Complacency among football clubs and authorities, and again by the police, on matters of public safety.
  • Corruption of public and private institutions who are more concerned with protecting their own reputations than with honesty or transparency.

These matters have never been brought properly into the light-of-day, never given adequate official scrutiny or in-depth reform, and quite probably are still not properly guarded against even today. Simply saying, “Oh it was the 80’s” is merely giving this culture-of-shabbiness a name, not explaining or resolving anything. Wrongdoing remains wrongdoing, no matter the decade in which it happened, and a failure to fulfil one’s responsibilities, compounded by a subsequent attempt to shift the blame for that failure onto the people who suffered because of it, is only more wrongdoing.

As for feeling “sick to death”, I can tell Banks this; I’m “sick-to-death” of Banks and his allies lying to us non-stop about how much better off we will all be once we are out of the European Union, but that has never stopped them.

Inevitably, far lower-profile ‘Kippers than Banks have been leaping with partisan fervour to Nuttall’s defence. I have seen UKIP supporters registering squealing objections all over social media. One theme that seems to be popular among ‘Kippers is the notion that the British Left is somehow ‘exploiting’ the way Nuttall has been caught red-handed.

I find this argument vomitous. For a start, how can condemning Nuttall’s dishonesty (this chapter is just part of a far wider pattern of, shall we say, ‘seriously embellished’ claims Nuttall has made for himself) be called ‘exploitative’? Surely it is Nuttall’s manipulation of the Hillsborough Disaster, in an apparent attempt to associate himself with one of the British public’s greatest ever victories over institutionalised injustice, that is exploitative? He is standing in the Stoke-On-Trent Central By-Election next week, and the people there need to know the sorts of confections he is capable of. They must consider whether it is safe to elect a man who would lie to the whole nation about something like this, and in order to deliberate on that, they need to know he has done it.

But equally, let us remember that this whiny objection is coming from supporters of UKIP! Which is to say, from the party and support-base that have spent most of the last five years or so constantly trying to score cheap and cruel political points against other parties over alleged widespread child abuse by politicians. That UKIP supporters get so outraged about child abuse, but never seem to remember the alleged victims after the desired political damage has been inflicted on opponents, should tell us all just how much they really care about those same victims. So how is that not exploitation of a far, far lower order than merely pointing out when someone is using the tragedies of others to gain publicity? In fact, Nuttall has been pulling the same trick by trying to tap into outrage over the police cover-up after Hillsborough. If he was not there – and on balance it seems ever more likely that he was not – then he is being exploitative in one of the ugliest ways I can imagine, and so if you want to say that giving him a public caning for it is also ‘exploitative’ (it is not), well, swings-and-roundabouts.

No, the exploitation is very much on one side. Whether Nuttall was at Hillsborough or not, it is clear he was little-affected by it, but still he tries to associate himself with the campaign for justice after remaining silent about it for well over twenty years. Nuttall did not have to use Hillsborough to gain publicity, he chose to. He has exploited, he has not been exploited. He deserves vilification, for, after all the horrendous agonies Hillsborough campaigners have been put through over the last twenty-eight years, they did not deserve to be used like this.

It was their battle, not his.

by Martin Odoni

A popular hashtag on social media at the moment rightly condemns the UK Prime Minister for her pusillanimous stance on the ban on refugees from certain Islamic countries entering the USA. Theresa May is being called Theresa-The-Appeaser for her mealy-mouthed refusal to criticise the new US President, Donald Trump, for signing an Executive Order closing borders to people originating in seven Middle Eastern countries. (Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, none of them are among the countries in the region with whom Trump has personal business interests.) This was done just as May was preparing to meet the new President for the first time.

The anti-refugee policy drew immediate, scathing condemnation from all over the world, and has seen a second furious tidal wave of protests against Trump across the USA to follow the multi-millions demonstrating for women’s rights last weekend. (Trump only got sworn in nine days ago, and already millions seem ready to start a revolution against him!) But when pressed on the matter by increasingly impatient journalists, May, for long hours, refused to be drawn. Even when one of her own MPs, the Iraqi-born Nadim Zahawi, revealed that he himself would be subject to the ban, May stayed quiet.

The ‘Appeaser’ tag of course invokes memories of Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister at the heart of the notorious ‘Munich Agreement‘ of 1938, shortly before the start of the Second World War. I think the comparison is unfair though. On Chamberlain, that is.

Not quite an appeaser, but no better.

Theresa May lies back on the couch and lets Donald Trump do what he wants.

I am one of those history buffs who have some sympathy with Chamberlain over Munich, as he was in a pretty hopeless position when he tried to negotiate with Adolf Hitler. Chamberlain has long been castigated as the weakling who let Hitler walk all over him, giving up the Sudetenland and leaving Czechoslovakia undefended as the price of Britain not having to go to war, only for war to follow anyway, when Hitler reneged on his promise not to claim any further territories. But people arguing that Chamberlain was a weakling forget that Britain in the 1920s had undergone a massive program of disarmament, and the task of rebuilding the military was only just under way by the time he became Prime Minister. Militarily, Britain was far behind Nazi Germany, clearly nowhere near ready for another war, and in light of Britain’s military weakness at that point, Chamberlain’s concessions to Hitler were understandable, and may even have been wise, as they bought extra time to re-arm.

But more than that, even while Chamberlain made concessions in the face of threats, he still took an explicit position of opposing what Hitler was doing. He did not stay silent in the face of a powerful right-wing extremist; even if the promises Chamberlain extracted from Hitler in return for the concessions ultimately proved to be lies, at least they were born from a genuine attempt at offering up some opposition.

Compare that to May’s behaviour over the last couple of days, and you quickly realise that there is almost no resemblance at all. What May is doing is not even appeasement in fact (a word that is thrown around with depressing frequency, especially by militarists who do not appear to understand its meaning). What May has been doing in the face of right wing extremism is basically nothing; she has merely tried to keep her lips sealed and hoped not to become embroiled in the matter of the refugee ban at all.

What Chamberlain did to try and contain Hitler in 1938 may arguably have been wrong (although as I say, given Britain’s military weakness at that point, that is very much open to debate), but at least he did try and do something against it. Whether we think appeasement was the right action, at least it was not inaction. May’s response to such extremism when faced with it is not even to appease it, it is simply not to talk about it until her hand is forced. Even when she is compelled to speak up, all she says is that she disagrees with the refugee ban, not that she condemns it. (If Vladimir Putin of Russia had come up with a policy as intolerant as this, what, I wonder, would she be saying then?) May is making no real attempt to oppose Trump’s anti-Muslim prejudices, or his cruel rejection of the terrible plight of so many refugees (from wars that the USA and Britain themselves have played significant roles in creating), even though she is not being threatened by a powerful military in the way that Chamberlain was. She is being sycophantic, sucking up to Trump in the hope that he will give Britain a kinder trade deal to prop up an economy that will soon be ailing in the aftermath of leaving the European Union. She is scared of losing such a deal, and she is giving in to that fear.

So even if we accept that Neville Chamberlain was ‘weak’, what do the last couple of days make Theresa May?

An outright coward, perhaps?

Brexitopia: A Short Play

January 24, 2017

by Martin Odoni

(Satire.)

[Downing Street. The Cabinet Office. Theresa May is present, sat at the table filling in some papers.]

CAPTION: The very near future of an alternative reality where Brexiteers got everything they wanted.

[There is a sharp knock on the door.]

MAY: Come in.

[The door opens. Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, walks in.]

HEYWOOD: Prime Minister…

MAY: Ah, Cabinet Secretary! Excellent. I have whims I require you to carry out.

HEYWOOD: Whims, Prime Minister?

MAY: Commands then.

HEYWOOD: That still sounds a little strong.

MAY: A strong country requires a strong Prime Minister, Jeremy. Now, here are my commands. I trust you are paying attention?

HEYWOOD: Of course, Prime Minister, that goes without saying.

MAY: I only wish it did. First on the agenda today, I want you to shut down the BBC.

HEYWOOD: [Startled.] I beg your pardon?

MAY: Granted.

HEYWOOD: Prime Minister? Did you just… ask me to… shut down the British Broadcasting Corporation?

MAY: Ask you to…? Oh good heavens, Jeremy, no. What a concept! My my…

HEYWOOD: Oh thank goodness…

MAY: I ordered you to shut down the BBC. Next, I want…

HEYWOOD: I beg your pardon for interrupting, Prime Minister, but you do realise that you have no right to make such a demand. The BBC’s Charter is outside the elected Government’s power of control, and the requirement for a free press…

MAY: The requirement for a free press is a constitutional right, Jeremy. And I removed it from the constitution just now. Here you go.

[May holds up a form, which Heywood, looking pale, reaches out and accepts. He studies it briefly.]

HEYWOOD: Prime Minister… the constitution…

MAY: I just told you, I’ve changed it. The right to a free press has been dropped from the constitution, because I don’t like it. And that nasty Marr-person at the BBC nearly forced me to admit on live TV the other day that I knew even before the Trident vote last year about that nuclear weapons test that went bollocks-up. Could’ve been in real trouble if I’d blurted that out. So shut the BBC down. Oh, I’d like that done by 4pm, if you’d be so good?

HEYWOOD: But, Prime Minister, with all due respect you do not have the right…

MAY: I have every right, thank you. The Supreme Court says I do. And you can also shut down the Mirror, the Guardian, the Canary and the Independent. They’re all horrid to me. Now, next on the agenda, I want you to divert all tax revenues for the next year away from the Treasury and into my personal bank account.

HEYWOOD: [Appalled.] Prime Minister? You cannot be serious…!

MAY: You’re saying I cannot be serious? Who do you think you are? John McEnroe?

HEYWOOD: Well no, Prime Minister…

MAY: It could take a few days for the standing order to be set up, so you’d best hurry up and get on with it. There’s this wonderful new dress that’s all the rage in Milan, and I’d like to get one so I can look hot when I’m visiting that hunky Mr Drumpf fellow in a few days.

HEYWOOD: Tax revenues cannot simply be diverted into an individual’s bank account, Prime Minister! The control of taxation is the prerogative of Parliament…

MAY: Not anymore. I’ve made another change to the constitution.

[May presents another document to Heywood, who gives it a dumbfounded look.]

MAY: As you can see, the constitution now says that the Prime Minister may raise taxes in any amount and at any time at his or her own discretion. So see to it, will you? I expect the standing order to be up and running by a week on Friday. Next, Patrick Stewart said he disagrees with me about something again this morning. Arrest him and have him beheaded please.

HEYWOOD: Arrest him, Prime Minister?!? On what grounds?!

MAY: Arrest him on the grounds that I don’t like it when people say I’m wrong, and behead him on the grounds of Lambeth Palace. It’ll scare the Archbishop of Canterbury into keeping his mouth shut in future that way.

HEYWOOD: But, Prime Minister, we can’t behead anyone, executions are illegal in this country…

[May presents another sheet of paper to Heywood.]

MAY: No they aren’t, Jeremy. I’ve changed the law so I can execute anyone I feel like executing…

HEYWOOD: When?

[May starts scribbling on another paper.]

MAY: While you were asking me, “On what grounds?”

HEYWOOD: Well then this law-change cannot have been ratified by Parliament.

MAY: It doesn’t have to be, Jeremy. There’s been an amendment to the constitution. Have you not seen it?

HEYWOOD: Which one is it this time, Prime Minister?

MAY: The one I’m just writing up now. As you’ll see in a moment, it says that the Prime Minister may introduce new laws at his or her own discretion without recourse to consultation with, or ratification by, any outside body.

HEYWOOD: But you cannot just change the constitution simply because you feel like it.

MAY: Yes I can, Cabinet Secretary. When I appealed to the Supreme Court that I should be allowed to activate Article 50 and withdraw Britain from the European Union without Parliament’s approval, the judges said, “Yes, that’s fine.” And as withdrawal from the EU is a constitutional change, and if it’s fine for me to do it without ratification, that means I am free to change the constitution in any way I see fit, whenever I see fit, without getting Parliament’s say-so. Got it?

HEYWOOD: But…?

[May starts filling in another paper.]

MAY: But me no buts, Heywood. Now. My husband’s golfing partner’s wife wants a child, but she’s past child-bearing age. But one of her cousins has just given birth. Therefore, I want you to arrange for the new baby to be kidnapped and handed over to my husband’s golfing partner’s wife, with immediate effect. If her cousin complains, just tell her the baby died of mumps or something.

HEYWOOD: [Mortified.] I can’t believe what I’m hearing! Kidnapping is against the Law.

MAY: Kidnapping by any individual below the office of the Prime Minister is against the Law, Cabinet Secretary. There’s been…

HEYWOOD: Oh let me guess, Prime Minister. There’s been a change to the Law?

MAY: Well actually no, not yet.

HEYWOOD: [Surprised.] Oh.

[May finishes filling in the paper.]

MAY: …But now there has. A Prime Minister, with this freshly-inked change to the Laws of Her Majesty’s United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is no longer subject to kidnapping prohibitions. And as you will be carrying out this instruction on my behalf, in this particular instance you are exempt from them too.

HEYWOOD: I don’t want to be exempt from…

MAY: Baby! Kidnap! See to it. Now, people are campaigning outside of various major hospitals to Save The NHS. They look really scruffy with all those awful placards and things they carry around. Most unsightly. Have them all shot.

HEYWOOD: Shot?!

MAY: Yes, shot. With guns. No need to arrest them and put them in front of a wall facing firing squads, just send in the army and shoot-to-kill.

HEYWOOD: You can’t just command the British Army to butcher British citizens indiscriminately! It’s a violation of the Army’s duty to protect the people!

[May produces another sheet of paper and hands it to Heywood.]

MAY: I think you will find that as of oh-eight-hundred hours this morning, the army’s duty has been re-evaluated and re-defined as a duty to protect the Prime Minister. Exclusively.

HEYWOOD: And who re-defined it and how?

MAY: I did. By writing it down on that form. Now, penultimately on today’s agenda. I fancy that actor from EastEnders. Whassisname? The man with the stubble? Runs the pub.

HEYWOOD: Er, I am not totally au fait with soap operas, Prime Minister, but I imagine you mean Danny Dyer?

MAY: That’s the fellow. I want to sit on his face for a couple of days. I want him arrested, stripped naked, dipped in banana custard, and tied to my bed at Chequers. Make the arrangements.

HEYWOOD: You want what?!?

MAY: A bit of nookie, Cabinet Secretary. With Danny Dyer. Arrange it.

HEYWOOD: But, Prime Minister! With respect… what if he doesn’t want to… do… things… with you?

MAY: What do his wishes have to do with anything? I’m feeling horny, go and get him so I can dirty some bedding with him.

HEYWOOD: May I… clarify your instruction please, Prime Minister?

MAY: Oh if you must, Cabinet Secretary. Get on with it.

HEYWOOD: You want me to arrange for you to indulge in acts of a… carnal nature with another person, irrespective of whether it is with his consent or not?

[May starts writing out another form.]

MAY: I trust that won’t be a problem for you, Jeremy?

HEYWOOD: Prime Minister, if he does not consent, it would be rape. Both morally and legally, I would have a most profound problem with it!

MAY: Morally? As civil servants go, you have quite the taste for luxuries, Cabinet Secretary! As for legally, not a problem. You see, I’m just putting the last details on another constitutional change.

HEYWOOD: [Nauseous.] Oh really, Prime Minister? And what is this one?

MAY: A re-definition of citizenship of the United Kingdom. Under the terms of my new law, all people previously defined as ‘subjects of Her Majesty the Queen’, are now hereby re-classified as, ‘slaves, body and soul, in perpetual possession of the Prime Minister’.

HEYWOOD: WHAT?!

MAY: And if, under the newly-amended constitution of the United Kingdom, I have ownership of the body of every British citizen, I can do whatever I damn well please to the body of anyone I choose, including Danny Dyer. [Almost drooling.] And, oh boy, I will! So, to the final issue on today’s agenda…

HEYWOOD: Prime Minister, I must apologise. But I cannot carry out any of your instructions.

MAY: I beg your pardon?

HEYWOOD: Forgive me, Prime Minister, but I find your instructions completely unethical. I abhor the very notion of what you demand, and I am completely perturbed as to the manner in which you have authorised your own self-indulgences.

MAY: [Menacing.] Are you… disagreeing with me, Cabinet Secretary?

HEYWOOD: Indeed I am! Proudly and without hesitation!

[May starts writing another paper.]

MAY: Very well, Jeremy. [Calls out.] Officers!

[The door opens. In step two policemen. May points at Heywood.]

MAY: That man is openly disagreeing with the Prime Minister. Arrest him.

POLICEMAN: Arrest him, ma’am? I can’t arrest him just for arguing with you.

MAY: Yes you can.

POLICEMAN: But there’s no law against disagreeing with…

MAY: Yes there is.

POLICEMAN: Which one?

[May hands the officer the paper she was filling in.]

MAY: This one, Constable, the one I’ve just finished writing. It amends the constitution so that any person found guilty of contradicting the Prime Minister can be summarily shot.

[The policeman studies the paper for a moment, shows it to his colleague who nods idly, then places his hand on Heywood’s shoulder.]

POLICEMAN: So you did, ma’am. Sir, I arrest you for crimes against the Prime Minister. I must inform you that anything you say will not be taken down, and will not be used against you in a court of law, as you won’t be getting a trial.

HEYWOOD: What! I have a right to a trial! Every accused is entitled to a fair trial!

MAY: We don’t have trials in Britain, Jeremy. Not anymore.

POLICEMAN: The Habeas Corpus Act was repealed by the Prime Minister yesterday, sir. As soon as she says you’re guilty, that’s it. I have to arrest you and throw the book at you.

MAY: And the courts are all being abolished as we have no use for them anymore. Not when I can simply decided who’s guilty and who isn’t. Gentlemen, march him out and shoot him.

HEYWOOD: But you can’t do this!

MAY: Why not? The Supreme Court has decided that I am allowed to control the constitution. When I control the constitution, I control everything. Anything in the constitution that bars me from doing something I wish to do, I can simply remove it whenever I feel like it. Against that, Cabinet Secretary, what can you do to stop me?

[The police march Heywood out and close the door behind them. After a moment, there is the sound of gunfire.]

MAY: What can you do to stop me?

CAPTION: Do you understand why the Supreme Court’s decision was right, yet?

by Martin Odoni

Back in the summer, Britain made a decision that I am still terrified it will live to regret, when the notorious Referendum on leaving the European Union came out in favour. In the days after the decision was made, memes presenting this quotation, attributed to Martin Schulz, President of the EU Parliament, started circulating on the Internet among some of the more extreme ‘pro-Brexit’ factions; –

r

I have seen that the memes are still circulating six months on, and it is starting to irritate me, for one simple reason, that I am sure most of you can already guess. Yes, you got it, ladies, gents, and others; –

SCHULZ

NEVER

SAID

THIS.

The quotation is taken from a satirical section in a magazine published in Germany, called Contra Magazin. The article it appeared in can be accessed by clicking here.

The section it appeared in in Contra Magazin, called Kurioses & Satire, is roughly the German equivalent of NewsThump. Nothing in that section is meant to be taken seriously, and all quotations in it should be expected to be either made up or deliberately altered for purposes of pure parody. The article was not genuine news, nor even propaganda; it was a joke. Maddeningly, not only is the word ‘Satire’ included in the section-name, but it even says, ‘In Satira‘ below the picture on the original article. And yet somehow, hardly anyone seems to be able to add two-and-two; –

satira

It is a sad lookout for many on the xenophobic Hard-Right in the UK that they apparently need a full translation before they can figure out what the word ‘Satira’ means. It also says something about their fixation on seeing the EU as the modern incarnation of Nazi Germany that they are unable to spot a joke about it, even when it has been clearly labelled as such, or check their sources when they hear a dubious quotation. While I would not be altogether surprised were I to discover that it is descriptive of Schulz’s private attitudes, the fact remains that he never said what is in the quotation at all.

I recommend people stop doing their research at I-Saw-It-In-A-Meme-On-Social-Media-So-It-Must-Be-True University.

The Guardian is not really a ‘liberal’ newspaper in the modern sense of the word.

B heard media 2

Ken Loach tweeted today that The Guardian chose to delete the first and last line from his letter in today’s paper.

The letter was critical of how The Guardian newspaper has treated Jeremy Corbyn.

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