When Jacob Rees-Mogg lets slip what he really believes, the choices become clear

Ben Jennings illustration Contributor image for: Gary Younge

His candour revealed a sense of innate superiority. A Labour MP’s comment about billionaires spoke to very different values

In a recent interview, the Indian novelist and campaigner Arundhati Roy described a tabletop mountain in the Indian state of Odisha as a symbol for who or what will rule the world. “For the mining companies, the mountain is worth the cost of the bauxite that can be mined,” she told me. “For the people … who live on that mountain it’s a water tank [that] has held the water of the monsoons and the plains for centuries. [To them] that bauxite is worth nothing if it’s outside the mountain.” That, she said, raises the question, “Can we leave the bauxite in the mountain?”

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Grenfell remarks ’caused huge distress’, admits Tory chairman
Like the tale about the mountain and the decision about the bauxite, politics is, largely, about choices and narratives. It’s a choice, not simply between different manifestos, policies and programmes, but between competing stories about who we are, what is important, how we got here and where we go next.

This week clearly showcased the value systems underpinning the choice both in this election and in the broader political moment, and how they are framed by the media. They were revealed in remarks made accidentally and extemporaneously in two radio interviews – in moments of candour in which the interviewee spoke unselfconsciously in order to make a point, not the news. They went viral because they illustrated bigger truths that are widely held but rarely openly claimed.

The first involved Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, on Radio 5 Live’s Emma Barnett Gets Answers. Barnett, who does get answers but rarely really listens to them, was quizzing Russell-Moyle about why Labour wanted to broaden the debate beyond Brexit. He steered the conversation towards inequality, saying of the rich: “You will have a decision. What side are you on? Are you on the side of the tax dodgers and the billionaires or are you on the side of normal working people?”

“Some people aspire to be a billionaire in this country,” said Barnett. “Is that a dirty thing?”

“I don’t think anyone should be a billionaire,” replied Russell-Moyle.

The second involved Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, who was asked by Nick Ferrari on LBC if race or class discrimination had anything to do with the Grenfell tragedy. Rees-Mogg said no, pointing instead to the flammable cladding and the residents’ decision to obey the fire brigade’s demands to stay put. “If either of us were in a fire,” he told Ferrari, “whatever the fire brigade said we would leave the burning building. It just seems the common sense thing to do and it’s such a tragedy that that didn’t happen.”

Russell-Moyle let slip a combative vision of a country in which there should be a limit to how much wealth any one individual might have at a time when our schools and hospitals are underfunded, real wages have yet to recover from the financial crisis, and 14 million people live in relative poverty, 4 million of whom are working.

He set that limit pretty high. A billion pounds is a lot of money. Very few people aspire to that level of wealth because it’s impossible to imagine. It’s more than anyone can count or spend. In Britain it’s not the realm of the 1% – the targets of Occupy Wall Street – but the 0.0002%. Nonetheless, it lays down a clear marker about the kind of country Russell-Moyle does not want to live in – where obscene wealth is possible amid widespread poverty. And he makes it clear it’s a vision he’s prepared to fight for.

Rees-Mogg gives voice to a sense of innate superiority that comes with the privilege of his class. If he lived in Grenfell Tower he would have survived because, unlike those who died, he has common sense. Having insisted the tragedy had nothing to do with class discrimination, his contempt drips from every word. Drawing Ferrari in to his orbit – “If either of us were in a fire” – you are left wondering what kind of people he thinks were actually in the fire.

His is a world where people who live in tower blocks do not know what’s best for them and die through deference, obedience or ignorance rather than survive through self-preservation, entitlement and determination. It is, in short, a world in which he is intrinsically better than other people.

Jacob Rees-Mogg is cleverer than Grenfell Tower residents, says Tory MP – video
Both statements are off the cuff; neither are sanctioned by spin doctors or are official policy. Yet each, in its own way, illustrates the values and priorities of the two major parties: the first uncompromising in its pursuit of a fairer future for everyone; the second arrogantly assuming the unfairness that exists is the fault of those who suffer the most, who should have made better choices.

Meanwhile the responses indicate how those agendas are treated by the media. When Russell-Moyle makes his point he is challenged doggedly. Barnett swaps the faux-outrage that fuels her drivetime shtick for what looks like genuine incredulity, pushing back instantly and insistently. Someone must speak up for billionaires, and Barnett defends them as though they are an oppressed group. “You are painting all billionaires as offshore, morally base individuals.”

When Rees-Mogg makes his point, however, he is given free rein. The scandal is not realised in real time – the outrage emerges later from social media. Ferrari listens intently while Rees-Mogg prattles on. “It’s rather sad to raise these kinds of points [of racism and classism] over a great tragedy,” Rees-Mogg says.

“Well it’s a Labour MP who’s doing it,” interjects Ferrari.

Challenge the existence of billionaires and you will be confronted in disbelief; utter a slur against those who die in a fire and you will get an uninterrupted hearing.

Finally, when faced with the furore they have caused, the two politicians’ responses couldn’t have been more different. Russell-Moyle doubled down, writing on the Guardian website: “The notion that billionaires should not exist is rather commonplace, and I am confident it’s an idea shared by the majority of the population.”

Rees-Mogg folded, issuing an apology in which he claimed he meant to say the exact opposite to what he actually said. Then another Tory MP stepped up to defend him, explaining that what he really meant was that he was cleverer than the fire service chiefs who gave the advice. He too then apologised.

These were only gaffes in the sense that both the Labour and Tory MPs were caught saying out loud what they actually believe. “The danger when Margaret speaks without thinking,” the late leader of the House of Commons, Norman St John-Stevas, said of his former boss, Margaret Thatcher, “is that she says what she thinks.” She was not alone. The challenge here is not that you might be caught in a lie. It’s that you might be caught in the truth and then have to explain yourself.

With many thanks to: The Guardian and Gary Younge for the original story@garyyounge

 

Ex-Labour MP Ian Austin becomes May’s trade envoy to Israel

Ian Austin MP ex-Labour member now employed and working for the Tory Party

The Truth about the ex-labour party member who criticised Jeremy Corbyn and quit the Labour Party and who have asked people to vote for the Tories

Ian Austin has become Theresa May’s trade envoy to Israel Phil Miller’s picturePHIL MILLER

Ian Austin, who quit the Labour Party in February but has declined to hold a by-election

AN MP who quit Labour in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has been appointed as the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Israel.

Ian Austin abandoned the Labour Party in February to become an independent member.

The long-standing critic of Jeremy Corbyn, who swore at and heckled the leader during his public apology to the people of Iraq for the 2003 invasion of the country, claimed there was a “culture” of anti-semitism in Labour.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Theresa May approved his appointment as her trade envoy to Israel.

Ian Austin and John Woodcock both ex-Labour party members

The decision was announced by trade minister Liam Fox who described it as an “unpaid and voluntary” role to “support the UK’s ambitious trade and investment agenda in global markets.”

Mr Austin told the Jewish News: “Trade with Israel is worth billions to Britain, it has resulted in investment and jobs in businesses across the UK.

“I’m looking forward to working with the Department for Trade and the brilliant team at our embassy in Israel who are working so hard to help British companies win business in Israel and strengthen the trading relationship between the two countries.”

Although Mr Austin has quit Labour, he remains listed as a parliamentary supporter of Labour Friends of Israel on the group’s website.

The group congratulated him on Twitter and said: “We look forward to working with you to further boost the record levels of trade and collaboration between the UK and Israel.”

Ian Austin MP and John Woodcock both ex-members of the Labour Party and both MP’s a complete disgrace to both the Labour Party and themselves

The government has approved arms export licenses worth £329 million to Israel since January 2016, making it one of the top 10 customers for British weaponry.

Campaign group War on Want told the Morning Star that Mr Austin should use his new role to “call for the immediate suspension of trade with Israel.”

Spokesperson Ryvka Barnard warned: “Otherwise, he will be facilitating trade with a regime that uses its international business connections to bolster its illegal settlements and its repressive military and security apparatus.”

With many thanks to: The Morning Star for the original story 

Follow these links to find out more: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/amphtml/john-mcdonnell-ian-austin-employed-133800821.html

(2)-: https://news.sky.com/story/amp/general-election-former-labour-minister-urges-party-supporters-to-lend-the-tories-our-votes-11856077#referrer=https://www.google.com

(3)-: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/politics/10295489/ian-austin-ex-labour-mp-vote-boris-johnson-election/

John McDonnell: No trust in PM over Brexit talks

http://John McDonnell: ‘We’re dealing with a very unstable government’

Labour’s shadow chancellor says he does not trust Theresa May after details from cross-party talks on Brexit were leaked to the press.

The PM has called on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to “put their differences aside” and agree a Brexit deal.

But John McDonnell said she had “blown the confidentially” of the talks and “jeopardised the negotiations”.

The UK was due to leave the EU on 29 March, but it was delayed to 31 October after MPs failed to agree a deal.

Mrs May put the plan she had negotiated with the EU to Parliament three times, but it did not have the support of the Commons.

‘Uncomfortable’ decision writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mrs May said Mr Corbyn should “listen to what voters said” in Thursday’s local elections – which saw the Conservatives lose 1,3334 councillors and Labour fail to make expected gains, instead losing 82 seats.

The Liberal Democrats benefited from Tory losses, gaining 703 seats, with the Greens and independents also making gains.

The prime minister blamed the Brexit impasse for the losses – but said the elections gave “fresh urgency” to find a way to “break the deadlock”.

Theresa May appealed to the Labour Party to find a compromise over Brexit REUTERS

Mrs May also said she hoped to find a “unified, cross-party position” with Labour – despite admitting that her colleagues “find this decision uncomfortable” and that “frankly, it is not what I wanted either”.

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Mr McDonnell agreed that the message from the polls was to “get on with it” and come to an agreement over Brexit quickly.

But while he said the talks between the two parties would continue on Tuesday, he said they had been undermined after an article in the Sunday Times, detailing where Mrs May was willing to compromise – namely on customs, goods alignment and workers’ rights.

The paper also said the PM could put forward plans for a comprehensive, but temporary, customs arrangement with the EU that would last until the next general election.

Mr McDonnell told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “We have maintained confidentiality as that is what we were asked to do. We haven’t briefed the media.

“So it is disappointing the prime minister has broken that, and I think it is an act of bad faith.

“I fully understand now why she couldn’t negotiate a decent deal with our European partners if she behaves in this way.”

Asked if he trusted the prime minister, the shadow chancellor said: “No. Sorry. Not after this weekend when she has blown the confidentiality we had, and I actually think she has jeopardised the negotiation for her own personal protection.”

‘Success isn’t guaranteed’
By Nick Eardley, BBC political correspondent

Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey, John McDonnell and Sue Heyman have all been taking part in the cross-party talks Image copyright © PA

 

Clearly both sides think there is fresh impetus to get a deal after the local elections.

The government seems prepared to move towards Labour’s position, but it’s far from clear that it will be enough.

There’s a real fear on the Labour side that if this isn’t a permanent arrangement, a new Tory leader – perhaps Boris Johnson or Dominic Raab – could come along and try to change it.

So success isn’t guaranteed when the two sides get back around the table on Tuesday, and both sides need to know they can take a big chunk of their parties with them.

If Theresa May faces losing dozens of Tories opposed to a customs union, or Jeremy Corbyn faces losing dozens of labour MPs who want another referendum, they might not have the numbers to get this through the Commons.

And in that case, a compromise is useless.

Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, told the Daily Telegraph that staying in a customs union could lead to a “catastrophic split” in the Conservative Party.

And Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme that millions of people would give up on Labour and the Conservatives if they agreed a deal, adding it would be the “final betrayal”.

May must go now, says former Tory leader
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But the new International Development Secretary Rory Stewart told BBC Radio 5 live’s Pienaar’s Politics the Tories might have to “take some short-term pain” to finish the job.

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, also said her party needed to “start walking ourselves back” from the extremes of the argument to find a compromise, telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr “there is a deal to be done” with Labour.

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Media captionRuth Davidson MSP: “The answer is somewhere in the middle”.
‘Cobbled together’
Meanwhile, Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson said it was “absolutely right” for the talks to continue, but told Pienaar’s Politics: “I don’t think we should be in any doubt that the Labour Party membership and vast numbers of my colleagues in Parliament don’t want us to just sign off on a Tory Brexit.

“They don’t want us to bail the prime minister out of the problem of her own making and a very large number of our members think the people should decide on what that deal looks like.”

The comments come after the People’s Vote campaign – which wants a referendum on a final Brexit deal – published a letter signed by more than 100 opposition MPs saying any new, agreed deal should be put to the public for a vote.

Labour MP Bridget Phillipson, who backs the campaign, told Sky’s Sophy Ridge: “I think we have reached a stage now that whatever deal is agreed… it has to go back to the British people.

“Something stitched up, cobbled together in Westminster will not be sustainable in the long run. I want to check it is what people want now.”

With many thanks to: BBC Politics for the original story

John McDonnell

Conservative Party

Liberal Democrats

Theresa May

Labour Party

Brexit Party

Brexit

 

Eton College gets 80% tax break while state schools are ‘at breaking point’

Eton gets an 80 per cent tax break because of its charity status (Picture: Rex/Getty)

Eton College enjoys an 80 per cent tax cut because it is a charity while state schools shoulder ‘the worst cuts in a generation.’ The prestigious all-boys school, which charges parents £40,000 a year, is expected to save £1.4 million over the next few years thanks to the perk.

Critics are calling for school ‘tax loopholes’ to be closed, at a time when skint state schools are asking parents to buy pens, pencils and toilet paper.

According to rates experts Altus Group, Eton College’s bill will be slashed from £831,600 to £166,320 this year and from £851,400 to £170,280 next year.

The saving of nearly £1.4m will add to the £1.8 million saved over the last three years, reports the Mirror.

Eton schoolboys in traditional tailcoats (Picture: Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Boys and their mums walk through Eaton’s courtyard (Picture: Getty Images/The Life Picture Collection)

 

The school is known for educating much of Britain’s social elite, with famous Old Etonians including Prince William and Prince Harry, Boris Johnson, David Cameron and Jacob Rees-Mogg. Other well known alumni include Hugh Laurie, Damian Lewis, George Orwell and Bear Grylls.

The school and sixth form for boys aged 13 to 18 received £8.5 million in donations on top of £51 million in school fees, according to the Charity Commission.

It also has £437 million of ‘funds carried forward’ and raked in £12.3 million in investment income last year. Royal baby name odds suggest Meghan and Harry will name the baby after Princess Diana

Altus says just over half of private schools have charitable status and will save £223 million over the next two years thanks to the tax break.

A young Prince Harry during his Eton College days (Picture: Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Eton pupils drawing St George’s Chapel in Windsor (Picture: Tom Stoddart/Getty Images)

 

 

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: ‘These figures are the latest sign that the Tories are running our education system for the few, not the many.

‘Even as state schools suffer the worst cuts in a generation, an elite few still benefit from tax giveaways with the government’s blessing

The Labour MP said her party vows to end the VAT exemption for private schools to help fund free school meals ‘for every primary school child.’

Unions have described state schools as being at ‘breaking point’, with the number of secondary schools running at a loss shooting from 8.1 per cent in 2014 to 30.3 per cent last year.

On average debt saddled by local authority run secondary schools is £483,569, according to the Education Policy Institute.

Prince William is one of many famous Eton College alumni (Picture: Tim Graham/Getty Images)

 

Even a primary school in Theresa May’s wealthy constituency of Maidenhead begged parents for basic supplies like like toilet roll and Blu-Tack. Eton College has defended itself as a charity and said it was committed to ‘aiding social mobility’.

The school added: ‘We spend over £7 million per annum on financial aid and currently 83 of our pupils pay no fees at all. ‘Our pupils are extensively involved in community engagement and social action.’

Labour ‘must commit to People’s Vote’ before EU elections The Department for Education pointed out that state funded schools get additional government funding to cover their business rates in full, with just over £400 million provided in England last year.

Boys make their way to classes across the historic cobbled school yard (Picture: Getty Images)

 

Academies, voluntary aided and foundation schools can also benefit from the 80 per cent relief and special schools are exempt from rates. Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at Altus called for a ‘level playing field’ for school rates.

He added: ‘It cannot be right that council-run schools pay normal business rates, but both private schools and academies, using charitable status, receive an 80 per cent discount.’

With many thanks to the: Metro.co.uk for the original story

Westminister paedophile ring: Top Tory MP ‘murdered girl at vile orgy’ claims new witness

The new witness has told police a FOURTH youngster this time a girl of 15 – may have been murdered by a VIP abuse ring which included politicians and a TV comedy star

(Image: Sunday Mirror)

A victim of a VIP paedophile ring believes a girl of 15 was killed at a vile orgy.

The new witness has told police he watched the teenager being taken into a ­terrifying “medical room” by a senior Tory MP – and never saw her again.

The sickening events are said to have taken place at London’s notorious Dolphin Square flats in the 1990s, the Sunday People can reveal.

He fears the teenager may have been killed by a brutal sadist acting out his horrific fantasies.

It would make her the fourth reported murder victim of a Westminster-based pervert ring, some of them household names.

The witness told the investigative website Exaro that he was himself abused while in his teens by prominent politicians and a famous comedian at the now notorious Dolphin Square complex in central London.

We are calling the man Darren, ­although that is not his real name ­because he lives in hiding, fearing for his own life. He is the third alleged victim of the gang to come forward.

Darren told us: “I would never have gone to those parties willingly. It was fear that led me to Dolphin Square.”

Dolphin Square in South West London Horrors: Dolphin Square in London (Image: Sunday Mirror)

Recalling the night in 1993 he ­believes a girl died, he said: “I ­witnessed a senior Tory politician go into the medical room with a girl who I know was 15.

“This was a bedroom containing a hospital-type bed with shackles, gimp masks and a tiled, washable floor.

“She was 15 and in care. I didn’t know her name but had been bumping into her for years at paedophile parties. I had been trafficked for sex since I was a young boy, initially by my father.

“She had a smashing smile and wore braces on her teeth.

“I never saw her leave that room, in fact I never saw her again. I fear she may have been killed.”

Darren has identified the exact apartment in the luxury Dolphin Square complex where he claims abuse parties were held while he was a teenager.

He says he was taken to up to 20 orgies, which were ­attended by around 30 VIPs, and has described ordeals – ­including beatings with a cane – to Scotland Yard detectives investigating a string of historic sex abuse claims.

VICTIM: Darren was used by VIPs

A former Tory cabinet minister ­already named to police by another alleged abuse victim, a Labour minister, and the famous TV comedy actor are among well-known faces he says were at Dolphin Square in the 1990s.

Darren claims he was driven to sex parties by the notorious paedophile Peter Righton, a former government adviser who had been recently fined for having indecent images of boys.

Righton would collect Darren and other boys from children’s homes in Suffolk and drive them to London in a luxury car, complete with leather seats and electric windows.

At Dolphin Square they would go to a four-bedroom serviced flat that had been rented out.

He recalled: “Guests would be standing around, chatting and drinking. There would be women there but they would leave before any sex took place.

“The attitude seemed to be that they would leave early so the boys could have their fun.”

Darren said that there were “very powerful” people at the gatherings. He went on: “They stood out a mile. I saw a former Labour minister at one party.

“They were very protective of their jackets. I think they were worried the boys would steal their wallets.”

Leading the way: The Sunday People has broken the story of the police inquiry RAGOUT Sunday People 02 11 2014 PAGES 8 & 9

Darren claimed violation and ­humiliation inflicted on youngsters at Dolphin Square ­became a familiar routine to him.

He said: “This Tory ­cabinet minister always insisted I should be presented to him with ladies’ underwear on beneath my clothes.

“The game he liked to play was that he would pretend he had spotted that I was wearing the lingerie.

“He would tell me I was a naughty boy for turning him on and take me into a bedroom and punish me.

“I was spanked with a bamboo cane that he brought with him, which was painful. I was then sexually abused.

“He liked boys to dress up in lacy women’s underwear. He would make a game of it.

“The minister would be accompanied by a minder who stayed outside while I was abused.”

The Dolphin Square apartment had three rooms ­specially fitted out and decorated to cater for the tastes of party guests, Darren said.

He claimed the spanking ex-minister preferred a ­bedroom known as the “leopard room” because it had a leopard skin rug.

Another was known as the “gay room” because it was “flowery and ­effeminate”.

Darren claimed that in this room he was forced to give oral sex to the famous comedian. He said: “At first he was an interested spectator at the parties but then decided to take part.

“He was much kinder and more considerate than the others but it was still unpleasant.”

The worst of the three rooms was the so-called “medical room”.

Peter Right on trafficked Darren to abuse ‘parties’ (Image: PA)

Darren said: “This was the bedroom you did not want to be taken into. Fortunately, I was never taken in there but I remember one boy who did.

“He had been dressed up in tight leather shorts and went in with a senior Tory politician and some other men.

“I met him afterwards and he told me he had suffered humiliation too vile to describe and was then beaten up.”

Darren said the brutalised boy was under 16 at the time.

He recalled that traumatised children would gather in the kitchen at Dolphin Square to ­comfort each other after their ordeals. He admitted he was given £50 each time he attended a child abuse party.

But he insisted he only went because evil Righton forced him to. He said: “I would never have gone to those parties willingly – it was fear of Righton.

“One occasion when he attacked me stands out. It happened after I was taken into a bedroom with the famous TV personality and Peter was driving us back to Suffolk.

“I kept saying the name of the comic character played by the actor and saying that he was at the party. Peter kept saying, ‘No he wasn’t.’

“Then he suddenly swung a tremendous punch, while still keeping control of the car. It hit me flush on the chin and I may have passed out. It was a warning to keep my mouth shut.”

Darren was interviewed over three days by Met Police detectives and named his abusers.

Sunday People paedophile cover ring Exclusive: Another witness, Nick, described the Dolphin Square depravity

His account bears chilling similarities to allegations by a victim known as Nick, who claims three abused boys were killed in the 1980s.

His evidence is being investigated by Scotland Yard’s Operation Midland.

Officers have spoken to the families of two lads, Martin Allen and Vishal Mehrotra, who vanished in London.

Among those named by Darren is the recently convicted paedophile Charles Napier.

Darren says Napier abused him when he was 15 at Righton’s home. Righton ­ordered Darren to give Napier oral sex and when the horrified lad refused he was beaten until he complied.

He added: “I was kicked and punched in front of Napier, who stood there smirking. I had no choice and so I did as I was told. I was ordered to have sex with Napier on two other occasions.”

Napier, 67, is the half-brother of Conservative MP John Whittingdale.

The former treasurer of the Paedophile Information Exchange, Napier was jailed last month after pleading guilty to 31 counts of indecent assault against boys as young as eight at a school where he worked.

Trafficker: Establishment paedophile Charles Napier (Image: Rex)

Darren continued: “Peter abused me repeatedly when I was 15, as well as forcing me to have sex with other men.

“By the age of 16, I was no longer to his taste, he liked younger boys. But he still trafficked me around.

“I was 17 when Peter began taking me with other teenagers to Dolphin Square. I am sure he was making a mint organising paedophile sex parties.

“We were all aged ­between 14 and 17.”

Righton, who died in 2007, was one of Britain’s leading specialists in child care – but was also a founder of the Paedophile Information Exchange.

Darren’s testimony directly supports a claim made in Parliament by Labour MP Tom Watson, which linked Righton to a VIP paedophile ring.

And it adds to a picture of abuse at Dolphin Square first revealed by Exaro last July.

Scandal: Tom Watson (top left), Dolphin Square (bottom left) and whistleblower Nick (right)

People leads the way in the paedophile investigation
The Sunday People has led the way on smashing the high-powered network of VIP paedophiles since the story broke more than two years ago.

In October 2012, campaigning Labour MP Tom Watson stood up in the Commons and called on Prime Minister David Cameron to investigate a paedophile network with “links to the heart of the UK establishment – including 10 Downing Street”.

Since then, this newspaper has worked tirelessly to get to the truth.

Last year, we revealed the explosive testimony of the witness known as ‘Nick’. He went to police with claims about three possible murders linked to the VIP paedophile ring.

A survivor of abuse at the now notorious Dolphin Square apartments in central London, he alleges he saw three deaths between 1979 and 1982.

One of his accounts details a murder he claims to have witnessed at a London townhouse in 1980.

Two other men have since bravely told their tales, including Darren today.

There are many similarities between their memories and since we published our story, Scotland Yard has stepped up its investigation. It called a high-profile Press conference to encourage more witnesses to come forward.

Officers are re-examining 200 case files relating to children who went missing during the period.

With many thanks to the: DailyMirror for the original story

Independence is the means to a greater end

In the face of Brexit we must trust ourselves to meet success and failure on our own merit.

murray foote

Three days after the death of Donald Dewar in October 2000 I was cutting through Glasgow’s George Square among the dozen statues of famous names immortalised in bronze. The most recently deceased and the only female — mounted on a horse and inexplicably wearing a crown rather than the traditional traffic cone — was Queen Victoria. Since she shuffled off in 1901 not a single notable has had the honour bestowed in their memory of induction into the hall of famous George Square stiffs.

It struck me that Dewar, a son of Glasgow and Scotland’s inaugural first minister, merited a place among the revered deceased. At that point I was deputy editor of the Daily Record so I made the suggestion to my editor, who agreed it was a worthy campaign. Two years later Tony Blair unveiled a bronze Father of the Nation — slightly dishevelled, appropriately — on Buchanan Street.

I recount the details by way of demonstrating my admiration for Dewar and his greatest political achievement in reconvening the Scottish parliament after a recess lasting three centuries. His speech at the parliament’s opening a year before his death was emotional: “There shall be a Scottish parliament. Through long years, those words were first a hope, then a belief, then a promise. Now they are a reality. This is a moment anchored in our history.”

Devolution brought the biggest political change of my lifetime. Sure, establishing the apparatus of devolved government was not without its difficulties and, in the early days, critics. But the philosophy that Holyrood exists merely to mitigate the excesses of Westminster is not a belief system to which I subscribe. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to be far more progressive, dynamic, ambitious.

It is largely why in 2014, by then editor, I commissioned The Vow, the promise made on the front page of the Record by the UK’s main party leaders two days before the independence referendum of extensive new powers to Scotland. I believed a more powerful Scottish parliament was what the majority of readers wanted. And now we learn it sent Ruth Davidson apoplectic. LOL.

As we continue to labour under a vindictive Westminster administration, the nascent Scottish benefits agency will be another waypoint on the journey to more compassionate devolved government. Now we are on the brink of Brexit. But where devolution arrived bearing promise and hope, Brexit is draped in a shroud of despair. We have not yet completed our shameful retreat from the EU and I cling to the diminishing hope we never do.

I cannot tolerate a Tory government prepared to treat devolution with the blatant contempt displayed in Tuesday’s cynical one-man debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill. It was a democratic abomination. I can no longer stand by while a cabal of the privileged deprive our children the right to live in 27 European countries because they don’t like Johnnie Foreigner encroaching their elite club.

I can’t remain silent as May, Davis, Rees-Mogg, Johnson and Gove undermine the stability of a continent that has largely been at peace for 70 years. For them this is a game of ambition, for the majority of us it is unconscionable folly. I can’t wait for enough of England to wean itself off voting for the party of privilege that will never govern for anyone other than their own class.

I can’t watch a Labour Party pursue its own destructive Brexit agenda full in the knowledge that the people it professes to represent will shoulder the greatest burden. I can’t wait for that same party to recognise that Jeremy Corbyn seemed like a good idea at the time but now they must find a leader who can reunite a splintered movement capable of deposing the Tories. Nor can I await the arrival of a unicorn, that mythical federal Britain.

So independence it must be.

As Dewar said in his speech: “A Scottish parliament. Not an end, a means to greater end.” Independence is now the only option that provides any prospect of that greater end. What matters is timing and circumstance. Over the past few years heavy negative forces — like Brexit, that parade of Tory chancers and a dysfunctional opposition at Westminster — have tugged the independence stars ever nearer alignment. Last month’s growth commission report gave them another nudge.

I fully recognise an independent Scotland would face financial challenges and Andrew Wilson’s report is an attempt to address many of these realities with intrinsic honesty. I’ve considered the constitutional arguments against and, yes, the difficult decisions our independent nation would face and the sacrifices we may need to make do trouble me. But what troubles me more is the prospect of bequeathing to my daughters an isolated Britain governed indefinitely by the progeny of Rees-Mogg and their ilk.

For me, independence is about autonomy, allowing Scotland to meet success and failure on its own merit and not point an embittered finger of blame at anyone else. I have reconciled that independence would herald good and bad. I trust in us to solve the problems that will come our way. If so many other countries can, it is inconceivable that Scotland can’t. The Yes-Yes campaign which brought our parliament back from the dead 20 years ago asked Scotland to take a leap of faith and to trust in ourselves. When we are next asked the independence question, I’ll strap on my work boots and take that leap.

With many thanks to: The Times and The Sunday Times for the origional story.

Politics
Brexit
Labour Party
Conservative Party
UK politics

Finucanes to take case to British Supreme Court

Pat Finucane (1949 – 1989)

The widow of solicitor Pat Finucane is to take her legal fight for a public inquiry into his murder to the UK’s supreme court.

Senior judges in Belfast today refused Geraldine Finucane leave to appeal their decision that the British government was entitled to deny her such a tribunal.

But it now clears the way for the family to petition directly for a hearing in London.

Mrs Finucane’s legal representatives later confirmed their intention to continue their challenge to judicial findings that former prime minister David Cameron had acted lawfully.

They are expected to argue that the case raises legal points of general public importance.

Mr Finucane, 39, was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries in front of his wife and three children at their north Belfast home in February 1989.

His family has campaigned for a full examination of alleged security force collusion with the killers.

In 2011 Mr Cameron decided against ordering a public inquiry, and instead commissioned QC Sir Desmond de Silva to review all documents relating to the case and produce a narrative of what happened.

Sir Desmond’s report confirmed agents of the state were involved in the murder and that it should have been prevented.

He also linked the military’s Force Research Unit because one of its agents was involved in selecting targets.

However, the report concluded there had been no overarching state conspiracy.

The Finucane family rejected the findings as a whitewash and accused the government of unlawfully reneging on previous commitments.

Pledges to set up such a tribunal, based on the recommendation of retired Canadian judge Peter Cory, were made by a former Labour government in 2004 and reaffirmed in the following years, it was contended.

In 2015 a judge backed the government’s case that shifting public interest issues were enough to override Mrs Finucane’s expectation.

Appealing that verdict, her lawyers argued that a full public inquiry was necessary to examine an alleged abuse of power for which no-one in authority has been brought to account.

They argued that the murdered solicitor was the victim of an army-run death squad normally associated with Latin American dictatorships.

Counsel for Mrs Finucane claimed her husband’s killing was due to covert, state-sponsored terrorism and represents a “horror story” for the British Government.

Only Ken Barrett, the loyalist gunman and “UDA puppet” convicted of the killing, has been held responsible, it was contended.

But last month the Court of Appeal rejected the Finucane family’s case, including allegations that the government staged an elaborate sham process before announcing its predetermined decision.

Judges agreed that the murdered solicitor’s widow had received a clear and unambiguous promise that any recommended inquiry would be held.

However, they concluded that other issues, including political developments in Northern Ireland and the potential cost of a lengthy process, were enough to frustrate her legitimate expectation.

Mrs Finucane’s legal team returned to the court today to apply for leave to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

They again raised points about her legitimate expectation and rights under European law.

Despite those submissions, Lord Justice Gillen ruled there was no conflicting legal issues that warranted giving permission.

He said: “We are therefore going to follow the practice of this court and leave the matter to the UK Supreme Court to decide if they are going to grant leave on this matter.”

Later, Mrs Finucane’s solicitor, Peter Madden, confirmed plans to lodge an application in London next week.

With many thanks to: Madden and Finucane Solicitors.

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