Monday, 14 October 2019

North West Syria

Last week Turkey launched an aerial and ground assault on northern Syria targeting Kurdish-controlled areas.

The offensive began Wednesday, just days after President Trump ordered U.S. troops to fall back from their positions on the Turkish-Syrian border. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports dozens of Kurds have been killed so far.

Turkey is claiming the death toll is far higher. The Trump administration has faced widespread criticism from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers for abandoning the stateless Kurds who had helped the U.S. fight ISIS. Turkey is also claiming the assault is needed to establish a “safe zone” in northern Syria where Turkey could relocate Syrian refugees who fled over the past eight years of fighting, but the Kurds [and the rest of the world] see the offensive as part of a decades-long attack
by Turkey to crush their attempts at greater autonomy.

The Kurds have been responsible for holding over 10,000 ISIS fighters and their families in detention. While Trump has claimed Turkey will take control of the makeshift jails, there is growing concern many former ISIS fighters will be able to escape during the Turkish assault. At least one Kurdish prison has already been shelled.

What we saw over the weekend was the long-promised invasion by Turkish President Erdo─čan. Many people have said, as there is a consensus all around the world and with public opinion, is the consequences of this will be grave. It is not only that it is essentially threatening a Kurdish genocide, it will create and cause the resurgence of ISIS. It will add to the international refugee crisis.

However, in a shift in alliance, Kurdish forces have announced a deal with Damascus that the Syrian regime will send troops to the area, specifically the border. Now this means Turkey a NATO ally will face Syria which is backed by Russia and Iran.

This is disconcerting.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Brexit position

All day we have heard reporters saying "Our position has not changed" and what they are referring to are EU leaders not journalistic reporters.

For example the German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a telephone conversation with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this morning [Tuesday 8th October, 2019] and used the phrase "We think the chance of a deal for Brexit is extremely unlikely" and the reason is "Our position has not changed".

I do not want to single out the German Chancellor specifically as it stands for all 27 EU countries as they are repeatedly saying "Our position has not changed". Each and every one of the EU members has started to fall behind the rhetoric organised or dictated by someone in Brussels that negotiating is no longer available.

The point is the EU is no longer willing to compromise on the current situation and perhaps they have not been willing to compromise for some time, so when they say it will be Britain's fault we leave without a deal, they are lying through their collective back teeth.

They [the EU] have had the audacity today to accuse Britain of playing games, Donald Tusk tweeted "what’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis?"

If the EU have no intention of negotiating a deal, it will not be Britain that is playing games.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Operation Midland

Operation Midland was a British police investigation into alleged abuse, conducted by the Metropolitan Police in London from November 2014 to March 2016. The operation focused on the investigation of several high profile British politicians, military officers and heads of security over alleged claims of child sexual abuse and homicide, against a number of high profile British citizens, consisting of politicians, military chiefs and heads of security. The eighteen month operation failed to find sufficient evidence to support the claims, and an inquiry into the police investigation afterwards concluded that the people involved had been falsely accused, with detectives and officers having committed several errors in the course of their work.

The Henriques report was initially released heavily redacted. A fuller version of it will be released today and will say the issue of police allegedly misleading a judge to gain search warrants as they investigated prominent figures was the most serious police error of the 43 he identified during his inquiry. Police omitted to tell the court of inconsistencies in the account of the sole witness they were basing their investigation on.

The scathing report accuses Britain's biggest police force of being too ready to believe the extraordinary claims of fantasist Carl Beech and failing to identify the glaring and obvious inconsistencies in his extraordinary allegations. In 2014, Beech told senior detectives that he had been abused by a group including Sir Edward Heath, the former Prime Minister, Lord Brittain, the former Home Secretary, Lord Bramall the former head of the army and Harvey Proctor MP.

The report says there were numerous opportunities to spot his lies in the early stages of the inquiry and shut down the case.

In response, Scotland Yard's deputy commissioner Sir Stephen House admitted mistakes were made but said the force does not agree with everything Sir Richard wrote in his report, however most if not all of those concerned are either retired or dead.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Party conference

Yesterday the conservative party conference started, which is happening while parliament is in session, unusual as this has never happened before and because last Tuesday the Supreme court said prorogation was unlawful!

The agenda:-

Building a Safe and Prosperous Britain
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Delivering Brexit

James Cleverly opened proceedings as party Chairman, and told the hall that he and Johnson had signed the Armed Forces Covenant on behalf of the Conservative party, while other pre-briefed announcements were left to outside the hall.

There is the row about whether Boris Johnson failed to declare a conflict of interest over his relationship with tech businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri. He insisted on Marr Sunday morning, that there was 'no interest to declare' following the latest allegations that the pair were not just enjoying [technology lessons] together. The story here is about money, and whether it was right that Arcuri received public funds while Johnson was Mayor, and whether she got access to trade delegations which she had not been deemed eligible to go on as a result of those technology lessons.

Every party conference starts with briefings that aides 'want to focus on domestic policy' rather than the rows about Europe. That has been going on for long enough for all of us to know that this just is not how things often work out. But today will be a very domestically-focused day. The big speech of the day comes from Chancellor Sajid Javid, who will presumably want to suggest that he is not just the guy who signs the cheques written by Boris Johnson, but someone with an authority of his own.

There are also speeches and panel discussions on welfare reform, education, infrastructure and business. We will get announcements on planning, infrastructure spending and employment.

Today's agenda:-

Boosting Our Public Services
Creating a World Class Education System
Spreading Opportunity Across the Country

Growing Our Economy and Protecting Our Environment
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Building the Infrastructure Britain Needs
Remember the MPs have to travel 200 miles south to vote!

Thursday, 26 September 2019

The House Returns

After Tuesday's surprise and unanimous verdict from the Supreme Court Parliament started again yesterday at 11:30, and everyone rushed back to the house to see what was going on.

The Prime Minister gave his statement on the Supreme Court's verdict, and then responded to points from MPs.

He repeatedly goaded the Labour leader, accusing him of 'sheer political selfishness and political cowardice', and claiming he was being held hostage by his party, crying to the chamber: 'Free the Islington One!' Conservative MPs broke into applause. This was mainly due to the fact that the PM has repeatedly said we will leave the EU on 31st October with or without a deal, tried to call for a general election, which none of the opposition parties want as they are remainers and seem convinced that the public will once again vote to leave, only this time it will be a bigger majority.

However their tactic now is to accuse the PM [only] of using disgraceful language in the house to bolster his case. James Cleverly conservative party chairman explained on BBC Radio 4 Today programme that language on all sides of the house had been intemperate and violent. The rhetoric can be deescalated if both sides calmed down and compromised.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox described this parliament as 'dead' and insisted that his legal advice about prorogation had been correct, but that the judges had created new law. Obviously this little episode has a long way to go even though the Supreme Court has made a ruling, which was unanimous.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019


Prorogation [pronounced 'pro-ro-ga-tion'] marks the end of a parliamentary session. It is the formal name given to the period between the end of a session of Parliament and the State Opening of Parliament that begins the next session. The parliamentary session may also be prorogued before Parliament is dissolved.

At the beginning of September 2019, Boris Johnson the Prime Minister Prorogue'd parliament, a decision that caused a furore among MPs as they thought parliament was being stifled. The act is normal when a Queens speech is enabled usually before a term of parliament, but the length was what caused the commotion as it left very little time for a debate about Brexit.

People were so incensed that the matter was taken to court lead by Gina Miller using the label "fight for democracy", it was very quickly shuffled up to the high court.

Three of the most senior judges in England and Wales dismissed her claim that the prime minister acted unlawfully in giving advice to the Queen to suspend parliament from next week at a time of momentous political upheaval. The lord chief justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, the master of the rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, and the president of the Queen’s bench division, Dame Victoria Sharp, granted permission for the case to be appealed to the Supreme court.

That day has arrived as we all now patiently await the Supreme courts decision.

Lady Hale in the Supreme Court has stated that the Prorogation was unlawful and therefore is no longer running AND this was a unanimous decision by all eleven.

Link to Lady Hale's summary:-

Monday, 23 September 2019

UK Labour position

The party conference season is in full swing and this week is the turn of the Labour party, an opportunity to showcase policies.

It actually started last Friday with the announcement that the position of Deputy Leader was being abolished! As it happened Tom Watson managed to keep his elected position, however it was obviously the start of movement to cement Jeremy Corbyn's position this week.  Remember as the unions hold 50% of all votes, it only really matters what they vote for.

Of course, the big row at this conference was supposed to be on Brexit, and there's plenty of potential for things to really kick off tonight and tomorrow, when the party will vote on what its position should be. Members were last evening locked in a private room doing 'compositing', which is one of those words you will only ever need to use if you find yourself attending a Labour conference. Just one extra vowel away from composting, which is one of those activities you would probably rather spend your Sunday doing, this verb entails people sifting through all the motions and amendments submitted by local parties and coming up with a motion that conference can then vote on. But expectations are that the meeting will not be successful in reaching a compromise.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr McDonnell said he would support Remain in any future vote as he thought it was the "best option", but he believed other members should be allowed to "exercise their own judgement". He added: "This is an honest, democratic debate and that is what our party is about - making sure that people can express their views democratically and be honest about their assessments. "People have high emotions on this because they feel it is important, but people are respecting each others views as well. "Do not mistake democracy for division. It isn't. What we are seeing is an honest debate."

John McDonnell also summed up the debate that will take place, unfortunately it still sounds as though Labour want to place a question before people in a referendum that sounds like A) a new deal from the EU or B) remain, however the new deal from the EU would be remarkably similar to staying in that the paper might as well say A) remain or B) remain.

Tomorrow at Labour conference
08:30: Policy Seminars
09:45: Morning Plenary Session: New Economy John McDonnell's Speech
12:35: Votes
12:45: Break
14:00: Afternoon Plenary Session: New Internationalism
16:20: Votes