8 British politics things we’re still struggling with going into 2023:


The question I’m left with is: How do we speak to those who are so politically apathetic that they’ve become incapable of empathy or compassion?

How do we bring them on side?

How do we motivate them to engage in politics beyond moaning about “benefits scroungers”?

(1.) Political apathy
Far too many people don’t trust our government (with good reason) and don’t bother engaging with politics “because there’s no point”. Authoritarian regimes love political apathy.

(2.) Empathy deficit
The right-wing media has dedicated years (and who knows how many ££s) convincing the public that ALL receivers of “benefits” are scroungers, when only ~4% of ALL welfare expenditures are overpaid due to fraud or error. Too many of us enjoy punching down.

(3.) Systemic arseholeness
Thanks to 1 and 2, not caring about the needs of our (very wealthy) country’s least fortunate has become the norm. Inequality is someone else’s problem. Poverty is someone not working hard enough. Discrimination is an excuse. We all struggle, get over it.

(4.) The struggle is real
We *are* all struggling. That’s the problem. There are now more people in poverty in the UK than voted for our ruling party in the last election. We’re all tightening our belts, but our big companies are recording record profits. Something isn’t adding up.

(5.) Extremism is the easiest answer
It’s on the left and right but, if we’re honest, the right-wing branch of this extremism has become scarily mainstream. Authoritarian black/white, yes/no arguments have become the standard. Nuance and expertise are viewed with suspicion.

(6.) Authoritarian norms
Because of 1 and 5, authoritarian practices are on the rise. The Tories criminalised peaceful protest, made changes to how elections work which explicitly benefit their party, and tried to prevent citizens holding them accountable for human rights abuses.

(7.) Our democratic mindset is dead
Political trust is at an all-time low, trust between citizens is quite possibly even lower. The lack of a democratic political culture (@theEIU) and low approval of democracy (@BertelsmannFnd) feeds into low partipation and political apathy.

(8.) Anger without direction
Without legitimate channels of political participation (like protest) or comprehensive political education RE alternatives, we’re left with high levels of political anger but no way to constructively direct it. We’re easy pickings for extremists.

I know it’s not all bad. Strikes are a good sign of anger turning into legitimate political participation and professional protesters are rising up in response to successive authoritarian legislation.

What are you doing to get engaged politically? I’ll amplify where I can.


‘Guardian View on overriding the Brexit treaty: a national disgrace ‘.


Priti Patel


DWP staff admit inflicting ‘psychological harm’ on claimants during coalition years – Disability News Service


The British border in Ireland issue could land UK in court, report finds the North of Ireland customs plans could take five years to implement, IfG says

British (p***k) Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The British border in Ireland  could yet snag Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, with experts saying it will be impossible to deliver the computer systems for the special arrangements for Northern Ireland by the end of this year. Failure to implement the new systems will risk legal action by the European commission against Britain, the Institute for Government says.

In a new report, it says: “The [Brexit] deal has the support of no Northern Irish political parties and it looks almost impossible to complete the practical changes, for government and business, by the end of the year. Failure to comply with the withdrawal agreement could see the European commission begin infringement proceedings and the UK ending up at the ECJ [European court of justice].”

European Court of Justice

Brexit deal: EU may threaten ‘to block’ City’s access to its markets
Johnson’s government remains adamant that there will be no checks or new reporting systems on trade crossing the Irish sea, despite Ireland and the EU insisting that those would have to be in place to protect the Irish border.

The Irish Border in Ireland where it belongs in the Irish Sea

The prime minister’s intention to establish a trade deal with the EU by the end of December 2020 was also dealt a blow by Simon Coveney, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, at the weekend as he indicated the bloc would be in no rush to work to Johnson’s timetable.

In a blunt assessment of the likelihood of satisfying Johnson’s “ambitious” vision, he said the fact that Britain had put the timescale for a trade deal into law did not mean the other 27 European countries would fall in line. “In my view, it’s probably going to take longer than a year,” he said.

The IfG’s report says HMRC has previously stated similar systems to the proposed customs arrangements for the North of Ireland would take five years to develop and implement.

Institute for Government (IfG)

Part of the problem is that until the new trade deal between the UK and the EU is struck, the details of the North of Ireland arrangements cannot be finalised.

The complicated system for the North of Ireland involves the region effectively staying in the single market but in the UK customs zone. This potentially means tariff charges and rebates, paperwork and physical checks on certain fresh foods and live animals going from Great Britain to the North of Ireland.

In the new report, “Getting Brexit done: what happens now?”, the IfG says Brexit will be far from done on 31 January when the UK formally leaves the EU with the expected ratification of the withdrawal agreement ending the article 50 process.

“The UK will formally leave the EU at the end of January, and in that sense Brexit will be done, but many of the biggest Brexit jobs will be far from over,” it says. “It will continue to dominate government for years to come. The prime minister may hope to end Brexit’s dominance in the public debate after 31 January, but in Whitehall it will continue to be the biggest and most challenging task faced by a government in decades.”

Under the deal sealed by Johnson with the EU last October, animals and fresh food going from Great Britain to the North of Ireland will be subject to some physical checks, with a tariff and tariff rebate system operating for the first time. These are there to protect any substandard goods seeping into the EU’s single market through smuggling over the Irish border into the Republic of Ireland.

Or American/British CHLORINATED CHICKENS getting into the North of Ireland or the ROI

While all sides recognise the complexities of the new system, little public attention has been paid to the fact that new computer systems cannot be designed by either HMRC, ferry companies, or manufacturers or suppliers like Tesco until the trade deal with the EU is done.

The report says: “With the details of how the border will operate still unclear – and likely to be so for some months – and no preparatory work having happened for checks between Great Britain and the North of  Ireland, the 11-month timeline is almost certainly undeliverable.”

It notes that Sir Jon Thompson, a former chief executive of HMRC, said that a similar customs systems involving rebates could take up to five years to develop and implement.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney (left) With the North of Ireland Secretary of State Julian Smith

Coveney issued his warning on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, saying the deal to be struck between the UK and EU over their future relationship was vast, encompassing security, data, aviation and trade.

He said: “When people talk about the future relationship in the UK in particular, they seem to only talk about a future trade agreement. Actually, there’s much more to this than that … I know that Johnson has set a very ambitious timetable to get this done – he’s even put it into British law – but just because a British parliament decides that British law says something, doesn’t mean that that law applies to the other 27 countries of the European Union.

FACT CHECK – Just which countries are members of the European Union

“And so the European Union will approach this on the basis of getting the best deal possible, a fair and balanced deal, to ensure that the UK and the EU can interact as friends in the future. But the EU will not be rushed on this just because Britain passes a law.”

With many thanks to: The Guardian and Lisa O’Carroll and Kate Proctor for the original story 


Almost one million families to be hit by Theresa May’s plan to end free school launches, think tank warns


Related video: Nick Clegg slates Theresa May’s ‘callous’ plan to remove free school meals

The Prime Minister has been branded “the lunch snatcher” over plans that the Education Policy Institute claims could cost hard-working families up to £440 a year

Almost one million children from poor backgrounds will lose the right to free school meals if Theresa May pushes through cuts in the Conservative manifesto, an educational think tank has warned.

The Prime Minister announced last week that universal free lunches for infants will be stopped if the Tories win the June 8 general election, with free breakfasts on offer instead.

The move will cost families around £440 a year for each child affected and is thought likely to save around £650 million a year, according to the research by the Education Policy Institute (EPI).

Jamie Oliver calls May’s plan to drop free school lunches a ‘disgrace’

The EPI found that those losing hot lunches would include 100,000 from families living in relative poverty, and 667,000 from those it defined as coming from “ordinary working families” of the kind that Theresa May has said she wants to help.

Those from the poorest backgrounds will still be entitled to a free midday meal.

EPI executive director Natalie Perera told The Observer: “Around 900,000 children from low-income families will lose their eligibility for free school meals under these proposals. Around two-thirds of those children are from what the Government considers to be ‘ordinary working families’.

“The typical annual cost for an ordinary working family would increase under these proposals to around £440 for each child aged between four and seven.”

Universal free lunches for infants were introduced under the coalition government by Liberal Democrat education minister David Laws, now the EPI’s executive chairman.

The party’s former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “This just confirms the sleight of hand from the Conservatives – scrapping universal infant school lunches hits some of the most hard-pressed families the hardest. The offer of free breakfasts won’t reach the children who don’t come to breakfast clubs.

“All Theresa May’s talk of helping the ‘just about managing’ will ring hollow as long as this regressive decision remains in place.”

But a Conservative spokesman said: “We don’t think it is right to spend precious resources on subsidising school meals for better-off parents. So instead we will give that money to headteachers, to spend on pupils’ education instead.

“We will make sure all those who need it most still get free lunches – and will offer a free school breakfast to every child in every year of primary school. So the most disadvantaged children will now get two free school meals a day rather than one.”

When the pledge was announced, Sarah Olney, the Lib Dem education spokeswoman, said: “Margaret Thatcher was know as the ‘milk snatcher’. Theresa May will go down as the ‘lunch snatcher’.”

With many thanks to: The Independent for the original posting


Brexit – New Vice-Chair of Tory policy commission warns party over Brexit disunity.

Communities secretary James Brokenshire sits with Mick Clarke, left, chief executive of The Passage, and Brain Ward, right (60), who has been a client of the homeless charity for 19 years as MP Chris Skidmore urged Tory colleagues to return their focus from Brexit to domestic policies. Mr Brokenshire was speaking to volunteers and homeless people at the charity’s base in central London as the government launched a £100 million plan to end rough sleeping on England’s streets by 2027.

A CONSERVATIVE vice-chairman has issued a warning to the party of the dangers of disunity over Brexit.

Chris Skidmore, who was appointed this month by Theresa May to chair the new Conservative Policy Commission, issued the warning as the October deadline approaches for agreement on the UK’s withdrawal deal and a political declaration on the future UK/EU relationship.

Meanwhile, the “facilitated customs arrangement” at the heart of Mrs May’s Chequers plan for Brexit was described as “fanciful” by one trade expert.

The government has claimed that 96 per cent of goods would pay little or no tariff at the border under the FCA scheme.

But Alan Winters, professor of economics at the UK Trade Policy Observatory at Sussex University, told The Times that this figure related to all trade, and the proportion for imports alone would be significantly lower.

“It is weird that they are using the whole of trade for the basis of their calculation when it is clear that it is only imports that will be affected and it has nothing at all to do with exports, ” Prof Winters said.

“The idea that you would know where all finished goods being imported were headed also doesn’t make sense.

“The whole thing when you analyse it is pretty fanciful.”

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the Kingswood MP warned feuding Remain and Leave Tories that the history of the 1990s demonstrated the “futility of members of the same political family prioritising division over our duty to serve the country”.

He said that Conservatives must return their focus to domestic policies such as public services, tax and controlling welfare bills.

And he stressed that delivering on Brexit would not be the key to winning the next election.

“We must recognise the advantages that Brexit can bring, but let us never be defined by it,” he said.

Analysis by consumer analytics company Focaldata of polls involving more than 15,000 people found that 341 out of 632 parliamentary seats in England Scotland and Wales now have a Remain majority.

The company found that 112 seats had switched from Leave to Remain since the 2016 referendum, 97 of them in England, 14 in Wales and one in Scotland.

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.


UK: Protect free expression online online and reject Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2018.


ARTICLE 19 has submitted written evidence to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee and the Joint Committee on Human Rights, urging them to oppose the proposed Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2018. The Bill contains new over-broad offences that would criminalise controversial opinions about terrorist groups without intent to cause harm as well as the viewing of terrorist material. If adopted, it would seriously threaten freedom of expression and freedom of conscience, thought and religion of individuals. It would also set a dangerous precedent for broadening terrorism offences in countries such as Turkey or Russia, potentially putting human rights defenders and dissenters at risk.

ARTICLE 19 is particularly concerned about the following:

Criminalising opinions over actions: clause 1 of the Bill makes it an offence to express an “opinion or belief” that is “supportive” of a terrorist organisation which may recklessly encourage others to support such groups. ARTICLE 19 is very concerned about this provision as it criminalises “supportive” expression by individuals, though they may not intend to encourage support for terrorist groups or cause harm. The term “supportive” is not defined – meaning that it can be interpreted widely, potentially limiting debate where the legitimacy of organisations or merits of their actions are discussed. ARTICLE 19 is particularly worried about the discriminatory impact of the Bill on Muslim communities and that NGOs may get caught in the provision where they defend the rights of alleged members of terrorist organisations.
Criminalising the publication of an image of an item of clothing: clause 2 further criminalises the publication of an image of an item of clothing or other articles that arouse “reasonable suspicion” that an individual is a supporter of a terrorist organisation. The concern here is that young people who take such pictures and post them online as part of a joke could be prosecuted. We are also concerned that similar provisions could be replicated in less democratic countries, leading to human rights activists and reporters being prosecuted when documenting human rights abuses, as is currently happening in Turkey. More generally, ARTICLE 19 notes that taking a picture of oneself with an ISIS flag in the background is not necessarily proof of an intention to cause harm and commit a terrorist offence.
Criminalising the viewing of terrorist material online: The Bill would criminalise the viewing and or streaming of terrorist-related material. Clause 3 of the Bill prohibits individuals from viewing material “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism” on three or more occasions and applies whether the person is in control of the material viewed or not. ARTICLE 19 is very worried that this clause will create a chilling effect on those who seek to investigate or conduct research into the ideology of terrorist groups. ARTICLE 19 also believes that the government is misguided in its view that accessing the material three or more times establishes a “pattern of behaviour” rather than spontaneous curiosity, as there may be many reasons for why an individual accesses and views the material multiple times. ARTICLE 19 further believes that individuals should be able to access information about terrorist groups without being perceived as intending to commit a terrorist offence.
Finally, ARTICLE 19 is concerned about the potential increase in the lengths of sentences for a number of existing offences under the Terrorism Act 2000 and Terrorism Act 2006 and their knock-on effect on the new offences outlined in the Bill. In some instances, the term of imprisonment would be increased from 10 to 15 years. In ARTICLE 19’s view, these sentences are too harsh, unnecessary and disproportionate.

If adopted, ARTICLE 19 believes that the Bill would seriously threaten freedom of expression and freedom of conscience, thought and religion. For this reason, we urge the Joint Committee on Human Rights and Public Bill Committee to protect freedom of expression online and reject the Bill’s clauses highlighted above.

Read the full submission.

National security and counter terrorism Europe & Central Asia United Kingdom
Governance and funding

With many thanks to: ARTICLE 19 for the original posting.

Proposed Brexit Law if passed would ban paramilitary images being published.

CONTROVERSIAL legislation proposed by the British government will make it ‘illegal’ to publish images linked to the republican movement and loyalism and would be punishable with six months in prison.

The Terrorists were the British not the Irish and I will gladly spend six months in prison at HM expense but England has no control or power’s in Ireland. Ireland belongs to the Irish.

The proposied clampdown is contained in new the counter-terrorism and border security bill which is making its way through Westminster.

The Irish News revealed on Friday how planned legislation will result in the establishment of a mile-wide ‘stop-and-search border zone’. Now it has emerged that the bill also proposes to outlaw clothing and images associated with paramilitary activity. While other legislation, including the Terrorism Act, covers some of this ground, the proposed legislation will go further. There are 14 republican and loyalists organisations proscribed by the British government. Several of the groups, including the main republican and loyalist organisations, are on long-term ceasefire.

The planned legislation says that: “A PERSON commits an offence if the person publishes an image of – (a) an item of clothing, or (b) any other article, in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that the person is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation”. The proposed legislation says “an image is a reference to a still or moving image [produced by any means]”.

This means that anyone who published an image relating deemed to be in support of a paramilitary organisation would be breaking the law. How far this will be enforced is unclear but it is thought it could be applied to flags and other images associated with both republican and loyalists groups.

Human rights groups have voiced concern about the proposed legislation. Deputy director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), Daniel Holder said: “The reality is, as it stands, if these laws were in fact applied to the North of Ireland, there would be huge community alienation, street violence would probably erupt and the cause of peace would be put back immeasurably. “So if these counter-terrorism measures are not only useless but counter-productive for the North of Ireland, how are they appropriate for the rest of the UK?”

The CAJ and nationalist politicians have also voiced concern about the prospect of a ‘stop-and-search border zone’. If the bill becomes law any member of the public could be stopped within a mile of the border to establish if they are engaged in “hostile activity”. SDLP MLA Carmel Hanna last night said the proposals would be a “grotesque assault on border life and on the [Good Friday] agreement of which the UK government is a co-guarantor”. “The UK government appear to neither care nor understand the anxiety they are causing here,” she said.

SDLP MLA Carmel (Claire) Hanna

“At this point in the Brexit negotiations there is very little we could put past this government who seem prepared to sign up to almost anything in the name of Brexit and oblivious to the tension these proposals create.”

Sinn Féin deputy president Michelle O’Neill

Sinn Féin deputy president Michelle O’Neill accused the British government of “duplicity”. “The use of stop and search powers is already a cause of massive concern in nationalist areas and if powers as wide-ranging as these were introduced, it would be disastrous,” she said. “It runs counter to human rights provisions. It runs counter Good Friday Agreement and the principles of the European Common Travel Area. “I will be taking this up directly with both governments because it is clear that, through this legislation, London is preparing for the imposition of a hard border in Ireland.”

With many thanks to: Connla Young and The Irish News for the original story.

Irish News Editorial

Legislation must be scrutinised 

WHILE considerable attention has been focused on the Brexit withdrawal bill, another piece of legislation which could have far-reaching repercussions for the border has been making its way through Westminster largely unnoticed. The counter-terrorism and border security bill contains proposals that, if passed, could have alarming implications for people in the border area of the North of Ireland. Under the terms of the planned legislation, any member of the public could be stopped within a mile of the border to establish if they are entering or leaving the nort. An ‘examining officer’ may question the person to determine if they are engaged in ‘hostile activity’.

It is not clear if this means police or border force officers will be protrolling the border area, able to stop and question any person they wish without due cause. Obviously this would be viewed with deep concern, particularly at a time when efforts are under way to ensure there is no hard border on this Island following the UK’s departure from the EU in March next year. It is also worrying that this legislation, which contains other broadly-constructed measures that will raise serious concern, has already passed the Committee stage and could come into law before Christmas. These proposals must be subject to careful scrutiny and assessment with political representatives making sure we do not end up with a hard border as a result of Brexit or any other form of legislation.

With many thanks to: The Irish News.

Call for two-child limit on benifits

FAMILIES would only be able to claim bbenefits for two children under plans put forward by a member of David Cameron‘s policy board aimed at cutting billions of pounds off the Welfare Bill.

Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi wants to limit child benefit and child tax credits to families ‘first two children’ only!!!

The radical proposals set out by Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi would limit child bbenefit and tax credits to families’ first two children. Writing in the Mail on Sundayhe said capping benefits by family size would “save billions and help the next generation think more carefully about their relationship with the welfare state“. A family with three cchildren, with parents earning below £50,000 and so able to claim child benefit in full, would lose out on £696.00 by only being able to claim for two children. The Mail on Sunday Said those earning less than £30,000 will also be denied child tax credits worth £2,725 a year under the plan.

With many thanks to: The Irish News.

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