24 November 2009

On The Horizon 24/11/2009

A bit of an immigration theme for this edition of my blogosphere round-up:

Liberal Conspiracy has begun a series of posts on The Truth About Immigration, starting with the statistics on why people migrate to the UK.

End Child Detention Now asks who benefits from locking up over 2,000 children in immigration detention centres.

Enemies of Reason has found that the Daily Mail really wants more immigrants! (sort of...)

And finally, on the news that the excellent Doug Stanhope will be contributing to the next series of Charlie Brooker's Newswipe, here is his unmissable Channel 4 show on immigration from 2007:

18 November 2009

Who Did Alan Johnson Betray?

I have dug up information to form a profile of the asylum seeker that was stabbed in the back by Alan Johnson. I am posting the details carefully as specific information could put his safety into jeopardy. All this information is from reports found online on local news websites. If you decide to find these stories, I ask that you don't reproduce his name or his country of origin.

The man originates from a country in central west Africa. The country has an appalling human rights record; Amnesty International has catalogued its human rights abuses, and states that the cases it has exposed mainly involve killing and torture for the repression of political dissent. The man worked there as a press officer for the opposition party. After other members of his party had been subjected to torture, he fled to the UK, and settled in Hull, where he has now lived for seven years.

Since arriving here he has married, and together they have had a baby girl, who is approaching her 1st birthday. They regularly attended a local church. He was a volunteer for the Citizens Advice Bureau, and a member of the Labour party.

In February his asylum application was refused. The UK Border Agency have three times failed to deport him, thanks to the efforts of his vicar and fellow church-goers who held revolts at Heathrow Airport. On one occasion he was even on the plane, but it took an intervention from an Air France pilot to secure his stay in the UK.

He was moved between five detention centres in as many months, separated from his wife and baby. During two of his attempted deportations, he claims he was kicked and beaten by guards. He has stated that his experience of the UK authorities has been even worse than his time in his homeland, because he expected to be protected in the UK, and be a free man.

So there it is. A profile of the man Alan Johnson betrayed. I don't know how the Home Secretary sleeps at night.

17 November 2009

Over 60% of Lib Dem MPs back NHS Homeopathy

This tweet from Richard Wilson brings me the news that in 2007 (yeah OK, old news), 40 out of 63 Lib Dem MPs backed an Early Day Motion to continue the NHS funding of homeopathic hospitals. That is a higher proportion of MPs than both Labour (72 out of 355) and Conservative (88 out of 198), and the Others (6 out of 29).

The list includes Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem Health Spokesperson, and basically all the party's most prominent names, e.g. Lembit Opik, Chris Huhne, Vince Cable and, sigh, Nick Clegg.

How embarrassing. They need to be sat down and given the once over by Evan Harris.

What Matters More? (Updated)

Here are a selection of today's stories from the Politics section of the BBC News website, and a quick reaction to them.

Elizabeth Truss has won the battle to remain as the Conservative PPC in South West Norfolk. But it doesn't matter.

Nick Clegg and now David Cameron have come out against the Queen's Speech, saying it will be an irrelevant Government puff-piece, with Clegg going as far as calling for the whole thing to be scrapped. I blurted about this yesterday. But it doesn't matter.

Vince Cable has suggested that until they are broken up, the banks should be taxed an extra 10% on their profits, given the amount of money they have been given in bail-outs. But it doesn't matter.

A Labour council candidate has apologised for calling the Queen a "parasite" and "vermin". But guess what? It doesn't matter.

Not when you hear this.

According to Private Eye, reproduced by Byrne Tofferings and Football Forum, Alan Johnson has deported an asylum seeker, knowing that doing so would put this person's life in danger. How did he know? Because before his ascension to the Home Office, he was campaigning to stop this man from being deported.

Obviously the hypocrisy is mind-blowing. But frankly, that is the least of Johnson's sins. He has deliberately put this man's life in jeopardy. If he comes to any harm, his blood is on Johnson's hands. And for what? The only reason I can think of is to lower the government's statistics on granting asylum by one. Why else?

This matters so much more than the current political news I listed above. The decision was directly a matter of potential life or death. And it was done in our name. Alan Johnson must explain his actions.

I have been trying to get a prominent Labourite Twitterers to respond to this, but it has been like trying to squeeze semen from a brick. So I encourage you to try asking KerryMP, BevaniteElie, ChrispLOL and BristolRed how they feel about a Labour Home Secretary making this decision.

UPDATE I: KerryMP and BristolRed have kindly replied. They are both saying they can't judge without more information. I covered exactly the same point yesterday regarding Paul Clarke's outrageous gun possession conviction. We might not know everything yet, but everything we do know looks deeply troubling, and no-one has come up with anything that shows us a more complex picture. Until Alan Johnson defends his behaviour, there is a dark stain on his reputation.

UPDATE II: Thomas Byrne has tweeted that The Independent on Sunday's John Rentoul is looking further into this. Good.

UPDATE III: Bevanite Ellie also replied. See Update I.

16 November 2009

#PaulClarke: It is Reasonable to be Outraged

There has been an outpouring of anger over Paul Clarke's guilty verdict (background). There has also been an equal and opposite outpouring of calls to calm down. The Calm camp argue that the Angry camp don't yet know all the facts; their anger is over a single news report; there are lots of unanswered questions, and we don't know what the sentence will be yet. (I hope that is a fair summary.)

The Calm don't seem to dispute that, on the face of it, Clarke's reported actions should not be a crime. But I don't get why this isn't enough to cross the threshold. Everything we know about the case suggests there has been a travesty of justice. The Angry aren't ignoring inconvenient facts. No-one has yet come up with a reason why this isn't an injustice, therefore the emotions of the Angry are justified.

As additional information comes to light, yes, all should reassess what has happened. If it turns out that all was not as it first seemed, and Clarke had indeed been up to no good, then yes the Angry should retract their outrage, and they needn't be ashamed of doing so.

With regards to the issue of sentencing: even if the sentence is minimal, suspended even, the man still has a criminal conviction to his name. A lengthy prison sentence would only make a bad situation even worse.

The anger is also useful. Without a public reaction, the media would be much less likely to provide us to continue coverage of the story, and provide us with the further detail we all want.

Finally, if you are Calm, I ask you this: at what point will you decide there is enough information to decide either way?

Clegg Needs to Follow Through

Nick Clegg today suggested the Queen's Speech should be cancelled so that the rest of this term can be spent on emergency democratic reforms. It's a nice idea, and attracting public attention. However it is inevitable that the establishment parties will ignore Clegg and carry on regardless. Therefore these words need to be followed up with action.

So on Wednesday, I want to see every Lib Dem MP sitting in the House of Commons while the Queen's Speech is taking place. It would look great: while the Conlabourtives were engaged in pointless pomp, the Lib Dems were there, ready and willing to get on with the real, substantive work.

Conversely, if Clegg et al did swan into the House of Lords to listen to a vacuous speech he had criticised just days before, his encouraging words would suddenly look embarrassingly hollow.

15 November 2009

The Sun Nuts Nutt in the Nuts

Yesterday, The Sun published a nasty smear of Professor Nutt's children. Mark Reckons has posted a good overview of the non-story, and The Daily Quail has an excellent spoof of the article.

It is pathetic that The Sun has resorted to these low tactics. It shows how desperate those arguing for the continuation of prohibitionist drugs policy have become.

What is particularly curious is that earlier this week, Professor Nutt contributed to The Sun. He wrote an article giving an overview of his research into a safer, healthier pseudo-alcohol.

They really have no shame, do they? Anyone else who is given an offer to contribute to The Sun should think twice. You may be days away from having your family attacked by the same newspaper.