A Letter – to Theresa May

A Letter to Theresa May

By Garry, also published here

Dear Theresa May,

Firstly, congratulations on your election win. Fair’s fair, your party won the popular vote. (Mind you, our ridiculous first-past-the-post system has given you the MPs to totally dominate Westminster, despite winning barely one-third of the vote, but that is another matter.)

Let’s talk about the extremist bill that was trailed in the news today. You and your party really scare me. While I fundamentally disagree with quite frankly many people, freedom of speech is of critical importance. Most politicians spout a painful amount guff, but I would not wish to prevent them from spouting such utterances.

A quote from Mark Easton of the BBC [1]

“Under the proposals, ministers would be able to silence any group or individual they believe is undermining democracy or the British values of tolerance and mutual respect.”

Let’s keep it simple and break this down.

“Undermining democracy”

What do you mean by “democracy”?  Do you mean that what comes from Westminster? With just over a third of the public vote, Westminster can produce laws that nearly two-thirds of the nation voted against, for the next five years. Is there another definition you have in mind? Westminster is ruled by a party carried the will of a minority of the electorate.

Looking back into history, many great social improvements occurred when the “law” no longer represented the common will of the people. This then leads to a tipping point, and our political system has to buckle.

“The British values of tolerance and mutual respect.”

What on earth are British values? There are no such things. I’ve travelled quite a bit, and what are often described as British values are simply common values that exists elsewhere in the world. They are human values.

If freedom to live your life reasonably as you wish without harassment is important, that precludes imposing values, even British ones (whatever they are – see above). If someone wants to live a certain religious life for example, they may choose to live in a community with others who want to live the same way. I believe that is respecting the choice of others to live differently to you. I bet you like the sound of that.

My deep concern is that many of my political peers are to be found within anti-capitalist groups and anti-fracking groups. They and I do not see the world the same as the Conservative Party do. We reject your world view, and will march, argue and protest that we would like to see the capitalism as exists now brought to its knees. We want to replace it with a system that is fair and distributes the resources we have so everyone isn’t left needy. We recognise that as a human race we are exploiting the world beyond its sustainable limits. We change direction or crash and burn.

The narrow scope of the law that comes from Westminster only support the status quo. There may be a time when doing the right thing for the people means doing the wrong thing in the eyes of the law.

Does this make me and my contemporaries extremists? Are the police coming for us soon?

I do not support  terrorism in any shape or form. However, given the laws already in place, the authorities have plenty of powers. They do not need new ones.

So I reject your bill and its principles totally. It seems you are trying to legislate ideas you don’t like away. It seems you want to intrude deeper into our liberties.

You and this bill will fail. You can’t legislate ideas away.

The instruments you propose will just be petrol on the bonfire.

We have just commemorated VE Day.

I wonder what they would make of your brand of freedom?

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32714802

Who is Charlie?  Not #Tories!  Scrapping our Human Rights? No Way!

Quote


Who is Charlie?

Less than a year ago there was a global outcry, about awful scenes in Paris leading to murders. The victims were expressing their right to free speech through the tool of cartoons. All through history  music, poetry, and satire have been arts through which thoughts can be expressed and shared. It is all part of being human. Can you remember when people carried placards saying, “Je Suis Charlie”, and “I am Charlie?”

Demonstrators in Paris unity march

People took to the streets, and were united in horror and determination. As Suzanne Moore commented at the time in the Guardian. She observed that:

Uncertainty is indeed gut-churning, but more and more it is intrinsic to our freedom. Rigidity, finite values, texts that can never be questioned? This is what we must fear. Those drawn to terror cling to an ideology that allows not a glimmer of uncertainty. To doubt is to be weak. Ambiguity is a threat.

At that time, Mr Cameron, defended the rights to free speech, at least is recorded to have supported the cartoon. As such a defender of free speech, I imagine therefore that he will also defend the right to free speech of resident in Bristol, who has used the medium of Art to depict Mr Cameron as a danger to the future of the NHS.

PAY-Tony-DavisThe Daily Mirror reports that Tony Davis, faces prosecution if he refuses to remove it, he could eventually be fined up to £20,000 under the Town and Country Planning Act.

Tony said: “I’ve had a notice of prosecution. If you are a commercial premises you can advertise anything but if you are a private premises you are restricted to a size of 2ft by 3ft.

“But this applies to hoardings – not something that is painted on the wall like mine is.

“Also my question is, what exactly am I meant to be advertising?”

Which brings us to the question of why, when there was such an outrage about the events in Paris last summer, are we facing an onslaught of rights, removal of freedoms of which must be defended. Much of the media, newspapers, the News in BBC is controlled by those who seek to control a population which outnumbers them, and in the UK, a government which does not have the majority support of a population, has power to change laws in a parliament which is supposed to serve the people.

Very adept at distraction policies, or scare-tactics, the BBC is neither, neutral politically, or independent, even though it still is respected by the belief in neutrality by many.  We have asked the question before, Who pulls the strings at the BBC? Now the Guardian reports how Tory officals threatened the BBC during the recent election.

Baldwin writes: “BBC executives and journalists have told me that there were regular, repeated threats from senior Tories during this election campaign about ‘what would happen afterwards’ if they did not fall into line.

He says: “It is a disturbing suggestion that a democratically elected government would seek to stamp on and silence dissent from an independent broadcaster.”

But he claims there “has been a long-standing campaign by the Conservative party, fueled by the commercial interests of sections of the press, to attack the world’s most successful state-funded public service broadcaster as a giant leftwing conspiracy”.

And so they hold power, while the scales of justice are so unbalanced they appear to have have a pivotal screw loose. Power could be easily toppled by exposure of truths and myths which has led to the imbalance of truth. The Tories are terrified at the idea of a collective knowledge of truth. Divide and rule, as always, is their aim. They overcomplicate issues leading to doubt and confusion.

This is why we must defend everyone’s  rights of expression through the Arts, the Internet, Blogs. Even if sometimes we don’t agree with them.

If we have a right of freedom of expression, then we also have a right to access information which our representatives are seeking to cover-up because of their own self interest. We are not talking about securing our safety, and protecting the vulnerable. Throughout history many have founght for our rights, from the Tolpuddle martyrs, to the suffragettes, to those who fought against Nazis in the 20th century.  This is not something to be cast away because Mr Gove has the power.

We must oppose the Conservative Government in their attempt to remove human rights.  Gove plans to scrap the policy of the Human Rights Act (HRA) 

The Human Rights Act is a piece of law, introduced in 1998, that guarantees human rights in Britain. It was introduced as one of the first major reforms of the last Labour government.

In practice, the Act has two main effects. Firstly, it incorporates the rights of the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic British law.

What this means is that if someone has a complaint under human rights law they do not have to go to European courts but can get justice from British courts.

Secondly, it requires all public bodies – not just the central government, but institutions like the police, NHS, and local councils – to abide by these human rights.

Which rights does the Act cover?

The Act covers all the rights included in the European Convention.

These rights are: Right to life, right not to be tortured or subjected to inhumane treatment, right not to be held as a slave, right to liberty and security of the person, right to a fair trial, right not be retrospectively convicted for a crime, right to a private and family life, right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, right to freedom of expression, right to freedom of assembly and association, right to marriage, right to an effective remedy, right not to be discriminated against, the right to the peaceful enjoyment of one’s property, and the right to an education.

The Act also imposes a duty upon governments to provide free and fair elections. 

38 Degrees Campaign to Save Human Rights Act:

If you haven’t already, please sign now. Link.

Trade treaties like TTIP are arranged in secret because those who will benefit from them are a very small minority, and exposure in the public domain would ensure they would be quashed. There is no wisdom in complacency of belief that in the UK because we are some distance from the incident in Bangladesh where a life was lost just because a man had an opinion, we are therefore safe.

The struggle for free speech, for free inquiry and for the liberty of atheism need not be a fight against religion, unless religion is opposed to human dignity. It is a struggle against cowardice and conformism, and against everyone who would crush both truth and imagination into a cramped coffin of orthodoxy.

Protection of rights, freedoms, and those whistleblowers who dare to speak out is tantamount in preserving the last chance for the voices of the people to be heard and shared – if indeed it is not too late for democracy to have a voice at all.

REFERENCES anad FURTHER READING

Stop Mourning, Organise – Owen Jones

Stop Mourning , Organise – Owen Jones. Get together – and Win

Owen Jones is speaking here following the election defeat. Yes it hurt, but it’s happened. Cynicism and bitterness are destructive, and that is exactly what the Tories want. As ever, they seek to divide and rule. Lessons learnt, pick up your spirits, and now we must all get together, organise and fight. Together, not tearing ourselves apart. Then they will have won.

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/commentisfree/video/2015/may/13/post-election-downer-time-to-organise-owen-jones-video

Does last week’s election victory by David Cameron’s Conservatives fill you with despair? Mourning will not help, says Owen Jones. And neither will blaming the voters. The battles ahead seem daunting, but losing hope means letting down millions of people who are going to suffer. We need a positive message that resonates with people, however they voted. It’s time to redouble our efforts

I, I, Me, Me, Mine . Is there Another Way?

I, I, Me, Me, Mine? Is there Another Way?

THE BEATLES LYRICS
“I Me Mine”

All through the day, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
All through the night, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
Now they’re frightened of leaving it
Everyone’s weaving it
Coming on strong all the time
All through the day I me mine

I-I-me-me-mine, I-I-me-me-mine
I-I-me-me-mine, I-I-me-me-mine

All I can hear, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
Even those tears, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
No-one’s frightened of playing it
Everyone’s saying it
Flowing more freely than wine
All through the day I me mine

I-I-me-me mine, I-I-me-me mine
I-I-me-me mine, I-I-me-me mine

All I can hear, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
Even those tears, I me mine
I me mine, I me mine
No-one’s frightened of playing it
Everyone’s saying it
Flowing more freely than wine
All through your life I me mine