Category Archives: Lords
Post-PMQs: surely the views of over 100 distinguished Jewish signatories outweigh those of 60 assorted Labour Lords
In an unsuccessful effort to deflect attention from Mr Corbyn’s questions about climate change during today’s PMQs, Theresa May forcefully – even maliciously – demanded an apology for his ‘failure to deal with anti-semitism within the Labour party’.
The following snapshots were taken as they spoke.
She referred to a full page advertisement in the Guardian paid for by 60 ‘distinguished’ Labour peers, attacking Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism – as reported in the Murdoch Press.
Watch the exchange by clicking on this link (6 mins) and note the difference in demeanour as Jeremy Corbyn – impressively cool under fire – sets the record straight and tenaciously continues to challenge the government on the contrast between its rhetoric and its actions on climate change.
This welcome financial windfall for the Guardian, which occupies several inches of space after every online article asking for donations, recalls its withdrawal – after a communication from the Jewish Board of Deputies – of a previously published letter supporting Labour loyalist MP, Chris Williamson. It had over 100 Jewish signatories – many of whom evidently deserve to be described as distinguished.
The list of these signatories and their affiliations has, however, been saved by people who are beginning to expect this sort of mainstream skulduggery and may be seen here.
As the ‘censored’ Guardian letter said, such attacks on Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters aim to undermine the Labour party’s leadership, but – we add – they can rebound on the perpetrators.
The following 2004 broadside was fired by Lord Steyn, described in his Times obituary as an “Outspoken law lord whose liberal views became a thorn in the side of the Blair government, especially over Iraq and Guantanamo Bay”, following Lord Hoffmann’s suggestion that the courts should not interfere with certain Government decisions.
“Courts must never abdicate their duty to protect citizens from the abuse of power by governments . . .The United States government has already created a hellhole of utter lawlessness at Guantanamo Bay by committing such abuse.”
Lord Steyn was born and bred in Cape Town and was one of the few native Afrikaaners who fiercely opposed apartheid. He won a Rhodes scholarship to read English at University College, Oxford and after being called to the bar and sitting as senior counsel in South Africa’s supreme court emigrated to Britain in 1973 to start on the bottom rung of the legal ladder.
Though English was not his native language, his Afrikaans accent remained thick and his ‘delivery’ in court was hesitant, he was admired for his clear arguments and his skill in cross-examination. Having served as the presiding judge on the Northern Circuit, Steyn moved to the Court of Appeal in 1992. He was made a life peer in 1995.
A detainee from Afghanistan is carried on a stretcher before being interrogated by military officials at Camp X-Ray at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Telegraph 2016)
In 2003 he accused the home secretary, David Blunkett, of using “weasel words” to justify his policy on asylum seekers. Five months later, Steyn branded the US regime at Guantanamo Bay “a monstrous failure of justice” and declared that the system of trial by military tribunal was no more than a “kangaroo court” that “makes a mockery of justice”.
The unkett then blocked his appointment to a House of Lords judicial committee
The senior law lord, Lord Bingham of Cornhill, was asked not to include Steyn on the nine-judge panel to decide on the legality of detaining foreign terror suspects without trial – the first time a government had ever sought and obtained an alteration in the composition of the House of Lords’ judicial committee.
His other achievements include:
- being one of the judges who ruled by a 3-2 majority that the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was not entitled to claim sovereign immunity from prosecution;
- reproving Lord Irvine of Lairg, the lord chancellor who sought ‘an unfettered right to impose rule changes on the legal profession; “He is a member of the executive carrying out the party political agenda of the Labour administration. He is a politician. To entrust to a cabinet minister the power to control the legal profession would be an exorbitant inroad on the constitutional principle of the separation of powers”;
- claiming, when Britain introduced executive detention without trial in 2001, that the UK opt-out from the European Convention on Human Rights was not justified “in the present circumstances”.
- arguing, as chairman of Justice, the human rights group, that the Iraq War was unlawful and said that, “in its search for a justification in law for war, the government was driven to scrape the bottom of the legal barrel”;
- dismissing Tony Blair’s suggestion, just months after the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005, that the war had not made London a more dangerous place as a “fairytale”.
A champion of the Human Rights Act 1998, he retired satisfied that it had already “transformed our country into a rights-based democracy”. Hmm . . .
Anthony Lester, QC, wrote: “He has woven the Human Rights Act into the fabric of our legal system. He has a terrier-like tenacity and the courage of a lion. He’s going to be extraordinarily difficult to replace.” Agreed.
Lord Mandelson – of all people – intervenes to promote ‘fairness in our society’ and ‘Britain’s place in the world’
The author of the FT’s recent article about the consequences of electing Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader, Peter Mandelson, is merely described as a former cabinet minister, Labour’s campaign director in 1985-91 and 1995-97.
There is much more to him than that
Several sources reported in 2011 that he had David Cameron’s support to succeed Pascal Lamy as head of The World Trade Organisation, Nicholas Watt of the Guardian also speaking of the PM’s ‘high regard’ for Mandelson.
He certainly shares with his ally, Tony Blair – another Cameron adviser – an overweening ambition and a propensity to pursue wealth.
How different from his target, Jeremy Corbyn
Refreshing the memory, Wikipedia records Mandelson’s blemished career, including:
- his first resignation from government because he was found to be ‘hugely and secretly indebted to the Paymaster-General’ and had not declared the loan in the Register of Members’ Interests, and
- his second resignation, following accusations of using his position to influence a passport application by Srichand Hinduja, an Indian businessman.
Lord Mandelson’s commercial interests have included acting as:
- adviser to the advisory investment banking firm, Lazard,
- director of a Russian arms company,
- and adviser to Asia Pulp & Paper in selling timber products to Europe, accused in 2012 illegal logging in Indonesia and damaging the habitats of rare animals.
His words of wisdom – or vested interest – after voicing concern about fairness in our society and Britain’s place in the world:
”It would be a sad and possibly final chapter in the British Labour party’s history. If the leadership election that closes in two weeks’ time is won by Jeremy Corbyn, the current favourite, his policies — printing money, state ownership of major industries, unilateral disarmament and quitting Nato — will make the party unelectable.
“That would be a very bad outcome for anyone who cares about fairness in our society or Britain’s place in the world. For those of us who have once before trodden the road of rebuilding Labour, it would also be a poignant one”.
Used car anyone?
David Halpin, FRCS:
We have agreed that use of ‘chemical weapons’ in Syria is a ‘crap red herring’. But why transmit it? Because for one it is the red line, we are told, by the very cruel and unlawful US administration.
You transmit it because this ‘pretext grasped from thin air’ – as I called Blair’s lies before taking a ship to Palestine (with Gaza my target) in February 2003 – was dinned into the prejudiced US and UK populations with some success. Six million Sun readers and those who think the Guardian, Independent and Times tell the truth, have soaked up this crap.
Let people like myself who have dealt with the suffering of illness and injury have some say. I say ‘no mother and child, in our still beautiful world, should be in the least harmed’.
I write about the psychopath and have instanced Blair as being one of the most horrific. The BBC choose to rehabilitate this monster. Playwright David Hare has defined this sort of very flawed human well. Because they are ambitious and cunning, and utterly ruthless, they rise in our so-called democracies and in the dictatorships. They have proliferated in the last few decades.
Separately I ask – what has happened to Channel 4 in the last few years?
I am off down to the 35 acres of woodland I planted 25 years ago. I will enjoy the myriad colours of young oak and hear the blackbird and the yaffle. But in my mind will be the weeping and the bleeding caused deliberately by mostly ‘western’ action backed by the primitive urges within the ignorant moral pygmies on both green and red leather.