Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Extreme Right poses a threat like al Qaeda, warns British junior minister
Mr Brokenshire is anti-Christian and in favour of secret courts so one wonders who is the extremist here. And he boasts below of the extent of internet censorship under his aegis! Yet another British fan of the old East Germany, it would seem
Right-wing extremists could pose an al-Qaeda-style threat in Britain, the security minister warned today.
James Brokenshire said the “ugly face” of the far Right was a “real” danger to public safety and had the same aim as Islamist extremists of wanting to reshape society. He warned of the risk of attacks by Right-wing “lone wolves”.
He also said the activities of the English Defence League could “stoke radicalisation” and push people towards terrorism. Such groups “can provide ‘gateway ideologies’ through which individuals may migrate to more extreme organisations”, he said. “Where these lines blur, from a counter-terrorism perspective, is where the real risk lies.”
In a speech at King’s College London, Mr Brokenshire revealed that more than 2,000 websites containing illegal terrorist material had been taken down by a new police unit set up to combat the problem. Schools, libraries and other public bodies were being asked to block similar content.
He said that 10 per cent of those referred to the Home Office’s Channel project, which tries to divert people from extremism, were now from the far Right.
Although the threat was not as severe as that of al Qaeda, it shared some similarities, he said: “Many of the challenges mirror those from al Qaeda-inspired terrorism. There is the risk from lone individuals.”
Stitching up press freedom behind closed doors
Labour and Hacked Off are now prepared to hold the political system to ransom and rewrite the UK constitution in order to tame the press
One minute reports suggest that the leaders of Britain’s main political parties are finally getting ‘close to agreement’ on a new system of press regulation, the next we are told that talks have ‘broken down’ again. Whatever the latest twists, the one certainty is that the hard-won freedom of the press from state supervision, fought for over centuries of public political struggle, is now in danger of being stitched up and sacrificed quietly, behind closed doors.
The main drivers behind this attempt to tame the press have been the Labour Party and its allies in the Hacked Off lobby. These illiberal forces have tried to turn history on its head by claiming that regulating the press, long the ambition of kings and tyrants, is now a ‘radical’ cause for ‘ordinary people’. To pursue their crusade for statutory regulation, they have proved willing to hold democracy to ransom, threatening to disrupt the political process via a handful of peers in the House of Lords unless they get their way.
A brief summary of the tortuous legal and political shenanigans as we know them to date. In his report last November, Lord Justice Leveson proposes that a tough new ‘independent’ press regulator must be backed by statute. Labour, the Lib Dems and Hacked Off demand that Leveson’s proposals be implemented in full. Tory prime minister David Cameron says he wants to implement Leveson’s plans for taming the press, but balks at the notion of a new law to help do so.
In an effort to escape the corner they have thus painted themselves into, the Tories then propose that, instead of a parliamentary law, the new regulator should be recognised by a Royal Charter. As pointed out previously on spiked, if anything this is potentially even worse than statute, evoking shadows of the old system of the Crown licensing of the press. Labour and the Lib Dems have suggested that they might accept a Royal Charter as an alternative to statutory-backed regulation – but only if it is embedded in statute!
As these top-level negotiations have dragged on into 2013, the high-handed pro-regulation lobby has opted for more direct action. First Labour peers, led by Lord Puttnam and backed by others from all corners of the House of Lords, attached an amendment effectively creating a Leveson law to the Defamation Bill that was going through its final stages in parliament. Cameron then indicated that he would rather drop the entire bill to reform the dreadful libel laws than allow such a press law to be created via the backdoor.
Outraged by the prime minister’s refusal to do as he was told, the pro-regulation ‘rebels’ then threatened to attach a Leveson amendment to every piece of legislation in the House of Lords, whether it was about energy policy or business regulation, until the government allowed a press regulation law to pass. This is effectively an act of political blackmail, which would hold the entire parliamentary process to ransom until the government agreed to their terms.
This week, it appeared that the blackmailers might be close to success, with Cameron reportedly agreeing to a compromise deal. Under this new plan, a statute would be passed that did not refer specifically to Leveson or the press, but which underpinned more broadly the status of all Royal Charters. Thus we would be left with statutory regulation of the press in all but name. Latest reports suggest that Cameron has now had second thoughts, broken off talks with Lib Dem deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband and decided to publish the Tories’ plans for a Royal Charter on Monday. We shall see.
The most telling revelation in all this was who drew up the compromise proposal on indirect statutory backing for the Royal Charter. This devious scheme for achieving state-backed regulation of the press, not so much through the back door as through the cat flap in the bottom of it, was the brainchild of Hugh Tomlinson QC, the champion of celebrity super-injunctions who is now the leading legal light in Hacked Off.
Having, as their own modestly entitled book, Everybody’s Hacked Off, makes clear, sparked the demand for the Leveson Inquiry, set the terms for it to probe not just phone hacking but the entire ‘culture and ethics’ of the press, set the tone for the public circus via their celebrity witnesses and ghost-written most of Lord Justice Leveson’s final proposals, this little lobby group is now being invited by Labour and others effectively to rewrite parts of the British constitution in pursuit of its crusade against the heretics of the press.
The pro-regulation forces that have claimed to act on behalf of ‘the people’ now stand exposed as politico-legal elitists of the worst order. They have made clear that they believe the ‘public interest’ is best left in the unaccountable hands of the likes of Lord Puttnam, pulling parliamentary stunts in order to force the government to impose the will of the equally unaccountable Lord Justice Leveson. These supposedly high-minded reformers have proved willing to indulge in low political blackmail and vandalism – including wrecking the Defamation Bill for libel reform that is so dear to many campaigners’ hearts – in pursuit of their culture war on the ‘popular’ press.
The crusade to tame press freedom has brought together the worst of the new and old forms of political elitism, combining the traditional peers in the House of Lords with the new aristocracy of celebrity. In the name of ‘the people’ (you get the feeling they would like to say ‘the little people’), an unholy alliance of Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan, Lord Skidelsky and Lord Puttnam, backed by a select court of lawyers, hackademics and lobbyists, is keen to ride roughshod over democracy and liberty.
The willingness of Labour and Hacked Off to stoop so low has shocked some radicals sympathetic to their cause. Yet it is only really the logical outcome of the anti-democratic drift in UK politics over the past decade. With the decline of the trade unions, the rump of the Labour-supporting left has become increasingly detached from the public, instead looking for change from sympathetic establishment figures such as human-rights judges (at home and in Europe) and members of the House of Lords. How much easier it is to lobby these civilised ladies and gents than have to mix with the rough-house of the public forum!
We might recall the enthusiasm with which the Tories’ opponents have embraced ‘rebel’ lords as the potential saviours of the NHS and the welfare state, through such initiatives as the TUC-backed ‘Adopt a peer’ campaign. They were happy to see a few peers defying the government then. They surely should not be surprised to see Labour and Hacked Off pursuing the same lordly tactics to get statutory press regulation through.
Before it is too late, the debate about press freedom needs to be taken out of the smoke-free rooms of the corridors of power, and into the public arena. And the entire discussion needs turning on its head. However they are to be implemented, by statute, Royal Charter or act of God, the Leveson principles, from the oxymoronic nonsense of ‘independent self-regulation’ to the new restrictions on investigative journalism, need to be put in the dustbin, not on a pedestal. There are plenty of problems with the British press but none of them will be solved by these shenanigans. As some of us have argued from the start, the central myth of the Leveson debate - that the press is too free to run wild and must be tamed one way or another - needs to be challenged now. The truth is that the press is already not nearly free nor open enough – and giving into blackmail never solved anything.
'You can't work here, you'll upset the atheists': What hotel told jobseeker after discovering he was a committed Christian
A graphic designer is suing a hotel after claiming he was turned down for a job there because he is a Christian.
Jamie Haxby said he felt 'victimised and persecuted' after allegedly being told he could not design adverts for the Essex venue due to his faith.
Mr Haxby, a regular worshipper at his local church, says manager Celie Parker apologised for inviting him to the interview after discovering he was a committed Christian.
He claims he was then told he would not be considered for the role as his beliefs could upset atheists working there.
He is now taking Prested Hall country house hotel near Colchester to an employment tribunal on the grounds of religious discrimination. The hotel denies the claims.
The row is the latest in a series of clashes between Christians and employers over their rights to express their faith in the workplace.
But legal experts say this case is unprecedented because Mr Haxby apparently faced discrimination merely on the basis of his beliefs rather than his actions, such as wearing a cross.
The designer, from Fordham Heath, near Colchester, applied in December for a part-time job creating 'eye-catching' advertising and promotional material for the hotel in nearby Feering.
Mr Haxby, 24, said his problems began when he showed Ms Parker his portfolio, which included his designs for fliers for his local church and a T-shirt for a Christian charity.
He also displayed other items such as a logo for a furnishing company called Blue Lapin, a sleeve for a CD and material for a hairdressing business.
Mr Haxby said: 'Everything was going well, and I felt happy with how the interview was progressing. Celie made several comments about the high standard of my work and how talented I was.
'However, just over halfway through looking over my portfolio, Celie stopped me and said she did not think we needed to go any further.
My heart slightly sank as I could tell there was something she did not like. She then explained that she thought my work was brilliant, but that she and others on her team were atheists.
'She said that judging from my work I was clearly a committed Christian, and I understood from what she was saying that it would be very difficult for me to work there. 'I could hardly believe what I was hearing. I felt upset and angry.'
Mr Haxby said he remained calm but told her his faith should not be the basis on which to judge him.
'She just said not to take it personally, but that it wouldn't be sensible and that it wouldn't work, or words to that effect,' he added.
'She also expressed regret over ever asking me to the interview and apologised for wasting my time. But I was feeling increasingly distressed and upset.
'I then said there was no way that this was right in equal opportunities Britain and that everyone should have an equal chance at getting a job.'
Mr Haxby said Ms Parker 'back-tracked' by agreeing to look through the rest of his portfolio, but remarked that other applicants were more experienced than him. He felt she was just trying to distance herself from her earlier comments.
He added: 'I told her I was not the kind of person who would preach at people or make them feel uncomfortable.'
Mr Haxby has now lodged a complaint with the East London employment tribunal, saying: 'I have been unlawfully discriminated against for reasons relating to my Christian faith.'
The hotel's co-owner, Mike Carter, said Ms Parker denied saying she or other members of staff were atheists who could not work with Christians, and claimed there were Christians already working at the hotel.
He said the religious beliefs of employees were not the business of the hotel's managers, and the marketing job had been awarded to another, more experienced, candidate.
But the Christian Institute, which is supporting Mr Haxby, said: 'Jamie's case is shocking, and shows that discrimination against Christians is getting more brazen.
'There's no place for this anti-Christian intolerance at the hands of aggressive atheists. It's high time the Government took the issue more seriously.'
Australia: Tough new penalties wanted for racial spite
People get abused for all sorts of reasons. You need to get used to it. It is part of life. I was accused at school of being a homosexual because I had no interest in sport. It was like water off a duck's back to me. I just went on my way reading books. Why should racial abuse get treated differently? If you agree with Alan Jones, why should you be prevented from saying so? The behaviour of Lebanese Muslims is notorious
The broadcaster Alan Jones could have been jailed for up to three years for labelling Lebanese Muslims "vermin" and "mongrels" who "rape and pillage", under a proposed overhaul of NSW racial vilification laws.
The criminal prosecution of a woman who racially abused the ABC newsreader Jeremy Fernandez on a Sydney bus in February might also have been possible under changes being suggested by prominent community groups.
The Jewish Board of Deputies and the NSW Community Relations Commission are pushing for a radical overhaul of the laws in submissions to a parliamentary inquiry into whether it should be easier to criminally prosecute cases of serious racial vilification.
The inquiry was ordered by the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, who was concerned there has not been a prosecution since the laws began in 1989. The inquiry has been attacked by opponents who say changes risk trampling on free speech.
The NSW Anti-Discrimination Act applies penalties of up to $5500 and six months' jail for inciting hatred, contempt or ridicule against a person or group based on their race.
But it must be proved that the person threatened physical harm against the person or group, or their property, or incited others to do so.
The community groups argue the reference to physical harm should be scrapped.
The Jewish Board of Deputies argues there is "a serious gap" in the law and suggests a new offence of "conduct intended to harass on grounds of race". The change would mean criminal prosecutions could be pursued over racial harassment that involves threats, intimidation or "serious racial abuse", whether or not a physical threat is involved.
The submission argues the maximum penalties should be a fine of $27,500 or two years' imprisonment for individuals and fines of up to $137,500 for corporations. It also says the offence should be included in the Crimes Act, be subject to a jury trial and include online abuse.
The Community Relations Commission argues for similar changes and proposes a maximum penalty of three years in jail.
The commission's chairman, Stepan Kerkyasharian, who is also president of the Anti-Discrimination Board, argues in the submission that the laws "ensure that both incitement of hatred and harassment can be prosecuted".
He also says the laws should be extended to cover cases where a person is assumed to be part of a racial group even if they are not and clarified to capture vilification online and on social media.
"If the ferocity of the verbal attack is significant enough, that in itself should be enough to be a breach of the act," Mr Kerkyasharian said.
But the secretary of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Stephen Blanks, said the proposals "go too far".
Mr Blanks said criminal prosecutions could be made easier by removing the requirement to prove the intention to incite physical violence. This would "preserve the right to free speech but attack speech with consequence".
In January Jones was ordered by the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal to apologise on air for describing Lebanese Muslims as "vermin" and "mongrels" who "simply rape, pillage and plunder a nation that's taken them in".
In February, Mr Fernandez tweeted that while on a bus a woman had said he was a "black c---" and told him to "go back to my country" during a 15-minute tirade of racial abuse.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.