Thursday, June 18, 2015
Human Rights Act has devalued Magna Carta, says British PM
The legacy of Magna Carta has been ‘devalued’ by Labour’s Human Rights Act, David Cameron will say today as Britain commemorates its 800th anniversary.
The Prime Minister will say the 13th century charter is the foundation document for human rights worldwide, but the meaning of these rights has become ‘distorted’ in recent years.
In a clear sign that he intends to honour his commitment to scrap the Human Rights Act, he will say that it is the ‘duty’ of politicians of the present generation to ‘restore the reputation’ of human rights.
The Conservatives plan to replace the Act with a British Bill of Rights to affirm the supremacy of UK courts over those in Europe. They say activist judges have widened the concept of human rights too far, making it harder to deport hardened criminals because of their right to a family life.
But the issue did not figure in last month’s Queen’s Speech and proposals to introduce a Bill of Rights have now been delayed for at least a year as officials draw up proposals. There is also confusion over whether the UK would consider leaving the European Convention on Human Rights as part of the plans.
Critics of the Tory plans will not be impressed by Mr Cameron’s argument that he plans to stand up for human rights by getting rid of the Human Rights Act.
Today marks the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which was forced on King John in 1215 by rebellious barons at a meeting next to the Thames at Runnymede, Surrey. It is credited with cementing the idea of the rule of law, that there are limits on executive power, and that there should be guaranteed justice for all – with no imprisonment without trial.
At today’s commemoration in Runnymede, Mr Cameron will say that Magna Carta was a document that ‘changed the world’ by ‘altering forever the balance of power between the governed and the government’.
He will say: ‘Magna Carta takes on further relevance today. For centuries, it has been quoted to help promote human rights and alleviate suffering all around the world.
'But here in Britain – ironically, the place where those ideas were first set out – the good name of “human rights” has sometimes become distorted and devalued.
‘It falls to us in this generation to restore the reputation of those rights – and their critical underpinning of our legal system. It is our duty to safeguard the legacy, the idea, the momentous achievement of those barons.
‘And there couldn’t be a better time to reaffirm that commitment than on an anniversary like this.’
Mr Cameron will add: ‘Magna Carta is something every person in Britain should be proud of. Its remaining copies may be faded, but its principles shine as brightly as ever – in every courtroom and every classroom, from palace to Parliament to parish church.
‘Liberty, justice, democracy, the rule of law – we hold these things dear, and we should hold them even dearer for the fact that they took shape right here, on the banks of the Thames.
'So on this historic day, let’s pledge to keep those principles alight. Let’s keep Magna Carta alive. Because – as those barons showed, all those years ago – what we do today will shape the world for many, many years to come.’
Mr Cameron will say the influence of Magna Carta stretched far beyond Britain, cited by everyone from early US revolutionaries and Mahatma Gandhi to Nelson Mandela. He will draw attention to the fact that in many countries, governments still do not subject themselves to the rule of law.
‘The countries that have these things tend to be the long-term successes, and those who don’t tend to be the long-term failures.
‘And what is taken for granted here in Britain – what is sewn into the fabric of our nation, so deep we barely even question it – is what others are crying out for, hoping for, praying for.’
Top firms 'use poshness test to keep poor out of best jobs'
I readily believe that bosses in the City choose people like themselves. Working with others is made easier by that. And City operators are mostly from private school backgrounds. They are not trying to keep anybody out. They just want to be comfortable among the people with whom they work
Elite companies in the City of London are applying a ‘poshness test’ to job applicants which is preventing working class youngsters from getting the best posts, it is claimed.
Researchers found that leading law, financial services and accountancy firms in the Square Mile are ‘systematically excluding’ candidates if they are not middle or upper-class.
A staggering 70 per cent of job offers went to graduates educated at selective state or fee-paying schools.
Bosses admitted favouring applicants who had enjoyed experiences such as travelling, had been to top ‘Russell Group’ universities and spoke without accents – indicating the process was skewed towards the wealthy.
The research was carried out by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, an independent body which monitors whether youngsters from poorer backgrounds have the same opportunities in the workplace.
It collected data from, and carried out interviews with, bosses at 13 companies responsible for 45,000 of the best jobs in the country.
Commission chairman Alan Milburn, a Cabinet minister in Tony Blair’s Labour government, said: ‘This research shows that young people with working class backgrounds are being systematically locked out of top jobs.
‘Elite firms seem to require applicants to pass a “poshness test” to gain entry. Inevitably that ends up excluding youngsters who have the right sort of grades and abilities but whose parents do not have the right sort of bank balances.
‘Some of our country’s leading firms are making a big commitment to recruit the brightest and best, regardless of background. They should be applauded.
'But for the rest this is a wake up and smell the coffee moment. In some top law firms, trainees are more than five times as likely to have attended a fee-paying school than the population as a whole.
'They are denying themselves talent, stymying young people’s social mobility and fuelling the social divide that bedevils Britain.’
Former Tesco chief Sir Terry Leahy said last night that British companies should smash the ‘glass ceiling’ by finding the best people for the job rather than focusing on whether they went to the ‘right universities’.
He told the Daily Telegraph: ‘When I was growing up, I was taught that if you worked hard enough, you could achieve anything you wanted, whatever you wanted, whatever advantages other people might have.
‘It is an attitude that took me from a Liverpool council estate to being chief executive of Tesco for 14 years.’
UN chief says Britain must take in MORE Med migrants: Official condemned for remarks that UK is not housing its fair share or explaining the benefits of migration
Britain should take in more stranded Mediterranean migrants, according to a senior UN official.
In remarks strongly condemned by Tory MPs, Peter Sutherland suggested the UK was not housing its fair share of people fleeing turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East.
He berated Westminster politicians for not explaining the benefits of immigration, claiming this risked fostering a climate of ‘xenophobia and racism’.
Mr Sutherland, who is the UN secretary-general’s special representative on international migration, claimed there was a greater degree of negativity toward immigrants in the UK than elsewhere because the positive case had never been ‘properly explained’.
But Andrew Mitchell, a Tory former international development secretary, dismissed his remarks. ‘Britain has been a leader of the international relief effort for these enormous migration crises,’ he said.
‘Britain has contributed more humanitarian support than practically the whole of the EU.
‘We are putting our shoulder to the wheel. Were the Government to start welcoming migration from Syria and some of these very difficult places in Africa, public support for Britain’s development policy would start to evaporate.’
Andrew Percy, Tory MP for Brigg and Goole, said: ‘These United Nations people should stop mouthing off about things that are none of their business. They are unelected; they don’t represent anyone and they should stop what seems to be a very anti-British sentiment.
‘What is happening in the Mediterranean is incredibly sad, but the only beneficiary of this policy of taking in more migrants would be the people smugglers who profit from this horror.
If we create a route of entry, then that will only encourage more people to take the risk. We need to provide assistance at source, which is what we are doing through our aid budget.’ Yesterday, hundreds of migrants were gathered at the border between Italy and France after being turned away by French riot police who had shut crossing points.
Startling pictures showed many huddled in foil blankets on coastal rocks, holding signs – written in English – demanding to be allowed to continue their journey from Italy to northern Europe. They threatened to hurl themselves into the sea if blocked by the French.
Italy said last night it would ask the EU to set up refugee-processing camps in Libya, and threatened to ‘hurt’ Europe should it turn a deaf ear to the crisis on its shores.
Mr Sutherland, an Irish politician and chairman of Goldman Sachs International, had told the BBC: ‘The Germans and the Swedes are taking far more per capita than the United Kingdom, and a fair settlement of this issue on the basis of objective criteria – population, GDP, unemployment, whatever issues you think may be appropriate – seems to be a reasonable way of dealing with this.’
His intervention is just the latest by UN advisers. Last month François Crépeau [crappy Frank?], the special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, claimed the UK risked taking the path of Nazi Germany if the Tories pulled out of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Two years ago, housing rapporteur Raquel Rolnik – dubbed the ‘Brazil nut’ – launched a blistering attack on the Coalition’s policy of austerity, saying housing benefit cuts were breaching human rights.
Last night a Government source said: ‘We do not oppose resettlement in principle – but we believe such schemes are best decided at national level and have no plans to contribute to an EU quota.
We Muslims MUST stop blaming others for the way our young are radicalised, writes chairman of the Muslim Forum:
As the lethal cycle of British involvement in jihadism deepens, so the cries of victimhood grow stronger.
The families of recruits to the Islamic State’s barbaric regime seem desperate to pin the blame for the crisis on anyone or anything — from supposed negligence by the police to brainwashing through the internet — rather than accept any real accountability.
Yesterday, the relatives of three sisters and their nine children from Bradford, West Yorkshire, who reportedly have travelled to Syria, complained bitterly that the British police had failed to prevent them joining the Islamic extremists.
Balaal Khan, who represents the husbands of these three Dawood sisters, wailed that families had been forced to do everything ‘off their own backs’ because there is ‘only one’ British police officer in Turkey dealing with the problem of Muslim recruitment to jihadism.
It echoes the moaning we heard earlier this year from the families of three East London schoolgirls — dubbed the ‘Jihadi Brides’ — who joined the Islamic State.
On that occasion, the parents and their lawyer took their complaints to Parliament, arguing that the Metropolitan Police had been ‘a disgrace’ in failing to give sufficient warnings of their daughters’ vulnerability to the zealots.
Of course, it must be extremely distressing for any parent to lose a child into the clutches of ISIS. But I worry that all too often, we are told the same story by the families of those who run off to Syria: that it is always someone else’s fault.
Well, if the families really had no knowledge of such activities, why should the police or schools or social services? And even when they admit to some knowledge of a link with radicalism, too many of them are inclined to play the victim, condemning western foreign policy or ‘Islamophobia’ or extremist online propaganda or a hostile media or Government inaction.
The former chairman of the Tory Party, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, was at it on the BBC yesterday in the wake of the latest jihadist scandal, saying that successive governments have ‘failed to engage with Muslims to tackle extremism’, a problem which she said was ‘incredibly worrying’.
But this search for scapegoats has to stop. The eagerness to pass the buck is not just wrong-headed and hypocritical, it also allows extremism to flourish.
Instead of endlessly pointing the finger at others, the Muslim communities should face up to their own responsibilities. For the fact is that in too many parts of Britain, they have allowed a backward-looking, insular, reactionary Islamic culture to develop, which has undermined social integration and promoted sectarianism.
This climate of division has been a fertile breeding ground for the recruiting sergeants of jihadism, because western liberal democracy has been wrongly presented as something poisonous, dangerous and un-Islamic.
Indeed, there are many Muslim families here in Britain who, despite having potential access to the freedoms and prosperity of our advanced society, have chosen to cut themselves off deliberately for fear of contamination of their faith by the unbelievers.
That wilful separatism is reflected in a host of factors, such as the increasing prevalence of the full veil or burka in Muslim areas. Although it is often seen as a symbol of devotion, the burka actually has nothing to do with Islam, for the Koran merely requires that Muslim women dress modestly.
The burka is, in fact, just an oppressive import from Saudi Arabia, where there has long been a tradition of men taking multiple wives who are required to be covered up. So it owes its existence to institutionalised misogyny rather than religious piety.
Indeed, so many of the dress codes, rituals and abstentions that British fundamentalists hold to be integral to Islam, actually undermine the religion.
The primary duty of Muslims is to behave as upright citizens, conscious of the needs of others and determined to set an inspirational example of civic responsibility.
That is the exact opposite of what is achieved by all this dogmatic isolation driven by the self-appointed guardians of the faith. There is nothing Islamic about failing to teach Muslim children about painting and music, or preventing them from attending sports events, or refusing to instil in them respect for other faiths.
It is difficult, to say the least, for a young Muslim who is deprived of knowledge about British history, democratic values and even the English language to become a well-integrated member of society.
Tragically, the message of separatism is fuelled by a network of mosques and Islamic centres in Britain which preach a message of insularity dressed up as purity. Bankrolled by Saudi Arabia, many of them are in the grip of the ultra-conservative Wahhabism, an austere and harsh creed that took root in the Middle East in the 18th century and has been perverting true Islam ever since.
In its aggressive puritanism and zealous fervour, Wahhabism is precisely the doctrine that gives Islam a bad name in modern Britain.
What is so disastrous is that this refusal to integrate with mainstream British society is leaving young Muslims in limbo. That is why they are so susceptible to the siren voices of extremism. Having been given no spirit of pride in Britain, no sense that they belong to a Westernised country, they are looking for a feeling of belonging.
Spoon-fed a diet of anti-Western propaganda and left disillusioned by the ‘decadence’ of British society, they yearn for an uncompromising alternative — and Islamism, even in the form of the blood-soaked savagery of the Islamic State, seems to provide the answer.
Indeed, for young men it is the brutal self-confidence of the Islamic State warriors — as portrayed in propaganda on social media — that is so appealing. Participation in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria seems to offer adventure, certainty, comradeship and self-righteous martyrdom, as well as the promise of jihadi brides and a sense of belonging.
In contrast to this savage machismo, the female British recruits are drawn to the cause because they believe, all too mistakenly, that jihadism offers them a life of security and purity, in contrast to the messy personal autonomy of Britain.
Moreover, in a twisted version of the excitable enthusiasm that so many western adolescents feel towards pop or sports stars, some young British Muslim women see the ISIS fighters as glamorous heroes, whose ruthlessness only enhances their attractiveness.
Meanwhile, for misguided mothers like the Dawood sisters, the ISIS drive for a caliphate seems to hold out the prospect of raising their children in a pure Muslim society, untainted by any western influences.
This is the kind of nonsense that other Muslims have to confront. It is no use always blaming the police or the Government or foreign policies.
Of course, we ultimately need a political solution to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, one that involves dialogue and compromise rather than continual bloodshed.
But the existence of these warzones cannot explain the growing incidence of extremism within British Islam, prompting at least 700 Muslims from here to go out and fight in Syria and Iraq.
This week, the organisation Islamic Relief complained, in the typical mode of victimhood, that British Muslims were ‘being demonised again’ by the connection with jihadism.
‘Just 0.02 per cent of the British Muslim population go to join Middle Eastern conflicts,’ proclaimed Islamic Relief.
But that is just sophistry. This is a Muslim problem — and British Muslims have to address it rather than abdicating their responsibilities.
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 and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.