Thursday, 14 August 2014

Who picks up the bill when private health companies hurt people?

Disturbed by an article in The Guardian which reports on how the Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton had to cancel a contract for eye surgery operations that it had with Vanguard Healthcare after some 30 patients reported complications including blurred vision, pain and swelling.

According to the report:
"The [hospital] trust refused to talk in detail about what happened pending the conclusion of its own investigation. It also refused to discuss who would pick up any bill for compensation or details of its contract with Vanguard."

And therein lie the worries.

One concern with the prvatisation of services such as healthcare is that private companies take the profits but socialise the costs back to the taxpayer.

Another concern is the private companies can hide behind "confidentiality agreements" so the ordinary citizens, or even the NHS, cannot hold them to account.

Both of these issues may at play here.

So BFTF asked a few questions of NHS Nottingham, who are "Responsible for the healthcare of Nottingham City (340,500 people). In partnership with other organisations we're 'Working together for a healthier Nottingham' "

"Dear NHS Nottingham

I've recently read a disturbing account of how, in Cornwall, a contract by Musgrove Park Hospital with Vanguard Healthcare has been terminated because of poor quality eye operations and am concerned that the NHS will have to pick up the cost of rectifying Vanguards mistakes.

What reassurance can you give me that, in Nottingham :

a) Private companies working with the NHS will not be allowed to privatise profits while socialising the costs of mistakes.

b) Private companies will not be able to hide behind "confidentiality agreements" when they are working with the NHS.

Also, how can you ensure that these concerns actually reach the CCG?

Hoping you can advise on these points "

Related Posts

Campaigns to protect the NHS Interview with Prof Ian Shaw on the NHS Bill
Report on a Broxtow Save the NHS meeting
Falsification of data at SERCO
Report on a talk on Financial Incentives for Healthcare
Challenging the BBC on their coverage of the NHS Bill
This is what is wrong with the NHS Bill

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Commons debate on Gaza, 21st July 2014

Below are some extracts from the 21st July House of Commons debate on Gaza:

Firstly, here is the statement from the Prime Minister:
"Let me now turn to the ongoing crisis in Israel and Gaza. The crisis was triggered by Hamas raining hundreds of rockets on Israeli cities, indiscriminately targeting civilians in contravention of all humanitarian law and norms. In the last fortnight, Hamas has fired 1,850 rockets at Israeli cities. This unprecedented barrage continues to this moment, with Hamas rejecting all proposals for a ceasefire, including those put forward by the Egyptian Government.

I have been clear throughout this crisis that Israel has the right to defend itself. Those criticising Israel’s response must ask themselves how they would expect their own Government to react if hundreds of rockets were raining down on British cities today. But I share the grave concern of many in the international community about the heavy toll of civilian casualties. The figures are very disturbing. More than 500 people have now reportedly been killed in Gaza, and over 3,000 injured. The UN estimates that over 83,000 people have been displaced so far. Israel has also faced loss of life, with 18 soldiers and two civilians killed, including 13 soldiers yesterday alone.

I spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu again about this crisis last night. I repeated our recognition of Israel’s right to take proportionate action to defend itself, and our condemnation of Hamas’s refusal to end its rocket attacks, despite all international efforts to broker a ceasefire. But I urged him do everything to avoid civilian casualties, to exercise restraint, and to help find ways to bring this situation to an end. Prime Minister Netanyahu made it clear that Israel had been ready to accept each of these ceasefire proposals and had unilaterally implemented a temporary ceasefire in the hope that Hamas would follow suit.

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has spoken to President Abbas to welcome his support for a ceasefire and underline our wish to see the Palestinian Authority back in Gaza. The United Nations Security Council met in a special session last night and issued a call for an immediate ceasefire. The Council expressed serious concern about rising casualties, and called for respect for international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians. We strongly endorse that call. It is vital that Hamas recognises the need to enter into serious negotiations to end this crisis. In particular, we urge Hamas to engage with the ceasefire proposals put forward by the Egyptian Government. It is only by securing a ceasefire that the space can be created to address the underlying issues and return to the long and painstaking task of building the lasting and secure peace that we all want to see, and I commend this statement to the House."

The Labour Response, from Harriet Harmon MP, was this :

"..Turning to the horror that is unfolding in Gaza, it is intolerable to see the harrowing images of hospitals overwhelmed, mortuaries overflowing and parents devastated as they cradle their dying children. Yesterday the world stood witness to the most bloodstained day. Since the start of this conflict, 20 Israelis have been killed, 18 of whom were soldiers. More than 500 Palestinians have been killed, including countless children—innocent young children whose short lives have been ended in the most brutal and horrific of circumstances.

We cannot reduce this conflict to a ledger of casualties, but we must acknowledge the scale of suffering in Gaza, because the life of a Palestinian child is worth every bit as much as that of an Israeli child. Every death of a Palestinian child will fuel the hatred, embolden Israel’s enemies and recruit more supporters to terrorist groups such as Hamas. We stand up for Israel’s right to defend itself, but this escalation will not bring Israel lasting security.

Does the Prime Minister agree with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that we must continue to press for an immediate ceasefire, an immediate end to the Israeli military operation in Gaza, and an end to the rocket fire by Hamas; that all sides must respect international humanitarian law; and that Israel must exercise maximum restraint?

What is the Prime Minister’s view of the report suggesting that Israel is using flechette shells? Does he agree that the only way to avoid the cycle of violence and perpetual insecurity in the region is to address the root causes of the conflict and that there must be an immediate return to the negotiating table and talks on a two-state solution? As Ban Ki-moon said:“Israelis, but also Palestinians, need to feel a sense of security. Palestinians, but also Israelis, need to see a horizon of hope.”

And here are some of the questions that were put to the PM in the subsequent debate. The PM responded to each, and the responses can be found in the full Hansard record linked to above. It is worth noting that a number of the questions refer to the emails they have received on the issue:

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Surely friends of Israel, like the Prime Minister and I, have a duty at this time to speak the truth? These attacks, despite the horrendous rocket assaults on Israel and the extremism of Hamas, are not “disproportionate”; in any other conflict they would be described as war crimes. That is the truth. The problem also is that there is no end in sight to this. What will happen, a moderate Palestinian leadership having been replaced by Hamas through the failure to succeed in negotiations, is that Hamas, as the respected former Israeli Government adviser Daniel Levy has suggested, could soon be replaced by ISIS in Gaza. We have to start, as the west, speaking the truth, acting and persuading the Israeli Government to negotiate seriously.

Sir Menzies Campbell (North East Fife) (LD): My right hon. Friend asks what the reaction should be here, were we to be subject to such rocket attacks as those sustained by Israel. As a Member of Parliament, I would ask—indeed, demand—that our Government respond in a proportionate way, consistent with international law and with proper regard for the safety of innocent men, women and children. With all the sophisticated military technology at its disposal, can Israel really protect itself only by the kind of operations that the Secretary-General of the United Nations has called “atrocious”?

Sir Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab): Will the right hon. Gentleman condemn outright the Israeli massacre over the weekend at Shujai’iya of 67 Palestinian innocents whom Netanyahu has obscenely described as “telegenically dead”, together with the four innocent people killed today by the Israeli direct hit on the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades’ hospital? Will he also increase the Government’s valuable aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency? Some 67,000 Palestinians have fled to its refuge centres, but they are running out of water and money to feed them. While in no way condoning the actions of Hamas, I ask him to point out to Netanyahu, on the evidence of the two previous Israeli attacks on Gaza, that he can kill, but he cannot win.

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): The Prime Minister said that the most recent bloodshed in Gaza and Israel had started with the Hamas rocket attacks. I deplore those attacks, but does the Prime Minister not accept that they are not happening in a vacuum, but are a consequence of the ongoing Israeli occupation and siege of Gaza? Given that this is the latest in a long line of Israeli breaches of international law, does he recognise the growing movement that is calling for an embargo on all military co-operation with Israel?

Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): What representations has the Prime Minister ever made to the Government of Israel concerning its illegal settlements, its occupation of the west bank and the siege of Gaza, which has gone on for a long time and has led to 70% unemployment? Does he not think that the current crisis and the carnage in Gaza is caused essentially by the failure of Israel ever to recognise the rights, needs or justice of the Palestinian people, and does he not think it is time Britain did something about it, such as by doing that?

Frank Dobson (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab): While Israel is rightly claiming its right of self-defence under international law, we cannot have international law for the Israelis and another international law for the Palestinians, and when is Britain, and more importantly the United States, going to bring pressure to bear to get the Israelis to comply with international law, to end the blockade of Gaza and the settlements on the west bank?

Sir Richard Ottaway (Croydon South) (Con): In Gaza, much has been made of what is and is not “proportionate”. The argument is being made that it should be an eye for an eye, but in international law the correct definition is that the response should be proportionate “to the threat”. Does my right hon. Friend agree that Israel has no alternative but to go to find who is firing the missiles at it and to stop them?

Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): Does the outrage in Ukraine call for a speedy review of the international rules on the safety of flying over conflict zones? Does the much-needed call for a ceasefire in Gaza include a call for the end of Hamas’s terror tunnels and does the Prime Minister agree that they, too, are a war crime?

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab): For the avoidance of doubt, will the Prime Minister agree that the targeting of civilians or wilful disregard for the lives of civilians is a crime, whether those civilians are flying in a civilian aircraft, sheltering in their homes in south Israel or sheltering in their homes in Gaza? Is he aware that Israel has a history of using UK-supplied arms and components in contravention of the EU consolidated criteria? Would he consider Israel’s use of British-supplied arms or components in Gaza today to be in contravention of those criteria, is he asking Israel whether they are or whether they are not and what answer is he getting

Mr Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham, Perry Barr) (Lab): What is the Government’s assessment of the reports that the Israelis are using illegal white phosphorus as part of their illegal campaign in Gaza? Will he condemn the use of any chemical weapons in Gaza, as he has been so quick to do on other occasions?

Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): Last week, when the then Foreign Secretary made a statement on Gaza, the death toll of Palestinian children in the conflict since 2000 stood at 1,430. Today it is reported at 1,472. When democracies depart from the rule of law, they give legal and moral authority to our enemies. Israel is in consistent and, today, grievous breach of the Geneva conventions. What is my right hon. Friend doing to bring Israel back within the rule of law?

Mark Hendrick (Preston) (Lab/Co-op): Benjamin Netanyahu said on TV over the weekend that the US, the UK and others supported Israeli action in Gaza. Given that the Prime Minister said in his statement today that the indiscriminate targeting of men, women and children is a war crime, why does he not condemn Israeli actions, rather than just making excuses for them, as he has done today?

Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow) (Lab): Does the Prime Minister stand by his words of 2010 that the blockaded Gaza “must not be allowed to remain a prison camp”? Does he believe that the killing of 500 people and the displacing of 83,000 people is a proportionate response to the attacks he has mentioned? May I appeal to him to show courage and international leadership and to act as an honest broker to help bring an end to this conflict and humanitarian catastrophe?

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): On Gaza, what evidence has the Prime Minister seen that Hamas has been using women and children as human shields in order to turn public opinion and to win the air war—the broadcast air war?

Stephen Timms (East Ham) (Lab): I agree with the Prime Minister about the need to stop the rockets from Gaza. However, does he not understand and, indeed, share the widespread revulsion at the apparent disregard for human life in the current military action in Gaza? Surely the Secretary-General of the United Nations is right that this action must now stop.

Mr Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill) (Lab): Everyone in this House condemns the rocket attacks, but the Israeli defence force is firing the most dangerous of weapons in the most dense of communities, and it is very clear that Secretary Kerry and Ban Ki-moon think that not enough is being done to minimise civilian casualties. Does the Prime Minister accept that analysis? What we really want to know in this House is what he will do today, tomorrow and through the week in the Security Council to stop the slaughter of the innocents in Gaza and beyond.

Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) (Con): On behalf of my Ukrainian community, I welcome the Prime Minister’s statement on bringing an end to the violence in Ukraine. With regard to the crisis in Gaza and Israel, I join my constituents in deploring the loss of innocent lives. As my right hon. Friend said, we have all seen the horrific scenes of women and children being caught up in the cycle of violence. Will he continue to show leadership, with the United Nations, the US and others, in order to stop this senseless violence and to kick-start a meaningful peace process once again?

Mr Mike Weir (Angus) (SNP): I should like to associate myself and my colleagues with the Prime Minister’s condolences to those affected by the terrible tragedy of flight MH17, and with what he said about the need for early access to the site. On Gaza, when he is speaking to our European partners, will he press for a joint approach to allow the medical evacuation of serious injured Palestinians, given the terrible situation there?

Steve Brine (Winchester) (Con): Does the Prime Minister agree that, with regard to the situation in Gaza, the greatest strength is sometimes demonstrated by showing restraint? All that Israel’s actions are doing is creating the next generation of highly motivated Hamas terrorists. Is he minded to talk to his fellow European leaders about a form of sanction to encourage that restraint?

Mr Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab): The PM rightly spoke of his anger at the deaths in Ukraine and the dangers of turning a blind eye when big countries bully smaller countries. Will he apply those maxims to Gaza? Will he stop blaming the Palestinians for the murder of their own children? Will he show consistent resolve and equal action to uphold international law in dealing with Tel Aviv as with Moscow?

Jack Dromey (Birmingham, Erdington) (Lab): Israel has a right to security, with an end to rocket attacks by Hamas, but does the Prime Minister agree that while Israel uses overwhelming and disproportionate force with heartbreaking consequences in Gaza and continues to build settlements in the west bank, there will not be peace and security until such time as it recognises the right of the Palestinians to live in security as well and agrees to a two-state solution?

Lyn Brown: A reported 12,000-plus rockets have been fired into Gaza over the past 13 days, with more than 500 deaths and more than 80,000 Gazans displaced. May I simply ask the Prime Minister what pressure he is prepared to apply, if he will not pursue economic sanctions against Israel, to ensure that Israel complies with international humanitarian law and exercises the restraint that he says he wants to see?

Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con): I thank the Prime Minister for his comments about Hamas. Israel has faced not just 1,850 missiles, but 11,000 missiles fired from Gaza, even after the unilateral withdrawal and millions of tonnes of aid going from Israel into Gaza every year. Will my right hon. Friend also look at the source of the missiles, because Iran is supplying Hamas with the weapons?

Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East) (Lab): The Prime Minister will be aware that nothing happens in isolation. One of the reasons for what is happening is that in Gaza, in the past 60 years more than 6 million Palestinians have been forced out of their homes, forced to live in squalor while moving from one country to another, unlawfully imprisoned and treated really badly. All those people have legal documents to prove their ownership of their homes, yet we have done nothing. I am sure that if all those people were given back the homes to which they are legally entitled, the ceasefire would occur immediately.

Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab): Hundreds of my constituents have contacted me because they are angry and sickened by the killing of innocent Palestinians and the injuries to many thousands more in Gaza over recent days. They find it hard to understand the Prime Minister’s view that that violence is proportionate, so will he explain how he has reached that conclusion?

Mr Tom Clarke (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) (Lab): While I welcome the UN Security Council’s call last night for a ceasefire, will the Prime Minister take on board the representations I have received, including e-mails from my constituents this morning, urging him—pleading with him—to urge the Israelis to stop using flechette shells in Gaza, which lead to lethal metal darts and innocent people being killed or maimed? Does he agree that the Egyptians calling for dialogue is not enough?

Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab): I unequivocally condemn the firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas, but the Prime Minister has to accept that the response from Israel is disproportionate. The disregard for the safety of innocent civilians, whether they are in Israel or Gaza or in an aeroplane over Ukraine, is unacceptable, and international law must be applied....

Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) (Lab): Hundreds of my constituents have contacted me expressing their horror at what is happening in Gaza, and I share that horror. This is—yet again—a disproportionate response from Israel. Does the Prime Minister agree that the collective punishment of the Palestinians, which has seen many hundreds die, including many dozens of children, is disproportionate and a war crime? People watching this debate today will see that his response has been wholly inadequate

Mr Robin Walker (Worcester) (Con): I am sure that everyone in the House wants an end to rocket attacks, but on Friday I met literally hundreds of my constituents—people from mosques, churches, and people of no religion at all—who had taken to the streets of Worcester because of their deep concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. May I urge the Prime Minister, on their behalf and mine, to use every diplomatic tool in the box to impress on both sides in this conflict the need to bring about a ceasefire, come to the table and work towards a long-term peace?

Shabana Mahmood (Birmingham, Ladywood) (Lab): Now that the Israeli ground offensive has moved into densely populated urban areas of Gaza, the death toll of innocent Palestinians, especially of children, will only rise. The Israelis say that civilians should leave these areas. Given the Prime Minister’s own description of Gaza as an open-air prison camp, perhaps he could advise the men, women and children of Gaza as to where on Earth they are supposed to go?

Gavin Shuker (Luton South) (Lab/Co-op): Does the Prime Minister accept that one major impediment to a lasting ceasefire in Gaza is the widely held belief across the Palestinian occupied territories, the wider middle east and our own constituencies that Israel has not lived up to its previous commitments under previous ceasefires? Furthermore, does he accept that the normal test he would apply on the deliberate targeting of civilians starts to break down in an area as densely populated as Gaza?

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab): ...On Gaza, I am absolutely stunned by the Prime Minister’s change in tone. Will he unreservedly condemn the indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on the Palestinian people, particularly civilian women and children, and the breaches of international law and the Geneva convention?

Related Posts:
Enough is enough Syria
Enough is enough Gaza and the West Bank
Enough is enough Egypt
Enough is enough China

Are you a Type 1 or Type 2 Person

Proof that activism works

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Enough is enough : Syria

Back in 2011, BFTF contacted (in this post) the MCB, OIC, Arab League, Syrian Embassy and local mosques to urge them to act to stop the escalating conlict there.

None of them responded and BFTF is ashamed that he has not been active on this issue in the intervening years.

So, it is perhaps time to try again.

Sent the message below to the MCB, OIC, Arab League, and local mosques

"Can you please advise which organisations (e.g. local MP, Arab League, EU etc) I should pressure to act to stop the killing in Syria and, if you have a view, what actions you think those organisations should take".

Related Posts:
Enough is enough Syria
Enough is enough Gaza and the West Bank
Enough is enough Egypt
Enough is enough China

Are you a Type 1 or Type 2 Person

Proof that activism works

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Enough is enough : Gaza and the West Bank

Some comments on the current attack on Gaza:

Gideon Levy in Haaretz comments on:

" the Hamas rockets "didn’t fall out of the sky from nowhere" but instead followed the breakdown of negotiations with Israel; attacks on Hamas following the murder of the three hikers "which it is doubtful Hamas planned"; the "false arrest of 500 of its activists" and more.
The article closes by pointing out that the the approach being taken by Israel is diametrically opposite to the policies that will result in a solution to the conflict suggesting one way forward: "A port in Gaza to export its excellent strawberries? To Israelis this sounds like heresy. Here once again, the preference is for (Palestinian) blood over (Palestinian) strawberries"
Meanwhile, Holocaust survivor Gabor Maté comments in the Toronto Star on how :
"There is no understanding Gaza out of context — Hamas rockets or unjustifiable terrorist attacks on civilians — and that context is the longest ongoing ethnic cleansing operation in the recent and present centuries, the ongoing attempt to destroy Palestinian nationhood.
The Palestinians use tunnels? So did my heroes, the poorly armed fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto. Unlike Israel, Palestinians lack Apache helicopters, guided drones, jet fighters with bombs, laser-guided artillery. Out of impotent defiance, they fire inept rockets, causing terror for innocent Israelis but rarely physical harm. With such a gross imbalance of power, there is no equivalence of culpability.

Israel wants peace? Perhaps, but as the veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy has pointed out, it does not want a just peace. Occupation and creeping annexation, an inhumane blockade, the destruction of olive groves, the arbitrary imprisonment of thousands, torture, daily humiliation of civilians, house demolitions: these are not policies compatible with any desire for a just peace. In Tel Aviv Gideon Levy now moves around with a bodyguard, the price of speaking the truth."

And By Lawrence Weschler writes at Truthdig that :
"For the single overriding fact defining the Israeli-Palestinian impasse at this point is that if the Palestinians are quiescent and not engaged in any overt rebellion, the Israelis... manage to tell themselves that things are fine and there’s no urgent need to address the situation; and if, as a result, the endlessly put-upon Palestinians do finally rise up in any sort of armed resistance (rocks to rockets), the same Israelis exasperate, “How are we supposed to negotiate with monsters like this?” A wonderfully convenient formula, since it allows the Israelis to go blithely on, systematically stealing Palestinian land in the West Bank, and continuing to confine 1.8 million Gazans within what might well be described as a concentration camp."

There has been much talk on social media of consumer boycotts, but with few references to actual organisations running such campaigns. So far as BFTF can tell, the first point of call is, and organisation that is supported by over 100 NGO's in Palestine.

Before boycotting something, BFTF tries to know three things:
i) What, exactly is to be boycotted
ii) What alternative products should be bought instead
iii) What evidence there is that the people the boycott is alleged to support actually want it, and that this is the best way of helping them.
iv) That a boycott is not hypocritical (whilst realising that one cannot tackle everythng at once)

The answers to these questions, in relation to Gaza and the West Bank, are not quite clear to BFTF at this point.

Information on the Co-op boycott of settlement produce can be found here.

But what BFTF is pretty sure about is that Palestinians would like a hand up rather than a hand out, so hopes to shortly be buying some Palestinian produce from a local Zaytoun stockist (in BFTF's case this appears to be Roots Health Foods in Nottingham

Finally (for now), sent the following to my local MP :
"Like many people, I am appalled by death and destruction currently being wreaked on Gaza and wanted to make three hearfelt points to you:

i) Do you think bombing the living daylights out of a population is going to make them come begging to the negotiating table? Is that what the British people would do in a similar situation? I think not.

ii) The many years of peace in the West Bank has resulted in nothing for the Palestinian population there. Their crops are still routinely destroyed, they are still routinely humiliated by IDF security forces, they are still discriminated against in terms of trade, electriciy and water and housing.

iii) The UK Government likes to strut around as a permanent member of the security council, and has Tony Blair as the envoy for the Quartet - but I don't see what Mr Blair, or the UK government is practically doing to bring any semblance of justice to the lives of the Palestinians. I would welcome some evidence from you on this point."

Update:13 Aug 2014
Received a response from BFTF's local MP. Social media comments suggest that the wording is exactly the same as used for others how have, presumably, challenged on this issue. BFTF notes that the response only adresses some of the points that BFTF raised.

The response makes a number of key points :

"I oppose the Israeli incursion into Gaza...the rising death toll of innocent civilians in Gaza simply cannot be justified"

"The continued firing of rockets at Israeli civilians is completely unjustifiable..."

"I fear that the killing of Palestinians on a daily basis will cause yet more grief and destruction in Gaza as well as risking greater isolation for Israel and fuelling further extremism and conflict"

"I questioned [the PM during a Commons debate] on his approach to the conflict and why he thought the violence was proportional.."

The Commons question mentioned above can, of course be found on Hansard and is shown below:

"Local MP : Hundreds of my constituents have contacted me because they are angry and sickened by the killing of innocent Palestinians and the injuries to many thousands more in Gaza over recent days. They find it hard to understand the Prime Minister’s view that that violence is proportionate, so will he explain how he has reached that conclusion?

The Prime Minister: What I have said clearly is that the Israelis need to exercise restraint, obey the norms of international law, do more to avoid civilian casualties and help bring the situation to an end, but they would be assisted in that if Hamas agreed to the ceasefire that Israel has agreed to."

BFTF sent a Tweet to the MP saying thank you for raising this question in the Commons.

Also sent this to the Nottingham Conservative Group:

Dear Nottingham Conservatives

I'm very disturbed to hear David Cameron say, in his 21st July Statement on Gaza, that "The crisis was triggered by Hamas raining hundreds of rockets on Israeli cities"

This is flat wrong, nothing in the Arab-Israeli conflict happens in a vacuum. As respected Israeli writer Gideon Levy points out, the Hamas rockets "didn’t fall out of the sky from nowhere" but instead followed the breakdown of negotiations with Israel; attacks on Hamas following the murder of the three hikers (which had nothing to do with Hamas); the false arrest of 500 of its activists and more.

I am also very disturbed to see that while David Cameron feels able to "condemn" the Hamas rocket attacks (which have caused very little damage or casualties), he is only able to ask the IDF to "exercise restraint" - an IDF that has killed thousands, maimed thousands more, left tens of thousands homeless and destroyed schools, mosques, hospitals and power stations.

I am hoping you can explain this double standard because I am finding it REALLY hard to understand.

It is simply not in the UK's interest to allow Israel to cause such destruction in Gaza. As Peter Hain MP has pointed out, this will only increase the chance of Hamas being replaced by nihilists like ISIS.

I could go further, and take apart David Camerons statement piece by piece, but I shall leave it there as these are the most important comments I wanted to make.

I look forward to your response in due course.

Related Posts:
Commons debate on Gaza 21st July 2014
Enough is enough Syria
Enough is enough Gaza and the West Bank
Enough is enough Egypt
Enough is enough China

Are you a Type 1 or Type 2 Person

Proof that activism works

Enough is enough : Egypt

Very disturbed to read how two trials in Egypt earlier this year resulted in 720 people being sentenced to death.
According to the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, the trials were very unfair, commenting that :
"The majority of the defendants were tried in absentia and no specific evidence was put forward by the prosecution in respect of individual defendants. Defence lawyers were not allowed to call witnesses, present their own cases or cross examine on the prosecution case. The trial of the 529 defendants was concluded in only two short sessions... No consideration was provided as to the evidence against each individual defendant, nor any reference to the standard of proof...In particular, defence lawyers claim that there is evidence which proves that a large percentage of the convicted were not even present at the scene of the Minya events last August."
This comes against a backdrop of systemic violence and abuse in Egypts legal system, according to Amnesty International. A report by the human rights organisation points out that :
"Amnesty International has gathered damning evidence indicating that torture is routine in police stations and unofficial places of detention, with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters particularly targeted. It is carried out by both the Egyptian military and police including in premises belonging to the National Security Agency, in many cases with the objective of obtaining confessions or to force detainees to implicate others. Among the methods of torture employed are techniques previously used by state security during Mubarak’s rule. These include the use of electric shocks, rape, handcuffing detainees and suspending them from open doors"
Amnesty also point out that :
"Egypt is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 14 of which guarantee the right of everyone to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law. The article further guarantees the right of everyone facing criminal charges to be informed promptly of the nature and cause of the charges against them; the right to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of their defence; the right to be tried in their presence; and the right to examine, or have examined, the witnesses against them. Article 6 of the ICCPR states that, in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the ICCPR."
So sent this to to Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights Mahy Hassan Abdel Latif ( and two addresses at the Egyptian Consulate in the UK ( ,
"I have been very disturbed to hear about the mass death sentences handed down to over 700 people earlier this year in Egypt. So far as I can tell, the trial was very flawed and the defendents (many of whom claim to have been elsewhere at the times the crimes were committed) had little chance to defend themselves.

Separately, I am also appalled to read in reports by Amnesty that torture, rape and electric shocks are routinely used on detainees.

Egypt should be ashamed that it has allowed these unfair trials and routine use of torture to happen. As well as causing me to lose respect for Egypt, these actions also give ammunition to those who say that Muslim countries are incapable of governing themselves without becoming violent, intolerant, dictatorships."

Related Posts:
Enough is enough Syria
Enough is enough Gaza and the West Bank
Enough is enough Egypt
Enough is enough China

Are you a Type 1 or Type 2 Person

Proof that activism works

Enough is enough : China

Very disturbed to hear that Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China are being banned from fasting in the month of Ramadan, according to the BBC.

According to the reports, students were "were being forced to have meals with professors to ensure they were not fasting."

Another report describes how hospital staff are being forced to sign a pledge that they would not fast.

This is an unacceptable restriction on freedom to practice ones faith.

So sent this to the Chinese Embassy in London:
"I have been very disturbed to hear reports that Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China are being banned from fasting, to the extent that some students are being forced to eat meals with college staff to prove that the students are not fasting that day. To hear that the Chinese government is behaving in this way reduces my respect for China, and makes me less likely to buy Chinese made products."

And this to the High Commission for Pakistan in the UK
"I have been disturbed to read reports that reports that Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China are being banned from fasting, to the extent that some students are being forced to eat meals with college staff to prove that the students are not fasting that day. As China is a good friend of Pakistan, I wondered what efforts the Pakistani Government has made to stop this practice."
Related Posts:
Enough is enough Syria
Enough is enough Gaza and the West Bank
Enough is enough Egypt
Enough is enough China

Are you a Type 1 or Type 2 Person

Proof that activism works

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Challenging the BBC on negative portrayal of Muslims in Spooks (2004)

Challenged the BBC in this, rather angry, email over an episode called "Outsiders" (Series 3 Episode 7, 22nd Nov 2004). BFTF has no record of any response from the BBC. This was back in 2004. So far as BFTF can tell, nothing at all has changed in the intervening 10 years. BFF wonders why he is paying a licence fee to get demonised in BBC dramatic output.

-----Original Message-----
Sent: 24 November 2004 00:44
Subject: Spooks - Nov 22nd

Does the BBC and KUDOS productions have the demonisation of the Muslim community as some kind of mission statement?

I have just had to endure a whole week of trailers that appeared to show messages from an "Islamic" Terrorist group.

They must have been Muslims mustn't they? The messages were in Arabic after all. But just in case there was any doubt, part of the message was helpfully translated to mean "Jihad". There you go, told you it was Muslims.

And the programme itself continued in the same vein, with the Spooks team raiding a "Cultural Centre" in the UK (would that be the same one that had child suicide bombers in the last series, perhaps?).

But it turns out that it's okay, because this time the Muslims didn't do it.

Let me just get this straight. Are you saying that it is now acceptable to use the asssumed guilt of Muslims as a plot line ??!!

Are you saying that it is okay to, once again, portray Muslims as terrorists so long as, after half an hour of leading the audience on, you then say, "Only kidding, look, it wasn't the Muslims after all"?

I would point out, again, that the ONLY time the BBC portrays Muslims in its dramatic output is when they are either terrorists or asylum seekers

Frankly, I am starting to wonder why I am paying a license fee to an organisation that seems hell bent on portraying me (and my family) as a fifth columnist threat to society.

And if this is the BBC's idea of a contribution to Islamic Awareness week, then I think the Muslims in the UK are better off without it.

In summary, my questions are :

i) Why did the BBC show repeated trailers that associated Islam with terrorism?

ii) Why are Muslims only portrayed in negative terms in the dramatic output of the BBC?

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