Wednesday 12 June 2024

Nigel Raises the Level of Nastiness in UK Politics


Well, I was surprised. Nigel Farage (NF) had said that he wasn't standing for Parliament, then he announced that he was changing his mind and became the Reform UK candidate for Clacton. He is perfectly entitled to do this, of course, but, at the same time, I wondered if the nasty election campaign that I predicted on May 23rd would turn out to become even nastier. Well, it looks as if I was right to expect things to turn more unpleasant. What I did not expect was the fact that some of the nastiness would be directed at NF himself. As the picture above shows, he has been the target for violent attacks, and could well be the victim of more.

As we know, on June 4th, NF had a milkshake thrown over him after leaving the Clacton branch of Wetherspoons. As the BBC reported:  

"The Reform UK leader was leaving a pub after carrying out media interviews when a woman appeared to hurl a McDonald's banana milkshake over his face and suit jacket. Essex Police said a 25-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of assault".

And, while visiting Barnsley yesterday, someone threw cement at NF while he toured the town on his battlebus. The BBC again: 

"Police said Josh Greally, 28, had been charged with using threatening, abusive, insulting words and behaviour with intent to cause fear. He has been released on bail to appear before Barnsley Magistrates' Court on 26 June"

Farage, as might be expected, has received a good deal of sympathy for these attacks from the right-wing press - the Daily Express in particular. This less-than-impartial organ gave NF a lengthy interview yesterday:

"The Brexit champion said physical attacks are the next stage of a “cancel culture” by a “violent left wing mob” hoping to silence him...“This was just an attempt to shut me down... If I give in to these people, who the hell else is going to stand up? I’m sometimes brave to the point of total stupidity. I’m very worried about it... But I’m not going to stop. My modus operandi may have to change... You might agree with me or disagree with me, that’s fine. I don’t mind if someone shouts something rude at me in the street, I will probably shout it back. But when it comes to violence, that actually poses a threat to the entire democratic process".

Well, I hate to agree with "The Brexit Champion" about anything, but violence against politicians is deplorable. In recent years, we have seen two MPs murdered and abuse, threats and the possibility of violent assault against politicians of all parties has increased over the years. This situation is so bad that some MPs have resigned over fears for their, and their families', safety. One example is that of Mike Freer, who announced in February that he will be standing down after the next election. The BBC reports:
"A minister says he will stand down at the next general election after a series of death threats and an arson attack on his constituency office. Mike Freer, a justice minister and also north London MP, said he avoided being murdered "by the skin of my teeth" by Ali Harbi Ali, who went on to kill Southend West MP Sir David Amess. Mr Freer has represented Finchley and Golders Green since 2010. He said he could no longer put his family through the worry of his safety".

Having said this, and while I condemn all such violence, I have to reflect upon the fact that, back in 2016, as The Mirror reported:  

"Nigel Farage has claimed he has won Brexit “without a single bullet being fired”. The Ukip leader’s highly inflammatory comments at a Leave.EU victory party in London come just a week after Remain-backing Labour MP Jo Cox was shot dead".

Those words of NF should haunt him now, especially when he is the object of political violence himself. We should also remember that NF was the last politician to express condolences for the death of Jo Cox - when he did, it was almost as an afterthought. 
Besides this, it is galling to learn that NF thinks that he is some kind of martyr for free speech. He told the Express: 

"The whole point of democracy is you can have very, very vigorous disagreements. But there has to be a line. The last couple of days have crossed that line.”

NF's hypocrisy on the issue of free speech is appalling. As Hope not Hate has pointed out:

"...there are multiple examples in which we see his hypocrisy and his misinterpretation of free speech, and where he supports speech that would be categorised as hateful".

One example given is that of the toppling of a statue:  

 In response to the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, Farage produced a video in which he claimed that the toppling of the statue by BLM protestors was abhorrent and that he has put himself on the line speaking out against this behaviour, saying for “Those of us who have tried to speak out…free speech is under threat”. Again ignoring the disparity in whose speech is attended to, Farage made no mention of the longstanding campaign in Bristol prior to these events to remove the statue and other uses of Colston’s name".

And, in a nutshell: 

"Emblematic of the populist radical right, Nigel Farage seems to follow a “free speech” tradition that allows for the amplifying of right wing voices – which are supposedly of ‘the people’ – and the silencing those voices with whom they disagree – i.e. the ‘elite’ and, just as often, marginalised groups".

Drawing to a conclusion, we must note that NF has contributed to the growing nastiness of this general election campaign by launching an apparently curious attack on Rishi Sunak for leaving the D-Day commemoration events early. The Daily Mail reports:

"Mr Farage told the BBC Mr Sunak 'should have known in his heart, that it was right to be there'. He claimed the Tory leader 'doesn't really care about our history, he doesn't really care – frankly – about our culture'. Challenged over the comments, he insisted he had been talking about Mr Sunak's 'class' rather than his heritage as the son of first-generation immigrants. Mr Farage denied any racial element, saying that '40 per cent of our contribution' in the two world wars 'came from the Commonwealth".

Please note: NF denied any racial element. Anyone familiar with NF's political history will know this to be complete rubbish. This is a man  who said, in 2014, that parts of Britain were “unrecognisable” and “like a foreign land”. He had also claimed he felt “awkward” when he heard people speaking other languages on the train. NF is also an admirer of Enoch Powell and claimed in 2008 that “While his (Powell's) language may seem out of date now, his principles remain good and true”. And he has other friends on the extreme Right. including Marine le Pen in France and Beatrix von Storch of the Alternative for Germany party. NF's claims to making a non-racist comment on Sunak are completely absurd. 
I believe NF's true aim to have several facets. Firstly, he is seeking to appeal to the avowedly racist voters, who will doubtless applaud his attack on Sunak out of sheer hatred of coloured people. NF knows he cannot do this directly, so he delivered his mealy-mouthed cop-out about the Commonwealth in WW2. He does not say whether they understood "our" culture or not, when they were fighting on our side. He also wants to encourage the elements in the Tory party who are doubtless working behind the scenes to ditch Sunak should he lose the election, which seems very likely. Now, a Tory debacle could well see the Conservatives move further to the Right. Should that happen, NF will be waiting in the wings. In a Telegraph article on Tuesday, one Alison Pearson declared: 

"You know, I think Nigel Farage is already the leader of the Conservatives. He certainly makes a better, more convincing Tory than Rishi Sunak. The polls bear that out. According to the latest findings from strategic consultancy Redfield & Wilton, Reform is in second place (behind Labour) with voters aged 45-54 and 55-64 (that’s the age group of the Tory “base”) and is even second among 18-24s. The Conservatives are in a miserable fifth place with that younger age bracket".

I know that some people say we should not take NF and Reform UK too seriously. After all, they say, NF has never been an MP and Reform UK have only one MP in Parliament. But it is a mistake to underestimate them; people did that with the NSDAP in Germany in the 1920s. Reform UK party has surged ahead in the latest polls, and are, as of now, just one point behind the Conservatives. 
So what do we do? Well, we oppose them with argument, exposes and non-violent action. Let's hope Nigel Farage lives to see his electoral dreams turn to ash.

Thursday 30 May 2024

Plans for Nigel

 As expected, Reform UK has set out to exploit the Immigration issue. I thought that Reform would use this issue as a stick to beat the Tory government, and that has happened. Our old friend, Nigel Farage (NF), seen above in full rhetorical flight, has set out to put Rishi Sunak on the spot regarding this issue. The Express, which seems to have become a Reform UK propaganda sheet,  trumpeted the news on Tuesday: 

"Nigel Farage has challenged Rishi Sunak to a live TV debate on immigration. The Reform UK honorary president accused the Prime Minister of calling the surprise general election because he knows his Rwanda plan "simply would not work”. The former UKIP leader insisted that if Mr Sunak refuses to debate him it will "confirm the fact that Sunak can’t stop the boats"."

Well, there's nothing like having big ideas about yourself, is there? Remember that NF has never won an election to become an MP. We can only wonder at NF's effrontery in demanding a debate with our most senior politician. The other right-wing rag, The Sun, reported that Sunak's spokespeople said, in response to the "invitation":

They told The Sun: "We respect Nigel but there’s only two people who can be Prime Minister at the end of this campaign, Rishi or Starmer, and that's who should be up on stage debating each other".

I would find it next to impossible to respect NF, but approve Sunak's refusal to debate with him. I was pleased to see that Keir Starmer has turned down the idea of a debate with NF as well. Holding such debates would only lend legitimacy to an unelected provocateur who has tried and failed seven times to be elected to parliament. He is not standing for Reform UK in the present election. In fact, he has previously said that he was tired of having doors slammed in his face when out canvassing. He is also on record as saying that he will never travel on public transport again, as he faces widespread hatred. As his campaigns for Brexit and against asylum seekers have led to hostility against EU migrants and refugees, he does not seem to appreciate the irony.

But I digress. Despite his impolite request for a debate with Sunak, and out of the goodness of his heart, he has hinted that he would, given certain provisos, be willing to work with the Conservatives. The Telegraph reports: 

"The honorary Reform UK president said he would be open to “a conversation” if the Conservatives gave him “something back” for the “huge favours” he had done over the years. There have been suggestions that Rishi Sunak should bring Mr Farage into the fold to prevent the Tories from haemorrhaging votes to Reform at the election".

Well, isn't that nice? NF was supposed to have been talking of going over to the USA to work for Donald Trump's campaign. Now, that would have been fun to watch.

 Instead, NF has made a conditional offer to the Conservatives. He believes that the Tories owe him a favour. Again: 

He claimed to have helped the Conservatives on several occasions, having “got rid of” Theresa May with the launch of the Brexit Party and stood aside in hundreds of seats to pave the way for a Boris Johnson victory in 2019, adding: “What are they going to do back for me?”

It remains to be seen whether the Conservatives will accept NF's gracious offer of a "conversation". After all, as has been noted, the Tory Party has become more like UKIP over time and there are many in the Tory Party who admire Farage, as was seen at last year's Conservative party conference. 

Personally. I don't take these "initiatives" too seriously. Not only this, but I don't believe that Farage takes them too seriously, either. I believe that Farage was doing what he does best: promoting himself. He must know that the Conservatives are well aware that giving him status and credibility by debating with him would rebound on them. Instead, he will use the Tory/Starmer refusals as "evidence" that the  two main parties lack the will to stop unwanted immigration. Expect more on this theme from him and Reform UK - who have been surprisingly quiet about NF's approaches to the Conservative government. 

Hope not Hate, who have tangled in the courts with Farage, have produced a chapter on their website that asks the question "Who is Nigel Farage?". I recommend this as a resource for all of us who oppose, and seek to understand, the phenomenon that NF is. As Hope not Hate states:

"Farage has used racism, xenophobia, sexism and Islamophobia to stir up division, has toxic connections to extreme and far-right figures across the world, and Thatcherite beliefs that he has tried to hide from communities in former industrial towns".

 XTC were wrong - Nigel has plans of his own.

Thursday 23 May 2024

A July Election - Things Can Only Get Nasty

 Well, it's on. Rishi Sunak, giving a creditable impersonation of a drowned rat, has decided that US Independence day will be a good day for our next general election. We have six weeks before the election date of July 4th, and I am happy to contribute to the frenetic political discussions and media fuss that is to come. I make no apology for saying that I am looking forward to seeing the Conservatives lose - heavily.

There has been a good deal of speculation about why Sunak has decided to call an election now. The Guardian says: 

"The prime minister has been saying for some weeks that there was evidence that the economy was improving. In his speech outside No 10, Sunak said the government had “reached two major milestones” of reducing inflation and growing the economy faster than other G7 countries".

To me, this is astounding, as I'm sure it is for so many other people. I can only put Sunak's statement down to being born of desperation. Let's be honest: who would want the job of running the Conservative election campaign? As Keir Starmer said, quoted by Sky News: 

"Sir Keir pointed to sewage in rivers, people "waiting on trolleys in A&E", crime going "virtually unpunished" and mortgages and food prices "through the roof". On 4 July you have a choice, and together we can stop the chaos, we can turn the page, we can start to rebuild Britain and change our country," he said".

We can all identify with those issues mentioned and, to a large extent, I share Sir Keir's optimism - with reservations, which I shall mention later. But only an amnesiac could fail to remember what a series of disasters and scandals have been visited upon us by this Conservative administration. My list starts with the Brexit campaign, which led to massive social division and post-Brexit economic chaos. There was the imposition of Austerity Economics by George Osborne. The Guardian comments here:
"Gerard Lyons, economic adviser to Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London and now chief economic strategist at Net Wealth says: “The whole period after 2010 was one of major fiscal mistakes. Austerity was wrong and badly executed. The ability to borrow cheaply was staring at us as a huge opportunity but was never taken.”

Then there was the blow to the economy from Liz Truss and her cronies. Despite being our shortest-serving prime minister, her deeds lingered on. Politico commented: 

"Truss' £45 billion package of unfunded tax cuts — with the promise of more to come — instead sunk the pound, sent interest rates soaring, caused chaos on the bond markets and forced the Bank of England to prop up failing pension funds".

And - of course - we had the unedifying spectacle of a proven liar becoming PM - Boris Johnson, during whose tenure in office, British politics descended into the gutter. Have we forgotten? Among many other scandals, there was the unlawful prorogation of Parliament in September 2019; the channelling of public funds to Jennifer Arcuri in the same year;  the Downing Street flat refurbishment of April 2021: his fine for breaking lockdown laws  in April 2022. Matters were so bad that both Johnson's ethics advisers resigned in June of 2022. All ending in disgrace with the Chris Pincher scandal, here summarised by The Independent: 

"Chris Pincher MP dramatically resigned as deputy chief whip on 30 June following allegations he assaulted two fellow guests the evening before at the Carlton Club, a Tory private members’ club in London.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson was not aware of any “specific allegations” about Mr Pincher when he appointed him to the whips office. It emerged over the following days that he was told about allegations against him as far back as 2019".

Hopefully, this will refresh any failing memories of the Tory record over the past 14 years. I apologise if I have left out any scandals of significance. However, I think this explains why I personally would not like the job of Tory campaign manager.
Unfortunately, there is an option that the Conservatives have that, as they would see it, could pay electoral dividends and that option is scapegoating. During the Brexit referendum campaign, EU migrants were targeted as the enemies within . There is every possibility that the Conservatives will make an issue out of migration and refugees who cross the English Channel in small boats. I believe that they will be forced into this because Reform UK certainly will make an issue of this topic, and could capture Tory votes. This was exhibited today by Anne Widdecombe at the launch of Reform UK's manifesto. The BBC quotes Widdecombe:

"The former Tory minister turned Reform UK member said immigration is the "crucial issue" at the election. She pointed to the latest net migration figures, which stood at a provisional 685,000 in the year to December 2023. She said this this was "nowhere near the 200,000 that we had been previously promised. Widdecombe said that having once been immigration minister, "I know very well that immigration has a tremendous impact on the country. There is no such thing as an economic movement which doesn't impact right across the scale."

The Conservatives will not want to lose votes to Widdecombe, Tice and the others. They will undoubtedly try to prove themselves as the party that is tough on immigration and seek to demonise "foreigners" of any convenient target group, whether it be asylum seekers or foreign-born workers who have lived here for decades and can thus be scapegoated for taking British jobs. 
I hope I'm wrong, but, like I said, things can only get nasty. The Tories have no choice. We are in for a fraught six week electoral campaign.

Rishi Sunak looks a little shaky - he has good reason to feel that way.

Friday 10 May 2024

GB News - Slapped on the Wrist


If, like me, you never watch GB News, you could be forgiven for paying no attention to the reports last month that GB News had been criticised by Ofcom for employing three Conservative MPs to act as newsreaders. To date, GB News has been found to have broken Ofcom rules no less than 11 times, with another eight investigations to be resolved. What has not been widely commented upon is the fact that GB News has not paid any significant or substantial penalty for its breaches. It is a mistake to ignore this, as GB News are unlikely to be deterred by mere written criticism.

To offset this, I refer the readers of this blog to the current issue of "Searchlight" magazine, in which can be found an excellent critique of the Ofcom verdict by Dorothy Byrne, who was head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4 for 17 years. Her article, to which I shall be referring, is online, is excellent and can be read in full by clicking HERE.  

Ms Byrne points out that, had  she presided over 11 breaches of Ofcom rules, she would have been sacked. Not only this, but 17 years ago, Channel 4 was fined £1.5 million for breaking the rules of a live TV phone-in. GB News, please note, has incurred no financial penalty.

Until I read this article, I had no idea how powerful Ofcom was. Byrne has enlightened me:

"The powers of the regulator are mighty. Ofcom revoked the licence to broadcast of the Iranian Government news channel Press TV in 2012 for flagrant breaches. Two years ago, it revoked Russia Today’s right to broadcast. Yet the regulator has taken no action whatsoever against GB News for 11 breaches other than a ticking off".

I do applaud Ofcom for ridding us of Press TV and RT. They are both deranged propaganda outlets for dictatorial regimes, but what is GB News but a propaganda outlet for the Farage wing of the Tory Party and assorted conspiracy "theorists"? Why is it getting off so lightly? The bias of its "news presenters" is astoundingly blatant. Byrne deserves to be quoted at length here:

"...the channel allowed former House of Commons Leader Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, a former Secretary of State Esther McVey and backbencher Philip Davies – all Conservative MPs – to present news. Rees-Mogg talked about a verdict in one of Donald Trump’s court cases, McVey and Davies presented news about a number of matters including train strikes, the UK economy, an anti-Ulez protest rally and the doctors’ strike. These are all clearly matters of significant public policy and all controversial matters".

These are flagrant breaches of the impartiality rule of broadcasting. As the Ofcom ruling says: 

"Politicians have an inherently partial role in society and news content presented by them is likely to be viewed by audiences in light of that perceived bias. In our view, the use of politicians to present the news risks undermining the integrity and credibility of regulated broadcast news".

The LibDems would certainly agree with that. Back in January, they asked Ofcom to investigate alleged bias in GB News' coverage of the Post Office scandal, including attacks on Sir Ed Davey. They claimed that Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage (hello again), both GB News "presenters", targeted opposition politicians, but not Tory ministers for their role in the scandal. The BBC says here: 

"Daisy Cooper, the Lib Dem deputy leader, wrote to Ofcom claiming Mr Farage launched "a fictitious monologue" about Sir Ed which contained "a number of factual inaccuracies" in his show on Tuesday.
"The Liberal Democrats were offered no right of reply. This therefore breaches both the accuracy and impartiality elements of the Ofcom code," Ms Cooper said".

Nor should we forget the Laurence Fox debacle, which was an utter disgrace in terms of broadcasting.
Dorothy Byrne asks (and surely speaks for all of us): Is Ofcom cowed by the Conservative government? A very apt question, to which we can add: how far does the Conservative government favour GB News? After all, in another breach of Ofcom impartiality rules, the husband and wife team of Tory MPs and GB news presenters, Philip Davies and Esther McVey, interviewed Jeremy Hunt about the Budget. As Dorothy Byrne comments here: 

"Common sense would tell you that two Tories interviewing a Tory was not likely to result in a duly impartial interview".

Indeed not, but to further attempt to answer my own question, it was interesting to learn that Rishi Sunak has appointed McVey to a ministerial post and has awarded Davies a knighthood since the rules were breached.

I conclude in the first part by quoting Dorothy Byrne again, as indeed I should. She rightly says:

"Television regulation is one of the cornerstones of our democracy. If this government wants to protect us against extremists who threaten democracy, it should be asking the regulator why it is being so weak about GB News breaking the rules".

For my part, I would like to quote Liz Truss's words to the Tory conference last year:

“In my view, we need more economic journalism and we need more GB News,” Ms Truss said. “Challenging the orthodoxy, broadcasting common sense and transforming our media landscape. So long may it continue."

In case you missed it, that is a warning to all of us who value democracy and free speech. Additional to the fact that GB News is regarded so favourably by Liz Truss and her ilk is the imminent arrival of Boris Johnson as a GB News presenter in the build-up to the next general election. Dorothy Byrne again:

 "Boris Johnson joins GB News in the run-up to the next General Election. We will then have Johnson, a known liar, as the most important presenter on a right-wing television channel which has flagrantly breached regulations that protect the fairness, accuracy and due impartiality of political coverage".

The warning could not be clearer. While, hopefully, most us will ignore GB News, there are many who won't. Let's hope Ofcom finds some courage - enough to deal with GB News and the other right-wing TV channels.

Tuesday 30 April 2024

Death of a Busker, the Slaying of a Schoolboy

 Well, it gives me no pleasure to say that I was right in saying what I did. On March 4th, I wrote that:

"I am sure that I will be writing about this topic again..."

That topic, of course, being the murder of innocent members of the public by released mental health patients. I have written about this subject for a number of years and had no illusions about the fact that such a murder could happen again. What I did not expect was to be writing about two such murders, one committed in 2022 and the other carried out this morning. The first was of the gentleman seen in the photo above: 87-year old Thomas O' Halloran.
On August 16,2022, Mr O'Halloran was riding his motor scooter home from a shopping trip to his local Tesco in Greenford, London. He was often seen to be busking there, as well as Greenford Station, where he played his accordion to raise funds for local charities, as well as for the victims of war in Ukraine. Originally from Ennistymon, County Clare, in Ireland, Mr O'Halloran left Ireland in the 1950s in search of better opportunities in England, but returned home annually.
It was Mr O'Halloran's misfortune that day in 2022 to encounter 45-year-old Lee Byer in an underpass of the A40. Byer, entirely at random, attacked Mr O'Halloran with appalling ferocity. As The Independent says, Mr O'Halloran did not die on the spot, but...: 

"Thomas O’Halloran rode his scooter 75 yards down the road after he was stabbed, trying to flag down members of the public for help in Greenford, west London, before collapsing of his wounds."

London's Air Ambulance attended, but despite the best efforts of the medics, Thomas died at the scene.
The subsequent post-mortem examination found that Thomas had been stabbed ten times.
Immediately after the attack, The Metropolitan Police began the search for the culprit, As they say:

"Following the attack, police moved very quickly to use the CCTV images of the suspected attacker to issue a media appeal. Several prison officers, who had dealt with Byer whilst he was in prison, saw the media appeals and reported his identity."

As well they might have known him, as he had been released from Wormwood Scrubs just five days prior to the attack and had a number of previous convictions. Again, as The Independent says:

 "It can now be reported that Byer had 15 previous convictions recorded against him for 30 offences dating back to when he was 14. In 2011, he was convicted of robbery and was sentenced to 12 years in prison and was only released from Wormwood Scrubs on 11 August".

 He was arrested in Southall in the early hours of August 18th. The rest of his story is depressingly familiar. This Monday, Byer denied murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter by diminished responsibility and having an offensive weapon. The Prosecutor, Gareth Patterson KC accepted the pleas after mental health reports found Byer was psychotic, hearing voices, suffering from paranoid delusions and paranoid schizophrenia. Now, where have we heard of those before? And why were they not detected earlier, during one of Byer's spells in prison? Do not expect a quick answer - if any.
Five days after his death and following Byers' arrest, over 100 people gathered together to pay a musical tribute to Mr O'Halloran at the place where he died. Many were local Irish people, but all who attended expressed their distress and shock at the brutal murder of a much-loved member of the community. Mr Gerry Hehir, who knew Thomas O'Halloran, described Mr O'Halloran as "very quiet and professional", adding that he was "a very loving man and a very caring man...He will be very well remembered for everything he's done for the community," he said.
The BBC says: 
"Local parish priest Father Tom Daly led the community in prayer. He said: 
"We pray today for Tom, who died so violently. In the face of this kind of awful incident, we don't know what to do and people feel completely helpless."

Father Daly, along with the rest of us, must be feeling that feeling of helplessness again. This morning, a 14-year-old boy lost his life after another of Byers' ilk went berserk with a sword in a different part of London - this time in Hainault. The Standard reports

"A 14-year-old boy has died after a man wielding a sword attacked five people including two police officers in east London. The officers and two members of the public remain in hospital following the stabbings in HainaultNone of their injuries are believed to be life-threatening but both police have ”significant injuries” and require surgery. A 36-year-old suspect remains in custody after being Tasered by police and arrested at the scene".

A witness, James Fernando, described the horrific moment the boy was attacked, saying: 

“I saw a guy get out of a grey Transit after crashing into a house. I saw him struck a boy with the sword. Police turned up and he ran. I stood next next to the boy. It looked like he was gone. I was in total shock. He was in sports clothes. I can’t stop seeing the boy’s face".

So, another innocent victim murdered and another community traumatised. Another family bereaved and two more mental health patients have taken lives for no valid reason. Regrettably, I foresee no end to the posts I write on this topic. I have expressed hope for many years that things would improve, but these senseless murders continue. All I can do - and I am sure that I speak for all who read this - is to send condolences to the relatives of Thomas O'Halloran, both here and in Ireland (Mo chomhbhron o chroi!) and those of the as-yet-unnamed 14-year-old boy killed in Hainault, all of whom must be suffering untold grief. Our sympathies should also go to the four people injured by the Mad Swordsman, especially the two police officers, who suffered horrific injuries. Lee Byer and the Hainault Swordsman will spend a long time being looked after in a secure mental health unit, from whence they might be released back into the community, to kill again. We all really need to recognise that Byers and the sword-carrying psychopath are not isolated cases. There are many more like them on the streets, and any one of us, our family and friends could become their victims. It is in our best interests to lobby for a solution to this problem which has claimed too many lives already.

Footnote, 2/5/24:

I felt compelled to give a name to the 14-year-old boy murdered in Hainault. His name, as the world knows now, is Daniel Anjorin. 
Marcus Arduini Monzo, 36, is due before Westminster Magistrates' Court today facing a number of charges:  two counts of attempted murder, two counts of causing grievous bodily harm, aggravated burglary, and possession of a bladed article, as well as the murder of Daniel. It has, rightly, been pointed out to me that we do not know Monzo's psychiatric condition as yet, although I doubt that he will be judged as being of sound mind. Nor has it been established that he is a released mental health patient. My answer to that is to say that I hope Monzo is never released.
So, a busker of 87 and a schoolboy of 14 - two very different people, both innocent victims of random psychopathic violence. To my mind, they have achieved a kind of unity, which  I commend to their memory in this short verse:

The wrong place, the wrong time,
But what did you do wrong?
Shine on now together,
Daniel and Tom. 

Monday 15 April 2024

Iran and Operations Abroad


Back in the previous century, when I was at the University of Salford, among my fellow-students were a number of Iranians. Some were known to be supporters of the then regime, headed by Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, aka the last Shah of Iran. Others, opponents of the Shah, some of whom were friends and comrades of mine, formed an Alternative Iranian Society (AIS). The official society was said to be run by SAVAK, the Shah's secret service. Out of solidarity, I joined AIS, but never went to any meetings because they were conducted in Farsi. Still, I was happy to be an alternative Iranian. This was in the late 70s and, as we know, the Shah was overthrown in 1979. All my Iranian friends returned home and those of us who knew him only heard from one - Mohammed - who said that the Left was under pressure from the Islamists who supported the Ayatollah Khomeni.  Indeed they were, as were all non-fundamentalists in Iran (they still are). I have often wondered over the years what happened to those young Iranians that I knew. I can only hope that they survived.

All this happened a long time ago, but, as we know, Iran is in the news for its massive missile attack against Israel. The topic for discussion, understandably, is the possibility of a retaliatory strike by the Israelis. It has been pointed out by some that Israel has launched targeted attacks against Iran for years, and the missile onslaught was retaliation for the killing of seven Revolutionary Guard officers in a clinical airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus. Without becoming embroiled in a discussion about retaliation, which is a frequent occurrence in the Middle East, I think it of interest to look more closely at the organisation to which those officers belonged - the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Of particular interest to us here in the UK, and surely to all countries concerned, is the IRGC section known as Quds Force. They should concern us, as they are responsible for all operations abroad carried out in the name of the Iranian government. As such, they have been involved in all Middle East conflicts since the 80s. At the present time, they are supporting Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis. They are active in Syria and, closer to home, they are thought to be involved in assassination plots in Europe. In 2022, as Iran International said,

"An operative of Iran's IRGC Qods Force held in a European country has admitted to plotting assassinations in Turkey, Germany and France, diplomatic sources say. The sources who spoke to Iran International on condition of anonymity said the accused who is currently in detention in a European country has admitted to receiving $150,000 for organizing the assassinations with one million promised to be paid to him after the completion of the operations". 

And the Iranian state has not been idle when it comes to worldwide assassination, mostly, if not always, organised by Quds Force. The Iran Primer lists a number of murders and plots for murder around the world against Iranian dissidents and those whom the Iranian state would like to liquidate. As of 2023, the Islamic Republic  was behind the murder of at least 20 opponents abroad and had killed scores of people in bombings of foreign military, diplomatic and cultural facilities. It targeted Americans, Europeans, Latin Americans, Israelis and Arabs as well as Iranian opposition members living abroad, according to U.S., U.N., Israeli and other government reports. The Iran Primer lists at least 88 attacks or plots:

  • 21 targeted Iranian dissidents
  • 35 targeted Israelis or Jews
  • 25 plots were against Western targets
  • 8 plots were against Arab or other regional target
These killings, and plots to kill, include:

"July 18, 1994: Ninety-five were killed and 200 wounded in an explosion outside the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, but Argentine intelligence allegedly concluded in 2004 that a 21-year Hezbollah operative carried out the attack with Iranian logistical support".

"April 2021: Swedish authorities arrested an Iranian couple in the Stockholm area that were allegedly planning to murder Aron Verständig, the then-head of the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, and Saskia Pantell, who was serving as the interim head of the Zionist Federation in Sweden. A third target, also Jewish, was not publicized. The couple, Mahdi Ramezani and Fereshteh Sanaeifarid, had pretended to be Afghan refugees".

"Aug. 10, 2022: The U.S. Justice Department announced charges against an IRGC member for plotting to murder John Bolton, who served as national security advisor to President Donald Trump from 2018 to 2019. Shahram Poursafi, 45, planned the operation, “likely in retaliation” for the U.S. assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Qods Force. Soleimani was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad in early 2020".

It's quite disturbing to learn that Iranian agents are at work here in the UK as well.  In 2022, Reuters reported:

"LONDON, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Iran's intelligence services have made at least 10 attempts to kidnap or even kill British nationals or individuals based in the United Kingdom regarded by Tehran as a threat, the head of Britain's domestic spy agency said on Wednesday".

The MI5 chief, Ken McCallum, said that Iranian agents were targeting UK citizens and UK-based dissidents. At the time, the then British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said that he had summoned Iran's  most senior diplomat over threats by Iranian security forces to journalists in Britain. (Surprisingly, the IRGC is not a banned organisation in Britain).  Radio Free Europe (RFE) reported that Iran's Quds Force planned to kill two U.K.-based Iranian journalists using a people smuggler to organize and carry out the killings in exchange for $200,000, according to British television channel ITV News. In more detail, RFE says: 

"The plot, dubbed by its organizers The Wedding, was to target Fardad Farahzad, a current presenter at Persian-language news channel Iran International, and former presenter Sima Sabet, codenamed the bride and the groom, according to the ITV News' investigation, which was broadcast on December 20"
An example of just such an attack was the stabbing of Pouria Zeraati, a dissident Iranian journalist, stabbed outside his London home on March 29th.  The three men who assaulted him escaped to a country not named by the police. Everything points to these three men being an IRGC hit squad.

And, of course, the Iranian regime is not slow at liquidating opponents in Iran itself...

As Amnesty International reports: 

"The number of executions in 2023 is the highest recorded since 2015 and marks a 48% increase from 2022 and a 172% increase from 2021. Iran’s killing spree is continuing into 2024, with at least 95 recorded executions by 20 March. Execution numbers recorded by Amnesty International are minimum figures and the organization believes the real number is higher".

In "fairness" to the Iranian regime, not all the people executed were political dissidents, but many were. And of course, women who do not wear the veil can find death dealt out to them on the street, as we saw with  Mahsa Amani. Then there are the people who disappear. Amnesty International tells of:

" Iranian Kurdish dissidents Pejman Fatehi, Vafa Azarbar, Mohammad (Hazhir) Faramarzi and Mohsen Mazloum, are at grave risk of execution in secret, without prior notice to their families and lawyers, as the authorities have been subjecting them to enforced disappearance, a crime under international law, since July 2022. Amid a horrific spike in executions across Iran, the men’s death sentences, imposed after a grossly unfair secret trial, were upheld by the Supreme Court on 2 January 2024 and sent for implementation".

In conclusion, I would like to say that while Israel deserves the criticism it receives for its conduct of the war in Gaza, we should remember that the organisations and states it confronts are not exactly angelic. I have had Israel described to me as "the gangster state". If so, how should we describe Iran?

Pouria Zeraati, when in hospital. He is now out of hospital and feeling much better. The regime in Iran denies having anything to do with his stabbing. As I look out of my window now, I think I see pigs flying in formation over Hounslow.

Thursday 11 April 2024

Five More Victims of OFSTED

 Five days ago, I included in my swipe at Gillian Keegan, our esteemed Education Secretary and at OFSTED, a list of five names. They were, and are, five important names - names of teachers who took their own lives because of stress brought on by OFSTED inspections. It took me a long time to compile that list, and I was sure that there were more such unfortunates, whose names were to be added. I decided that it might be a good idea to pass on what I knew to Professor Julia Waters, sister of the late Ruth Perry. As is known, Ruth Perry was the Head of Caversham Primary School, in Reading, who committed suicide in January last year, ahead of the publication of an adverse OFSTED report. As Professor Waters, seen above addressing the National Education Union (NEU) conference, is campaigning for OFSTED to become more human in its treatment of schools, I thought my information might be of value.

I emailed details of the five names to Professor Waters and, to my surprise and immense gratitude, she replied. After thanking me for my condolences, she said that she was already aware of all the names on my list and that she knew of five more names besides that five I already knew. After my initial shock, I began looking at these five new cases, and I give some details here.

The first case, and the second on the overall list, is the tragic case of Pamela Relf, who committed suicide by drowning in 2000. 57-years of age, she had taught for 36 years and was  the longest-serving teacher at Middlefield Primary School, in Eynesbury, St Neot’s, Cambridgeshire. The OFSTED team who inspected her school said that her lessons "lacked pace", and she was deeply distressed by this. The TES reported:

"Headteacher Brian Rayner said: “I have never before seen Pamela in such a state. It concerned me that the school’s most senior teacher had been reduced to such a state.”

Miss Relf’s body was found in a river at a nature reserve near her home. She had disappeared on her way to work on January 4, the day the new term began. Dr Colin Latimore, the coroner, recorded a verdict of suicide while suffering from depression. Still, the then Chief Inspector, Chris Woodhead, uttered these beautiful words by way of an elegy:

 “Miss Relf’s death is obviously very sad and everybody at OFSTED is deeply upset that she was unable to accept what the inspectors said to her. We will continue to do all we can to ensure that inspection is rigorous, that it tells the truth about a teacher, but at the same time that we reduce the pressure that’s inevitable in any inspection to a minimum.”

It will be noted that these sentiments, uttered 23 years before the passing of Ruth Perry, are very similar, if not identical, to what Amanda Spielman said about Ruth. This surely makes a mockery of OFSTED's supposed reduction of pressure "to a minimum", following the death of Pamela Relf - if it happened at all.
It certainly did not happen for James Patton, a 29-year old primary school teacher who also took his own life in 2000. As the Free Library says: 

"Mr James Patton, aged 29, who worked up to 60 hours a week, felt that he was failing the class of 10-year-olds he taught at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic primary school in Stechford, an inquest heard yesterday. After having time off work and being treated for anxiety and depression by his GP, he wrote a goodbye letter to his wife, Melanie, which said: 'My best was not good enough.' Then he hanged himself from a tree on a public right of way close to their home in Green Acres Road, Kings Norton."

Mr Patton's wife, Melanie, said that her husband was "extremely anxious" about a pending OFSTED inspection. His Headteacher paid tribute to Mr Patton's work, saying:  'James was very dedicated and very hard-working. He was adored not only by the pupils but respected by the staff". 

In 2008, a Scottish Headteacher, Irene Hogg, took her own life following an adverse OFSTED inspection. As The Scotsman says: 

"The head teacher at Glendinning Primary School in Galashiels for 18 years was said to have been "disappointed and visibly distressed after receiving critical feedback from the visit".

Following this feedback, Ms Hogg drove to a remote spot, took an overdose of paracetamol and suffered a fatal heart attack after falling into a stream. Sherriff James Farrell, at the Fatal Accident Inquiry into Ms Hogg's death, said: "There can be no doubt that Irene Hogg's death is inextricably linked to the outcome of the Glendinning School inspection on March 2008."
OFSTED clearly had not learned much about reducing pressure since the previous suicides.  The human story behind this death and the others is deeply distressing and affecting. As Sherriff Farrell went on to say: "The headteacher, Irene Hogg, was respected and held in high esteem by her staff and by parents, and loved by the many children who over the years were fortunate to have been in her care."

In 2010, Sarah Giddy, a 44-year old teacher at St Helen's Primary School in Abbotsham, North Devon, hanged herself at home, three months before she was due to be married. As the Daily Mail says: 
"The teacher was worried about an inspection by local education authority officials planned for the following week when she killed herself on a Saturday morning." An unnamed friend said: "She was a lovely woman who had everything to live for. She was very healthy and fit and loved horses. She had been a teacher for five years after previously working as a nursery nurse.'

Last in this melancholy list is Headteacher Helen Mann, 43, who was found hanged at Sytchampton Endowed First School, near Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire, in November 2012. Mrs Mann had been in her post less than six months at the time of her death. Having started the job with great enthusiasm, it seems that Mrs Mann was concerned that the school would not retain its previous "Outstanding" OFSTED grade. At the inquest for Mrs Mann, the school's chair of governors, Dr Stephanie Galt, said: 

"The school had been classified as 'outstanding' in its previous inspection and she was concerned that it wouldn't be classified as 'outstanding' if they were to come in soon. That had been mentioned in at least one governors' meeting and we all said that we understood this would be the case but not through any fault of her."

In conclusion, we now have a full list of teachers who have taken their own lives through OFSTED pressure: Janet Watson (1999), Pamela Relf (2000), James Patton (2000), Keith Waller (2007), Jed Holmes (2007), Irene Hogg (2008), Sarah Giddy (2010), Helen Mann (2012), Carol Woodward (2015) and Ruth Perry (2023). So much for Chris Woodhead's words of 2000! I have to thank Professor Julia Waters for providing me with a full list of these deaths, even though it is probably (and sadly) incomplete. We can only send condolences to the families of all these teachers and, as Professor Waters said in her email to me:

 "It’s a terrible tragedy that the suffering of all these individuals, their families, schools and communities has gone largely unheard and unheeded."

Friday 5 April 2024

Gillian Keegan and OFSTED Abolition

 She's at it again. Last September, I was commenting about the fact that the current Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan had used a four-letter word during a TV interview. Understandably, there was widespread criticism of Mrs Keegan, and she was forced to apologise. In my post, I raised the glaringly obvious point that had a teacher or teaching assistant sworn in front of children or staff, they would have faced severe disciplinary measures, possibly even dismissal. Neville Grundy confirmed that any civil servant swearing in front of the public or colleagues would face comparable measures. An anonymous Tube driver here in London was disciplined for shouting a pro-Palestinian slogan over the train intercom. Since last September - and I am forced to be discreet - I have learned of a teaching assistant here in West London who was dismissed for, among other things, using a swear word in front of children. Mrs Keegan, as we know, was not dismissed, and remains in her post.

Again, as we know, Mrs Keegan has been speaking out of turn - this time about an OFSTED inspection. As Schools Week reports: 

"Gillian Keegan said she would have “probably punched” disrespectful Ofsted inspectors, during a question-and-answer session at the ASCL school leaders’ union conference in Liverpool last month."

I found myself gloating vindictively to learn that Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, which represents inspectors, wrote to Mrs Keegan on March 11, demanding that she retract the “inflammatory language”, which he called “unacceptable in any context, let alone coming from the secretary of state”. Like any serving or retired teacher, I was hugely amused that OFSTED inspectors had found themselves on the receiving end of an unfair verdict. As a veteran of both OFSTED and HMI inspections, gained from years of being in a school placed in Special Measures, I found it amusing that they felt aggrieved at Mrs Keegan's remarks - I know so many in my old profession, including me, who feel an abiding sense of grievance at comments passed upon them and their schools by OFSTED inspectors. Mr Penman and his members deserve a taste of their own medicine.

Mrs Keegan has not apologised for her remark. Instead, as Schools Week puts it: 

" Keegan said: “As I think you know, the comments you refer to were off-the-cuff remarks, made in a light-hearted manner in a very particular context, and in the spirit of expressing support for headteachers and teachers in the audience. Clearly, I would not be punching anyone, or advocating anyone else do so, and to imply otherwise would be completely wrong.”

What was not said by anyone was the fact that, had any headteacher or teacher publicly made this statement, Mrs Keegan, her department and the right-wing press would have been incandescent with (self) righteous anger. The hypothetical culprit would be named and shamed publicly on social media, and Mrs Keegan would undoubtedly be joining in the clamour for him or her to be disciplined (the Daily Mail would probably call for dismissal). In contrast, Mrs Keegan remains serenely in place. To quote Nev Grundy's comments from my September post:

"Yet another incident to add to the huge catalogue of examples of one rule for us and none for them".

While on the subject of OFSTED, and since Mrs Keegan - at least temporarily and light-heartedly - identified with the feelings of school staff about OFSTED inspections, we should note that the National Education Union (NEU) are calling for the abolition of OFSTED. The NEU survey of members found, according to Teeside Live:  
"Just 3% of teachers believe Ofsted is trusted to uphold standards in schools and only 4% think it acts independently of Government. The poll of more than 4,500 NEU teacher members in state schools in England, found 62% said inspections impacted their mental health and 59% said it affected their home life".
And, as we know, OFSTED stress led to the suicide of Ruth Perry, pictured above. Interestingly, the last Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, has hinted that she does not think that the OFSTED team who inspected Ruth Perry's school - Caversham School, in Reading - did anything untoward. In a separate Schools Week article, Ms Spielman is quoted as saying:
 “It’s like a doctor, sometimes the doctor has to give you a difficult diagnosis. And you cannot not be upset by it, however kindly and sympathetically they give it to you. It’s the same for Ofsted inspectors. There are times when they have to give people really tough messages.”
Spielman does not mention that OFSTED's "tough messages" have cost at least four other lives besides that of Ruth Perry. Last March, I wrote about three of them.  Having said this, Ruth Perry's sister, Professor Julia Waters, does not want OFSTED to be abolished. Professor Waters expressed her hopes that the new Head Inspector, Sir Martin Oliver would be more sympathetic to schools inspected by bringing in what he calls "The Big Listen". However, as the Professor says: 
 “How many more teachers will suffer from an inherently flawed, badly-run inspection process in the meantime? How many more children will lose another dedicated headteacher to a forced resignation, a nervous breakdown or worse?
That is a very good question. Another might be: what redress is there for past victims of OFSTED-related stress? For the five cases of suicide that I know of, namely: Janet Watson (1999), Keith Waller (2007), Jed Holmes (2007), Carol Woodward (2015) and, of course, Ruth Perry (2023), the putative changes in OFSTED to make inspections a less harrowing experience are coming far, far too late. 

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Aid Workers Die: Another Gaza Tragedy

 After tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in Gaza, and outrage against Israel has understandably grown around the world, Israel has made matters much worse for itself by killing seven aid workers, three of whom were British. They are seen above: John Chapman, James Henderson and James Kirby were providing security for the detachment of three cars carrying aid. The other aid workers were an  Australian girl, Lalzawmi Frankcom, Damian Sobol from Poland, Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutahas, a Palestinian and a US-Canadian citizen, Jacob Flickinger.

There has been an international outpouring of anger and grief, as might have been expected. In Britain, as The Guardian says:

"David Cameron, the foreign secretary, spoke to his Israeli counterpart, Israel Katz, and requested an urgent explanation of the incident. A Downing Street spokesperson said the prime minister “was appalled… and demanded a thorough and transparent independent investigation into what happened”. The spokesperson added: “The prime minister said far too many aid workers and ordinary civilians have lost their lives in Gaza and the situation is increasingly intolerable".

The Israeli government is unlikely to pay much attention to what Rishi Sunak says, as the amount of arms that the UK sells to Israel is small in comparison to that of the United States. President Biden, to his credit, has expressed his shock in very strong terms. As NBC News says:

 "This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed," Biden said..."This is a major reason why distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza has been so difficult — because Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians."

Biden made no indication of how US arms sales to Israel might be affected but, again as NBC News says: 

"The president's statement... comes as he faces growing criticism from progressives, Arab Americans and Muslims over his handling of the war. Some critics have urged Americans to “abandon Biden” at the ballot box or vote "uncommitted" in primaries."

There has been some media comment about the fact that over 30, 000 Palestinians have already died, but it has taken three British deaths to galvanise widespread anger about Israel's actions. And, in fact, it will be innocent Palestinians who suffer most as a consequence of this attack. Humanitarian bodies will be reluctant to work in Gaza out of fear for the safety of their staff. World Central Kitchen, for example, the charitable organisation which the seven slain aid workers worked for, is suspending its operations in Gaza to protect its workers. This could well lead to famine among Palestinian civilians.

I marvel at the fact that the Israeli government has failed to see that goodwill towards Israel worldwide is diminishing, to say the least. The deaths of these aid workers is only one incident among many that has led to condemnation. Whatever the eventual outcome or "settlement" of this war will be, Israel has created a huge amount of lasting enmity against itself. And some people will be very pleased about that...

From the paucity of news emanating from the front line, caused largely by the fact that foreign journalists are not allowed into Gaza, it appears that there is little actual fighting in the combat zones. It seems that Hamas fighters, like the one above, are hiding in tunnels, emerging to attack the IDF only when sure of a successful outcome. This has shades of the British Army's experience in Ulster. Shades of the American experience in Viet-Nam and the French experience in Algeria also, can be found in reports that the IDF troops are becoming bored, resentful and trigger-happy. This might explain why the IDF gunned down three escaping Israeli hostages trying to reach Israeli lines. 

If my analysis of Hamas strategy and their intentions in launching the October 7th attack is correct (and I think it is), they will be very pleased at how deeply the Israelis have dug a pit for themselves. Whether they be in their Gaza tunnels, or luxury flats in Qatar, Hamas operatives must be laughing themselves to sleep at night.

Friday 22 March 2024

Reform UK and the "Far Right"


It came as a surprise to learn that the BBC had apologised for referring to the Reform UK party, led by Richard Tice, seen above, as being "far right". It was even more of a surprise to learn that this "far right" description was only mentioned in passing, in a report about the LibDems' Spring conference. As The Guardian says

"The apology related to coverage of the Liberal Democrats’ spring conference by the broadcaster, which said it had removed a sentence from an article that did not adhere to its editorial standards".

The right-wing Express, in a nauseatingly gloating article, said; 

"The article, published without a byline, reported: “It has been suggested by some polls that far-Right Reform UK has overtaken the Lib Dems in terms of popularity."

The main reason why the Reform Party demanded an apology was expressed thus by Tice, again quoted in The Guardian:

"Tice said the label of being “far right” would have “huge implications”, if other media outlets used it and suggested that he and others could lose their bank accounts or the ability to get a mortgage. He said his lawyers had also been in touch with other organisations".

Of itself. this is an interesting statement. Tice offers no evidence that any right-wing extremists have ever suffered financial consequences because of their views. The only right-wing "personality" I have ever known to have problems with his bank account is Nigel Farage, honorary president of the Reform Party, who must be delighted at having seen the BBC forced into eating humble pie yet again. The BBC had to apologise to Farage last year for wrongfully reporting why Coutts Bank had closed his account.  Lee Anderson, the ex-Labour councillor, ex-Tory and now Reform MP is even more pleased. As the Express says:

"Lee Anderson says the incident proves that the BBC is seen as anti-Britain and proves the licence fee must be scrapped".

 A two-word epithet in a single sentence is thus hyped up into an exaggerated issue, based upon a complete absence of evidence and weaponised into an attack on the integrity and independence of the BBC. We have been warned. Tice, Farage and 30p Lee will use this incident as a stick to beat the BBC in the forthcoming general election.
But Tice's statement is interesting in another way. He is concerned about the financial implications of being branded "far right", but appears to have no worries about any similarities of Reform UK policies to far right/ neo-Nazi policies. The neo-Nazis want net zero immigration; so do the Reform Party. Reform UK haven't yet called for repatriation of ethnic minorities officially, but...

  ...while the party itself might not advocate repatriation, some Reform UK members, like the neo-Nazis, certainly do. As The Mirror reported yesterday:

"Reform UK has ditched an election candidate after claims emerged he fantasised about deporting “millions” of British citizens to “rid itself of the foreign plague we have been diseased with. Benjamin “Beau” Dade was sacked as Reform UK’s candidate for Swindon South after campaign group HOPE not hate revealed he published an extreme “policy roadmap” for The Mallard website, which the campaign group described as "a little-read far-right outlet". The publication, which was published online in late 2022, called for “millions of foreigners and their dependents” to be expelled from the country".

Mr Dade also wants to purge the Civil Service and ban a number of organisations he detests, such as Hope not Hate and The Guardian. The neo-Nazi groups would surely give him a warm welcome. Please note: Reform UK only ditched this man after Hope not Hate exposed his antics. They seem to have not noticed them previously - and has he been expelled from the party? Hope not Hate has said: 
“It is right that Reform UK have dropped Benjamin Dade as their candidate. However, if Reform UK wants to avoid being labelled as far right, they should perhaps work harder at keeping the likes of Dade from their list of candidates".

I think it highly unlikely that Dade is an isolated case. I have no doubt that there are many more like him in Reform UK, UKIP, English Democrats and the Reclaim Party. All these groups, while seeking to avoid being branded "far right", understand very well how important it is for them to appeal to the racist voter. As Reform UK is gathering support from disaffected Tory voters, it is important that they are challenged vigorously about their views during the coming election campaign.