Priti Patel slammed over ‘law and order’ campaign video next to photo of Boris Johnson

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https://leftfootforward.org/2024/06/priti-patel-slammed-over-law-and-order-campaign-video-next-to-photo-of-boris-johnson/

‘Hmm, but that bloke in the picture behind you broke the law, didn’t he?’

Priti Patel has been ridiculed after posting a general election campaign video on social media in which she talks of law and order, whilst standing next to a framed photo of Boris Johnson who was fined for breaking lockdown rules. 

The former Home Secretary was attempting to appeal to voters in the constituency of Witham in a video posted on her X account, in which she declared she is a “passionate believer of law and order”. 

In the video Patel said: “I have also been responsible for changing our laws to ensure that those who do the most terrible things, the most heinous crimes, serve longer prison sentences and I’m unapologetic about that because I believe in law and order and making the right punishment and deterrent to fit the crime.”

Hanging on the wall next to Patel, along with a Vote Conservative banner and a Union Jack flag, is a framed photograph of Boris Johnson. Patel was a key ally to Johnson and was rewarded in Johnson’s honours list. 

Not only was the former Prime Minister fined in 2022 for breaching lockdown rules but he was also found to have deliberately misled Parliament over Partygate and was part of a campaign to abuse and intimidate MPs investigating them, an official inquiry found. 

https://leftfootforward.org/2024/06/priti-patel-slammed-over-law-and-order-campaign-video-next-to-photo-of-boris-johnson/

Continue ReadingPriti Patel slammed over ‘law and order’ campaign video next to photo of Boris Johnson

Why it is essential that the UK’s shady think tanks reveal their funders

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Original article by Tom Brake republished from Open Democracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.

We know think tanks can shape government policy. But we often have no idea who is paying them to do so

openDemocracy’s Who Funds You? report finds think tanks raking in millions ahead of general election  | Getty

You don’t have to follow UK politics too closely to have spotted the names of a handful of think tanks cropping up again and again in the news.

There is little doubt these organisations exert significant influence. Just last year, the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) was reported to have shaped then-prime minister Liz Truss’s disastrous budget.

And sometimes it seems like only hours have passed between the publication of a Policy Exchange research paper and the adoption and implementation of its content as government policy. This is perhaps unsurprising given even Policy Exchange says its “status as the UK’s most influential think tank is widely recognised”.

The influence of high-profile think tanks is also apparent in the revolving door between them and the government. The former CEO of Taxpayers’ Alliance (TA), for example, took up a job in Priti Patel’s office when she was home secretary.

So we know think tanks can shape public policy. What is often far less obvious, though, is who is paying them to do so.

openDemocracy’s annual Who Funds You? report, published today, assesses how transparent think tanks’ financial disclosures were in the past year, grading them on a scale from A to E based on how much they publish about their funders.

I should mention, at this point, that I am the CEO of Unlock Democracy, a think tank awarded an A rating (the most transparent possible) in the report.

The report has revealed that UK think tanks have raised more than £101m to influence public policy in the run-up to the next general election – £25m of which came from ‘dark money’-funded think tanks, which are opaque about funders.

Policy Exchange and the IEA were both awarded D ratings, the second lowest.

There is nothing in either think tank’s mission that indicates any requirement for high levels of secrecy surrounding their funders. So why are they so shy about revealing their backers?

Is it because the public and ministers might view any advocacy of slower action on climate change or accusations of ‘nanny-statism’ over limits on sugar, salt and fat in processed foods differently if their accounts revealed they were partly funded by oil or gas companies, large food manufacturers or private individuals with an interest in promoting deregulation or privatisation? Of course, they might not be. But that’s the point – we don’t know.

Or is it because much of the media might stop describing them, rather generously, as ‘independent’ if the truth were known about from where and whom they received financial support?

Or is it because pressure would build for Parliament to force these think tanks to register as consultant lobbyists?

Given the IEA, Policy Exchange, the Taxpayers’ Alliance and other think tanks have declined to take voluntary action to reveal their sponsors, it is time for the government to step in and require them to declare funders contributing over £5,000 a year.

The media could help by refraining from describing think tanks whose funding remains as murky as the waters in our polluted rivers as ‘independent’.

We would all then be better equipped to establish whether the exhortations of the most influential think tanks will help deliver ‘a stronger society’ or something far less attractive.

The full report is available at opendemocracy.net/who-funds-you/

Original article by Tom Brake republished from Open Democracy under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.  

Continue ReadingWhy it is essential that the UK’s shady think tanks reveal their funders

Supreme court rules Rwanda plan unlawful: a legal expert explains the judgment, and what happens next

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The Rwanda deal was signed when Priti Patel was home secretary. Rwanda visit April 14, 2022. Image: UK Home Office.
The Rwanda deal was signed when Priti Patel was home secretary. Rwanda visit April 14, 2022. Image: UK Home Office.

Before publishing this article unaltered, I draw your attention to these excerpts:

It is important to note that the supreme court’s decision is not a comment on the political viability of the Rwanda plan, or on the concept of offshoring asylum processes generally. The ruling focused only on the legal principle of non-refoulement, and determined that in this respect, Rwanda is not a “safe third country” to send asylum seekers.



This ruling is likely to revive discussion about the UK leaving the European convention on human rights (ECHR), which holds the UK to the non-refoulement obligation. Some Conservatives, including the former home secretary Suella Braverman, have argued that leaving the convention would make it easier to pass stronger immigration laws.

But while handing down the supreme court judgment, Lord Reed emphasised that there are obligations towards asylum seekers that go beyond the ECHR. The duty of non-refoulement is part of many other international conventions, and domestic law as well. In other words, exiting the ECHR would not automatically make the Rwanda plan lawful or easier to implement.

So it would appear that UK is not going to be sending refugees to Rwanda despite Rishi Sunak and Conservative claims that it will.

Supreme court rules Rwanda plan unlawful: a legal expert explains the judgment, and what happens next

Devyani Prabhat, University of Bristol

The UK supreme court has unanimously ruled that the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is unlawful.

Upholding an earlier decision by the court of appeal, the supreme court found that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda may be at risk of refoulement – being sent back to a country where they may be persecuted, tortured or killed.

The courts cited extensive evidence from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) that Rwanda does not respect the principle of non-refoulement – a legal obligation. The UNHCR’s evidence questioned the ability of Rwandan authorities to fairly assess asylum claims. It also raised concerns about human rights violations by Rwandan authorities, including not respecting non-refoulement with other asylum seekers.

It is important to note that the supreme court’s decision is not a comment on the political viability of the Rwanda plan, or on the concept of offshoring asylum processes generally. The ruling focused only on the legal principle of non-refoulement, and determined that in this respect, Rwanda is not a “safe third country” to send asylum seekers.

The ruling is another blow to the government’s promise to “stop the boats”. And since the Rwanda plan is at the heart of its new Illegal Migration Act, the government will need to reconsider its asylum policies. This is further complicated by Conservative party infighting and the firing of home secretary Suella Braverman, just two days before the ruling.

How did we get here?

For years, the UK government has been seeking to reduce small boat arrivals to the UK. In April 2022, the UK and Rwanda signed an agreement making it possible for the UK to deport some people seeking asylum in Britain to Rwanda, without their cases being heard in the UK. Instead, they would have their cases decided by Rwandan authorities, to be granted (or rejected) asylum in Rwanda.

While the Rwanda plan specifically was found to be unlawful, the government could, in theory, replicate this in other countries so long as they are considered “safe” for asylum seekers.

The government has not yet sent anyone to Rwanda. The first flight was prevented from taking off by the European court of human rights in June 2022, which said that British courts needed to consider all human rights issues before starting deportations.

A UK high court then decided in December 2022 that the Rwanda plan was lawful.


Catch up on our other coverage of the Rwanda plan:

Why UK court ruled Rwanda isn’t a safe place to send refugees – and what this means for the government’s immigration plans

Rwanda deportations: what is the European Court of Human Rights, and why did it stop the UK flight from taking off?

Suella Braverman is wrong about the UN refugee convention being ‘not fit for purpose’ – here’s why

The government passed a major immigration law last year – so why is it trying to pass another one?

‘A toxic policy with little returns’ – lessons for the UK-Rwanda deal from Australia and the US


Ten asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Sudan and Albania challenged the high court ruling, with the support of the charity Asylum Aid. Their claim was about whether Rwanda meets the legal threshold for being a safe country for asylum seekers.

The court of appeal said it was not and that asylum seekers risked being sent back to their home countries (where they could face persecution), when in fact they may have a good claim for asylum.

The government has since passed the Illegal Migration Act. The law now states that all asylum seekers arriving irregularly (for example, in small boats) must be removed to a safe third country. But now that the Rwanda deal has been ruled unlawful, there are no other countries that have said they would take asylum seekers from the UK.

What happens next?

Former Home Secretary Suella 'Sue-Ellen' Braverman
Former Home Secretary Suella ‘Sue-Ellen’ Braverman continued with the Rwanda policy.

It is clear that the government’s asylum policies will need rethinking. Should another country now be designated as a safe country and different arrangements put in place, these will probably be subject to further legal challenges, including in the European court of human rights and in British courts.

This ruling is likely to revive discussion about the UK leaving the European convention on human rights (ECHR), which holds the UK to the non-refoulement obligation. Some Conservatives, including the former home secretary Suella Braverman, have argued that leaving the convention would make it easier to pass stronger immigration laws.

But while handing down the supreme court judgment, Lord Reed emphasised that there are obligations towards asylum seekers that go beyond the ECHR. The duty of non-refoulement is part of many other international conventions, and domestic law as well. In other words, exiting the ECHR would not automatically make the Rwanda plan lawful or easier to implement.

The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has said that he is working on a new treaty with Rwanda and is prepared to change domestic laws to “do whatever it takes to stop the boats”.

The UK is not the only country to attempt to off-shore asylum processing. Germany and Italy have recently been considering finding new safe third countries to accept asylum seekers as well.

But ensuring these measures comply with human rights obligations is complicated. International law requires states to provide sanctuary to those fleeing persecution or risk to their lives. As this ruling shows, the UK is not going to find an easy way out of these obligations.The Conversation

Devyani Prabhat, Professor of Law, University of Bristol

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Continue ReadingSupreme court rules Rwanda plan unlawful: a legal expert explains the judgment, and what happens next

Rishi Sunak Boasts That Oil Funded Think Tank ‘Helped Us Draft’ Crackdown on Climate Protests

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Original article by Adam Barnett and Sam Bright republished from DeSmog according to their republishing guidelines

The prime minister praised Policy Exchange, which received $30,000 from oil and gas giant ExxonMobil in 2017, for shaping laws that target green activists.

Image of InBedWithBigOil by Not Here To Be Liked + Hex Prints from Just Stop Oil's You May Find Yourself... art auction.
Image of InBedWithBigOil by Not Here To Be Liked + Hex Prints from Just Stop Oil’s You May Find Yourself… art auction.

Rishi Sunak has confirmed that a fossil fuel-funded think tank helped to draft his government’s laws targeting climate protests. 

Speaking at Policy Exchange’s summer party on Wednesday (28 June), the prime minister boasted that the think tank’s work “helped us draft” the government’s crackdown on protests, according to Politico.

OpenDemocracy reported last year that Policy Exchange’s US wing, American Friends of Policy Exchange, which provides funds to the UK branch, received $30,000 (roughly £23,700) from oil and gas giant ExxonMobil in 2017.

Two years later, Policy Exchange published a report entitled “Extremism Rebellion”, in reference to the environmental protest group, calling for the police and the government to clamp down on eco protests. 

An Extinction Rebellion spokesperson told DeSmog that this story “exemplifies the stranglehold that private interests have on our democracy.”

Ministers have been clear that new police powers are designed to stop climate protests. The former Home Secretary Priti Patel cited tactics used by Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain when arguing for what became the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. 

Sunak’s statement yesterday appears to confirm Extremism Rebellion’s allegation that sections of the 2022 law were ‘directly inspired’ by Policy Exchange’s report.

The “Extremism Rebellion” report said that legislation relating to public protest needed to be “urgently reformed” in order to “strengthen the ability of the police to place restrictions on planned protest and deal more effectively with mass lawbreaking tactics”.

This was implemented in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, which came into effect in April 2022 and awarded the police new powers to decide what constitutes a ‘disruptive’ protest and to more harshly punish those involved.

In the year to April 2023, more than 2,000 people were arrested and 138 spent time in prison for their involvement in campaigns by Just Stop Oil, the climate protest group.

Those encarcerated included two protesters who were each sentenced to more than two and a half years in prison – the longest sentences for peaceful climate protest in British history, according to the group – for causing a ‘public nuisance’ by scaling the Dartford Crossing.

This crackdown on protests has been continued by current Home Secretary Suella Braverman, a vocal critic of the UK’s net zero targets, who singled out Just Stop Oil when advocating further powers in the Public Order Act 2023, which received Royal Assent in May.

The legislation, which has been labelled as “draconian” by its opponents, allows the police to pre-emptively intervene to shut down protests and creates new offences for what it describes as “guerrilla tactics”, all of which have been used in recent climate protests.

The law criminalises protesters for attaching themselves (or coming equipped) to lock on to other protesters or buildings, threatening a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine or both.

For organising protests that block key infrastructure including “airports, railways, printing presses, and oil and gas infrastructure” protesters are threatened with up to 12 months in prison, while tunnelling is set at three years.

The law follows a November report by Policy Exchange that said it was “imperative” for protesters who repeatedly obstruct the highways to be “swiftly arrested, convicted and punished”. It further urged that “magistrates and judges should be imposing severe sentences on repeat offenders who aim deliberately to harm the public by breaching the criminal law”.

Sunak, who worked at Policy Exchange before his 2015 election to parliament, also used the summer party to make a jibe about the Labour Party’s links to Just Stop Oil, one of whose funders, Dale Vince, has donated £1.4 million to the party since 2014. 

Sunak’s comments echoed the claim made often by senior Conservatives, that Labour’s opposition to new North Sea oil and gas projects is linked to Dale’s donation. Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, has repeatedly attacked Labour over the connection, writing in the Daily Mail that Labour has become “the political wing of Just Stop Oil”. 

In fact, the International Energy Agency has said that new oil and gas projects are not compatible with keeping warming below 1.5C – an international climate goal that has been adopted by the UK government.

Meanwhile, DeSmog revealed in March that the Conservative Party received £3.5 million from fossil fuel interests, high-polluters and climate science deniers last year alone.

Policy Exchange and Climate Change

Policy Exchange was co-founded in 2002 by Michael Gove, who has been a mainstay in the cabinet since 2010. The think tank continues to retain significant influence in Westminster: Policy Exchange alumni make up a greater number of special advisers in Rishi Sunak’s government than any other think tank.

At the 2022 Conservative Party conference, Jacob Rees-Mogg, at the time serving as Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, said: “I believe that where Policy Exchange leads, governments have often followed.”

Lord Frost, is currently a senior fellow at the think tank. He was also recently appointed as a director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) – the UK’s principal climate science denial group. This week, Frost – who also attended the Policy Exchange summer party – gave a speech criticising Sunak’s government for offering voters “more net zero”. 

Since 2016, Policy Exchange has hosted events at the Conservative Party conference sponsored by energy companies and trade groups including: wood-burning bioenergy firm Drax, gas and electricity supplier E.on, British Gas parent company Centrica, the gas and electricity industry body Energy Networks Association, gas generation company Cadent Gas, trade association Hydrogen UK, and the Sizewell C nuclear plant. 

According to VICE News, while the think tank does not advertise the cost of sponsored meetings at party conferences, other similar organisations charge over £12,000 to host an event, which lasts about 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, the chair of the Policy Exchange board is Alexander Downer, who served as Australia’s Foreign Minister from 1996 to 2007. Downer has expressed climate science scepticism in the past, claiming that we are “going through an era” of global warming, and saying that Australian climate leadership would be expensive “virtue signalling”. 

Downer was appointed as the High Commissioner to the UK in 2014 by Tony Abbott, who also recently joined the board of the GWPF. 

Policy Exchange and 10 Downing Street have been approached for comment.

Original article by Adam Barnett and Sam Bright republished from DeSmog according to their republishing guidelines

Continue ReadingRishi Sunak Boasts That Oil Funded Think Tank ‘Helped Us Draft’ Crackdown on Climate Protests

Climate protests news 11 April 2022

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I’m having difficulty finding news of Extinction Rebellion’s London protests.

No 10 condemns ‘guerrilla tactics’ as Just Stop Oil activists block fuel depots

Shortages at filling stations reported as campaign obstructs deliveries from fuel terminals in England

Downing Street has condemned the “guerrilla tactics” of protesters who have blockaded fuel distribution terminals, as reports of shortages at petrol station forecourts spread and figures showed a fall in fuel deliveries.

Supporters of the Just Stop Oil campaign have taken action at 11 different fuel terminals in England since the start of the month, blockading and trespassing on sites to stop tankers entering, filling up or leaving to deliver fuel.

Petrol retailers say that the protests are not having a serious impact on deliveries. But there have been dozens of local reports of petrol pumps running dry and Priti Patel, the home secretary, said “people across the country [were] seeing their lives brought to a standstill” by disruption caused by the campaign.

The protesters have vowed to continue taking action until the government agrees on a ban on all new fossil fuel projects. On Monday afternoon, their 11th day of action, several were entering their 31st hour chained to pipework at Inter Terminal in Grays, Essex, the third largest terminal in the country.

‘One in three petrol stations closed’ in south of England amid oil terminal protests

One in three petrol stations were forced to close in southern England amid oil terminal protests, according to fuel campaigners.

The Fair Fuel UK Campaign claimed an estimated 1,200 pumps south of the Midlands had run dry on Sunday as action by Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion continued.

Fair Fuel UK wrote on Twitter: “We are getting credible intelligence that 1 in 3 garages have run dry of petrol and/or diesel particularly in the south, because of the ‘stop oil’ amoebas.

Home secretary Priti Patel branded the “selfish” protesters an “eco mob” as she attempted to blame Labour for not supporting the Conservatives’ new draconian police powers in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

She told the Daily Mail: “Hard-working people across our country are seeing their lives brought to a standstill by selfish, fanatical and frankly dangerous so-called activists.

I think that it’s beyond any doubt that they are activists Priti. Selfish and fanatical for trying to save the planet from burning to a crisp? It appears to me that UK government is selfish and fanatical through ignoring the most recent IPCC report comprising the collected wisdom of renowned scientists stating that immediate action is needed.

UK govt line appears to be that the protests are having limited affect in disrupting supplies and that protestors are selfish.

Continue ReadingClimate protests news 11 April 2022