Tagged: MI5

Bishop of Durham backs calls for nursery staff to report potentially radicalised families

> So  bad news for church sunday schools, C. of E. schools and other Christian organizations who push religious dogma at kids ?  Probably not…

The Bishop of Durham has backed plans to ask nursery staff to look out for radicalised families in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

Speaking in a House of Lords debate on the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, the Right Reverend Paul Butler also welcomed moves to intervene more in the lives of people at risk of being drawn in by extremism.

But he warned more needs to be done at a “grassroots” level to tackle the issue long term, and that breaking up families could help create future terrorists.

“I share with every other reasonable person a horror of the evil actions and effects of terrorism, grief for the suffering caused by terrorist acts and a heartfelt concern for those whose lives are lost or wounded through it.

“Events in Paris last week clearly illustrated this to us all. However, those events also highlight the need to ensure that we keep a global awareness and perspective, as the fresh Boko Haram attacks in Baga and its surrounding villages last Friday show us. Around 2,000 were killed.

“As we consider the latest set of government moves to strengthen the laws which guard our people against terrorist acts, we have to hold our nerve in our convictions about liberty, equality and fraternity, and look steadily at the changes being proposed,” he added.

“These matters are too serious for us to polarise or politicise issues beyond what is justified in legitimate debate.”

Praising the work done by the faith groups in Sunderland, Gateshead, and South Shields, to build strong community relationships – “the most powerful force against radicalisation, especially among young people” – the bishop said however that there is a fine line to be trodden between ensuring security and encouraging community cohesion.

Some have mocked the idea of nursery staff being obliged to report any signs of extremism in a family,” he said. “I do not share the mockery, as terrorist behaviour is abusive behaviour.

“Nevertheless, the placing of such an obligation adds to the risks of creating a culture of suspicion and the sense that every citizen is expected to be on the look-out to report on their neighbour rather than build good relationships with them.

“Great care needs to be taken not to overburden schools or erode their capacity to build diversity and trust among pupils, staff and parents.

“Breaking up a family, as could occur, could also create longer-term harm even, at one extreme, sowing the seeds of the next generation of terrorists in young children.”

The bishop said that continuing community work would be “fundamental to long-term prevention” as it “does not carry the risks of fuelling narratives of persecution and heroic resistance.”

Countering radical terrorism is a long-term grass-roots matter. Long-term support for good community development will reap the best long-term rewards.

“This is not so much a matter of draining the swamp by immediate legislation as tilling the ground.”

The debate heard from the former head of MI5, Lord Evans of Weardale, that the threat of terrorism in the UK is rising at the same time as the ability of the security services to combat it has decreased.

In his maiden speech in the upper house, Lord Evans, who retired as director general of the agency in 2013, said that the Edward Snowden leaks had made it harder to tackle the terrorist threat.

And he said the Government needed to tackle the “unfinished business” of giving the security services greater powers to access communications data.

> Powers that they will, naturally, voluntarily relinquish once the danger has passed…

Lord Evans told peers:

“When I left MI5 in 2013, I felt cautiously optimistic that we were over the worst as far as Al Qaeda and Islamist terrorist attacks were concerned in this country.

“It seemed to me that we were making significant progress. Regrettably, subsequent events have proved that judgment to be wrong.

“The atrocious killing of Fusilier Rigby in May 2013 demonstrated the reality of the threat we face in this country and the brutal murders in Paris last week demonstrate that this is a European and international problem, not one we face alone.”

> One man got killed in the street by two other men. This happens all the time, all over the country. You’ve got a far higher chance of getting done in by a couple of indigenous thugs than you have by an Islamic terrorist.

All the Islamic terror attacks in Britain – as 9/11 in the USA – appear to be isolated one-off events, and although they may spark copycat attacks I don’t really believe that there is a highly organized terror organization.  But the government cynically encourages belief in one  in order to erode our rights.

In any case, who are the real terrorists ? More people have died in Britain as a result of current government welfare policies than at the hands of terrorists.

Anyone who has had to deal with the Jobcentre and other agencies might consider that governmnent/terrorism are merely two sides of the same coin.

Lord Evans, who sits as an independent crossbench peer, said events in Syria and Iraq had given extremist networks in the UK a “jolt of energy”.

> Not half as much a one as our continued poking our armed forces into other countries business (the ones with oil, at least…)

He said at least 600 people had gone as would-be jihadists to fight in Syria and Iraq, and he had no doubt that number would increase “significantly” in coming months.

And he warned the situation put him in mind of the Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan before 9/11 which “drew would-be jihadists from across the globe”.

On their return, many of them were even more radical than they had been when they departed,” he said.

They had experience of combat and had been trained in violence and they had an international network of support on which they could draw.

“Those circumstances led to a series of attacks internationally and over a long period, and I fear we may be facing the same situation as we go forward from today and we are starting to see that.

“At the same time, the revelations made by Edward Snowden, whatever you think of what he did, have clearly led a reduction in the ability of the security agencies both here and overseas to access and read the communications of terrorists internationally with the result that as the threat from terrorism has gone up in the last two years, the ability of the security agencies to counter those threats has gone down.

“The result of this can only be that the overall risk of a successful terrorist attack in this country has risen.”

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 14 Jan 2015

Thatcher v Miners : tories continue to rewrite history

THE trauma of the miners’ strike would have been avoided if Arthur Scargill had pursued “partnership” with the Government, a minister claimed today (Tuesday) – to howls of disbelief.

Matt Hancock, a business minister – answering an historic Commons debate – argued the real “betrayal” was the miners’ leader refusal to ballot NUM members before the strike.

And he told MPs: “It was a difficult process and it could have been done far better through partnership, rather than through an adversarial nature.”

The minister also argued that the pit closure programme which sparked the bitter 1984-85 dispute had paved the way for economic success in the decades since.

He said:

“The transition of an economy dominated by outdated heavy industry into a modern service-based economy was necessary and is the basis of the nation’s prosperity now – and that is not much disputed these days.”

> I’d say it’s very much disputed, just not by politicians with their heads up their arses.

The comments provoked angry Labour shouts during a three-hour debate into fresh evidence about the Thatcher Government’s conduct in the 1980s

Incredibly, Labour’s motion passed, after the Coalition failed to oppose it – despite it stating the 1980s Government “misled the public about the extent of its pit closure plans and sought to influence police tactics”.

 Labour launched a ‘Justice for the Coalfields’ campaign after the release of revelatory secret papers about the strike, under the 30-year rule, at the start of this year.

Ministers were revealed to be aware that Ian MacGregor, the National Coal Board (NCB) chief, was plotting to close 75 pits, at the cost of 65,000 jobs – not the 20 that ministers and the NCB claimed.

The papers showed that Margaret Thatcher considered deploying troops during the strike, by declaring a state of emergency.

And MI5 was used to put union officials suspected of smuggling suitcases full of money donated by the Soviet Union under surveillance.

The debate heard passionate stories about the impact of the strike – both on the people affected at the time and on the “devastated” communities left behind.

Kevan Jones (North Durham) said: “It was vindictive and communities like mine are still suffering today.”

Roberta Blackman-Woods (Durham City) said, of the Government: “They have no idea of the devastation in these communities – and they are doing it again by cutting the funds to local government.”

Pat Glass (North West Durham) said: “The scars of 1984-85 are still there and they won’t be healed until all this is publicly exposed.”

And Ian Lavery (Wansbeck) – a miner himself in the 1980s, when a police officer “spat in my face” – said Lady Thatcher and other ministers had “lied from that despatch box”.

But John Redwood, the head of Lady Thatcher’s policy unit at the time, said he advised her not to use the Army, adding: “She said ‘Of course it won’t be’ – and it wasn’t”.

Source –  Northern Echo,  28 Oct 2014