Sacrificed on the Altar of Tory Deceit – The Rise and Fall of a Nice Wee lassie From Greenock – A Warning For Rooth the Mooth Davidson

 

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Timothy – May – Hill

 

 

 

 

Special Advisers – SPAD’s

SPAD’s were created by “New labour” at the start of their period in government in 1997. There was a great furore at the time.

The press and public believed the new posts to be entirely political and that apart from that the posts simply duplicated the duties of many thousands of Civil Servants already in place.

Blair argued differently and with his huge majority in parliament he forced through legislation creating the new “political beast”.

He did however commit to keeping the numbers of SPAD’s to an absolute minimum and said only Ministers of State would be allowed a SPAD in support and that all appointments would be authorised by himself.

The appointment of SPAD’s (unelected and very often useless) now cost the taxpayer around £12 million each year and rising.

SPAD’s are classed as “temporary civil servants” and add a political dimension to advice and assistance available to ministers while reinforcing the political impartiality of the permanent Civil Service by distinguishing the source of political advice and support.

They are supposed to observe the Civil Service “Code of Conduct” in the discharge of their duties. But they don’t.

In return for this commitment all expenditure incurred (salaries, transport, expenses etc.) in their employment is paid for by central government.

 

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The Rise and Fall of a Wee Glasgow SPAD – The Fiona Hill Story

Fiona McLeod Hill was born (1973). Unlike many behind-the-scenes wielders of power in Westminster (and indeed many journalistic interns), Hill does not hail from a privileged background.

Born in an insalubrious area of Greenock, she later attended St Stephen’s RC Secondary in Port Glasgow, before making her way into newspapers.

So what lies behind her meteoric rise? How did she blaze a trail from the bowels of the The Scotsman building through the ranks of the Conservative Party press operation to become Theresa May’s right-hand woman?

It is a fascinating story of hard work, ambition, the kind of confidence that cares not a whit for other people’s opinions, and not a little intrigue.

Along the way she embarked on a relationship with a former MI6 officer, engaged in several public spats and helped shape May’s wardrobe.

But her career trajectory has not been entirely straightforward and her refusal to give an inch has occasionally cost her dear.

Hill’s journalism career didn’t really start to take off until she joined Sky TV – a fertile breeding ground for SpAds – where she started to become interested in politics and ended up on the news desk.

While there, she met and married executive producer Tim Cunningham, now head of branded content at Princess Productions, holding their reception in upmarket Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey.

For the duration of the marriage, she used his name, going back to her maiden name after her divorce. (Dani Garavelli)

 

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Fiona At The Home Office

Fiona joined the Conservative Party press office in 2006, before spending a period at the British Chamber of Commerce.

She returned to work for the Conservatives and from 2010-2014, she worked alongside Theresa May in the Home Office as a SPAD.

Hill’s loyalty to May and to Hill’s then lover, diplomat and counter-terrorism officer Charles Farr, lay at the heart of a bust-up in June 2014.

It began when the then education secretary Michael Gove briefed Times journalists that it was the failure of the Home Office to tackle the problem of radicalisation that had led to terrorism plots in so-called Trojan Horse schools in Birmingham.

In his briefing Gove singled out Farr for criticism. In revenge, Hill posted a private letter from May to Gove on the Home Office website.

In the letter, May accused his department of failing to act when concerns about the Birmingham schools were brought to its attention in 2010.

Furious the public fall-out had overshadowed the Queen’s Speech, Cameron demanded an apology from Gove but insisted Hill resign.

 

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Outside Government but Inside Politics

From the Home Office, Hill went to the right-wing think tank, the Centre for Social Justice, founded by Iain Duncan Smith, where, as associate director, she continued her work on modern slavery.

She produced a report in which she suggested legislation alone was not enough to tackle the problem and pushed for more cooperation between police, borders and immigration officials across Europe.

Later, she sparked another controversy by joining the high profile lobby group Lexington Communications (in 2015), which represents a host of blue-chip companies with an interest in government policy, without seeking permission from her former department.

Tougher rules demanding SPAD’s apply for permission from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) had been amended by the Cabinet Office before the election to exclude all but the most senior advisers.

But SPAD’s are still required to seek permission from the permanent secretary before taking any new job within two years of leaving Whitehall.

Such permission often comes with conditions that prevent former SPAD’S from lobbying government or using privileged information to help their new employers.

Hill’s failure to obey the rule angered campaigners who complained of a lack of transparency.

But her time away from the Conservative Party was, in any case, to be short-lived.

When May announced her leadership bid, Hill took time out to help with the campaign, reaping the benefits after May’s victory when Hill was appointed SPAD. joint chief of staff alongside SPAD Nick Timothy at a salary of £140,000 each.

 

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Inside Government

Britain’s new Prime Minister entered Downing Street pledging herself to be a unionist.

Theresa May confirmed her commitment to the UK as she praised the record of her predecessor David Cameron.

Speaking minutes after he left Number 10, she said: “From the introduction of same sex-marriage to taking people on low wages out of income tax altogether, David Cameron has led a One Nation government and it is in that spirit that I also plan to lead.

Because not everybody knows this but the full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist Party and that word unionist is very important to me.

It means we believe in the Union, the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — but it means something else that is just as important.

It means we believe in a Union not just between the nations of the UK but between all of our citizens — every one of us — whoever we are and wherever we’re from.” (The Belfast Newsletter)

 

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Nick Timothy – Strategist

New prime minister Theresa May’s top SPAD’s include the Brummie son of a steelworker who thinks politicians can learn valuable lessons from the relegation of Aston Villa.

His name is Nick Timothy, an ex-grammar school pupil at King Edwards VI Aston.

He helped manage Mrs May’s campaign to become Conservative leader, and now he has joined her as joint chief of staff in 10 Downing Street.

Political commentators say that he has “great sway over her political agenda” and believes the Tories must be a party not of the rich, but of working people. (The Mirror)

 

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Formidable “Fi and Nick”

According to Westminster insiders, surviving the Home Office is a mark of Theresa May’s steel.

MP Frank Field says: “Nobody survives at the Home Office as Theresa May has, unharmed. That in itself is exceptional.”

Field attributes a significant part of this feat to the team around the Prime Minister, particularly her current SPAD’s, joint chiefs of staff, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy.

‘Fi and Nick’ as they are known, have worked with May since her days in the Home Office and are said to be key to shaping her vision for the country.

One insider says “they deliver for May on her own terms” and another adds that she has licensed them to fight her battles for her. So who are this pair — and how far does their influence stretch?   (Belfast Courier)

 

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The Knives Are Out For Fiona

It is difficult, according to those who work closely with Downing Street, to overestimate Hill’s closeness to and influence over the prime minister – a degree of access matched only by Nick Timothy, with whom she shares the role of SPAD, chief of staff at Number 10. Her loyalty to the prime minister is absolute.

But loyalty can have its flip side. The adjectives most commonly applied to Hill by those who work with her are “pugilistic”, “ferocious”, control freak even “terrifying yet her high standing with the Prime Minister is unquestionable

Home Office minister Ben Wallace, who has known Hill since before she worked in government, says some of the reporting about Hill is unfair. “Chiefs of staff are supposed to be loyal and defensive of the people they work for.

They wouldn’t be any good at it if they weren’t. She’s come up through the ranks, she’s worked hard at it and … she is determined. There are people venting their criticism of No 10 through the staff that work there, and I think that’s not a very grown up way of doing business.”

With May as loyal to her aide as Hill is to the PM, few think the release of her texts puts her position in any jeopardy.

And yet, in a business where the number one rule for aides is to stay out of the news, Hill’s texts have shone unwelcome light on the messy business of day-to-day governing.

With an enormous fight looming over Brexit, they also reveal an operation that is rather nervier than the PM and Hill would like it to appear.

Hill is thought to have been behind May’s confrontational stance over Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a referendum and her “Now is not the time” message. (The Guardian)

 

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The Knives Are Out For Theresa May

Theresa May’s Tory pals are sharpening their knives and will turn on her if she fails to deliver a hefty majority next week.

Conservative candidates are grumbling privately that the PM has cost them votes with her stuttering performances and disastrous attacks on older people’s incomes.

One said: “People are getting to know Theresa May in this campaign and the truth is, quite a few don’t much like what they see.

Since our manifesto was launched it has got tighter and tighter.

We’re still going to win but if she does not deliver the big majority she promised she is going to come under pressure to resign.”     (The Mirror)

 

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The 2017 General Election – It All Goes Wrong

Within a few days of announcing the general election, three of May’s team – director of communications SPAD, Katie Perrior, press secretary SPAD, Lizzie Louden, and SPAD, Hayden Allen – resigned. The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson SPAD, Helen Bower, had left in December 2016 following reports of bad feeling in the team.

Undeterred. Hill plugged on and took responsibility for keeping May from the press and public, which is said to have been her undoing.

A tactic not great for democracy, but subsequent events suggest that from the Hill’s point of view it was a shrewd political move.

May was accused of hiding when she held a rally for 200 supporters in a hut in Banchory in Aberdeenshire where there was no phone signal last month.

Shortly afterwards, the press ran a story suggesting that – after seeing the itinerary for her visit – she shouted at Hill to “stop cutting [her] time on the doorstep”. “I am a doorstep campaigner and from now on I want to spend proper time knocking on doors and seeing people,” she is supposed to have said.

The risk of allowing May to engage, however, was perfectly demonstrated the following day when the Tory leader, now being tailed by a Sky TV crew, knocked without success on the doors of a row of empty houses, and was snubbed by the only resident who appeared.

From then Hill tried to control events, barring reporters from campaign events, refusing to take questions she hadn’t pre-approved and – on one occasion – freaking out when she saw a pen in someone’s hand.

“The thing is though – in their own terms it was a good strategy,” says one seasoned political commentator. “Theresa May was well ahead, and it was clear she didn’t have a great rapport with the press or with ordinary people, so what was to be gained by putting her in situations that could backfire.”

According to reports, Hill irritated the Scottish Conservatives in particular.

They complained of her excessive “interference” and of being told not to run a campaign too detached from the one run from London.

Nevertheless, their leader Ruth Davidson chose to ignore the demand, to achieve a considerable increase in the number of Scottish MPs.

This result was crucial in mitigating the loss of seats south of the border and appeared to question key elements of Tory election strategy.

But, as her boss was seeking a bigger mandate for her Brexit plans, and the Tories looked to be heading for a landslide, Hill’s loyalty to May was unwavering, and her influence on the Prime Minister undiminished.

The general election saw the return of the Conservatives as a minority government, with their majority now being dependent on the Democratic Unionist Party, leading to widespread calls within the party Fiona Hill to be sacked. within days, and in the face of the growing backlash, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy resigned.

 

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In the Hands of the DUP

British Prime Minister Theresa May struck a deal, in principle with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party on Saturday to prop up the Conservative government, stripped of its majority in a disastrous election.

The result demolished May’s political authority, and she lost her two top aides, sacrificed in a bid to save their leader from being toppled by a furious Conservative Party.

The moves buy May a temporary reprieve. But the ballot-box humiliation has seriously and possibly mortally wounded her leadership just as Britain is about to begin complex exit talks with the European Union.

May’s office said Saturday that the Democratic Unionist Party, which has 10 seats in Parliament, had agreed to a “confidence and supply” arrangement with the government.

That means the DUP will back the government on key votes, but it’s not a coalition government or a broader pact. Downing St. said the Cabinet will discuss the agreement on Monday.

The announcement came after May lost Downing Street, SPAD’s, chiefs of staff Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, who resigned Saturday.

In a resignation statement on the Conservative Home website, Timothy conceded that the campaign had failed to communicate “Theresa’s positive plan for the future,” and had missed signs of surging support for the opposition Labour Party.

Some senior Tories made the removal of Hill and Timothy a condition for continuing to support May, who vowed to remain prime minister.  (A.P.)

 

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10 Jun 2017:

May announced that Gavin Barwell a former housing minister who lost his seat in Thursday’s election would be her new SPAD, chief of staff. She said Barwell would help her “reflect on the election and why it did not deliver the result I hoped for.”

Conservative legislator Nigel Evans there needed to be changes to the way the government functioned in the wake of the campaign. He said. “Our manifesto was full of fear and the Labour Party’s manifesto was full of promises.”

May called the early election, in the hope of increasing her majority and strengthening Britain’s hand in exit talks with the EU. Instead, her failure means the government must now take a more flexible approach to the divorce.

The election appears to have been, among other things, a rejection of the vague but harshly worded prospectus for Brexit for which Mrs. May sought a mandate.”

Downing Street has said that the most senior Cabinet members including Treasury chief Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd will keep their jobs, but she is expected to shuffle the lower ranks of ministers.

The arrangement with the DUP makes some Conservatives uneasy. The DUP is a socially conservative pro-British Protestant group that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage and once appointed an environment minister who believes human-driven climate change is a myth.

It was founded in the 1970s by the late firebrand preacher Ian Paisley, and in the 1980s was a key player in the “Save Ulster from Sodomy” campaign, which unsuccessfully fought against the legalization of gay sex. (AP)

 

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12 Jun 2017:

Theresa May has endured one humiliation after another since the general election, as the party makes her the target of all its anger and contempt.

Her tone-deaf statement outside Downing Street on Friday in which she failed to acknowledge Conservatives who had lost their seats forced backbench MPs to order her to call the cameras back to record her apology.

Her cabinet colleagues told May that her closest advisers SPAD’s, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, who had behaved high-handedly towards ministers, had to go and they were dispatched without ceremony.

Then yesterday, alone and friendless in Downing Street, the prime minister faced the deepest humiliation of all as she invited her arch nemesis Michael Gove to return to the cabinet as environment secretary. (The Irish Times)

 

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12 Jun 2017:

SPAD’s, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy divided the four lobes of Theresa May’s brain between them. Every thought that the PM had originated with these little-known key aides. Now they have gone, we do indeed have a zombie prime minister.

 

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13 Jun 2017:

Divisive SPAD’s who quit after running Theresa May’s disastrous election campaign are in line for payouts of around £35,000 each.

Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, who were the Prime Minister’s joint chiefs of staff, resigned amid intense Tory criticism in the wake of the snap election that cost the Conservatives their Commons majority.

The aides, appointed to the roles by Mrs May when she succeeded David Cameron, were earning a salary of £140,000 as of December last year.

Under government rules, they are entitled to severance pay equivalent to three months’ pay. The part Mr Timothy and Ms Hill played in the general election has been severely criticised by disgruntled Tories. (The Scotsman)

 

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10 Jun 2017:

Theresa May’s closest advisers, SPAD’s, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, resigned after a disastrous election result that ended with the Conservative party losing their majority.

The two were joint chiefs of staff in Downing Street before heading up Theresa May’s campaign in the snap General Election and came under fire today for being involved in some of the campaign’s biggest mistakes, according to reports.

In a statement on the Conservative Home website, Timothy said he had resigned yesterday. A Tory spokesperson confirmed Hill had also quit.

Nick Timothy called the result a “huge disappointment”, and blamed the loss of Tory MPs on “an unexpected surge in support for Labour” due to division in the country.

He said “ironically, the Prime Minister is the one political leader who understands this division, and who has been working to address it since she became Prime Minister last July.

The Conservative election campaign, however, failed to get this and Theresa’s positive plan for the future across.”

Timothy helped draft the Tory manifesto. Its failures, including the so-called dementia tax, have been cited as the turning point in the campaign.

He said: “I take responsibility for my part in this election campaign, which was the oversight of our policy programme.

In particular, I regret the decision not to include in the manifesto a ceiling as well as a floor in our proposal to help meet the increasing cost of social care.”

He continued “It’s been a pleasure to serve in government, and a pleasure to work with such an excellent Prime Minister,” I have no doubt at all that Theresa May will continue to serve and work hard as Prime Minister – and do it brilliantly.”

Hill was reportedly involved in internal rows, including one with Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in Scotland. The atmosphere in the Conservative Campaign HQ was said to have turned toxic.

In the firing line Previously, the pair known as “Nick and Fi” were criticised for holding too much power and being too close to May.

But Katie Perrior, former Downing Street director of communications, (who resigned days before the start of the campaign) criticised their “rude, abusive, childish behaviour.” For two people who have never achieved elected office, I was staggered at the disrespect they showed on a daily basis.

I never hated them. I felt sorry for them and how they measured success by how many enemies they had clocked up,” Perrior said.

Tory backbench MP Sarah Wollaston said May needed to abandon her “small inner circle of mostly unelected and discredited special advisers”.

 

 

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David Mundell Promoted Yet Again – He is Now the Official Guardian of Scotland – Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Parliament Report To Him

 

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David Mundell Officially the Guardian of Scotland – and that’s Youse telt

The recent release of important information from Downing Street to the press (through an unnamed Westminster political source) was seized upon with hearty gusto and hit the front pages of just about every major newspaper in the UK.

The headline; “Nicola Sturgeon will no longer be allowed to meet on equal terms with Theresa May.

From now on the First minister will be required to consult with the Scottish Secretary, David Mundell who is at her level of importance.”

The Downing Street response to enquires was confusing. A spokesman stated; “We do not recognise the comments.” Hardly inspiring.

A more positive “The Prime minister will continue to meet with the first Minister to discuss matters of importance” would have been acceptable.

But Mrs May and Nicola Sturgeon have not met since their difficult meeting in March 2017 and If the press release has foundation it promotes the lie of the Unionist “Better Together” campaign statement that Scotland and England benefited greatly from a “partnership of equals.”

But the new “call Dave not Theresa” policy is inconsistent since Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party (MSP representing Edinburgh Central) has been invited to join with Theresa May at Cabinet meetings, together with David Mundell, Scottish Secretary.

So there we have it. The First Minister of Scotland, representing  the people of Scotland, (appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Presiding Officer, after a vote of the Scottish Parliament) is a nonentity so far as the Tory Government in Westminster is concerned.

But the foregoing should not have come as a surprise to Scots who were alerted to potential difficulties with the Scotland Act by senior Scottish politicians and David Mundell’s assertions of his importance just after the 2014 referendum.

So Scots are reminded of their place in the Little Englander society represented by the Westminster elite..

 

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21 November 2001: Early Warning That the Scotland Act Was Not Fit For Purpose and Needed to be Changed

Lord Steel, the Scottish Parliament’s Presiding Officer, yesterday criticised the devolution settlement, claiming that Scotland’s institutions should have more power to act without seeking Westminster approval.

Lord Steel, who was giving evidence to a parliamentary committee for the first time, indicated that Holyrood was fettered by the Scotland Act.

He told the parliament’s procedures committee that the Act should be altered to allow Scottish institutions to be changed without the permission of Westminster.

His objection to the current position became clear when his attention was drawn to the provisions of the Scotland Act, which state that the number of MSPs at Holyrood should be reduced from the current level of 129.

Lord Steel has always disagreed with plans to cut the number of MSPs to keep the Scottish parliament in line with proposed changes in the number of Scottish MPs in the House of Commons.

He said: “There’s one problem with the position of the parliament and that’s that it is still set up under the Scotland Act and we have to go back to that if we want to introduce changes in our structure.

I don’t think in the long run that’s a sensible way to proceed.

Even if we are all agreed on a sensible change here it means we have to persuade both Houses at Westminster that they have got to give up time.

I think the real answer lies in that if and when the Scotland Act is reviewed, one of the changes that should be made is that the constitution of our own proceedings should be transferred to us, full stop.”

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1363006/Change-Scotland-Act-says-Lord-Steel.html)

 

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11 February 2002: Impact of Devolved Government to Scotland – Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Lib/Dem Jim Wallace Calls for Abolition of the Scottish Office

The Deputy First Minister, Jim Wallace, said last week that there was no longer any need for the post of Secretary of State for Scotland.

The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats said Scottish ministers were already working closely with their counterparts in London, bypassing the need for a Scottish Secretary.

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1384476/Scotland-Office-role-defended.htm)

 

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October 2014: David Mundell Defines His and the Role of the Scottish Office as Decided by the Tory party in Westminster

My Role as Scottish Secretary of State is to ensure the smooth working of the devolution settlement in Scotland. and to represent Scottish interests within the UK Government and representing the UK Government in Scotland and ensure that when it comes to reserved matters (the issues that the UK Government deals with in Scotland), the people of Scotland’s voice is heard at the highest level in UK Government. My objectives are;

  • To strengthen and sustain the union.
  • To act as a custodian of the devolution settlement.
  • To be Scotland’s voice in Whitehall.
  • To represent Scottish interests within Government and support the rest of Government on UK matters.
  • To champion the UK Government in Scotland
  • To represent and advocate for the UK Government’s policies and achievements in Scotland.

 

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November 2014: Top Civil Service Award Goes To A team Of Senior Civil Servants, (Around 29 in total) Who Were Seconded From the Treasury to the Scottish Office Establishment to Actively Participate in the UK Government’s Dirty Tricks Campaign

Sir Jeremy Heywood presented the team with “The Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Award 2014” in recognition of their outstanding achievements in making a marked difference on an issue of national importance. A number of officials were interviewed after the presentation;

Mario Pisani Deputy Director at HM Treasury said:

“In the Treasury, everyone hates you. We don’t get thanks for anything. This is one occasion where we’ve worked with the rest of Whitehall.

We all had something in common, we’re trying to save the Union here, and it came so close. We just kept it by the skin of our teeth. I actually cried when the result came in.

After 10 years in the civil service, my proudest moment is tonight and receiving this award. As civil servants you don’t get involved in politics. For the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign.

We were doing everything from the analysis, to the advertising, to the communications. I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation. This being recognised (at the Civil Service Awards), makes me feel just incredibly proud.”

Paul Doyle; Senior Treasury Official

“This award is not just for the Treasury, it’s for all the hard work that was done by all government departments on the Scotland referendum agenda.

The reality was in all my experience of the civil service, I have never seen the civil service pull together in the way they did behind supporting the UK government in maintaining the United Kingdom. It was a very special event for all of us.”

Shannon Cochrane; Senior Treasury Official 

“we’ve learned that it is possible for civil servants to work on things that are inherently political and quite difficult, and you’re very close to the line of what is appropriate, but it’s possible to find your way through and to make a difference.”

William MacFarlane; Deputy Director HM Treasury, (Budget and Tax Strategy)

“As civil servants you don’t get involved in politics.

But, for the first time in my life, suddenly we’re part of a political campaign. We were doing everything from the analysis, to the advertising, to the communications. I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation.

This being recognised (at the Civil Service Awards), makes me feel just incredibly proud.”

http://www.civilserviceworld.com/articles/news/hm-treasury-team-wins-special-civil-service-award

 

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July 2015: The role of the Joint Committee for Scottish Affairs (Westminster) – Requires It to be aware of and report to Parliament on matters of importance pertaining to Scotland. Fulfilling their duties the Committee interviewed Francesca Osowska OBE, Director, Scotland Office to discuss financial matters arising from the Scottish Referendum

Chair: Welcome to the Scottish Affairs Committee; we are very grateful for you both coming along today. If you would like to introduce yourselves and say what you do, and if there are any initial statements that you want to make to the Committee, please feel free to use that time.

Francesca Osowska: The Annual Report sets out five objectives for 2014-15 and I think our work continues in that vein.

We have a strong constitutional role, primarily in relation to the Scotland Bill, which, as you are aware, is passing through these Houses at the moment.

This is a key priority for the Scotland Office. In addition we continue to be the voice of Scotland in Whitehall, so our work with other Government Departments across Whitehall, in terms of ensuring that they appreciate the devolution settlement and that they are conscious of the Scottish context, will continue.

Similarly, we are the voice of the UK Government in Scotland and, again, we work co-operatively with other Government Departments who have reserved responsibilities in Scotland to ensure that the UK government can work effectively in Scotland.

Chair: Thank you. Obviously, we are here to talk about the Annual Report, which we have all digested and know inside out and back to forward, and so on.

We are grateful that we are able to ask you a few questions about what is included in the Annual Report.

One of the things that struck me, perhaps you could explain to me how this works is that there are 100 staff currently employed within the Scotland Office. Is that correct, roughly 100 staff?

Francesca Osowska: Across the Scotland Office and the Office of the Advocate General, yes.

Chair: Across the estate that is operating the Scotland Office. None of them are permanent. Does that create any difficulties or problems or issues for you?

I would imagine it must, and why has the decision been taken that they have no permanent staff in the Scotland Office?

Francesca Osowska: Since devolution and since the creation of the Scotland Office this has been the case, that the Scotland Office does not itself directly employ staff, but we second or take staff on loan from other Departments. In the Scotland Office in London most of our staff are on loan, but we also benefit from arrangements with Sir Jeremy Heywood and the Cabinet Office gaining access to external expertise and indeed access external HR expertise, which is effective and efficient for us.

Margaret Ferrier: The 2015-16 budget for the Scotland Office was set at £5.8 million, but the most recent main estimate asked Parliament to approve an additional £3 million for capability enhancement. What were the additional funds for?

Francesca Osowska: In terms of the out turn for 2014-15 the total combined out turn for the Office of the Advocate General and the Scotland Office was £7.7 million.

You will appreciate that that did include an uplift from the original budget setting process that occurred in 2010.

At that point, a referendum was not anticipated; a lot of the work in terms of 2014-15 has been the follow through or was related to the referendum, so the work in the run up to the referendum, contributing to the Scotland analysis papers for example, supporting Ministers as they gave public information to inform the debate about the referendum, and that explains the increase in that provision.

Margaret Ferrier: These public Ministers, are you meaning UK Ministers?

Francesca Osowska: Yes.

Margaret Ferrier: Not Scottish Government?

Francesca Osowska: No.

Margaret Ferrier: The Annual Report and Accounts show that General Administration costs rose by about 8% from £7.2 million in 2013-14 to £7.7 million in 2014-15.

Why did the General Administration costs rise? Is there another reason, other than the referendum debate that was taking place?

Francesca Osowska: No. As I said earlier, the initial budget was set in 2010 as part of that spending review.

The referendum was not anticipated at that point and this increase represents the resources dedicated by the Scotland Office to supporting the work of the UK Government, overall, in informing the referendum debate.

Kirsty Blackman: The Scotland Office had allocated to it and spent an extra £3 million helping UK Government Ministers with information about the referendum, mainly?

Francesca Osowska: In terms of the increase, there are a number of different figures being talked about here.

It might be helpful if I wrote to the Committee after this hearing to set out the sequence of events, because there were uplifts granted and changes in the Budget made from the original 2010 provision at different periods, including during the course of 2013-14, so I do not think it is entirely correct to say it was a single jump of £3 million.

In terms of what that money delivered and the outcomes that the Scotland Office delivered there is a detailed analysis of the outcomes and the outputs from the five objectives set by the Scotland Office, and certainly part of that work and a focus of that work in 2014-15 was in relation to the run-up and then the after-events—including the Smith Commission—of the referendum.

Chair: It would be helpful if you write to the Committee to explain properly what that £3.3 million did account for.

What we are hearing is that this might have been the figure that was used for the referendum campaign, for the “No” campaign, and used by UK Ministers to take part in the referendum.

Would that be roughly a correct characterisation of that spending?

Francesca Osowska: I don’t think it would be, if you don’t mind. What I am saying is that, if we look at page 54 of the Annual Report and Accounts, then you see the trajectory of the Scotland Office and Office of the Advocate General accounts.

You can see, in terms of general administration costs, that they have more or less been around the £7 million.

That is why I feel it is important that I write and set out the explanation of the £3 million figure.

Chair: Please do.

Francesca Osowska: However, in answer to your question, Mr Chairman in relation to “Was this a way of the Government funding the ‘No’ campaign?” this was to fund the activities of UK Government civil servants, in line with the civil service code.

*All activities undertaken by civil servants in my Department would meet a propriety test, yet I think you would agree that in the run-up to a referendum, obviously when Ministers want to be more visible, when we need to ensure that there is a good flow of public information for example, via the Scotland analysis papers that increases our activity and that is why there was an increase between the 2013-14 out turn and 2014-15 out turn.

* But reflect on the disgraceful actions of the UK Cabinet Office and Treasury Civil servants (in the previous note) which contain the proud admission that they had been seconded to the Scottish Office (in Westminster) and were tasked, for an extended period of time to provide active support to the “Better Together” campaign. Actions that brought about the defeat of Scots who wished only to be an independent nation once again. What a bunch of charlatans.

 

rut

 

 

 

July 2015: Damm, Damm and Double Damm – What a Con – The Civil Service and Their Janus-Faced Illegal Politics

Francesca Osowska, in a number of evasive statements to the Scottish Affairs Committee, glossed over the expensive and extensive work of a large group of (supposedly politically neutral) Civil Servants who actively supported the objectives of the “Better Together” campaign.

A gross misuse of public finances and Civil Servants presumably authorised by David Cameron and Sir Jeremy Heywood.

She also confirmed that the Scottish Office (Mundell) retains funding sufficient to employ up to 100 whole time equivalent (W.T.E.) posts and that salary and incidental costs arising from such employment are (top sliced) from Scotland’s block grant before the allocation of finance to the Scottish government.

The slush fund is an ever increasing annual financial nest egg, skimmed off Scotland’s block financial grant and used, abused by the Scottish Office (Mundell) for purposes such as UK government anti-devolution leaflet production, printing and distribution.

Hiring of Special Advisors (SpAds), usually sons, daughters, other relations, friends of ministers or other MP’s and employment of Civil Servants from other Government Departments in times of need.

 

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State Pension Qualifying Age Increased – Yet Again Scots Get Hammered by the Little Englander Chancellor

 

 

britainatthebottom

 

 

 

State Pension Qualifying Age Increased. Yet Again Scots are Hammered by the Little Englander Chancellor

Those who have paid their national insurance contributions throughout their working life build an entitlement to a state pension and politicians should not seek to find ways to deny them it.

But the UK government continue do so with apparent impunity.

Admittedly retirement, for some, is a boon, a blessing and a hugely enjoyable later stage in life.

But for many it becomes a struggle to survive, living in poverty, on an inadequate and ever reducing State Pension.

Poor health is another factor with approximately 45% of people over the age of 65 entering this stage of their lives suffering some kind of serious long term illness.

Pensioners in good health are not a drain on the nations resources since well in excess of a million continue to work well beyond retirement age.

A similar number provide unpaid care for grandchildren, other members of the family or friends saving the state many millions of pounds.”

And it is a fact that charities and communities would find it difficult to function effectively without massive support from unpaid pensioner volunteers.

 

pensions-map

 

 

 

Mortality Rates & Pensions – England and Scotland

Up to the early 1950’s, Scottish mortality rates were broadly comparable with the rest of the UK.

But from that time, (attributed to increased levels of deprivation) life expectancy, in Scotland has hardly increased over a period of 60+ years.

In England, (over the same period) rates steadily increased year on year and there is now a very significant gap in life expectancy between England & Scotland.

Male pensioners in affluent London & the South East of England enjoy a life expectancy of approximately 80 years. Female life expectancy is approximately 84 years.

In Scotland, male life expectancy is approximately 73 years. Female life expectancy is approximately 78 years.

 

PensionMM_470x355

 

 

 

The UK Pension Ponzi Scheme – Scottish Pensioners Heavily Subsidize Pension Payments To English Pensioners.

Substantiating the case I selected one, (similar in population density) conurbation in each country, namely,”Glasgow & West of Scotland & London & S/East England”.

Pension assessment: allow approximately £60,000, individual pension contribution payments (assume 40 years @ £1500 per annum).

Maximum pension payments to male English. £6K x 12 years = £72K
Maximum pension payments to female English. £6K x 16 years = £96K
Maximum pension payments to male Scots. £6k x 5 years = £30K
Maximum pension payments to female Scots. £6k x 10 years = £60K

 

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Life Span of Scots is Much Less Than the English.

Life expectancy indicates many Scots children may not survive beyond age 68y with result that around 30% will contribute to a State pension all of their working lives but get little or nothing in return by way of pension.

 

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It Doesn’t Need to Be This Way

An independent Scotland would be freed from the heavy burden of subsidising English and Welsh State pensions.

A Scottish government blessed with greatly reduced State pension commitments would be able to increase pensions significantly or reduce the retirement age.

 

MAIN-may-MAIN

UK Financial Austerity – Massive Debt Incurred By The Minority – But Loans and Interest Repayments Charged to the Majority – Shoddy Westminster Governance But True to Form

 

 

 

gordon-brown

 

 

 

 

UK Budget Deficits & Loans

In the UK there is no written constitution with result that there are no legal safeguards ensuring the maintenance of government budget deficits within specific limits. e.g. A % proportion of GDP.

There is also no legislation preventing governments from gaining electoral advantage through excessive borrowing, effectively mortgaging the nation’s future to the hilt.

Which is exactly what Chancellor’s Darling and Osborne did between 2007-2017.

UK bankers, through greed, incompetence and criminal activities over-committed the country’s finances through many millions of questionable contracts and mortgage Ponzi schemes.

When the dodgy business was called to account by short changing adventurers the proverbial s..t hit the fan and the UK was bust.

Alistair Darling, the Labour government Chancellor of the Exchequer consulted his team of advisors, (led by Fred the Shred) who were of the view that 98% of the UK public would be largely unaffected by allowing the Banks and other financial organisations to fail, but the remaining 2% of taxpayers, financial organisations and bankers stood to lose very significant amounts of money.

Darling decided to protect the richest 2% of the UK society.

The bulk of the population would suffer the effects of a massive borrowing regime and 10 years after citizens of little financial means are being strangled by austerity measures introduced by government.

Conversely, the richest 2% have become richer beyond their wildest dreams since austerity is a word unused in their society.

 

george-osborne-alistair-darling

 

 

 

 

But how does financial debt accrue?

The Treasury prints guaranteed bonds and sells them to private investors and countries.

Over 40% of UK debt is owed to foreign countries and corporations.

 

darling

 

 

 

 

Why Does the EU Get a Bad Press?

The EU Stability and Growth Pact (S.G.P.) was finalised and implemented by EU member States in 1999.

This required members to commit to deficits not exceeding 3.00% of GDP and debt not more than 60.00% of G.D.P.

The inherent weakness of the measure was that it was only a pact and as such not legally enforceable and in the period 1999-2012 many member countries regularly posted deficits well in excess of 3.00 %, (including the UK)

One such country was Greece whose economy completely collapsed under the burden of debt requiring the intervention of the EU Central Bank who introduced drastic austerity measures with the purpose of rescuing the (basket case) Greek economy.

Austerity is still harshly active in Greece at 2017.

At the beginning of 2011 Italy’s public debt had increased to approximately £1.70 trillion (approximately 120% of GDP).

This compared unfavourably with the agreed maximum limit of 60.00% in the EU’s Stability & Growth Pact (S.G.P.)

Meeting the challenge the EU decided in 2012 to standardise borrowing within the EU.

Twenty-Six of the EU’s Twenty-Eight member States signed a landmark treaty (the “fiscal compact“) committing them to co-ordinating their budget policies imposing penalties on rule-breakers from 2013.

The Czech Republic and the UK opted out of the legally binding treaty.

 

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Figure 1. Total UK Debt Approx: £ Trillion

Labour 2007: 0.51
Labour 2008: 0.58
Labour 2009: 0.78
Tory/Lib 2010: 1.02
Tory/Lib 2011: 1.18
Tory/Lib 2012: 1.23
Tory/Lib 2013: 1.28
Tory/Lib 2014: 1.48
Tory/Lib 2015: 1.57
Tory 2016: 1.62
Tory 2017: 1.80

Notes:

Massive increase in debt (2010-2017) incurred by Osborne and the Tory’s.

On-going cost of waging wars in Libya,Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Commitment to build unusable aircraft carriers, frigates and useless F35 stealth fighters.

 

national-debt

 

 

 

Figure 2. Total UK Debt Relative to GDP Approx: %

Labour 2007: 37.00
Labour 2008: 39.00
Labour 2009: 47.00
Tory/Lib 2010: 68.00
Tory/Lib 2011: 72.00
Tory/Lib 2012: 73.00
Tory/Lib 2013: 77.00
Tory/Lib 2014: 79.00
Tory/Lib 2015: 83.00
Tory 2016: 82.00
Tory 2017: 81.00

The maximum level is not supposed to exceed 60%.

 

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Figure 3. UK Budget Deficit borrowing Approx: £ Billions borrowed annually to balance the books

Labour 2007:£36.90
Labour 2008:£40.90
Labour 2009:£100.80
Tory/Lib 2010:£153.50
Tory/Lib 2011:£134.90
Tory/Lib 2012:£113.40
Tory/Lib 2013:£119.70
Tory/Lib 2014:£98.50
Tory/Lib 2015:£88.00
Tory 2016:£69.50
Tory 2017:£43.10

Should not exceed £40 billion.

 

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Figure 4. UK Budget Deficit Borrowing Approx: % of GDP borrowed annually to balance the books

Labour 2007: 2.60
Labour 2008: 2.70
Labour 2009: 6.70
Tory/Lib 2010: 10.02
Tory/Lib 2011: 8.60
Tory/Lib 2012: 7.00
Tory/Lib 2013: 7.20
Tory/Lib 2014: 5.70
Tory/Lib 2015: 4.90
Tory 2016: 3.70
Tory 2017: 2.20

Borrowing is not supposed to exceed 3%.

 

nintchdbpict000253010998

 

 

 

 

Balancing the Books – But at What Cost?

1992-1997

Tory Chancellor Kenneth Clark presided over a period of austerity in the latter part of the 1990’s and handed over a stable economy to the incoming labour administration.

 

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1997-2002

Gordon Brown, The Labour Chancellor maintained the same financial regime as his predecessor and by the end of the first parliament (1997-2002) public sector debt as a % of GDP was reduced to 29%.

 

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2002-2007

The second Labour government (2002–2007) relaxed fiscal rules and national debt increased to 37% of GDP.

The rise was primarily due to the government’s decision to greatly increase spending on health and education.

There was also a significant rise in social security spending.

 

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2007-2010

The third Labour government (2007-2010 was an unmitigated disaster.

There was a very sharp increase in public sector debt because of:

The 2008-2010 recession which was incurred by the financial bailout of Northern Rock, R.B.S., Lloyd’s and other banks resulted in greatly reduced tax receipts, much increased spending on unemployment benefits, and other welfare support.

Falling house prices resulting in much reduced stamp duty, income tax and lower corporation tax collection.

Other factors included a hidden deficit caused by the Labour government spending more than tax revenue.

 

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2010-2015

The Tory Party agreed a coalition with the Lib-Dems and governed from (2010-2015).

The Tory Chancellor, George Osborne declared that austerity would be maintained and indeed strengthened across all sectors of society, (all in it together) declared the Prime Minister, David Cameron).

His campaign slogan proved to be a false dawn when the burden of increased austerity was placed firmly on the shoulders of the 98% of the public previously hammered by Alistair Darling and the Labour party in 2008.

 

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2015-2017

The 2015 General Election was a watershed in UK politics and austerity.

In Scotland Unionist party’s were virtually wiped out by a massive turnout of the electorate in favour of the SNP.

Unfortunately the Labour party in England was poorly organised and fraught with in-fighting with result that the electorate abandoned them in favour of the Tory Party who were then able to form a government, albeit with a small majority.

True to form Tory Chancellor, Osborne announced that austerity measures would remain in place for at least another 5 years.

The majority would continue to be punished for the criminal actions of the bankers who would be rewarded yet again.

David Cameron made a cock-up of the EC referendum in 2016 and was forced to surrender his leadership role, passing the chalice to Theresa May who formed a new government.

Osborne was dropped from his role as chancellor and there was brief hope things would change.

No chance, multi- millionaire, Hammond, the new Chancellor, opted to pursue and indeed threatened to extend the period of austerity without end.

 

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2017-2021

In 2017, Theresa May asked the electorate for a new mandate.

She managed to get her government re-elected but without a overall majority which she gerrymandered in her favour gaining a majority through the qualified support of the D.U.P.

Hammond remains in office, (but under pressure) and the future is just as dismal as before.

Thanks to: Dabir Tehrani UNA, Edinburgh

 

 

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2017 General Election – Out Gunned by the Tory and Unionist Party – The SNP Campaign Planners Are In Need Of A Firm Kick Up the Jacksie

 

 

 

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Devolved Government in Scotland

The 1999 introduction of a Scottish parliament, with devolved powers (forced on the UK government by the EC) should have been a game changer.

For the first time in 300 years Scots had a forum allowing discussion of matters local to Scotland over which their elected representatives would be able to bring about change.

But the established political parties simply rubber stamped the wishes of the Westminster parliament on the electorate.

The Labour and Liberal Democratic coalition government, (elected to office in 1999 at the start of the new parliament) proved to be incompetent at all levels of government and voters gave their support to the Scottish National Party (SNP) who, (with the allowance of operating as a minority government) provided progressive, efficient and enlightened government.

In 2010 the SNP were rewarded for their achievements gaining a stunning victory returning to government with an overall majority (turning the Westminster gerrymandered electoral system on its head).

This period of government was also very successful, even when confronted with the implementation of potentially destructive financial austerity measures brought about by failed Westminster politics.

The party was rewarded with a return to government in 2015.

 

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The Scottish Voter

In the period up to 2005 the majority of voters in Scotland voted as their family and neighbours did.

Voting was largely tribal and class driven.

Workers backed Labour whilst the rural communities, white collar workers and upper classes supported the Tory party.

But the impact of the Scottish Parliament, Illegal wars in Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. And the rapid expansion of the internet challenged the old ways and political party’s experienced the impact of declining voter bases as vast amounts of new information, previously denied the public became wide spread through internet driven social networking.

From 2014 enlightened Scots became increasingly more independent thinking and a new class of voter was born.

One which demanded from politicians information and policies relevant to their individual needs. To date only one party in Scotland responded. The Tory Party.

 

scotl007

 

 

 

The 2017 General Election and the Tories

The 2017 General Election in Scotland exposed Scottish voters to “data mining” a new form of politics providing tools and profiling information allowing Conservative candidates to communicate personally with their prospective constituents.

The benefits were astounding. The Tories gained a stunning result, increasing their MP’s from 1 to 13 in total.

Pollsters were flabbergasted at the turnround in the voting since the SNP appeared to be invulnerable.

But Tory candidates had been well briefed about the individual targets within their constituencies.

It was a voting strategy, new to UK politics which, using predictive data models identified, engaged and persuaded voters to turnout.

This was achieved through the use of internet, phone and personal surveys combined with many other data sets, created by teams of contracted data scientists, psychologists and political consultants allowing the campaign to map the Scottish electorate based on ideology, demographics, religious beliefs, strongly held opinions on key issues e.g. Independence, The Orange Lodge, Celtic, Rangers, The SNP and or political personalities.

The information gathered provided Tory campaign strategists with a predictive analysis based on thousands of data points on just about every voter in Scotland.

From that teams of political consultants and psychologists, hired by the Party directed the campaign and candidates on what and how to say it to selected groups of voters.

Other voter targeting, included use of Facebook adverts, one to one scripted phone calls and provision of the content of messages for door-to-door canvassers ensuring consistent communication with voters on any issue.

What won the day for the Tory party in 2017 was that they utilised “data mining” to gain a comprehensive understanding of the Scottish electorate and then used every communication aid available facilitating discussions with voters about matters important to them as individuals.

Throughout the campaign the Tory tactic was to constantly broadcast the “no new referendum” message stressing that this was an important major difference between the Tory and any other candidates firmly imprinting this in the electorate’s minds.

In contrast the SNP campaign was directed at the Scottish electorate as an entity and failed to inspire those voters it needed to for success.

Information is power.

 

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Personal data on Facebook

The “MyPersonality” app was launched in 2007.

In excess of six million people have completed the questionnaire, nearly half of them allowing psychometrics centres to access their Facebook profiles as they did so.

Once granted the user allows unfettered access and algorithms trawl through likes and posts training statistical models that use “digital footprints” to predict personality types.

Scholars are then allowed to dip into that pool of anonymized data for worthy academic research, and the fruits of those models are promoted commercially.

 

Big-Wealth-Gap-300x168

 

 

 

15 March 2017: Data Mining in action – March 2017 – A Tory Strategy – Petition Against a Second Scottish Independence Referendum

A petition stating; “We in Scotland are fed up of persecution by the SNP leader who is solely intent on getting independence at any cost.

As a result, Scotland is suffering hugely.

The majority of Scottish voters wish to remain in the British union, despite Nicola Sturgeon’s latest demands for a Scottish referendum, according to the latest polling from YouGov.”

The petition was clearly a “data mining ploy” prepared and added to the internet by the Tory media team.

The tactic worked since it succeeded in raising the public profile of the possibility of another Independence referendum, which (at the time) had not been given mention by anyone other than the Tory Party.

 

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Use of Gathered Data – Analysis of Petition Outcome

Information was sourced from official lists and records providing numbers of acceptable signatories by Scottish Constituency.

Electorate totals were included and a percentage signatory total was established for each constituency.

From that the mean figure of 3.75% was used to forward project the outcome of an Independence referendum, should one be held after Brexit.

The figures suggested that from an electorate of 4,021,203 the outcome of another referendum would result in a: 48.00% “Yes” vote in favour of independence with 52.00% preferring to remain with the Union.

The information would be best used to forward plan strategy.

Edinburgh, Aberdeen, East Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire recorded higher than average figures favouring remaining with the Union.

Others appear to be less fixed.

 

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The 2017 General Election Forecast

The General Election in Scotland will be a re-run of the 2014 referendum as such the landslide victory achieved by the SNP in the last GE cannot realistically be achieved.

The analysis suggests 25 seats might change hands with the Tory Party being the main benefactor:

SNP activists will need to get out in force in the under-noted constituencies otherwise they could be lost.

 

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This group of seats are marginals – Risk decreases as the % number drops:

71749: Edinburgh West, Michelle Thomson MP : 4388-6.12%

69982: East Renfrewshire, Kirsten Oswald MP: 4241-6.06%

66966: East Dunbartonshire, John Nicolson MP: 3977-5.94%

65846: Edinburgh South, Ian Murray MP: 3579-5.44% (Labour)

73445: West Aberdn, Stuart Blair Donaldson MP: 3961-5.40%

80978: Edinburgh North & Leith, Deidre Brock MP: 4280-5.29%

66208: Paisley & Renfrewshire North, Gavin Newlands MP: 3158-4.77%

68875: Argyll & Bute, Brendan O’Hara MP: 3277-4.75%

62003: North East Fife, Stephen Gethins MP: 2937-4.74%

67236: Stirling, Steven Paterson MP: 3175-4.72%

77379: Ochil & S. Perthshire, Ms Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh MP: 3645-4.71%

79393: Gordon, Rt Hon Alex Salmond MP: 3711-4.68%

68056: Aberdeen South, Callum McCaig MP: 3618-4.65%

79481: East Lothian, George Kerevan MP: 3676-4.63%

72178: Edinburgh South West, Joanna Cherry QC: 3283-4.55% )

72447: Perth & North Perthshire, Pete Wishart MP: 3033-4.19%

71685: Moray, Rt Hon Angus Robertson MP: 2995-4.18%

78037: Lanark & Hamilton East, Angela Crawley MP: 3272-4.19%

68483: Dumfries, Clydesdale, Rt Hon David Mundell MP:2816-4.11%

74179: Berwickshire, Roxburgh, Selkirk: Calum Kerr MP: 3026-4.08%

86955: Linlithgow, East Falkirk, Martyn Day MP:3570-4.11%

68609: Banff & Buchan, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP: 2772-4.04%

73445: W. Abdn & Kincardine, Stuart Blair Donaldson MP: 3961-5.40%

71685: Moray, Rt Hon Angus Robertson MP: 2995-4.18%

68056: Aberdeen South, Callum McCaig MP: 3618-4.65%

 

 

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Theresa May Forging Ahead with her Totalitarian State – All Private Information Historical and Real-time Will Be Available To Government Agencies – An Independent Scotland Would be Able to Make Its Own Rules

 

Liberty_NoSnooper_Lamppost_sm_BLACK_website_f2

 

 

 

 

Spying on all of the Queen’s subjects is OK – But Not Westminster MP’s and the Lords

The only amendment to the government’s sweeping new spying bill so far made by politicians is to stop them from being spied on.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/snoopers-charter-only-amendment-politicians-have-submitted-to-controversial-bill-is-to-stop-mps-a6948211.html

 

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In December 2016, politicians in the UK passed The Investigatory Powers Bill

The Act, (heavily criticised by civil rights groups, privacy experts and over 100,000 people for the intrusive and draconian levels of surveillance of the private lives of individuals), was passed by Westminster in December 2016.

As expected, legal challenges against the powers of the act have been submitted to the relevant controlling authority in anticipation the government will amend aspects of the act causing most concern to the public.

The European Court of Justice has ruled the collection of bulk data to be unlawful.
The British government has refused to amend the act, the response being that provisions contained within it are necessary to help protect the country’s national security and oversight is provided for the protection of individuals.

Many aspects of the legislation have yet to be implemented but it is expected the act will be fully in force before the end of 2017 which is worrying when considered against the slow moving Brexit talks.

Clarifying its extent in advance of Royal Assent in December 2016, then home secretary Amber Rudd said:

“This Government is clear that, at a time of heightened security threat, it is essential our law enforcement, security and intelligence services have the powers they need to keep people safe.

The internet presents new opportunities for terrorists and we must ensure we have the capabilities to confront this challenge.

But it is also right that these powers are subject to strict safeguards and rigorous oversight.

The Investigatory Powers Act is world-leading legislation that provides unprecedented transparency and substantial privacy protection.

I want to pay tribute to the independent reviewers, organisations, and Parliamentarians of all parties for their rigorous scrutiny of this important law which is vital for the safety and security of our families, communities and country.”

The legislation includes:

 

Theresa May Snoopers Charter

 

 

 

 

Hacking power:

For the first time, security services will be able to hack into computers, networks, mobile devices, servers and more under the proposed plans.

The practice is known as equipment interference and is set out in part 5, chapter 2, of the IP Bill.

This may include downloading data from a mobile phone that is stolen or left unattended, or software that tracks every keyboard letter pressed being installed on a laptop.

“More complex equipment interference operations may involve exploiting existing vulnerabilities in software in order to gain control of devices or networks to remotely extract material or monitor the user of the device.”

The power will be available to police forces and intelligence services. Warrants must be issued for the hacking to take place.

 

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Bulk hacking:

For those not living in the UK, but who have come to the attention of the security agencies, the potential to be hacked increases.

Bulk equipment interference (chapter 3 of the IP Bill) allows for large scale hacks in “large operations”.

Data can be gathered from “a large number of devices in the specified location”.

A draft code of practice says a foreign region (although it does not give a size) where terrorism is suspected could be targeted, for instance.

As a result, it is likely the data of innocent people would be gathered.

Security and intelligence agencies must apply for a warrant from the Secretary of State and these groups are the only people who can complete bulk hacks.

 

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Commissioners:

To help oversee the new powers, the Home Office is introducing new roles to approve warrants and handle issues that arise from the new powers.

The Investigatory Powers Commissioner (IPC) and judicial commissioners (part 8, chapter 1 of the IP Bill) will be appointed by Theresa May, or whoever the serving prime minister is at the time.

The IPC will be a senior judge and be supported by other high court judges.

“The IPC will audit compliance and undertake investigations,” the government says.

“The Commissioner will report publicly and make recommendations on what he finds in the course of his work,” guidance on the original bill says (page 6).

“He will also publish guidance when it is required on the proper use of investigatory powers.”

 

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Web records and Communication Services

Under the IP Bill, security services and police forces will be able to access communications data when it is needed to help their investigations.

This means internet history data (Internet Connection Records, in official speak) will have to be stored for 12 months.

Providers, which include everything from internet companies and messenger services to postal services, will have to store meta data about the communications made through their services.

The who, what, when, and where will have to be stored. This will mean your internet service provider stores that you visited “Caltonjock” to read this article, on this day, at this time and where from (i.e. a mobile device).

This will be done for every website visited for a year.

Web records and communications data is detailed under chapter 3, part 3 of the law and warrants are required for the data to be accessed.

A draft code of practice details more information on communications data.

 

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Bulk data sets

As well as communications data being stored, intelligence agencies will also be able to obtain and use “bulk personal datasets”.

These mass data sets mostly include a “majority of individuals” that aren’t suspected in any wrongdoing but have been swept-up in the data collection.

These (detailed under part 7 of the IP Bill and in a code of practice), as well as warrants for their creation and retention must be obtained.

“Typically these datasets are very large, and of a size which means they cannot be processed manually,” the draft code of practice describes the data sets as. These types of databases can be created from a variety of sources.

 

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Real-time surveillance

Draft regulations published in May 2017 reveal how the IP Act’s provisions will work in practice.

The technical regulations, which put obligations on internet communication companies, say “communications and secondary data” about a person will have to be provided “in near real time” to authorities when a warrant has been obtained.

Also, the regulations, which were being consulted on with UK technical groups, say that where possible ‘electronic protection’ (also known as encryption) should be removed by communications companies where it is possible to do so.

 

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Public authorities that can access records

Metropolitan police force
City of London police force
Police forces maintained under section 2 of the Police Act 1996
Police Service of Scotland
Police Service of Northern Ireland
British Transport Police
Ministry of Defence Police
Royal Navy Police
Royal Military Police
Royal Air Force Police
Security Service
Secret Intelligence Service
GCHQ
Ministry of Defence
Department of Health
Home Office
Ministry of Justice
National Crime Agency
HM Revenue & Customs
Department for Transport
Department for Work and Pensions
NHS trusts and foundation trusts in England that provide ambulance services
Common Services Agency for the Scottish Health Service
Competition and Markets Authority
Criminal Cases Review Commission
Department for Communities in Northern Ireland
Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland
Department of Justice in Northern Ireland
Financial Conduct Authority
Fire and rescue authorities under the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004
Food Standards Agency
Food Standards Scotland
Gambling Commission
Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
Health and Safety Executive
Independent Police Complaints Commissioner
Information Commissioner
NHS Business Services Authority
Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust
Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Board
Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Regional Business Services Organisation
Office of Communications
Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
Police Investigations and Review Commissioner
Scottish Ambulance Service Board
Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
Serious Fraud Office
Welsh Ambulance Services National Health Service Trust

 

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Comments:

Tom Skillinger: Leader of the 100.000 signature petition submitted to the government said:

“This is an absolute disgrace to both privacy and freedom and needs to stop.

It has only made it this far due to it being snuck past the population in relative secrecy. It isn’t too late.

We can fix this before the UK is turned into a dystopian surveillance state.”

 

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Jim KIllock: Executive Director of the “Open Rights Group” said:

“Amber Rudd says the Investigatory Powers Act is world-leading legislation.

She is right, it is one of the most extreme surveillance laws ever passed in a democracy.

Its impact will be felt beyond the UK as other countries, including authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records, will use this law to justify their own intrusive surveillance regimes.

Theresa May has finally got her snoopers’ charter and democracy in the UK is the worse for it.”

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/ip-bill-law-details-passed

 

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14 May 2017: Privacy start-up company – Why we decided to leave the UK following election

The company has raised tens of thousands through crowd funding to create a pro-privacy peer-to-peer network and smartphone app that allows users a Facebook experience without handing over personal information.

Aral Balkan, founder and developer on the platform, explains why the company has decided to leave the UK following the 2017 General Election results.

Shortly after winning the election last week, the Tory’s home secretary Theresa May made a commitment to reintroduce the snooper’s charter, an initiative previously blocked by the coalition.

Stances like this, as well as the plans to block encrypted messaging applications as well as a distillation of the Humans Right Act, will lead the Brighton based company to leave the UK.

Aral Balkan, founder and developer recently said: “It would be ironic to stay in a country that just scrapped its “Human Rights Act” when you’re trying to further the cause of human rights, don’t you think?

The possibility of stronger legislation from Europe concerning data protection, privacy and human rights, to be announced this year is not enough to us working within the British Isles.

“I have very little faith that Europe will stand strong on protecting our human right to privacy.”

“There are major and increasing concerns over lobbyists’ influence on the new incoming general data protection and the Tory Manifesto is at severe risk from corporate influences who favour big data over big data protection.”

“They seem to be more interested in keeping Silicon Valley companies happy and being rewarded with investments into ‘start-up’ ecosystems and increased lobbying spends.

If we are to tackle the issue of protecting privacy (and thus human rights) in the EU, we should take a long, hard look at the staggering amounts of institutional corruption at the state and EU levels and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the remove the influence of corporate finance in public policymaking.”

Legislation from the EU is expected to be published before the end of 2017 and it is expected safeguards concerning data protection, privacy and human rights will be greatly strengthened over the UK legislation.

Nothing of the EU bill will be introduced into the UK during the Brexit discussions. But in any event it is saddled with the same drawback as the UK.

The EU appears to be more interested in keeping Silicon Valley companies happy (and being rewarded with investments by them into “start-up” ecosystems and increased lobbying spends).

If the EU is to tackle the issue of protecting privacy (and human rights) in the EU, it needs to take a long, hard look at the staggering amounts of institutional corruption at the state and EU levels and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the remove the influence of corporate finance in public policymaking.”

 

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Balkan blames “multistakeholderism” and “co-regulation” that sees companies like Google and Facebook invited to the EU table to decide how they should be regulated and give advice on what privacy protection should be implemented to protect individuals.

“That’s like inviting the wolf to the table to comment on the welfare of the sheep.

Multistakeholderism, public-private partnerships, and co-regulation are all euphemisms for institutional corruption.

If we’re serious about tackling these issues let’s work to remove the influence of (mainly American, and mainly Silicon Valley) companies from the policy decisions made in Europe that concern the welfare of Europeans.”

 

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Stages in development

Balkan, who has been programming for over 30 years – and working professionally for 15 – is just about to kick off Ind.ie’s pre alpha programme for Heartbeat.

Heartbeat is a social network – one part of the underlying technology the start-up is creating to eventually offer an entirely private smartphone (the Indie phone) .

Pulse – a private version of Dropbox and a bridge tool called Way-stone will follow with the help of crowdfunding.

“I have a couple of days of coding left until I can get there and then we’re going to test it out with the team for a few days before starting to open it up to the 850 or so alpha testers who supported us in the top two tiers during crowdfunding.

It’s taken us about 6 months to get here, which is much longer than I’d originally estimated, but it’s not like anyone has built this before so we’re also learning as we go.”

 

 

 

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Private island, Scandinavia or Scotland?

Development aside, now the small firm must think about where to relocate. “We don’t know where we’re moving to yet.

We’ve had a lot of words of support and lots of invitations to come visit,” said Balkan.

So far, a private Island in Panama owned by a friend, a handful of Scandinavian countries like Norway, Sweden and Iceland due to their human rights credentials as well as Berlin are top of the list for Ind.ie.

Scotland is another option, Balkan adds, “If we could be confident they it would leave the UK and resist the Tory push for ubiquitous surveillance.”

http://www.techworld.com/startups/privacy-startup-indie-why-we-decided-leave-uk-following-election-3611712/

 

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Afghanistan – Thousands of Young Soldiers Killed and Maimed at Four Times the Rate of the US Forces – I asked Why? – But Never got an Answer – Does Anybody Know?

 

 

 

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Westminster Governments Sent Scottish Troops Into Afghanistan, Helmand Province on a Wing and a Prayer

In April 2006 the UK deployed over 3,000 military personnel, (the bulk of the teeth armed units being Scottish) tasked with creating a safe base and active participation (as part of a Nato-led peacekeeping force) in direct support a large US-led force already deployed throughout the country aggressively eliminating militants.

Fully aware, from US intelligence briefing, of the dangers facing the force to be deployed and major deficiencies in their equipment and arms, the Westminster government approach was one born of complacency, believing that US forces on the ground would continue to meet the main challenge of the Taliban.

The political mantra was: ” we’ll deal with it if it happens.”

US military command, in Kabul were pleased that the British Army would be actively involved in the war against the Taliban and were more than ready give over responsibility for policing Helmand Province and the South of Afghanistan.

In the process of the force deployment, John Reid, Secretary of State for Defence, addressing the world’s press in Kabul, advised that Britain would remain with the Nato joint forces mission for as long as necessary, emphasising the importance of preventing the Taliban returning to power.

He went on to say: “We’re in Helmand and the South to assist and protect the Afghan people reconstructing their economy and democracy” and, “we would be perfectly happy to leave in three years time without firing one shot.”

Not long after Reid departed to the UK and a new job as Foreign Secretary the unwarranted complacency was quickly dispelled by the shock of cold reality when the Ill equipped, armed and trained young soldiers came under sustained attacks from the Taliban.

Policing went out the window to be replaced by 12 years of brutal counter-insurgency resulting in the death and injury of many British Armed forces.

A simple policing mission gone badly wrong. British Armed Forces betrayed by Westminster governments whose default setting firmly fixed at: “muddle”

 

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The Disastrous Legacy John Reid Left the Army and the Nation

446 British soldiers met their deaths – a higher figure than in Iraq, or the Falklands

The maximum acceptable level of major combat casualties is 6 deaths per 1000.

USA forces suffered 3 deaths per 1000.

UK forces suffered 13 deaths per 1000.

British army casualties four times the rate of US troops, a statistical disparity which nobody at Westminster seems anxious to explain.

3560 soldiers were wounded. In one year: (between April 2012 and March 2013)

29 British soldiers had limbs amputated.

12 were classified as “significant multiple amputees”.

the average age of those who died was 22.

31 were teenagers, 200 in their 20s.

Of the Afghan veterans who made it home more or less in one piece, the most common cause of death in 2012 was suicide.

 

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One reason for the very high British casualty rate – in the absence of written evidence – could be the ignorance and stupidity of British politicians and their carelessness about the lives of the young people they were sending into battle, the disgraceful failure to provide basic equipment and the deployment of personnel in ways which made no military (or any other sort of) sense.

 

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