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Friday, 20 July


Cmo los objetores de conciencia amenazan los derechos sobre el aborto recin conseguidos en Latinoamrica openDemocracy

De Uruguay a Chile, el personal mdico se niega a practicar abortos incluso despus de su legalizacin. English

Activista en una marcha por el aborto legal en Argentina, 2017. Foto: NurPhoto / SIPA USA / PA Images. Todos los derechos reservados.

Los derechos legales de las mujeres para abortar han aumentado en Amrica Latina, pero tambin lo han hecho las campaas y polticas para que el personal mdico pueda ser objetor de conciencia y negarse a participar en estos procedimientos.

No lo vimos venir, afirma la activista feminista Lilin Abracinskas en Uruguay, un pas laico donde el aborto, el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo y el mercado de la marihuana fueron legalizados en la ltima dcada.

Abracinskas explica a 50.50 que mucha gente asumi que la clusula de objecin de conciencia no tendran ningn impacto en los servicios del pas. Nunca lo debatimos, y luego se convirti en un problema, asegura.

La objecin de conciencia es una grave barrera para que las mujeres accedan a los servicios en Chile, donde una ley de 2017 atenu algunas de las restricciones sobre el aborto, aade la sociloga y defensora los derechos sexuales y reproductivos Claudia Dides.

Hay un fuerte grupo de mdicos antiabortistas; las matronas no pueden practicar abortos por s mismas, as que esto es un obstculo afirma.

Nunca lo debatimos, y luego se convirti en un problema

El uso del argumento de la objecin de conciencia es comn tanto en Uruguay como en Chile. De las estimaciones disponibles se deduce que al menos uno de cada tres gineclogos en estos pases es objetor, e incluso ms en algunas zonas.

En varias ciudades y clnicas, ha averiguado 50.50, no hay mdicos que no sean objetores, obligando as a las mujeres a viajar y dificultndoles el acceso a sus recin conseguidos derechos, algo que afecta ms a las ms pobres.


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Thursday, 19 July


A new Ireland is still far down the political campaigning agenda despite Brexit Slugger O'Toole

Last night Slugger OToole enjoyed an evening in Maginns Bar in Castlewellan as part of the Soma Festival. The topic was Is a New Ireland is Achievable or Even Desirable? and the conversation between Alex Kane and Allison Morris was wide-ranging and at times quite entertaining.

Two years ago I couldnt have imagined Slugger running a session on the topic. While many people still hold a legitimate political aspiration for unification, the only discussion seemed to be about talking down the level of support based on surveys and research. Very little that was new seemed to be said about the topic.

Read Ignoring the small issue of a border poll, what might a new united Ireland be like? Interview with Conall McDevitt in February 2013

The panel agreed that Brexit has changed that. Moderates are more open to the possibility and given the demographic changes in Northern Ireland, its only a matter of time perhaps 10 or 20 years before a Secretary of State agrees that a border poll should be called to test the mood.

Much of last nights discussion centred around identity, including whether some unionists sense of Britishness would be instantly and permanently snuffed out if more than half of the electorate voted to leave the UK. There was a strong sense that now that unionists are no longer just ducking the question with its not going to happen so Im not going to discuss it, there was a need to begin a civic conversation around the mechanics of a possible process, and start to articulate the reassurances and detail that many different communities on both sides of the border might require. There was a definite role for the British and Irish governments to lead.

While promises and messaging about a new Ireland still appear in nationalist party manifestos, its not much of a campaigning issue. Its certainly not the message that is used to drive voters out to the polling stations.

So while preparing to chair last nights event, I searched through the press release...


Negotiating Brexit from the ground up openDemocracy

Having a national conversation is no small task.  However the principles are simple and their implementation is absolutely possible. 

lead lead Screenshot of the OurBrexit website.

Brexit is increasingly being treated as a national crisis on one level which challenges party lines and has even led to proposals of the formation of a Unity government. There is no doubt that it is complex with multiple moving parts and has cut to the heart of families and communities. However, it is crucial to realise that in order for it to be successful or for it not to take us over a cliff edge we the British public, will need to be prepared to undergo a change in culture. 

This will involve our becoming more sophisticated in our approach to negotiation and conflict resolution as individuals and communities. If we do this, we can start building workable solutions to Brexit and, potentially, build stronger, more cohesive communities that speak less of hate and more of tolerance.

The challenge

The Brexit referendum required us, as a nation, to take polarised views and to shore up our arguments against each other in order to win. We were forced to decide whether we were in or out even if we did not all fully understand what either choice meant. Once we had made that decision we had to commit to it and, to some degree entrench ourselves in our positions against our neighbours. colleagues and friends. These are positions that our MPs have then gone on to fight and defend. At the same time, we, the electorate are still not necessarily clear on what we think the right thing to do is on the minutiae of some of the issues.

This starting point was always going to be a tricky one. Trump has been very successful in adopting this kind of binary negotiation strategy.  He takes his position and he pursues it aggressively.  He also is not afraid of doing an about face on his position if it means him getting what he wants. But this al...


Can a male-dominated legal industry achieve meaningful reforms for women? openDemocracy

Despite shocking accounts of harassment and discrimination within their profession, women lawyers in Zimbabwe and beyond are fighting for more gender-sensitive laws.

Chief judges of the Supreme Court, Harare 2017. Photo: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.The first woman lawyer in Zimbabwe was admitted to the bar in 1928. But it wasnt until 1980 that the country had its first woman magistrate and just this year, the first woman Deputy Chief Justice was sworn in.  

Currently, 70% of law students in Zimbabwe are women. Their admissions increased by 35% from 2013 to 2016. Womens absence from high-level positions is not, therefore, a question of capability. Its the direct result of underlying discrimination and harassment in the legal profession.

Seemingly neutral policies entrench discrimination. Associates receive a low and unregulated base salary from their law firms, for example. To make a living and grow professionally, they must surpass a monthly revenue target set by their firm; often referred to as eat what you kill.

Starting out, young lawyers rarely have their own clients and must rely on (overwhelmingly male) senior partners for work. Making a sexual harassment complaint can negatively impact chances of finding work.

Women on maternity leave must rely on their base salary, leaving them far behind in pay and in their careers upon returning to work.

Womens absence from high-level positions is a direct result of underlying discrimination and harassment in the legal profession.

These problems are not unique to Zimbabwe. In the UK, a survey of 1,000 legal professionals in the top 100 law firms found that 42% of women had experienced workplace sexual harassment or discrimination.

A similar survey of...


My scorched land: the story of Sardashts unhealed wounds openDemocracy

The story of Sardasht is a perfect example of the dark days of the Iranian regimes unbridled hegemony over the Kurds.

One of the many survivors still suffering from the lack of medical attention from the government. Picture courtesy of Awat Rostamyani. All rights reserved. Over the past few decades, Sardasht a Kurdish city located in the western Azerbaijan province of Iran - has endured too much pain and neglect. The city can best illustrate the dynamics and mechanics of ethnic discrimination and suppression by the Iranian regime against the Kurds.

As a small city, however, Sardasht once had a long and glorious history, one with several episodes of success. For instance, it played a decisive role in the emergence and expansion of Kurdish nationalism during both the Pahlavi and Islamic regimes. Hence, what this city has gone through under the Iranian regime is by no means accidental. Sardasht was the first city that was brutally gassed by Saddam on Jun 28, 1987, during the IranIraq war, a barbarous attack without any military and political justification.

Sardasht is also called the second Hiroshima because it was the first city to witness a massacre of unarmed innocent civilians since the atomic bombardment of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Its small population which hardly amounted to 20,000 people in the 1980s makes Sardashts case unique in a horrifying way.

A total of four chemical bombs were dropped over the city during a single day. In just a few hours, hundreds of people, including women and children, were killed, while thousands of injured had to grapple with the long-lasting mental and physical effects of the attack, which persist to the present day. This barbaric carnage was not condemned by the International community at that time nor did the Islamic regime recognize it in the official calendar until many years later.

At that time, I was a fifth-grade student, so I can remember those dark days fairly well. My oldest brother found our uncles deceased body lying in a hospital in Isfahan, about 15 hours away from our city. Because his body was burnt like charcoal, it could only be identified by the watch th...


Ian Paisley apologises to his constituents and colleagues Slugger O'Toole

Some thoughts

I watched his speech as he read it over in the House of Commons, he had Jim Shannon, Sammy Wilson, Paul Girvan and Emma Little Pengelly on the benches with him, after he sat down Jim Shannon patted him on the arm to offer support.

It was odd watching Paisley get emotional, since we are so used to seeing the more confident performer. But from his statement, he seems to be indicating he will hang around for the moment. Since the other parties have asked for him to consider his position, it wont go away and I am not sure this statement will do anything to move them from that position.

For the DUP, Arlene Foster says he issue is with party officers, but with their stance on Barry McElduff it will be hard for them to not give him some form of punishment and they have a real prospect of a by-election on the horizon.


President Higgins rivals for the Aras will have to outline their ability to do a better job Slugger O'Toole

Ive never understood why Irish presidential elections are not fixed events. Elections due every seven years are suspended if the incumbent wants to make it 14. The current President promised hed trigger one by leaving after one term.

But Irelands worst kept secret is now out there. Michael D Higgins is going to run again. Sinn Feins confirmation that it will field a candidate means a game is certainly on, and there is likely to be at least one independent running too.

The Fine Gael and Fianna Parliamentary parties have endorsed Higgins, but Opposition Leader Micheal Martin has said his councillors are free to nominate other candidates. Fine Gael is asking its councillors to back Higgins.

It doesnt quite break convention. It happened once before when De Valera squeezed past Fine Gaels Tom OHiggins in 1966. It does raise a question of how an incumbent fights an election while maintaining the dignity of office.

DeV stepped back and left the field to OHiggins and almost paid the price (he won by just 50.5% to 49.5%). On the RTE website,  doesnt believe Michael D will take the same approach.

And yet, as witnessed in 2011, in part because of the intense focus on the personal attributes of each candidate, Presidential elections can give rise to some of the dirtiest campaigns seen in Irish politics.

The other question is what will be about? In his Irish Times column, Newton Emerson makes a noble attempt at looking for a political pinchpoint for Sinn Fein and mostly finds pitfalls, not least the collapsed institutions at Stormont.

He does argue that an election could provide motivation to fix that situation (at whatever cost)..

One way through this would be to make a fresh powersharing offer to the DUP. With Stormont talks expected to resume in the autumn, perceptions of republican generosity would be well-timed for the presidential election.

However, the issues that need to be dealt with probably mitigate against running another northern candidate. One of the favourites, John Finucane certainly wont be spared any tough questions about his own partys treatment of victims.

What about Michael D...


Frontpage 19th July openDemocracy

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Nurses protest, Sept. 2017. Credit: NurPhoto/SIPA/PA Images


Mr Paisley was conscious of the potential embarrassment that would be caused to him Slugger O'Toole

So Ian Paisley is suspended for thirty sitting days in Westminster for failing to declare hospitality from the Sri Lankan government. Estimates of the value of two undeclared holidays vary from 50,000 (his own) to 100,000 in 2013.

The suspension means that the government is one vote down until November. The report from the House of Commons Committee on Standards noted:

In view of the seriousness of this matter, we recommend that Mr Paisley be suspended from the service of the House for a period of 30 sitting days starting on 4 September 2018.

While he has disputed the Daily Telegraphs claim that the value was 100,000, by his own calculation it amounted to over 50,000 and may have been significantly more than that. This massively exceeded the threshold for registration, which at that time was 660.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the reason why the third visit was registered and the two earlier ones were not, was that Mr Paisley was conscious of the potential embarrassment that would be caused to him were it to become publicly known that he had accepted very expensive hospitality, for himself and his family, from a foreign government accused of serious human rights violations. [Emphasis added]

The Belfast Telegraph reports:

Mr Paisley and his family made two visits to Sri Lanka in March/April 2013 and July 2013. He made a further visit to Sri Lanka in November 2013 without his family, but also paid for by the Sri Lankan government, to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). This third solo visit was registered with Parliament, but the first two were not.

Mr Paisley is just the third MP since 1947 to be suspended for a month. The size of the expenses is a clue to the harshness of the punishment, but failure to mention the holidays in a direct approach to the PM of 19 March 2014 was likely decisive.

He faces calls to resign from Sinn Fein, whilst the SDLPs Colin McGrath has called for a recall petition, a new measure brought in in 2016 by which if 10% of constituents sign a petition a byelection is called.

His letter was to lobby the PM to move against supporting a UN resolution taking the Sri Lanka Government to task for not investigating alleged war crimes during the violent suppression of the Tamil Tigers five years previously.

He clearly failed to convince the then PM, David Cameron.

Meanwhile, a DUP spokesman told the press: The party has noted the House of Commons Standards Committees report on Ian Paisley MP. These mat...


#SOSNicaragua: What you need to know about the repression in Nicaragua openDemocracy

350 dead, 100 missing and appalling violations of human rights is the new norm in a country ruled by a tyrant hell-bent on the bloody repression of the nation. Espaol

June 30, 2018, Managua, Nicaragua: a demonstrator deposits flowers to honor the victims of the protests against Daniel Ortegas government. Photo: Carlos Herrera / dpa / PA Images. All rights reserved.

Under the weight of more than 350 dead and severe violations of human rights including hundreds of missing persons, Nicaragua is living through the horror of extreme government repression of a wave of civil protests.

The situation has become an asymmetric civil confrontation between police, para-police, irregular pro-government Sandinista groups, and students and civilian protesters who have only homemade weapons to protect themselves with.

Last weekend was the bloodiest since the protests began in April. On Friday 13, a national strike was repressed with fire.

That night, around 200 students who had been evicted from the National University were cornered and besieged in a Managua church and two of them were killed. This unleashed a new round of bloody protests and confrontations.

As you are reading this, the crisis continues. Here is what you need to know to understand what is going on:

The main reason is President Ortega's struggle to stay in power

The Sandinista leader, now 72, has been in power for more than 21 years, in two time periods: 1979-1990, and from 2007 until now. His political party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), has been accused of committing multiple electoral irregularities in order to reach and stay in power.

The FSLN won the last elections, in November 2016, with 72.49% of the votes - and he was thus able to maintain absolute control of all the levers of State power.

His violent and unjustifiable reaction in recent months has drawn attention to the ways in which Ortegas government increasingly resembles the Somoza clan dictatorship which he helped...


Joint statement by party leaders on rights after Brexit Slugger O'Toole

The following is a joint statement from the leaders of Sinn Fein, SDLP, Alliance and Green parties.

We are at a crucial point in the Brexit negotiations. Guarantees were given in the Joint Report between the British government and the EU in December that there would be no diminution of rights as a result of Brexit, on the rights of people resident here and that the Good Friday Agreement would be protected.

These guarantees have yet to be fully translated into legally binding text and reflected in the Draft Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

Significant areas of concern remain, and there is little sign of any tangible progress on a range of important matters, including: continued access to third-level study with status of EU students; continued access to the European Health Insurance Card; continued provision for cross-border health services, such as the Northwest Cancer Centre and the Childrens Heart Centre; and safeguards for EEA migrant workers in Northern Ireland, as well as a broad range of other areas reflected in our earlier Joint Declaration on Human Rights and Equality.

We note the proposals put forward by civic society groups for amendments to the Draft Protocol and we urge further dialogue and consideration of changes to ensure that the Protocol is amended in a manner that faithfully reflects and translates into law all rights and equality commitments made in the first phase of the negotiations.

Agreed and co-signed by;

Naomi Long MLA, Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

Michelle ONeill MLA, Assembly Leader and Vice-President of Sinn Fin

Colum Eastwood MLA, Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour party

Steven Agnew MLA, Leader of the Green Party NI


To Russia with Love ends a European tour of Trump farts

By Russell Bruce

Having wrecked havoc across Europe from west to east, Putins man in the White House is back in the States having concluded the next phase of his mission to make America the great irrelevance in international relations. There is always an opposite to what farts out of the Trump mouth.
For America First read America Last.

Or is there some cunning plan that the rest of us in the real world fail to discern? What is blindingly obvious is Europe is in a bear trap between the Russian bear and the orange grisly with the funny implanted comb over. Europe has got above itself through the EU becoming the worlds largest economy, albeit it is a construction of sovereign states.

In the dying days of the Soviet empire the Warsaw Pact countries found a way to return to the European fold with both US and European encouragement. Russian global influence was declining and sending the tanks into east European countries was no longer an option. Now under Putin Russia is fighting back against those losses and the tanks are rolling once more.

It is no secret that the Russians back any political party or movement in Europe that is capable of destabilising democracy and encouraging the rise of far right parties. The only party the Russians have directly financed is Marine Le Pens Front National.

The BBC reported In 2014, the National Front took Russian loans worth 11m (9.4m). One of the loans, for 9m, came from a small bank, First Czech Russian Bank, with links to the Kremlin.

The negotiations over the loan coincided with Russias annexation of Crimea. EU governments condemned the annexation. Marine Le Pen publicly took the opposite view, leading some to question whether the loans were a quid-pro-quo.

After Crimea came Russian military involvement in Eastern Ukraine. Ukraine was becoming rather too close to Western Europe and Russia began sending disguised military in unmarked military uniforms into Ukraine as far back as 2014. The Ukrainian military in November 2014 reported intensive movement of troops and equipment from Russia into the separatist-controlled parts of eastern Ukraine.

Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych held various senior government roles in Ukraine becoming 4th President in 2010 until 2014, when he was deposed and fled to Russia. His power base was eastern Ukraine where he had previously served as Governor of Donetsk Oblast, an area were fighting continues with Russian backed separatists.

Russia was expelled from the G8 group of wealthy countries as a consequence of its annexation of Crimea. Donald Trump recently suggested Russia should be readmitted to the G8.

What might...


La mafia que controla el ftbol internacional openDemocracy

Ha terminado el Mundial de 2018, pero el caso de la enorme conspiracin para delinquir en la que est involucrada la Federacin Internacional de Ftbol Asociacin (FIFA) sigue su curso. English

Durante el partido entre Costa Rica y Uruguay durante los mundiales de 2014. Wikimedia Commons. Todos los derechos reservados.

El 10 de julio, el mismo da en que Francia venca a Blgica por 1 a 0 y se clasificaba para la final del Mundial, una empresa de comercializacin de derechos deportivos y produccin audiovisual con sede en Florida se declaraba culpable ante un tribunal federal de Nueva York de cargos relacionados con sobornos millonarios pagados a cargos de federaciones y organizaciones del ftbol en todo el continente americano.

Los fiscales sostienen que, en el ao 2012, esta empresa, Imagina US, junto con otra compaa de comercializacin de derechos deportivos, Traffic USA, soborn a Jeffrey Webb, que a la sazn ocupaba cargos de responsabilidad en la FIFA y en la Unin de Ftbol del Caribe (UFC).

Imagina US es una compaa de comercializacin de derechos deportivos y produccin audiovisual para el mercado hispano en Estados Unidos y los mercados de Latinoamrica.

En su sitio web corporativo se dice que "proporciona soluciones a medida para toda la cadena de valor de los servicios necesarios para distribuir con xito cualquier contenido audiovisual, desde y hacia cualquier parte del mundo". Es la filial estadounidense del holding espaol Imagina Media Audiovisual.

Traffic USA le ofreci a Webb 3 millones de dlares para que le ayudara a obtener los derechos de comercializacin y transmisin de los partidos de clasificacin para los mundiales de 2018 y 2022 que organizaban miembros de la UFC.

Las vctimas de esta actividad ilegal, como confesaba Bensinger a InSight Crime, son los millones de aficionados y jugadores de ftbol de todo el...


Abstentionism lends itself to British involvement in Irish affairs Slugger O'Toole

Colin McGrath is the SDLP Chief Whip and MLA for South Down

Sinn Feins abstentionist policy, no matter the size of its mandate, like all party policy positions, is not above criticism.

The catastrophe that is Brexit has awoken a new era in political history. Its implications will be far-reaching and its affects will be felt long after we exit the European Union. Any political party that has the power to change the course of this impending shipwreck should, and any unwillingness to do so is not above reproach.

Back in March, Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey defended his partys abstentionist position in the Guardian with an article entitled This is why I wont go to Westminster, even over Brexit. Whilst accurately pointing out that the interest of the Irish people have rarely been the concern of the British Government, his rationale for staying away for this reason does not stack up and once you start to peel back the layers of hard line rhetoric, is inconsistent with a considerable softening of Sinn Feins position in regards to British involvement in Irish affairs. You only have to go back a few short months to recall Mirtn Muilleoirs comments regarding Sinn Feins relaxed attitude towards British direct rule through the delivering of a Tory budget for the North in the absence of a functioning Assembly and Executive.

Sinn Fein stand on an abstentionist ticket. They make no secret of it. No one is disputing that. But in a democracy anyone should be free to question this policy, especially at such a critical time when the influence of Sinn Feins seven MPs in protecting the people of Ireland against a hard border and the dangerous alliance of Tory hard Brexiteers and the DUP is so significant.

Politics is about hard choices; a tough balancing act between the right thing and the popular thing. On Monday night Theresa May lost her nerve, and her cowardice lent to her own future rather than the future of the people of these islands.

Most shameful of all, the British Government with the help of the DUP has allowed the mishandling of Brexit to kick lumps out of the Good Friday Agreement. As we edge closer to crashing out of the European Union with no-deal, the inevitability of a hard border on this island becomes ever more probable day by day.

Sinn Fein once had an abstentionist policy in respect of the Dail and Stormont. They reversed that. They for a long time said no to power-sharing and for an even longer time were opposed to the European Union. They reversed both of those policies. They said no to exclusively peaceful democratic means of achieving change, then reversed that. They said no to any welfare cuts but reversed that.

Westminster abstentionism is one of a number of reasons why people vote Sinn Fein. Very few people vote for them purely and solely on this issue. And one of the facts Sinn Fein arent too quick to publicise, is that in the only election to tak...


Taking on the mafia running international soccer openDemocracy

The 2018 World Cup has come to an end, but the case that unveiled a massive criminal conspiracy involving the international soccer organization FIFA is still ongoing. Espaol

Uruguay and Costa Rica match at 2014 World Cup. Wikimedia Commons. All Rights Reserved.

On July 10, the same day France beat Belgium 1 to 0 to advance to the final, a Florida-based sports marketing company pleaded guilty in a New York federal court to criminal charges related to millions of dollars worth of bribes paid to soccer officials across the Americas.

Prosecutors alleged that the company, Imagina US, coordinated in 2012 with another sports marketing firm, Traffic USA, to bribe Jeffrey Webb, who at the time held high-ranking posts in FIFA as well as in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU).

Imagina US is a leading production company for the US Hispanic and Latin American markets. It says in their corporate website that they proudly provide tailored solutions for the entire value chain of services required to successfully distribute any audiovisual content to and from any part of the world. It is the US subsidiary of Imagina Media Audiovisual, the leading Spanish audiovisual production holding.

Traffic had promised Webb a 3 million dollar bribe for help obtaining the rights to market and broadcast qualifying matches for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups that were controlled by the CFUs members. Imagina admitted to cutting a deal with Traffic to pay half of the 3 million dollars, and to share the costs and revenues of marketing and broadcasting those matches.

Imagina also pleaded guilty to bribing soccer officials in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica in exchange for marketing and broadcast rights for World Cup qualifying matches controlled by the FIFA-affiliated national soccer associations in those countries.

A ...


NHS staff discover they will get hundreds of pounds less than they thought openDemocracy

Nearly a million NHS staff are due to receive a long-awaited pay rise at the end of this month. But new figures released quietly last week have caused fury and confusion even amongst some unions.

Image: Nurses protest against the government's pay cap, September 2017. Credit: NurPhoto/SIPA/PA Images

NHS staff vented fury yesterday as newly published figures suggested that they may have accepted a pay offer last month on the basis of misleading information.

The three-year deal trumpeted by Jeremy Hunt as an incredibly well deserved pay rise for staff who have never worked harder came after years of pay freezes and real-terms pay cuts. NHS staff were expecting a nice chunk of back pay for the first years rise to be in their pay packets at the end of July (as theyve been paid at last years rate until everything was settled).

But many NHS workers could be in for a nasty shock. NHS Employers, the official body in charge of NHS staff, has just published the new 2018/9 pay rates and they do not appear to be the same as the 2018/9 pay figures staff were pointed to before they voted on the deal. In fact, averaged across all pay bands and scales, they appear to award only around half the pay rise from April 2018 that many staff may have been expecting, according to OurNHSs calculations.

The issue potentially affects nearly a million NHS staff. Unions thrashed out the deal with the government in March, and balloted their members in the spring, with most union leaderships (except the GMB) recommending support. There were arguments about the headline figures, so most unions strongly advised their members to check out what it meant for them on a pay calculator before making up their minds. (Unison created its own calculator which drew from and was identical to the NHS Pay one).

For example, Unison emailed members in April, saying, Its really important that you understand what it would mean for you before you cast your vote. If you havent al...


Theresa May is playing well off a weak hand Slugger O'Toole

Five Labour votes on Tuesday, plus really poor whipping on Monday night  that allowed  the Lib Dem leader and his predecessor to miss the vote  are two crucial factors that helped save  Theresa Mays  bacon this week.  The Commons will stagger on until Tuesday after all, as the government didnt dare press for an early recess today after their hairs breadth wins earlier this week.  Internal opposition to May has come from both sides, first  from Brexiteers opposing the Chequers plan to whom she surrendered;  then from Remainers  furious with her for surrendering.

Should  she have stood up to Rees Mogg and co on Monday and dared them to challenge her for the leadership when they were clearly not ready? With such an- shall we call it?  undeveloped programme as the Chequers plan, she was probably  wise not to force the crisis, preferring instead to squeeze down the number of dissidents and believing rightly that she retained  the initiative, if only just .As Churchill once said about votes, one is enough.  To deliver little more, the trigger was fingered on the nuclear  option of calling an election, but thats a ploy that can only be played once. The Brexiteers may soon gather the numbers to challenge her leadership but not to topple her.

The first question for the recess and the conference season that follows is this: does the opposition from both sides in her party cancel each other out and leave her bruised but precariously in charge?   Secondly, as opposition parties helped her survive this week, is this the harbinger of a future coalition formal or informal carved out of the overall Commons majority in favour of a soft Brexit including a customs union?

Splits within Labour have been widening too,  not only  for propping up May, but over over the partys bizarre inability to agree on what constitutes anti-semitism. While this is a powerfully emotive issue on its merits, it also serves as a proxy for reviving the centrist discontent over Corbys leadership which otherwise looks pretty secure. It is possible therefore that a failure to come back to Parliament in November or December with agreed withdrawal terms could create a platform for a cross party alliance, where today we have only splinters. The problem  with such an alliance is that shadowy as the concept is, it would  comprise of...

Wednesday, 18 July


Authoritarian rule shedding its populist skin in rural Cambodia openDemocracy

We wont know until the July 2018 elections whether this radical redrawing of the Cambodian political landscape is a new normal of naked authoritarianism. What is happening is truly bad.

lead lead Indigenous woman who has been involved in struggles to retain her community's land since the mid-2000s, in rice cultivation field in Northern Cambodia. Author's pic.

This article is part of a series on confronting authoritarian populism and the rural world, and linked to the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative (ERPI). The article opening the series can be read here.

In Cambodia, political violence in the run-up to the 2018 general election signals a move away from an explicitly populist authoritarianism towards a deeper authoritarianism. Cambodia burst onto global news headlines in late 2017 when the Supreme Court dissolved the main opposition party, but behind this political spectacle lay a series of smaller legal changes, political violence and geopolitical shifts that set the stage for the turn to deeper authoritarian rule.

Cambodias brand of populist authoritarianism

For more than thirty years, the worlds longest serving Prime Minister has been the archetypal populist strongman. He and his party (the Cambodian Peoples Party, or CPP) combine terror and censorship with personalised political handouts, promises of post-war stability, and a veneer of democracy.

This regime depends on funds channelled through networks of political and business elite who are awarded land and mineral concessions in return for donations to the ruling party. At the same time as rural areas have become sacrifice zones for the enrichment of domestic and international elite,...


Brexit: The Shapelessness of Things to Come

Citizen Cuddis on the Brexit trail

Brexit is going to be as devastating to the body politic as hacking off your own foot with a breadknife. And therell be nothing against the pain, save biting down on a rolled-up copy of Downing Streets new White Paper. Luckily, the British Establishments Science Cavalry is about to gallop to the rescue, bugles blaring. Brexits coming home!

An FOI request has just revealed that Boffins In Union, a quango working for the UK government on the, quite literally, magical technology for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland, is simultaneously working on a slew of equally macaroni-and-cheese-pie-in-the-sky technologies for May & Co. 

Butchers Apron World

Boffins In Union, members of the Tory think-tank, the Jam Tomorrow Alliance, had been helping Doctor Who and his fellow Gallifreyans create a sonic screwdriver with a Phillips head with which your average Gallifreyan could assemble a flat-packed chest of drawers in under thirty seconds. But with trials not scheduled until spring 2080 they agreed to help make Brexit a success while they were shuffling their feet. 

Cripes! It just gets better and better doesnt it? Lying bastard poses in front of 50 microphones.

Boffins In Unions unique brand of visionary science created the mish-mash of unicorn mounted leprechauns, bar-codes tattooed on delivery drivers foreheads and tin-foil-hattery that will apparently prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland. Can they similarly dirl the fidget spinner of innovation once again for post-Brexit Britain?

Monocled mutineer, Jacob Rees Smogg certainly thinks so. Technology will not only give expression to Brexit means Brexit. It will transform our precious post-Brexit union of nations into a high-tech, utopian theme park Butchers Apron World, he says. Havering lunatics at either extreme of the Tory party are keen to endorse his opinion provided it keeps them on the gravy train. 

Were not freezing your benefits madam, were freezing you.

But how exactly are the glorious sun-lit badlands of Brexit Britain to manifest themselves? If we are to have tomorrows technology today, what should we expect? The answer in a single word is cryogenics, the techn...


Hypocritical Tory Brexiteers just voted to scrap parliamentary sovereignty! AAV

So much has been happening in relation to Brexit over the last few weeks it's been difficult to keep on top of it all, especially given the incredibly sketchy mainstream media coverage.

Party Political chaos

Understandably a lot of coverage has been given to the fact that the Lib-Dem leader and his predecessor Tim Farron didn't even bother to turn up for a crucial knife-edge Brexit vote, despite having misleadingly championed themselves as anti-Brexit saviours for the last two years. Tim Farron's reason for missing the crucial vote was that he was too busy giving a gay-bashing speech about how he's such a victim because his outdated views on gay sex are pretty damned unpopular these days!

Also a lot of attention has fallen on a number of Tory grandstanders like Anna Soubry and Justine Greening who made passionate interventions to criticise the hard-right ERG Tory Brextremists who dictate Theresa May's every move, and to call for a second referendum. But for some reason very much less media attention has been given to the fact that they caved in to Theresa May's threats of another Tory meltdown of a General Election, and actually voted to support the ERG Brextremists that they pretend to oppose just to save their own skins from the threat of another General Election.

Then there's the four Labour cranks who repeatedly cast decisive votes alongside the hard-right ERG Brextremists too. Right-wing Blairite MPs have been implac...


Injustice for all: how Azerbaijans bar association was reduced to tatters openDemocracy

A strong and independent legal community is the most significant obstacle to the arbitrariness of authoritarian rule.

Image: Iryna Stasiuk. On the evening of 29 May, Samad Rahimli, an Azerbaijani lawyer and human rights defender, was sat at a desk in the middle of a large auditorium. Facing him were seven members of the Azerbaijani Collegium of Lawyers admission committee, who were waiting to interview him and decide whether or not he would be admitted. Although Rahimli had been warned privately that he would not be accepted, he was calm and ready for the interview.

The oral interview was supposed to last up to 30 minutes, and I was held there for 35, he says. The rest (of the candidates) were quizzed for 10-15 minutes. Rahimli knew this because hed been waiting for his interview since morning. His turn came at around 6 pm.

Rahimli knew full well that the second, oral part of the interview is broad by design, and that the seven committee members sitting opposite him at a U-shaped table, were not going to go easy on him. I was interrupted, I was told my responses were wrong, I was told to cite the article by heart, not to be argumentative, he says, adding that he refused to answer some questions or quote obscure articles and rules because he didnt consider himself under any obligation to do so per rules of the examination.

In the end, just as the private warnings had prophesied, and despite years of experience working on cases and bringing dozens of them to the European Court of Human Rights, Rahimli was informed that he had not passed. He and others say that he was not admitted precisely because of this experience.

The systematic elimination of free thinkers

That Azerbaijan is no heaven for fundamental freedoms is common knowledge. The harassment of lawyers by law enforcement and judiciary has been occurring for a long time, and is well documented. But 2017 was the year when the Azerbaijani authorities began systematically eliminating the independent legal profession as an institution.

At the risk of dism...


Frontpage 18th July openDemocracy

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Michael Gove and Boris Johnson representing Vote Leave. BBC News, Fair use


Is there a role for the EU in the Moroccan Rif crisis? openDemocracy

For Rabat, the challenge will be to access the EU funds and more while getting away from any significant EU impact. That is, even if it means faking Europeanization.

lead Emmanuel Macron receives the King of Morocco Mohammed VI on 10 April 2018 in Paris. Christian Liewig/Press Association. All rights reserved.

Experts say EU-Morocco mutual stabilization strategy mostly benefits the regime in Morocco. Rabat is using its political relationship with Brussels as a strategy to credit and stabilize its regime, rather than as an opportunity to progress along the democratization path. And up to now Brussels has fully backed Moroccos game of security and migration.

That is, at the expense of top priorities such as Europeanization of the Mediterranean southern shore and establishing a supranational power over member-states, including a protected non-member state such as Morocco. The EU, therefore, ought to review its policy. It ought to strike a balance between backing Moroccan top-down regionalization and supporting bottom-up Rifian regionalism. In particular, it ought to condition any likely Moroccan eligibility for European Structural Funds on the granting of autonomous rule to the Rif-region.

Advanced regionalization is the latest development in Rabats enduring EU solicitation strategy. Beyond security and migration cooperation, Rabat has always (and not unsuccessfully) sought maximal cooptation into the EU. By self-styling as a regionalized democracy, it obviously wishes for access to the European internal market, to diverse EU funds, and it ultimately wishes for political recognition of its autocratic regime and its autonomy proposal for Western Sahara. Rabat has always (and not unsuccessfully) sought maximal cooptation into the EU.

Liberalized autocracy

I remember Autumn 1984 in Bruges (Belgium) when professor Raymond Rifflet, half amused and half surprised, informed our class: Le sultan du Maroc vient de dposer une demande dadhsion la Communaut Europenne. (King Hassans appl...


How conscientious objectors threaten womens newly-won abortion rights in Latin America openDemocracy

From Uruguay to Chile, medical staff are refusing to provide abortion services even after their legalisation.

A protester at a march for legal abortion in Argentina, 2017. Photo: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.Womens rights to legal abortion have increased in Latin America but so have campaigns and policies for medical staff to be able to conscientiously object and refuse to participate in these procedures.

We didnt see it coming, said feminist activist Lilin Abracinskas in Uruguay, a secular country where abortion, same-sex marriage and the marijuana market were each legalised in the last decade.

Abracinskas told 50.50 that many people assumed conscientious objection provisions would have no impact on services in the country. We really never discussed it, and then it became a problem, she said.

Conscientious objection is a serious barrier to womens access to services in Chile, where a 2017 law relaxed some restrictions on abortion, added sociologist and sexual and reproductive rights advocate Claudia Dides.

There is a strong group of anti-abortion doctors; midwives cant practice abortions by themselves, so this is an obstacle, she said.

We really never discussed it, and then it became a problem.

The use of conscientious objection arguments is common in both Uruguay and Chile. Available estimates suggest that at least one out of three gynecologists in these countries are objectors, and even more in some areas.

In several cities and clinics, 50.50 has learned, there are no doctors who do not object, forcing women to travel and some to struggle to access their recently-won rights hitting the poorest women hardest. 

In Argentina, meanwhile, womens rights advocates fear new efforts to wide...


Free markets and the decline of democracy openDemocracy

What is the source of the 21st century tendency to authoritarianism? The central purpose of neoliberal re-regulation is to remove economic policy from control by representative democracy.

lead "Adam Smith's ahistoric view": John Kay engraving, 1790. Wikicommons/United States Library of Congress. Public domain.

It is difficult to find a major country in which democratic institutions are not under stress, in many cases under aggressive attack. The United States has a profoundly anti-democratic regime. In Europe long-standing authoritarian tendencies have enjoyed a quantum leap under the neoliberal austerity regime fostered by the German government under cover of the European Commission. 

The draconian austerity measures that were imposed on Greek citizens represent an obvious and shocking example of the mainstream authoritarian trend in Europe.   Authoritarian movements and political parties hold power in Austria, Italy, Poland and Hungary. Outside the EU, efforts of the government of Europes most populous country, Russia, to undermine democracy domestically and in the rest of Europe are well-documented.  The few developments in major countries supportive of democracy come in Spain where the Socialists hold government and the progressive and participatory Podemos is a strong political force; and the shift of the British Labour Party to social democracy with the imminent possibility of an election victory. 

Beyond North America and Europe no major country counters the authoritarian trend, not China, where the government oversees a transition from socialist to market authoritarianism. Superficial flowering of democratic participation in Brazil and India proved short-lived, with a rightwing semi-legal coup undermining representative institutions in the former, and the ruling government in India fostering ethnic-religious intolerance.  In VietNam where I have worked for 25 years, an authoritarian government has completed a transition from central planning to capitalism only slightly less repressive than in China. The Philippines democratic institutions, dubious in the past, now suffer under the most brutal regime in Asia.

"Bourgeois dem...


Another torrid day (in Westminster) for Theresa May Slugger O'Toole

I do wonder from some of our conversations just how detached Northern Ireland is becoming from the reality of Brexit politics. Heres a useful update on that tight parliamentary arithmetic in the House of Commons from Gary Gibbons


Part and parcel of a multicultural outlook should be the inclusion of the Orange Institution Slugger O'Toole

Claire Mitchells (13th July 2018) personal account and views shared with regard to the 12th July is an honest and typical view point held by many living or having come from Northern Ireland.

All violence should be condemned, namely that which occurred on the 11th night this year. The burning of cars and hijacking of buses are scenes from a period which we all thought was left behind, however many still associate these images with the July festivities.

The scenes in Londonderry witnessed over the course of the last two weeks have somewhat taken a back seat, whereby a small Protestant enclave has been attacked repeatedly on a nightly basis, something which has not occurred for some time.

Growing up in South Belfast my parents took my brothers and I to the Annual Boyne Demonstration as it came up Balmoral Avenue and onto the Malone Road.

This stopped when Drumcree was at its high point, which in itself quickly went from a dignified protest to a violent one when the paramilitaries brought the guns out and fired them at the Security Forces. This was enough to put off anyone and sadly tainted the name of the Orange Institution.

My father came from a rural Orange tradition, but never joined. There was no connection to the Institution on my mothers side (as far as I know).

My mother grew up not far from where I did, and she remembers that the first, and possibly only person on her street, to display the Union Flag was a Catholic, who was a former Merchant Navy man. He is sadly no longer with us.

I was cool towards the Orange, holding many stereotypical views. It was not until later on at University that took an interest and without being pushed or coerced, I asked a good friend of mine how I could join the Order.

Eleven years on I have never looked back nor regretted my decision.

One thing I learned early on, is that you cannot taint an entire organisation by the actions of a few: something which Claire makes reference to in her piece.

In the late 1980s/90s, unfortunately, the Orange Institution became a subject of serious strategic attention for the Provisional Republican Movement.

At a private Sinn Fein conference in Co Meath in 1995, in a speech that had been secretly recorded, Gerry Adams said:

Ask any activist in the North, did Drumcree happen by accident, and he will tell you no. Three years of work on the Ormeau Road, Portadown, and other parts of Fermanagh and Newry, Armagh and Bellaghy, and up in Derry. Three years of work went into creating that situation and fair play to those who put the work in. They are the type of scene changes we need to focus on and develop and exploit.

A reference to organised Republican opposition to Orange parades which began three years previously on the Ormeau Road. Away from camera...


EU Japan trade deal: Scotland to lose out

By Dorothy Bruce

The EU and Japan have signed a wide-ranging free trade deal. The deal is the largest free trade deal both countries have ever negotiated and will create an open trade zone covering nearly a third of the worlds GDP, about 30 percent of global output, and forming the worlds largest open economic area.

The deal will also see the instigation of regular dialogue on trade and economic policy between Japan and the EU, with businesses also allowed to seamlessly transfer personal data between the bloc and Japan. EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said, Data is the fuel of global economy. She continued, By working together, we can shape the global standards for data protection and show common leadership in this important area.

Unfortunately the UK wont be able to take advantage of the possibilities for increased trade and economic growth that this free trade deal offers, as we are out of the EU on our bahookie in eight months time, unless of course Mrs May is forced to call a second EU referendum to settle the impasse and infighting in her fast fragmenting Tory party.

The EU/Japan trade deal is being signed at a time when the protectionism espoused by the United States threatens free trade, potentially impacting on the present world order, with the US having imposed 25% tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods, and China retaliating by raising tariffs on US goods. However the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he wants Japan and the EU to lead the world by bearing the flag of free trade.

Donald Tusk, European Council President, said the EU and Japan were sending a clear message that they stood against protectionism, and the two countries remain open for cooperation.

So great news for Japanese car manufacturers and for European businesses, especially those in the European food sector producing high-quality regional specialities, as Japan at present imposes high tariffs on imports of such food and drink products cheeses, chocolate, meats, pasta and wines. With meat products accounting for the largest single EU food export to Japan in 2017, and growing Japanese demand...


Abstentionism may have a place, but hedging on Northern Irelands anti Brexit interest is another matter Slugger O'Toole

As Andrew Rawnsley recalled at the weekend, it was Lyndon B Johnson who declared that the most important talent in politics is the ability to count. He said that in the context of Theresa Mays tricky arithmetic at Westminster

There arent enough people who can count around Mrs May. The fatal flaw in her plan is that there is no majority for it in the House of Commons.

Or rather, just the thinnest majorities for some of it in the House. The irony, not lost on domestic politicians in Ireland, is that the gaps are such that seven SF MPs could make a significant difference.

Some of it quite big stuff

On RTE, SFs deputy leader Michelle ONeill stonewalled accusations that her party had abandoned Irelands interest in the Brexit question by picking out the one measure that received cross-party support (refusing a border down the Irish Sea).

Ironically, through her defensiveness, she highlighted a key point, even though it blows a hole in her own (and An Taoiseachs) position that an E-W border would be an outcome of hitting the backstop. It was always wishful thinking.

Nevertheless, the trashing of a common Customs Union is a function of that aforementioned inability to count. That embarrassingly SF sized hole is where a power shot could have been punched across the Eurosceptic prow but wasnt.

Over on Newstalk, Micheal Martin was asked about Sinn Feins No Show by Ivan Yates on his Hard Shoulder programme on Newstalk

He raises two points worth contemplating. One, the backstop cannot be a win for anyone other than the crash-dummy Brexiteers. Banking on it was always going to be a losing position. [See Frankl on the need to steer upwards to hit a mark...


The laws protecting Britain's democracy from big money are broken openDemocracy

You can be fined more for touting football tickets than you can for subverting Britain's democratic process.

In Mike Myers 90s classic Austin Powers, Dr Evil, the baddie transported from the 1960s, threatens to blow up the world unless hes paid a ransom. Confused by inflation, however, he only demands one million dollars, much to everyones mirth.

In related news, the Electoral Commission has fined Vote Leave, Darren Grimes and Veterans for Britain for breaching a string of laws during the European referendum. The amounts they will have to stump up, respectively, are 61,000, 20,000, and 250.

Well come back to Grimes, lets focus on the big player. Vote Leave had a spending limit of 7 million during the final ten weeks of the referendum. The organisation is being fined for breaching that limit by nearly half a million pounds it spent, according to the Electoral Commission, 7,449,079. This means that the fine is only 0.8% of their expenditure during the final sprint of the referendum. Its the sort of amount that a future campaign could write off at the outset as the cost of doing business. Its not even a very big cost of doing business: its less than they spent on one batch of materials on the 13th of June 2016.

And the 61,000 fine is not, in fact, just for one breach of the rules, but for four separate breaches. For three of these, Vote Leave incurred the maximum fine of 20,000, while the fourth not filing all the correct invoices is only seen as worthy of a 1,000 fine.

Thats right. The maximum fine for breaking the laws of our democracy is 20,000. Partly, of course, this is an anachronism. 20,000 was written into election law in the year 2000. If it had kept up with inflation, it would be around 32,000 today. Partly, its about politicians looking out for their own: the maximum fine for a ticket tout at a football match is unlimited. The maximum fine for anyone caught making a false statement while trying to navigate the la...


An opinion on the Tariq Ramadan affair openDemocracy

Like the infamous Dreyfus case, with every passing day, this is looking more and more like a political assassination and not a fair adjudication.

Tariq Ramadan, Oxford, 20 December, 2017. Wikicommons/Irfan Kottaparamban. Some rights reserved.

What is happening to Tariq Ramadan in France is disgraceful and simply ignominious. I can no longer maintain my silence before this grotesque travesty of justice. Since rape charges were filed against him in France, Tariq Ramadans case has been marred by procedural irregularities, denials of due process, and evidence of insidious discrimination. In fact, Ramadans mistreatment by the French courts, and his virtual public lynching by the French media has been so outrageously unfair to the point of rising to the level of outright persecution.

Alain Gabon and others have already detailed the record of persecution and abuse by the French authorities in this case, and more than one hundred prominent academics and scholars have signed a statement demanding fair treatment and due process rights for Tariq Ramadan. 

So why do I write? I write first because as a Muslim, I am outraged by the embarrassing silence of Muslim organizations and leaders before the undeniable lynching of a prominent Muslim scholar. The same organizations who at one time rode on the coattails of Tariq Ramadans prominence and fame, and that competed for bragging rights by having Tariq Ramadan on their slate of confirmed speakers in their conferences and symposiums, have now conveniently abandoned him and his family to their plight.

The second reason I write is that as a student of history and law, Ramadans case reminds me of the shameful Dreyfus affair in which the enlightened French legal system wrongfully tried and convicted an innocent man, simply because he was a Jew. I write because I strongly suspect that the way that Ramadans case is being handled evidences clear political and religious biases, and that these biases account for the numerous irregularities that plague Frances judicial proceedings. I write because I am deeply troubled about the mockery being made of the presumption of innocence, and bec...


Where next for the New Economy movement? openDemocracy

Its not enough to create niche alternatives; we have to transform the architecture of the economic system.

Ash-Lee Henderson, M Adams and Makani Themba speaking during the opening plenary of the CommonBound summit in St. Louis on June 22 2018. Credit: Flickr/New Economy Coalition. All rights reserved.

In late May of 2018, the Buffalo city council agreed to a strategic plan that gives residents on Buffalos East Side a meaningful voice in how their neighborhood will be developed. The council transferred up to 20 vacant lots to the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust, a nonprofit that will manage the property and keep housing prices affordable for those who need it most. They also agreed to give nearby homeowners the option to buy other vacant parcels.

This victory was the result of years of community organizing by local residents who were determined to take action in the face of the gentrification of their neighborhood. The long-term goal is development without displacement, attracting new jobs and building new housing but not at the expense of the existing residents who call the Fruit Belt home.

The Fruit Belt Community Land Trust is just one of thousands of stories of people who are organizing to build what many call economic alternatives. But lots of people working on these alternatives in the US new economy movement reject that framing because they arent interested in staying in the margins. Instead, their goal is to transform the system, not create a niche alternative for a small number of people. The new economy wants to be the economy, but how?

Modern capitalism is resilient, and it has proven effective at incorporating revolutionary efforts into its logic. For example, the fair trade movement started with grand aspirations to radically transform the nature of global trade. Despite fair trades decades of tremendous growth and meaningful impact for several hundred thousand farmers and tens of thousands of artisans, global trade remains uneven and unfair. Nations with the most economic and military might set the rules of engagement, while producers and farmers in poorer nations have little leverage to fight back.

Meanwhile you can find fair trade products in just about every grocery store in America. Modern capitalism absorbs these...


The Code of Conduct for Antisemitism: a tale of two texts openDemocracy

Ironically, it is the drafters of the Labour partys NEC Code, not their critics, who have grasped the meaning of working definition.

lead lead Jennie Formby, Labour NEC member and South East Regional Secretary of Unite the Union, at the 2016 Labour Party Conference in Liverpool.Wikicommons/Rwendland. Some rights reserved.

How to deal with antisemitism while at the same time protecting free speech in the political debate over Israel and Palestine? This conundrum lies at the heart of the argument (to use a polite word) in the public square over a new Code of Conduct for Antisemitism proposed by the Equalities Committee, a sub-committee of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party. The proposal is due to be formally endorsed by the NEC on 17 July. I shall refer to it as the NEC Code.

The argument revolves around the relationship between the NEC Code and a document that was issued in May 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), an intergovernmental body to which thirty-one countries, including the UK, belong. One edition of the document on the IHRA website has the title The Working Definition of Antisemitism and this is the name by which it is widely cited. (Another edition does not.) This title, as we shall see, has given rise to confusion, so I shall refer to the text as the IHRA document. The IHRA working definition has been widely adopted by national governments (UK included) and other public authorities.

According to Jennie Formby, General Secretary of the Labour Party, the NEC Code takes the IHRA Working Definition and supplements it with additional examples and guidance, thus creating the most thorough and expansive Co...

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