Archive for November, 2019


The Salisbury Amnesty group is politically neutral.  We have an interest in the Human rights Act passed with all party consensus in 1998.  The Conservative Party’s manifesto for the 2019 general election says:

Once we get Brexit done, Britain will take back control of its laws.  As we end the supremacy of European law, we will be free to craft legislation and regulations that maintain high standards but which work best for the UKWe want a balance of rights, rules and entitlements that benefits all the people and all the parts of our United Kingdom.

After Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people.  The ability of our security services to defend us against terrorism and organised crime is critical.  We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government. We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays.  In our first year we will set up a Constitution, Democracy & Rights Commission that will examine these issues in depth, and come up with proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates.  Page 48 in the section: Protect our Democracy (our italics)

We can find no similar pledge in the other two main party’s manifesto.  To some extent this is a familiar promise.  In the past, the party has promised to repeal the act and to introduce a bill on rights and responsibilities.  Probably because of the pressure on parliamentary time with Brexit, such a bill has never emerged.  Promises to abolish the act also have never emerged.  We have asked what part of the act they want to abolish but this has never been answered.  The Party does seem to have a problem with the act as it is currently drafted.

The words themselves tell you little and may even seem on the face of it, benign.  What does ‘update the act’ mean?  Seeking a balance between the rights of individuals and our vital national security and effective government is a bit of a clue.  A regular theme of the right wing press is the threat posed by the act to our national security.  This for example from the Daily Mail in 2015:

Another day, another insult to common sense courtesy of the Human Rights Act and the lawyers enriched by this toxic piece of legislation, which allows them so profitably to ride roughshod over the wishes of Parliament and the British public.   Editorial, 1 August 2015

We shall be keeping a watching brief on Conservative party plans if they assume power on 13 December 2019.

Visitors to this site may like to visit Rights Info where this manifesto promise is also discussed.

 


We are pleased to post our minutes of the November meeting which discusses the things we have done recently and forthcoming activities.  If you are interested in joining the group, then the events list at the end is a good place to start.  You would be very welcome to come along and make yourself known.

November meeting minutes (Word)


The death penalty report for October – November is available thanks to group member Lesley for compiling it.  One worrying item is the apparent willingness of the UK government to allow individuals to be sent to the USA with the risk of execution.

October/November report (Word)


This moving film shown at the Arts Centre on 13 November

The film is about a group of workers at the Rolls Royce factory in East Kilbride who in 1972, having seen footage of the brutal coup in Chile and its aftermath, decided to ‘black’ the engines which were being repaired for the Chilean Airforce.  The engines were fitted into the Hunter Hawker jets which were used to bomb the presidential palace in Santiago in which President Allende died.  Some witnesses say the president killed himself.

The coup against Allende was inspired by the USA who were concerned about a socialist government successfully establishing itself in South America which they regarded as their backyard.  Copper was the country’s main export and American firms were said to be extracting excessive profits.  Allende’s predecessor had started the process of nationalisation which angered the American companies concerned.

The film – documentary by Filipe Bustos Sierra – plots the story of the Scottish shop stewards and the arguments and repercussions which followed the blacking.  The three key players who were quite elderly by the time the film was made never really knew the effects of their actions.  They knew of course that the engines were sitting in crates at the back of the factory but they did not know that they were the planes which actually bombed the palace.  The engines quickly became useless because of deterioration.

The Pinochet regime became notorious for the scale of its atrocities against its own people.  Thousands were simply shot, others were thrown from helicopters into the Pacific, torture was practised extensively.  Eventually, Pinochet was arrested in London under a Spanish warrant which caused enormous political upset.  He had many supporters in the UK and a YouTube video of a speech by Mrs Thatcher is quite shocking in the light of this film.

The director quite amazingly, managed to track down the engines which are lying in a field about an hour from Santiago.  The particular engine was shipped back to East Kilbride.

We were pleased to see that Amnesty had several mentions during the film for their part in documenting the outrages perpetrated by the regime.  We are grateful for the Arts Centre in showing it and to enable us to give a short presentation and collect signatures afterwards.

Today

The question of course is what about today?  We have for several years now described the horrors of the war in Yemen and in particular, the role of British companies in supplying weaponry to the Saudis.  Not only do we supply the weapons, but British and RAF personnel are involved in the bombing by helping the Saudis.  British weapons are used to bomb schools, mosques and medical facilities.  So are the workers at BAE Systems and other arms companies ‘blacking’ their products destined for the Saudi Air Force.  It seems not.  One reason is the trade union laws are such that actions of this nature are illegal.  Arms sales have become so normalised now that the idea of protesting at the effects of their use seems pointless.

This was an absorbing film and a moving story of a handful of shop stewards in Scotland who felt they had to do something and even risk the sack, to help stop the terrible events in Chile.

 


Nae Pasaran this week

The film Nae Pasaran is on this Wednesday 13th at the Arts Centre in Salisbury starting at 7:30 and tickets are available at £8.00 each.  The film is set in Scotland.  Details about the film can be seen here.

Meeting

Posted: November 5, 2019 in Uncategorized

CORRECTION

We are ahead of ourselves!  The next meeting is on Thursday 14th not 7th.

Our routine monthly meeting takes place on Thursday 7th as usual in Victoria road starting at 7:30.  Supporters welcome.