A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Waking the political dead

Serves me right for being a) provocative and b) naively honest about saying what I believe.

I have achieved the unique double of breathing new life into the decaying political corpses of both the Hackney Conservatives and Hackney Liberal Democrats (an endangered species down to their last 2 councillors) with my slightly hard line positions on counter-terrorism expressed here previously.

I now feature on the front pages of both parties' websites - the Tory one and Lib Dem one which judging by the similarities in text is being ghost-written by Labour-to-LD turncoat/Hackney-to-Islington carpet-bagger Meral Ece.

I'm braced for another exciting story in the Hackney Gazette.

For the record, my views as the strapline to this blog says "are entirely personal" and don't represent those of anyone else or any organisation I'm a member of.

I just happen to take the pragmatic view that there are some very dangerous people out there who want to cause mass casualty terrorist incidents (using CBRN materials if they can get them) that would dwarf 9/11 and 7/7 in scale. Security agencies have a good idea who and where some of those people are, but lack the necessary evidence to arrest and convict them using conventional law enforcement methods (or they live in territories where there is no conventional law and order, or a state that has a lot of law and order but is sympathetic to what the individuals want to do and hence unsympathetic to arresting and extraditing them). Hence the need to pick some of these people up extra-judicially and remove them to custody in another jurisdiction, known as extraordinary rendition.

Some of these people also turned up in battle or after it in Afghanistan, having been involved with the Taliban or al-Qaeda. They were not part of an army so were not conventional POWs. It would have been irresponsible beyond belief to let them loose to carry on with their terrorist careers. They needed to be kept somewhere where they couldn't escape from and where they could be interrogated about what they knew about al-Qaeda and its plans. Hence the need for Guantanamo Bay.

I believe that it is probable that many thousands of innocent lives may have been saved - perhaps some of them here in London - through the thwarting of potential acts of terrorism by the US Government's use of extraordinary rendition and Guantanamo Bay.

That doesn't mean, as Lib Dem Councillor Dawood Akhoon (known as the Invisible Man of Hackney Council so infrequently does he appear or speak in the council chamber) claims, that I'm "actually in favour of people being .... tortured". I believe that extraordinary rendition of people to countries where torture might be used is wrong. I also believe that the alleged use of extreme forms of interrogation at Guantanamo is wrong, not least because quite aside from moral objections to the methods used, it's a useless way of getting information out of people because they just say anything to get the interrogator to stop.

The onus on people who don't believe in extraordinary rendition is to explain how they would deal with people believed or known to be terrorists at large in third countries. Leave them free to carry on planning atrocities? It's also on people who oppose the creation of Guantanamo Bay to explain how they would have dealt with the influx of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters picked up in Afghanistan. Set them loose with a promise not to be bad after confiscating their Kalashnikovs?

I've no doubt the other political parties in my home patch will attempt to play a sordid game of communalism with my views on this come the 2010 council elections and will try to smear my Labour colleagues (despite the fact they as far as I know they all disagree with me). I've also no doubt that Muslim residents in my council ward are a lot more interested in my ability to get their lifts fixed or a new controlled parking zone set up, the job they elect me to do, than in my idiosyncratic but deeply held views on international issues. Far from my views having "outraged" Hackney residents as Cllr Akhoon claims, they only seem to be of interest to Lib Dem and Tory councillors - I've not had any ordinary voter raise them with me, though as I reported a couple of weeks ago, my appearance in the Gazette did bemuse/entertain some of my constituents.

35 Comments:

Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

I think this is the better place to post this -

Luke your anti-civil liberties mindset is becoming seriously disproportionate. Just one example demonstrates just how wacky you’re becoming, you say:

“The onus on people who don't believe in extraordinary rendition is to explain how they would deal with people believed or known to be terrorists at large in third countries. “

On no it isn’t. All of our constitutional and political experiences in the UK and in all democracies throughout modern history has shown that the torture/near torture approaches such as rendition do not work… why else were they some commonly given up? The ‘onus’ is quite the reverse from what you say; the onus is on those who claim (and have been shown before to be hugely wrong i.e. on WMD) to 'know something we all don't know' and so want to circumvent legal process and political accountability. Then (then quite inevitably it follows) they will decry and subvert civil liberties on the basis of ‘protecting the state’ thus it has always been in history.

Where you are going has already here caused you to quite gratuitously side with a South American Government that murders trade unionists as a matter of strategy.

When I read more and more of what you are now disseminating here I’m more and more coming to sense an inevitability of defeat for the Labour Party at the next election. Views such as yours are quite simply driving away swathes of people who value civil liberty and do not accept your McCarthyite fear mongering. As we have already seen, the values of the New Labour project have already hollowed out much of the party apparatus by removing what were somewhat patronisingly described as traditional supporters.

The nearest that I can come to another conclusion is that perhaps you are simply a self-publicist – in the way many of the zealots who hijack Islam are. That’s fine, but there can be dire consequences to your self-publicising needs as with the Quasi-Islamist zealots. Both are dangers to our civil liberties.

4:03 pm, July 08, 2008

 
Anonymous tim f said...

Maybe when this is being used as ammunition against your Labour colleagues on Hackney council, some of whom might be in more marginal seats than you & might represent more liberal residents, it's time to stop being provative and naively honest? Rather than typing out another ten paragraphs on it?

4:14 pm, July 08, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Ted

it isn't the rendition itself that is torture. Stop conflating two issues.

I don't see how it's possible to be disproportionate in dealing with, for instance, the threat of attack using small pox that could cause a global pandemic. Our police, fire services etc have not been investing millions in protective clothing, gas masks, disaster resilient communications systems etc just because of a fantasy. It's not about "protecting the state", it's about protecting the citizens who live in it.

All the available polling shows the public understand and support where government is coming from on these issues (incidentally the govt position isn't as robust as my personal one is).

Tim

no. You are advocating that I should be dishonest/silent about my position on an issue because of the electoral impact on an election at a totally different level of government to the one where the issue gets decided. That's the kind of behaviour that leads to public contempt for people in politics.

4:27 pm, July 08, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Akehurst.

Nobody cares that much in the real world. Those that do, some fall on the "pro-civil liberties side", some fall on the "pro-security" side. There are almost certainly more of the latter. It's not remotely a liability in any real sense to express views on international security issues, none of which are particularly extreme or outlandish.

4:28 pm, July 08, 2008

 
Blogger Duncan Hall said...

Luke, when you say the onus is on those who oppose extraordinary rendition to explain how they would deal with people 'believed or known' to be terrorists at large in third countries, I would respond by saying 'in the same way we deal with any other criminals.' In other words, through legal forms of rendition (i.e. deportation or extradition). While an early argument was made for extraordinary rendition under the Clinton administration (an argument that clearly breached international law, but at least had a certain logic) - if terror suspects were at large in countries where the governments either agreed with the terrorist or where the governments did not want - for reasons of political expediency - to publically back extradition - then there could be a case for an extraordinary rendition (the argument going that that terrorist at large is still a danger even though he or she is in a country where they have not been charged with anything and who would refuse to deport/extradite them). I don't actually accept the argument - you trace that person's movements and get deal with them as soon as they enter a country which will either try or extradite them. Clearly nobody is even genuinely comfortable with this, or the CIA would have kidnapped Mugabe and brought him to the Hague by now.

What has actually been happening under the Bush regime has not fallen under that category anyway - large numbers of people have been kidnapped in EU countries that have clear extradition treaties with the US and many of her allies - or indeed would try terror suspects themselves if interpol or other bodies provided the necessary evidence.

The fact is that this is nothing to do with trying and prosecuting terror suspects - if it were, then it's a stupid way to go about it, as nobody who had been taken, by extraordinary rendition to Egypt or some of the countries they are sent to - and who make allegations of torture or cruel and unusual punishment - could be brought to trial in the US or the EU. It is all about interrogation; perhaps you could explain why it routinely makes sense to do the interrogating in countries with more ambivalent approaches to torture?

I would never describe myself as a liberal, and some of you critics on here would probably find me non-libertarian to a point that's beyond the pale - but no, I don't think that's where the onus is.

5:03 pm, July 08, 2008

 
Anonymous stephen said...

I'll not have a bad word said about Osama! I'm here to defend his rights.

How dare you capture his crimes on cctv or have his DNA on the database.

Who are we to judge?

Every man deserves a fair trial, he has the right to confront his accusers and, ultimately, to get away with it.

It's his right. His human right.

7:56 pm, July 08, 2008

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

I am glad to hear that your Labour colleagues disagree with you.

I think that your views will not attract anyone to labour who doesn't already agree with you, and will certainly ensure that many choose other parties.

But, then, I can't see Labour reforming itself without losing the next election.

8:29 pm, July 08, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hark how the chattering classes chatter. This is not the subject of frenzied discussion down at the WMC.

If there is any discussion it is of the line "Why bother with a trial....."

GW

9:11 pm, July 08, 2008

 
Anonymous Alexander said...

I see that you've been fermenting for a few weeks thinking this one up Luke and can I thank you for publishing the most amusing blog posting I've read in months. I've just choked on my drink laughing - the self-importance is gobsmacking, your spoofster would be proud of you.

9:17 pm, July 08, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Alexander

actually it was an instant response to this morning's Lib Dem press release & follow-up phone call from the Gazette. The comments they were reacting to were only made last week.

9:22 pm, July 08, 2008

 
Anonymous lord london fields lido said...

Luke, I cannot see how you can accuse people of "conflating" rendition (actually I'd prefer the term state-sanctioned-kidnapping) and torture. The sole purpose of state-sanctioned-kidnapping (which I would also argue is a form of torture per se) is to take the "accused" to a territory where the normal rights and safeguards don't apply so illegal methods can be used to coerce information. If torture were not going to be used, surely a legal form of deportation could be used?

It's the opinion of your own party's government that torture (which you are backing here by backing rendition) is not an effective way of gathering information. All you are doing by backing this illegal and immoral practice is playing into the hands of terrorists, whose aim is to destroy our way of life. People like you are doing it for them.

9:44 pm, July 08, 2008

 
Anonymous lord london fields lido said...

Luke, I cannot see how you can accuse people of "conflating" rendition (actually I'd prefer the term state-sanctioned-kidnapping) and torture. The sole purpose of state-sanctioned-kidnapping (which I would also argue is a form of torture per se) is to take the "accused" to a territory where the normal rights and safeguards don't apply so illegal methods can be used to coerce information. If torture were not going to be used, surely a legal form of deportation could be used?

It's the opinion of your own party's government that torture (which you are backing here by backing rendition) is not an effective way of gathering information. All you are doing by backing this illegal and immoral practice is playing into the hands of terrorists, whose aim is to destroy our way of life. People like you are doing it for them.

9:44 pm, July 08, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And thus the racisit jinga twat speaks! Typical red head!"

Mark (heres a quid kid) Trotter

11:27 pm, July 08, 2008

 
Anonymous tiny said...

Luke Akehurst said. I don't see how it's possible to be disproportionate in dealing with, for instance, the threat of attack using small pox that could cause a global pandemic. Our police, fire services etc have not been investing millions in protective clothing, gas masks, disaster resilient communications systems etc just because of a fantasy.

Yeah Luke, right on! And the US Government did not spend a disproportionate amount of money on propaganda, such as movies about "duck and cover" (the anti-Russian nuke defence) just because of fantasy. Oh yeah, and the UK Government never spent a disproportionate amount on a defence against the Millenium Bug (a bug that turned out to be fantasy).

We've always had civil defence and we always will have. Goddammit even Switzerland has a civil defence (with a bigger budget per capita than ours, I suspect).

I can't see how investing (i.e. spending) a disproportionate (or not) amount on civil defence equates with unlawful (but in your eyes, justified) kidnapping?

12:10 am, July 09, 2008

 
Anonymous tim f said...

"no. You are advocating that I should be dishonest/silent about my position on an issue because of the electoral impact on an election at a totally different level of government to the one where the issue gets decided. That's the kind of behaviour that leads to public contempt for people in politics."

I don't believe that you believe what you've written there. You don't have a public duty to expound in detail every opinion you have. I didn't even say don't comment at all, I just suggested it's a tad unfair on some of your fellow councillors to drag the argument on when you know it's being used against them. For someone who talks a lot about loyalty and discipline, I should've thought that's obvious.

12:49 am, July 09, 2008

 
Blogger Exile said...

You've got a stooge candidate, what are you mithering about? Jill Saward is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nu-Labour PLC, and the fact that she is crap isn't your fault.

Look you are not going to get a Martin Bell figure any more because most people won't touch Nu-Labour with a bargepole. Tim Collins is supporting Davis and that Rachel woman thinks that you are the dot above the letter i in the word "shit".

So make the best of a bad job and start doing more for la Saward. As things stand she looks set to lose her deposit.

Oh, and remember to stop mithering. It irritates.

8:45 am, July 09, 2008

 
Anonymous stephen said...

For the record, my views as the strapline to this blog says "are entirely personal" and don't represent those of anyone else or any organisation I'm a member of

That may be true, Luke, but your views do reflect on the party you represent as a councillor. If a Tory were to advocate on his blog the forced repatriation of people whose parents emigrated here in the 1950s, of course you would use that embarrass the Tories and quite rightly so.

I believe that extraordinary rendition of people to countries where torture might be used is wrong

But you still believe in their 'extraordinary rendition', which is the mechanism by which they are delivered into the hands of their torturers. That's like saying that you believe in the criminal's right to own a gun but disagree with his using it in a crime! It is a completely inconsistent position for you to hold. If you agree with rendition then you must take responsibility for its consequences, which in many cases is torture.

9:51 am, July 09, 2008

 
Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

Luke you are 'dancing on a pinhead'. Rendition and torture are ineviatbly conflated. Please donm't try to plead to us that 'rendition' is somehow done to give the illegally detained victims some sort of change of detained scenery. It was done in order to hide away the disgusting use of oppresiion and torture from due legal process and the media.

As the posters above demonstrate, you have anyway completely ignored the core of what I posted to you. The onus remains on the likes of you who wish to subvert due proces sof law and civil liberties - all on the bais of your claimed truths and supposed 'intellegence' on what's out there. As I said, much like the premise used by the zealots who hijack Islam for their own agendas.

11:56 am, July 09, 2008

 
Anonymous Chris said...

Jeez Luke, just stop digging!

1:09 pm, July 09, 2008

 
Anonymous Ben said...

I don't have a comment to make on the specifics of rendition or Guantanamo.

But perhaps Luke Akehurst takes the view, quite rightly if so, it seems to me, that if idiot leftists can spout off their ludicrous "anti-imperialism" and conspiracy theories, then he is more than entitled to express an alternative view which aims to engage them in debate and expose their moral turpitude.

This is not a purely party-political debate. That this is the case can be seen in the fact that some members of the party spend large amounts of their time attacking the government regarding foreign and security policies. If this is legitimate, then so is Luke's commentary.

I have certainly heard reprehensible views expressed by party members "on the other side" of this set of issues, quite frankly.

I would not think it proper for anyone, when discussing these issues, to be expected to hide their views.

3:57 pm, July 09, 2008

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Ben said,

"I have certainly heard reprehensible views expressed by party members "on the other side" of this set of issues, quite frankly."

Could you give us some details Ben?

4:58 pm, July 09, 2008

 
Anonymous Matt said...

As a loyal Labour Party member since the dark days of the 80's who worked my butt off to get Tony Blair elected in 1997, I am thoroughly appalled both at the argument and the values exposed by this disgusting post.
If I had my way, sonny, you would be drummed out of the Party for espousing these crypto fascist views.
Try to dismiss me as an old Labour apparachick and I will personally come and shove my signed copy of the 97 Manifesto up your arse.
Let's see if that extraordinary act renders you speechless.
What horrifies me most about this post, by this self-important knobhead who clearly believes in nothing but himself, are sentences like this:
"I also believe that the alleged use of extreme forms of interrogation at Guantanamo is wrong, not least because quite aside from moral objections to the methods used, it's a useless way of getting information out of people because they just say anything to get the interrogator to stop."
This sentence is worth repeating slowly and out loud to ensure the the full horror of all that it signifies, can sink in.
Arrogant, self-important, fuck-wit.
How any member of the Labour Party can utter such odious, pseudo populist clap-trap, is utterly beyond me.
But I am not at all surprised to hear that you earn your living from promoting things which kill and maim people.
You need to grow up quick, sunshine, get out in the real world and try and do some good with your life.
What has caused the deaths of innocent people in the war on terror is hate-filled,
unprincipled, illogical, nasty propaganda like this.
And I don't hate you.
I just feel enormous pity for you and deep regret that my party is represented by such immature, narrow-minded and unquestioning fools.
It's pointless trying to engage you in debate - like most Tories you appear to hold dear a litany of prejudices, dressed up in fatuous double-speak.
Go away, read some books, stop listening to your own voice, learn from some people who have endured real suffering and who have really struggled and then maybe, just maybe, you might be entitled to represent my Party.

7:04 pm, July 09, 2008

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Matt

have you ever considered an anger management course?

I manage to coexist in a CLP with Diane Abbott and half the leadership of Socialist Action and Labour Left Briefing, all of whom manage to disagree with me on a zillion issues with a bit of charm, comradeliness and repartee, rather than resorting to abuse.

8:45 pm, July 09, 2008

 
Anonymous Matt said...

You rather prove my point with this pitiful response.
You predictably attack me for personal abuse.
But that is nothing compared to the personal abuse suffered by those who were victims of the extraordinary rendition which you glibly attempt to justify.
You appear to regard politics as a parlour game where you can sit back and pontificate to your hearts content, toe the line of the ruling elite with impunity and thus climb the greasy pole to Westminster without anyone daring to fundamentally challenge your views or your values.
For some of us, politics is too important to be a polite parlour game.
It is much more serious than that.
It is something we try to live by.
It is about our values and the way we live our lives.
It is about standing by our fundamental beliefs in truth, justice and democracy. Generosity of spirit, understanding and human empathy.
And standing up against terror - whether state controlled or individual - and against prejudice and ignorance.
WE have every right to get angry. Indeed our Party could do with a bit more righteous anger and passion than the smooth, unruffled pseudo-intellectualising so ably enunciated by people like you.
And I for one, will not treat anyone with charm, comradeliness and 'a bit of repartee' who attempts to justify the illegal abduction of people from their homes late at night, on the flimsiest of pretexts, and their transportation in secret to foreign countries without a fair trial, where they are then subject to excruciating torture.
Such treatment has no place in a civilised society and should be utterly condemned by any right-thinking member of the Labour Party, without equivocation.
It's as simple as that.
Our colleagues in our sister party in the United States would be absolutely shocked and appalled at your position.
Thankfully, we will hopefully soon get a President brave and principled enough to say 'no' - and that will marginalise people like you even more.
(Watch Gordon scramble to catch up when it happens.)
You will then have permission to change your mind, presumably.
But the fact that you persist in attempting to justify it, presumably because it suits your personal ambitions now, shows how lacking in decent values and beliefs you really are.
You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

11:24 pm, July 09, 2008

 
Anonymous lord london fields lido said...

Can we waterboard you like they did Christopher Hitchens?

Seriously Luke, although I am not a Labour supporter I have a lot of respect for a lot of the people on the Labour benches in Hackney whose names and party are being dragged through the mud by your imperious ranting and feel you are doing them a grave diservice.

I think you should do a David Davis and resign. Let's let the people have their say and decide whether you are right, or the law of the land is right.

Incidentally, the real Luke Akehurst is back!

12:19 am, July 10, 2008

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

Luke: having followed your views for some while now, you bear no relation to anything remotely connected with social democracy.

You are right wing, and you really should join the Conservatives, where you would fit in well with their populist right-wing faction (think Wintertons, Elizabeth Peacock etc)

I really want Labour to lose next time. Its the only chance the party has of ditching this failed new Labour nonsense for good.

12:47 am, July 10, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't give us this rubbish about "saying what you believe". You can't believe half the triangulated cobblers you write on here, and if you did you'd be a loony to call yourself Labour.

Most of it is written solely to wind up the left, and anyone who doesn't come into politics just to lickspittle and fawn at the big players' feet. OK it works a lot of the time, but I wouldn't think even you believe much of it.

11:46 pm, July 10, 2008

 
Blogger Exile said...

Jill Saward came in 6th behind both the NF and the lovely Gemma Garrett.

Pick a better stooge next time...

5:24 am, July 11, 2008

 
Anonymous Shambolic said...

I see you feature YET AGAIN on the front pages of the websites of both the Hackney Conservatives and Hackney Liberal Democrats! Not quite how I saw it initially! Good on yer Lukey!

5:49 am, July 11, 2008

 
Anonymous Tory Geek said...

Thanks Shambolic. I've mended those broken tabs now. Why didn't I think of adding a speech bubble to Mr Rendition?

9:02 am, July 11, 2008

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to know "Exile" believes in the freedom to rape.

GW

11:04 am, July 11, 2008

 
Blogger Exile said...

Ooer, an anonymong - and an anonymong who has reading comprehension problems.

When did I write that, anonymong? Given that I didn't, I can only conclude that are a bit of a spaz who has trouble understanding the written word.

11:24 pm, July 11, 2008

 
Anonymous Shambolic said...

Exile (aka Ken) writes of mong - who has reading comprehension problems & a bit of a spaz who has trouble understanding the written word.

"mong" & "spaz"??? Come on, Ken, play the game!

6:08 am, July 14, 2008

 
Blogger Exile said...

I am playing the game - I'm playing it against anonyomongs who haven't even got the bottle to leave a screen name.

I suspect that you, by the way, are Frances, little Willy's former bumboy.

8:01 am, July 14, 2008

 
Blogger Exile said...

Had enough have you, my little cockroach? Lemme explain how it works. A type gets lippy and I go to my shit list and pick the next name on the list. Then I give that maggot some grief.

At the moment, grief is being given to Frances. The fact that you may not actually be Frances is not my problem.

12:48 pm, July 15, 2008

 

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