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Monday, March 21, 2005


The disingenuity of Michael Howard

This blog has spent quite some time addressing the slyly misleading arguments of Michael Howard. I have addressed his illogical views on society and crime*, his misrepresentation of the law of self-defence in Britain and his twisting of the facts of the epidemiology of TB in Britain.

Now, Michael Howard has joined The Sun and the Daily Mail in calling for a campaign against gypsies and travellers. The stance that he has taken is a tremendous example of disingenuity. First, he alleges that the Human Rights Act favours some groups over others. This is clearly not the case, but the Human Rights Act does give people a right to a home. But then, it is not the case that asylum seekers get more in benefits than ‘local’ people, but facts have never stopped propagators of vile racism telling their fictions to win support. In answer to his own misrepresentation of the Human Rights Act, Michael Howard suggests that it might have to be abolished. That this might be a vote-winner is indicative of the shameful swing to the right that we in Britain have undergone, driven by lies and twisted truths, spread by a handful of very rich men who care nothing for their audiences, except if they can keep their attention and anger focused on the most vulnerable ‘other’.

But, it is true that the right to a home does, in some cases, come into conflict with the right of a council to evict people. But in the case of gypsies and travellers, let us look to see how these rights have been placed into conflict. In 1994, the Tory government, with Michael Howard as Home Secretary, scrapped the duty of councils to provide legal sites for gypsies and travellers, and as time has passed the shortfall has grown. Necessarily, therefore, gypsies and travellers now have to stop at illegal sites. Michael Howard, of course, ignores the role he played in creating the current situation.

The Sun’s campaign to ‘stamp of the camps’ is not a campaign to put gypsy and traveller sites on any sort of legal footing, but a two-pronged assault on gypsies and travellers full stop, calling for illegal camps to be stamped on and demanding that John Prescott’s plan to reinstate the duty to provide legal sites be halted. That doesn’t stop Michael Howard wading into the debate with a contribution of profound ignorance. Of course, Michael Howard is not ignorant, but he will go to great lengths to avoid reducing the level of ignorance in the general public. No, he is not ignorant. Simply vile.

Michael Howard’s election campaign, it should be said, is being engineered by an immigrant. Lynton Crosby, the man behind John Howard’s election victory in Australia, a success built on the imprisonment of immigrants, either in the outback or on remote islands, fuelled by the deliberate misrepresentation of the humanity of desperate people. Michael Howard has seen that being a vile, misleading, disingenuous puller of racist levers and pusher of fearful, ignorant buttons is the way to win elections. I hope the people of Britain prove him wrong, but I fear they will not.

*I never did receive a reply to my letter to Michael Howard. I have received a reply to my letter to Charles Clarke, but this addressed none of the points of my letter, being little more than a restating of the Government’s position on the new anti-terror legislation.

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