Club Comment

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Club Comment - April 2017

“National security is no game”

Firstly, on behalf of the President, Chairman and members of the Executive Council, I would like to express our sincere sympathy and condolences to all the victims and their families who have suffered as a result of the recent evil murderous attack on innocent police officers and civilians in London.

Particular recognition should be made of the selfless acts of assistance given to the injured on Westminster Bridge and the Palace of Westminster, not only by the actions of the emergency services but the immediate first-aid afforded to the injured by fellow members of the public.

The Metropolitan Police have now stated that the killer of pedestrians on Tower Bridge, and later PC Palmer, Khalid Masood had no links to any known terrorist organisation and had not, as had been alleged in some newspapers, been radicalised while serving a prison sentence in 2003.

Khalid Masood was nothing more than a misfit, a criminal with a history of violence, and a drug taker.

The day before, a notorious terrorist died from an illness – Mr Martin McGuinness, a long-time mass murderer, senior member of the IRA and latterly a politician.

As we all know by now, the murdered police officer, Police Constable Keith Palmer, was unarmed when on duty at the Carriage Gates which afford vehicle and pedestrian access to New Palace Yard at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster Palace. It transpires that his killer ran straight past the open gates and, when confronted by PC Palmer, a scuffle ensued whereupon the police officer was repeatedly stabbed under the arm and in the neck. Apparently, a few seconds later, Masood was then confronted by two plainclothes police officers who had allegedly been assigned to protect Sir Michael Fallon MP, the Defence Secretary (he was in the Commons at the time). They fired three shots at Masood, whereupon he fell to the ground and was treated by paramedics for his wounds. He died later in hospital.

It is believed that the murderer was in possession of two long knives and that he had a history of violence and had been a bodybuilder – he would most certainly have presented a frightening and alarming presence, particularly in his agitated and frenzied state.

In the aftermath of this horrific incident and appalling loss of innocent lives, it is only right that questions have been raised as to how this murderous individual was permitted to gain access to the Mother of Democracies – Parliament – and why the police officers posted on the Carriage Gates were unarmed when this country’s security awareness level is still at ‘Severe’ (which indicates that a terrorist attack is highly likely).

What has become clear is that the reason the gates were left open was to placate some Members of Parliament, who did not wish there to be an armed police presence at the entrance to the Houses of Parliament. One wonders if this was a result of the ‘Plebgate Incident’ involving access to Downing Street – which, incidentally, does have armed guards with automatic weapons, the gates are closed and there is a steal ramp to prevent a terrorist or rogue vehicle being suddenly driven into that area.

I know from personal experience in both the public and private security arena, both domestically and internationally, that some individuals feel that they should not be inconvenienced at any cost and believe it is beneath their dignity to subject themselves to security measures. Some Members of Parliament would do well to remember that they are public servants and if those gates had been closed and if PC Palmer had been carrying an automatic weapon, he may still be alive today. The question also arises as to what further carnage would have been unleashed by Masood if the two protection officers had not been waiting nearby for Sir Michael Fallon MP. How much further would Masood have progressed before armed officers were on the scene? Apparently the perimeter of the Parliament buildings is patrolled randomly with no set pattern – so uniformed armed officers may have been some distance away.

Unless things have changed dramatically I have, in the past, been astonished at the calibre of uniformed police officers who are deployed within Parliament. On frequent visits to committee rooms, I have observed uniformed police officers who have appeared more like ushers or guides at some stately home than policemen. Most looked very near retirement age; overweight and unfit. They were what was once described within the police service as ‘uniform carriers.’ This does not of course apply to the heroic actions of PC Palmer.

As one Member of Parliament stated after observing the lack of security at the Carriage Gates, “One wonders what would have happened if three fit, young terrorists armed with AK47 automatic weapons had stormed through the gates?” Perhaps other MPs should ponder on that one for a while before they object to enhanced security at the Carriage Gates.

By the time you receive this Newsletter, double entry gates may have actually been installed at the entrance to New Palace Yard and armed officers may well be manning them.

It really is very simple: these types of security gates have been employed in prisons for years and many other high-risk areas. There is a no-man’s area between both sets of gates and only one set of gates is open at any one time. A vehicle enters through the first gate which closes behind – the vehicle and occupants are checked and then the second gates are opened to permit access to accredited persons. Needless to say, the gates would be manned by officers armed not only with handguns but automatic rifles.

The recently retired Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, had, prior to his departure, announced an increase of some 600 additional armed officers within the Metropolitan Police area. As members may recall, I wrote in a previous Club Comment that this desire to place more armed officers on the streets of London has met with a poor response; with few officers applying to be firearms specialists.

So much so that it is rumoured that discussions are taking place with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) as to how the current procedures for dealing with shootings by armed officers can be changed. Quite rightly, every shooting of an individual by a police officer should be investigated by an authorised independent body. That is currently the IPCC. They oversee and direct all enquiries but do not have the resources to conduct all the relevant enquiries; delegating that to an individual police force’s internal complaints division. In almost all cases, where a person’s have been shot by a police officer, the officer’s concerned are immediately suspended from duty and, in many cases, this suspension has lasted for over 10 months and in some cases, a great deal longer. During this period, the officer has no idea as to whether he may be charged with murder or manslaughter and later face a trial in court.

Needless to say, many police officers have taken the view that it is not worth being a firearms officer when being called upon one day to actually open fire, knowing that they will be automatically suspended for many months and a possible criminal charge hanging over their heads. Hence, the discussions taking place regarding future procedures regarding police officers who open fire when confronted by a ‘terrorist incident’ as opposed to a ‘non-terrorist incident.’ Apparently, the plain clothes protection officers who shot Masood are being investigated by the IPCC but the Commission has apparently stated that this is not because they believe there has been any malpractice by the officers concerned but as a “procedural formality.”

The Metropolitan Police have not stated whether either of the officers has been suspended. The semantics will be interesting as to whether the IPCC treat this as a ‘terrorist incident’ now that the Metropolitan Police have stated that Masood had no connection to any terrorist group.

There is no doubt, that this country will continue to face further similar attacks to that perpetrated by Masood and, heaven forbid, even worse atrocities.

As is the case where there has been a total abdication by the Ministry of Defence of support for our armed forces when they are engaged in combat and then subject to the likes of lawyers such as Mr Phil Shiner making false accusations, we owe it to police officers, who also place their lives on the line, to give them the necessary authority to shoot terrorists without being hounded through the courts. Failure to do so will undoubtedly see even less officers wishing to be armed and the British public’s safety jeopardised. When President George W Bush said it was “a war on terror”, it was. Not a game of cricket.

In Parliament, prior to the tragic events that took place on Westminster Bridge and outside Parliament, the Prime Minister spoke regarding one of the most infamous and evil terrorists in recent years – Mr Martin McGuinness, who died recently.

She told the House of Commons, “I would like to express my condolences to the family and colleagues of the former Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness.”

Twenty four hours later, after the Masood killings, the Prime Minister was again in the Commons. She said, “We are not afraid, and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism.”

Bill Clinton, who travelled to the terrorists’ funeral, kicked Britain in the stomach and welcomed Sinn Fein into the White House. And the British Government, seeing which way the wind was blowing, wavered in the face of terrorism. My how it wavered.

The actions and depravity of McGuinness and his cohorts knew no bounds. In 1974, IRA bomber James McDaid attempted to place a bomb outside a post office in Coventry. The bomb exploded killing McDaid. A funeral procession took place in Coventry on 21st November 1974. The coffin was later that day flown to Ireland. He was hailed a martyr by the IRA. Some hours later (it is believed in “retaliation” for his death), two bombs exploded in Birmingham.

Having been present, very soon after the Birmingham Pub bombings on 21st November 1974, when the Tavern in the Town and the Mulberry Bush public houses were destroyed by Provisional IRA bombs and 21 people died and 182 were seriously injured, my personal thoughts go out to all the relatives of the dead and injured who, I am sure, will not in any way be regretting the death of Mr McGuinness.

While both McGuinness and Masood were from totally different backgrounds, cultures and religions, they both sought to wreak terror against innocent civilians and members of the security forces. In McGuinness’s case, for over thirty years. What is alarming and makes it more difficult for the intelligence services, particularly in the case of a ‘lone wolf’ attack, is the method. Employed, as in the case of Masood, to inflict death and injuries.

What drove him to take the course of action he did? Perhaps we will never know. Nevertheless, it is paramount that the Government afford the police and intelligence agencies every means at their disposal to negate such possible attacks in the future and that security for Parliament is the responsibility of the Metropolitan Police and not internal committees in Westminster.

Finally, the funding for the additional security both in physical defences and additional manpower, could come from ceasing to send millions of pounds of taxpayer funded foreign aid to countries ruled by despots who utilise such funds to enhance their own luxurious lifestyle.

Perhaps the Government should always remember that they are elected by the people to serve the people and have an absolute primary duty to protect their own population – that is the people of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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Club Comment - March 2016

“Free Admission – All are Welcome”

Apart from instructing Conservative Members of Parliament to ignore the views of Conservative Associations regarding the forthcoming referendum on Europe, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has other very important issues that he does not want you to know about. You will not hear him voluntarily speak about these matters as they are probably the factors which the majority of the nation feel would influence them when making a decision whether to stay in or to leave the European Union.

They are: –

Stop all uncontrolled immigration to this country. To achieve this, Britain must repeal the Human Rights Act, if we do not, ANY OTHER DISCUSSION on attempting to control or restrict immigration to these shores is irrelevant.

AS LONG AS IMMIGRANTS ARE ABLE TO STATE THAT THEY ARE CLAIMING ASYLUM, THE UK BORDER AGENCIES ARE POWERLESS TO PREVENT THEIR ENTRY.

Figures from Eurostat, the European Commission’ s statistics agency, show that the number of asylum-seekers coming to Britain increased by almost 20% in a year. This country received 38,370 people claiming asylum in the last 12 months. It should be remembered that this figure is only the tip of the ice-berg as it only covers official claims and does not take into account migrants who have not claimed asylum but are living unrecorded in the UK.

Let us not forget, the new influx of 38,370 people is in addition to the 500,000 failed asylum-seekers who are appealing against being removed from the UK. The average appeal time was 12 months in 2015. This staggering amount of people is of course in addition to illegal immigrants and EU citizens arriving in the UK to visit or to work. According to John Whittingdale MP, Secretary of State for Culture. Media and Sport, there is a massive discrepancy between the number of EU citizens registered for a National Insurance number and the figures given by the Office for National Statistics. Official figures suggest that 257,000 EU migrants came to the UK but, over the same period, 630,000 EU citizens registered for a National Insurance number.

Again, not wanting you to know the truth, the Prime Minister refused a request to release the figures, claiming that the difference is accounted for by short-term migrants.

It should be pointed out that all asylum-seekers are provided with free accommodation; whether in a house, apartment, guest house or hotel. They are not LEGALLY permitted to work. Instead they receive weekly vouchers (not cash) to enable them to purchase essential goods such as toiletries. In addition, if the applicant has children, they will be educated at a state school. The applicant and their family will receive free medical and dental care. There are additional benefits for dependent children. In its publications and advice as to how to seek asylum, the Government states that the application process normally takes six months. Should an application be rejected, there are, of course, grounds for appeal. Consideration will be given to whether the applicant would be persecuted or tortured should they be returned to their country of origin.

Government guidelines to those seeking asylum state that they must have proof of identification and proof of their country of origin. However, it appears, many asylum-seekers do not have any of these documents (some would have been deliberately destroyed) and do not speak English. They could, if they so wished, state that they came from a country where they would be persecuted if so returned. Should they do so this country would be unable to expel them.

During the entire period of the appeal process, the same benefits apply for the applicant and family ie free accommodation, healthcare etc. Again, these are figures that the Prime Minister does not want publicised and discussed by the country at large.

On Friday 4th March, 2016, Richard Harrington MP, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the Home Office, admitted that thousands of illegal immigrants to this country could not be deported as “…they had no place to go.” By refusing to disclose their nationality, and often destroying passports and other identity papers, they exploit human rights laws that bar the expulsion of asylum-seekers of unknown origin. Mr Harrington stated, “Where would they be deported to, most of them?” He added, “This deportation sounds easy, it sounds a common- sense thing to do. But the truth is most of these illegal migrants have got no place to be deported to.”

If you think Mr Harrington’s statement beggar’s belief, this country’s border security system is also failing to check the passports of every person entering the UK against terrorist and criminal watch lists.

Each year approximately 118 million people travel to the UK. The Home Office’s border programme and its successor are supposed to check advanced passport data. However, IT failures have resulted in only 86% of the people entering being checked – leaving some 17 million unchecked. A report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee also reveals that passport checks are not carried out on every one who arrives in the UK in private planes and boats landing at small airfields and small marinas. The new IT database system will not be in place until 2019 – eight years behind schedule, with another £275 million being spent on it, taking the total cost to £1.1 billion.

Again, most of the public will not be aware of this fiasco nor will they be aware, that since HM Revenue merged with Customs and Excise, now called HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the efficiency of both departments has declined rapidly. Many staff were made redundant. By 2008 there had been 12,500 job losses with 2,500 redeployed to ‘front-line duties.’ Between 2008 and 2011, 200 offices were closed and a further 12,500 jobs lost. In 2011, a survey of 11 government departments revealed that morale at HMRC was the lowest.

As highlighted above, ships entering ports and marinas in the UK are hardly ever subject to a full rummage search, which would previously have been conducted by the Customs Water Guard Division. Not only can shipping and smaller pleasure craft be utilised to smuggle people, it is most certainly the ideal avenue for the transport of illegal arms and ammunition.

I have personally had experience of being a crew member on a private large motor cruiser which made many trips to the coast of Northern France.

Ironically, on one occasion a French rummage crew conducted a search of the vessel in a French port . But on all of the occasions we returned to a marina on the south coast of the UK we were never checked. I am reliably informed that the Border Agency, as it is now called, simply do not have enough manpower to conduct such searches in ports.

Most pro-EU campaigners and left-wing MPs would have you believe that most of the immigrants entering this country are from war-torn states and are in legitimate need of sanctuary and accuse the Government of doing little to help. The Government has already pledged to take 20,000 Syrian Mr Richard Harrington MP refugees. Hugh numbers of so-called refugees are in fact economic migrants. A few examples are the claims by 65,935 Albanians and 66,885 Kosovars. Neither of these countries are at war, the applicants merely see a better economic situation in the UK than in their home countries.

Britain is a small island. We are already overcrowded. There are thousands of young British citizens unable to afford their first step on the housing ladder. Similarly there are those who have seen their savings eroded by low interest rates and higher energy costs. At the same time we must look on with disbelief at the true story of a Somali mother and her 5 children who are being housed in a property worth £1.3 million who has the audacity to complain that the kitchen needs refurbishing. Needless to say, she will be here forever as she only has to state that she would be persecuted if returned to Somalia. The Human Rights Act once again acting to prevent any expulsion.

Those who are campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union – which includes the Prime Minister – warn of ‘biblical consequences’ and total economic collapse if the nation votes to leave the bloc.

Perhaps they ought to consider the socio-economic strain that mass immigration already places on our society. They should perhaps heed the words of David Davis MP, the former Shadow Home Secretary, who warned that there are millions of people, possibly up to 20 million, living on the African Continent who are also looking towards North Africa as a gateway to Europe. What would Europe do then?

As Iain Duncan Smith MP, Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, stated recently, “Ask yourself this; with razor wire fences going up in mainland Europe due to the fears of unsustainable levels of migration, with the failing Euro creating economic misery for Europe’s poorest people, with high unemployment and economic stagnation, is this a set up you would wish to join?”

It has been alleged that Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, secretly presided over a conspiracy to change the face of this nation with a policy of mass immigration – some 2 million people in all. However, over the last 10 years more than 6 million people have entered the UK.

Will current policy-makers please explain to the British public how they are going to provide the extra hospital beds, school places etc. to deal with and cater for all the additional migrants who will enter this country should we remain in the EU?

Why should they who dutifully pay their taxes and National Insurance contributions have to endure long waiting times at hospitals, a shortage of affordable housing and overcrowded schools all so we can remain part of the EU?

Perhaps the IN side, commanding as they do the support of the Prime Minister and leading figures in big business, have become just a little bit too arrogant. It is thankful at least that some Cabinet ministers and other leading political figures have the courage to challenge this cosy complacency.

It is my sincere belief that the only solution to these problems are for the country to vote to LEAVE the EU and for it to repeal the Human Rights Act. No matter what concessions and/or reforms Brussels might offer, there is no other policy option available if this country really wants to properly control immigration.

 

The Conservative Monday Club, PO Box 7694, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, CM23 3XR