Radical roundup: 10 stories that got buried this week

Left Foot Forward's roundup of the progressive news you might have missed.

In no particular order… PS: Got a story tip? Email us: [email protected]

10. A leaked report from a think tank linked to Gordon Brown has warned that Scottish Labour is in “peril” and claimed the “scarring could be permanent”.

The warning from Our Scottish Future comes the day after the former General Secretary of Scottish Labour suggested independence is now the established majority position in Scotland. Brian Roy, who held the role until August 2019, tweeted: “I suspect this will be the beginning of a sustained majority in favour of independence.”

A YouGov poll published this week revealed that almost half of Labour voters believe that Scotland should be an independent country. The poll shows that just 10% of people in Scotland believe Richard Leonard is doing well as leader of Scottish Labour – almost four times as many (37%) think he’s doing a bad job.

The SNP’s Tom Arthur MSP said: “Labour now face the inescapable choice of either getting on the right side of democracy or facing another electoral disaster, given that polls show that almost half of Labour voters now support independence.

“They have absolutely no chance of regaining trust in Scotland unless they start standing up for Scotland’s decision to remain in the EU, and our democratic right to hold an independence referendum.”

9. A quarter of people in the UK report experiencing discrimination since lockdown began, find UCL researchers as part of the Covid-19 Social Study.

The most common forms of discrimination included being treated with less courtesy or respect than others, others acting as if they were afraid of them and receiving poorer service than others for deliveries or in stores.

People from BAME groups and those aged 18-30 (all ethnicities) were most likely to report facing discrimination, at 42% and 40% respectively. Women reported slightly higher levels of discrimination than men, and those in urban areas reported slightly higher levels than those in rural areas.

8. As A-level students receive their results across England, YouGov polling reveals that 48 percent of 18-24 year olds say it will be harder to get a job after the UK leaves the EU’s single market.  Only 3% think it will be easier.

Commissioned by non-partisan campaign group Best for Britain, the data shows that across all ages two in five Brits believe leaving the single market and customs union will diminish employment prospects for the young.  Only 10% think it will improve opportunities.

Meanwhile, 37% of 18-24s thought the change to the UK’s relationship with the EU was among the biggest concerns facing jobseekers today, nearly three times the number who thought jobs being replaced by technology would create the most substantial problems.

7. Campaign Against Arms Trade has condemned the UK Government’s policies and approach to migration, after ministers sent Air Force surveillance planes to monitor the Channel.

The Government’s move followed days of hostile headlines and calls from Conservative MPs for tighter restrictions on migrants. The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has also said she is also considering sending Naval officers.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: “There is not a ‘migrant crisis’: it is a crisis of war, poverty, inequality and exploitation. Politicians in the UK and beyond need to stop blaming the victims of these crises and consider their own complicity and role in creating the circumstances that have displaced so many people.

“Instead they are sending UK armed forces to the Channel to intimidate the people that are crossing it. Real people’s lives are on the line, and they must not be used as a cynical political tool by a government that has a long history of arming human rights abusers and fuelling conflict.”

6. The Government has defended its decision to ignore the Paris climate agreement in its bailouts for the carbon economy, claiming there is no legal obligation on it to do so.

This follows a previous legal battle over Heathrow expansion involving climate campaign group Plan B, where Chris Grayling, then Secretary of State for Transport, argued that the Paris Agreement was irrelevant. In February the Court of Appeal disagreed with that assessment, and the Government’s plans were ruled unlawful.

On 4 March, Boris Johnson informed Parliament: “We will ensure that we abide by the judgment and take account of the Paris convention on climate change”. Yet it seems that does not apply to billions of pounds of public money being provided to companies such as RyanAir, Easyjet, Rolls Royce and Nissan, Plan B said in a statement.

Tim Crosland, Director of Plan B, said: “Instead of addressing the evidence that its bailouts for polluters will lock us into a disastrous trajectory towards 4˚C warming, risking billions of human lives, the Government is hiding behind legal arguments to claim that it isn’t legally required to take that into account.”

5. The Court of Appeal has ruled that the use of automatic facial recognition technology by the South Wales Police is unlawful.

Responding, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokeperson Christine Jardine said: “This ruling is hugely important in the battle to protect civil liberties in this country. The unlawful use of facial recognition in Cardiff raises serious questions about its use by British police forces in the future.

“This new form of mass surveillance is being rolled out without any safeguards to protect innocent people from being discriminated against or having their privacy invaded. The Liberal Democrats have long been clear that this is unacceptable – we do not want to see the UK become a society where innocent individuals feel their every movement is being monitored by the police.”

4. A new field study into the impact of grouse moors on Scotland’s wildlife is shocking and shows an industry ‘out of control’, the Scottish Greens have said.

The study for the League Against Cruel Sports, carried out by an independent surveyor, tracked the scale, distribution and use of traps, snares, medicated grit and other techniques used on grouse moors and concluded that up to a quarter of a million animals are killed every year to maintain numbers of red grouse for recreational killing.

Scottish Greens environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell said: “This report is absolutely shocking and reveals an industry completely out of control. No amount of attempts to discredit it can hide the sheer scale of damage done to Scotland’s environment by this cruel hobby.”

3. Activists have accused clothing firm Peacocks of causing ‘misery and destitution’ among the workers that make their clothes, by allegedly not paying for orders during the Covid-19 lockdown.

In May, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association threatened to blacklist Peacocks’ parent company, accusing it of “demanding unreasonable discounts,” and taking “undue advantage of the Covid-19 situation” after requesting a 70% discount. Activists say Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group’s actions have left thousands of vulnerable workers in the supply chain to face destitution and factory owners cannot pay their wages until Peacocks’ parent company pay up.

#PayUp activists say they have been blocked by Peacocks on Twitter.

2.  A growing number of countries recognise they have a duty to save humanity from fully autonomous weapons, Human Rights Watch said in a report released this week.

‘Killer robots’ – weapons systems that select and engage targets without meaningful human control – are unacceptable and need to be prevented, HRW says.

However, the UK is developing various weapons systems with autonomous functions.  

1. One in three UK employers expect to make staff redundant between July and September, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and recruiter Adecco. 

Jonathan Reynolds MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, commented: “This research confirms what many businesses have been saying for months –  the removal of government support while some businesses have yet to even open their doors again has created a jobs crisis.

“Every job lost is a tragedy. We know that unemployment scars employees, their families and their communities. The Government must act now to put an end to this jobs crisis.

“The Government’s one size fits all approach is clearly not working and they must now adopt a tailored approach, getting support to where it is needed to prevent even more redundancies.”

Josiah Mortimer is co-editor of Left Foot Forward.

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