Welcome to Bennett's World: a collection of articles and references covering a wide variety of topics in which I am involved. I am a very political person but I have no allegiance to any political party. Follow me on twitter @colinhove

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Continuous Militarisation of the EU. Be Warned.

This tweet by Nigel Farage is interesting.


Unfortunately it's not easy to go to The Times website without paying. However if one of my readers can send to my blog a photocopy of the article I'd be grateful and I'll pass it on to other readers.

Yet more injustice in Palestine

Readers might be interested in these statistics concerning evictions in Palestine. Here is the link to the tweet from the IMEU:


Monday, December 14, 2015

The Campaign Against TTIP Continues. Here Is Support from an Unlikely Source

Last week, we got one of our biggest signals yet that our campaign against TTIP is working. MPs debated the dodgy deal in parliament, and not only were MPs from Labour and the SNP speaking out against TTIP, but the influential Conservative MP Peter Lilley (not a big fan of 38 Degrees) stood up and said:

"I am especially hostile to all those people who press the button on 38 Degrees campaigns that relate to anything against trade and business. I was rather surprised, therefore, to find myself sympathising with four people who appeared in my surgery and announced, to a groan from me, that they were members of 38 Degrees and had concerns about TTIP. They actually raised some very important points that resonated with me from my experience of past negotiations."
I hope this encourages people to follow what's going on in the TTIP arena and to speak out against it. Remember, it was 38 Degrees that led the campaign against TTIP...

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The Co-operative Bank and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Some Problems

Readers will know that I am a fervent supporter of the Palestinian's struggle for justice. I'm a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. 

I recently received an email from the PSC complaining about the Co-operative Bank's actions in closing, or threatening to close, some bank accounts connected to PSC or associated organisations. Here is that email from the PSC:
** The Co-op bank have closed our account!

PSC along with 20 local groups working for Palestine (including 10 PSC branches) have had their bank accounts unilaterally closed by the Co-operative bank. The reason? The Co-op bank say they've changed their "risk appetite". Apparently Palestinian human rights are too "risky" for the Co-operative bank.

Well we're not having it. Today we've launched a legal case against the Co-operative bank calling this what it is - discrimination. (See our press release for details (http://palestinecampaign.us11.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=39b479575f6b893766d815ffd&id=cd3556e057&e=ab86d850da) ). As well as taking legal action we need you to stand with us and show the Co-op bank that campaigning for Palestinian human rights shouldn't be punished.

If you have an account with the Co-op bank, write to tell them you're closing it because of their actions (http://palestinecampaign.us11.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=39b479575f6b893766d815ffd&id=fe7b715700&e=ab86d850da)

So many of us opened our accounts with the Co-operative Bank because they market themselves as an ethical alternative. Professing their moral high ground in their ethical policy (http://palestinecampaign.us11.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=39b479575f6b893766d815ffd&id=828647ed6c&e=ab86d850da)  they proclaim to act with "honesty and transparency," to treat their "customers fairly" and to believe in "promoting human rights and equality". Well there is little evidence of any of these principles today.

They have chosen to close the accounts of 20 organisations working for human rights and equality for Palestinians - and they have offered no honest or transparent explanation, only citing the banking jargon "risk appetite".

It is quite clear the Co-operative Bank no longer cares about human rights - the Palestinians suffer incursions on their human rights day in, day out at the hands of an occupying military force that continues to violate international law. In the UK we have a great tradition of solidarity organisations coming together to stand against human rights violations throughout the world - this is something that the Co-operative Bank should support, not punish.

To those who still bank with the Co-op because of their ethical principles - it seems they have turned their bank on their ethics, so we are asking you to turn your back on them.

Close your Co-op bank account and write to them to tell them why. (http://palestinecampaign.us11.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=39b479575f6b893766d815ffd&id=3825d5d7a5&e=ab86d850da)

For suggestions of alternative banks, visit www.moveyourmoney.org.uk. While theirethical banking page (http://palestinecampaign.us11.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=39b479575f6b893766d815ffd&id=d6e62845f2&e=ab86d850da) still lists the Co-op (don't worry we're writing to them about this) they do offer other alternative options.

Moving bank account is a big decision - and we know it can be a real pain! But we need to show big businesses they can't profit off of fake ethics. If they believe in human rights and equality - that includes Palestine too.

Thank you for standing with us.
In solidarity


I was invited to complain to the Co-operative Bank and I did so. Here is my email:
Dear Sir or Madam, 
I'm writing this to both Customer Services and to the CEO. I have been a 
continuous member of the Co-operative Bank for 54 years and have never 
had cause to complain about anything. Of course, like all members, I'm 
very unhappy about the shenanigans concerning the Bank in recent years. 
I think you're pulling through now.

I'm writing now to complain about the way, I've been told, the Bank is 
treating accounts held by the Palestine Solidarity Campaignor 
organisations or people connected with the Campaign. I understandthat 
you have closed, or threatened to close, their accountson the basis of 
"risk" associated with their accounts. What can this mean? 
The logical conclusion is that the Bank has succumbed to pressure from 
Zionist or Israeli sources. I do hope this is not the case.

The Bank used to be proud of its ethical attitudeand I believe this 
stance was justified. I do hope it continues to maintain this stance. 
Would the Bank please restore all accounts belonging to people connected 
with the struggle for justice for the Palestinian people and/or remove 
all threats to hinder their work. 
Thank you.

Yours faithfully, 
Colin Bennett

Here is the prompt and reasoned response from the Bank:
Dear Mr Bennett

Thank you for your email and please be assured we appreciate your 
concerns. I would like to reassure you that the decision to close the 
account is not a reflection of the excellent work carried out by many 
organisations throughout the world or a statement about the causes they 
support. We remain a committed supporter of charities.

However, in common with all banks, as part of our normal banking 
processes, we have to perform due diligence on our accounts to ensure they 
comply with our anti money laundering obligations and to manage the Bank's 
risk. This is an area where the Bank has made some changes recently to 
bring it in line with the industry generally.  You may have seen in the 
press recently that there can be significant financial penalties when 
banks do not have adequate controls in place so these changes are timely 
and appropriate.

For customers who operate in, or send money to, high risk locations 
throughout the world, advanced due diligence checks are required by all 
banks to ensure the funds do not inadvertently fund alleged or proscribed 
activities. Depending on the particular circumstances it may not be 
possible for us to complete these checks to our satisfaction and the 
decision to close a number of accounts, including the PSC and some of its 
affiliates, is an inevitable result of this process. Unfortunately, after 
quite extensive research, the charities involved did not meet our 
requirements or, in our view, allow us to fulfil our obligations. This 
does not mean that we cannot or will not facilitate humanitarian, 
educational, medical and human rights donations to the Gaza region.   Many 
well known, national, registered charities do excellent work in these 
fields in Gaza and elsewhere and we make regular donations to some of them 
through our current account and credit cards. I would emphasise this is 
not a political or discriminatory decision but one based on our 
obligations.  Clearly we have to meet our legal and regulatory 
requirements and we believe in the round our decision is consistent with 
our ethical policy.  Our position has been discussed with and has the 
support of the Values and Ethics Committee which noted this is primarily a 
matter of adhering to banking regulations.

I appreciate this is not the answer you were hoping for but it is a 
position we have come to after a full review of the risks involved.

Yours sincerely

Niall Booker
I sent that response to the PSC, inviting them to comment on it. Here is that email:
Dear PSC, 
I wrote to the Co-op Bank and you entreated me to do. I got a very 
prompt reply. I think you will agree that it is reasoned.

I'll be glad to have your view on this reply.

I propose to put my original email, which I copied to you yesterday, as 
a post on my blog together with this reply from the Co-op Bank. If you 
reply to me by email and if you have no strong objection, I propose to 
put your reply also on my blog. 
I think we need to get to the bottom of this. I think you will agree 
that it's important that the PSC doesn't have any skeletons in its cupboard!

Thank you.


Colin Bennett

Today I received an email from the PSC, essentially rebutting the stance of the Bank on this matter. Here is that email:
Hi Colin,

Sorry for the delay in replying to your email. As I am sure you can understand we have been dealing with a larger than normal number of emails about this.

Please see the FAQs post on our website for our statement on the Co-op banks response - which we do not accept. http://www.palestinecampaign.org/faqs-on-the-closing-of-our-co-op-bank-account/
If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

All best

I don't know all the rights and wrongs of this sad dispute. By displaying all the correspondence to my readers, some light may be shone on it. I do hope that the dispute can be resolved by negotiation between the Co-operative Bank and the PSC. Perhaps some misunderstandings, and possibly some errors, can be addressed and rectified.

Friday, December 04, 2015

The Danes Show that They are Not a Pushover

I hadn't heard about the referendum in Denmark on 3 December 2015 before today. The BBC and the corporate media have kept quiet about it - and I'm not surprised. Some will remember that some years ago the Danes said No in an EU referendum but that was "the wrong answer" according to those who run Denmark. So, another referendum was called and the Danes capitulated after enormous pressure from the media. To find out what happened yesterday, go to this link: