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MP’s utter contempt for the public is indisputable

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MP’s utter contempt for the public is indisputable


If anyone was in any doubt that members of parliament hold the people of this country in utter contempt, then a look at some of the news stories this week ought to be enough to convince even those that are in awe of the ruling elite.

The biggest story by far is the publication of MPs’ expenses. For months, we have been told that the MP’s in general and this government in particular wanted complete transparency and, that they would demonstrate this by publishing full details of their expenses. They cautioned that some information such as their home addresses, telephone numbers, bank account details and signatures would be “redacted”. However, they have gone much further than that, with vast swathes of information being ‘blanked out’ to the extent that the information that has been provided is virtually useless, at least to anyone that wants to be able to scrutinise how MP’s have been spending our money. It is farcical. It is also nonsense to suggest that much of this information was redacted because of the ‘Data Protection Act’, granted, the DPA is relevant to some of the detail, but MP’s are hiding behind the DPA to mask their own embarrassment in the forlorn hope that few people will understand what is, or is not covered by the Data Protection Act.

Take David Cameron, one of the most vocal proponents of transparency on expenses. He is making clear that he feels too much information has been censored, but if you listen carefully, he is not suggesting that the current set of claims be reviewed and published again, only that any future claims be dealt with on a more open basis. In other words, Cameron wants to give the impression that he is all for transparency, but he is being very careful not to advocate the publishing of uncensored expenses pre-2008 …which is what we are all interested in. Clearly, only the most inept MP would exaggerate or fiddle their expenses when the public and others are scrutinising their expenditure and MP’s have been aware of this being likely ever since they lost their court case last year. However, what we want and need to know is precisely what they were up to when they believed their expenses would never be open to public scrutiny. It is this period when MP’s were trusted not to abuse the system that matters and will determine whether or not they were entitled or should have been in receipt of such public confidence. It is the same principle as the speed camera that is much loved by this government, if everyone knows that they are being monitored, then they adjust their behaviour accordingly, but only a fool would speed past a camera whilst over the limit.

It is clear that this government and many other MP’s have become adept at saying much but meaning very little. They say just enough to get them of the hook, they are willing to stretch the truth, but not so far that they could be accused of lying and, when all else fails, they don’t answer the question at all or go underground. The bottom line is, the public has not given any MP an amnesty for wrongdoing or fiddling their expenses, simply based on an assurance that they will be good boys and girls in the future. If they (our MP’s) have taken the public for mugs, then they must may the price with their jobs and if necessary, their liberty. Party leaders must also be wary of our view in respect of their decision to set up their own ‘scrutiny panels’ to allow them to set the rules and issue the adjudications behind closed doors and without any public involvement. We don’t have ex-cons acting as judge and jury, nor should we have MP’s doing the same, because we will, inevitably, believe that they are simply protecting their own, whilst using the opportunity to throw the mavericks to the wolves. The public is increasingly aware that we are being treated like fools, we know that MP’s, ministers and yes, party leaders, routinely lie or mislead us.

Perhaps what irks me most is the fact that the vast majority of Labour MP’s and many, many opposition MP’s supported government initiatives that permitted the state to consistently and relentlessly invade our privacy and our everyday lives. Supported by the majority of MP’s, the state will routinely spy on our email’s, monitor our telephone calls, record and store our internet traffic, monitor and store details of our local and international travel arrangements and share our most private and intimate details with up to 700 other government and non-government departments or organisations. Yet, it is these same MP’s that seek to protect their own privacy by redacting material that they believe they think we should not see, even though it is our money that they are spending. When the ruling classes become so overtly and arrogantly hypocritical, then we have to know that something has gone very badly wrong with the relationship between the people and the state.

However, this was not the only news which demonstrates how things are changing between the people and the state. Using legislation introduced in 2003, a high court has ruled that a robbery trial can go ahead without a jury. Now I am not arguing the merits of this particular case, only what this landmark ruling could mean to the rest of us, because the right to a jury trial is undoubtedly an ancient and preciously guarded feature of the English criminal justice system. Ask the average citizen whether they would prefer to be judged by 12 fellow citizens or a single judge and I think we all know what the answer will be. Whilst a non-jury trial is supposed to be used only in exceptional cases, we all know that our recent history is littered with such precedents becoming the norm. Mission creep, abuse, deception, lies, it doesn’t matter what you call it, somewhere along the line this high court ruling is likely to become far more widespread. Remember when CCTV cameras were only used to deter criminals? Today they are used to track the movements of people and cars using, respectively, facial recognition technology and automatic number plate recognition systems. Remember when it was only suspected terrorists and big criminals that had their telephones and other communications monitored? Now, every call, text message and email of every citizen in this country is monitored and stored by the state. Remember when you were innocent until proven guilty? Tell that to anyone that is targeted by the HMRC, or someone that has had their assets seized and have to prove how they attained them. Tell that to someone that has been detained without charge or subjected to a control order under anti-terror legislation, without ever being informed what evidence there was to justify such action. Anyone that believes that these state activities will never affect the average citizen is incredibly naive, there are endless examples of laws introduced for one purpose being used for something entirely different. For example, it is not just terrorists that are affected by anti-terror legislation, an old man was ejected from an open meeting for heckling Jack Straw, and a lady was detained for walking on a path that had been designated a bike path, Iceland’s assets were seized using anti-terror legislation even though there were other laws that would have been more appropriate. The state either directly or through their proxies abuse legislation routinely at our expense. If we cannot trust our lawmakers to be honest and beyond reproach in the submission of their expenses and in their dealings with the public, how can we continue to trust them with our liberty or values?

Take the most recent political debate over public expenditure, can we trust our government to be honest? I mean, who are we to believe? Gordon Brown tells us that public spending is going up, whilst the Conservatives tell us it is not. The difference appears to be whether it is includes or excludes inflation, whether it includes variables such as interest payments and how the bringing forward of capital spending plans affects the numbers. Semantics or bullshit? In my view, whilst Brown may not be lying, he is most certainly trying to deliberately mislead and that is unforgivable. Brown is in a position of trust, yet he thinks it is acceptable to play childlike games when attempting to explain the public finances, even though it is precisely these types of pathetic, self-serving, juvenile tricks that got us into the financial mess we are in today. But how can we trust the opposition either? They have many members that have been fiddling their expenses or, at the very least, been stretching the available allowances to extremes? But, rather than taking the opportunity to purge politics of reprobates and stealing a lead by removing the censorship of past expense claims, they go into self-preservation mode and refer only of future claims. This amounts to a virtual amnesty for any MP that hasn’t been caught yet.

Party leaders are saying one thing and doing another. For example, they are making overtures about the fact that parliament can no longer be self-regulating yet, as party leaders, they consider their own committees best able to judge whether or not an MP has broken the expense rules or abused the often repeated “spirit of the rules”. These committees then have the power to ‘clear’ an MP and we are expected to accept that these secret investigations, adjudications and punishments have been fair, impartial and proportionate. We are forced to conclude that whilst MP’s believe we are capable of voting them into power, they do not trust us to judge them based on their actions and our standards. This is class snobbery at its best, MP’s from all parties truly believe that they are the elite and we are the peasants. We are simply a necessary evil on their journey to power. The only thing tMP’s fear is losing their seat and therefore, their power base.

Oh, and on top of everything else, this government does not believe that we are entitled to a public enquiry over the Iraq War. Now, lets get this straight shall we? This is a war that very few of us supported, this is a war that has cost the lives of many brave servicemen, not to mention the lives of the many innocent women and children in Iraq. This is a war that has cost us over £6bn and placed us on the front line of international terrorism. This is a war that has cost the people of this country a loss of liberty and privacy on an unprecedented scale, that has virtually destroyed the freedoms and liberties that have evolved and been fought for over hundreds of years. Yet this government believes we are not entitled to have a public enquiry to establish why we went to war.

The public want to know why we went to war, based on what evidence and, whether or not it was considered legal. Was the country and/parliament mislead and if so, by whom? Other than something that directly affects national security, everything must be open to public scrutiny, up to and including the cabinet minutes. When a democratic country is taken to war against the will of the people, then the government has an obligation to provide an open and honest account of why they went against public opinion, especially when the initial justifications for their actions have subsequently been proved completely unfounded. Those responsible must not be allowed to conduct such matters in secrecy given we are all having to pay the price. We need to know that our government did not take us to war for regime change or to instill our form of democracy on another country, there must better be another very good reason such as, there being a very real threat to the safety or security of the UK.

So much has happened over the past 7 days that it is difficult to know where to start or finish. However, what is clear to me, is the so-called ruling classes do not give a toss about you and I. With few exceptions, MP’s treat us with disdain and contempt, they consider themselves above the law, not open to scrutiny and not subject to the same rules that you and I must adhere to. Fiddling expenses has become so ‘routine’ that MP’s no longer understand the difference between what is right or wrong. Lying to the public has become so routine that Ministers can now do it with a straight face. Rhetoric has displaced action and, truth has replaced political spin in government and, all of the major political parties. MP’s and their leaders have never really been trusted by the public and for all intents and purposes, we have been proved right. 

In spite of that, they expect us to trust them at their word, even though they continue to lie and bullshit us on a daily basis, even though they protect their own and, even though they lack the humility to admit their mistakes. In reality, recent election results imply that we have lost confidence in all of them because, in spite of the fact that New Labour has destroyed this country in economic terms, massacred our civil liberties, made the people of this country a target for any radical terrorist, acted against our wishes and yes, consistently lied to us, we still don’t trust the alternatives, specifically the Conservatives or LibDems. The opposition party’s should be cleaning up with such a pathetic government and prime minister in place, they are not, and that should worry them. It is time for all parties and MP’s to treat the people of this country like grown-ups, if they don’t then there is a very real likelihood that the people will react and if that happens, I doubt that Jackie Smith’s 10,000 Tasers will make a great deal of difference. This country needs a regime change, the problem is, the alternatives don’t look much better!

Something that galls me most about this whole mess, is that whilst we have tended to look at the expense scandal as a serious, but local difficulty, our ruling elite have given the likes of the Ayatollah Khamenei license to refer to the people of this country as being corrupt. We, are all being tarred with the same brush as many of our MP’s and that is quite simply unforgivable.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems, World | Comments (4)

MPs’ fail to gauge the mood of the public

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MPs’ fail to gauge the mood of the public


I don’t know whether Shahid Malik has a case to answer, only time will tell, but what he is guilty of is failing to capture and understand the mood of the public. Malik decided to come out fighting, in doing so, he came across as belligerent, arrogant and self-righteous, all of the attributes we despise in anyone, but especially those in positions of power, such as our politicians. It precisely this type of finger pointing, Holier Than Thou, I am better than you attitude, that infuriates the public. So instead of the public listening to what Malik was saying, they were concentrating on how he was saying it! So, the Minister for Justice believes that he should be considered ‘innocent until proven guilty’ whilst many in this country have been denied that long held right by HIS government! Further evidence, if it were needed, that most members of parliament really are hypocrites.

Of course Malik is not the only MP that has decided to go on the attack, but he is the latest, mostly, for some reason, Labour MP’s. Yet all they are doing is fanning the flames. How ironic that New Labour invented ‘spin’ yet it doesn’t appear to be able to reign in its MP’s when it needs to most. Whilst anger is universal, I get the impression that most is directed at Labour MP’s, almost certainly since they are the party in power that has failed the vast majority of the public. Therefore, it is perhaps New Labour MP’s, more that any, that need to be contrite?

I am not convinced however, that all of this anger is about expense account abuse, I believe it is the culmination of the way that MP’s, Labour in particular, have and continue to demonstrate that they are incapable of admitting that they could be wrong or have made mistakes and that starts right at the top with Gordon Brown.

Two thirds of the public want a general election, which is double the number that was needed to give this government such a massive majority, but the will of the people is ignored. Democracy is generally described as being: a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. Yet, our elected representative know that the majority of people want a change of government, but they are too arrogant to grant one. That is dangerous. Malik said that the expense scandal was in danger of destroying democracy, not so, it is the smug, self-serving and remote attitude of MP’s in general and Labour MP’s in particular that will destroy our democracy.

David Davies has suggested that many members of parliament are considering stepping down, leaving politics altogether, because they dislike the fact that all MP’sare being tarred with the same brush. Personally I think that is the best thing that could happen, David Davies probably thinks the public should be concerned, I don’t believe that to be true. The public want wholesale change, if the main parties don’t provide that through the retirement or deselection of existing MP’s, then I suspect we will get it by default with an increasing number of independent MP’s (and smaller parties) being voted in at the next election. If the main parties do not want to become also rans, then they must listen to the will of the people.

One of the problems with the mainstream parties and I have said this before, is the fact that they select candidates from such a small pool. This means that we end up with lots of candidates (for MP’s) that think the same, talk the same and act the same. Not like you and I, but like each other. It is like being ruled by aliens. It is hardly a good example of democracy in action, if the only people we are allowed to vote for within the big parties, are those that are selected from the same tiny pool of limited talent, which is designed to positively discriminate against or, exclude real people.

Mainstream parties should spread their nets wider, recruit the best talent, so that these people can take up those key positions when, or if, the party get elected into power. Now is the time for party leaders to follow the will of the people. Never will they have a better opportunity than now to justify a wholesale clear-out of the many MP’s that are quite simply a waste of space. The party that is brave enough to do this, will align themselves most closely with the mood of the public, who want and demand change. In all probability, they will also be responsible for restoring the publics faith in politics, democracy and politicians. Party leaders need to understand that it is not optional, but essential, that the people of this country have trust and confidence in their politicians.

If I was a leader of one of the main parties I would seriously consider going on a recruitment drive to find the ‘best of the best’. I would be looking to recruit real people, those with expertise in business, health, education, economics and so on. Individuals that sounded like people, not politicians, that were sincere rather than smooth,  those that could demonstrate gravitas and sincerity rather than a dismissive attitude towards alternative opinions or the will of the people. One other thing all politician’s must take into account regarding this whole sorry saga is, whilst they may object to being tarred with the same brush (as ‘dodgy’ MP’s), that is exactly what is happening to the people of this country. The public are being forced into a situation where theirright to privacy is being stolen by this Governments Big Brother ‘database state’, which records our emails, mobile phone calls, health records, children’s educational needs, DNA, internet traffic, vehicle movements, travel arrangements…and now wants our biometric data, ID cards, the ability to profile etc, etc. The state is treating us all like suspects, it is bringing in petty rules, regulations and laws (3607 in 12 years) that seeks to criminalise even the most mundane things. It is has unashamedly used the fear of crime and terrorism to introduce what can only amount to state control and yes, state terrorism. It has got to stop.

Politicians don’t like it when the public think they are all on the make, or criminals, but then, we also dislike being considered potential criminals that must be spied on, tracked and hounded. In the end, politicians only have themselves to blame, they are paying the price for their disconnect from, and contempt for, the public. The expense scandal is a wake up for all MP’s, best they look at what is below the surface, as well as the actual event, lest they miss a golden opportunity to put power back with the people, by introducing genuine ‘root and branch’ reform within their own party’s.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (7)

MPs’ Expenses: Sorry doesn’t cut it!

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MPs’ Expenses: Sorry doesn’t cut it!


Most MP’s appear to believe that they have nothing to apologise for because, so far as they are concerned, they acted within the rules and their expenses and/or allowances were paid by the Fees Office. Some, on the other hand have said sorry, not for the wholesale abuse of the system, but for individual expense claims which they think we will find indefensible. An even smaller number believe it is okay if they say sorry and reimburse the public purse. Well for me, that just doesn’t cut it. Do they think that the public is so shallow, so in awe of MP’s and so battered by circumstance that they will simple forgive and forget? I think not!

MP’s are in a position of trust, invariably they are elected based on promises made to the electorate and/or party manifesto commitments. Not only are the public entitled to expect the highest levels of probity, but they are also entitled to presume that members of parliament have a fully operational moral compass, in respect of their personal life and, above all in relation to their dealings in public office. In spite of this, many MP’s have actively milked an expense and allowance system for their personal gain, even though, a good number of them have variously described it as in desperate need of reform, open to abuse, or open to interpretation. Some have implied or stated that they felt the allowances were a right, given the salaries were, in their opinion, comparatively poor. MP’s have argued that the public would not accept higher salaries, therefore a flexible approach to allowances and expenses made up the shortfall. Did none of these MP’s consider this solution to be at best, immoral and at worst, dishonest?

One of the problems with MP’s salaries is the fact that MP’s have an exagagerated opinion of their abilities and value, at least, they place a much higher value on themselves than the public does. Why is that I wonder? Could it be, for example, that they surround themselves with flunkies, yes men and people that routinely blow hot air up their backsides? Perhaps, it is because becoming an MP is a virtual closed-shop. The reality is, that the best chance of being elected is to be adopted by one of the main parties, to do that, you have to come from a very small pool of candidates, perhaps a local councillor, a school friend of the leader, a friendly journalist, a union leader, a lobbyist or party activist, come gofer. As a consequence, real world experience is limited, both in terms of business and life experience, which probably explains why so many MP’s appear out of touch with real people and incapable of handling portfolios either in government or as a shadow ministers. Is it, therefore, any wonder that the public believe MP’s are already overpaid?

This is even more evident right now, by virtue of the fact that Gordon Brown has such a limited pool of ‘bright’ MP’s, that he has to make do with the best of the bunch. Not great when you are supposed to be running one of the biggest economies in the world! I would have no problem with MP’s being paid more, but based on the current crop, that would be ridiculous. There is nothing wrong with paying more in order that you can attract the brightest stars to politics, but no-one will want to pay for when all we get are the also-rans! In my view, the way candidates for chosen is akin to going to a small town job centre and expecting to find the best qualified people in the country. It just ain’t going to happen and, as a direct consequence, we end up getting served by MP’s that would be lucky to get a middle managers job, much less responsibility for thousands of staff and multi-billion pound budgets. To emphasis this point, we have a former postman in charge of the Health Service, the third largest employer in the world and a former teacher in charge of the Home Office. What a complete and utter mess!

Of course, whilst MP’s will complain that there £64k salary is too low, those with additional responsibilities will receive much more, for example, a cabinet minister will be on over £140k, but that has not stopped them from continuing to milk the system. Because, I assume, by the time they become a minister, with the higher salary and all the additional benefits, their moral compass is so damaged, that they no longer see right from wrong. Not a good thing when they are overseeing departments with multi-billion pound budgets. I am not suggesting any form of wrongdoing, but surely, the public has a right to wonder whether MP’s and Ministers that actively milk a system that, by their own admission is “flawed”, can be trusted to make the right decisions, for the right reasons.

It is not just the expense system that needs reforming, it is the whole system, from how candidates are selected, to how MP’s are promoted into senior positions. Much of it defies logic, lacks transparency and leaves a large question mark over objectivity. The initial candidate selection procedure for example, does not ensure that we get the ‘best of the best’, therefore, if the candidates are eventually elected, they cannot and should not expect salaries comparable with the private sector where there is a true meritocracy, not cronyism. In reality, we end up with Ministers getting paid to learn on the job, even though they have little or no experience of a particular role, that would never happen in the private sector. Little wonder then, that we end up paying £billions to outside consultants, the public end up paying twice and through the nose, because of the recruitment policies of the main parties.

Lets look at the logic for the moment shall we? David Cameron says that the Conservatives are “ready for government“. Okay, then the public is entitled to know who he intends to put in the ‘top’ positions of government and precisely what skills they have to qualify them to run these massive departments. He will not of course, because he doesn’t want us to know what he knows already, that few, if any, of his crop of MP’s have any relevant experience. How many health professionals does he have? How many business leaders? How many teaching professionals? How many economic experts? How many security professionals? Ready for government? If it wasn’t so serious, it would be a joke, the Conservative party may be more principled that New Labour, which wouldn’t be difficult, but ready for government? No chance and the same goes for the Liberal Democrats! Once again, the public will be obliged to accept that we have rank amateurs running our country, our economy and our enormous public sector departments.

If you were to put all of the parties together, I doubt we would be able to find enough suitably experienced candidates, with the necessary depth and knowledge, to run even half of our key departments. That is normal, but it also shocking, because every party tries to convince us that they are modern, forward thinking and up to the job, yet their candidate recruitment process belongs firmly in the dark ages. If this country is to get itself out of the mess that our politicians have been responsible for or complicit in, then there needs to be complete reform.

  • This must include a review of their candidate selection procedures to ensure that they have a good choice of suitably experienced MP’s should they be elected to govern.
  • Strict rules on probity. If an MP or Minister loses the trust and confidence of the electorate, then they must resign their seat and a by-election called.
  • MP’s must accept that they are no longer entitled to self-regulation, nor are they to be permitted to exempt themselves from the same laws that the public must accept.
  • If a political governing party refuses to deliver on any manifesto promise then the the party leader must take full responsibility and resign, then an election must be called. – A manifesto is, of course, a contractual commitment to the people of this country, not an advertising gimmick.
  • The Prime Minister and other Ministers shall be obliged to answer all questions put to them by other Members of Parliament. No Minister shall be allowed to side-step direct questions as frequently happens during PMQ’s.
  • MP’s expense claims must first be approved by their party leaders, before they are submitted to the Fees Office. Expense claims must also be subject to independent and regular audit. False or misleading claims must lead to the automatic dismissal of the MP concerned. In other words, the party whip must be withdrawn, the MP banned from the Commons, and a by-election called.
  • MP’s must lose the entitlement to have themselves referred to as ‘Honourable’ or ‘Right Honourable’ given this implies that they are better than the people they serve and it is automatic, rather than earned. As such, it is meaningless and must therefore, be withdrawn.
  • MP’s must publish their diaries. This need not be detailed, but must include enough information for their constituents to be able to judge how much time each MP’s spends in the house of commons, within their constituency and talking to their constituents. Similarly, it will provide details on when MP’s are in London and whether they are on parliamentary or personal business. All MP’s shall be obliged to publish how many ‘junkets’ they go on each year, including the purpose, duration, cost and who paid.
  • Only Members of Parliament must be permitted to hold Ministerial posts, ensuring that they remain accountable. Peerages must no longer be used as quick method to place an unelected individual into a Ministerial post.
  • Ministers who deliberately mislead parliament are subject to sanction. The same should apply to any Minister that seeks to mislead the public, whether inside or outside parliament.
  • The public must be provided with a method of calling an early election if they lose trust and confidence in the governing party. This could be done by allowing the public to register their ‘satisfaction’ with the governing party once a year, using postal and/or  an internet based voting forum. If the governing party falls below an agreed percentage, then parliament must be dissolved. This would act as a deterrent to governing parties becoming authoritarian, complacent and indifferent to public opinion…as is the case with the current government. Power must be returned to the people if democracy is to survive.
  • When party Manifesto’s are used in an election campaign, voters must be provided with the ability to vote for, or against, each Manifesto commitment. This is to ensure that the public are not ‘bounced’ into agreeing unwelcome policies that are hidden amongst more populist commitments. Therefore, for practical reasons, Manifesto commitments must be limited to a maximum of 10.
  • Parliament must agree to limit the number of new laws drafted each year to allow members of parliament sufficient time to read and digest the content. Since 1997, New Labour have introduced a record 3607 new laws, many are detrimental to the public interest, yet in many cases, were not even debated. Parliament must limit the number of new laws to a maximum of 200 during any Government term.
  • News laws are now routinely introduced (or more accurately hidden) within legislation which has little or nothing to do with the subject matter. These are often laws that are likely to be the most contentious, politicians of all parties must agree to cease this practice forthwith. If a new law is required, then it must be open to scrutiny and debated.
  • Any new legislation or draft law which affects the fundamental liberty, freedoms or right to privacy of the public and has not been include as a manifesto commitment, must be subject to a referendum. The people, not government, must determine if they are prepared to sacrifice long held freedoms, liberty and privacy rights in favour of government assurances of safety and security.  It is not acceptable that any government with a large majority use this powerful position to introduce laws which increase the powers of the state at the expense of the public at large.

In summary, public concern is not so much about the money that MP’s have been pocketing. But the moral compass of any elected official that believed he or she should be entitled to supplement their income through the backdoor by deliberately introducing a ‘flexible’  and generous expense and allowance scheme. By their own admission, this was to avoid the furore that would have been caused if MP’s had sought to increase their salaries, in other words, it was very deliberately deceitful. The public is further angered by the fact that public money was then used to try and prevent the people of this country having access to this information, which amounts to little short of an attempt to cover up malpractice.

However, even before the expense scandal, the public were becoming increasingly disillusioned with politicians in general and this government in particular. This was because politicians appeared ever more detached from reality, unwilling to engage and government had become increasingly more authoritarian. Opposition MP’s did little to combat this attack on the people of this country and that further damaged the confidence of the British public in our political system and members of parliament. It was clear, to anyone looking, that politicians were becoming (indeed are) less and less accountable to the people of this country.

Moreover, politicians of all parties started to deny that they were there to serve the public, some quite openly on their blogs. To reinforce who was boss, this particular government introduced a raft of new legislation that resulted in long held civil liberties and freedoms being denied to the people of this country. The opposition parties did little or nothing to stop this government, and all of a sudden, the people of this country started to feel crushed, hemmed in and unable to do anything about what was happening as politicians increased the divide.

Then came the so called ‘bust’, followed by a recession. But, instead of taking responsibility, the former chancellor and then prime minister blamed anyone and everyone. This was compounded by the fact that his ministers, rather than having the backbone to stand up to him, just tried to continue the myth. Many of them manipulating numbers, statistics or other facts to confuse the picture and divert attention. The PM and Ministers were so far up their own backsides that they thought we would all fall for it, that is the level of contempt they had (and have) for the public. They were arrogant instead of contrite.  

With the economic crisis and lack of public confidence in members of parliament and government ministers, politicians on all sides, I believe, realised that the vast majority of them were out of their depth. When boom ended, few of them had any idea what to do and this is what became self-evident to those outside the Westminster village, but denied by those in power. All of a sudden, the fact that the ‘gene pool’ was so limited meant that there was no ‘experts’ to turn to within their own ranks. The Expense scandal is a culmination of all these things.

Politicians must now realise that their recruitment model is broken, their promotion model (based on cronyism rather than merit) is broken, their moral compass is broken, their reputation for probity is in tatters, the gulf between them and the people they are supposed to represent is wider than the Atlantic, their lack of humility is self-evident, their authoritarian approach is resented by all, their spin doctor messages so old as to be almost predictable and the people, in spite of having their liberties, freedoms and right to privacy destroyed in a little over a decade have had enough and are fighting back. Politicians of all parties would do well to listen. They rule by consent, not as a right. The public could scupper all of their plans by simply voting for fringe parties, it may not give is a joined up government, but lets be honest, we haven’t had one of those for generations!

It is worthwhile checking out this article on MP’s Expense Claims!

Posted in Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems, World | Comments (3)

Jacqui Smith wants your DNA, innocent or guilty

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Jacqui Smith wants your DNA, innocent or guilty


The Home Office has outlined a series of proposals in relation to the DNA database designed to counter the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that it was illegal. However, in doing so, they have demonstrated utter contempt for the ruling, choosing instead to go for a fudge. If these proposals are put into force, it will inevitably lead to further legal challenges in the European Court by Human Rights campaigners.

The Home Office consultation proposes the following:

  • Destroying all original DNA samples, like mouth swabs, as soon as they are converted into a digital database profile
  • Automatically deleting after 12 years the profiles of those arrested but not convicted of a serious violent or sexual crime
  • Automatically deleting after six years the profiles of anyone arrested but not convicted of other offences
  • Retaining indefinitely the DNA profiles and fingerprints of anyone convicted of a recordable offence
  • Remove the profiles of young people arrested but not convicted, or convicted of less serious offences, when they turn 18

The bottom line, is that even in Big Brother Britain, you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. It is, therefore, unreasonable in the extreme for DNA samples to be retained where individuals have been arrested, but not convicted, or arrested but not even charged. By retaining the samples, the Home Office is suggesting, by implication, that the individual may commit an offence in the future. Under these proposals, if the Home Office want to increase the size of the database, all they have to do is encourage the Police to arrest more people, the Police will then be entitled to take, record and retain a DNA sample.  How long before the Police are targeted on the taking of DNA samples?

Clearly DNA evidence can be very useful in solving crimes. However, this must be weighed against the infringement on the civil liberties of the majority. We are all entitled to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. We must not permit the state to use this ‘back door’ method of arrest without charge to increase the size of the DNA database.  It is also worth noting that the Home Office is proposing that DNA samples be retained indefinitely for what is termed a recordable offence. But these offences can vary from the public order offence of failing to give notice of a procession and, for example, drunkeness, public order, begging  right through to having a bladed weapon or crossbow in public.  In fact, making a hoax 999 call or falsely claiming a professional qualification are all recordable crimes. How can such a broad range of offences brought under the innocuously sounding term ‘recordable offence’ be considered proportionate, especially given any of these offences would mean that your DNA is on file for life under the current proposals.

Whatever your view on Big Brother Britain and the DNA database, we must all remind ourselves, that in 12 years, this government has introduced 3,607 new laws, in other words, a month doesn’t go by without there bing new laws that we are supposed to know and not infringe. If this continues, it is only a matter of time before we all find ourselves on the national DNA database. No government in the world has considered it necessary or desirable to have so many of their citizens recorded on a DNA database. In fact the UK has the largest database in the world, now ask yourself this, do we all feel safer, do we have a higher detection and conviction rate when compared to comparable countries? NO! Because if we did, you can be certain that the Home Office would have told us.

We must say no to this massive intrusion into our everyday lives.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (5)

Paul Stephenson, are you proud of the Met?

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Paul Stephenson, are you proud of the Met?


So, we have IPCC investigations into the conduct of two police officers and now, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) will review policing tactics. No doubt, these investigations will take an age to come to any conclusions, so much of the detail will have faded by that time. No doubt we will also have a new Met Commissioner and undoubtedly a new Government. So that’s all right then!

It does not take a review or an inquiry to determine that herding law-abiding citizens into a small area and then stopping them from leaving amounts to an illegal detention. None of these people have committed a crime, therefore to prevent them from leaving the area, when they have not been arrested, amounts to the Metropolitan Police breaking the law they are supposed to uphold. What type of example  is this? There has been a court case on this police tactic and the courts suggested that so long as it is proportionate, then it is legal, that cannot be acceptable to the majority in this country!

The Police call this tactic “Kettling”, because it is supposed to take the steam out of a potentially violent situation, however those contained would argue that it is more likely a cynical description of the fact that protestors will want to let off steam when they find themselves ilegally contained. This almost smacks of deliberate provocation or at the very least, active baiting.

No Police force is above the law, and there must be an immediate and unambiguous commitment made by the police that they will never again illegally detain innocent demonstrators en-masse. Further, Jacqui Smith must also come out of her bunker, remover her blinkers and uphold the civil liberties and rights of the people, that is HER job. The containment and illegal detention policies adopted and implemented by the Metropolitan Police were more akin to those of a Police State, than those of a democracy where liberty and freedom are values are respected and upheld.

Stephenson must also provide an explanation as to why some of his officers were permitted to cover up their identification numbers and/or wear balaclavas? This does not need an inquiry, nor a review, just an explanation from the boss and a commitment that it will never happen again. Otherwise we will be forced to draw our only conclusions as to why those required to uphold the law would feel the need to hide their identities with methods normally associated with the criminal fraternity…disguised identity numbers, balaclavas etc.

The very latest images of a large police officer cuffing a small woman is completely unacceptable, as was the use of a baton by the same officer on the same woman. No matter what the verbal provocation, police officers are supposed to be highly trained, they are supposed to defuse, not inflame volatile situations. What if the crowd erupted over this incident? Based on the evidence I have seen and assuming that the officer was verbally abused, I can see no justification whatsoever in slapping the woman across the face and then using a steel baton against her. This was not proportionate. The question must be whether this was an isolated incident or more akin with modern policing tactics in the Met, or further afield.

Whatever the circumstances, based on what I witnessed on television, this is not how I want our country represented abroad, this did not feel like a country that permitted peaceful demonstration and free speech, it did not feel like we had a world class police service and above all, it gave me the impression of being in something akin to a police state. Aggressive policing, active herding of law-abiding demonstrators, officers attempting to hide their identities and overwhelming force does not make me feel free. By all means, the police must protect people and property, but this scatter gun approach does not work, it is oppressive and has no place in a free society.

SPREAD THE WORD:

A Conservative MP is seeking a second reading for a new Bill, titled ‘Exercise of Reasonable Discretion’. If passed into law, this will allow every public servant, including MP, civil servants, local government officers, the police etc., a legal defence of ‘reasonable discretion’ in any civil or criminal case brought about as a consequence of their actions. All they would have to prove, is that they acted in good faith, this as anyone in the know will understand, is a catch-all defence.

In essence, it could allow MP’s to argue that they made certain decisions, such as going to war, based on advice where they were required to use reasonable discretion, officials entering into multi-million pound contracts which are subsequently cancelled or overrun, will also be able to claim that they exercised reasonable discretion. It is effectively a get out of jail free card for any public servant. Effectively removing accountability and increasing risk, because of course, if there is no effective punishment, there is no need to be careful. We should all shout as loud as we can to ensure that this type of legislation never sees the light of day.

Posted in Civil Liberties, General, Labour | Comments (0)

Gutter Politics in the UK

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Gutter Politics in the UK


There has been much written about the Damian McBride debacle, but I have to admit, the only thing that surprises me is that people are themselves surprised. When Gordon Brown was Chancellor, it was well known that his henchmen would often brief against anyone that was not firmly in the Brown camp. In fact, I am sure some journalists made their reputation off the back of such gossip and rumour. To find that GB still has people that are prepared to go to any lengths to promote and protect their boss comes as no surprise. Furthermore, to have them planning an attack on the opposition in advance of an election is also par for the course, even if it is normally a little more subtle. The so called Westminster Village survives on gossip, innuendo, character assassinations and leaks! However, I guess the only difference this time, is that what happens in political circles has become public and, of course, for the most part, the standards of the general public are much, much higher than those who are elected to represent us.

Truth be told, there are very few ‘investigative journalists’ nowadays, instead they rely on briefings and leaks. Deals are done all the time, with very few exceptions, we read what the politicians want us to, not what the journalists uncover. One positive outcome of this latest fiasco is that ordinary people will start to realise that there is an alternative to the dead tree press. Yes, the blogosphere is in its infancy, but it is getting better all the time and it is much more difficult to silence or influence.

New Labour tell us that there must be “no reward for failure”, yet these hypocrites have rewarded failed politicians with plum jobs in Europe (and elsewhere) and on occasion, even rewarded these wayward, but loyal subjects with a peerage. This is because there is one rule for them and their minions, with another for the rest of us.

Take their generous allowances. The clue is in the name! They are not expenses, they are allowances, therefore MP’s of all parties see them as a right. As a consequence, they maximise their income by claiming for whatever they can, meanwhile, from a tax perspective, they are not subject to the same rules as the rest of us. Because, in the private sector, HMRC would treat the vast majority of these allowances as a benefit in kind and they would be taxed as such. What about pensions? The private sector has seen some 70% of final salary pension schemes shut down or closed to new members, meanwhile, our MP’s continue to benefit from what has been described as on of the best pension schemes in the world.

Power corrupts, that is a fact and it happens in politics as much as anywhere else. I do not mean that people necessarily take backhanders, but their morals seem to change. Power to many means that they can get away with things that other mere mortals cannot. It is this that ultimately corrupts. I am sure, for example, that there are many people that entered politics with the very best intentions, but look at them now. Not all, but most have their snouts in the trough, instead of questioning why such generous expense allowances are made available, they have simply claimed them. Instead of asking why MP’s should receive pensions so much better than people in the private sector, they have voted to keep the pension scheme unchanged. The longer they have been MP’s or, the higher up the food chain they go, the more arrogant, self-assured and unpleasant they get. One reason for this is the way people bow and scrape to gain favour, this makes our MP’s feel powerful, invincible even and self-obsessed. They start to believe their own publicity.

As if to confirm that MP’s know they are making mistakes and could eventually face civil or criminal charges because of their actions, there is a new Bill, due for its 2nd reading on the 24th April that seeks to offer a legal ‘get out of jail free’  card. A Conservative MP has introduced a bill designed to provide all public servants, including MP’s, with a legal defence of ‘reasonable discretion’. In other words if they can legitimately claim that they exercised reasonable discretion, this would be an acceptable defence. For example, if an MP was told, incorrectly or otherwise, by a civil servant, that it was okay to claim certain allowances, he would have a strong defence by claiming he had shown reasonable discretion by consulting an official. In return the civil servant, who would benefit from the same protection, can argue that he acted in good faith because he merely followed the established precedent. Similarly, if this country were taken to war, based on ‘questionable’ intelligence, provided the Ministers can demonstrate that they exercised reasonable discretion, they cannot be held legally accountable for their actions.

The Exercise of Reasonable Discretion Bill is a clear indication that there is an ever-increasing gulf between the electorate and the people elected to serve us. If this Bill is passed into law, no MP and no civil servant will ever be held accountable for their actions unless there is a demonstrable case of negligence. We have already seen in the past few weeks how power corrupts, we must never allow politicians to then benefit from an Act that would provide them with immunity from prosecution. This will encourage recklessness in the same way that Diplomatic Immunity encourages foreign diplomats to ignore our traffic laws.

SPREAD THE WORD:

A Conservative MP is seeking a second reading for a new Bill, titled ‘Exercise of Reasonable Discretion’. If passed into law, this will allow every public servant, including MP, civil servants, local government officers, the police etc., a legal defence of ‘reasonable discretion’ in any civil or criminal case brought about as a consequence of their actions. All they would have to prove, is that they acted in good faith, this as anyone in the know will understand, is a catch-all defence.

In essence, it could allow MP’s to argue that they made certain decisions, such as going to war, based on advice where they were required to use reasonable discretion, officials entering into multi-million pound contracts which are subsequently cancelled or overrun, will also be able to claim that they exercised reasonable discretion. It is effectively a get out of jail free card for any public servant. Effectively removing accountability and increasing risk, because of course, if there is no effective punishment, there is no need to be careful. We should all shout as loud as we can to ensure that this type of legislation never sees the light of day.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour | Comments (2)

Big Brother Britain goes mobile in Manchester

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Big Brother Britain goes mobile in Manchester


Not satisfied with 4.2m CCTV cameras, speed cameras and ANPR, the Greater Manchester Casualty Reduction Partnership has now introduced (as a pilot) a Smart Car complete with high level CCTV camera. The aim is to catch errant motorists that speed, use a mobile phone, park illegally or commit any other form of motoring offence. Drivers can then expect to receive, in the post, a fine and/or penalty notice which could carry 3 points.

At a time when the public struggle to get the police to act when they are the victim of a burglary, anti-social behaviour, fraud or criminal damage, the police have decided to continue persecuting drivers, simply because they are an easy target and the police can claim to have detected, investigated and prosecuted another crime. Great for their clear up rates! However, this type of prosecution (or persecution) lacks any interaction with the public, therefore it is likely to create even more resentment between the police and the public at a time when they need all the support they can get.

Of course, this type of system will only be able to trace and prosecute people that are, for the most part, law abiding. This is because these types of cameras rely entirely on the registration number and as we all know, there are over 1m vehicles on the road where the drivers have no insurance and/or bogus registered keeper details. So the serious criminals will be simply get away with it. I am not defending law breaking, instead I am advocating a programme where the police treat all crime seriously, rather than placing so much resource behind a single section of the community, because is is easier to secure a ‘hands up’ prosecution.

At a time of economic mayhem, increased cases of serious crime and terrorist threats, the police, presumably supported by politicians, make clear where their primary focus will remain. Targeting easy crime. Of course these cameras won’t just take pictures of errant motorists, operating constantly, they cannot discriminate between an errant motorist and someone going about their normal business. So must we all acccept that, if extended, we must allow ourselves to be monitored by 4.2m CCTV cameras, as well as mobile cameras?

Big Brother Britain is getting out of hand. Everything we do and say is being monitored and stored, this does not feel like a free and democratic country, instead is seems like we are in a police state. Civil liberty campaigners are often derided, as are those that claim we are moving to a police state, but take my word for it, in a few years time, the people of this country will realise that far from being reactionary, these people were visionary…and unlike our politicians, they have been speaking the truth.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Farcical Regulations, General, Labour | Comments (5)

MP’s seek immunity from prosecution

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MP’s seek immunity from prosecution


If evidence was needed that members of parliament fear a public backlash, here it is, in the form of a new Bill, Exercise of Reasonable Discretion Bill 2008-09, which is due to get a second reading on the 24th April 2009. Below is a summary of what the Bill sets out to achieve;

The Bill aims to ensure that public authorities and public servants would not be subject to any criminal or civil penalty as a result of the exercise of reasonable discretion in the performance of their functions. Its provisions would cover public authorities, public servants and contracts for public services. The term public authority is defined by the Bill and includes the NHS, the police, local and central and devolved Government and non-departmental public bodies. The formal intent of the Bill is to indemnify public servants, central government, local government and other public agencies from legal action if they take decisions in good faith, as a result of the exercise of reasonable discretion, in the public interest.

In other words, MP’s amongst other public servants which include the Police, local officials and even the NHS, will be able to claim that in effect they acted in good faith, or in the words of the Bill, exercised ‘reasonable discretion’. Any lawyer will tell you that such a defence is subjective, therefore it offer enormous scope for any public servant (including, of course, MP’s) seeking to defend their actions.

So, hypothetically, any Minister taking this country to war on dubious grounds could claim that they had exercised ‘reasonable discretion’ by, for example, commissioning a security assessment of the threat to this country. The information they act on does not have to be factually correct, so long as the Ministers can claim that they acted in good faith. The public would have no right of criminal or civil recourse. No longer will public servants be accountable to the public…and this is a democracy?

Reasonable discretion is defined as being either, in the public interest or in the performance of their functions, in other words, it covers everything. The Bill seeks to include cover for all civil servants (and of course Ministers), for any mistakes they have made related to contracts for public services. Therefore, the civil servants responsible for ordering the new NHS database, which was originally budgeted to cost £2.3bn, has now spiralled to £12bn and is expected to result in a total bill of £32bn, will be able to claim that they exercised reasonable discretion.

What about the Department of Work and Pensions where officials wasted £300m on two cancelled IT projects In 5 years the DWP managed to spend £2.14bn on IT projects, both ongoing and cancelled, with over £500m going to consultants alone. Was reasonable discretion exercised? You decide, because it is unlikely the courts could do anything about it.

Would a Police officer be able to argue that he or she exercised reasonable discretion when they shoot an innocent bystander? Or could a Doctor claim that he or she exercised reasonable discretion when they removed the kidneys of a patient because they pick-up the wrong patients notes? Remember, there is no right of criminal OR civil recourse. Will this prevent people from suing the NHS and/or Doctors for criminal negligence?

This legislation is a danger to all of us, given it is a Rogues Charter that seeks to protect all public servants from accountability to the people they are supposed to serve or represent. It is, perhaps, the most draconian and self-serving legislation ever devised by our parliament. Worst of all, it prevents the public from taking any action (civil or criminal) against MP’s or Ministers, because in virtually every instance, other than a direct and proven lie, they will be able to claim they had exercised reasonable discretion. In fact, even in their lied, they could claim that they did so ‘in the public interest’.

I would urge all fellow bloggers with an interest in justice to use their blogs to publicise this outrageous attempt provide public servants, especially MP’s with a ‘get out of jail free’ card. If this legislation gets through, as it undoubtedly will, then no public servant can truly be held accountable to the public, because a ‘good faith’ defence will always be available!

Posted in Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (23)

Disreputable MP’s and their expenses

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Disreputable MP’s and their expenses


Much has been written about MP’s and their expenses over the past few weeks and little wonder given we expect our elected representatives to always act in the best interests of their constituents, the public at large and above all, with the utmost integrity. Yet, each time an MP has been exposed as maximising their expense allowances, we are informed that the claim has either been an error, or more often has been claimed in “accordance with the rules” and “fully declared”.

I have already stated in previous posts that I am not suggesting that any MP or Minister has acted in a corrupt manner and without evidence to the contrary, I stand by that statement. However, what is clear to me is that it is the the expense allowance programme is corrupt, given it facilitates and even encourages members of parliament to maximise their claims with little or no scrutiny as part of their ‘rewards package’. My prior statement notwithstanding, it is MP’s that are the sole arbiters on the expense system they benefit from, because only they can vote to introduce change. Therefore, it is a bit rich when they are so defensive because the public has the temerity and audacity to find these claims objectionable and excessive, even though we have never been consulted…instead we just expected to foot the bill. Bollocks!

I believe that the only reason Gordon Brown and his cronies are recommending a review of the expense allowances is because they want and expect the committee to suggest that salaries are increased to compensate for the loss of some or all of the current allowances. This is not and never will be acceptable to the public. It is right that MP’s should be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses, that have been incurred wholly and exclusively in the course of their parliamentary duties, but that is it. Anything else would be an abuse. MP’s know what the salary and benefits are before they stand, if they don’t like the package, then they must step aside, there will be no shortage of people clamouring for their seats.

In the past, the basis or motivation for new laws was invariably where the majority of people found something objectionable, offensive or wrong. It is clear to me that the overwhelming majority of people in this country consider the MP expense allowances to be far too generous, self-serving and open to abuse. Therefore, all MP’s have a duty to the public to outlaw such acts, even if it is detrimental to their own interests. A failure to do this is a failure of their duty and obligation to the public. It does not need a committee to determine what is wrong with the expense allowance scheme, public opinion has already made that clear, MP’s must act decisively and NOW, for if they don’t the trust in our Parliamentary system of representation will be irreparably damaged. Trust has already been damaged.

The people of this country have had to put up with interfering Ministers and MP’s introducing a raft of new legislation designed exclusive and comprehensively to erode our liberty, right to privacy and long held freedoms, whilst they (the MP’s) are, for the most part exempted from the same laws. They have lost all sense of reality and completely removed themselves from society.

Over the past 11 years we have seen legislation brought in to protect foxes, whilst having to accept the broken Manifesto promise of a vote on the Lisbon Treaty. We have seen public sector final salary pension schemes protected and enhanced whilst those in the private sector were raided to the tune of £10bn per year. We have seen Ministers living in grace and favour homes, whilst renting out their taxpayer funded London home, meanwhile other hardworking people have had their homes repossessed. We have seen countless examples of MP’s going on free taxpayer junkets with their entourage, whilst many people will be lucky to afford a weekend in Blackpool. The hypocrisy of our current batch of MP’s knows no bounds, but it has got to stop. Our system of parliamentary democracy goes back hundreds of years, but more damage has been done to it by this current group of MP’s than at any time since it started. Members of Parliament must hang their heads in shame, hand back our money, can the expense allowance scheme and agree not to stand for elected office again. Then there may be a small chance that the damage to our democratic process and, the necessary trust in accountable members of parliament, may be rectified in our lifetimes. It is the least we would expect from decent individuals, but then again, few of our current batch of MP’s could be described as decent!

SPREAD THE WORD:

A Conservative MP is seeking a second reading for a new Bill, titled ‘Exercise of Reasonable Discretion’. If passed into law, this will allow every public servant, including MP, civil servants, local government officers, the police etc., a legal defence of ‘reasonable discretion’ in any civil or criminal case brought about as a consequence of their actions. All they would have to prove, is that they acted in good faith, this as anyone in the know will understand, is a catch-all defence.

In essence, it could allow MP’s to argue that they made certain decisions, such as going to war, based on advice where they were required to use reasonable discretion, officials entering into multi-million pound contracts which are subsequently cancelled or overrun, will also be able to claim that they exercised reasonable discretion. It is effectively a get out of jail free card for any public servant. Effectively removing accountability and increasing risk, because of course, if there is no effective punishment, there is no need to be careful. We should all shout as loud as we can to ensure that this type of legislation never sees the light of day.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (2)

British Police are out of control

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British Police are out of control


Now I am not just referring to the case of Ian Tomlinson the bystander who died of a heart attack shortly after being hit (allegedly) by a police officer at the G20. No, I am basing my statement on the fact that the Police appear are, for all intents and purposes, a law unto themselves.

Unless you are very lucky, anyone that has had to report a crime to the Police will be aware that they (the Police) are the ultimate arbiter as to which crimes they will investigate and which one’s they will not. This is likely to depend on what their local priorities are, which can range from Government targets, to a local, ‘wet behind the ears’ Police Inspector’s latest management wheeze, designed only to progress his career. A friend of mine has a business which is in a street just behind the main police station, it has been plagued for over 5 years by open drug dealing, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, tenant intimidation and arson. The best the Police can do is send a PCSO around the industrial estate once or twice a day, the ‘local’ bobby was moved off the area nearly 2 years ago. He has not been replaced.

A neighbour of mine has complained 3 times over a period of 5 weeks about cars parking on the ‘zig-zags’ outside her children’s school. She was prompted into action after witnessing a near miss accident when a child ran onto a crossing, he could not see the car and the driver could not see him because of 3 other cars being parked on the zig zags. The first time she complained, a PCSO was sent over, but only one person dared to park on the zig zags that day, but the PCSO could do nothing anyway. Then a traffic officer promised to do several drive-by’s at the appropriate time, a promise he failed to keep. On the 3rd complaint, the local police officer “promised” to deal with the issue, that was two weeks before the kids broke up for Easter, nothing happened. What has made her particularly angry, is that she has witnessed 5 police cars over the period in question manoeuvre their own vehicles around those illegally parked without do anything about it, not so much as a warning.

The Government has recently launched a new initiative designed to ‘engage’ with the public, but no-one seems to have told their front-line staff. If you try and speak to your local officer you must go through their call centre, staff will record the information and state that they will pass it on to the relevany departement, but offer no promises of any action. If the police do respond, it will not be a proper copper, it will be a PCSO. If you want to lodge a complaint you cannot speak to a ‘senior officer’ (by that they mean anyone of sergeant level of above, yep…a sergeant) by telephone, no, you must go into the station.

My car was hit my an uninsured motorcyclist. To his (the drivers) credit he gave me his correct name and details. When I went to the police station, I had to give all of the details to a civilian, not a police officer. The police never contacted me about the issue, I had to chase them, when I eventually got an answer they said they would be taking no action because there was no independent witness. I can tell you, that I KNOW they never even visited the other driver, much less investigated the incident, it was just swept under the carpet. They did not even bother to come and get a statement from me, something that had been promised. This is just a small microcosm of what is happening today, little wonder, that in spite of there being over 150,000 police officers, crime is up, detection is down and people feel less safe than ever before.

Meanwhile, everytime the Police want more powers, Jacqui Smith gives in to them. The police have unprecedented powers, they can even decide on whether or not we can exercise our ‘democratic right’ to demonstrate. At the G20, the Police effectively (and illegally) detained thousands of people by shepherding them into certain areas and then insisting that they remain there. What civilised democracy allows their police to act in such a way? When the Police decided that the demonstrations must end, they then acted like street yobs themselves by bullying, for the most part, well-behaved and peaceful protesters. I do not, nor would I ever criticise the Police for dealing quickly and decisively with those breaking the law, acting in a threatening manner or intent on trouble at such demonstrations, but to tar everyone with the same brush is completely unacceptable.

The film of Tomlinson appears to show an unprovoked attack on someone who was trying to go home and had no part in the demonstrations. The film depicts an image of a police office hitting him with a baton and then shoving him over. The man had his hands in his pockets and his back to the Police, he was even walking away, based on the filmed evidence he posed no threat to the officers. That did not stop one Police Officer acting in a manner that was completely unacceptable and reckless. Only a complete idiot would push a man with such force that he could fall forward, but would only be able to break the fall if he was to get his hands out of his pockets in time. This action was captured on film, prior to that the Police were denying that there was any interaction between them and the victim. There is no suggestion here that the actions of the Police were a contributory factor to the mans death, instead, I contend that the Police Officer, on the face of it, acted in what appeared to be an aggressive and unprofessional manner. Further, the Police tactics of dealing with the G20 demonstrators amounted to nothing other than illegal detention, it must not happen on our streets again.

The current Police baton is a very serious piece of kit and would be considered an illegal weapon if carried by a civilian, because it could prove lethal. Yet the Police routinely bring out the baton when there is NO threat, just watch any ‘fly on the wall’ programme on the Police service. Officers also have CS gas and now, all front line officers are to be ‘armed’ with lethal Tasers. Have the public been provided with any safeguards against rogue or over-zealous Police Officers, no, in fact they (the Police) can now rely on new legislation to prevent anyone filming them? Little wonder people refer to this country becoming a Police State.

I am NOT anti-police, but I believe people that are paid to do a job must do it, they should not be allowed to pick and choose which bits they will or will not do on a whim. Further, officers are given extensive training on how to handle difficult situations calmly and professionally whilst always operating within the law. The film clip of the Tomlinson incident suggests that there are some officers out there who think they can do what they want or perhaps that they are above the law.  Yet the Police are forever whining, especially is anyone dares to criticise them or expect them to fight crime.

If a Police Officer dies in the line of duty, we are reminded at how the Police put their lives on the line to protect the public every day, now that is true. But they also know what is expected of them before they join the police service, they are well trained and very well rewarded. Good career prospects, excellent salary and pension scheme and if they behave themselves, a job for life. However, scratch below the surface and the ‘danger’ aspect of policing in this country just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, with all the health and safety rules they must adhere to and the fact that they so rarely get their hands dirty, it is probably one of the safest. Many times more travelling salesmen die in the course of their work than police officers.

The police have demanded and received from compliant politicians more and more powers to monitor, control and deal with ordinary members of the public. Further, they have been given physical weapons and new laws that they can use against any person they so wish, with little, if any independent oversight. They have people within their ranks (serving officers) that have been charged and found guilty of offenses ranging from drink driving, through to violence and drug dealing…..yet they are still expect the public to trust them. Even though these same officers will be the ultimate arbiter of which laws to enforce, when and against whom. A succession of compliant Ministers have made the police in this country all powerful and answerable to no-one. We must wrestle control back to where it must be and that is with the people….because it is difficult to argue that the British Police are NOT out of control.

 

SPREAD THE WORD:

A Conservative MP is seeking a second reading for a new Bill, titled ‘Exercise of Reasonable Discretion’. If passed into law, this will allow every public servant, including MP, civil servants, local government officers, the police etc., a legal defence of ‘reasonable discretion’ in any civil or criminal case brought about as a consequence of their actions. All they would have to prove, is that they acted in good faith, this as anyone in the know will understand, is a catch-all defence.

In essence, it could allow MP’s to argue that they made certain decisions, such as going to war, based on advice where they were required to use reasonable discretion, officials entering into multi-million pound contracts which are subsequently cancelled or overrun, will also be able to claim that they exercised reasonable discretion. It is effectively a get out of jail free card for any public servant. Effectively removing accountability and increasing risk, because of course, if there is no effective punishment, there is no need to be careful. We should all shout as loud as we can to ensure that this type of legislation never sees the light of day.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (5)

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