Tag Archive | "big brother"

MPs’ fail to gauge the mood of the public

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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)

Big Brother Britain goes mobile in Manchester

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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)

ONSET a profiling tool that discriminates based on probability

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ONSET a profiling tool that discriminates based on probability


What a pity that there has been so little publicity and therefore outrage at this Governments introduction of a new child profiling tool called ONSET, which will profile our children to determine whether they are likely to become a young offender. This Government has spent an inordinate amount of time, effort and legislative time to ensure that people are not discriminated against based on their gender, sexuality, race or religion and yet, they seek to justify a profiling system that will identify potential child offenders based on their background.

What, you may ask, will they do with this information when they have it? Will they ‘tag’ potential offenders, monitor their movements, track their mobile phone calls, internet habits, email etc? Will they blacklist these ‘potential offenders’ from working in the public sector, or certain jobs, or will they issue a presumptuous ASBO? Does anyone truly believe that State authorities will not use this information for some discriminatory purpose? When did our right to be innocent until proven guilty disappear, perhaps it was with the introduction of the new detention without trial laws? I don’t know, but there is something seriously wrong with society and people in general if they are prepared to allow the State so much power, that they can do whatever they want. Our reluctance to do or say anything is a betrayal of future generations, because one thing is absolutely certain, no government will ever give up these new powers willingly.

What have our local members of parliament been doing when legislation of this type is introduced, perhaps there is a clue in the fact that unless it is Prime Ministers Questions, parliament is virtually empty. Little wonder that contempt for MP’s has turned into outright hatred as they spend more and more time looking at how they can screw their expenses to maximise their earnings, rather than doing what they are paid for. As for the opposition parties, what have they been doing whilst all this has been going on? Their job is to hold the government to account, they too have failed the people of this country.

Keeping a roof over our heads, food on the table and earning a living are logical and understandable priorities, but to ignore other massive issues such as our fundamental right to freedom, liberty and a right to live our lives without an overbearing state is simply parlous. If we cannot enjoy our freedom and liberty, what is the point in it all? Like it or not, the state is pimping off the people, demanding ever more money. The bottom line is, that the State Pimp lives off the backs of honest hardworking citizens, but the State Pimp also knows, that at some stage, the people will rise and ask why Government needs to take over 50% of our earned income in direct and indirect taxation?

To minimise state risk, they must exert more and more control over its citizens and the introduction of ONSET, DNA Databases, call and email monitoring, registration of travel information and so on is giving them precisely that. For those that think this is scaremongering, perhaps they should ask themselves why it is now, that Jacqui Smith has ordered 10,000 Tasers for all front line police officers?

ONSETis the thin end of the wedge. Though I am not advocating the LibDems as a party worthy of our vote, they are introducing the Freedom Act which is designed to roll back some 20 years of increasing state interference in our everyday lives, by repealing legislation. We should all be writing to our respective MP’s and insisting that they support this proposal.

Update: For more information http://www.jrrt.org.uk/uploads/database-state.pdf

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems, World | Comments (9)

Travel database and Government spin

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Travel database and Government spin


Whatever the government tries to tell us, the new travel database has little to do with securing our borders and more to do with controlling and monitoring the activities or each and every British citizen. In fact, with the new telecommunications database, which will monitor every email, text message and mobile phone call, this governments access to our personal data will be akin to a prisoner having a tag fitted, except, it will be on 61m people.

For those that believe the travel database won’t affect them, then think again, as many as 1800 government and private agencies will have access to our personal travel details. Anyone that believes this information will only be used by government agencies with responsibility for border controls is at best naive. Let me give you a couple of examples of what this information could be used for.

If you have children of school age and decide to take them out a week before their school break to save money for your annual holidays, then you should be aware that the travel arrangements will be recorded. The school could then, theoretically at least, access this information and commence proceedings against the parents. Yes, you can argue parents shouldn’t do this, but it is worth nothing that as many as one third of all parents do.

Suppose you regularly go abroad for your booze and fags, these journeys will now be recorded, as will your luggage. As a consequence, if the HMRC deem that you go too often they could seize the goods, seize your vehicle, fine you, prosecute, you or all four!

Maybe you earn air miles as a result of your business or work. If you use air miles or some other voucher to pay for a personal flight, then this will be recorded. How long do you think it will be before the HMRC cotton on to this and send you a bill for this ‘benefit in kind’?

Perhaps you are lucky enough to win an incentive from your company which includes overseas travel or, maybe you have been invited by a supplier for a conference or the like. Strictly speaking, you should ascertain whether or not this would be considered a ‘benefit in kind’, if so, you must declare it on your tax return. If you get it wrong, forget to include it on your return or try and get away with it, HMRC will know, because the details of the trip, including the cost and who paid for it will all be recorded. Do you really think they won’t be looking?

Lets say you have saved up for a trip of a lifetime, or perhaps one of your relatives have contributed to the cost, the HMRC will be able to check the cost of the travel arrangements against your earning and if it is above an accepted average, it could trigger an investigation. Granted, it may be perfectly innocent, but the onus will be on you to prove how the trip was funded, this may mean you having to detail your income and outgoings for

decades. If you have a perfect record AND you can prove it, then you have nothing to fear. If, however, a relative, has gifted you money, whether for the trip, or at some other time, unless it is below the annual gift threshold, then the gift could be subject to tax. If you haven’t paid the tax, you can also expect, at the very minimum, a fine, but they may also prosecute. So, you still think the travel database won’t affect you?

Remember, these new controls will include monitoring how much you spend whilst you are abroad, so if you normally buy a few gifts, electrical items, DVD’s, clothes etc., and you don’t bother declaring them, then think again. Because they will know how much you spent, where and, of course, if you declared these goods when you returned to the UK. How many of the “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” brigade can claim to have a perfect record I wonder?

So, if you have never carried out any of the above and you don’t intend to, you are almost certainly in the minority, therefore it may not affect you.

Unless, of course, there is something that I have missed out and you can be certain, that this Government is well ahead of the game. They have even looked at it as a revenue generating scheme by threatening anyone who does not register their travel details with a fine of up to £5,000, as always with this government, it is always stick and no carrot.

For example, this database and UK Border Controls will also start to collect fingerprints, how long before they require other bio-metric data, remember, the Government wanted to include this information on ID Cards, but because there was such an uproar, they are intending to collect it using other means,

in this case, anyone that travels abroad and that is most of us. This Government are just hoping that we are too stupid to notice that they are simply gathering this information via another means. We have seen the government agencies sell our personal data to private companies, one example is the DVLA who have provided parking companies with the name and addresses of vehicle owners, so that they can be hounded for parking fines. How long before they are selling our travel arrangments to airline companies and the like?

Our government consistently lie to us about why they need so much data, constantly harping on about terrorist threats and so on. The reality is, determined terrorists will always be able to get in through our porus borders, they know how to get virgin passport; spying on the travel arrangements of 61m people will NOT prevent terrorists (who may be here anyway) from entering the UK, nor will it stop people being smuggled into the UK. Instead, all it will do is allow the state to terrorise the people of this country. Is this really what you want?

The LibDems, and no I am not a supporter, do at least appear to want to roll back government intrusion with their Freedom Act, lets hope that they will have some success and the electorate will start to understand just how intrusive government has become into our everyday lives.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (1)

LibDems undertake to repeal oppressive civil liberty legislation

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

LibDems undertake to repeal oppressive civil liberty legislation


Finally, one of the major political parties has come out and made a clear and unequivocal statement in favour of returning power to the people. The LibDems have promised to repeal the series of authoritarian measures introduced by New Labour, which has lead, to put it in their words, to the “slow death” of our civil liberties. To be fair, the LibDems have taken a long time to recognise that this is a key are of concern for citizens of this country, but lets face it, better late that never. What a pity that the Conservative party have been so weak when it comes to civil liberties and government intrusion, but then again, they demonstrated their true colours when they sided with Jack Straw, when he used the Ministerial veto to hide the the minutes of cabinet meetings leading up to the Iraq War from the public.

The LibDems are calling on the government to reverse the controversial policing and criminal justice legislation introduced in recent years. Doubtless, this request will be ignored, given our current government have demonstrated time and again, that they have little or no time for anyone who would dare to criticise their policies. Further, this government have consistently paid lip service to the hard won freedoms that we have enjoyed prior to their term in office, dismissing protests with a wave of their hand. New Labour’s philosophy it is the state that is master, not the people, supporting this argument by spending £billions on new methods to record information of the general public.

The LibDems have stated that they would reduce detention without charge from 28 days to 14, remove the ministerial veto altogether, allow DNA to be retained only in cases where someone has been charged and convicted, scrap ID cards and order a full scale review of the use use of CCTV cameras, which now numbers over 4m. To put that into perspective, in 2004 a European Commission report found that there were some 40,000 cameras monitoring public areas in 500 British towns and cities, compared to fewer than 100 cameras in 15 German cities. Little wonder that nearly every report you read states that we are the most spied on country in the world.

However, the LibDems need to go much further. They must seek to cancel the Big Brother Britain databases that this government has either introduced or announced. At the very least, this should include the database proposed in the new Data Communications Bill intended to record every call, text message and email we send or receive, in addition to spying on our internet browsing habits. As well as the latest government wheeze, the travellers database, that seeks to record every trip we take, where we go, how we pay and where we sit. There should be a review of the ContactPoint database already introduced in terms of whether the benefits will outweigh the cost and risks and the NHS database, which is hopelessly inefficient and is the subject of much criticism from the very practitioners who are supposed to benefit from it.

I have never voted LibDem in my life, I have always viewed them as the party of high taxation, the Green Party in disguise if you like and quite frankly, lacking in any real substance. However, I have been heartily impressed with Vince Cable’s take on the economy, not that I have agreed with everything he has said, but he speaks with authority and knowledge, unlike some other that you would expect to be well briefed. Compare that with the wishy-washy approach from the Conservative party and the reckless abandonment demonstrated by the current Labour government. I fail to see much difference between the policies of the Conservatives and those of New Labour, it just seems to be more of the same, couched in a ‘softer’ tone or called by a different name and that is NOT what I want. Labour have promised us tax increases, the Conservative party have promised us tax increases, so what the hell, they are now all on a level playing field. The Labour party have demonstrated that they could not give a toss about our right to privacy, liberty and freedom to go about our business without state interference, the conservative party have said a few weasley words in condemnation, but nothing more. so I think we know where they stand, especially after their appalling and ill-conceived support for Jack Straw and his ministerial veto.

In fact, there is so little to choose between any of the main parties, that I suspect who we decide to vote for, may well be based on something that they do differ on, provided it is important to the voter. I believe, that whilst all parties broadly agree on key electoral issues, such as the NHS, education, crime, immigration, the environment and taxes, it will be the smaller things that become the deciding factor.

For that reason, unless we start to see substantial policy differences, not variations on the same theme, I do not believe that ANY party, especially the Conservatives, can count on winning the next election. In my view, the next election will go to the wire, people will decide late in the day and Cameron & co, unless they can highlight real policy differences and intiatives between the Conservatives and Labour, will be left with egg on their face. This could lead to the LiDems and other independent parties being in a position whereby they can punch well above their weight. Having seen what happens when a government gets such a massive majority, I never want to see that happen again, because the longer the term in office with a large majority, the more authoritarian they become. Given none of the parties are talking about wholesale reform, it can be safely argued that there is no need for massive majorities anyway.

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

Blunkett and onset of Big Brother Britain

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blunkett and onset of Big Brother Britain


Hard-liner, David Blunkett, is expected to criticise the government’s continued obsession with creating a surveillance society intent on infringing the liberty and rights of British citizens in an address at the 21st annual law lecture in Essex University’s Colchester campus. Although Blunkett is expected, wrongly in my opinion, to claim that the government has got the balance between liberty and security he will voice concern over other highly contentious issues.

He will come out against the Government’s controversial plan to set up a database holding details of telephone calls and emails and its proposal to allow public bodies to share personal data with each other. He will also suggest a complete U-Turn on compulsory identity cards, although he is expected to insist that they should be mandatory for all foreign nationals. David Blunkett is also expected to urge the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, to dilute the provisions of the Coroners and Justice Bill on data sharing between public bodies. He will warn: “It is not simply whether the intentions are benign, undoubtedly they are, but whether they are likely to be misused and above all what value their use may have.” Similarly, he is expected to criticise the misuse of the 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which has been used for example, by local councils to tackle dog fouling and the monitoring of rubbish (no, not MP’s, refuse!)

When someone that so vehemently supported the introduction of ID cards and tough anti-terror laws raises concerns about the risk to privacy and liberty, the government must sit up and take notice. Although Blunkett’s comments are measured, it is reasonable to surmise that he is genuinely concerned and in order not to embarrass the government, he has couched his comments to be received positively. In just over a week, we have had the former head of MI5 criticising this government’s intrusion into our lives and now a former, hard-line Home Secretary. When will the government realise that they have gone way to far and, when will opposition parties appreciate that they would be pushing at an open door if they agreed to review and if necessary, repeal oppressive and draconian legislation that infringes the rights of the people of this country?

I will let David Blunkett have the last few words. “The strength of our democracy is that we are able to challenge when the well-meaning, but sometimes misguided, take their own knowledge of the threats we face to be justification for protecting our mutual interest at the expense of our individual freedom. If we tolerate the intolerable, the intolerable gradually becomes the norm.”

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

Does British public opinion really matter?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Does British public opinion really matter?


A rhetorical question I know, but any enlightened citizen of the United Kingdom must have found themselves asking this question in the past few months. Whilst I accept that this could have been in relation to the economy, terrorism, the economy or civil liberties, I want to refer to the latter only in this post.

Liberty, the group tasked with fighting for our civil liberties and promoting human rights, recently conducted a ComRes poll in relation to this very issue and as a consequence of changes or proposed changes to the Human Rights Act. The results are not surprising, but perhaps the percentages are.

For example, 95% of those polled said that they believed respect for privacy, family life and the home and the right to a fair trial was either vital or important. Are there any member of parliament reading this poll, because I can see very few actually seeking to protect these areas that have been consistently attacked and eroded by this government? All the Conservative party does is attack Labour policies. However, they have yet to put on record that they would, if successful at the next election, repeal any legislation introduced by the current government that attacks the civil liberties and rights of the ordinary man and woman in the street. This failure to say anything implies that whilst they are now willing to attack the Labour party on every front, they are secretly in support of new, draconian legislation, designed to control the people of this country.

Elsewhere in the poll, 90% of those asked, responded that they believed freedom of speech, protest and association was either vital or important. Once again, this government has introduced legislation or proposals aimed at curtailing this right, or freedom, depending on your perspective. Perhaps the most frightening statistic, is that only 13% of those polled ever remember seeing or reading information from the government about this legislation. We could debate for months to come over whether this is the responsibility of a government intent on hiding draconian legislation within the small print of obscure or ill-described Acts of Parliament, or a failure of the media to highlight these issues. Either way, what is clear, is that that vast majority of the people of this country are not aware of major changes to our civil liberties and human rights on an almost daily basis. What is self-evident however, is that few will be aware until such time as they fall foul with the law.

This poll suggests that the people of this country do not want to see our rights and liberties eroded through draconian legislation. It makes clear that the primary reason there has been no public backlash is the fact that 87% of the population are not even aware of this government’s attack on everything we have held dear for hundreds of years. Legislation that was introduced with the sole aim of protecting us from repressive governments. It also suggests that members of parliament from all sides are either out of touch with the opinions of their constituents or they couldn’t care less, so long as John Lewis is open.

Furthermore, it implies that the opposition parties are either complicit or supportive of new legislation, given for the most part, they are only willing to criticise, rather than make clear statements that they would repeal the acts if they came to power. By contrast, take David Cameron’s statement on Heathrow, he has said if the Conservatives get into government, they will scrap plans for a third runway. Has anyone heard him say anything quite so direct when it comes to our liberty of freedom?

There are Groups and individuals in this country that are attempting to highlight this attack on our freedom, civil liberties and human rights, but it is an uphill struggle. There needs to be more column inches devoted to this topic, more bloggers need to get on board, journalists, with the notable exception of those fromThe Guardian ,need to educate the public about the affeacts of the new legislation and proospective MP’s should consider standing on a civil liberties platform, rather than anti-sleaze. I would also like to see, at the next general election, an influx of Libertarians vying for office, because if nothing else, they would ensure that this topic would be debated in public, at a time when the lectorate is actually listening.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour | Comments (5)

Cigarettes are the new soft porn

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cigarettes are the new soft porn


I have no issue with government or other agencies seeking to discourage children and teenagers from smoking, after all, we all know that it is a lot easier to start than it is to stop. Therefore, I would actively support any education programme that is designed to achieve this objective, but banning the display of cigarettes, does anyone really think that this will have any affect whatsoever? Well clearly yes, this out of touch, politically correct Labour government.

This is political tokenism at its best, removing cigarettes from display will not reduce the number of young people from smoking, in fact it may provide a perception of something illicit, which I feel sure, will appeal to some youngsters. The claim is that there are up to 200,000 11-15 years olds smoking. Okay, so given it is illegal to sell cigarettes to children of this age, where does the government think they get them from. Maybe it is via vending machines or an older mate, or perhaps a ‘friendly’ local store. Either way, it is claimed that some 200,000 youngsters have found some method of feeding their habit. So, what really encourages them to smoke, is it peer pressure, something to do, the fact that it is illegal or because it makes them feel grown up? Maybe is is a combination of all these factors, but it can hardly be said it is because they have seen them displayed.

The problem with political tokenism is the knock-on effect or consequences of the action. For example, did the banning of cigarette sponsors for Formula 1 lead to a reduction in smoking? I don’t think so. But now, at a time when the likes of Honda are looking to put as many as 800 people out of work because they cannot afford to continue their race team, cigarette sponsors could have been a lifeline.

Take a look at the pub trade. Some 5 pubs are closing every week in this country; many landlords have put this down to, amongst other things, the ban on smoking. Yes, I accept that it is also as a consequence of the alcohol duties and competition in the supermarkets, but many landlord place the lion share of blame at the smoking ban. So, at a time when people need jobs and accommodation, 5 pub businesses are closing every single week. And, of course, it is not just pubs that are being affected, even beermat manufacturers are finding it tough. A few weeks ago there were 4 UK based manufacturers, now one has transferred manufacturing to Germany and another has closed its doors for good, halving the capacity overnight and placing people out of work.

What is not evident is whether this government simply couldn’t give a toss about collateral damage, or if they just didn’t bother to look any further than political tokenism and a positive set of headlines. Government should act responsibly, which means that if they intend to introduce new legislation, they should look at the potential consequences of their action, not just the headlines. A failure to do so, is a gross dereliction of their duty and of course, there have been many examples of this over the past 11 years. I am personally sick to the back teeth of this politically correct government, their sledgehammer to crack a nut approach to every problem and their insistence that stick is better than carrot. The bottom line is we are all being treated like children by New Labour, and I for one, have had enough.

Posted in Big Brother, General, Labour | Comments (12)

European Court of Human Rights, DNA rebuke

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

European Court of Human Rights, DNA rebuke


How ironic that British subjects have had to turn to the European Courts to protect their liberty and privacy, rather than being able to rely on our own laws. If this does not demonstrate just how far this control obsessed government has gone to destroy the rights and civil liberties of the people of this country, then nothing will.

The case was brought by two men who had their DNA profile and fingerprints taken when they were charged with an offence. One had his charges dropped and the other was acquitted, yet in spite of this, the South Yorkshire Police, supported by the government, refused to destroy the DNA profile and fingerprints. Under existing laws, DNA profiles of everyone arrested for a recordable offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are kept on the database, regardless of whether they are charged or convicted. This is not the case in Scotland where records are destroyed. 

Now, in what turned out to be a unanimous decision of 17 judges sitting in Strasbourg, the Grand Chamber Judgment ruled that the action of the police was violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which is the ‘right to respect for private and family life‘. In fact, the Court went further, stating that the retention of this information could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society and they had been struck by the indiscriminate nature of the power of detention in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This amounts to a direct rebuke of the British government. Needless to say Jacqui Smith who has spent a great deal of public money defending the governments position, is “disappointed”, with the outcome. Just who the hell does she think she is, I thought she said that no-one was above the law.?

I do not doubt that DNA profiling is a useful tool in the fight against crime, however, there are other civil liberty concerns that should have been considered. This government has ignored any civil liberty and right to privacy issues by introducing legislation that allows DNA profiles to be retained irrespective of whether the people involved have been convicted of an offence. This is an affront to the people of this country and it has taken the European Court to uphold our rights by applying an equal measure of commonsense and existing human rights laws to come to a judgement.

What a pity this government could not have done the same. In part, we are at fault, because so many people fall, hook line and sinker, everytime the government come out with a line as to why they need to bring in new, draconian laws, believing it will never affect majority of us. Well that is simply not true. Once you discard our right to liberty, privacy and freedom, you deny us virtually everything, given it is but a short step to a police state. Take the Damian Green affair, the opposition parties never thought that the laws which they allowed this government to pass would come back and bite them in the backside, they thought it just affected the plebs! The police and security services in this country have unprecedented powers for a democratic country.

This government, as arrogant as ever, has insisted that the existing laws will remain in place whilst they consider the judgement. What? They have just been rebuked by 17 judges, from across Europe and they still insist that they are right. Does the arrogance of Jacqui Smith and the New Labour government know no bounds? A European Court has ruled that this government has not acted reasonably having failed to get the balance between the public interest and that of the private individual. In fact they noted in their judgement that England, Wales and Northern Ireland appear to be the only countries in the European Union that allow the indefinite retention of DNA profiles. Further, that in effect, this government has not applied any commonsense, nor have they considered the European Charter prior to drafting the legislation. Surely a competent government would not have drafted laws in this country without considering how they would impact on European Human Rights legislation? Unless of course, they couldn’t give a toss, believing that we are all so stupid that we will accept whatever is thrown at us, only realising that we have lost when it is too late to do anything about it.

I would like to see one of the major parties take up civil liberty issues and try and redress the balance between state and individual, because as far as I can see, we are sleep-walking into a police state, where civil liberties, freedom and a right to privacy is disregarded by a government with a phobia for control, a penchant for bullying and delusional self-gratification. No wonder they spend so much time in from of mirrors!

Posted in General | Comments (11)

Members of Parliament and self-interest

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Members of Parliament and self-interest


Tomorrow at Prime Ministers Question time, the opposition parties shall seek to raise the issue of the arrest of Damian Green. In particular, they will want to know how much advance notice, if any, government ministers or senior civil servants had and why the police were allowed to search Green’s offices? In doing so, they are expected to cite the fact that leaks are necessary if government is to be held to account, provided the information is not protected by the Official Secrets Act. Further, that members of parliament are entitled to have legal privilege between them and their constituents. All very noble, but it completely misses the point, the Damian Green affair was the result, not the cause.

Instead of looking at self-interest, our elected members of parliament, in government and opposition, must look at the laws they have been passed that have allowed this type of attack on our democratic process. The truth is, the opposition parties have been lead like lambs to the slaughter by this government, who have said, if you don’t support our draconian anti-terror legislation, then we shall publicise the fact that you are soft on crime or security. Like little lambs, instead of holding the government to account, the opposition parties went to the slaughter. In other words, they didn’t do their jobs, it is all very well bleating about holding the government to account now, but what have they been doing for the past 11 years?

What is needed is a complete review of the anti-terror laws that have been introduced under this government. Opposition parties must seek clarity on how these laws are being implemented and used against the original intent when the legislation was ‘sold’ to parliament. Because I am certain, that no MP expected anti-terror laws to be used to sequestrate the assets of an otherwise friendly country (Iceland), but that is precisely what happened. The police and security services have demanded and received new laws that allow them powers akin to those of a police state. To date, unlike many police states, they do not torture those arrested, but with 30,000 tasers being order, perhaps that is just a matter of time.

Eleven years ago, the police would not have had the powers that were used to arrest Damian Green. Nor would they have been able to gather telephone intercept evidence without a judges warrant. That is no longer the case.

Damian Green should be grateful that the police did not believe that he was receiving information contained under the Official Secrets Act, because then, theoretically, he could have been detained without charge for up to a month, not 9 hours. That is the problem, the police and security services have been given massive powers over the people of this country, not targeted powers for wrongdoers, but blanket powers that can be used against anyone including MP’s. Whatever this government says, the police are a tool of state, after all, the most senior policeman in the land is not elected, he is appointed by none other than the Home Secretary.
The people of this country have seen a massive erosion of their rights, freedom and liberties over the past 11 years and this event has highlighted this. Even the ‘New Labour’ supporting newspaper The Sun, has finally determined that the state has too much power over the populous.

People that claim we are moving towards a police state are branded as nutters, yet Privacy International were moved to say of the UK ”The worst ranking EU country is the United Kingdom, which again fell into the “black” category along with Russia and Singapore.” And that our “identity scheme is still planned to be the most invasive in the world, highly centralised and biometrics-driven“.

This is what I said a month ago on the issue of government control:

The people of this country have had to endure an increasing level of state interference in their everyday lives, from 4.2m CCTV cameras, to chips in rubbish bins. With proposals that include a massive Big Brother Britain database which would store information on calls, text messages, locations, emails and internet browsing habits. Airport scanners which see though clothes, identity cards which include our most private and intimate details. Our children from the age of 5, will be monitored by the state to include their most private details such as details on their mental health, sexual health or any substance abuse treatment. The list is endless, as is the number of ‘agencies’ that will have access to this information, some 700 as last count!.

I earnestly hope that the opposition parties will take the wider issues into account. In other words, how we got where we are today, how and why the state and their agents have so much power, that people can be detained for a month without charge, have their email, phone calls, text messages and internet browsing habits, routinely captured and stored, their DNA taken and stored, even where no charge has been laid etc, etc. This has all been done in the name of fighting crime or terrorism, but what a price we have had to pay. Yet the terrorist threat has not been lessened and crime is not falling. All that has transpired is the police need less evidence to make a charge and have gained more charges to target the majority with. It is an appalling state of affairs in what has become Big Brother Britain. We need to reverse this situation now and there is no better opportunity than the Damian Green affair to widen the debate. Opposition parties must insist on a public debate on the issue of all the new legislation that has been introduced at the expense of our civil liberties, right to privacy and individual freedom.

Posted in General | Comments (5)

Advertise Here