Tag Archive | "privacy"

One in 10 MP’s to stand down at next election. Its not enough!

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One in 10 MP’s to stand down at next election. Its not enough!


The latest news is that some 10% of MP’s are intending to stand down at the next election, if accurate, then we only have another 590 or so to go. It is clear, that many of our current batch of MP’s have failed to listen to the public, to the extent that, in my view at least, we have never had a period in our history where the people of this country have felt so disengaged from the politicians elected to represent us.

For the past 12 years, as a people, we have had to standby as our right to privacy, civil liberties and freedoms have been steadily eroded. Yes, this is the fault of the government, but it is also the responsibility of the opposition MP’s who have failed to wade in on our behalf. Our country is more like a police state than ever before, New labour has introduced during their time in office, some 3607 new laws. The police have been provided with massive powers to stop and search, arrest and detain. They have been provided with their very own ‘weapons’, including a steel truncheon, pepper spray and now all front line police officers are to be provided with lethal Tasers, some 10,000 of them. We no longer feel like a free country, instead we are ruled, monitored and controlled. Our police officers don’t care or don’t know the difference between a protest or a riot. Our action, words and thoughts are constantly monitored and recorded on a raft of databases, even our children have their every action recorded on a database, information from which, will be used to determine whether or not they are likely to turn into criminals (see: Onset Profiling Tool).

Much has been said about MP’s self-interest. They have benefited for decades from an expense and allowance system that actively encourages abuse. Yes, their actions may well be “within the rules“, but the rules were quite clearly wrong, yet no-one did anything about it, only now, when the Freedom of Information Act meant that the public could review their expenses have they started to consider revisions. Gordon Brown as Chancellor decided that he was going to raid the private sector pension plans, this action has raised approximately £10bn per annum, money that has been squandered, not invested. Meanwhile, they have done nothing about public sector pension plans which will, if not dealt with quickly, bankrupt this country, because they are paid out of tax revenues, not a pension fund. Our MP’s failed to consider the irony of the fact that whilst they were punishing those that had diligently invested in a private pension, members of parliament had one of the best pension schemes in the country. Now, there is a private members bill going though parliament that seeks to protect all public servants, MP’s included, from any wrongdoing if they can claim ‘reasonable discretion’. How can they claim to be representative or not full of self-interest?

No matter what political party you support, even the most foolhardy could not claim that our current government has any real direction, their rallying call is always “we will do whatever is necessary“, that does not provide much confidence, given it suggests that they are not in control, are lacking direction and any fresh ideas. Above and worst of all, it implies that they are reactive, not proactive. Whenever Gordon Brown or his cronies have to defend their actions, or lack of them, they always turn to party politics, by claiming that “at least we are doing something, the Conservatives would do nothing” or “we are investing, whilst the Conservatives would cut“. Haven’t they worked it out yet, the people of this country are simply sick and tired of this bullshit. Gordon Brown and his cabinet need to be reminded that the Conservatives are not in power, they are! In fact it is 12 years since the Conservatives were in power, New Labour can’t continue to blame the Conservatives for everything. All MP’s need their heads banging together. The opposition parties have not offered much opposition to this New Labour government, in fact, many MP’s have been complicit in the mess that we are in by failing to say something. Apart from PMQ’s and one or two ‘major’ debates, there is rarely more than a handful of MP’s in parliament to debate our future or protect our interests from what has become a over-bearing, increasingly authorotarian government.

More than anything, I would like to see a massive clear out of MP’s, not all, but most. Clearly we need to retain some experience, but equally, we need to elect people that will genuinely represent our interests instead of their own. During the debate over MP’s expenses, I heard some of the most impassioned speeches ever, it is quite telling that it had to take something like their expenses to illcit this type of response! It also brought out some of the worst aspects of the self-indulgent character of our MP’s, with some whining about how poor their wages were, or suggesting it was a vocation not a job, implying they are doing us all a favour. The bottom line is, they knew what the pay was before they entered parliament, if the money wasn’t good enough, they should have done something else. What they need to remember is that parliament is not a true meritocracy, MP’s get to keep their jobs irrespective of their abilities, at least for 5 years anyway. In addition, very few are promoted on merit, because in parliament, promotion is normally offered as a reward.

That notwithstanding, if there are any MP’s that are not happy with the wages, prospects or allowances, then I feel certain there will be thousands of people who would be delighted to work for £65k per annum, and above all, for the privilege of being able to represent their constituents. I would like to see the political parties open their doors to ordinary people. By limiting their scope to mates, old Etonians, union leaders and the like, so they limit the spectrum, depth and ingenuity of our parliament. For me, unless we witness a substantial change to our representation, a return to democracy, renewed respect for the people of this country and an end to cronyism, then I think it is time to consider emigrating.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (7)

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)

How many Members of Parliament are fit for purpose?

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How many Members of Parliament are fit for purpose?


Much has been said about the dressing down Daniel Hannan have Gordon Brown. But, whilst it was an excellent speech and echoes what most of us are saying, there is a risk that we fail to take account of the paradigm shift that has taken place in British politics, hence the massive support for Hannan’s words. YouTube have registered well over 1 million views of the Daniel Hannan video.

I cannot recall ever having witnessed such a disconnect between politicians and the public. I am not just referring to Gordon Brown and his discredited government, but ALL members of parliament. Yes, Gordon Brown, first as Chancellor and then as Prime Minister, has shepherded us into the financial mess we are in by borrowing too much during the boom times and spending way too much on pet income redistribution projects, a cumbersome tax credit system and massive, as well as unnecessary, public sector capital projects. Were this not enough, he hammered private sector pension schemes, whilst failing to do anything about public sector pension schemes. Further, on his watch, we have witnessed an estimated £100bn of wasted taxpayers money through government incompetence and we have all had to accept a dramatic and unsustainable increase in the public sector payroll. Of course, he then goes on to deny any personal responsibility, so there can be little surprise that he is one of the most hated and despised men in this country.

However, this disconnect, at least in my personal view, goes much deeper than Gordon Brown. People no longer trust MP’s. Every few weeks we hear of another instance of MP’s using their expenses to supplement their income, because the rules allow them to do so, not because the expense is necessarily justified or warranted. Worst still, some of the worst offenders seem to be government ministers, those right at the top of the tree, meanwhile, the honourable members are reluctant to deal with this issue that is the cause of a great deal of public consternation and resentment. Opposition parties don’t make too much of a fuss, because it is a case of ‘there but for the grace of god…..’! Alistair Darling says that bankers must regain the trust of the public, but hold on just a minute, so do MP’s, but who is telling them? Clearly no-one is listening to public opinion.

Whilst I accept that the Labour Party has had a healthy majority for their 3 terms in office. How many times have we heard MP’s from the ‘other’ parties condemning this governments actions or challenging new, often draconian and repressive legislation? Not nearly often enough. Members of Parliament, particularly those in the opposition parties, have been reactive, not proactive. They have stood by whilst this government has all but destroyed everything we hold dear in terms of liberty, freedom and the fundamental right to privacy and be free from an overburdensome state. £16bn has been spent on databases this year and a further £105bn committed over the next 5 years. Everything our children do at school is monitored and recorded on ContactPoint a government database, then our children are profiled using ONSET, to determine whether or not they may be future offenders. All this information is held on their personal files. Our mobile phone calls, text messages, emails and internet browsing habits are monitored and recorded, our travel arrangements, who we travel with, when, how much we paid, where we went, with whom and so on is to be recorded and retained by the State. Our passports are to include biometrics, a way of getting around the discredited ID card system, our health records are to be recorded and retained on a database. Our every move is monitored by 4.2m cameras, in addition, many thousands of ANPR cameras record our number plates and can track us from one end of the country to another, new facial recognition software even allows them to name the driver. It is estimated that the Government has some 1100 databases holding some type of personal information on us. This cannot be justified, it is as if we are all in an open prison and fitted with an electronic tag, this is not a free democratic country, but an authoritarian, police state. Why were our MP’s not more vocal at the time, were they even aware that this legislation was being proposed, did they read or even debate the proposals. A cynic might suggest that MP’s actually like the idea of being able to monitor and control the electorate. 

Members of Parliament have, for the most part, lost the respect of the people and as I have said, this is not just Labour MP’s, although they would probably be in the upper tier. Our members of parliament are seen as out of touch with the people, they have quite clearly spent too much time at Westminster and not enough talking to real people. As a consequence, there appears to be a real and demonstrable disconnect between what MP’s say and how people feel. Labour MP’s rally around the party in fear of losing their seats, rather than acting as constituency MP’s and speaking for the people that have elected them. The number of times I have heard MP’s from all parties say “What people say….”, followed by the biggest load of crap I have ever listened to and, of course, I have never heard anyone say what they are claiming. Is it just me, or do other people feel the same I wonder?

By way of an example of how removed from reality MP’s are, lets take Ed Balls. He was long known as Gordon Brown’s right hand man at the Treasury, always on hand to defend Treasury policies and spout endless figures. Today he is the Minister for Children. But this week, he was quoted as saying that he would love to be the Chancellor and to lead the party someday. Is he for real? He was an integral part of the discredited financial regime that was micro-managed by Gordon Brown, does he truly believe that he will ever be allowed to get his hand on the UK Plc credit card? Out of touch, deluded, there are simply dozens of adjectives that could describe such a disconnect.

But lets ask ourselves honestly, before Daniel Hannan made his speech, how many of us could honestly say that we ‘connected’ or agreed with an MP, not many I suspect? Take David Cameron, his favourite expression is, “what we have been saying all along is….”, oh yes, when Mr Cameron, in the last few weeks maybe, but what have you been doing for the past 12 years? Nick Clegg, when was the last time he said anything interesting, in fact Vince Cable is, perhaps understandably, gaining much, much more airtime. I think part of the problem is we no longer have any, of what I would call, ‘conviction politicians’, instead they either follow the party line or respond to public opinion in a knee-jerk manner, rather than argue their case. The only time we hear an MP argue a case, is when they are having to defend their position, actions, expense claim or must offer up a pathetic excuse for their political party’s actions (or lack thereof). Our members of parliament do not and have not for some time, sounded like us, talked like us, acted like us or looked like us. We, the electorate, are simply seen as a means of getting them into parliament once every 5 years, once we have performed our task, we are thrown away in much the same way as a used condom would be discarded in the trash.

The bottom line is, that unless MP’s start to realise that there is a massive problem out here, then there will be civil unrest. They (the government and MP’s) may even appreciate that this is likely, given some 10,000 Tasers have been ordered and surveillance on the masses is being stepped up a gear. But rather than engage, it appears that most MP’s just want to control, berate, bully and force us to do as we are told. The police have been given unprecedented powers under the auspices of the “fight against terrorism” and the public must seek permission before they can demonstrate.

Looking at how badly our Government and members of parliament (of all parties) have let the people of this country down over the past decade, it is MP’s that are not fit for purpose, the Parliamentary system that is not fit for purpose and the state tool, the Police Service that is not fit for purpose. What we desperately need in this country is more independent MP’s who can and will keep any government in check. Yes I know that this may lead to a hung parliament, but then who cares? Because we can see what happens when a party gains a significant majority, they just become brazen, authoritarian and ego driven (I can, therefore I will). The only real argument for the current system, first past the post, is that is can provide a significant majority for one party, allowing them to offer a ‘reform agenda’, but look where that has got us with the New Labour reform agenda. Power went to their heads and we have seen our liberty, finances and futures destroyed in a few short years. Thank you Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, New Labour and you weak, good for nothing members of parliament that did not stand up and fight for the people of this country. The vast majority of MP’s are simply guilty of political and personal cowardice….not one of them should be allowed to stand again. Perhaps we should have a system whereby MP’s reach their sell by date after 5 years?

If the people of this country are to regain confidence in the political system, then candidates need to reflect society, the people they seek to represent, no longer should MP’s be selected almost entirely from political activists, union stewards/leaders, Oxford and Cambridge graduates and mates of existing MP’s or leaders. Nor should race, gender or religion play a part in the selection process, positive discrimination is as bad as discrimination. No longer should people, such as Mandelson, be elevated to the House of Lords, just so that they can become a ‘minister’, all ministers should be elected so that they are accountable to the people, the House of Lords is clearly answerable to no-one. Unless MP’s start to take the temperature of the public, listen and react, then I truly believe we will see massive unrest, civil disobedience and a further collapse in our democracy as the state attempts to resist the people by force.

It is, of course, quite possible to disagree with the outcomes I have suggested, but as I stated earlier in this post, when was the last time that an MP said something that you fully agreed with and appeared ‘in touch’ with the people. I suspect most of us will have to think very hard. If MP’s don’t do something about this massive distrust and disconnect, this country could become ungovernable, you only have to look back at history to understand that eventually, when the people fight back, the powers that be soon realise just how weak their positions are and their relative impotence. The masses can only be ruled by consent, not force and I believe we are all getting closer to removing that consent.

 

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 (8)

Government to spend over £100bn on spy databases

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Government to spend over £100bn on spy databases


In another example of this government paying lip service to the rights and freedoms of the individual, The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, suggests that some 25% of government databases are actually illegal, either under Human Right Legislation or the Data Protection Act. As you would expect from a government that has slowly eroded our liberty and privacy, there is no apology or commitment to put things right, instead we are expected to accept a bland statement as follows: “It takes its responsibilities seriously and will consider any concerns carefully, adapting existing safeguards where necessary.” Take the rebuke the government received in December from the European Courts, in relation to the DNA database, have they done anything about it? No! In fact, the government doesn’t even know how many databases they have!

This year the government will spend £16bn on databases and they are committed to spend a further £105bn over the next 5 years. Has no-one reminded them that there is a deep recession going on? This government has indicated that it will have to raise taxes to balance the books, this includes increasing national insurance by 0.5%, raising income tax to 45% for those earning over £150k and an increase in VAT to 18.5%. This is in addition to the double whammy on fuel duties as a consequence of the fuel escalator and the shafting we were given when this government adjusted the fuel duty to take eliminate the “benefit” of the reduction in VAT to 15%. They will now gain that money back when they increase VAT back to 17.5%, because the duties will not be adjusted.

We are expected to pay additional taxes to this pathetic administration at a time when we must all trim back our costs whilst the government are continuing to spend £billions on unnecessary databases which only service to destroy individual civil liberties and right to privacy. It is the state gone mad. Take one of ‘their’ databases, Onset, this is a profiling tool which examines a child’s behaviour and social background to identify potential child offenders. What? They are now going to use information from ContactPoint and then profile it to work out who tomorrow’s criminal are likely to be. How long do you think it will be before they are using all of the data gathered from the various databases to work out how adults might behave? One thing they do not need a database for is to profile an MP’s likelihood to maximise their expenses, quoting their adherence to the rules, rather than the spirit of the arrangement. It doesn’t bear close scrutiny, yet their couldn’t give a toss what we think, so long as they have claimed as much as they can, without breaking the rules.

But, don’t think that the Conservative Party will do anything to redress these massive state powers that have been ceded to ministers through the introduction of ever more draconian legislation, the Conservatives have said virtually nothing. Cameron hasn’t got the backbone to deal with this issue, no he prefers to talk about “social cohesion” and tell us that we must all accept higher taxes, even though he doesn’t know how much money he could save by curbing public sector excess and waste. Gordon Brown maybe deluded and an idiot, but Cameron is also demonstrating that he is a bit of a prat, because he can’t see how angry the people of this country are, not just with the government, but the opposition who have sat idly by and allowed it to happen.

The reality is the majority of the people in this country are so complacent, they haven’t got a clue that this massive land grab of state power will affect each and everyone of us in the future, irrespective of whether we have done anything wrong. This is so clearly not about fighting crime and terrorism and anyone that believes otherwise is at best, naive and more likely, plain stupid.  No government will ever hand these powers back, so unless we start to fight back now, we will have to accept that each and EVERY aspect of our lives will be recorded and monitored. That is not a free democracy, it is a police state. Me, well quite frankly, I have had enough!

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (6)

Travel database and Government spin

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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

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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

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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)

Gordon Brown continues to fail the British people

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Gordon Brown continues to fail the British people


How on earth do we stop this mad man that is Gordon Brown. Not only was he the architect of the financial system and regulation that lead us into this disastrous mess, but he is also the man that believes, he is more qualified than anyone else, to get us out of it. This deluded man is convinced that he bears no responsibility for what happened, even though everyone else knows differently. This vain man even seeks to lecture the leaders of other countries on what they must do to overcome the economic meltdown that is happening around our ears. This inept little man constantly tells the people of this country that the problems that have beset the United Kingdom are a direct result of economic and commercial mis-management in other countries, such as the United States. This incompetent man has the temerity to inform us that we are best placed to “weather the financial storm“. Yet he knows that this is not true and, that notwithstanding, no other economic expert agrees with his assessment. No doubt this could explain why it is that Gordon Brown has never told us why we are in a better position.

Gordon Brown, the unelected the prime minister of this country is a fool. He was a very poor Chancellor, arguably one of worst in our history. He has built on that well earned description by becoming one of the poorest, most incompetent prime ministers in recent times and there are plenty of former PM’s that could have been considered for that award. Any good leader would not assume that only he has all the answers and yet, Mr Brown constantly spouts on about the fact that he has the solutions and is best qualified to lead us out of this deep recession. A good leader would surround himself with knowledgeable people, not loyal soldiers, yes men and women, or business people seeking a knighthood or peerage for their ‘services’. Any good leader would know that a top team would always challenge the status quo, keep them on their toes, ensure that they don’t start to believe their own publicity, question, cajole and nudge. Any good leader would not be cowed by strong people around them, but instead, seek their counsel, listen, question and heed. But, Gordon Brown has clearly demonstrated that he is NOT a good leader.

Let’s consider a few other things;

Gordon Brown, as Chancellor, was the architect of the tripartite arrangement formed between the Treasury, the FSA and the Bank of England. Yet it was the failure and inadequacies of this system which allowed interest rates to be reduced so low that a housing boom was inevitable. Each party failed to respond to the experts that had argued the housing bubble was unsustainable and there was likely to be a crash. It was the failure of this system that allowed banks to grow at a rapid rate utilising funds raised on the money markets rather than the more traditional route of saver deposits. It was the failure of this system that allowed banks to package new mortgage backed securities that were then traded, but so complicated; few people understood them or the associated risks. It was the failure of this system that permitted banks to create a culture driven by greed, short-term profits and rewarded with massive bonuses. It was this system, which was set up to control, regulate and manage the City and the economy that ultimately failed on all fronts. The architect of this tripartite arrangement was Gordon Brown and he is ultimately responsible, instead, each party points the finger at another in the triangle. Not one party has had the humility or honesty to admit any form of responsibility.

Yet Gordon Brown’s incompetence is every where, for example; In spite of experts advising him of the risks, it was Gordon Brown that raided private sector pension funds. Perhaps in the belief that private sector pensions were the preserve of the rich, rather than millions of ordinary hard-working people. In doing so, he has raised around £175bn in tax revenues. But, at what cost? Roughly two thirds of (private sector) final salary pension schemes have been closed to new members, large company pension schemes have ended up with massive deficits. Pension schemes have collapsed and, of course, those within the private sector that have not been protected by employers pumping more money in will receive much smaller pensions. Meanwhile, Gordon Brown has done nothing about the public sector final salary pension schemes, the majority of which are not funded through an annuity, but out of future tax revenues. The latest estimates put the public sector pension liabilities at a staggering £1,071bn, that is correct, BILLION. As a consequence on the government’s inaction, the ‘average’ pension enjoyed by someone in the public sector is nearly 15 times higher than that of the private sector. Another blinder from the iron chancellor that was supposed to be Gordon Brown.

Here are a few other things that Gordon Brown either presided over, or influenced as part of the government machine;

  1. Introduced more stealth taxes than any other chancellor in history, equivalent to an extra 10p in the Pound on the basic rate of tax (source: Grant Thornton).
  2. Solld the UK’s gold reserves at the bottom of the market ignoring expert advice not to.
  3. Introduced ‘green taxes’ in the full and certain knowledge that any revenues gained were not destined to be invested in green initiatives. Yet another successful stealth tax to add to the collection. If you are starting to feel a little duped, then read on, I haven’t finished with Mr Brown yet!
  4. Successfully achieved the goal of becoming prime minister without going through the inconvenience of being elected by the people. This in spite of the fact that New Labour gained their substantial commons majority with 57% of the voters supporting another party. So much for the benefits of our First Past The Post electoral system.
  5. Was party to the sell out of the UK’s sovereignty to an unaccountable foreign ‘parliament’, in spite of a manifesto promise to allow the public to decide through a referendum.
  6. Destroyed the union and in the process, ensured that his countrymen received more money per head than those in England and Wales.
  7. Missed virtually every financial growth target announced in each successive budget without so much as a murmur from the press.
  8. Successfully managed to dupe the press into believing that he was an iron chancellor driven by prudence, when in fact he was a spendthrift.
  9. As the architect and driver of the revised PFI initiative originally proposed by the conservatives, saddled the country with a bill of £170bn which must be paid by 2032. Without having to include the figure as part of the public sector balance sheet.
  10. Managed to keep the £780bn public pensions deficit off the books, even though this is equivalent to over £30,000 per household and must be paid out of future tax receipts. Estimates of this deficit have now been increased to over £1trillion.
  11. Managed, without any consideration of the irony, to lecture people on their level of borrowings, whilst building up nearly £500bn of debt on the governments own ‘credit card’. If other recent liabilities are taken into account, this figure would rise substantially over £1trillion.
  12. Introduced and supported a complicated tax credit programme that has managed to lose £2bn every year through fraud and errors.
  13. Left the taxpayer saddled with £1.7bn of Metronet’s debt having been the person that pushed through the Private Public Partnership initiative for the London Underground.
  14. Managed to convince the public that local authorities were responsible for the doubling of council tax. Meanwhile he was actually placing responsibility for all additional services firmly with the local councils.
  15. Managed a real blinder, by camouflaging the inflation rate by changing the measurement from RPI to CPI.
  16. Underwritten £17bn of debt for Network Rail, without having to include it on the public balance sheet.
  17. Survived the embarrassment of claiming in March 2006 that 31,000 government employees had been trimmed off the payroll, whilst the Office for National Statistics claimed one month later, that the headcount had actually increased by 62,000 a difference of 93,000!
  18. Managed to introduce such a complex set of rules and regulations, designed to extract maximum tax take that the annual Finance Act (summary of tax changes in the budget) has increased from 300 pages or so in the 1980’s to over 10,000.
  19. At a time when businesses are struggling and people are having to tighten their belts, presided over a government that boasts some 78 acres of empty space in office buildings and grace and favour homes.
  20. Managed to push another 3.5m people into the higher income tax bracket, using a favoured trick of ‘fiscal drag’, where the tax threshold is raised more slowly than earnings are rising, so that workers end up paying a higher proportion of their income in tax.
  21. Twice shifted the timing of the ‘economic cycle’ in order that the so called “golden rule” would not be missed, resulting in a brazen massaging of the figures.
  22. Ensured that there are now twice as many tax collectors as there are nurses, demonstrating firmly where the government’s priorities lie.
  23. Masterfully convinced people that they are “better off under Labour” even though each family now pays more than £5,000 in extra tax, compared to 1997.

Then let’s take a look at how he has ‘fixed’ things, telling us how at least he was “doing something” as opposed to the Conservatives, who are, according to the supreme leader Mr Brown, the “do nothing party“.

He invested £billions of our money into the Royal Bank of Scotland, who are now expected to report a loss of £28bn. What level of due diligence was exercised before our money was invested into a bank with such massive liabilities? Now, we have a similar story with HBOS, here, losses have been reported at £11bn, same thing, did the government complete any due diligence prior to investing our money? I am not so worried about Lloyds TSB, they must answer to their shareholders, government and Gordon Brown must answer to the taxpayers.

Yet still more £billions of OUR money has been invested into the banking system by Gordon Brown, with the specific aim of easing lending to consumers and business as well as freeing up inter-bank lending. But this has come to nothing. Not satisfied with spending this money, yet more £billions has been pledged or spent on a bank ‘insurance scheme’ and, as is the nature of insurance, we can never truly know the extent of that commitment, other than the fact that with Gordon Brown’s track record, we know it will exceed all expectations. Over £1trillion has been spent or committed, for nothing, we have not been able to see ANY tangible benefit, in terms of what Mr Brown TOLD us we could expect.

In other words, he told us that our money was going to be used to achieve a specific objective or goal and nothing has happened. This time however, Gordon Brown has outdone himself, because nowhere in history, has a single politician spent so much money for so little, or more accurately, no return. Yet he is still there, grinning like a Cheshire cat and snarling at anyone who would dare question his actions. Anyone with an ounce of commonsense, for example, would have known that a 2.5% reduction in VAT would have little or no effect, set against a backdrop of high street retailers discounting up to 50% off the ticket price. But this arrogant little man went ahead, and as a consequence, he has wasted another £12.5bn or our money.

In the last week, much has been said about the fact that many of our most senior bankers have no relevant, professional qualifications. But ask yourself this, what qualifications has Gordon Brown got, (or did he have) that would qualify him to determine our economic future? None, zilch. He would normally be considered to have been qualified by experience, but just look above and you will see what his ‘experience’ leads to. The appointment of an inexperienced politician to the position of Chancellor of what was the 5th largest economy in the world, is akin to asking an engineering apprentice to act as Finance Director of BP.

But we are in a democracy; surely we don’t have to put up with this?

How naive we are as a people, we have been told we are in a democracy and we believed them. What type of democracy allows the coronation of a new prime minister, without any reference to the electorate? What type of democracy allows a party that received just 43% of the vote to have such a massive parliamentary majority? What type of democracy provides the PM with so much power, that he can spend or commit £1trillion without even referring the matter to a commons vote? What type of democracy allows its prime minister to continue damaging the country, its economy and its prospects without any way for the people to put a stop to it? What type of democracy allows a government to renege on a manifesto promise, without any form of recourse from the electorate?

What type of democracy allows a government to force through intrusive and overbearing legislation designed to spy on its own citizens, monitor their travel arrangements, emails, telephone calls, vehicle movements, medical records and share that information with another 780 government and private agencies? What type of democracy allows its government to shatter long held rights to privacy and liberty virtually unchallenged, to the detriment of the people? What type of democracy provides its people with no opportunity to impeach its leader if that person is considered to be acting against the interests of the majority? IT IS NOT A DEMOCRACY, it is an authoritarian dictatorship that serves the government of the time and not the people. We all need to catch a wake up, our whole parliamentary system needs a radical overhaul and members of parliament need to be reminded that they are supposed to serve the people, not themselves. If ever there was a case for the people of this country to have the power to push an eject button, this is it.

We, the people of this country need a way of bringing down a government or removing any minister that fails to act in our best interests, lies, or bullshits, not at a time that suits them, but when it suits us. Better still, we need to be ruled by people like us, not the self-serving, inward looking, expense grabbing, ego driven, twats that are currently lording it over us all. This description is not, of course, limited to the Labour Party, there are many people within other parties that simply do not give a toss about the electorate, other than once every 5 years or so when they would rely on our votes.

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

Big Brother Britain and a new Database for travel

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Big Brother Britain and a new Database for travel


At a time when we should all be considering tightening our belts, the government of Big Brother Britain has decided to set up yet another database to spy and record details of British citizens travel arrangements. Once again, this has is being justified on the pretext of national security. Quite apart from the fact that this government has proven itself incapable of introducing working databases on budget, the fact remains that it is entirely unnecessary. This database has nothing to do with security and everything to do with government control over its citizens. There is simply no way that this government can justify spying on 60m people in order that they can track, at most, a few thousand potential terrorists.

This is in addition to the governments intention to record every email, text message and telephone call, plus our Internet browsing habits. It is high time the British public started asking why on earth this government needs so much information on its citizens. It is estimated that the Big Brother Britain database for spying on calls and Internet traffic will cost £12bn, it is therefore, reasonable to assume that this latest database will cost at least 50% of the costs, therefore another £6bn, minimum. These two databases are equivalent to the cost of 300 new hospitals!

Once again, thus far, the opposition parties have been noticeable by their absence, they should be refusing to support this oppressive, civil liberty busting voyeurism of this Labour government. They should be promising to scrap such databases or repealing legislation that permits the collection of this data. There has been a complete lack of any justification by this government, presumably to ensure that there is as little publicity as possible whilst they try and sneak this programme through the back door.

Wake up Cameron, wake up Clegg and wake up people, this is becoming completely unacceptable, in terms of our liberty, right to privacy and of course, the excessive cost at a time when we can least afford it. We are already spied on by some 4m cameras, information on our children, their welfare, schooling, carers, health and so on is already being stored in a government database. This government is introducing a cradle to grave spying programme on its own citizens, it is time to say enough is enough. It has already been noted that we are one of the most spied on nations anywhere in the world, alongside places such as North Korea. Surely that must ring alarm bells for even the most complacent British citizen?

This latest database will store names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details of travellers. The notion that if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear is total nonesense. Why? Because is presupposes that the people that have access to this information will use it for legitimate purposes. How can we be certain when this government has already allowed thousands of agencies, public and private access to our personal information that is already stored? Enough is enough, stand up and be counted people, and Mr Cameron, get off your backside and say something, either you support this destruction of our civil liberties, or you must fight against it, show some backbone, prove to the people of this country that you are not a lighweight. Say no to Big Brother Britain – RESIST!

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (14)

Scottish parliament says no to ID Cards

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Scottish parliament says no to ID Cards


Now, whilst I fully accept that this will not make one jot of difference to the current Labour government it is nonetheless, symbolic given it demonstrates that the government will have an uphill struggle to introduce identity cards. Scottish MSP’s do not believe ID cards will increase security or deter crime and quite frankly, nor do I. I don’t find myself agreeing with many Scottish MP’s at the moment, but I am more than happy to applaud their stance on this particular issue.

The reality is, identity cards are a genuine, tangible and unacceptable threat to the civil liberties and right to privacy of British citizens. No government minister has told the people of this country howID cards will deter crime and reduce the risk of terrorism, only that they will. That is not the way to sell a programme like this. However, as we all know, this government does not believe in asking, only telling, so they intend to introduce these cards come what may, simply because they are arrogant enough to believe that government knows best. Can anyone watch Jacqui Smith bumbling and stuttering away and say, with any conviction, that they feel safer with her at the helm? I think not, she is out of her depth, ill-informed and an appalling communicator.

Richard Baker a Labour MSP, no I hadn’t heard of him either, said “There’s nothing extreme or unusual in the introduction of ID cards and the kind of data which will be on them.” There is nothing clever in attempting to mislead the public. This government have already made clear that they intend to include a mass of data on ID cards, from bio-metrics, though to health and financial details. These little cards will end up being our own ‘police tags’. It has nothing to do with deterring crime and combating terrorism and everything to do with government attempts at controlling the people of this country. They can sod off!

Already, in what has become an all consuming quest to control and punish the people of this country, this government has indicated the “penalties” that will be applied if people fail to provide the government with updated details for their ID cards. Even though ID cards haven’t been launched for the masses yet, we are bombarded with our likely punishment for non-compliance. We are being treated like naughty schoolchildren, not adults capable of making decisions and running our own lives. Government ministers say that the penalties are not there to raise revenue and for once I believe them, instead, they are there to punish those that would dare to resist the will of our masters in government. In other words, by introducing fines and making non-compliance a criminal offence, they are seeking to control the will of the people of this country through fear, many people will doubtless be able to draw a parallel with a police state.

Phil Booth, national coordinator of NO2ID sums it up very well, “There is some very nasty stuff buried in the fine print of this consultation document. Basically, you have to tell them everything they want to know about you under threat – and pay for the privilege.”

Any party in power that would seek to introduce a programme against the will of the public is not fit for government. The bottom line is terrorists and criminals will always find a way around ID cards, just as they have been able to forge passports, drivers licenses and any other identity document you care to mention. The government know this, therefore, we should all be asking ourselves, what is the real game plan? This particular issue is not about party politics, it is about individual freedom, the rights of people in this country to not just be free, but to feel free.

Through its policies and inept handling of the economy, this government has removed our financial freedom. With the introduction of a raft of so called ‘anti-terror’ laws, they have already removed many of our civil liberties and rights to privacy. They now seek to go even further. ID cards, NHS Database, ContactPoint, DNA database to name but a few. It is time for us all to not only call a halt to all this, but to insist that any future government and MP’s undertake to repeal many of these destructive, draconian, obtrusive and unreasonable laws. If the main opposition parties refuse to take up the mantle, then perhaps there is a very good case for the public to support and vote for independent MP’s rather than those affiliated with a particular political party. In fact, I would very much like to see more independent MP’s put themselves forward with a local manifesto. Perhaps the bloggers should unite!

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (0)

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