Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

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Archive for the category “Identity Cards”

Police State Gets Closer

Almost a year ago I wrote about the ever-increasing surveillance that is making the likelihood of a police state possible if and when the conditions are right. It gives me no pleasure to point out that this scenario comes even closer with the report out today in The Times.

Yes, Liberty will fight this in the courts, maybe even the European Court of Human Rights and will probably but not definitely win but will this change anything? The ECHR found against the Government on storage of DNA taken from innocent citizens which to a large extend government ignored or found a way around the ruling.  We are fast approaching the time when either we surrender the freedom that our forefathers fought for or we must rise up and demand our rights and the Poll Tax riots spring to mind for definite change forced upon those who usurp the power that we loan them. Unfortunately state surveillance does not, yet, hit the people in the purse or the wallet and so I fear the worst.

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Fatherland

Whilst ‘enjoying’ a wet holiday I wandered into a secondhand bookshop and picked up a novel entitled ‘Fatherland’ by Robert Harris and published in 1992. Apparently it was a best seller and I’m not at all surprised as it was fast moving and totally gripping.

DSCS0002I’m not going to give a review but it’s based on the idea of Germany having won the last war and paints a vivid picture of life in a State where surveillance and control is all but total. As the story unfolded, the realisation crept up on me of how easy it would be for this very condition to be imposed now, in our own country.

I recommend getting hold of a copy, not only for a good read but also to be aware of the dangers facing us. The price of freedom is not just vigilance but being prepared to take action before it’s too late.

What Now for New Labour?

It’s anyone’s guess at the moment whether Gordon Brown will be able to survive the current political crisis although I suspect that he may hang on until the bitter end next year and the end will indeed be bitter.

When New Labour with Tony Blair were elected in 1997 the electorate would have given power to anyone rather than the Tory’s and at that point a golden opportunity was lost. With a huge majority Blair, with Brown as Chancellor, could have transformed the UK into a far better nation. Together they wasted the first two years by sticking with the economic plans put in place by the previous administration and then proceeded to expand the ‘free market economy’ and embraced and encouraged the money grubbing, me first culture of  profit before people. They increased the gap between the rich and the poor by deviously cutting the taxes of the wealthy and increasing the taxes on the less well off. They believed their own spin that the City of London could go on creating money from thin air and that house prices would increase exponentially for ever. They took us into an illegal war costing billions of Pounds and tens of thousands of lives and into another futile and expensive escapade in Afghanistan from which we have yet to be extradited. They have progressively introduced draconian state control of our citizens by way of surveillance, police powers and data linkage. Yes, they have done some good things and improvements to the NHS and Education spring to mind but even they are tarnished by the Public/Private Finance Initiative which will result in a huge outpouring of money into the private sector over many, many, years.

So what now for Gordon Brown and New Labour? The next election is lost so with nothing to lose why not make some real change in the time that is left. The MP’s expenses must of course be sorted out and pushing through some form of PR in time for the General Election would be mostly popular and have the advantage of limiting Labour’s losses. Abandon the ridiculous and unpopular ID Card Scheme along with Trident replacement and huge aircraft carriers, thus saving tens of billions of pounds. Recognise that killing Afghan tribesmen and devastating villages is an unwinnable war and in any case will do nothing to protect us from terrorist attacks here and in fact will make such attacks more likely. Some of the cash saved could be used to increase pensions towards the poverty line (£165) per week as pensioners are more likely to spend it and so help in the recovery of  industry and employment.

All of this could be done prior to the General Election and may go some way to ensuring a wiser Labour re-election in maybe five years rather than our nation suffering once again under a Tory government for ten or fifteen or more years.

Police State Nearly in Place

It had to happen because if they can they will; thousands of cameras linked to computers are very soon to be logging our car registration plates as we drive to our destinations.

Along with records of our telephone calls and emails being kept, the highest number of CCTV cameras on the planet watching our every move, personal information on multiple electronic storage systems, ID cards on the way and a Government that is increasingly bypassing Parliament by using ‘Orders in Council’ and other non democratic powers derived from the Crown, our civil liberties are in grave peril. Add to this millions of DNA samples, of even innocent citizens, are kept, so far, even in defiance of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Article 8 – ‘the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence’ – should provide protection in our private sphere, and can extend into our working lives and encompass matters relating to our identity, independence and autonomy. The Government has done little to inform the British public of this Convention which they signed in 1998 and when found to be inconvenient will find ways around it. The Tory’s want to get rid of it altogether.

The old argument that ‘if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about’ is regularly trotted out by those who seek to control but it’s just not true. Freedom that is granted conditionally is not freedom, freedom to keep your phone calls and email letters private, to go where you wish without it been recorded is a fundamental right and surely is simply natural justice. My DNA is a part of me, indeed in a sense, it is me and yes it should be used responsibly if I am suspected of a crime but no part of me should be kept, in case I commit an offence.

Worse still the conditions are almost complete when it is possible for a future malignant government to take total control, refusing to allow the democratic processes continuance and so leaving a return to true freedom all but impossible. Yes, this is a worse case scenario but it has happened in even recent history; Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and Saddam Husein’s Iraq spring easily to mind. We must therefore consider it possible that it could happen here and make every effort that we can to reverse the intrusion of the State into our everyday lives before it is too late.

Public Anger

The public are rightly outraged and angry over the subject of MP’s expenses and perhaps we could do with some more anger.

If only the public would show more anger then perhaps we might get some worthwhile changes. Like anger over our young soldiers dying in a futile invasion of Afghanistan; like wasting billions on nuclear weapons, submarines and aircraft carriers; like billions more on ID cards and intercepting all our ‘phone calls and emails. Like refusing to allow the imposition of Unitary Authorities when the people, on the rare occasions they have even been asked, give a resounding no. Let’s get angry about the unaccountable House of Lords and yes, let’s get angry about that bastion of anti-democracy, the Royal family.

If this current anger over expenses helps to make voters take note of politics and realise that power really does lie with the people but that we have to fight to keep it, every inch of the way, or risk losing it altogether, then it will turn out to have been a good thing.

Financial Commonsense

With the Government spending countless billions of Pounds on rescuing banks from their excesses and the financial costs of the economic downturn, it is surely time for them to look at some of their own excesses and look to make savings.

Biometric Identity Cards for a start. The excuse for these is that they are an essential tool in protecting the UK from terrorists. Anyone but a fool can see that against a probably ‘home grown’ terrorist or any other, who is quite happy to die for his/her beliefs they are absolutely useless. As a means of adding to the control and surveillance of us all though, they are quite effective when linked with all the other systems that have crept in during the last decade. The cost is likely to be around £15billion. Well, that’s a good savings starter.

Two new aircraft carriers have been ordered complete with aircraft at an estimated £6bn and we all know that when it comes to most government projects the estimate usually doubles.

Replacement of the Trident nuclear submarines and their nuclear missiles comes in at £78bn for their 23 year life. We know we will never use them against a nuclear armed country and bring about the end of civilisation and neither will we use them against a non nuclear country in violation of International Law to be condemmed by the whole world.

We must learn that the UK is now just another small country in Europe, we stole an Empire in the past but now must move forward in a different and peaceful role. The aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines may make the admirals and air marshalls and politicians feel powerful but they are costing our nation far, far too much.

Taken from British American Security Information Council

“…cancelling the [Trident and aircraft carrier] programmes would
allow the Government to:-
•Take 1.2 pence off the basic rate of income tax; or
•Pay the capital and running costs of around 200 new hospitals; or
•Pay the capital and running costs of around 1,000 new secondary
schools in moderate /high cost areas, with 1,000 pupils each; or
•Pay £10-11 per week real increase in the basic state pension.”

Euro Rights

It’s sad state of affairs when we in the UK have to depend on The European Court of Human Rights to stand up for us in our fight for rights and freedoms. Having given their unanimous verdict that keeping DNA samples of innocent people is a violation of human rights we will now, I guess, have to sit and watch the unedifying spectacle of our government trying to find ways to wriggle out of implementing the decision.

What with police raids on the House of Commons and anti terrorism laws being used against collapsing Icelandic Banks, Billions to spent on ID Cards and CCTV cameras on every corner, we have every cause to be worried, very worried indeed.

ID Cards

A week or so ago I heard Jackie Smith the Home Secretary say on Radio 4 that a majority of people in the UK are in favour of Identity Cards. I found this somewhat surprising and certainly interested in where this supposed ‘fact’ came from so I emailed the Home Office and asked for the evidence of this statement.

It transpires that a survey was carried out involving 2135 people randomly selected in various parts of the country. That means one here and one there and two thousand people can hardly be called representative of the entire country. The questions asked were, in my opinion, angled to get the result that was wanted i.e. in favour of a massive increase in Government surveillance and control. Indeed they got what they wanted if you add together those who said they are strongly in favour and those who are slightly in favour.

Click here to see the results for yourself and come to your own conclusion.

Energy Windfall Tax

Pressure from various quarters, seems to be building  on the Government to charge a ‘windfall tax’ on the energy suppliers. They have after all made enormous additional profits from the rising costs of oil and gas, even though when these costs have decreased, the price to customers has not been reduced.

The false argument is that this windfall tax would be used to reduce fuel costs in particular to the most vulnerable. The argument is a false one because (a) the Government would be unlikely to pass all this on to consumers (b) the suppliers would simply increase their prices to make up the shortfall in their balance sheets (c) any reductions passed on by Government would be a one off and we would be in the same position twelve months from now.

It was said at the time that when Margaret Thatcher privatised the energy industry that she was selling off the family silver and how right they were; the chickens are now coming home to roost. What has been done though, can be undone. Our Nation should not be dependant on private companies, many of them foreign owned, for it’s vital energy. The time is right to re-nationalise them. One wholly State owned energy  company would have enormous buying power and with no investors requiring an annual large dividend payout prices would fall dramatically and be under greater control by the end users, the voting public.

The cost in financial terms would of course be great but would represent an investment in the future of our Nation. It may well require that a fresh look is taken at other drains on the Exchequer such as do we actually need several billion Pounds worth of Aircraft carriers and do we really see a use for billions of Pounds worth of Trident submarines or billions spent on useless Identity Cards?

It could be done, it should be done, all it needs is a leader and a government with vision and bravery. Sadly therefore it is not likely to happen but here’s hoping.

Another one!

Another load of secret and confidential information gone missing, stolen this time from Hazel Blears MP from her constituency office. This information was on her personal computer and under the guide lines should not have been on it. Last week a cabinet official was suspended for leaving a folder of sensitive information on a train and was suspended. I wonder if Hazel Blears will be suspended? I won’t hold my breath.

Blimey! That was quick! I wrote the above at 8pm and by 9pm the web page had been changed to say that officials in Blears department were to blame for it all and there was nothing sensitive on the laptop just constituency matters. Oh yer!

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