Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

UK Political weblog

Archive for the category “surveillance”

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.

Knife Crime in UK

Freethinkeruk has just returned from a long weekend in Brittany France. Whilst browsing around the shops for a while, as you do, I came across a sport shop where, amazingly, almost an entire window display was taken over by knives. There were pen knives, lock knives, hunting knives, scuba diving knives, all obviously extremely well made and at reasonable prices.

Here in the UK there are laws banning the sale of certain knives and calls for a total ban are even being made along with, even weirder calls for all knives to be manufactured without a point; so hard luck if you’re a fisherman or a chef or many other legitimate users of a knife. Despite all this and various campaigns death and injuries caused by the use of a knife have increased but not as much as could be believed from the tabloid press. There is however not a dramatic increase in France where, as I said, knives can still be legally purchased over the counter.

When freethinkeruk was a young teenager (many, many years ago) nearly every boy had a knife which was most likely to be of the ‘flick knife’ design. Possession gave a mild feeling of bravado, an enjoyment in the quality, skill and design of it’s manufacture as well as being useful for carving bits of wood. It was never (or hardly ever) considered for attack or even defence when threatened and when past the age of around 16 was discarded or sold on to a younger lad.  What has changed is not knife possession but the willingness to use one in the UK. So what has changed in the last half centuary? It is true that there is far more more graphic and explicit violence on television and in films, video games almost invariably involve killing someone or something and war and our military is often glorified in the news items. I’m sure that in combination all these influences must lead to a somewhat deadening of our morals and sensibilities but not turn us into killers. During this period of time though, there has been a huge widening of the divide between those who have a lot and those who by comparison, have little. State control and surveillance has never been greater and opportunities for social mobility have been decreasing to the point where it is all but impossible for those in inner city estates and similar situations to achieve their potential. The frustration and indeed inner rage resulting from this oppression will inevitably vent off in vandalism, graffiti or violence.

More restrictions will do nothing, what is required is social change on a huge scale which this government will not give and neither will any potential replacement. The only hope is for enough of us to think for ourselves to demand change. It is possible and hopefully this blog will in it’s very, very, small way will help along with other voices in the wilderness.

Risk Assessment

The Government is making public it’s National Risk Register according to the BBC today. Not surprisingly it considers a terrorist attack the most likely risk and the gravest threat to be a flu pandemic which could cost between 50,000 and 750,000 lives. The stated aim of publishing this list is to ‘stimulate a mature debate’ with the public and business as to the possible risks facing this country.

Three thoughts sprung immediately to my mind. Firstly, no amount of ‘debate’ mature or otherwise will make the slightest bit of difference to the risks and what the hell do we pay politicians for if not to consider risks and take the necessary precautions on our behalf. Secondly, if they are going to come up with a risk variant of 700,000 lives as a result of ‘flu the usefulness of this statistic is virtually meaningless. Thirdly, put a terrorist attack at the top of the list and what do you get? You get a public that is fearful and worried and therefore willing to accept more and more restrictions on civil liberties.

Top of the Risk List should be a loss of freedom, democracy, accountability and the emergence of a police state.

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