Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

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Archive for the tag “ID cards”

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.

The Budget

There can be little doubt that the Government should have seen the crash in the banking system and the housing market along with the approaching recession long ago. That though is now history and yesterdays budget was probably about the best that could be done in the circumstances.

There does seem to be however, a failure of government to recognise fully the seriousness of the situation and therefore a failure to make savings where they could easily be made and a failure to look at the bigger picture. For example, they could have cancelled the ridiculous I.D. Card scheme which is estimated to have a price tag of £15billion. This nation does not need two gigantic aircraft carriers at a current estimate of £6billion and defence estimates usually double by their completion. Equally we do not need to replace Trident nuclear submarines at even more billions of Pounds. We do not need either, to be fighting a futile war in Afghanistan at vast cost in cash and lives.

Virtually every household in the UK will be looking at where savings can be made and Government should do nothing less.

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.

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!

Security Lapses

In less than a week two separate incidences of highly confidential Government documents have been left on a train and in recent history there have been many (nine according to freethinkuk’s memory) cases of sensitive material lost or missing.

Always one for conspiracy theories I wonder if there is a sub-conscious, unconnected conspiracy where deep unease in the collective psyche over ID Cards and centralisation of personal information is bringing about these lapses in security. I actually doubt my own theory but it’s a nice one to ponder.

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