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The ravings of an individual, UK voter frustrated with our politicians

Posts Tagged ‘RESIST

Democracy has already disappeared

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Much has been said over the weekend regarding the Damian Green affair, with most commentators suggesting that our democracy is damaged, at stake or in peril. I would not argue with any of these descriptives other than to say our democracy was under threat a good deal earlier than this high profile incident.

Whether it is detention without charge, law officers being able to store telephone call details, text messages, email content and web browsing habits, or the ability of the police to take DNA off a subject even if they haven’t been charged. All of these new laws have been brought in, ostensibly to aid the fight against crime and terrorism, but as we have already witnessed, neither the police nor the government are shy of using anti-terror laws in completely inappropriate circumstances. As each new piece of legislation has been passed, so we have had to wave a fond farewell to some of the fundamental rights that we have lost in the process. Rights that we have enjoyed for hundreds of years. Yet crime is not falling and terrorism remains the same threat as it was before.

The government has become the ‘bitch’ of the police service, giving them have whatever they want, whether it be detention without charge, 30,000 taser guns or the ability to monitor telephone calls on the say so of a senior officer rather than a judge. Opposition parties, by contrast, have acted like the governments lapdogs, providing a less than spirited defence of the rights of the individual. In an effort to preen themselves in front of the TV cameras, or gain a few column inches from a compliant newspaper, members of parliament have forgotten that they are responsible for upholding the rights and liberties of the citizens of this country. They have failed miserably….look at how many departments that have been labeled “not fit for purpose”, now consider how this label could be identified with most of the government and a large number of other MP’s!

As a consequence of this governments preoccupation with gaining more and more state control, we as a people have become all the poorer. Not in economic terms (that was for different reasons), but in terms of freedom. Our right to privacy has gone forever, because this government has allowed nearly every aspect of our lives to be monitored and/or recorded and then allowed upwards of 800 agencies, both public and private, access to that information. It is an outrage. Worst of all, every MP that failed to speak up for the people of this country on this issue have been complicit in our demise, further, every newspaper editor that has failed to raise these issues for fear of losing scoops from a minister have failed their readership.

Of course you can’t get the genie back into the bottle, but members of parliament on all sides should seek to use the Damian Green affair as a signal that a complete review is now needed of all legislation passed that has provided government and the police service with unprecedented powers over the people of this country. British citizens are supposed to be the masters, not the servants, New Labour policies have dispensed with this long held tradition. Purists may say I am wrong, but it is my contention that when so much power has been passed to government and the tools or agents of government, such as the police service, security services and so on, the people of this country become the servants of state, not the other way around.

We may retain the vote, but little else and if we allow further removal of our rights, we could end up being a basket case like Zimbabwe, with question marks over our entire electoral system. Melodramatic maybe, possible most certainly, after all, Hazel Blears has already indicated that she wants the legal power to prevent publication of certain stories in the mainstream media and has pointed out that she is not in favour of bloggers. Who 20 years ago would have guessed that we could lock people up for a month with no charge, seize the assets of another country using anti-terror laws, monitor and store every telephone call, text message and email, force identity cards on a reluctant public? The list goes on, but you get the picture, it isn’t just possible, we are already well on our way.

If ever there was a justification for a public enquiry, something I do not normally advocate, it is now. It should be wide ranging and concentrate on the legislation that has been drafted by this government which as a consequence of its introduction, has removed, reduced or eroded the civil liberties and rights of the people of this country. Further, they must look at what the original intention was and find out how these laws have been used, abused or mis-used. This enquiry must then have the power to order that government introduce legislation to allow either an amendment to, or the repeal of any legislation that is not as intended or has simply gone too far.

David Cameron could lead this charge and I suspect he will have a great deal of support, certainly from the public and most likely from the LibDems and a few Labour backbenchers. Or, he could let the opportunity pass by and be picked up by Nick Clegg. For as sure as night follows day, there will be a massive public backlash when it starts to sink in just how many of our rights have been sacrificed in a fight against terrorism, something, incidentally that this country has faced for most of its existence.

If as a consequence of the Damian Green affair members of parliament only seek an exemption for MP’s, then I think the public will have a very good idea who our elected members look out for and it would most certainly not be us. They could be reminded of this at the ballot box assuming we manage to retain that right. Don’t laugh, it could happen, just look at our ruling elite!

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Welcome to Big Brother Britain

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Well all is not as it seems. This is not a sign in the arrivals hall at Heathrow, although it probably should be, instead it is a big welcome to the new political blog Big Brother Britain & Civil Liberties. The initiative of the author of Power to the People, with contributions from David Davis, it is destined to become a leading site for resisting and highlighting attempts by the Labour government to do away with our long held and highly prized civil liberties.

There are quite a few blogs that deal with civil liberty issues and political blogs that touch on so called Big Brother issues, however, this particular blog is intended, as I understand it, to bring all of these topic under a single umbrella. The author has made it clear that he is keen to have as many people as possible contributing posts and comments in order that it can quickly become an authorative reference site and be used as a campaigning blog.

I have agreed to write posts for the Big Brother Britain blog and I would urge others to offer similar tangible support. Together with the RESIST initiative introduced by Shrewd Mammal, there is a real opportunity for some momentum if people with similar concerns get behind this initiative and support, contribute to and visit the blog.

Smokers banned from fostering in London borough

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Has the world gone mad? In a world where discrimination and stigmatising the individual is frowned upon, illegal and/or considered immoral, Redbridge Council have stated that from 2012, they will not permit smokers to foster children, unless there are “exceptional circumstances”. Now, forgive my ignorance on this subject, but I thought there was a shortage of foster parents, at least that would appear to be the case, with all of the radio advertising going on at the moment. Now we have a council discriminating against smokers, who by implication, are seen as not being able to offer a good environment for foster children. Surely, foster parents should be judged based on their ability to provide a child with a safe, loving and fulfilling environment?

I am a smoker, so I put my hands up, although I am not a foster parent, but I most certainly do take my hat off to those that do provide this care. I choose, as do many of my friends that smoke, not to do so in the house or car. That is my choice, come rain, sun or snow, I smoke outside. As a consequence, according to Redbridge Council’s criteria, I would not be able to foster a child, even if I fulfilled all of the other criteria, how logical is that. In my view, the people responsible for this decision at Redbridge Council, have demonstrate that they encourage and endorse discrimination, as such, they should not be permitted to retain their positions, something I earnestly hope the voters will consider at the next elections.

I am sick to the back teeth of these do-gooders, who lord it over the rest of us, many of whom are councillors. Can they really be thinking of a child’s well-being and best interests, when they openly discriminate in a way that could exclude an otherwise perfect set of foster parents? A spokesperson for Redbridge Council said that they wanted to protect children from “the damaging effects of passive and second-hand smoke“. Laudable indeed, but most responsible parents and therefore I assume many foster parents, already do this. I know of many.

I am not alone in my thinking, because a spokesman for the national charity Fostering Network was quoted as saying: “We certainly view this as a good move in terms of creating a smoke-free environment for a child, but we don’t agree that a blanket ban on any smokers becoming foster carers is the right thing.” So now the councillors of Redbridge know better than a charity set up purely to support fostering.

I have often wondered what motivates someone to become a councillor, they are paid allowances, but receive no salary. But because Redbridge Council believe in discrimination, I feel certain they will not be able to object to me claiming that they are all ego-driven, control freaks, that have nothing better to do in their lives other than to intefere in the lives and well-being of others, just because they can. Sorry, if this offends the councillors that did not vote for this initiative, but I am following the lead of the ‘other’ Redbridge Councillors and insisting that everyone should be tarred with the same brush.

It is time to stop stigmatising and discriminating against smokers simply in order to grab the headlines or get a name for yourselves. Grow up!

Could smoking ban be extended to homes and private cars?

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It is hard to believe in a free and democratic country that I am even asking this question, unless of course, you look at the backdrop to the recent National Health Service consultation on such a ban. But, before that, I would just like to ask who the hell they think they are, the NHS are care providers, a public service paid for by taxes, not a political party. According to their own figures, which are always exaggerated to include fixed, rather that just variable costs, smoking related illnesses cost the NHS £1.7bn a year.

So lets put that in perspective. Under the guise of attempting to protect smokers from themselves, successive governments have introduced duties and tax on all tobacco related products. So, much so, that they now rake in £10.5bn a year, so even excluding the so called ‘cost’ to the NHS, the smoking pimps, sorry, the government still profit to the tune of nearly £9bn every year. Or to put it another way, if every smoker was to give up tomorrow, the NHS would not hand back the £1.7bnand the basic rate of income tax would have to rise by 3% to cover the loss of tobacco taxes. Just for the readers own edification, duties and VAT on alcohol products, raises another £9bn a year..or if you prefer a figure equal to 3% on our basic rate of tax.

There are an estimated 9.5m smokers in the UK, equivalent to approximately 20% of the adult population. By no means a minority. However, imagine any other group of people being subjected to such draconian legislation? I agree, that a ban on smoking in the workplace was an excellent idea, but equally, many organisations had already introduced this without the need for ‘nanny state’ legislation. But, to extend this legislation to include all public places, company owned vehicles, pubs, clubs and restaurants was a step too far. Any government that were to offer support to the consultation process currently under discussion at the National Health Service, (to ban smoking in private cars and homes) would be committing political suicide.

This Labour government was so short-sighted, that it did not take account of, or it was so arrogant, that it chose to ignore the effects of their legislation. It is estimated by the BBPA that some 36 pubs a week are closing, for the most part, as a direct result of the smoking ban. Each closure has real people affected, families, people wanting to try and do their own thing (tenants), real living and breathing individuals! But it is not just pubs, it is companies that supply services to pubs, soft drinks, food suppliers, beermat printers, caterers, the list goes on. This government could have allowed pubs to opt out, or become ‘smoking clubs’, as they have in Germany, instead, they insisted on a one-size fits all strategy. Clubs, entertainment centres and restaurants across the country are suffering and closing as a direct consequence of this ill considered legislation. This Labour government, once again, pandered to the PC brigade, another crusade, one day, coming to the rescue of foxes, the next day targeting smokers.

As I have already stated, I believe that non-smokers have a right to enjoy a meal, or a pint in a smoke-free environment. In fact, in my personal experience, most smokers, were always cognisant of the feelings of non-smokers and refrained from smoking in their presence. But the adult population make their choices, some may choose to drink in a club, others at a wine bar and another group may prefer a public house. Similarly, given the choice, the same adult population could, given the choice, opted to decide whether they wanted to go to a pub, club, bar or restaurant that permitted smoking or one that did not. There was no need to treat all of us like children and no justification in taking the law so far, as to turn 9.5m people into a colony of lepers. It was and remains an appalling piece of legislation, the New Labour government got so caught up in their own sense of power and invincibility that they went ahead and drove through legislation that far, far exceeded their election manifesto commitment.

I am a smoker and I know as many smokers as non-smokers. I have run businesses in this country and abroad. If I received complaints about smoking in the workplace, I always allowed the matter to go to a secret vote, with the only proviso, that there must be a majority in favour a change. On each occasion I did this, without exception, there was a vote in favour of a ban (with smokers catered for) and a good proportion, perhaps, up to 50%, of the smokers voted for the ban…yes for! In other words, left to their own devices, the adult population can and will act responsibly, decisively and collectively. These groups did not need, nor did they seek a Big Brother approach from a nanny state.

Treating adults like children is likely to lead to a temper tantrum and no government, particularly one that is prone to look down its nose at the very people that are paying the bills, can afford to ignore the affects of such draconian legislation. This government needs to tell those pampered, isolated, busybodies at the National Health Service to wind their collective necks in and keep out of politics. Then I would suggest this governent looks at some exemptions to this smoking ban, before it is too late and they end up killing the golden goose.

Before I get the anti-smoking lobby knocking at my door with the usual rhetoric, I want to make the following points. Smoking maybe a choice, but it is also a habit. I do not advocate smoking in the workplace, nor do I believe it is right to smoke where non-smokers congregate, if the non-smokers have no choice but to inhabit the same space. My argument is that the legislation went too far and in particular, much further than was proposed in the manifesto. 

9.5m smokers also have rights, to go out and enjoy themselves in a smoke-filled environment, if they so choose. Businesses, should have the right to apply and receive exemption, leaving non-smokers the choice of whether or not they will provide said businesses with their patronage. Our freedom and civil liberties were hard-fought for and won, but we are also supposed to have a tolerant society. If any government had targeted 9.5m ethnic or other minority groups in the same way as they have the smokers in this country, there would be worldwide condemnation. It would not be a retrograde step to allow exemptions, it would show political maturity and demonstrate that non-smokers can show the same level of maturity and good grace that the smokers offered them, when I asked them to vote on whether to smoke in the workplace, before the legislation was imposed.

Big Brother Britain by Stealth

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Proof, if any were needed, that this Labour government will bring in ID cards by any means necessary was provided by a recent statement given by Home Office Minister, Meg Hillier at the Biometrics Conference.

She was quoted as saying that there was “nothing to stop” drivers’ licences or other documents from being designated to work as ID cards and went on to say “In time it is possible to designate the driving licence or other documents to be counted as an ID card.” The only conciliatory note in her comments was that there were no plans to do so before 2012. Cold comfort for those who believe, as I do, that this Labour government is simply obsessed with gaining more and more control over the views, activities, intentions and minds of the electorate.

As Cornelius Tacitus, senator and historian of the Roman Empire was quoted as saying “In a free society, the rights and laws protect the individual from the government. In a dictatorship, the rights and laws protect the government from the people. The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.”

Hillier explained that once an ID Card system was in place, it would be used for proof of age, criminal records bureau checks, for bank loan applications, for employers, as well as maternity allowances, tax returns, TV licences and incapacity or unemployment benefit claims. Of course, we all know that this will also include biometric data.

Under the Identity Card Act 2006, the Home Secretary can designate documents that will require anybody applying for them to be placed on the National Identity Register (NIR), the backbone of the ID card scheme. In other words, they could refuse to issue, for example, passports, drivers licenses and so on, unless, or until we agree to join the National Identity Register. This, presumably is designed, to counteract the growing movement of disobedience, where people are signing a pledge not to do anything to support the introduction of identity cards.

Phil Booth, national co-ordinator for pressure group NO2ID, said: “It is clearly a compulsory scheme if in order to continue driving, travelling abroad or get a loan you have to be registered on the scheme“.  He added that “it is coercion up to the point of compulsion.”

Add this database, with the Big Brother Database, monitoring all forms of communications, mobile calls, text messages, email and internet browsing, together with the children’s database, ContactPoint and the mobile phone register, added to vehicle tracking through ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition), 4.2m CCTV cameras and a National Health Database that will hold all of our medical records for our lifetime and you really start to get a picture of just how much control this government wants overs its citizens. We need to ask ourselves why, what are they so afraid of? It cannot be to protect us against terrorism, because lets face it, for 100’s of years, this country has been under threat from outside influences, yet we have survived and prospered, without this level of state intelligence and policing.

If we value our civil liberties, which clearly this government does not, then we need to be vocal and we should consider supporting pressure groups such as NO2ID, Statewatch and The Open Rights Group.

Government needs to reduce taxes not spend

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Gordon Brown & Co have indicated that they will borrow in order that they can spend their way out of this recession, but in all honesty, I think this is a bit simplistic. Firstly, I do not believe that you can spend your way out of a recession. But secondly and as importantly, any spend would be on infrastructure projects and this would, surely, limit any benefit to the construction sector.

In my opinion, recession is about people having less to spend and a lack of confidence in the economy. I am sure there are other factors, but these are the two that tend to come up time and again. Spending on infrastructure projects is likely to cost £100’s billions and will have to paid over the next 25 to 30 years. This option has limited appeal to the masses. On the other hand a bold government, or an effective opposition party, could propose something more significant.

One of the reasons people feel so poor, is that the money they have left over after they have paid their taxes and national insurance contributions buys much less. Added to that, millions more people today, than say, 20 years ago, are directly affected by the mortgage market and therefore, interest rates. My plan is a relatively simple one, because you do not have to have complex solutions to simple problems.

Government should reduce direct taxation by 5p in the £. This would cost no more than £8bn per year and would therefore be much cheaper than investing in infrastructure projects. This would immediately help people feel richer, more flush and they are therefore, more likely to spend their money. I do not think this should be done via increased allowances, or tax rebates, because these are seen as, respectively, something that can easily be eroded or a temporary bonus. Socialist should forget the fact that everyone would benefit from the 5p tax cut, who cares, if it means that those that need it most are included.

In addition, I would go for a substantial cut in interest rates, perhaps 2.5%. Inflationary pressures are on the eane and the benefit to households of a 2.5% cuts would be immediate, tangible and above all welcome in these difficult times. Banks should be instructed to adopt the 2.5% rate cut. Combined, these two move would provide the public with a massive confidence boost, they would feel more able to spend and the feel good factor would return. My solution does not rely on bringing forward PFI projects that are expensive in their makeup. Instead, it aims to put more money into peoples pockets, at a relatively low cost to the government, taxes could for example, rise in 5 years or so when the economy improves. Over 5 years, this measure would cost less that £40bn. And, lets face it, this is our money in the first place.

A substantial reduction in interest rates will aid a quicker recovery of the property market. To avoid another property boom, interest rates could be managed, but the initial boost in confidence would be incalculable. In addition, is the market starts to recover and property prices more affordable, then first time buyers will start bargain hunting, because they will feel that the decline has been halted. This would allow an exponential increase in property prices at a sustainable rate.

Simultaneously, the government needs to look its legacy of wasteful initiatives over the past 11 years. It is estimates that this alone has cost the taxpayers some £110billion. If they addressed this, then there would be no need to recoup the 5% tax cut at a later date: https://britishpolitics.wordpress.com/2008/09/09/gordon-brown-legacy-economic-competence/

I am happy for people to pick holes in my argument, but unlike this government which just want to spend more on projects no-one wants, or the opposition party that recognises there are real problems, but offers no tangible solutions, mine is simple and effective. If anyone has any better ideas, please feel free to post here! I made clear in a previous article that this country needs wholesale tax reform: https://britishpolitics.wordpress.com/2008/09/15/tax-benefit-reforms-uk/

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UK government seek more control over citizens

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I have decided to take up the offer of fellow UK Politics blogger, Power to the People and copy, verbatim, his article in relation to the latest Data Communications Bill, due to be debated in parliament and supported by Jacqui Smith. This Bill seeks to further erode our right to privacy and to be free from state interference, with sweeping new laws regarding the storage of all email, internet browsing habits, telephone calls and text messages of the British Public. This government has spent 11 years, introducing law after law, permitting more state inteference, less privacy and causing blatant infringments to our civil liberties.

I wholeheartedly support the views of PttP and would also urge people to view his proposed letter, vary it, personalise it and then send it to your MP. Maybe we can have a voice after all?

Enough is enough, the UK is becoming a police state by our control obsessed government and we are sitting back and allowing it to happen. It makes me angry to see such lethargy. Everytime a new act is brought in, far more sinister aspects are buried in the detail, which further curtail our civil liberties, freedom and privacy. This has got to stop and now, state should not be permitted to control the people, it should be the other way around. As it stands, just 650 members of parliament are pushing some 65m people around, yes, I mean 650, because whilst this government may have a majority, the MP’s from other parties are not making enough noise about this massive intrusion into our lives, they should be fired, the lot of them. We are quick to condemn the bankers (rightly so in many cases), but we do nothing about the MP’s that have consistently introduced or supported Acts of Parliament that intrude into our lives, in a way that will affect us for many years to come. We must put a stop to it.

It is expected that plans to collect more data on people’s phone, e-mail and web-browsing habits will be included in the innocuouslysounding “Communications Data Bill”, due to be introduced in the Queen’s Speech in November. By all accounts, these proposals are supported by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, Gordon Brown and much of the Labour government. Once again, the government is expected to justify this gross intrusion into the personal lives of 65m people under the auspices of ‘counter-terrorism’, this is utter garbage, they know it and we know it. Yes, there are terrorists out there and they don’t wear badges, but this country has faced terrorism before and the security forces managed to investigate and prosecute without such laws.

I don’t know how many terrorists are out there, but it is not 65m and is probably less that a couple of thousand, why should the privacy and personal of 65m people be invaded by this government because of a few people that mean us harm? This whole thing needs to be put in perspective, more people in the UK die on the roads than as a result of terrorism, more soldiers are killed abroad, that in the UK as a result of terrorism, in fact, more people are killed in farming accidents that as a consequence of terrorism. This government have invested massively in the security services, allowing them to go on a substantial recruitment drive, there should be no need for a massive Big Brother surveillance operation of the entire population of the UK. Before some smart-arse suggests that it is this surveillance and investment in the security services that has reduced the number of terrorist incidents in the UK, I would ask them to provide further evidence that this is the case and then to put it into perspective. For example, it is well know that the airline industry work out whether safety mechanisms are worth introducing on their planes on the basis of a cost/benefit analysis. In other words, will the costs associated with an accident outweigh the cost of implementing the safety programmes. Fact of life, they all do it, they just rarely tell us!

Of course the government will issue the usual platitudes and assurances that they will not misuse this information, but can we believe them. The Icelandic authorities had their assets frozen using anti-terror laws, in spite of the fact that there were other laws that could have been used and would have been just as effective. A local council used anti-terror legislation to spy on the parents of a child that they throught was in the wrong ‘catchment area’. This list, trust me, goes on and on. We also know that this government ant it’s private sector partners are incapable of securing data, which means our personal lives could be open to all and sundry. Some will argue that if you have nothing to hide, then there is nothing to hide, these same people probably still believe in Father Christmas. As we know information, any information can be used in different ways, depending on the the intepretation of the recipient, how many times have we said or done something that was completely misrepresented?

I have nothing to hide, but I object strongly to my personal calls, web browsing habits and email being monitored and invaded by the state. Government’s could even misuse this information to find out how we intend to vote! It is an appalling proposal and it is high time the British public called time on the control obsessed government and it’s supporters, irrespective of which party they represent. This goes beyond party politics, it is a direct attack on the very fabric of our society and no-one will be safe from government interference if it is allowed to pass into law. If the government believe that this act is so important, then they should allow the British people to vote on it through a referendum, I believe they will get a resounding No…and they know it!

People often tell me that there is “not much we can do”, but there is. Our members of parliament are worried sick that they may lose their seat at the next election, we must emphasise to them that if they support this attack on our civil liberties that we guarantee they will. We must demonstrate to our MP’s that they should be more in fear of the wrath of the British public that the Chief Whip of their own parties. Opposition MP’s should do their jobs and oppose this draconian piece of legislation. We must also warn our local members of parliament that if they vote for this Act, that we will not vote for them, we must make it clear, that we have a voice, not once every 5 years, but throughout their tenure and that we will have it heard. Everyone that feels this Act is a direct infringement of our civil liberties, right to privacy and an attack on the very fabric of our society, should write to their MP and tell them so. I have provided a ‘draft letter’ which can be viewed, personalised and sent to your MP. Draft Letter to MP

I would also invite all fellow bloggers that feel as strongly as I do on this issue to reproduce this article in part or full, topped and tailed if they wish, to publicise this issue to as many people as possible. Let us all stand up and fight in this issue, and remind this government who is actually in charge.

Full Article: Power to the People

 

RESIST!

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