Big Brother Britain: No, I don't need a tinfoil hat…

Posted by: Will Rhodes

More and more are beginning to see the light – thank God!

Now, to begin – why would you add legislation to other legislation to get it through parliament with no one reading it? Is that a democracy or a country with a parliament that is about to abuse its very power?

The latter stands out to me.

[L]aws, published yesterday, were among a string of measures that amounted to a “terrifying” assault on traditional freedoms.

Proposals in the Coroners and Justice Bill include measures to authorise ministers to move huge amounts of data between government departments and other agencies and public bodies. Bodies that hold personal information include local councils, the DVLA, benefits offices and HM Revenue and Customs.

The Bill will allow ministers to use data-sharing orders to overturn strict rules that require information to be used only for the purpose it was taken. But it places no limit on the information that could eventually be shared between public bodies, potentially allowing vast amounts of personal data to be shared by officials across Whitehall, agencies or other public bodies.

Why would a government do that?

No public consultation, no debate in the Commons, no vote by MPs. Not what you would think was representation of the people, now is it?

Nick Herbert, the shadow Justice Secretary, added: “This government has shown a cavalier attitude to the security of personal data. There must be proper safeguards for any measures which will enable ministers, with minimal parliamentary scrutiny, to allow sensitive information to be exchanged without barriers when it may have been collected for an unrelated purpose.”

That is the Conservative party speak for “We will not overturn this legislation if we get into power, but we may look at it and see if it is possible to keep it safer – and if not it will stay the same”.

Yet – they won’t tell you that, they will just attack the government proposals until it become law and is enacted.

This is not the Britain I knew – and it isn’t the people I knew either – I cannot see why the newspapers are not taking this as serious as it is – incompetence of the current government or simply a matter that they secretly agree with them. The journos do realise that their information will be on that database, no? Not only that – when all those phone calls are recorded and emails kept – that will include all their correspondence – including who is giving them their scoops on government scandals?

They do know this right?

What then the freedom of the press?

Erosion of civil liberties: A call to arms

Senior figures in British public life are launching a “call to arms” to highlight the erosion of historic civil liberties.

These campaigners, who include the former director of public prosecutions Sir Ken MacDonald, the former attorney general Lord Goldsmith, as well as the musician Brian Eno and the author Philip Pullman, are backing a series of events to coincide with a major civil rights convention in London next month, at which they will speak. Organisers expect 1,000 people to attend the Convention on Modern Liberty, at which other speakers will include Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, Dominic Grieve, the shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, the campaigning Tory MP, and Lord Bingham, the former law lord.

Organisers of the event, at the Institute of Education, including the TUC and the rights group Liberty, said Britain could become “a new kind of police state”. And yesterday, the journalist Henry Porter, one of the organisers, said: “This is a call to arms,” and he warned of “the constant moves to a database state and threats to an individual”. He added: “This is thoroughly dangerous.” Baroness Helena Kennedy, the human rights lawyer, said: “We are seeing ways in which our system of law and the protections we have as citizens are slowly but surely being undermined. Liberty is being eroded for all of us.”

The TUC (Trade Union Congress) the ruling body of Trade Uions in the UK? Well, the Labour Party gets a lot of funding from them – so they should say they are pulling the funding!

This was always a draconian act – it is now time for anyone who can get the word out to get it out and explain what this all means to the British people.

And when you vote in the next election – vote LibDem!

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About Bolshy

Blogging in the ether to see if that elusive literary agent or publisher wants some new talent.
This entry was posted in Bias, Big Brother Britain, Blah!, Blogroll, Blogs, Comment, Conservatives, Democracy, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Media, Personal philosophy, Politics, psychology, Sociology, Technology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Big Brother Britain: No, I don't need a tinfoil hat…

  1. ajehals says:

    You do need a tinfoil hat. I agree that the proposals are dangerous and, given the governments current inability to handle data, a major threat to civil liberties and privacy. However, the bill in question will not be passed into law with:

    *”No public consultation, no debate in the Commons, no vote by MPs.”*

    It is a proposal, granted the amendment has had little if any public consultation, but it will go through the normal process for ratification in both houses. I doubt very much it will pass the commons in its current form, even if it does it would face stiff opposition in the lords (and likely be amended into something sane).

    In the shatteringly unlikely event it passes in its current form, the EU are likely to take offence, probably to the point of it essentially being overturned by EU courts (I dislike the EU and its impact on UK sovereignty, but I must say that some aspects of that undemocratic behemoth are proving to be somewhat useful).

    So in short, this is not yet law, it hasn’t even had its first reading in the commons and is now seeing rather a lot of discussion in the media and public, it will go through the normal parliamentary process and it will face the scrutiny it deserves. Just as any legislation, regarless of how flawed should in a democratic society.

    What I would like to start hearing are some rather vocal calls for the resignation or removal of the Home Secretary, frankly the damage being done by Jacqui Smith to the fabric of the UK in societal and legal terms is almost unparalleled this century.

  2. Will Rhodes says:

    I agree that the proposals are dangerous and, given the governments current inability to handle data, a major threat to civil liberties and privacy.

    Oh – really?

    So we take it that it has passed green and white paper stage to become a Bill?

    Your reliance on the Commons having the time to debate this is encouraging, misguided, but encouraging.

    The Lords, they are the same Lord’s that let through Smith’s ID scheme? I get ya!

  3. ajehals says:

    >So we take it that it has passed green and white paper stage to become a Bill?

    This is customary, but as far as I am aware it is not mandatory and frankly the government could argue that a number of documents and consultations that they have run had a bearing on this bill.

    >Your reliance on the Commons having the time to debate this is encouraging, misguided, but encouraging.

    Take a look at the parliamentary process, there should be be ample time to debate and if required amend the bill. The process for introducing and passing legislation is not something that the government can easily short circuit, given the significance of this bill I doubt that they will have any chance to attempt to do so in this case.

    >The Lords, they are the same Lord’s that let through Smith’s ID scheme? I get ya!

    You have a point, except of course the government’s ID cards scheme suffered three defeats in the Lords, it was amended on a number of occasions and the resulting legislation may be offensive to you and me, but has support from quite a few people, including large portions of the population (You cannot remove stupidity from the democratic process or discussion after all).

    Look, the important part is that awareness is building, your claim that:

    >why would you add legislation to other legislation to get it through parliament with no one reading it?

    Is false, the legislation will be read.

    Your claim that there will be:

    >No public consultation, no debate in the Commons, no vote by MPs.

    Is also false.

    Now there are lots of issues in the UK at the moment in terms of proposed legislation and enacted legislation (especially in the sphere of civil liberties and justice in general), but it is important not to make claims that don’t stand up to scrutiny and can be dismissed out of hand, it harms the credibility of future argument.

    The important part is that it is now being discussed by the media, politicians and people in public. After all the Conservatives and Lib Dems are hardly going to refrain from using this bill to highlight yet again (and quite rightly) the failings of this government in the protection of personal data.

  4. ajehals says:

    A good article on statutory instruments, I agree with most of the points in it
    (although it may be a little on the sensationalist side).

    As you must surely be aware, statutory instruments are not a way to bring new legislation without parliamentary approval, but rather form a part of the delegation of authority already granted in another act, they can be new rules applied to an existing piece of legislation in the usual sense of the word, but even then they must be placed before parliament (where they can be annulled). It must be said that parliament very rarely annuls statutory instruments, but then, it has already passed the enabling legislation and most statutory instruments are fairly mundane and administrative.

    I don’t think statutory instruments are a particularly good way for parliament to do business, however I find it difficult to propose an alternative (any ideas on your part?).

    I don’t however see how that is relevant to the amendment of a bill that has yet to pass through parliament.

  5. Will Rhodes says:

    An elected second chamber would be a start. And then not using that which should be temporary on a permanent basis.

  6. ajehals says:

    * not using that which should be temporary on a permanent basis.

    That I can agree with, the idea of an elected upper house however is horrifying. I would rather have an appointed or even hereditary upper house. I think that the democratic process is probably the best way to run a country, but only if there are also safe guards against rampant populism. Can you imagine what kind of legislation could be passed if the public become angry over an issue (like the 7/7 bombings, the murder of Jamie Bulger, the disappearance of Madeline McCain, Child Pornography scares, Attacks on old ladies, immigration etc.. ) if both houses regularly faced election?

    Of course you are enitled to your view, but I really do hope that it doesn’t come to fruition, I hate to think of a UK where the EU becomes the only opposition to a popular government, or where the lords do not put up resistance to things like ID cards and 90 Day detention without charge because the vocal ill informed majority and the tabloid press make it difficult for them not to.

  7. Will Rhodes says:

    I do, for the most part, see and agree with your points. But I find – and always have – that the Upper Chamber was full of people who looked at self interest, as you indicate could happen with an elected chamber.

    I do, 100% agree with you on the tabloid interference in how people vote – that does grate on my nerves no end.

    Yet I do see this happening now – rather than making policy and enacting in that is also for the betterment of the polulation – parties are too keen to grab the morning headline and fit that into legislation. It, to me, is like children’s playground rather than the House of Commons – Cromwell would turn in his grave if he knew.

    As I say, for the most part we agree – just a different way of achieving the same end I would say.

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