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Archive for the ‘liberty’ Category

Riot narrative heading in wrong direction

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Ill considered words and gestures ramping up repression

It’s OK talking and acting tough if you are getting results that matter to the rest of us, but David Cameron’s performance in the House of Commons yesterday, whilst good for his own authority as PM, does not portend well if he actually means what he says.

The overall impression that Cameron saved the country from burning down by returning from holiday early might look great to some but there is a lot of discomfort behind the headlines. Talking of tracking down and punishing the rioters would be fine if that is what he actually meant, the courts so far have sent out very mixed signals with some lenient sentences and some heavier sentences, but what is apparent is the lust of ordinary people up and down the country to lock young people away and throw away the key. Cameron latched on to this as he abandoned his “hug a hoodie” attitude promising jail terms for those convicted of involvement in the riots and looting, yet surely what we really need to see is armies of strictly supervised young people working at least 40 hours per week in their communities putting right the damage that they have caused. Surely this will have more productive long term benefits than locking them away for foolishly stealing bottled water, in six months some of them may even be on their way towards learning a skill or a trade!

Cameron talked of legislating to increase the sentences available to magistrates, instead of thinking about toughening up referral orders where offenders may only be required to work a few hours per week in the community, and what did he mean by a review of dispersal rules to give a “wider power of curfew”? Something which perhaps might be a terrible burden on the innocent and unaffected. He made pretty overt and open criticism of the Met Police’s failure to deal with the initial outbreak of violence in Tottenham, perhaps unfairly without first praising the bravery of the individual officers who faced that first unruly mob, and it is already coming back to bite him as sections of the police feel rather slighted and Sir Hugh Orde rounded on politicians and the Home Secretary in particular.

On taking office as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher immediately had the police on side with a 40% pay increase, David Cameron does not have that advantage, he faced increasing frustration in the House of Commons yesterday over future police budgets and this argument is now spreading into the wider public forum, his only counter balance is to offer more powers to the police which always carries the risk of repressive policy which does not convey the “consensual policing” that many regard as the cornerstone of British law enforcement. Talking of closing down or restricting the services of certain social networking sites is dangerous and unnecessary,  it is not the services at fault it is the users. Conservative MP Louise Mensch has waded in with this:

“Common sense. If riot info and fear is spreading by Facebook & Twitter, shut them off for an hour or two, then restore. World won’t implode,”

Yet we baulk at the suggestions that other countries such as Burma, Saudi Arabia, Iran, or China take such oppressive action to censor the internet, those few small hours certainly would represent the thin end of the wedge and lead us down a darker path! Paradoxically it might even prevent the emergence of real community spirit evidence by the “broom army” in London. The whole concept of censorship and the choking of information is not something that I welcome, it is inherently not the British way and will damage good journalism (and yes we have to acknowledge that some of the news coverage fed the ambitions of the rioting crowds for a couple of days) resourceful journalist made very good use of Twitter to get around London, Manchester, and Birmingham to cover events and some of their stories and pictures have led to the identification of suspects and consequent arrests.

So we heard a few knee jerk reactions yesterday, the dust is settling, the politicians can resume their holidays, the magistrates will continue to confound, but has this emergency session of Parliament really changed the game? Well, yes it did a little, but not for the common good.

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Written by curly

August 12, 2011 at 10:44 am

The Big Society

Is this just a euphemism for a privatised “Big Brother”?

Whilst I was happy to read of the demise of the national child database, as a sign that perhaps the coalition was earnest in its desires to sweep away illiberal poorly designed citizen databases, I was not amused to read about David Cameron’s ideas to use private companies to spy on the unemployed or the disabled.

Experian and Equifax have their place to help us build a credit history and provide banks and other financial institutions with the risk assessments necessary for making lending decisions, but there is no moral advantage in being used by the government to spy upon its citizens. The whole idea is repugnant and ought to be dropped as fast as possible. The “Big Society” is likely to very quickly become a privatised “Big Brother” with measures such as this which appear to have been filched from some old 1960s East German manual.

This is not what I would call a libertarian idea that a Conservative or a Liberal could proudly advocate.

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Written by curly

August 13, 2010 at 10:11 am

New government only provides new management of torture

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Classified documents reveal no real libertarian intents

So David Miliband, the South Shields MP, may well continue to feel some heat over the last Labour government’s position on torturing our own citizens and “rendering” them to third countries where the real question remains whether “detention, rather than killing, is the objective of the operation”, but today’s article in the Guardian also reveals that despite Clegg and Cameron making all sorts of sweet sounds about liberal free thinking principles, in reality the status quo will be maintained.

Cameron also made clear that the sort of material that has so far been made public with the limited disclosure in the Guantánamo cases would be kept firmly under wraps during the inquiry. “Let’s be frank, it is not possible to have a full public inquiry into something that is meant to be secret,” he said. “So any intelligence material provided to the inquiry panel will not be made public and nor will intelligence officers be asked to give evidence in public.”

Right, let’s keep everything under wraps in case we are seen to be collaborating in various methods of torture, which historically have produced poor questionable evidence as those suffering are prepared to say whatever is required of them in order to escape the physical and mental pain and anguish. Surely as a liberal western democracy we are above these ridiculous medieval inquisitions, we surely have the intelligence resources and technologies to gather evidence without resorting to such sub human methods. To treat people in a manner as bad as that used to experiment on rodents in pursuit of the perfect lipstick is an anachronism which we all should condemn.

It (the coalition government) also wishes to preserve what it calls “liaison relationships” – operational links with overseas intelligence agencies, including those known to use torture – on the grounds that they are a vital part of the country’s counter terrorism strategy.

Vital? Oh really?
Perhaps that’s why they are embarking on a programme of seeking mediation with those British subjects who have suffered at the hands of brutal operatives in third countries and who have yet to face any real charges under British law, or even find themselves convicted.

The protection of the status quo does nothing at all to improve our reputation in the rendition business, nor anything at all to improve the perception that the new government is simply failing to manage the policy makers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Change of government = change of managers, not change of policy!

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Written by curly

July 15, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Essential equipment for holding councillors to account

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spy gear

Intelligence is the key these days

On the left is the digital voice recorder:

Half digital recorder, half portable memory device. Unlike most, the pocket-sized Olympus stereo digital recorder downloads without cables, docking station or special software. Just plug the digital recorder into just about any PC with a USB port and off you go. The digital recorder makes it so easy to record your thoughts, ideas, memos or even small meetings in superbly clear stereo sound.

Simple plug and play via USB no cables, cradle or software necessary
Allows the storage of any file type, not just voice files
Features an integrated stereo microphone for high quality recording
Offers four recording modes: SHQ and HQ mode for superior quality, SP and LP for extended recording
Recording times between 35hours. in High Quality and 138 hours. in LP mode
5 folders, 199 messages per folder for file management
Mac compatible

On the right we have the Video Eyewear Recorder:

1.3 mega pixels Eyewear Video Recorder with 2GB builit-in memory and TF card slot-Features

-Quality Polaroid Lens from brand makers.
-1.3 mega pixels pinhole CMOS camera for clear digital recording.
-User friendly operation button for easy control.
-Sleek and elegant design suits for both men and women users.
-A must equipment and highly recommended device for journalist, traffic police, travellers and etc.
-Easy connection with PC/Laptops, no driver needed
-Built in 2G memory for as long as 5 hours video recording.
-With extended memory slot for TF/Micro SD card.
-Real time recording, never let memorable moments sneak away from life.


-Power Supply:built-in 550mAh lipolymer battery
-Power duration: 4-5 hours
-Power Adaptor: 5V DC/500 mAh
-Built-in 2GB memory, support TF card Max 2GB
-Camera hardware resolution: 1.3m pixels.
-Reading Speed > 700kbs, write >500Kbs
-Playing Speed: 30fps
-Power Consumption: <0.4W
-Video Format: 3GP
-Card Slot: TF/Micro SD card
-Physical weight 39g with battery

Next time you see your local councillors out and about doing a street walk on their patch in South Tyneside make sure you are well equipped to really know what they are talking about, these councillors are slippery you know, especially the Labour Party ones (real socialists are apparently even worse!) You cannot possibly be in opposition to your local Labour councillors unless you know exactly what they are talking about, who they are talking to, what they are getting up to, who they are meeting, and what their plans are, so get get yourself equipped to deal with opposition!

You know it makes sense!

Can I recommend The Spy Shop, one of the UK’s leading surveillance equipment suppliers, but a word of caution, if you are purchasing from South Shields make sure that your credit is good first, secondly, I’m not sure if they have a branch in Biddick Hall yet, so telephone before visiting the area eh?

Yes, I know, politics in South Tyneside used to be a simple battle of ideas, policies, and presentation, now it seems the whole game is just verging towards the sinister, and I even thought that the folks on the left were massively in favour of civil liberties and the protection of individual privacy and identities.

Remember folks, that being photographed when you are in a public place is not a crime, it is allowed, unless of course someone is poking a lens under your nose repeatedly, when it does become a crime (it’s called harassment), if you are not sure what a street photographer can get up to these days then download Linda MacPherson’s excellent guide – here

It might have made an amusing story if it wasn’t so bloody not funny (see, even I can empathise.)

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Written by curly

July 5, 2010 at 6:54 pm

28 day pre-charge detention is not necessary

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David Davis attacks coalition decision

Via Conservative Home

Former Shadow Home Secretary has attacked the new Home Secretary over her decision to renew the 28 day pre-charge detention period:

“Whilst it is welcome that she is having this review of Labour’s heavy-handed legislation, and whilst it is at least welcome that this is a six month rather than one year review, it is wholly unnecessary to extend further. There have been no cases in the last four years where it has been necessary to go beyond 21 days. Even the Heathrow plot, where innocent people were held for 28 days, it has now been proven that those that were charged after this lengthy period could have been charged in less than 14 days.

“This extension is therefore unnecessary and regrettable. It is to be hoped that after the 6 months review we will see an end not just to this unnecessarily authoritarian law, but also to control orders and their regime of house arrest, internal exile, and secret courts, all of which are an anathema of British standards of justice.”

Like Jonathan Isaby I’m a bit miffed that the coalition partners do not appear to be as libertarian as we first hoped, I’m also glad that (a) government backbenchers are not afraid to challenge the government on the issue and (b) that Conservative Home is proudly carrying it’s independent position during a period of government and not just behaving like the party puppy dog. Readers will appreciate that I have supported for a long time moves to remove some of the more draconian elements of legislation passed by the Blair/Brown governments in it’s so called “war against terror”.

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Written by curly

June 24, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Best news of the day

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ID Card scheme to be scrapped within 100 days

Many in South Shields may not be bothered one way or another but this news is a huge relief to the few of us around here who have held the flag of liberty, freedom, and civil liberties over the years, even though we may have waived it around in differing directions. It is good to see the Conservative and Liberal Democrat partners in government moving ahead with projects to roll back the state and save our cash with such incredible speed and determination.

I note from the lack of howling protests coming from the left (ah yes, silence is golden) that apparently the whole idea wasn’t all that popular with them after all, just a pity that they couldn’t have called upon their principles and beliefs to prevent Blair, Brown, Straw, Clarke, Blunkett, Smith, Johnson et al from inflicting such a monumental infringement of our privacy and liberties upon us, and that’s without raising the issues of the horrendous costs and unproven effectiveness.

The BBC reports that:

Some £250m was spent on developing the national ID programme over eight years and its abolition will mean the government will avoid spending a further £800m over a decade.

If you were stupid enough to buy one of the National ID Cards then I’m afraid that this government will not be offering you a refund of the £30 you recklessly thought would save you from international terrorism. If you are desperate to get the cash back then can I suggest that you write to Unite the union who are the principle bankrollers of the Labour Party, I’m sure they’ll find the time to consider your request after they have finished their attempt to crash British Airways.

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David Miliband expected to run for Labour leadership

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I still haven’t heard the “expected” announcement.

However I read this over at

David Miliband is expected to stand for the Labour leadership.

The former foreign secretary is scheduled to make a statement today and most commentators expect him to announce his bid for his party’s top job.

He has already received a boost when Alan Johnson said he wouldn’t stand and endorsed his candidacy.

Mr Johnson told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “No I’m not [going to stand]. I am going to support David Miliband.

“I think we have a bevy of great talent there. David is the greatest talent. I think he is a remarkable politician and his talent is to put very complex ideas into clear language, so I will be backing him.

Well here’s a complex idea to preserve the environment of fish, plankton, and coral, creating the world’s largest marine reserve, but NOT the people who have spent their lives living off those fish, just to survive you know, and on top of that Mr. Miliband steadfastly refuses to let them return to their rightful homes.

The South Shields MP does not impress Craig Murray, who uses some particularly strong language to describe Mr. Miliband’s particular talent for hiding behind environmentalism and all things Green (when it suits)

Miliband has now produced what is one of the most cynical acts in the history of British foreign policy. Dressed up as an environmentalist move, and with support from a number of purblind environmentalists, the waters around the Chagos Archipelago have been declared the world’s largest marine reserve – in which all fishing is banned. The islanders, of course, are fishermen.

Murray goes on to accuse Miliband of dressing up genocide as environmentalism, he may be allowing his passion to overflow a little, but the former foreign secretary has lots of form as an authoritarian illiberal legislator perfectly suited to carrying on the NuLab experiment.

It is to be hoped that they find themselves a good socialist instead, or even Ed Balls.

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Written by curly

May 12, 2010 at 5:41 pm