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South Shields premier political blog

Posts Tagged ‘liberty

Quote of the day

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I do not believe, as Ministers continue to insist, that there is some trade-off between our liberties and the safety of the realm. What makes us free is what makes us safe, and what makes us safe is what will make us free.

Dianne Abbott – Labour MP during the debate over 42 days.

This goes right to the heart of the principles that David Davis is honourably making a stand for, and it looks as though Labour are dithering over whether to defend themselves against the charges.

Via Samizdata

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Written by curly

June 12, 2008 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Freedom, Law, liberty, politics

Tagged with ,

Davis to fight for liberty!

with 2 comments

David Davis MPShadow Home Secretary resigns from Commons

I am shocked, stunned, surprised, and full of admiration for David Davis and his “bombshell” decision to resign his Commons seat and his position within the Shadow Cabinet. He intends to force a by-election in his Haltemprice and Howden constituency and it fight it purely on libertarian issues and attack the “slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms by this government.”

His stance mirrors many of the issues highlighted in this blog such as the surveillance society, the database state, civil liberties, the 42 day detention issue, CCTV cameras and official snooping on citizens, and the over intrusive nature of the state in daily lives.

Three cheers to Mr. Davis, and to Nick Clegg for his decision not to field a Lib-Dem candidate in the by-election, he is fighting on issues that are common ground between the two parties anyway.

I think Jacqui Smith ought to follow suit and resign her seat too and test her beliefs with the electorate, do you?

It’s a far more important issue than Cllr. McAtominey’s drink drive charge.

Update

The guys at Labour Home are in absolute knots over how to deal with this by-election.

Update

New Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve has announced that the Conservatives will repeal the 42 day clause. David Davis has had some affect already!

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Written by curly

June 12, 2008 at 2:10 pm

Brown sells off liberty!

with one comment

Legacy of Magna Carta sold like a cheap commodity in Exchange and Mart

I am virtually incandescent with rage at the Prime Minister and the Democratic Unionists from Ulster this morning, the right to know why you are being locked up was enshrined in the Magna Carta and it looks as though it was traded like a cheap commodity in Exchange and Mart last night. Lib- Dem Leader Nick Clegg described the deal with the nine Ulster Unionist MPs as “pork barrel politics”.

Between them Gordon Brown and the DUP have brought shame on the House of Commons, trading hundreds of years of British liberty away in order to reinforce the authority of a man not fit to hold the office of Prime Minister and unable to command the wholehearted support of his own party. Without the support of nine MPs from Ulster his plans to summarily lock away people without charge for up to 42 days would have been wrecked along with his nosediving reputation. I fear for the people of South Shields, the UK, and our Muslim communities if this measure is forced through Parliament at the third reading, there can be no doubt that the fight to retain our liberties will go on, the House of Lords will maul the measure and force a battle with the government which could result in the use of the Parliament Act to force the measure through.

Last night’s decision was an utter travesty, some in the Labour Party didn’t want it, the Conservative Party didn’t want it, the Liberal Democrats didn’t want it, the SNP didn’t want it, Plaid Cymru didn’t want it. Only the foolhardy, including Tory rebel Ann Widdicombe and UKIP MP Bob Spink, along with nine grubby DUP members were prepared to support Brown’s hideous clause that would would put Magna Carta on a spike for ever!

One hopes and prays that if the odious retreat in the face of Al Qaeda threats is forced upon us, that the incoming Conservative government will repeal the measure within days of their arrival.

The biggest winner last night was not the people of Ulster, or the people of the UK, or the police, or the government – it was Osama Bin Laden!

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Written by curly

June 12, 2008 at 10:20 am

Hours to save liberty

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Labour MPs must decide what is more important, Gordon Brown or our liberty?

Prime Minister Gordon Brown faces a major test today as MPs take the first vote on his plans to increase detention without charge to 42 days, the latest “compromise” suggests paying innocent victims £3000 per day for being held without charge. It’s nothing short of bribery to bolster Brown’s position. I suspect that the vast majority of South Shields people support the government’s position and believe the guff about The War Against Terror (TWAT), but this issue goes far deeper than that and threatens traditional values and liberties that are enshrined as far back as the Magna Carta.

Some of us are finding it very difficult to believe that we are in a “war footing” that requires extreme measures restricting our freedoms and liberties, we see little difference between the current terrorist threat and that posed by the Provisional IRA in the 1970s, yet those problems were solved without resorting to such draconian Acts of Parliament in mainland Britain. So many experts in the role of prosecuting terrorist suspects have already voiced their opinions that the 42 day detention is not necessary to help them do their work, and that the measure will be seen to be aimed primarily at the followers of one religion in the UK. This will cause alienation and help to drive more younger men of the Muslim faith into the arms of the more extreme fundamentalist teachers. This is not what we need, we need to engage them more, we need to see more and more communities such as ours in South Shields, where religious and racial divides are not seen as barriers to community cohesiveness, developing throughout the rest of the UK.

I’m not one who regularly scours through the pages of The Guardian, but I see that Sir Michael White has joined the calls to respect habeas corpus introduced at Magna Carter by King John, and he warns Gordon Brown that doing the right thing may not be right;

Like the 10p tax row or the price of petrol, memories of faulty police or intelligence data are part of Brown’s accumulated legacy, which makes it harder for him to win. Even if he carries tonight’s vote, the Lords or courts may overturn him.

With polls now predicting he cannot win in 2010, some tell him: “Just do what you think is right.” If 42 days is an example, it’s not working yet.

On the letters page two caught my eye, one from Helen Kennedy, a criminal barrister wrongly painted as supporting Brown who writes;

It is with enormous sorrow that I must urge friends in the House of Commons to vote against the government’s proposal for 42-day pre-charge detention today. As a criminal barrister with many years’ experience of terror trials, I have no doubt that the provisions – even with the hopeless purported last-minute “concessions” – are wrong in principle, unnecessary and counter productive to the community cohesion that yields vital intelligence in these cases…..

The essential “safeguard” in a civilised legal system is that you are promptly informed of the accusation against you. As a long-standing member of the Labour party, I am also very worried about the political folly of this divisive policy. I had long hoped that my party could begin to win back the many members and voters alienated by the war on terror and war in Iraq. Voting against 42 days would be a good way to start.

The second from Professor Conor Gearty gets straight to the heart of the matter;

It is the usual practice of Labour MPs and cabinet ministers to recover their civil libertarian consciences once they have entered opposition. Let no Labour member who votes for 42-day detention seek in future to persuade us that they have refound their principles in this way. If they should try to do so, let them be laughed off all such platforms. The time for the courage of their convictions is now, not in a couple of years or so when some hard-right Tory home secretary is further eviscerating our freedom on exactly the same basis (an unknowable future) that the government relies on today.

That’s right, this measure creates the conditions for any future government of any colour to introduce far more drastic and totalitarian measures which could destroy centuries of British fair play before the Law. Isn’t this exactly what the terrorists would want? Their aims have always been to cow us into moral submission.

Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith appear so desperate to push these changes through that they have offered a plethora of wooly compromises to buy off their backbenchers, they have even gone so far as “sexing up” the case for 42 days as Shami Chakrabarti discloses today (and if ever anyone deserved a huge honour, medal, or some form of gratitude for fighting for our freedoms, this woman deserves the greatest possible for her fight against this measure.)

It is so easy for so many people to think that this is a straight forward fight against terrorist activity, but this is to ignore the far more important issues surrounding fairness, real justice, personal liberties and the responsibilities of the state and the control of it’s exercise of power. Every citizen should retain the right to know what they are accused of in order to prepare a right and proper defence. No other western European nation is proposing to take the draconian powers that Brown’s government is proposing and I appeal to all Parliamentarians who read this blog to heed their conscience and put aside the Prime Minister’s difficulties in deference to the freedoms and liberties that we have accumulated over centuries of British history.

I do not expect South Shields MP and Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who has been recalled from an oversees visit to attend tonight’s vote, to rebel against Brown (his track record shows that he has blind faith and has never voted against the government) but the borough’s other MP Stephen Hepburn is not shackled by the conventions of collective cabinet responsibility. If Hepburn had the will he could join others and strike a blow for freedom, but I suspect party loyalty will be far more important to him than realising how swiftly a 42 day detention will become the recruiting sergeant for terrorists.

Mr. Hepburn, there only a few hours left to save centuries of liberty!

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Written by curly

June 11, 2008 at 10:49 am

Sex pictures shock!

with 150 comments

Fairground, South ShieldsCurly taken for a ride

Did I mention something about being taken for ride in my last post?

Well I was, but I never imagined that a trip to the Ocean Beach Pleasure Park in South Shields would result in a ride in the back of a police car, being questioned about taking pictures of a sexual nature (and we are not talking of someone of Britney Spears age either!)

Have I ever mentioned CCTV cameras in the past?

Yes on numerous occasions.

Have I ever stated that we are becoming a nation of suspects in the past?

Yes, on numerous occasions.

Have I ever voiced the fear that we may quietly lurch towards a police state in the past?

Yes, on numerous occasions.

So let me start at the beginning – I parked my car at the Littlehaven Hotel, South Shields, this afternoon and walked across the beach with two intentions in mind (a) recording the extent of the damage to the sea wall on Harbour Drive for a post in this blog tomorrow, and (b) taking some pictures in the fairground for use in South Shields Daily Photo, as an illustration of the sort of things that South Shields folks get up to on an Easter Bank Holiday weekend. Please bear in mind that presenting a site such as this requires a lot of photographs with regular fresh input, nothing is worse than repetition.

I was well wrapped up, as usual, wearing my normal photographic kit which has many large deep pockets suited for carrying lens, spare batteries, flash gun etc. I also had my normal heavy bag with me just in case I decided to use any other filters or a third lens. I spent some time at both locations but at one stage had to take shelter in the waltzer as hailstones beat down, stinging the face and battering against the camera. Whilst under shelter I continued to shoot scenes (I found it fascinating that people still wanted to wander around the park and have fun, despite the atrocious weather.)

After an hour and a half I made my way back to the car satisfied that I have gained enough new material over the past couple of days to keep the site running for the next week or so. I drove through another hailstorm towards the South Marine Park and then along Ocean Road to check the size of the queue at Colmans, from there I proceeded towards Anderson Street and see a police car coming towards me from the direction of the Town Hall, blue lights flashing, siren wailing, in an obvious hurry to get somewhere. It did a U turn and came up behind me, by now I had slowed to a stop along with a couple of other cars, as we all assumed the police car wanted to get past. It appeared that he didn’t, perhaps he wanted to turn left just in front of the Voyager, so we all moved off again to give him room. But no, he’s still behind me, now flashing his headlights too, good God, he wants me!

My mind runs around thinking of things like tax disc, lights, body damage, and satisfied myself that all was in order, so I turned into Beach Road, parked up and approached the police officer. He wants me to go back to my car switch everything off, lock it and get into the back of the police car!

Crikey, what the hell do they think I’ve been up to? If, like me, you have never been in this situation in your life before perhaps you can imagine the slightly panicked state of mind.

“You wish to speak to me?”

“Yes sir, if you don’t mind stepping into the rear of my car”

“Is there something wrong with my car or my driving?”

“No, no sir, nothing like that at all, we are responding to an emergency call from someone in The Sundial who has reported you as taking pictures of children in the play park”

“Play park? I haven’t been near any play park! I’ve been on the beach and in the fairground, and I’ve never been anywhere near The Sundial either, surely you must have the wrong person?”

“Sorry sir, but we tracked you on the CCTV cameras, got your registration number and that’s why I need to talk to you, you are exactly as described”

After confirming name and address, date of birth, electoral roll, and telephone number, I offered to get my camera and show the officer all of the pictures that I’d taken this afternoon (click the thumbnail above, for an example).

“Dodgem cars, fairground rides, beach, is that all sir?

“Yes, help yourself, view them all”

Whilst he was viewing, I gave him one of my cards confirming that I have an occasional monetary interest in taking photographs, and whilst he was getting interested, news came through on his radio that I was a Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator and had reported a number of crimes and leads in my area (not that it’s the most crime ridden street in South Shields) and it became clear that an innocent individual had been lifted off the street at the behest of some illiberal busy body who thinks the man with a camera is obviously a dangerous paedophile.

“I’m sorry sir, this is obviously a terrible misunderstanding, but I suppose you realise that we get more and more of these calls every week these days. I was looking at a bloke’s camera recently, and I can tell you the pictures weren’t the sort that you have taken”

“What I cannot understand is, you said someone in The Sundial rang 999 and reported me, I haven’t been anywhere near The Sundial, I haven’t been anywhere near the park, you said I was tracked by the CCTV cameras, so you should have known that I’d been in the fairground!”

“So sorry sir, we have to follow these calls, and may I thank you for being so co-operative. Have a good day sir”

Have good day sir, hmph! Well to be fair he was extremely courteous and easy to deal with, but it has left a bad taste in the mouth I can tell you. Any idea how many people I saw taking pictures in the fairground with their nice shiny digital cameras today? Any idea how many Motorola V8 type camera phones I’ve seen pointed at smiling faces in the fairground today?

Yes – many!

Thing is, if you are wearing a shell suit, baseball cap, and rockies, you don’t look the least suspicious in this day and age, but if you have a digital SLR with a large zoom lens you really have it for a nasty purpose in mind! Yes, we are becoming a nation of suspects, we are also becoming a nation of ninnies and nincompoops wrapped in the cotton wool of the nanny state, too bothered with our own little suspicions and personal foibles to be able to talk to the bloke with the camera, why worry they’ll see him on the CCTV cameras surely?

I write now, with the person who dialled 999 in mind. (If he/she ever gets round to reading this.)
Do you know, if you had came up to me and asked “what the hell I was doing?” You might have found out that, on the whole I’m a pretty straight kinda guy (as some former Prime Minister professed) , you might have discovered that I am actually personable (when I’m not ranting), you might have found out about some interesting websites that portray South Shields to the world, you might have found out that I’m a family guy too with a wife and two lovely children, you might have had a rewarding experience.

You know, it’s what we used to call “being neighbourly.”

Instead you have demonstrated a typical and ignorant knee jerk reaction, taken not a blind bit of notice of all the other cameras being used around you, without realising that under British law there is virtually no such thing as privacy in a public place, and wasted a considerable amount of police time and mine into the bargain. Have a nice day!

Right that’s got that off of my chest!

If you would like to see more of the pictures that I took this afternoon check back with this blog tomorrow, or South Shields Daily Photo any time after midnight.

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Written by curly

March 24, 2008 at 7:43 pm