Posts Tagged ‘ConDemNation’

Of course, ‘I’m listening’ was the catchphrase of fictional radio psychiatrist Dr Frasier Crane. Frasier was a character that lasted 20 years, funny, neurotic, pompous and entirely loveable.

Of course, Crane and the actor, Kelsey Grammer who plays him are conservative. Nevertheless, Grammer is someone who knows the price of privacy having sued to protect his own and having being sued for supposedly invading that of an ex girlfriend.

Theresa May clearly doesn’t share his conservative concern about privacy. Theresa May wants to listen to everything you have to say.

But not of course if you’re less than keen on the draft Communications Bill. If you have something to say about that, well, Theresa is more interested in next season’s Laboutins.

She’s certainly not listening

Libertarian commentators have voiced concern about the Bill. Why? Because they don’t think it is proper to require private communications companies to store details of every text message, email, website visit or phone call that you make.

And, the Liberty crowd aren’t the only ones. The Constitutional Court in Germany held that to do so would be unconstitutional, oh and so did the Czech Republic and… the Romanians.

But should you dare criticise the Bill you are simply dismissed as a conspiracy theorist.

Yes, you’re a conspiracy theorist. You live in your parents box room, you have body odour, wear a ‘They Shot JFK’ t-shirt and use your super fast broadband to look up websites all about how the Queen and the CIA are in league to try and take over the world.

Or…

You’re a concerned citizen. But why, why be concerned? Because, afterall, if you’ve done nothing wrong then you have nothing to hide.

Yeah sure.

Sorry, but I still have some concerns.

My first concern is my phone bill. ‘eh? Well, Orange are going to have put in place new systems to record all these billions of peices of information and hand them out to the Government when required. Of course, that’s going to be added to my phone bill.

And, well, there’s my tax bill too, no doubt there’ll have to be a variety of systems put in place and non-jobs to manage this wonderful society saving power. We’ll be paying for those too no doubt.

But, it’s not going to be simply the police and the security services with this power. Oh no, because of course HMRC will require them to track down tax evaders and well, the local council will need them too to catch those pesky benefit fraudsters (and people who put their bins out a night early.) And, lest us not forget the NHS, if too many biros go missing from A&E their counter fraud lot better be able to check everyone’s phones to be sure there’s not a trade in illict bics.

Expensive, given to hundreds of agencies and, lacking in safeguards.

Because, to get this data you will not need a warrant. The local snooper at your local council will be able to get hold of this data and no doubt they shall.

Practicality aside

The reason this has come into the foreground is simply because the technology is there to do it. Computers are more advanced, this amount of data can be handled more simply and efficiently. So, why not.

And, if I were being cynical (guilty), I might say that as coppers and prosecutors get the chop, these powers might make it a little easier for speculative investigations when the man power isn’t available to do the full thorough job.

But, what about other dangers? Because, technology is advancing. Voice recognition is a great example. Remember your first PC? No doubt it was bundled with ‘voice type’ software. You’d spend 4 hours training the software to recognise and type your voice. Then, you’d use it in word for the first time.

‘Dear Sirs, I write to complain about the service I received in the Staines Tesco’s yesterday’

And on the screen would appear

‘Bear furs, might detain trout reverse in the stains testicles lest he may’

But technology has moved on. Voice recognition is reaching new levels, software is available which indicates whether people are telling the truth. We phone call centres and conduct banking transactions with computers.

So, we can’t be far off technology  that can pick out key spoken words and phrases. Say a keyword on the phone, security service file opens. Or, why not install the technology in all licenced premises, or better yet, all public places.

Why not? Because I’m entitled not to have my phone calls listened to, or my emails scanned. I’m entitled to share a secret with a friend.

Walk down this path and criminal trials will turn into English literature lessons. The few police officers left will be forced to collate huge transcripts and when juries get them guilty and not guilty will depend on the interpretation of a word or a phrase. Of course, the police won’t have time or the resources to investigate any other things most of the money being spent on IT technicians.

Anger

If I want to slag off the Government, I am entitled to. I am entitled to because I live in a liberal democracy. I am entitled to do it on the phone, or via email, without the contents being checked because I mention a key word. I’m entitled to privacy.

I cannot understand how the Conservatives who harped, loudly about civil liberties before being elected and slammed the Labour erosion thereof can possibly put this draft bill out there.

Moreover, the Liberal Democrats, supposedly the party that will guard our rights the most are supporting this. For heaven’s sake, they have liberal in their name!

Why doesn’t the coalition save the money on the software and simply adopt the Gauleiter system. Boris can be gauleiter of London and that woman who lives down your street who curtain twitches can be Blockleiter and report you to the council when you put your bins out an hour early.

As a country we have shed so much of our own blood and that of others in the name of liberty, each step like this we take dishonours those lives.

Start listening now Theresa

FTD.

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Left a bit. Right a bit. There, perfect. If you’re a regular reader and a bit like me then I imagine that you’re not really sure how to vote at the moment.

I was about to say, ‘I’ll never vote Labour’ – but then I realised I hate people who say, ‘I’ll never vote X’ – kind of takes the thinking out of democracy. What I would say is, it’s unlikely I’ll ever vote Labour. And that’s based on three chapters of life experience.

First chapter, growing up in a rural county, in a rural town. Labour never showed any interest or any knowledge or experience in rural affairs. Quite frankly I never thought they were bothered.

Second chapter, I don’t think we’ve been so close to America as we were in the 00s. Certainly not since Reagan/Thatcher or Roosevelt/Churchill. Did any member of the Labour Government suggest to the American Government that they ought to think about the Federal Death Penalty or Military Death Penalty? Not that I’m aware. And did we persuade them to sign up to the International Criminal Court? Point me in the right direction if they did. Despite this 1000s of Brits are anti-death penalty activists and equal numbers believe in and advocate for the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

Present chapter, practice. On a day to day basis it’s rare I use a ConDem law. The law I’m condemned to deal with comes from that Labour decade. And people assume because of my practice I vote Labour. Are you joking? People point toward the Human Rights Act 1998 but they ignore the Criminal Justice Act 2003. If you’re concerned about a ‘British Brand’ of justice, that did more to undermine it than the HRA ever did. Hearsay evidence goes before juries. Bad character evidence goes before juries. Forget the fact that the common law had developed, to balance fairness in these areas for a thousand years. Control orders v Habeas Corpus, the list goes on…

So it’s unlikely I’ll vote Labour.

The promise

David Cameron is…. I don’t know who he is. I thought before the election I did. To me the Tories had made all the right noises in my areas of interest. They were talking about rehabilitation in prisons. They were opposing detention without judicial scrutiny. Maintaining jury trials was an issue they fought Labour on. They opposed the extension of ‘snooping’ powers beyond the security services and police.

And, on a personal level, big society sounded good. In particular, I had hoped that it would support charities like the CAB and help reduce the administrative burden on small charities like the kids’ charity I am involved with.

Labour had already planned to give my colleagues and I a pay cut. I can cope with that, everyone is hurting and I should hurt to as part of my income comes from the public purse. I’m not animated about cuts (although I would like to know how much the Counsel in Leveson for a) the inquiry b) other public bodies i.e the Met are being paid, when we’re having our pay cut…) I understand it needs to be done.

I am animated about stupid behaviour. This constant rhetoric about  the Human Rights Act. Two simple facts: European Convention on Human Rights, we were integral to its instigation, fact two, if you’re not a signatory you cannot be a member of the EU.  The Government knows both these things, they’re banging the drum because parts of the general public like the deafening monotonous thud.

Policing. Winsor is an ill thought disaster. Although I do agree that civilian staff and police officers doing the same job ought to be paid the same, the rest? The rest smells of cutting people. If you want to cut police costs then properly focus their responsibilities and give the public a shock by telling them that an armed response vehicle and helicopter won’t be sent when there’s a child kicking a ball against a wall. And the cultural change needed within aspects of the police, that will somehow be magically achieved by fast tracking graduates. Instead, there ought to have been a full Royal Commission on policing in this country.

And, a manifesto promise, that youth offending would  be dealt with at a grass roots level with increased and earlier social intervention. Young offenders within the system would have the intervention of non-state mentors and access to drug rehabilitation. Yawn, didn’t happen, but don’t worry readers children are still prosecuted for school yard fights and shoplifting paper clips.

I know your secret

I know the Tory Cabinet’s secret. Half of them are in the closet. No, not like that. Another closet. A cupboard actually. A rather regal Chippendale cabinet. A fair few of them are red tories or one nation conservatives.

And there are tell-tale signs:

–          Some of them emphasise development of new green jobs rather than attempting to resuscitate manufacturing industries.

–          Some have attempted to reduce prison numbers and give prisoners purpose.

–          A number shuddered at the thought of privatised police.

–          There’s been moves to reconsider our position on extradition again.

So what do these red tories or one nation conservatives believe in FTD? Simple, we’re one country, united under the law. Building harmony and acceptance between all aspects of society.  It means actively fighting all forms of discrimination and in modern times has focussed on not only this country but promoting the protection of rights abroad. Small government and economic freedoms. And, protecting the rights of individuals and limiting the State’s restrictions on our everyday lives.

Why they’re clearly in the closet

There’s glimmers of one nation in the front bench. Ken Clarke’s abandoned sentencing policy is such an example. Libyan intervention, depending on your view, is another suggestion at least. The dedication to the NHS and free schools are indicative too. Come on, Big Society, there’s a clue if there ever was one.

But they’re scared. Every time they try and do something radical they have a panic attack. The right wing press go mad, the Express and the Mail pour vitriol onto the pages and Cameron panics, flip flops.

The sentencing reforms that Clarke proposed and Cameron initially supported are an apt example.

The ghost of Thatcher haunts them too. Heath, a one nation conservative failed. Thatcher succeeded, she survived  and saved the nation during the last recession. The back benchers are full of Conservative MPs who think that Thatcher was yesterday. They forget the social damage done by images of police officers charging on horseback into protestors.

Those MPs forget that the Winter of Discontent then SWAMP 82 were a watershed for police/public relations and they have not improved really since. The distance between the police and public is one of the reasons why communities can’t form active social cohesion.

And, the Tories too are scared to an extent I think. Scared to appeal to a new generation who want to secure social justice, do not want excessive state intervention in their lives, want their sexual and social preferences to be respected. They don’t want the planet to be destroyed and they want international development to remain on the agenda. That generation want to be able to access education to work in new, green industry and be allowed to get on with things. All one nation Tory values.

May day

I think it’s probably more mayday mayday in the cabinet room in number 10 at the moment. And voter numbers next week threaten to be very low. That should be a big enough hint to the Government. Try something new! Or actually, try something old. Thatcherism might have worked for the 70s recession. Majorism (if there is such have thing) might have worked for 90s.

All of these cuts might be a little easier to swallow if we all felt we were in it together, one nation and the Tories weren’t scared to upset an element of the electorate or the tenants of their back benches.  I hope the British public have enough intelligence to vote for who they prefer, not who the Daily Mail tells them to.

It’s May Day, it’s a good day to come out of the closet, to think about historic approaches and apply them to today’s problems. It might even encourage some of the other parties to do the same.

FTD