Taking a civil liberty

31 December, 2008

Tom Harris has it that anyone interested preserving their civil liberties is writing in green ink. There is of course no basis that Members of Parliament would sell out our civil liberties for a stint as a PPS or in Keith Vaz’s case a bigger office. I feel safe already although there are plenty of people commenting on his blog and Tom Watson’sabout possible drawbacks to clamping down on civil liberties most of which would be apparent to a sharp minded 8 year old but appear to be absent from the thinking of many of our elders and betters. Still I thought I should take the opportunity to point out some of the more dunderheaded measures:

1) Take ID cards. Now back in year 9 at school in business studies we learnt about a concept called “Opportunity Cost” For the hard of thinking this means of you spend X billion on one thing you can’t spend it on another. So if we spend upmteen billion on ID cards then we can’t spend the money on more police. Personally I think terrorists would be more worried about thousands of extra police than a piece of glorified plastic with some “biometric” hocus pocus that means the government is charged a fortune and takes an additional 5 minutes to copy.

2) What about the incoming ban on “extreme pornography”? Legislation that was brought about by the Longhurst campaign. A tragic case where a women was killed by her boyfriend who said he was addicted to violent pornography. They then decided of themselves that the pornography was to blame for the death forgetting that correlation is not necessarily or indeed remotely causation. Combine this with drafting of the legislation that is so lax it can encompasses virtually anything the police doesn’t like. Instead of tackling something like bestiality or necrophilia which I think there would be common consent to the government has let the police and the CPS decide whether to criminalise Britain’s BDSM community. Genius.

3) The RIPA which gives surveillance powers to the most lowly bureaucratic functionary with an interest in dog fouling that the Stasi would be proud of.

Oh and don’t get me started on 42 days….

Then of course there is the political argument which is advanced here by one of my old lecturers Prof. Anthony King who as well as pointing out “the Tories have had the support of 40 per cent or more of voters throughout the whole of those 15 months. They have not been in such a strong position for so long since the late 1980s” and what makes it much worse is Liberal Democrats who at the end of the day tended to vote Labour by a massive margin (Labour +40%) in a Lab/Con split are now only marginally pro Labour (+11%). As we will find out at the next election this is an important constituency for us and the government seems to be doing its best to drive these supporters into the welcoming arms of opposition parties. But why worry about such things when we still have Dr Who?

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Kennedy’s self-combustion?

31 December, 2008

“Y’know I think y’know things might not be going y’know to well but at least i’m not going to say y’know whether i’ve got a criminal conviction or my financial interests because y’know don’t y’know who I am”

Experience isn’t everything in politics. Just ask Barack Obama four years ago he was a state senator, now he’s President-elect of the most focused and effective transition for many years or Tony Blair, before he became Prime Minister, he was Labour party leader for 3 years but in terms of running anything of a governmental nature there were a lot of parish councillors who could feel a greater sense of entitlement to the Premiership.

The trouble is once you get past a certain level having no experience can mean, if you get things wrong, a spectacular self combustion. Just ask Sarah Palin if she’s not to busy reading all the papers.

I stumbled across this thread on Politicalbetting.com. There are some interesting facts in there. Private tenants are highly disposed to vote Labour but they are also the people least likely to vote, although were is the data on social tenants? Anyway the point is there are a serious number of voters who are inclined if we can get them to the polls to vote for us. Our failure and we should definatly admit it as a failure is that the government hasn’t produced an initiative which private sector tenants can say the Labour Government is on my side. The deposit protection scheme is all well and good but it is no rent control or tenancy time guarantee.

House prices may be falling at the moment but there are still many people who can’t get on the housing ladder and many people who fall off. In the most expensive parts of the country this can mean house sharing not for a couple of years when your young but for decades. All the while the reproductively incontinent get a whopping council house provided gratis. Are we surprised to find out subsequently that these people are not springing up with joy in their hearts when it comes to voting. Most of them will also be working in the private sector where pension provision is bad at best and non existant at worse. We can see government action can clearly help attack these injustice’s. If we want to win the next election we’d better get on with it.

Sod off Dave the money’s mine. Mine you hear. Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine!

Oh I love a happy Tory Party.

Massive Tory online failure

28 December, 2008

I may have been harsh before about Derek Draper’s attempts to organise the Labour blogsphere but I’m sure Derek has toe cheese that is better able to organise online campaigns than the Tory who burned £500,000 getting one extra member while Conservative Central Office is shedding staff. And these people want to run the country.

Hattip Tom and Tom

Oh and don’t forget to mention to Tom W before the 2nd January what a load of rubbish the governments ideas for regulating the internet are.

the top 25 censored stories of 2008. Thank you BBC for all your interviews on BBC NEWS ffs with all the lovely people who have done Strictly Come Dancing, makes the license fee worth it. As you can see on the list it does have a significant US slant.

If I was to suggest something in a similar vein in the UK it would be the sell off of anything involving the words Britain and nuclear to the Americans. The ability of the government to get itself a bad deal and the ability of parliament to be totally ignored and be entirely happy with the situation may well be unparalleled.

OK here is an honourable exception but the thin blue line of Paul Flynn MP is not enough and Parliament has to get its act together before the government gives any more unlimited guarantees. Nuclear energy companies who don’t have to clear up their own mess would seem to me to be as great an idea as mortgage companies giving mortages to the unemployed and then passing the risk on in unidentifiable bundles.  

As for Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent Arms Control Wonk blogger Dr Jeffrey Lewis said while doing a tour of the Atomic Weapons Establishment “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Couldn’t they have found someone British?” He went on to say:

After a couple of days at the AWE , and a tour of the lovely historical collection, I accepted the reality that, no, the United Kingdom does not in any way, shape, or form have an independent nuclear deterrent. I mean no disrespect to all the people at Aldemaston who endure the nightmarish hell of living in and around Basingstoke to keep their country safe from … well, anyway.

Ummmm Trident replacement not looking quite so good value now is it.

World Values Map

 

The Inglehart-Welzel Cultural Map of the World is made from data gathered for the World Values Survey. It has to be a candidate for inclusion on Strange Maps but it contains vital information about why some societies are democratic and others not. The hypothesis is first people have to have economic and physical security. Once this is assured then they want greater self expression and freedom and resulting from this is the desire to greater self government ie democracy.

The bad news is that democracy in the war torn hell pits of the world ain’t likely anytime soon, the good news is once a society moves towards peace and prosperity democracy will likely follow…. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

Anyway check out the World Values Survey 16 page glossy pdf brochure here.

Queen Caroline Kennedy?

23 December, 2008

I remain to be convinced about NY state governor David Paterson appointing the only surviving child of the late President John F Kennedy to the US senate, like some others here, here, here, here, and here. You would have thought someone who has spent a life avoiding the media spotlight would be less than keen to run state wide in both 2010 and 2012 the races would cost about $40m to run each. Not to mention the absence of a politcal track record.

Gov. Paterson also has to consider whether she can raise the cash necessary: likely and whether she would overshadow his own election bid in 2010: also likely. Still the chances of the Kennedy dynasty continuing for at least another generation remain strong but lets not kid ourselves that she is there on merit.

Tony Benn has a well-worn line that we wouldn’t trust the airline captain who announced over the public address system, ‘I’m not, in fact, a trained pilot – but don’t worry, my dad was.’ and he should know about heredity He is the grandson twice over of MP’s, the son of a cabinet minister, he himself has produced a cabinet minister Hilary Benn and his granddaughter Emily Benn is standing for Labour in East Worthing and Shoreham. If she is elected she’ll be the youngest MP since 1832 which is possibly one of the few times in history when a member of the Benn family hasn’t been in Parliament

UPDATE: Rupa Huq has found a kid that makes Emily Benn look like a doddery pensioner

Blackadder casus belli

23 December, 2008

“A man may fight for many things: his country, his principles, his friends, the glistening tear on the cheek of a golden child. But personally I’d mud wrestle my own mother for a ton of cash, an amusing clock, and a sack of French porn.”

Mr E. Blackadder Series 3 Duel and Duality 

Possibly the biggest stack of French porn ever

Titter ye not

23 December, 2008

I’ve pinched this from the good people over at Politicalbetting as I found it rather amusing. Derek will not be pleased.

Gordon Brown says the UK should dig for victory as the recession bites.

Gordon Brown has devised a new message of hope for hard pressed working families by purchasing 1000 Rotovators from Zimbabwe for families to cultivate allotments in their back gardens. Gordon Brown has also offered to allow free access on a means tested basis to Horse shit from Horse Guards Parade to fertilise this new eco-based economy.

He wishes to usher in a new era of self reliance where families invite friends and neighbours round for home grown boiled brussel sprouts washed down with parsnip and gooseberry wine! A Labour spokesman said that this new policy was intended to reduce the carbon footprint of families whilst providing cheaper food for hard pressed working families.

The Liberal Democrats have said that Labour has “pinched” the horse shit policy from them and they thought of it first! Nick Clegg has said he will not take any lessons from Labour on ‘shit’ policy and the Liberal democrats are out in front in fermenting and delivering policies of substance.