Sunday, November 27, 2005

Recognising Rape when we see or hear about it.

Reading the Britblog roundup guest hosted by Philobiblion this week, there are several articles on the worrying Amnesty Report on British attitudes to rape. Unsurprisingly, this has also been a topic of conversation amongst some of my friends, and, well, I've already chosen my nomination for next weeks round up.

It's from a friends personal journal, normally the source of frivolity and light hearted banter. Not today however. You see, she, like Rachel has also, in the past, been the victim of a rapist. And she wants to do something about it. Specifically, she's read the Amnesty report, and finds it's questions to be biased and leading, and the media reports have blown the numbers up out of proportion to the actual answers. Doesn't mean there isn't a worrying number of people who do still blame the woman when she's raped (or the man, for that matter, it does happen). However, that's not her main concern. Her real concern are the separate, but linked reports, of the court case involving the drunken girl and the security guard.

Now, when I first heard about this, I agreed with the verdict. She was drunk, and didn't even remember the event, it only came out it had happened because he admitted to it. He said it was consensual, she didn't know one way or the other, case closed. However, I've been persuaded that it shouldn't be. Yes, under current law, he's innocent. But why? She was so drunk her friends were worried about her. So drunk that she needed to be carried home. So drunk she didn't know what she was doing. We're not talking 'just failed the breathalyser, give me a break officer' drunk here, we're talking 'unable to look after herself properly' drunk. So drunk, in fact, that she's unable to give consent to anything. Is that right?

Is it right that a sober man can have sex with someone unable to think for themselves and not face any consequences? If it was Rohipnol, then no. But if it's alcohol? Debi thinks the law should be changed. She's persuaded me of her case. Now I want to get others to join in, or, if you do disagree, explain why, and give reasons we can try to answer. I find rape to be the most reprehensible of crimes, and I find the attitudes of certain sectors within society to be, well, wrong. No means no, but yes should not be the assumed state.

Any takers?

Bombing al Jazeera: Is the hurly-burly done?

Ok, the truth, or at least more of it, appears to now be coming out. Blairwatch argues succesfully that there were, in fact, two memos, analyses them, and then completely misses a key point. Two men are prosecuted in relation to the memo in the Mirror story, but it appears that the Mirror story about Bush's alleged comment are not what the Govt is worried about. Blairwatch quotes an Observer piece, including:
...according to those who have seen the memo 'there is no question Bush was serious'......Written by a Blair aide who accompanied the Prime Minister to Washington it was headed 'top secret'. It is understood that on the five pages there were details of troop deployments and movements. Lurking within the pages were also frank discussions over the US assault on Fallujah. It was clear from the tone of the memo that Blair was far from happy at the tactics used by American forces.
There. That's the rub. It's not about Bush's joking aside (you were right DK, mea culpa), it's about troop deployments and movements. From The Telegraph:
People who have seen the document say the real reason that it is being suppressed by the Government is because it contains a potentially damaging private discussion between the two leaders about the controversial United States attack on the Iraqi city of Fallujah last year.
Blair calls talk of a secret plan to bomb al-Jazeera as a "conspiracy theory", and we now know the true reason why it's being blocked. They're being prosecuted, not because of non-existent plans to take out a member of the free press, but because it's got details of troop movements and high end disagreements between the leaders.

Much as I hate to admit it, the government is probably right to try to prevent publication of troop deployment plans while those troops are in a combat situation. I have no doubt that Bush has an intense dislike for al-Jazeera. I'm pretty sold on the idea that the times they have been directly hit weren't coincidental, but it does appear that this memo, and this threat, aren't actually a substantial threat to the Qatari station.

If it were true, I'd be just as steamed, and when I thought it was, I was joining the chorus. But now it appears the co-ordinators of the blogoswarm are missing the point, in articles they themselves are quoting.

So, conspiracy theory number 2; if this is a non-story, what are they hiding this time?

Burmese Days

As expected, Burma has extended the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi for another twelve months.

Gotta love those Burmese eh? First they lock up one of the most influencial democrats/peace workers of the last couple of decades, then they let her go, then they arrest her again, then they don't, and so on and so on. Confusing eh?
Recently, they decided to completely move their capital from Rangoon to Pyinmana - best guesses as to why include being scared of being invaded from the sea by the USA and/or as a complete whim based on advice from fortune tellers. Not exactly the most rational government in all the world now are they?

Anyway, back to the main point - popular leader of the opposition locked up for fifteen years for democratically winning an election. Detained by a completely corrupt military junta happy to abuse their power and their citizens to stay where they are. Now that's something nice to think about on a Sunday morning as you take for granted your coffee, toast and newspapers of free expression.

(Sorry, not particularly blog related, but for once a celebration of all things free and British, however corroded they may sometimes seem.)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

What's Wrong With Showing ID?

By way of Boing Boing, I find the website of this lady in the US somewhat apposite. She was arrested and faces trial for refusing to show a security guard her ID on a public bus; her side of the story is on the site. I especially like
"The fact of the matter is that demands for ID do nothing for security while making honest Americans less free. "
Worth a read, I did find the obsession the US had with photo ID rather disquieting while over there, I dread to think what it will be like if it's made the norm to carry it over here.

Friday, November 25, 2005

David Davis: Enemy of choice

On Any Questions as we speak:
700 supermarkets have been granted late licences. What type of person is going to make use of the opportunity to buy their six packs of lager at 4am and then go on the streets and drink it?
I'm sorry?

The automatic assumption that you only want to buy alcohol in a supermarket late at night because you want it immediately is both blinkered and wrong. The snobbish (something I didn't expect from him) assumption that those who buy "6 packs of lager" are those who are prone to "yobbish" behaviour and the simple rejection of free market ideals make me like him less and less. He's attempting an authoritarian image to appeal to to those who are buying the media scare stories.

I, personally, do most of my shopping late night on the way home from visiting a friend, I find 24 hours opening a godsend, I can wander around and the only annoyances are staff doing their jobs, etc. But because I prefer to shop at night, I'm not allowed to buy my "6-packs" (of cider, natch, Devonshire lad me). Until now.

Pubs kick out at the same time, the streets fill up. Clubs kick out at the same time, the streets fill up. Kicking out time is dreaded by most who live in a central location to town. People like me that is. Until now. Now, there is no 'kicking out time', people can stay when they like, and drift out when they're done, and the streets aren't to be forced full of drunken crowds at set times. I have no doubt whatsoever that initially there may be a few incidents, but people will get used to it, we'll adapt, and problem bars can now be controlled and shut down much easier.

It's not often I get to say this, it's hard to type it up, my keyboard is rebelling. But, on this one, I'm 100% behind the government. Ouch.

(extra: Eddie has more at The Sharpener; agree with every word.)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

D-Notice served, Boris says he'll publish anyway

According to CounterPunch (thanks Jonny), HMG has served a D-Notice preventing further discussion of the memo in the press. Fortunately, Boris is no coward:
we now have allegations of such severity, against the US President and his motives, that we need to clear them up ... If someone passes me the document within the next few days I will be very happy to publish it in The Spectator, and risk a jail sentence.
I hope he does, and moreso, I hope the Govt prosecutes, that would be a peice of political theatre the whole world will watch.

Had a discussion with DK on the idea of bombing a media outlet, in which he corrected me on a minor factual error but essentially I stand by it, bombing a media source, regardless of what we think of it, is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. Qatar is a key ally, and the home of the main US base in the Gulf area, Al-J is the property of the Emir.

Press freedom is being restricted (yes, it may be a breach of the official secrets act, but the story is out now). Bush is alleged to have proposed a reprehensible act. If it's such a minor event, or was meant as a cheap aside, why the overreaction?

Crime and Punishment

I was reading this article on the register which got me thinking about the issue of breaking minor laws.

Now I'd like to think that the police do actually have better things to be doing than worrying about whether somebody occasionally does 31mph in a 30mph zone. On the other hand, I also think that if you get caught speeding in one of these areas, you only have yourself to blame. It works both ways really - you can only moan so far when you are actually breaking a law.

But anyway, a discussion on speeding isn't really what I was after. What I was really thinking of was one of the things that John Locke discussed about social law. Basically, what Locke said was that actually, the major part of a crime was not the specifics of the crime itself, but that it showed a disrespect for the laws of society as a whole. The outcome (which I've discussed before) was in tarring all criminals, however small, as outsiders and therefore easier to punish - too easy to maintain his comfortable state of nature.

However, regardless of the failure of the extended argument, the basis of the argument is worthy of some thought. Regardless of the severity of the crime, committing it in the first placedoes show a disrespect for society. For example, the biggest reason why most people don't commit crimes isn't because of the legal deterrent, but simply because that is not the way they live their life. It may not actually be respect per se, but it is obviously something other than the threat of punishment. If we accept this, then how far does that set a criminal apart from 'an ordinary person'?

I don't know if there is a clear-cut answer to this, but I think one thing is does show is that we need to be looking at the underlying causes of crime and tailor our responses accordingly. If offenders really do see society in a different way to the rest of us, is there anything we can do to solve this - either by changing their view or changing ours. Also, it suggests that a penal deterrent may not be the best way of putting people off committing crimes, as whilst it may work for on mindset, it clearly doesn't work for another. It's very easy, for example with the current debate over punishment for people illegally owning guns, to simply 'stick another five years on', as if a longer sentence will cut crimes. It's the kind of disengaged, reactionary approach which wont solve the problem because it's not addressing the problem. It might sound good to someone with no intention of committing crime in the first place, but if the deterrent wasn't the thing stopping someone committing a crime, then adding another five years to the sentence does squat.

Thing is, it's making the same mistakes as Locke did by failing to really enage with 'those people', whereas looking at why they feel they can or must commit crime in the first place would probably yeild better results in the long-run. Locke's decision to alienate criminals only resulted in his conception of the state of nature being a bit flawed, but continuing to alienate those people who commit crimes is obviously a far more serious matter.

LibDems move leftward?

Trawling links on other blogs, I find this observation from Doctorvee on the LibDems new tax policy
Isn’t proposing higher taxes for the rich and lower taxes for the poor actually a move to the left? Or have the meaningless labels of ‘left’ and ‘right’ just become even more useless?
He's right of course, a proposal to cut taxes for the poor and increase them for the rich is something that appeals to the left, so why it would annoy the activists on the left is beyond me.

It's almost enough to make me want to renew the membership. Except I decided to give up on partizan politics and instead concentrate on the stuff I believe in. Especially when their Shadow Health bloke says things like:
During the election people often asked what new law would I like to introduce. My answer was to ban smoking in all public places, as this would have the most significant impact on improving people's health.
Well, maybe it would. But not very liberal is it Stephen? The whole point about believing in personal liberties is to let people be stupid. The correct answer is to use the market and tax regimes and encourage bars and similar to push smoking out without actually banning it.

I don't smoke, have never smoked, and don't plan to start anytime soon. But I have friends that do. I also have friends with heavy asthma who need smoke free environments. If you encourage pubs to ban it through breaks, etc, then many will, but due to the demand that will exist for premises that allow smoking, not all will. So my smoking friends can go where they wish, my asthmatic friends can go out safely, and I, as a rational actor within a functioning market*, can make my own choices.

Ah well, nobody's perfect.

(*Yes, I do describe myself as a socialist on occasions. Yes, I also strongly support market economic theories. The two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, unless you confuse distribution, exchange and ownership.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Shock news: Christmas not banned, lights still turned on early

It's getting to that time of year when the "news"papers start filling up with Xmas banned, renamed Winterval, etc. Every local council will have someone trot out the tired old line about "political correctness gone barmy". All, of course, complete crap. Unless you believe the Daily Mail and Express are still real papers telling actually true and fully researched stories. For those that do, go and read this debunking of the latest banned Christmas story.

It's still November. Christmas, an ancient pagan festival with very little to do with the birth of some special kid, is supposed to happen around the time of the winter solstice. That's a month away. Can it stay away for at least awhile longer please? In the meantime, take any (and all) stories of Christmas being banned with a bucket of salt, and point anyone accused of being a killjoy in my direction, I'll buy them a pint or something.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Google referrals

Well, others seem to like them. A recent referral from Google, euromyths website. Um, we came top. First result. I haven't even tried any SEO techniques yet, and I'm already ranked more highly than the Euromyths Website when searching for it? Um, for the benefit of those that get googled to this entry, Paul's original article.

MySociety: HearFromYourMP.com

Ok, the two neighbouring constituencies are half way there already, so why has Torbay only got 3 people?

Wait, a thought occurs; the last two times I emailed Adrian, I got a reply within 12 hours. It's still a good idea, even if my MP is pretty good at keeping in touch. I'll pimp it out there anyway. Go sign up.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Elsewhere: CAP reform and ugly aunts

Nosemonkey is musing on the CAP, and I just had to point this line out:
treat the CAP in much the way you would an unfortunate, but extremely prominent, pus-dribbling wart on the face of a beloved aunt

Essentially, the benefits of EU membership outweigh the problems. Long term, our only real chance of economic stability is within a trading block, and I personally favour the EU over the Anglosphere. But in order for the EU to survive, it's problems must be reformed. Can someone please explain this to those who perpetually block CAP reform? Maybe we could just throw the French out and the rest of the EU can get on fine?

Devil's own freedom

Our favourite little Devil is having some trouble understanding different types of freedom.
The ultimate state of freedom is to be able to do what you want, completely. All cultures curb absolute freedom to a degree: I should not be allowed to murder a shopkeeper because I consider his broccoli to be too dear. That impinges on his freedom to charge what he likes for his broccoli.
And has decided to debate with me on the subject. As civil liberties and freedoms are one of the basic rationales of this blog, well, why not post rather than comment?

I think (again) that he's taking a literalist approach to the definition of freedom; he quotes the OED, but effectively ignores all but the 1st definition ("all of the others spring from that definition"). The 3rd, that he quotes, is about freedom from. My original comment:
3) (freedom from) exemption or immunity from.

By their definition, they're fighting for freedom. Freedom 'from' many things, including 'western decadence', unholy behaviour, threats, etc.

What to you (and I, for that matter) is a repressive regime is to them a regime that allows 'true' muslims to worship uninterrupted by women not 'covering their modesty', etc.

Understanding is not condoning. They believe they have a legitimate cause. Sure, the leaders may also seek to repress, etc, but the majority of the foot soldiers believe (brainwashing is such a pejoritive term) that they fight the 'good' fight for freedom, etc.
As usual, I'm not as clear as I could be. I'll learn.

So, non terrorism example. He seeks the freedom to smoke in a pub. I seek the freedom to choose whether I go to a pub that allows it or not. The govt seeks to give the workers in the pub the freedom from smoke. I seek freedom to. The govt wishes to provide freedom from.

My most recent ex enjoys the freedom to wear a skirt that barely covers her arse. But many in society, regardless of religion, would like the freedom from such sights (deluded fools?).

However, he's right in many ways, it is all about power. Most calls to religion when calling people to fight are using it as an excuse, Bush is just as bad as Bin Laden in using 'God' as a tool for other purposes.

However, most of those on the ground genuinely believe that 'western decadence' is damaging their society, and they seek freedom from such influences. Regardless of whether we agree with them, regardless of whether we like it, regardless of whether they are being mis-used, they believe they are fighting for freedom.

In my view, freedom should be an absolute. Unfortunately, it is not. We need to promote the values of civic freedoms, of individual responsibilities within a civic society. But in order to do this, we must understand those that disagree with us, we must be able to assert they are wrong by first understanding what they believe.

The "terrorist / freedom fighter" debate is as old as political rhetoric, and it's still, essentially, a useless argument. The term 'terrorist' is now such a pejorative that it has no real meaning, any fighter against the values of our society gets labeled a terrorist and is thus beyond the pale. History tells us we need to learn and adapt. John Hume won a nobel prize for a reason, he did what many of us could not stomach, and negotiated with a terrorist organisation to bring peace.

We need new peacemakers. Applying pejorative after pejorative onto those who oppose us will never bring peace. To understand is not to condone.
A public friendly to the U.S. would act as its eyes and ears, helping it glean the intelligence that is the key to successful counter-terror. A public hostile to the U.S. sits on its hands, letting the terrorists hide in its midst while
the U.S. searches blindly for them. Osama Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and other al-Qaeda leaders run free in northwest Pakistan today because the people of that region are militantly anti-America and pro-al-Qaeda. This public forms a friendly sea for al-Qaeda fish to swim in. These dangerous fish could swim no more if the public willed otherwise, as it would if it viewed the U.S. with more approval.
(The fish to swim quote was first used in reference to ETA and Franco, but I'm buggered if I can find it online anywhere in it's more elegent original)

If we're ever going to have peace, we must understand what 'they' want. In some cases, we can give it to them (anyone now object to a Palestinian state of some sort?). In others, those of us on the side of true freedoms (i.e. DK's 1st definition) need to understand that to others, their definition of freedom is different. In my view, their definition is flawed. But if we refuse to acknowledge it exists, we'll simply continue to throw pejoratives around.

In the meantime, the extremists will continue to throw bombs around.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Elsewhere: More flag waving

Back from the break, it was great, I'm skint, but thought I'd point people here for an amusing post by Nosemonkey-the-no-longer-anonymous (merely unheard of*) on the history of the European Flag. Personally, I've always liked it, and, to add to the debate on its origins, I'm sure it's got something to do with a circle of twelve being a symbol of heraldic unity or something? I could look it up, but 2.38am is time for rampant speculation based on half remembered statements from 20 years ago, I'll leave the facts for tomorrow.

* he did call me a cheeky bastard after all...

Monday, November 14, 2005

No laughing matter

I want to start with a joke. It's not a funny joke, and you've probably heard it before. But bare with me:

Child One: My Dad's the greatest lion hunter in all of Britain
Child Two: But there are no lions in Britain
Child One: See what I mean?

Ok, ok, so it's a crap joke. But what's really funny (or in fact, not funny) is that this joke that I'd feel ashamed to tell a five year old is exactly the same line that the government is feeding to us right now, and expecting us to swallow hook, line and sinker. Replace lion with terrorist and see what I mean.

It seems to me that whenever the government needs to justify more controls, it can always point to how successful previous measures have been at stemming terrorist acts, safe in the knowledge that as they obviously must remain secret, there is little way of verifying whether or not this is in fact true or not. Take for example the evidence which was supposed to swing MPs support for the terrorism bill last week, that two bombings 'like the London bombing' had been averted since the seventh of July. Catchy line, sounds plausible, absolutely no way of finding out whether it was true or not.

Of course, I'm not suggesting that the government compromise it's anti-terror campaign by revealing details, or really even saying that the government is making all this up. But it wouldn't surprise me if not everything that is happening behind the scenes occurs in the quite the same way that we are told it does. It sure sounded highly suspicious last week that Tony trotted out some new information on the very day that information was most useful.

You wouldn't accept it from some supposedly comedic child; don't accept it from the government either.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Elsewhere: 90 days and 90 nights

Well, I want to rant all about the votes today, but, well, the UK blogosphere (can we come up with a better word than that please?) has been all over it all day, so I'll leave it for someone who, apparently, this is all for. Rachel was in the Tube for 7/7, if she thinks Blair and the Elephant are not acting in her name, then they're most certainly not acting in mine.
And I will not meekly accept claims that this is to be done in my name. This is panicking, this is fearful, this is not helpful. I expect better than this, and I deserve better than this. We all do.
I'll leave it for Devil's Kitchen to sum up. Even Ian Paisley voted no. If that great scourge of domestic terrorists couldn't bring himself to support it, then why should anyone?

Not in my name. Vote of confidence on something coming up soon? Maybe the 3rd reading? Will Blair last until it gets through the Lords?

[OT] I'm off for a bit as of tomorrow, Germany to play silly games, then London for a bit to have fun. Paul'll still be about, so I'll leave you to his more academic and reasoned approach; I'll be stealing internet access from friends on occasions, so I may pop my head around the door.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Everywhere: 90 Days - Call to Arms

Manic at Bloggerheads has created a storm over the lies in the Sun. He's right. They're lying and the MPs in question need our support.

What I want you to do is this:

***********************************************************************

1. Use this facility to look up and contact your MP:

http://www.writetothem.com/

2. Tell them that 97% of Sun readers do not support Blair's 90-day detention plan and/or send them this link:

http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2005/11/the_sun_newspap.asp

3. Publish steps 1, 2 and 3 on your own weblog (or send/post these details to your usual community/messageboard).


***********************************************************************

Thank you.



I'll send my letters off to Adrian Sanders and Anthony Steen tonight, and I'll update this post then.

(trackbacks to be sent when I'm not already late back from the lunchbreak...)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Flag Waving

So Hu Jintao is in the UK again, at this time at least it looks as if some protesters might actually be allowed to, well protest. Tony Blair has already been quoted as saying that people should be allowed to wear T-Shirts what with this being a free, democratic state and all. Well, duh. But then of course last time around when Jiang Zemin came in 1999, banners, flags and other protesting paraphernalia weren't allowed anywhere near the Chinese PM, prompting some telling questions about just how free British democracy was.

So perhaps it actually is some minor victory at a time when pretty much every other liberty seems to be being taken away that we are still allowed to protest against a state with a worse Human Rights record than our own. Even if, of course, the reason for the meeting between Blair and Jintao is purely economic rather than humanitarian.

Perhaps whilst Mr. Blair is scrabbling for those lucrative business deals, he might find time to push the human rights agenda too? All sarcasm aside, there probably isn't a better time to discuss it and the growing Chinese economy and willingness to be involved in the western world should go hand-in-hand with a growing acceptance of rights and responsibilities.

I very much doubt whether the protesters voices will be heard, even though those voices are accepted and not ushered to one side. But at least they serve as a reminder that all is not well in China, and whilst we should seek stronger economic ties with them in order to strengthen our own economy, it should not come at the cost of hypocrisy in casting aside our own moral and ethical standpoint.

Detention for 90 days

Curious Hamster has found a YouGov poll (.pdf) on the publics opinion on detention without trial.

We have another set of leading questions...
Currently suspected terrorists can be held by Britain's police for up to 14 days. After that they must either be charged with an offence, or released. The police want to extend this time to 90 days, because it can take up to three months to analyse material such as computer files in order to obtain the evidence needed to charge suspects. Which of these statements comes closer to your view?

The police genuinely believe that the current 14-day rule is not enough to protect Britain from terrorist attacks. - 76%

The police don't really need the extra time; they are simply using the debate about terrorism to extend their powers to hold people without being charged. - 16%

Don't know. - 8%
Hmm...

I studied polling methodology, and gave up on it as a bad choice for career, bores me to death. But he's absolutely right, meaningless poll with questions designed to lead for the correct response.

To get a more accurate answer for the 90 days thing?
Given that under British Law a terrorist is defined in such a way that animal rights activists and 82 year old hecklers can be arrested as such, do you support the idea that anyone accused of terrorist activities can be held for 90 days without charge or chance of a fair hearing?
We're not talking about letting terrorists go unchecked, we're talking about charging them with something. My MP is solid on this one, and Paul's MP is a government minister, but if you happen to live in a consituency with a backbench Labour MP, do be so kind as to get in contact as soon as possible?

Blair's already talking about extending these measure to non-terrorist suspects, but given the brad sweeps of TACT, it covers enough people already.

It's not wrong to think 14 days is enough to find enough to charge someone with something so they can be held, is it?

Elsewhere: Boycott Nestlé

This isn't an economics blog. I didn't set this up to talk about ethical consumerism, market pressure, etc. Not going to stop me from linking to an excellent post on the subject, giving me yet another reason to continue not eating Kit Kats.

I'll do an on topic, non-elsewhere post soon. Promise.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Elsewhere: Britblog Roundup # 38 is up

Tim's got the roundup done again, and now he's finished it there's a lot of good stuff I haven't read yet. Must start nominating stuff.

Elsewhere: Tim Worstall - Civil Liberties.

Tim's in a nice ranty mood this morning, and he's talking about one of our favourite topics...
Abolish Habeus Corpus for one charge and you’ve abolished it for all. As Mr S&M pointed out some months back, yes, there is a group of violent and desperate men who wish to steal your freedoms and liberty. They’re called the Government.
Couldn't agree more.

They dismiss the 'slippery slope' argument as ridiculous, trot out the 'if you've got nothing to hide' lines and hope we'll bend over and not notice. NuLab is convinced the only way to 'protect' us is to control us. Give them powers to fight the nasty terrorists, they'll use them to detain anyone it takes their fancy, without charge.

Unusually for him, he misses the economics and markets angle on the crimes he talks about, so I'll do it for him. There's a much easier way of dealing with “vicious” drug and gun gangs. Acknowledge that the product that they're selling and fighting for turf over is something in demand, and allow it to be sold through legitimate, licences sources. Take the criminals out of the supply chain.

But that wouldn't please the tabloid headline writers, it'd merely make sense.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Elsewhere:The Labour Party: securing Britain's compliance

Something of a blogswarm is growng up over this survey on the governments latest attempts to "protect" us from the nasty people. Talk Politics starts us off, with Consider Phlebas, Bloggerheads and SpyBlog joining the fray. Why?

The questions, all need a yes/no answer. They're all what the trade calls 'leading', and, well, as an attempt to garner support for a badly drafted peice of dodgy legislation, it's pretty blatent.
Do you think that our laws should be updated to cope with the current security threat?
How? No information is given, and no reason as to why existing laws (you know, the ones we used to fight the much more dangerous IRA) aren't adequate.
Do you think police should have the time and opportunity to complete their investigations into suspected terrorists?
Well, of course I do. But if I tick yes, you'll take that as meaning I support allowing the police the powers to lock anyone accused of 'terrorism' (which, lest we forget, includes animal rights activists, civil liberties campaigners and elderly members of the Labour party) for three entire months. I don't. I think 14 days, which was an 'improvement' only introduced in the year 2000, should be adequate enough to find enough to at least charge someone. Charge 'em or release them, internment is not an option, especially seeing as TACT defines terrorism under a fairly broad brush.
Do you think the government should make sure there are new safeguards to protect innocent people?
No, I think the Government should first explain why the current "safeguards" are inadequate, and if they're not, improve the systems. Legislating away freedoms in the name of terror doesn't help anything except the headline writers. They're not making us safer, they're chasing headlines to make their jobs more secure.

Fortunately, the Dairy Product points out to us that the online poll is so badly coded you can complete it as many times as you like. So that'll be lots of 'no' boxes ticked then.

It's easy to create a poll that gets the answers you want. It's a lot harder to justify nannying us all into jail.

Update: The Disillusioned Kid has some extra suggestions Mr Clarke may find useful to add to the questionnaire.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Elsewhere: it sounds so true...

Owen has a nice little skit up about the future of democracy under Blair.
"This is a necessary evil in England and Wales", he said. "I am pleased that the Government has accepted that, with the lower risk of political instability here in Scotland, we should to continue to hold elections."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Elsewhere: Getting In Touch With His Inner Englishman

Elsewhere, Jonny Nexus, noted columnist and satirical writer, is musing on what it means to be English.
Some time past I had a conversation with an Irish friend of mine called Stephen ("eight hundred years!") in which he mentioned something that he found disturbing: that every English person he knew said that they weren't at all proud to be English.
Having been reading his amusing blog for sometime, I reckon we could all help him out. I'll get him some more stuff after I finish work, but in the meantime, go give him a few pointers?

For other entries, I can also recomment this post on the Mi6 website, especially
Because the point about MI6 wasn't that it was secret, because it wasn't - everyone knew it existed. Except that it didn't. Exist that is. If you asked the Foreign Secretary a question about MI6 he would reply that he didn't know what you were talking about. MI6? There was no MI6.

Just a bunch of people like the later Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, who after a career in the Royal Marines and the Special Boat Squadron (the Marine equivalent of the SAS), left the army, to become...

...a diplomat. Working in Geneva..

Yeah, right. Diplomat. Like we all believed that.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Restatement of ideals.

Well, we've been running this blog for a month now, so I thought I'd do a brief recap on what we're all about. The first post is here, and I stand by it. Threats to Britain:
  • The Nanny Staters in government, who wish to control our lives and proscribe our habits.
  • The Island Staters who want to abandone our heritage as a trading nation, shout stop the world, and get off.
  • The reactionaries, who want to set the constitution in aspic, and forget that the whole point of an evolving constitution is that it needs to evolve.

The biggest individual threat to the British heritage at the moment is the swathe of legislative proposals coming from this government. From ID cards through to smoking bans, they wish to proscribe our actions and remove our freedom of choice. They wish to control, catalogue and monitor, contain and placate. They will not persuade or defeat an opponent, merely legislate it under the carpet and hope it goes away. We reject this approach, we reject this government.

Britain has a proud tradition of internationalism, a founding member of the United Nations, Nato, the Council of Europe and, obviously, the Commonwealth. We were members of the European Community before I was born, and I'm in my 30s. Isn't it about time we accepted it, and looked to reform and update instead of pointing at its failures and shouting to get off the train? Do we really want to be cut adrift in a globalised world, a bit part player at the whim of the US and the corporations? I think not. Europe is flawed, undemocratic and out of touch. Name a Government institution that isn't. Reform, not rejection, is the answer.

An evolving constitution, that updates itself as and when needs present themselves, are a cornerstone of the British traditions. We are not a revolutionary nation, the lst English revolotion was in 1688, and Britain was created in 1707. But if the constitution is to evolve, these changes need to be discussed openly and their needs identified and understood. We no longer live in a two-party state, where all are either a little one way or the other. The current system of electing MPs has only really been in place since the 1948. Why weld yourself to it, when it so palpably doesn't work any more? The smaller nations of Britain felt the need for devolution, after 50 years of Whitehall centralisation, and have been granted it. That England is still ruled by the Whitehall elite and the nanny staters is a curse to us all, but to resort to one single Parliament is to abandone any hope that Britain can still exist in 50 years time. If you wish to break up the Union, go ahead, say it. But if you don't, recognise the reality and campaign for genuine reforms
England has a democratic deficit, but those campaigning to fix it with a Parliament of its own would destabilise the Union in a much more damaging manner than this Government could ever manage

Life, at times, throws things at you that get in the way of updating a website or running a blog. I've been quieter than I intended when we started this. I don't know when I can spend the time to enlarge on all of the above, I hope soon but, well, we'll see. In the meantime, I'll finish this post as I started this blog, and turn in for the night.
Great Britain was founded in 1707, nearly three hundred years ago. The anniversary approaches. Are we doing anything about it? Let's be proud to be British, and remember that we are also English, Welsh, Scottish or whatever. Let us look to the future and be proud of our heritage, not look to the past and try to bolt the doors.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Nannies strike again...

Another one? Does this government actually value freedom in any way? If people are getting too drunk on public transport and causing a nuisance, the way to deal with this is to have them arrested for being drunk and disorderly or causing a public nuisance. Not stop responsible drinkers from buying a drink on the train home from wherever they may be travelling from.

Drinking bans, smoking bans, enforced buying of white elephant ID cards, threats to serve ASBOs on supermarkets...

I regularly buy a drink when I'm on a train journey home, no particular reason other than I like to and want to. Blair's been trying to quote JS Mill around a lot recently, but it's obvious he hasn't understood a damn word of On Liberty. And Hattersley seems to want to read more into Rawls than should be found.

Essentially, this is another example of NuLab trying to nanny us all. I'm fed up with being told where I can do legally allowed things, told who I am (for my own safety of course) and being denied the right to live like a responsible adult. Without the ability to make choices and be responsible for my actions, I am not free. NuLab doesn't like freedom it appears.

Given the increasing agreement from both the opposition parties, is a potential anti-Labour alliance in the works? Let's hope so, this dodgy lefty would rather them back in than more NuLab nanny statery.