Sunday, 29 June 2008

How the instruments of the state are turned to oppression

Today the complainats of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) about GP's and Job Centres passing on details about young women trying to escape forced marriages show the great danger that faces many of our fellow citizens as our rights to anonymity and privacy are eroded.

The problem is that some individuals use their professional status (GPs for example) or their access to public databases (To find where National Insurance numbers are being used ) to help people be tracked down.

In the case of young women trying to escape forced marriages this may lead to their deaths, or the enslavement of forced marriages.

The larger the databases of the state become, the less anyone will be able to hide.

And the weak point in the system, as with most other security systems, is the people with access to the data.

Who can guarantee that an abusive family won't be able to get a sympathetic policeman or doctor or civil servant to use their access to data to track people down ?

If you combine this with national identity cards which need to be regularly used then there will be no escape for these people. We will have enslaved a whole generation of young women (and men ! )

Its happening now in microcosm - but it has the potential to be far worse. These outcomes were never intended when these systems were created, and yet they are very real consequences with us today, as ACPO have confirmed.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Campaigning in Haltemprice and Howden

Last Saturday I was in the audience at Hymers College, Hull, to hear a debate between DD and Tony Benn. I call it a debate, however, on the subject of our rights and liberties they agreed with one another almost completely. This is why this campaign is so important. It unites people from different political parties and those who never take an interest in politics. I certainly never thought I would be applauding Tony Benn, but I was as on this occasion. He was talking sense and he is a man who values our rights and liberties.

Today I have been out leafleting in the constituency, along with dozens of other activists. It is very heartening when you welcome people to the area who set off from South London early in the morning. I went out leafleting with a lady from Staffordshire this afternoon and she hopes to return next weekend. We have had people from Norfolk and the West Midlands. Timothy Kirkhope MEP was out leafleting with us too. DD also popped into the distribution centre to talk to activists. We were grateful he found time in his busy schedule to have a chat with the troops.

We still need your help though. It is vital we get the vote out. David needs to win this by-election with a thumping majority and with a huge turnout. Come and help us achieve this goal.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Averting The End of Freedom

As we learn that David Davis will face no opponent from the other major parties in his by-election, the campaign website has produced his "manifesto". As promised, it focusses entirely upon the subject of British freedom and civil liberties, and includes ten specific policy pledges, which so far as I'm aware, is in-line entirely with Tory Party policy:

1.Reverse 42 days pre-charge detention – a ‘PR coup for Al-Qaeda’.
2.Scrap ID cards – put the £19 billion savings towards a Border Police Force and other security measures.
3.Immediate reversal of the ban on free speech outside Parliament.
4.Protect the right to trial by jury.
5.Stop neighbourhood spies using powers that should rest with the police and MI5.
6.Use intercept evidence to prosecute terrorists – but restrict bugging by local councils.
7.Replace 1 million innocent citizens on the DNA database with the serious criminals left off.
8.Make CCTV more effective (80% is unusable) – strengthen punishments for privacy abuse.
9.Slash the 266 separate powers the state has to force its way into the home.
10.Launch an independent inquiry into the government’s serial database failures.

He may also like to take notice of Peter Hitchens' latest blog post, which explains that the Government needs more power to "protect" us simply because it - as well as previous administrations - has undermined the usual proceedures of justice that used to be so effective:

I mentioned in my column that there's no contradiction between supporting the gallows and defending English liberty. On the contrary, the two things go together like roast beef and horseradish sauce. The good old English hanging judge, as George Orwell once unwillingly conceded, was also an incorruptible figure of impartial justice. But I'd go further than that. Feebleness towards wrongdoers will eventually mean the end of freedom.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Tony Benn on David Davis' resignation

Tony Benn explaining why he thinks David Davis is taking a principled stand.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Do opponents of civil liberties (such as ACPO's Ken Jones) have the guts to debate David Davis?

Did you see the press conference by Association of Civil-Illiberal (sorry - Chief!) Police Officers (ACPO)'s Ken Jones broadcast 'live' on Sky News? What a weak defence for CCTV, DNA etc by an opponent of our civil liberties - is this the best the Government can line up against David Davis?

David has just posted a response to Ken Jones; here's an excerpt:

Mr Jones must explain why 80% of CCTV cannot be used for operational purposes, after half a billion of public funds invested. And if he makes the case for the DNA database, he needs to explain why 1 million innocent citizens have been swabbed since 2001, with absolutely no improvement in the 0.4% rate of crimes detected using DNA.

Best of all, David challenges Jones to a debate:

If Ken Jones really wants a serious and balanced debate - without misrepresentation of either side - I invite him to debate me in Haltemprice and Howden on any date of his choosing.

Does Jones have the courage of his convictions to take on David in a debate? Time will tell! Whatever the outcome of this challenge, it is clear that the opponents of civil liberties have weak arguments (Government policy on the hoof is often based on little evidence), and are absolutely terrified of having to debate the subject with someone who has solid evidence against the authoritarian policies of the Government.

Hand over your film !

Every day provides new examples of how our freedom has been curtailed. Take this example of the story of a photographer in Hull, not far from Haltemprice and Howden by coincidence, reported in The Register by John Ozimek, see extract below ( The full article is worth a read also ):

When you hear the phrase "helping police with their inquiries", does an image of dedicated selfless citizenry instantly spring to mind? Or do you wonder whether the reality is not slightly more sinister?

How about "voluntarily handing over film to the police".

Stephen Carroll is a keen amateur photographer, with an interest in candid portraiture: "street photography", he calls it. In December 2007, he was in the centre of Hull taking photos.

Unfortunately for him, his actions were spotted by two local policemen. They stopped him in the middle of Boots and asked him to accompany them outside. There they told him that he had been taking photographs of "sensitive buildings". One said: "I am taking your film".

Mr Carroll requested an explanation. He asked whether he was "obligated" to hand over the film. In vain! Every time he asked, back came the same response: "I am taking your film". Robocop is alive and well and apparently working in Humberside. Full article here....

Do you still feel free ? How the story changes, see article, when Humberside police are challenged is even worse ...

Get Up, Stand Up

David Davis' campaign website is now in full gear, and looks pretty spick.

It includes an opportunity to volunteer your services to the by-election campaign online. By the looks of it, they're able to the provide transport and accomodation. Hope you follow me in "signing up", if you're able. And if you can't, consider donating.

It sounds cliche, but it is for a good cause.

Monday, 23 June 2008

The Rift Closes

Just after David Davis resigned, the MSM began to look for a story that wasn't there. They struggled to understand that a person could make a sacrifice purely on a matter or principle, either because of the general corruptness of politicians, or because they were judging others by their own personalities.

Consequently, they tried to pick open a wound that didn't exist, struggling to plausibly say that the real motive behind the resignation was a Cameron-Davis split. It wasn't helped by the fact that the party refused to put its full machinery behind Davis' campaign, seeing Henley as the primary target for their attention.

Of course, this was a mistake because Henley is a guaranteed safe seat which the MSM has paid next-to-no attention to, whilst Davis is fighting a by-election on an issue of Tory Party policy. Whether this reality has dawned on the party leadership or not, we would hope that the rumours about a Cameron-Davis split will be put to rest by the news that David Cameron has commanded all members of the Shadow Cabinet to report to Haltemprice and Howden for duty.

As well as eliminate any speculation about a "rift", it will also, hopefully, turn media attention towards the campaign. It also affirms the line of both Davis and his successor, Dominic Grieve, that the Conservatives are 100% committed to the preservation of civil liberties. Although some of us would love for the 28-day detention limit to be slashed too, as conservatives, we have to be happy with small, slow progress.

Catching the mood

It seems the wider public understands what DD is up to, see Guido's post on a video by Billy Ruffian here...

The (local) government now starts to engage with the Freedom agenda

Today we hear that Sir Simon Milton, chairman of the Local Government Association, has written to councils warning them that overzealous use of the powers could alienate the public.

The local councils have powers such as phone and email records as well as surveillance , given to them under anti-terrorism legislation introduced by Labour.

They have famously been used for tasks other than preventing terrorism.

And here is the problem of laws framed by politicians who believe its okay to create intrusive powers, as they can be trusted to use these powers. They ignore the fact that powers on the statute book tend to get used in ways you didn't expect. ( As the poor pensioner dragged from Labour's Party conference a few years ago under anti-terrorism legislation for shouting at Jack Straw discovered. )

What the announcement by Sir Milton shows is that those in power are now worried about how the issue of freedom is playing with the public. He has also provided Labour with a fig leaf to use when these abuses of power are brought up in debate. They all seem to forget that we are laying the foundations of a totalitarian state, which may be run by people they haven't thought of yet.

And this is, as I understand it, at the base of David Davis' campaign.

Update: And so apparently does he !

Thursday, 19 June 2008

+++ David Davis on Question time BBC1 tonight 10:35pm +++

If your interested .. I'll probably add comments as it goes on live.

Who would have thought a week ago...?

A week has passed since David Davis shocked the Westminster village, and wrongsided many of the commentariat and his fellow politicians, by his brave and principled decision to take the fight for civil liberties to the people. Writing on Conservative Home’s Platform, he outlines why, "Our British freedoms are precious - far more precious than the career of any single politician."

How appropriate that this by-election is being fought in a constituency so close to Hull and including some of its western suburbs. Some words from the sleeve of Hague’s book, “William Wilberforce”, a Hull MP who: "achieved the rare feat of placing principle above politics, mankind above party and results above ambition."

Who would have thought a week ago that ...
  • a leading Frontbencher would risk his career - 201 years after Wilberforce’s victory in achieving the abolition of slavery - to launch the first salvo for freedom from the illiberal, authoritarian state that Labour has fomented?
  • Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg would have announced he was not fielding a candidate against Mr Davis, signalling to Lib Dem voters to vote Davis?
  • an Ipsos-MORI poll in The Independent would have shown rapidly declining support for 42 days and a shift in public opinion to provide major backing for David Davis?
  • the Westminster village and the know-it-all commentariat would get it so wrong and backpedal, realising that David Davis has hit a chord with the public?
  • even the biggest and fiercest dog on the block, Kelvin 'Gotcha' MacKenzie, would announce that he would stand in the Haltemprice & Howden by-election, but then chicken out when he recognised that the public was backing Mr Davis?
  • Labour MPs such as Bob Marshall-Andrews (Medway) and Ian Gibson (Norwich, North) would announce that they would campaign for Mr Davis in the by-election?
  • Liberal activist Sunny Hundal (editor of leftie blog Pickled Politics) would blog that, "given that New Labour wants to extend anti-terrorism legislation until every brown person in the country is locked up until proven innocent ... it makes more sense for brown and black people, who will overwhelmingly face the brunt of this police-state legislation, to vote Conservative"?
  • Gordon Brown wouldn't even have the guts to put up a candidate in a parliamentary by-election?

The political landscape has changed in many ways in the last week, but it just proves that putting principle above party politics in the fight for civil liberties is the right thing to do. This is the mark of a true statesman.

David Davis interviewed by Labourhome's Alex Hilton

LabourHome's Alex Hilton has the coup of one of the first interviews with David Davis, see below.

Its a refreshing interview because Alex is intrested in what he is actually saying, and challenging him with his own views and questions. Alex was usually good value on 18DS - except of course the day he 'pre-announced' the death of a certain ex-prime minister.

He asks the question about why Labour should put up a candidate against him.

Have a watch, I'll rewatch it a bit more closely tonight and comment later.

Gordon Brown's take on liberty and security

On Tuesday this week, Gordon Brown delivered a speech on freedom and liberty to defend himself after the resignation of David Davis (not that he would admit to that). You can read the full speech HERE but I thought these quotes did a rather nice job of summarising the lies and contradictions peddled by the government as well as demonstrating the utter contempt that Gordon Brown has for your freedom and liberty. Enjoy! (or not....)

“it is our duty to write a new chapter in our country’s story - one in which we protect and promote both our security and our liberty”

“our border controls are stronger than ever”

“[We must] strengthen the protection of the individual by never subjecting the citizen to arbitrary treatment [and] always respecting basic rights and freedoms.”

“We must recognise that winning the battle of ideas means championing liberty.”

“To say we should ignore the longstanding claims of liberty when faced with the urgent needs of security is tempting to some, but never to me - it would be to embark down an illiberal path that is as unacceptable to the British people as it is to me.”

“Just as when we change our laws to respond to the new terrorist threat, we must match new laws with new protections for liberty”

“[You have] the right to have your identity protected and secure. This is why, despite years of exaggeration about its costs and its implications for liberty, public support for [ID cards] remains so strong.”

“We have no plans for it to become compulsory for people to carry an ID card.”

“So let us not pretend that CCTV is intrinsically the enemy of liberty.”

“the National DNA Database has revolutionised the way the police protect the public.”

“It is simply not responsible government to let such opportunities to use new technologies to protect the public pass us by.”

“And it is a measure of the emphasis that we place on at all times advancing the liberties of the individual that we have in the past year done more to extend freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press and freedom of information.”

“To summarise, we have given people new rights to protest outside Parliament, made it easier for people free of charge to exercise their right to Freedom of Information - and we are now considering a freedom of expression audit for all legislation. We have removed barriers to investigative journalism; introduced new freedoms that guarantee the independence of non-governmental organisations; while at the same time surrendering many powers from the executive to Parliament, and thus to greater public accountability and scrutiny.”

“at all times the enduring responsibility remains the same - both protecting the security of all and safeguarding the individual’s right to be free.”

(cross-posted on Letters From A Tory)

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Its not just our freedom that's at stake

Today we have heard more of the deeply shocking news of the campaign of intimidation, torture and murder being waged against the Zimbabwe opposition MDC party and its supporters.

One of the senior members of the MDC party has been arrested - apparently for treason - but has not been charged in court over 48 hrs latter, which is illegal in Zimbabwe.

Just imagine what use the regime there would make of 42 day detention without trial. They would have no problem at all in describing their victims as terrorists to justify it.

What would the British government say ? Nothing, as we would have the same laws on our statute books.

Every time a repressive foreign regime is challenged from China to Burma to Zimbabwe to Cuba they would respond with - "but look at the laws you have".

Much of the Commonwealth's legal system is based on our own system of law, what Britain does is noticed. Our hypocrisy will be noticed too.

You can see it is not just our freedoms that are at stake with Gordon Brown's insistence in passing the 42 day detention bill.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Terrorism -vs- Freedom

I began blogging when the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 was passed. I took exception to the idea of detention without trial. The Labour Government seemed determined then - and still does - to prove its anti-terrorist credentials by destroying our liberties. Tony Blair and now Gordon Brown have consistently talked of weighing freedom against safety. It is a false choice.

Many times in the last three years, I felt I was wasting my time. Add up all my posts over the period and I have written a book. Without the support of a few other bloggers focussed on the issue, I would have lost heart long ago. For all this time we have waited for what has now happened - for a credible mainstream politician to stand up for our freedoms.

As I said in my first post, our patriotism is not so much to do with "blood and soil." At its best, it is a matter of values. Those values are rooted in Magna Carta, which set the laws of England above her rulers. They are rooted in habeas corpus, a simple writ which forces our rulers to account for their prisoners and to justify their detention to the courts. These things made Englishmen free long before democracy gave them the right to choose their government. They set limits that even a monarch could not cross. If you don't take pride in them, you simply don't understand what it is to be a freeborn Englishman.

The present Government clearly does not. David Davis clearly does.

I could not be more pleased that Mr Davis has chosen to take a stand. There is much at stake - and not just his political career. Our freedoms, the credibility of British politics and perhaps even the soul of the Conservative Party depend to some extent on how we respond to his decision. I hope all bloggers of good will will support him. He has raised a flag to which we should all rally and I for one thank him for it.

Not standing against Davis is political cowardice - Labourhome post

Free Radical - over at Labourhome, makes the case that it'll be cowardice not to put up a candidate against David Davis to support Gordon Brown policy of 42 day detention without trial.

See here ....
The following quote gives an idea on the post ( in case the control freaks get to delete it before PMQs )

    ...If our leaders are so sure of their case on 42 days and civil liberties they should surely relish the opportunity to present it, along with the rest of party policy, in a high-profile byelection - even in a seat in which we would ordinarily have little chance of winning. Who knows, if Davis' act is, as our leader asserts "a stunt" then the good people of Haltemprice and Howden might see through him and show their support for imprisoning suspects without charge for six weeks by voting Labour?

    But, on the other hand the public at large may see our failure to stand up for our beliefs by not contesting this byelection as an act of political cowardice, compared to what might appear an act of political courage and principle by David Davis.... [Free Radical].

Update: Its been confirmed that Labour will not be fielding a candidate at the by-election. Their excuses are no doubt available to read elsewhere.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Fighting for freedom and loving every minute of it

I am delighted to be an author on this blog. We are currently very busy in the constituency stuffing envelopes and getting David's campaign off to a great start. There is a buzz about the place. We know this is a unique time in the history of this sceptered isle when we can make a difference. I will enjoy giving you all regular updates of what is happening in the campaign. Watch this space, we are in for one hell of a ride.

Campaign blog launched

After a slightly shaky start - telling Conservative home about the new domain name before getting a page up - the web site is up and includes a blog !

I'll be linking the RSS feed shortly.


David Craig to stand ?

David Craig looks like standing for the Haltemprice and Howden by-election.

His reason is that the key issue is not 42 days or freedom, but the massive amount of money our politicians waste and pay themselves.

See his article in the First Post.

Update: David Craig is a pseudonym for Neil Glass who is an occasional contributor to The First Post. If he's going to stand as David Craig - needing to change his name - I hope he can remember the fate of the reporter who stood in the by-election as "News Bunny" ( now there's a challenge for your google skills ).



Its time to pull some supporters of David Davis' campaign to stop the government destroying our freedoms together.

So I'm looking for any contributors who want to write in support of David Davis in challenging the government on its plan to establish detention without charge for 42 days.

Email if your interested, or comment below.