Archive for the 'ID cards' Category

Be the Briton

Monday, November 13th, 2006

As the Government talks once again of defining (for its own purposes) that elusive concept, over at the Ministry of Truth, Unity is pondering the nature of Britishness

To become British, one simply needs to find one’s sense of Britishness within oneself and not conform to the values and expectations of others, a solution that is, in all respects, consistent with the traditions of liberal individualism that the present government are seeking to do away with.

Yes, my apprentice. It is not enough to merely study Britishness. To become British one must find the inner Briton. Britain as neither a monarchy nor a democracy, but rather a state of mind. I suspect you could apply similar reasoning to any nationality, really, but it does seem particularly apposite in the case of this country.

It’s hard to reduce ideas of identity to a simple list of attributes, something that is more associated with nationalistic dictatorships than anything I’d recognise as a liberal democracy. Indeed I wonder if that is the attraction – government extending its role even over our very concept of ourselves.

On the other hand, apparently there are always two things about any subject. So for me what are the two things about Britishness? What sums up that ‘liberal individualism’ that Unity correctly identifies as the core feature of being a Briton?

  1. Mind your own fucking business.
  2. I said, mind your own fucking business.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

One of the most important signs of the existence of a democracy is that when there is a knock at the door at 5 in the morning, one is completely certain that it is the milkman.
Winston Churchill

Doggerel Dave elsewhere

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

My alter ego, Doggerel Dave, has been active in the comments to Rachel’s rhythmic, rhyming rant. I can’t help myself – I just find it too easy and tempting, and my brain just works that way. Come and have a go yourself – let’s face it, there’s plenty of source material.

Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.
Edmund Burke

Plus ca change

Monday, August 28th, 2006

well, I’m back. I’ve been in New Zealand for a month, and had fun rebuilding my computer after getting home (it’s rather like my grandad’s hammer now, as all that remains of the original is the box and the power supply – still cheaper than buying a new one to the extent I’ve treated myself to a 19-inch TFT screen, and I can now read text without squinting). In the interim nothing much seems to have changed, just more of the same old rubbish. The people who want to control every aspect of our lives (for our own good of course) are extending their tendrils of surveillance and instruction; and those who should be standing up to them are still shuffling their feet, looking at the ground and waiting for someone to tell them what to do.

I must have missed the announcement that the terorists have won, though. Did it happen while I was away? Anyway, we’re now officially told to be terrified all the time. And apparently the threat to our culture and way of life is so severe that the government have decided to lock out freedoms away and change our way of life to keep it safe. For as long as it takes.

Now that all looks to me as John Reid, Princess Toni et al. just don’t get it. But then, it’s pretty clear that they never did.

It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.
Thomas Jefferson

Letter from America

Friday, March 31st, 2006

25th March 2005
I won’t pretend that I don’t want to seem melodramatic. But I want to echo Thomas Paine and say these are the times that try men’s souls. I am here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a state which is itself one of the fruits of early American imperialism. Yet when I consider developments in the UK and in the USA, it is surprising how often I am brought back to the writings of the Founding Fathers of the United States and the writers who inspired them.

It is all too tempting to see the American rebels as just that – American. Yet they based the justification of their revolt on the liberties and rights they felt they possessed as Britons. And in the face of those liberties and rights being ignored or overridden, they reacted as Britons would – they rebelled against the King’s Government.

So now we find ourselves in the USA faced with laws, in the form of the Patriot Act (and what a despicable give-away name that is), that are prima facie unconstitutional, yet somehow unchallenged as the pygmies who comprise the political elite fear to appear ‘weak’; and in the UK with laws that effectively strip away all the protections of the citizen against the might of the state apparatus, and laws that aim to enhance the power of the executive to a level unknown in the whole of British history.

In a sense it is impossible to be melodramatic about this – the reality outstrips any hyperbole I might attempt. But in defence of our liberty, for ourselves and for our children, we need to affirm, in Jefferson’s (still striking) words, that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”; that no government can have any legitimacy which seeks to undermine, limit or curtail these rights; and that whether these acts are motivated by ignorance or malice, we will be swift to condemn and slow to forgive.

We are a free people. The state should be our servant not our master. Britons, strike home!*

*Tim sums the reasons up as ever more thoroughly and intelligently than I ever can.

Update: I am now in California and Internet-connected again. In the meantime, the House of Lords appear to have fallen for a trick that a school-child would have seen through. It’s the database, you fools. Sigh.

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone
Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi

Freedom? It’s a steal

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

The Peter Hitchens programme on Channel 4 last night was interesting – it’s good to see this issues get some mainstream(-ish) airing – but not really anything new. It was instructive, for example, to see the the country’s chief law officer, the Lord Chancellor Charlie “any pal of Tony’s can get to be a minister” Falconer, is as ignorant of what is meant by civil liberties as his boss – or cares as little for them. His suggestion that restrictions on liberty were justified if they were at some point to bring to light evidence of a possible terrorist crime was frankly mind-boggling in its inanity. Is that honestly the best argument he’s got? Here’s a hint Charlie: destroying the centuries of legal tradition that lie at the root of our way of life on the basis of a hypothetical is at the very least pretty stupid. For a trained lawyer to do so amounts to professional incompetence on an epic scale. I thought the law was about evidence – pious hope is supposed to be the province of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Perhaps he’s in the wrong job.

The case studies that Hitchens used were disturbing:

  • the train spotter harassed and searched in public (on a station platform) by transport police;
  • the Christian couple reported by a council minion and then threatened with prosecution for ‘hate crime’ for their – admittedly unfashionable – beliefs;
  • the student whose fingerprints were linked to a theft from a post box – because he had written and posted the letters which were part of the evidence – all because his prints were held on file even though he had never been charged with or convicted of any offence;
  • the schoolboy arrested, DNA-swabbed, then released – all because he was a witness to a crime – and his DNA, of course, remains on file;
  • the Labour peer (and former senior policeman) threatened by the North Wales police;
  • and of course the woman convicted for reading a list of names by the Cenotaph.

These are merely the tip of the iceberg, and there is a case to be made that this sort of thing represents a serious and worrying change in the role of the police, from being the servant of the public charged with preventing and detecting crime, to agents of the state with a role in policing what people say and think. There is also a clear indication that there are many, both in public authorities and in the various police forces (the real plods and the pseudo-plods) who just like throwing their weight around. This, in itself is nothing new. What is new is the extent of the opportunities for such abuse, and the support which it receives from government; that we seem to have a government which is more and more concerned with overseeing and controlling citizens’ speech and thought, while leaving the victims of crime increasingly unprotected; and obsessed with monitoring and recording every movement, every transaction, of every one of us. In effect, that the role of the police is gradually becoming less and less one of protecting the citizens against criminals, and more and more about protecting the state. That should worry everybody.

Give me liberty to know, to think, to believe, and utter freely, according to conscience, above all other liberties.
John Milton

Nothing to fear…

Sunday, February 19th, 2006

BTW, I really will slap the next person I hear say, “But if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.”

I’m seriously considering carrying a web cam round with me so (after they recover from the well-deserved slap), I can go round to their house and install it in their house so I can keep an eye on them. After all… they’ve done nothing wrong… so…

Meanwhile back at the quote library:

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed – and thus clamorous to be led to safety – by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
H.L. Mencken

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