If you didn't laugh, you'd have to cry.
Since the Labour party took power in 1997 under then prime minister Tony Blair, it has created 3,600 new criminal offences, Huhne said -- adding this was "massively complicating" the job of police and the criminal justice system.
"Some of these offences are completely bizarre -- for example, the offence of causing a nuclear explosion," he told members of parliament (MPs) on Thursday.
"The idea that anyone might cause a nuclear explosion without killing anybody, and therefore being subject to a possible charge of murder, is extremely far-fetched. "
Other new offences include "wilfully pretending to be a barrister", "disturbing a pack of eggs when instructed not to by an authorised officer" and "offering for sale a game bird killed on a Sunday or Christmas day", he said. - Yahoo news
Fancy dress like this is now illegal, presumably.
In his press release Chris Huhne commented:
"The Government has still not learned that instead of yet more legislation we need better delivery of what we already have.
"Ministers now promise the 26th criminal justice bill and the 8th immigration bill since 1997, even though the statute book is already stuffed full of nonsensical offences such as causing a nuclear explosion.
Some of these offences are completely bizarre—for example, the offence of causing a nuclear explosion. The idea that anyone might cause a nuclear explosion without killing anybody, and therefore being subject to a possible charge of murder, is extremely far-fetched. It is perhaps reassuring for some on the Government Benches that were there to be a nuclear explosion that did not kill anyone, the perpetrator could, indeed, be charged. Other of the new offences include: wilfully pretending to be a barrister; disturbing a pack of eggs when instructed not to by an authorised officer; obstructing workers carrying out repairs to the docklands light railway; offering for sale a game bird killed on a Sunday or Christmas day; attaching an ear tag to an animal where it has previously been used to identify another animal; landing at a harbour without permission a catch that includes unsorted fish. I could continue that extraordinary list of new offences.
Damian Green was arrested under common law "on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office and aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office". He was held for nine hours and questioned by counter-terrorism police while his home, his constituency office, and his office at the Palace of Westminster were searched.
Martyrdom may sound like a strong word, but the fact is that Damian Green lost his liberty for nine hours while anti-terrorism officers searched his private offices, most probably rifling through the private letters and emails of his constituents.
His crime was exposing Government incompetence and deceit at the Home Office, which included, but was [allegedly] not limited to, the following:
- A series of Home Office memos, which appeared in the Daily Mail on November 13 2007, showed that Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, had been warned four months earlier that thousands of illegal immigrants had been cleared to work in sensitive Whitehall security jobs. An email revealed that Smith had appeared to accept press office advice in August not to disclose the number of illegal immigrants.
- An email to Liam Byrne, then a Home Office minister, in February which showed he was informed about an illegal Brazilian immigrant who allegedly worked in parliament on a fake ID card. The memo was published in the Sunday Telegraph on February 10.
- A letter from Smith to Gordon Brown warning that a recession would lead to a rise in crime. The letter was draft advice that had not been cleared by Smith and had not yet been sent to Number 10, the Home Office said.
- A list of Labour MPs likely to rebel against the government's plans to detain terror suspects for up to 42 days without charge.
The Government told us that "If you've nothing to hide, then you've nothing to fear" in respect of 42-days detention and other "anti-terror" measures. Why then do they not follow their own advice? If the Government has nothing to hide, then it has nothing to fear from leaks.
Home Office incompetence is a matter of public interest, it should not involve anti-terror officers or result in the arrest of Members of Her Majesty's Opposition. And for Gordon "twat" Brown and Jacqui Smith to claim that they had no prior knowledge or involvement in the arrest of a member of parliament is, frankly, bullshit.
Best leave the last word to Damian Green himself.
"I was astonished to have spent more than nine hours under arrest for doing my job. I emphatically deny that I have done anything wrong. I have many times made public information that the government wanted to keep secret, information that the public has a right to know.
"In a democracy, opposition politicians have a duty to hold the government to account. I was elected to the House of Commons precisely to do that and I certainly intend to continue doing so."
Actually, I'll leave the last word to The Daily Mash.
Announcing the launch of the Convention on Modern Liberty.
"Political institutions are formed upon the consideration of what will most frequently tend to the good of the whole, although now and then exceptions may occur. Thus it is better in general that a nation should have a supreme legislative power, although it may at times be abused. And then, Sir, there is this consideration, that if the abuse be enormous, Nature will rise up, and claiming her original rights, overturn a corrupt political system." - Samuel Johnson
Back in January David Marquand informed us that there "is no English national Myth comparable to the Scottish Myth of popular sovereignty or the Welsh Myth of Celtic socialism", and until we found one he would regard campaigners for an English parliament as "barbarous reactionaries". The English myth, and historical narrative too, is one of liberty and the fight for freedom from oppression and tyranny. It's currently playing on a screen near you in Channel Four's 'The Devil's Whore' and the BBC's 'Robin Hood'. It's in the nursery rhymes "Humpty Dumpty", "As I was Going by Charing Cross" and "The Lion and the Unicorn". It's in the story of Lady Godiva, Beowulf and the Legend of St George. And evident too in the social commentary of Dickens and in the satire of Shakespeare. Not to mention contemporary literature from Lord of the Rings to Lord of the Flies, Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984, and onward to V for Vendetta.
Devolution allowed the Scots and Welsh to not only think as Scotsmen and Welshmen, but also to behave as Scotsmen and Welshmen. The process of devolution is an act, even if yet only a partial act, of national liberation. But what of the English? Well, at present we English are denied the liberty of a forum to discuss and express English national identity, to decide what it is we want England to be, to choose the manner of governance to best reflect, and affect, ourselves as Englishmen and women. For England there will be no 'national conversation', there will only be denial. Gordon Brown uses an English narrative to create a British myth; to bolster Britishness, by which he means British national identity; to turn "British" from a multi-national state identity into a national identity unto itself, at the expense of "English" as a national identity.
He claims that there is “a golden thread which runs through British history – that runs from that long ago day in Runnymede in 1215; on to the Bill of Rights in 1689 where Britain became the first country to successfully assert the power of Parliament over the King”, and that “Voltaire said that Britain gave to the world the idea of liberty”. He also maintains that an appeal to fairness “runs through British history, from early opposition to the first poll tax in 1381 to the second; fairness the theme from the civil war debates”.
But that golden thread is English, Voltaire spoke of England, and it is the English sense of fair play that asymmetric devolution (asymmetric democracy and representation) has upset.
Gordon Brown’s authoritarian Britishness agenda is all about forging a British national identity – whether it’s indoctrinating English school kids and immigrants through Britishness lessons and citizenship classes; coercing England's youth into community service in order to have their tuition fees waived; binding us into a British bio-metric ID card database, or a British Bill of Rights, or; flying the flag, celebrating a Britishness Day, and supporting a British national football team. He flatters himself by demurely referring to himself as a unionist, but the reality is that he's a British nationalist with the aim of forging and cementing a British national identity.
Why does he do this?
He is frit. There is, of course, the small matter of the West Lothian Question, but it goes deeper than that for Brown. For Gordon Brown the Acts of Union were not the coming together of two nations under one parliament, they were an act of incorporation, of Scotland into England; the forging of a greater England, the British nation. Devolution was part disincorporation. Job done. Or so he thought.
Nationalism is all about territory and ownership, and Britain has no territory that is not occupied by another older nation, and no history that is uniquely its own. For Anglo-Brits like Brown, inheritors of England, but British not English, there needs to be an English rump to Britain in order to sustain the British myth; a large body of Anglo-Brits, like him but English, or Scottish if he's lucky, to underwrite the whole enterprise through acquiescence. And there needs to be a British myth because Britain is a nation in its own right. Right? And to keep it as a nation in its own right it must be dominant over the older elemental national identity that threatens to undermine it, and from whose legacy Britain sprang.
If he viewed "Britishness" as a multi-national state identity instead of a national identity, a rival to England, then a lot of this bad feeling could be avoided. But Brown inhabits a world where England is the centre and all else the periphery; where Scotland has distinctiveness from Britain, and England only sameness; where English interests and British interests are indivisible, even where Scottish self-interest is blatent.
Now is not the time for English indifference, now is the time for English difference in the face of Brown's British authoritarianism. England needs a national liberation of the mind, it's time to ask ourselves some questions. Are we English first, or British first? What is left of Britishness if you separate out English identity to the degree that the equivalent extrication has occurred in Scotland; and is that Britishness an essential part of being English, are we diminished? Do we want the authoritarian union of Brown, reliant on statecraft and the politics of fear to forge a national identity, or should Britishness be an umbrella identity that allows the national identities of its constituent nations to flourish? Alternatively, to phrase it another way; should we be a union state of nations, or a unitary imperial nation state (offer only available in England, while Scots last)? And if Brown's way is the British way, how should the English way be different?
Is the Convention on Modern Liberty the beginnings of Nature rising up and overturning a corrupt political system? No. The English have been doing that since time immemorial. But hopefully this represents the opening lines of a new chapter.
“Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”, observed Samuel Johnson. It’s a quote commonly understood to be an attack on patriotism. But it’s not. It’s an observation on scoundrels and their false patriotsm. As Johnson rightly said, "He that wishes to see his country robbed of its rights cannot be a patriot", a sentiment that was echoed some hundred years later by American civil libertarian Clarence Darrow: "True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else".
Gordon Brown is robbing my country - England - of its rights and its history, and creating a sense of injustice by doing so. The notion of the freeborn Englishman is being replaced by a prescriptive, hollow, British national identity of rights earned - bestowed by the state. In the langauge of the tin-pot fascist it is a collective identity of 'shared purpose' and 'common values', and his a government of 'national unity' - because 'we're stronger together, weaker apart'. It is not the collected national identity that England has, the rich treasure trove into which we all, as individuals, dip into to inform our sense of self and belonging. Brown's Britishness is a collective nothingness - the brainfart of a statist control freak - unless, of course, he robs from England.
For too long the English have unthinkingly subsumed their national identity in Britain. But there is a danger in doing that, Britain has become a project, a project in which the notion of England, the very idea of England itself, is under threat.
And that's something that we need to discuss.
Whoever published the BNP Membership list on the internet, including their personal details (addresses, emails and phone numbers), should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Whatever you think of the BNP these people are entitled to their privacy. They will now be scared for their jobs, and frightened of the reaction of their neighbours, and I shudder to think of the ramifications for the children that are listed under family memberships.
Living in the times that we do, they should also be afraid of the Government and the possibility that they will now be under surveillance. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will have done little to allay their fears by remarking "I wonder why it is that BNP members are rather more ashamed of their membership."
Perhaps, Jacqui, they're afraid of a witch-hunt.
Human nature being what it is, I confess that I have had a good look at the list, including searching for towns that I have lived in. There are 28 in Edinburgh, 6 in Ely, 22 in Brighton, 13 in Kenilworth, 2 in Lewes, and one in Budleigh Salterton. One of these people I know from down the pub, but had no idea they were in the BNP. I do now. And that piece of personal knowledge highlights a general problem that these people will now face.
I expect that this spells the end for Nick Griffin, but what it will do to the BNP is harder to answer. They will lose members and money in the shortrun. But if it was me that had been outed, I'm pretty sure that it would simply harden my resolve, especially if this sort of thinking crosses the minds of party members:
With talk of an early election, I can't help but feel this may be the start of a dirty tricks campaign. And no, I'm not wholly convinced that Brown's State couldn't have been involved.
It must be noted that in certain parts of the country the biggest threat to the Labour vote is from the BNP.
At least some good will come of it. The number of Scottish and Welsh names on the list explodes the myth that the British National Party is an English party.
UPDATE: I'm pleased to see that in the comments section of Socialist Unity - populated by many anti-fascists - there does seem to be a weak consensus that BNP members are, actually, entitled to their privacy just like anybody else.
UPDATE II: My point about the BNP not being an English problem is proved correct.
Last week we went over to the Taking Liberties opening night at the British Library. I must confess that my main motivation for dashing over on a Friday Night was because I wanted to see Eliza Carthy and the Levellers, but as it turns out Scroobius Pip was very good too (pictured below).
One painting that was particular interest was this one by an old Swiss dude named Samuel Hieronymus Grimm in 1785, just a few years before our house was built opposite the church. Entitled "Lewes from Above", and painted from Baldy's hanging garden ("the adoration of all who see it"), it shows Cliffe High Street before Cliffe and Southover were incorporated into Lewes in 1881, so technically it was titled incorrectly.
Anyway, I'd encourage you all to take part in the Taking Liberties online interactive journey. It has a question on an English parliament, but it tackles some other national questions that Tom Paine of Lewes would no doubt have had an opinion on.
One of the loftier questions posed is whether there should be an English parliament. The documents emphasise the clear disparities between what has historically constituted English and British rights: at one end of the display is the 1706 Articles of Union and a garish notebook detailing various designs for the new Union flag, and at the other the Laws of Hywel Dda (Wales's answer to Magna Carta) as well as the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, in which the Scottish signatories declared they would never "on any conditions be brought under English rule".
Gordon Brown always uses an English narrative when he's talking about rights and freedoms, which completely ignores the fact that most of what he lays claim to on behalf of Britain is an English legacy. Not so Tristram Hunt, he understands the difference. It was he who, during a Fabian conference on Britishness, said:
I understand why politicians are concerned to bolster our sense of society and the collective ties we share. But the problem with asserting a new and stronger Britishness could be that it is swimming against the tide. Culturally, it is Englishness which is on the rise.
Yes indeed. And unfortunately the imperial and authoritarian nature of Brown's Britishness is at odds with the very idea of England that most of us understand. Whilst the Scots cry "Freedom" from the English; the English cry freedom from tyranny and government control, that's our national story, and I have a feeling it's going to turn itself on Britain (or at least Brown's vision of it).
The Levellers of the English civil war were amongst the first to point out that politicians were as dangerous as princes when it came to attacking personal freedom. And now we have ended up with monstrously unchecked governments able to make war and law with all the temerity of an elective dictatorship.
Mrs Toque and I will be visiting the Taking Liberties at the British Library tomorrow.
This song has always sent shivers down my spine. I can't remember when I first heard it, but I remember seeing it performed live at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester in 1993, and maybe before that at Glastonbury - if you remember it you weren't there. Anyway, it's great to see it getting an outing on YouTube.
The Levellers are playing the Taking Liberties opening night at the British Library.
Nathalie Rothschild, ID cards: a badge to prove you’re ‘one of us’, Spiked Magazine:
what really informed the ID initiative was a desperate notion that ‘carding’ citizens will help forge a sense of British identity and togetherness.
The idea that ID cards are a tool to be used to engender a sense of national identity is nothing new. Back in 1996, in a row over whether the EU Flag, the Union Flag or the Royal Crest should be displayed on the proposed EU Identity Card, Tory MP Nicholas Winteron remarked:
"This is our national flag and if people don't want to live in this country they can get out . . . I am proud of this country. We fought under the Union Jack in the war, not the royal crest."
Opposition to the Union Flag came from Northern Irish republicans, which prompted another Tory MP, David Wiltshire, to declare:
"The English will not tolerate being told that we cannot display our United Kingdom status because a few hundred thousand people will not like it."
As it turns out the Government's proposed identity card, initially only for non-EU immigrants, but eventually for us all, carries the Government crest, which implies that we are citizens of the UK Government - the state - rather than our nation.
One wonders whether nationalists who cover up the Government crest with an national flag will be threatened with legal action or arrest.
The Sunday Times:
Ministers are considering spending up to £12 billion on a database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain.
GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre, has already been given up to £1 billion to finance the first stage of the project.
Hundreds of clandestine probes will be installed to monitor customers live on two of the country’s biggest internet and mobile phone providers - thought to be BT and Vodafone. BT has nearly 5m internet customers.
If anyone needs their private correspondence monitored, then it's the fucking government.
I was appalled to read this morning's Sunday Times to discover that you are planning on installing "clandestine probes" to enable the Government to monitor my emails and text messages, at a potential cost to the taxpayer of £12bn.
If this report is true then I would like to take my business elsewhere and encourage everyone that I know to do likewise.
Please inform me as to the veracity of this story so that I can arrange an alternative phone and internet supplier if need be
UPDATE (under surveillance)
Interesting to note that this post appears to be getting hits from the URL http://blog.intra.bt.com/blogwatch/