I am a member of online campaign groups like 38 Degrees and Open Rights Group. These are groups that ask members what campaigns it should get involved with, then the group will call on its members to send to local MPs. ministers and other such, so our will is focused and targeted and helps ensure that the government and others can’t just ignore us. Divided we are nothing. United we can do anything… well, the government can’t just ignore us.
My local MP is the Tory Robin Walker. Incidentally, his late father Peter Walker (1932-2010) was MP for Worcester until 1992, when he resigned as MP and was sent to the House of Lords to do his masters’ work. Robin has been a pretty engaged MP – he has replied to every email I’ve sent him (he uses official House of Commons writing paper and envelopes – you would have thought that Parliament had discouraged use of snail mail) but only once has he expressed agreement with my point, about the Defamation Bill). Most recently he sent me a (probably form) letter telling me how important it was that the government keep my communication and other logs for all eternity just in case I were a terrorist or paedophile. He wrote:
Communications data is vital for the police in their fight against crime, including serious offences, such as child abuse, drug-dealing and terrorism.
Note the use of the “big 3″: child abuse, drug-dealing and terrorism”. The suggestion is that opposing the Data Communications Data Bill is, or supports, nonces, pushers and suicide bombers. Thanks Robin; yet another reason to avoid voting for him when the general election comes round.
Right now, I don’t have a clue who’ll get my vote: it won’t be the Conservatives, the Lib Dems are no longer a viable choice…if Ed Miliband can drag Labour back to the left I might put my mark by his name; but how likely will that happen?
Brits are wage-slaves, with mortgages and their children’s educations keeping the populace keeping their nose to the stone, while bankers, corporate directors and other vested interests keep their money in tax havens. But don’t worry: the Conservatives want your personal data, phone logs, emails, bowel movements, whatever, stored for all eternity in a massive computer system that probably fail (as do most government-contracted computer systems do). We’re stuck with this situation unless someone does something about it.
Who’s your MP? Does he care about you? I’d love to see along string of Comments to this post, telling us how our MPs act for our best interests. And my current voting advice regarding the next election: go to the voting station, spoil your ballot (I like to write at the bottom of the voting card “None of the above” and a X in a box next to it), put it in the black box, and be on your way. This is not apathy, this is showing the establishment that the status quo must end.
Simon Harwood, the copper who killed innocent non-rioter Ian Tomlinson in London on the day of the G20 protests in 2009, “held his head in his hands” when showed video footage of his unprovoked attack, and said to his boss “I think it’s me.”
So why was Harwood so distraught? Was it because he only then realised that he was the police officer who attacked Tomlinson, from behind, completely unprovoked? Or was it because he knew the game was over – here was undeniable proof that he was the killer – and now he was likely to have to face the music? I bet cops everywhere hate the fact that advanced video technology has become so affordable – whenever a cop crosses the line, he can’t be sure that someone’s shooting it for posterity.
Isn’t it odd that Harwood wrote in his notebook that during the demo he had used his baton sparingly and only to defend himself and to prevent rioting… yet here is video footage showing him strike Ian Tomlinson in the back of the legs then shove him forcibly to the ground when Tomlinson was walking away from him? Inspector Williams was asked at length by Mark Dennis QC, prosecuting, whether it was proper police procedure to strike or shove a protester who might be walking away from police lines. All Williams could come up with was that it depended on the situation. “It’s very hard to answer a hypothetical situation,” he said.
Come on, Williams… tell us how it can ever be right to attack an innocent man from behind when that man is clearly cooperating with the police and walking away from their lines. If Harwood gets found not guilty for this, I predict another wave of rioting – specifically anti-police rioting.
Lord Stevens,a former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has warned that “Britain may face years of public disorder fuelled by the economic crisis, with police battling to keep control of the streets.” The Guardian says this view is shared by many high-ranking cops. Stevens says that he initial riot in August, in Tottenham after a police shooting, should have been anticipated, and that during the summer riots police had been “acting a day behind”‘ events.
Stevens believes that rising unemployment, and provocative police tactics like the widely-criticised “stop and search” powers, will lead to both peaceful protests and violent rioting in the future. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t accept this. A government source said the cause of the riots “was not deprivation and distrust of the police, it’s about getting free stuff.” The government believes that tougher policing and heavier sentencing will prevent further trouble.
The government are making a big mistake in rejecting Lord Stevens’ comments. Stevens was a pretty good cop, as far as cops go. He was the last Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police who served his full term – in other words, he didn’t have to resign because of corrupt or incompetent performance; something that none of his successors have managed to do. And what I find very interesting is that he presided over an inquiry into allegations in Northern Ireland of collusion between the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and loyalist terrorists in the murder of Irish Nationalists – an inquiry which concluded that there had been collusion that resulted in the murder of Nationalists, and of protestants who had been mistaken for Nationalists or Catholics. It is not very common that a senior officer will come to such conclusions about fellow officers – indeed it took Stevens three inquiries before he would accept what the evidence told him. But he did finally accept the truth that fellow officers were indeed capable of conspiring to murder innocent civilians, which indicates he is someone who seeks and tells the truth. He has also been an influential advisor to both Labour and Conservatives. So why is the government rejecting his comments now? Because they don’t chime with what the government wants to believe – whether he’s right or not is irrelevant to the government.
Stevens warned the government not to be “insulting” or “arrogant” in dismissing the work of the panel of academics and former police chiefs that he will chair – and the government have immediately responded with arrogance. Is there any point in his panel actually producing a report? The government will just do what they want anyway – to hell with the truth.
The past few days’ rioting in England are all due to the internet, says prime minister David Cameron.
So news of riots spread via the internet/facebook/twitter etc etc. So now Dodgy Dave says that Facebook, Twitter and Research in Motion (Rim), the maker of BlackBerry devices, should take more responsibility for content posted on their networks, warning the government would look to ban people from major social networks if they were suspected of inciting violence online.
Yes, the news spread via the internet. But it also spread via the telephone, snail mail, newspapers, television, word-of-mouth. So shouldn’t we just ban communication outright?
Heck, I better get this posted then get out of here, before the government bans me!
[If you wanna see more pretty pictures of the riots in London, go to the Boston Globe’s “Big Picture” feature – link here.]
_got=2;_goi=2;_goz=0;_gol=’Free hit counter’;_GoStatsRun();
Free hit counter
The IFJ guide is not riot-specific – it covers a variety of dicey situations, such as “war zones and conflict areas”, “riots and civil disorder” and “abductions, hostage taking and targeting journalists”. It also has chapters on emergency first aid and post-traumatic stress disorder”.
I haven’t read the Guide yet – Goddess, I only just found the thing! – but its blurb makes it sound pretty useful, lots of advice in one handy volume. And what’s even cooler, you can download it for free in pdf format from here
So check it out. Who knows – maybe one day it’ll save your life.
_got=2;_goi=2;_goz=0;_gol=’Free hit counter’;_GoStatsRun();
Free hit counter