Should Boris Johnson succeed Cameron as prime minister?

28/06/2016

Since David Cameron resigned as prime minister after the Brexit vote, Boris Johnson is one of the favourites to replace him.  Some people say “Not Boris!  He’s a liar!”  And indeed he is a bullshitter of great renown.  Here are some of his lies:

“As Mayor of London he promised to totally eradicate rough sleeping by 2012; it doubled under his leadership. His 2008 manifesto promised there would be manned ticket offices at every station; he closed all of London’s ticket offices. He aimed to reduce transport fares; they increased by 4.2 per cent.”

But why should this disqualify him?  All politicians are liars (I think… name one high-ranking politician who has never lied and I will accuse you of fibbing…)

I can think of other reasons why he shouldn’t be prime minister.  If he does turn out to be a serious contender, I might list some of these to you.  But for now: stop flapping!

 

Gove: "You're a liar, Boris!" Johnson: "Aren't we all...?"

Gove: “You’re a liar, Boris!”
Johnson: “Aren’t we all…?”

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Freepost address for the Conservative Party

10/02/2016

If you want to contact the Conservative Party about anything, but didn’t want to buy a stamp for the letter (maybe because you don’t earn a living wage, or your benefits have been sanctioned…), fear not!  On Facebook I found a Freepost address so you can send mail to the Tories without worrying about the cost of postage.  You still have to provide writing paper and envelope yourself… but every little bit helps, doesn’t it?

The address is:

Freepost RTHS-TLXL-XKXK
The Conservative Party
4 Matthew Parker Street
LONDON
SW1H 9HQ

I haven’t actually tried it myself, as I only just discovered it.  I think it would be great if anyone who writes to the address reports the success or failure of their attempt; so if the Freepost no longer works I can edit this blog post accordingly.  Similarly, if anyone knows of other Freepost addresses, or 0800 phone numbers so we can call them for free, I’ll gladly add them to this post.  Information sets us free.  And there’s something extra satisfying about sending an actual letter through the post rather than emails, don’t you think?

Please don’t use this address to send the government any offensive or hate mail.  That would possibly be a crime, and in no way do I encourage you to do so!  Thanks.

cameron-face-palm

Send the prime minister a letter today!  I’m sure Dave is looking forward to a robust conversation with the British electorate!


The draft “snooper’s charter” does not protect people’s privacy says Commons intelligence committee

09/02/2016

The intelligence and security committee, set up by prime minister David Cameron to scrutinise new investigatory law, has said that home secretary Theresa May’s draft “snooper’s charter” bill “fails to cover all the intrusive spying powers of the security agencies and lacks clarity in its privacy protections.”

The unexpectedly critical intervention by the intelligence and security committee comes just days before a key scrutiny committee of MPs and peers is to deliver its verdict on the draft legislation aimed at regulating the surveillance powers of the security agencies.

Central to the committee’s complaint is the fact that privacy is an add-on to the bill, rather than being an integral backbone of the proposed legislation.

The ISC said in its report that it supported the government’s intention to provide greater transparency around the security services’ intrusive powers in the aftermath of the Edward Snowden mass surveillance disclosures.

“It is nevertheless disappointing that the draft bill does not cover all the agencies’ intrusive capabilities – as the committee recommended last year,” said Dominic Grieve, former Conservative attorney general and chair of the committee.

The committee had expected to find that privacy would form an integral part of the bill, around which the legislation would be built.  But instead it seems that privacy concerns are an afterthought, and the legislation is not at all transparent in this regard.

“Given the background to the draft bill and the public concern over the allegations made by Edward Snowden in 2013, it is surprising that the protection of people’s privacy – which is enshrined in other legislation – does not feature more prominently,” said the committee, which also proposed three amendments to the bill:

  • On “equipment interference” or computer hacking powers, the ISC said the bill only covered the use of these powers to gather intelligence and did not regulate their use for attack purposes.
  • On “bulk personal datasets” – data bought or obtained from other bodies – it said these included personal information about a large number of individuals that was sufficiently intrusive to require a specific warrant. The bill’s provision for “class bulk dataset warrants” should therefore be deleted.
  • On “communications data”, it said the government’s approach was inconsistent and confusing and clear safeguards needed to be set out on the face of the bill.

“We consider these changes necessary if the government is to bring forward legislation which provides the security and intelligence agencies with the investigatory powers they require, while protecting our privacy through robust safeguards and controls,” Dominic Grieve said.

I believe that any future legislation should ensure that proper warrants from judges are required before investigators can begin retrieving personal data.  There may be occasions when urgency demands authorization from the home secretary; but in general permission should be sought from a judge, not a politician; and there should be real evidence to prove that intrusion into privacy is needed.  This seems to me a no-brainer: just as the police need a warrant before they can search private premises, so investigators should need a warrant before rooting through an individual’s private data and communications.

It seems that the government wants enshrined in law the illegal powers the intelligence and security services were found to use thanks to NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s revelations.  For instance, GCHQ, with its TEMPORA program, has been sifting through the private communications that pass through the underwater cables between Britain and the USA.  Such bulk collection of data should not be allowed.  If the security services believe that an individual is communicating data about unlawful plots, they should present a judge with their evidence and the judge can then decide if data collection is called for. The idea of allowing Theresa May to micro-manage cases is ludicrous: she is not in a position to make judgement calls of this nature while also carrying out her other duties.  The result of the proposed bill would be the home secretary signing off on cases she knows nothing about: basically giving the police and intelligence and security agencies a blank cheque.

Invasion of privacy is a serious matter, and a citizen’s right to privacy should be breached only if there is a good reason.  A judge would be better placed to make this call than a politician in London who has neither the time nor resources to check each case on its merits.  When agencies are given carte blanche to do whatever they want, history indicates that they go too far.  They need to be reigned in.

 

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CLICK ON STEWIE FOR AMAZING MOBILE DEALS!!

 


Call centres to be established *in* prisons… so even higher category inmates can work as slaves

09/08/2012

I’d say this is unbelievable – except of course it’s nothing of the kind. I’ve just recently written a post about how inmates in open prisons are being used as slave labour in call centres, earning themselves £3 per day – that’s right, you didn’t misread that – £3 per day, not per hour. And now, to outdo itself in amorality, now there’s a plan to build call centres inside prisons, so higher category prisoners will be able to take advantage of this great career move. And how much will the prisoners be paid? Strangely, no one wanted to tell the Guardian a specific amount – but surprise surprise:

It is unclear how much prisoners would be paid at call centres inside prisons but under current rules prisoners on “work experience” are paid £3 a day, with no set maximum to the work experience period.

The MoJ said there were varying levels of pay for those working inside prisons with the lowest being around £3 a day

So, prisons will be putting people out of a job, as there’s no way someone “on the out” (prison slang meaning “not in jail”), with rent/mortgage to pay and possibly family to support will be able to work for such a ridiculous figure.

This scheme is supposed to help inmates to rehabilitate, apparently. And guess what: similar projects are under way in the USA. With many positive outcomes no doubt, stopping the drugs and the killings and the ever-pervasive gang culture that helps make US “prisoner warehouses” such lovely places.

According to the Guardian:

An MoJ spokesperson said, “Prisoners who learn the habit of real work inside prison are less likely to commit further crime when they are released. For that reason the Prisons Service is looking at a number of potential schemes to increase work opportunities in prisons.

“All contracts with outside employers must comply with a strict code of practice which sets out that prisoners cannot be used to replace existing jobs in the community. Prisoner wages, for those in closed prisons, are set by prison governors and companies have no control over the level of payment.”

And guess who’s going to run the service and make the money: a company called ONE3ONE Solutions, which is owned by the prison service (apparently called ONE3ONE because there are 131 prisons). And our Beloved Leader David Cameron makes an appearance in the ONE3ONE prospectus, urging businesses to take advantage of the opportunity working prisoners offered. “Prisoners working productively towards their own rehabilitation will contribute to the UK economy and make reparation to society,” he wrote.

“Many businesses, large and small, already make use of prison workshops to produce high quality goods and services and do so profitably. They are not only investing in prisons but in the future of their companies and the country as a whole. I urge others to follow their lead and seize the opportunity that working prisons offer.”

Yes, it’s a good idea to take these jobs away from people who aren’t prisoners. They’ll become unemployed and, frustrated by their inability to support their families, they might be tempted to commit crimes (dealing in class A drugs like heroin and crack cocaine can be lucrative, I understand). Then, when they’re arrested for these crimes, they’ll be sent to prison where they will actually be able to get their old jobs back!

Oh yes, a grand, calculated scheme. Where can I get hold of some shares in ONE3ONE?

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“Vote Labour for war against Iran!” says Blair

30/01/2010

Saturday 30 January 2010

Tony Blair has been accused of trying to make war with Iran an election issue, after he mentioned Iran and its evils 57 times during his evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry on Iraq yesterday (29 January 2010).

Blair claimed that western powers might soon have to invade Iran because its Islamic regime now poses the same threat to peace as Saddam’s Iraq did seven years ago. He warned that the international community must be prepapared to take “a very hard, tough line” with Iran, a country “linked up with terrorist groups”, to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. He even claimed that if he hadn’t toppled Saddam in 2003, Iraq and Iran would probably be locked in a race for nuclear power.

Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Iran, said on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that Blair’s claims had put the issue on the electoral agenda, and that political parties now needed to make it clear that war was not an option. “We need to be much clearer, as voters, with our politicians and with our candidates that we expect a different behaviour and a greater integrity in our democracy next time.”

One of Blair’s complaints about Iran was that its government had fomented the insurgency in Iraq. He claimed that Iran, which follows Shia Islam, had supported al-Qaida, despite it following the rival Sunni branch of the faith, because they both had a common interest in destabilising Iraq. He is trying to put any blame for the failure of his policy on Iraq at Iran’s feet, as well as establishing some sort of non-existent link between Iran and Al-Qaeda to justify a new war. Dalton, a former employee of Blair and an expert on the region, has dismissed this as rubbish. Now we must hope that no one else listens to the former prime minister.

I saw an interesting question posted on the Guardian site by a reader called “Eleusis”: how can Blair continue in his role as UN peace envoy to the Palestinian Territories and Israel after his shocking public war mongering? Unfortunately, I don’t think Blair will have the slightest problem reconciling these conflicting ideas. Blair is two-faced and can perform amazing contortions. Should be in a bloody freak show…

Now is a good time to tell you about the campaign to arrest Blair for war crimes. George Monbiot, a journalist writing on British and international politics and current affairs, has set up the site www.arrestblair.org as a focal point for the campaign. In 2008 Monbiot attempted to make a citizen’s arrest of John Bolton for his role in planning the war against Iraq, and gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell tried to arrest Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe. Of course neither attempt came to anything; but the citizen’s arrests attracted a lot of media attention. This inspired Monbiot’s Arrest Blair campaign. Monbiot wrote in yesterday’s Guardian:

So today I am launching a website – http://www.arrestblair.org – whose purpose is to raise money as a reward for people attempting a peaceful citizen’s arrest of the former prime minister. I have put up the first £100, and I encourage you to match it. Anyone meeting the rules I’ve laid down will be entitled to one quarter of the total pot: the bounties will remain available until Blair faces a court of law. The higher the ­reward, the greater the number of ­people who are likely to try.

At this stage the arrests will be largely symbolic, though they are likely to have great political resonance. But I hope that as pressure builds up and the crime of aggression is adopted by the courts, these attempts will help to press ­governments to prosecute. There must be no hiding place for those who have committed crimes against peace. No ­civilised country can allow mass ­murderers to move on.

There seems to be quite a bit of support for the idea: at the time of this writing, the bounty pot stands at £10,045.99. And that’s after just a couple of days. In time this pot will grow much bigger – especially after a few arrest attempts have been made and media coverage spreads the word. A fine idea!

There are a few rules – for instance the arrest attempt must be non-violent and it must be covered by a “mainstream” media outlet of some kind – and also a few tips on how to perform the citizen’s arrest. It’s very very important you don’t give the impression that you are trying to physically attack Blair in some way as he goes around with armed guards.

According to http://www.arrestblair.org there is a film crew who would like to follow someone planning to make the arrest. And the campaign also has a Facebook page. If anyone wants to give it a go, I support you wholeheartedly. And if you like the idea but (like me) don’t have the balls to actually do it, you could always donate some money to go into the bounty pool. Check the front page at www.arrestblair.org for details on how to donate. Good luck!

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