Monday, May 21, 2007

1984? Orwell could never have guessed!

As a life-long socialist I was overjoyed when Labour ousted the tories in 1997. The "New" bit on the party name worried me a little, but "things could only get better", yes? Ah, naivety, for could they have gotten any worse?

How could we have allowed such an erosion of civil liberties in Britain? Blair and his sheep have presided over some of the most right-wing assaults on British culture. for instance, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) allows the government to access anyone's electronic communications with very little restrictions. This infringes the privacy of correspondance in a way most of us would not tolerate if it was normal paper mail. This Act allows the government to:
  • demand that an ISP provides access to a customer's communications in secret;
  • mass surveillance of communications in transit;
  • demand ISPs fit equipment to facilitate surveillance;
  • demand that someone hands over keys to protected information;
  • monitor people's internet activities

This Act runs counter to Article 8(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights were: "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence".

We can have our phones tapped but MPs are to remain immune to this; they now also want their business as MPs to be excluded from freedom of information rules. A woman was arrested for reading out the names of members of the armed forces killed in Iraq; you're not allowed to demonstrate against the government within 1km of parliament without permission, which is not usually given these days. If you are given permisson to demonstrate, and even if you are being peaceful, you can be herded into a sidestreet, cordoned off by a ring of police so you can't leave without being arrested ... for hours on end ... no chance of your granny or your kids going to the toilet. Yes, that'll teach us! Thatcher at her worst never went that far, though she would probably have liked to.

We are now the most watched population on the planet. One camera for every 14 citizens, the like doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. Banks have been given sovereignty over our money. Almost no-one can be paid for their honest toil without having a bank account, even if you don't want one. Those on benefits can only be paid if the have a bank account, and will soon have to pay banks from their pittance to withdraw that money. Now we will have to pay many hundreds of pounds to own an ID card that will have incredible amounts of personal information on it (DNA, fingerprints and so on) with assurances that it will be secure, even though almost every computer system this government has introduced has been atrociously inept.

ID cards can and will be forged so they will not protect anyone from anything, but will produce an incredible database with information on everything about everyone in Britain ... well, those that are daft enough to give that information. Of course there are idiots who say: "if you've got nothing to hide why worry?" Well mate I do have something to hide, my privacy! If you think my privacy is something I should lay open to the world then I suggest you walk naked into the middle of your own street squat down and have a dump! Then go back to your home and rip the curtains and shutters from your windows, let the neighbours watch you pick your nose while watching tv or have sex with your partner on the sofa with all the lights on ... you're right, of course, these things are no-one's business but your own. Well, so too is my bloodtype, DNA, fingerprints, bank details, debt information, friends past and present, and all the silly things I may have said and done as a boy (or man). You can't cherry-pick what parts of some-one's life can or can't remain personal to them. The government may ask me for them but I demand the right to say they can or can't have it! Orwell himself could never have guessed that 1984 would have become the hidden manifesto of the Labour Party?

The idea, it is said, is to keep us safe from terrorists. ID cards did not stop acts of terrorism in countries that legally enforce the carrying of such documentation and they will not stop it here either. All they do is give those in power vast databases of information on the populace. Even if those in power now who advocate this were the most reasonable folk in the world, and they certainly are not, who knows who will be in power on 10-20 years from now?

I've had a few run-ins with the BNP in the past. I certainly would not like those fascist bastards to have access to my personal information should the English ever vote them into power ... not likely, but no beyond the bounds of possibility either.

Also, am I the only one to find it a bit weird that the guy who almost pathologically pursued the camera on every street corner policy is a blind man?

This is a government who sent our young people to war illegally on lies. Then tried to excuse it by saying that a dictator had been removed (from the powerful position the west had put him in). They ignored his brutality while it suited them, and made use of it when it did not. There are other more brutal dictatorships in the world that they choose to ignore. Are we to continue to accept their lies and ignore their foul deeds?

In February 2003 over a million people marched on the streets of London in protest; on the same day over 100,000 marched on the streets of Glasgow (equivalent to the London march per capita). What I can never forgive Blair for was that he brought forward his talk to a conference in Glasgow that day so that he would be gone by the time the Glasgow march arrived at the conference centre. What an act of political cowardice, especially when he demanded my son and thousands of others put their lives at risk to be in Iraq based on his lies. Incidentally, I will never forgive the BBC either for using cutaways of the protest march during the showing of his speech on the evening news to make it look like he was inside the building talking when we were outside. Another diabolical lie! That day the Labour party also ejected members from the conference who wore protest badges and sashes (which was their democratic right to do), and we all watched 2 years later when Walter Wolfgang was also forceably removed from the annual conference for telling Jack Straw he was talking nonsense. It seems the truth is anathema to the Labour party these days. What a disgrace the party has become.

Who can forget the ring of tanks around Heathrow weeks before the decision to go to war? Even if there was a terrorist threat, which it turned out there wasn't, what would a ring of tanks have done. Ah, but scare the populace and you can get anything you want, even an illegal war! Don't be surprised that Brown has chosen to continue Blair's Iraq fiasco. After all, he was the man who found all the money for him to do it!

Add to all of that the number of Blair's cronies who have been sacked for fraud, corruption, lies, ineptitude (some more than once) and now those who are being primed for appearances in court for cash for honours scandal; maybe even Blair himself once he is no longer protected by Prime ministerial privilege. The depressing thing is, those who would replace him are no better, whatever party they come from.

Ten years on, I am more glad to see the back of Blair than I was to see the front of him. I am so fed up with the condescending halfwits that demand we allow them to run our lives, even those who can't make a decent go of their own.

Politics is dead in Britain. It is the domain of the inept, the greedy and the corrupt. Maybe it is time for a huge amount of decentralisation, a devolvement of power and determination to local communities. Oh, but of course, we're too stupid to make decisions for ourselves, aren't we?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Musical blogs

Hey, did you see the new music bloggy thing in the right hand panel. I've got some albums uploaded to it and you can play them by selecting the relevant playlist. There's some Bob Dylan, Neil Young; Carol King and Joni Mitchell. there's also some ZZ Top for the more heavy minded and yes the great Cat Stevens. You need to click the library flyout above the albums to use it. Click on the radio or click on a playlist, clicking on the album covers doesn't work.
I have stuck a whole pile of classical stuff on my radio. If I can get my microphone to work I might try my hand at creating wee radio shows just for fun.


Friday, May 04, 2007

not been here for a while!

Been a wee while since I wrote anything for this, mainly because I had nothing much to say. Got really fed up with my PhD and kind of made up my mind to quit. Someone must have let my supervisor know because he got me more teaching work to do to get me back into the uni. I began to get my head back into it and now I am nearly at the end, which is proving to be the hardest bit of all. I am still regretting the lost time, though.
Last week it was all quite clear in my head what I wanted to write for my last main chapter, but this week ... it just won't come out.
Add to that, the fact I have suddenly become hooked on Shania Twain albums and can't get the woman's voice out of my head, and you just know things have taken a weird turn. Still, there are many more horrible things to have in your head than the gorgeous Shania Twain. Funny thing, though, except for a few songs that cross the boundary, I always had a dislike of country music, but for some bizarre reason it seems to soothe my fevered brow at the moment. Och, I suppose it's easy to listen to.
My poor MP3 player doesn't know what is going on: Pink Floyd, Led Zep, The Who, The Doors ... all gone and Shania says she's "keepin me forever and for always". Oooooo!
Jan gave me a funny look the other day as I "two-stepped" into the kitchen while listening to music on my MP3. She knows my normal musical taste and must have thought, "how you dosy-doh to shine on you crazy diamond?" Ah, stress ... isn't it a wonderful thing!
Oh well, need to get back to work, and thanks, Shania, you are correct I can only go UP from here!