Antifas Hate Democracy. True.

Since the possibility of PR started to be mooted, there has been a storm of hysterical tweets – often with multiple exclamation marks tagged on to them – warning against the sheer horror of PR on the grounds that it would somehow promote ‘fascism’. I’ll paraphrase them here

OMG in a proper Democracy people I disagree with would be allowed political representation! I protest! UKIP and the BNP would rule us !!! THE RACISTS!!!

Something of a surprise to see UKIP lumped in with the BNP there, presumably this is because the BNP numbers by themselves aren’t sufficiently frightening,

It’s about time, frankly, that these virulent ‘no platform’ fuckwits started to be honest and admitted that they hate democracy, they don’t support freedom of speech, and started to call for what they really want which is a totalitarian regime that brutally suppresses dissent and denies representation to anyone with the wrong kind of opinions.

A bit like, say, Stalin had.

Because by continuing to insist that people they disagree with deserve neither political representation or the right to an opinion, this is precisely what they are wishing for.

So come on antifas, lets have you, lets see you produce a manifesto that calls for the introduction of a dictatorship and the building of gulags or re-education camps.

And don’t let me hear you, ever, say anything about democracy other than that you hate it and think it should be abolished. Anything short of this is not simply hypocrisy, but a massive fucking lie.

UPDATE
The headline “OH MY GOD RACISTS IN CHARGE BY TEATIME” number was that the BNP would have got 12 seats. And looking at the percentage of the vote (1.9%) that is of course true – IF we can extrapolate from FPTP votes to a PR system, which is quite unlikely. While it’s easy to get hysterical about this if you can’t add up, the thing to remember is that those 12 seats, assuming that result came to pass, would mean that the BNP would, by the same maths, have slightly less than 1.9% of the power.

This is your government on drugs

Jacqui And Alan Go Nutts

Well, there I was thinking about chucking up some waffle about the use of things like science and cost benefit analysis and suchlike as the basis for decision making in my ongoing sketch of a utopian future democracy, and suddenly the Stalinist dog fuckers that we managed to elect twice hand me a fantastic example in the form of the sacking of Professor David Nutt, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson’s letter to Prof. Nutt leaves us in little doubt about the reasons behind his removal from post. It also demonstrates a level of ignorance that would be frankly stunning if it wasn’t simply what we have come to expect. In it, Johnson says

I have concerns regarding your recent comments that have received such media attention. It is important that I can be confident that advice from the ACMD will be about matters of evidence. Your recent comments have gone beyond such evidence.

Those ‘comments’ presumably being that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than cannabis, and that the government – in the form of former Home Sec. Jacqui ‘the smug fascist’ Smith – simply ignored scientific evidence when they re-reclassified cannabis in January 2009.

Johnson’s characterisation of these as mere comments is, to put it extremely charitably, disingenuous.

On Tuesday 14 July 2009, Nutt delivered the The Eve Saville memorial lecture for the The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, held in Great Hall, Kings College, London.

The subject of his lecture was a briefing paper titled ‘Estimating drug harms : a risky business ?’, the text of which can be downloaded from here. It’s a fascinating read, and I thoroughly recommend it.

It is indeed sharply critical of the government, and of policy makers in general. As well it might be given the revolving cluster fuck that passes for drug policy. Nutt relates the difficulty he has trying to get people to engage with the idea of measuring risks and harm associated with prohibited recreational substances relative to other activities and substances.

This is an example of a conversation that I’ve had many times with many people, some of them politicians:

MP: ‘You can’t compare harms from a legal activity with an illegal one.’

Professor Nutt: ‘Why not?’

MP: ‘Because one’s illegal.’

Professor Nutt: ‘Why is it illegal?’

MP: ‘Because it’s harmful.’

Professor Nutt: ‘Don’t we need to compare harms to determine if it should be illegal?’

MP: ‘You can’t compare harms from a legal activity with an illegal one.’

repeats …

This of course exposes the hypocrisy at the core of drugs policy, debate about which Nutt characterises – not without justification – as

isolated and arbitrary, more akin to a ‘religious’ discussion

Quite. But the comments that really boil the government’s piss are of course the statements regarding the relative harm caused by consumption of various substances, and in particular, since it directly contradicts the government’s ‘message’, the harm and risks associated with cannabis use.

Johnson expressed his concern that advice from the ACMD be “about matters of evidence” and clearly he feels this oversteps the mark. Nutt’s remarks about cannabis, however, are based on a a 2008 ACMD report “Cannabis: Classification and Public Health”, which itself drew on earlier work by Nutt and his academic colleagues ‘Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse’ which was published in the Lancet in March 2007. (PDF available from here if you don’t wish to register).

So it’s difficult, almost impossible, in fact, to imagine how Johnson could be concerned that these remarks aren’t “matters of evidence”. Clearly then, the Home Sec is defenestrating the poor prof because his rational, scientific approach conflicts with the approach the government wishes to take. Johnson is eager to leave us in no doubt that this is the case

I cannot have public confusion between scientific advice and policy and have therefore lost confidence in your ability to advise me as Chair of the ACMD

Comfortably Decoupled From Reality

This is bad. This is in fact very, very bad indeed. Because it means that the government of the United Kingdom is happy to operate as though it were living in some fucked up fantasy land of imaginings (not unlike someone who is ripped off their tits on drugs, in fact) rather than actually dealing with reality as it is. Did I mention that this is bad ?

In this particular case, it is actually recursively bad. On receipt of the ACMD’s 2008 report on cannabis classification, Commissar Smith quoth

In reaching my decision, I have also taken into account the views of others, particularly those responsible for enforcing the law, and the public … I have given the council’s report careful consideration. Of its 21 recommendations, I accept all bar those relating to classification.

This is not true. Nutt quotes the results of a poll conducted by the government during the consultation carried out prior to the latest reclassification, which show a solid majority of respondents thought cannabis should have been left in classification C. Many of us would have left it at that, but Nutt and his colleagues didn’t like the poll question, so they conducted their own Mori poll for their report. Only 26% of respondents thought that cannabis should be class ‘B’. 18% thought it should be class C, 11% thought it should be legal. 11% were undecided. 32%, surprisingly, thought it should be class ‘A’. Bastards.

Reclassification to ‘A’, of course, wasn’t on the cards. Neither of those sets of numbers supports Smith’s statement about taking into account the views of the public. Nutt and co asked a second question about criminal penalties which is even more interesting and reveals public misunderstanding of the classification system in general. Again I encourage the reader to consume the paper in it’s entirety. It’s clear that no one at the home office did, because it turned out that the penalties a solid majority of respondents thought would be appropriate are in fact those associated with a classification of ‘C’, with ‘No Punishment’ coming in second.

So in overriding the views of the ACMD experts in favour of the views of the public, she had, in fact, not taken any notice of what those views actually were. Ouchies.

Whoa! Deja Vu!

Nutt points out that this is the first time in the history of the ACMD that the government has ignored it’s recommendations, heaping well deserved scorn on Gordon Brown for his risible “lethal skunk” outbursts. This may well be true, but it is by no means the first time that a government has received a report on cannabis use, disliked it, and binned it. In 1968 while James Callaghan was Home Sec, the Wootton report was submitted by the Advisory Committee On Drug Dependence.

We don’t even have to go beyond the covering letter before we find this

We think that the adverse effects which the consumption of cannabis in even small amounts may produce in some people should not be dismissed as in-significant. We have no doubt that the wider use of cannabis should not be encouraged. On the other hand, we think that the dangers of its use as commonly accepted in the past and the risk of progression to opiates have been overstated, and that the existing criminal sanctions intended to curb its use are unjustifiably severe.

Drugs policy is a particularly good (and topical) example of common sense and rational investigation being swatted aside in the pursuit of some ideological tenet or to win a few votes, but it is by no means the only one.

Earlier this month, “The most comprehensive enquiry into English primary education for 40 years” in the form of the Cambridge Primary Review was completed and submitted to the Department For Children, Schools and Families. Quoth the Graun

The Cambridge review, the biggest inquiry into primary education in 40 years, was published last week after a three-year process which produced 31 interim reports, 28 surveys and thousands of submissions.

The Cambridge review received support from every teaching union, agency and school support group

Quoth schools minister, Vernon Coaker (pdf), in response to the review’s findings that it would be beneficial to the nations children if formal education and testing started at age 6

The world has moved on since this review was started. If every child making progress and reaching their potential is what matters then Professor Alexander’s proposals are a backward step.

Heavy Heavy Deja Vu!

A May 2008 schools select committee report concluded

In addition, the data derived from the testing system do not necessarily provide an accurate or complete picture of the performance of schools and teachers, yet they are relied upon by the Government, the QCA and Ofsted to make important decisions affecting the education system in general and individual schools, teachers and pupils in particular.

Okay, that’s bad, so we should change it right ? Don’t hold your breath because

The Government has repeatedly refused to face up to accusations that an excessive testing regime has denied children a rounded education, according to one of the nation’s leading experts.

And indeed, if you have a quick peek around, you can find another select committee report from this year that draw similar conclusions.

Google Is Your Friend

Even the briefest, laziest research possible, googling a bit using “government ignored” as a search term reveals a depressing number of occasions where government ministers or officials have simply stuck their fingers in their ears when being advised by experts.

On Swine Flu

Advisers urged the Government to offer paracetamol to the public instead of Tamiflu, to stop the virus gaining resistance to the drug.

But the Department of Health advisers said ministers ignored their advice, even when it became clear the outbreak was mild.

They say the Government forged ahead with mass prescription, fearing the public would be angry if they were told that millions of Tamiflu doses were being held in storage.

On Clostridium difficile outbreaks

The Department of Health knew of a damning report into an outbreak of Clostridium difficile at a hospital trust in Kent more than five months ago and failed to act, it was claimed last night.

On medical training reforms

The government sidelined two top medical advisers to rush through the doomed online recruitment system for junior doctors, MPs were told last week.

It goes on and on and on. I can’t ever remember a government spokesdroid on the TV or radio saying “Well, we didn’t like the conclusions of the report, and we really don’t agree with recommendations, but hey, we’ll just have to suck it up and accept that we’re doing this wrong.”

Not once. Did I mention that this is bad ?

Recursively, Recursively Dense

It has been suggested that as far as the current shower are concerned much of the reason that the Home Sec. always is, or morphs into what Charlotte Gore delightfully labels “Authoritarian Super Cocks” is due to New Labour’s reliance on manipulative shitweasels like Phillip Gould, the so called ‘guru’ of the focus group.

An unsurprising irony then that they don’t listen to him when they don’t like what he tells them either. Witness this excerpt from a “sensational memo” from Gould to Gordon Brown from August 2008

We have to have a strategy of audacious advance. The best way of achieving this is to hold an early election after a short period of intense and compelling activity. A kind of “shock and awe strategy” blasting through the opposition and blasting us to the mid-40 per-cents.

Remind me, how did that go ?

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on Freedom Of Speech: A Reluctant Fisking

There are times when I feel sorry for Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. I’ll see her on some TV program or other, commenting on this or that, and for a few moments I’ll think “she seems like a reasonable lady”, and then she’ll tangle herself up in equality knots, trip over her diversity and morph before my very eyes into a nasty totalitarian. The sad thing is that I don’t think she wants to be, in fact, I think that’s exactly what she’s trying to avoid.

The article she wrote for the Indy looking at freedom of speech issues in the wake of the recent twitter/blogosphere bitch slapping of Jan Moir is a case in point.

She starts off badly muddled already, making me wonder if she’s been drinking. In this paragraph, she seems to be attempting to construct some sort of bizarre naval metaphor for freedom of speech.

The ship flying the flag for free speech is often unsteady, sometimes leaky, as it sails capricious, tempestuous seas. Sometimes even the captains jump off and struggle to keep faith with its mission. Like the supremely erudite Stephen Fry who has always, to my knowledge, been an uncompromising champion of free expression, keeping watch on deck whatever the provocations.

I mean, seriously, what the fuck ? How exactly is freedom of speech like a leaky boat with an interchangeable plunging captaincy ? Who made Stephen Fry one of the captains ? And how did you manage to avoid the more obvious seaman gags ?

Luckiliy, Yasmin provokes herself into abandoning her leaky metaphor before the next few paragraphs, in which she accuses Fry of oppressing Jan Moir. Really.

Yet this Friday came the moment when Mr Fry couldn’t abide by his own credo and ferociously assailed the Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir for her freely expressed views on the young pop star Stephen Gately. His gay lifestyle, she suggested, was “more than a little sleazy” and his death was unlikely to have been from natural causes. Now Fry commands a virtual army on the web. He can make or break someone with under 140 characters.

Oh my GOD! How did he acquire such awesome power, and has anyone told the PRIME MINISTER ? Seriously, I think you overstate the rheumy old queen’s influence, but even were it so, it does not follow, as Yasmin goes on to suggest, that in motivating his “virtual army” he is necessarily causing Moir to loose out on her freedom of expression.

After all, she was free enough to publish her opinion in the Daily Mail, and many many people read it, and it is, in fact, still available on the Daily Mail’s website

Between the Mail’s comment section, twitter and the many many blogs who took issue with it, it turns out that many of those people didn’t much like what Jan had to say, and they took the opportunity to let her know in no uncertain terms.

That, to me, sounds like everyone got a pretty fair hearing. and so I’m not sure what this to do with freedom of speech issues, particularly given that I’m still trying to work out the boat/flag/captain gestalt metaphor, Yasmin feels otherwise

I can understand their rage. The column was ugly, insensitive and homophobic. However, though I passionately believe in free speech, I am not an absolutist nor a hypocrite. The only real argument is where the line is drawn. Perhaps fundamentalists like Fry will now be more honest and accept that there are limits. Even for them.

Ah, now here we are, this is where we finally get to the nub of the issue, this is the part where after seeming a bit confused, but generally sort of nice, Yasmin is about to morph before our very eyes into her very own version of the incredible hulk.

You’ll notice, dear reader, that Yasmin needs to consult a good quality dictionary and possibly a book about logic, as she has here set pen to page and committed that great logical fallacy : the supposition that their should be ‘limits’ on freedom of speech.

The most obvious thing to say is simply that if it’s got limits on it, it aint free.

To try and shake you out of this point of view, Yasmin proposes that we have a little quiz. Yes lets.

Seven events this month reveal the increasing tension between freedom and responsibility. Each case is testing and spawns its own, particular dilemmas. Only libertarian fools and fanatics would give set-piece answers. Test yourself.

I’m pretty sure I know where you’re going to go with this, and I’m pretty sure what my answers will be. Let’s see, shall we ?

First came the national furore over “Pakigate” and Strictly Come Dancing.

What ? That’s not actually a question you know ? I don’t what you’re asking me here. As such, I’m going to declare that one invalid.

Then a picture of Brooke Shields, aged 10, nude, was withdrawn from view by the Tate Modern. The photographer had paid her mum $450 for the image. Shields herself has tried to have this object of exploitation removed from the public eye. So a good call, I think, by the Tate.

Ah, I’m on firmer ground here, but you aren’t. This has sweet fuck all to do with freedom of speech.

It is left as an exercise for the reader to figure out why the Tate decided to (very briefly) use an image that almost certainly breaches the UKs very strict child protection laws in the opening of an exhibition, knowing that it would certainly attract a lot of comment from the press.

Frankly, I think the only ‘dilemma’ raised here is why Yasmin thinks it’s OK to heap child protection issues in with what purports to be an article about freedom of speech. It’s become as of cliché as Godwin’s law that people engaging in public hand wringing about practically anything will eventually use child protection issues as a battering ram for their agenda, and it is really not very cool at all.

The BNP’s bulldoggish Nick Griffin, a white supremacist, admired by the Ku Klux Klan, opponent of Jews, Muslims and mixed-race families, is invited on to the nation’s most prestigious TV programme.

Ah! Now we get to the actual meat of the issue, like so many other people, Yasmin is worked up about the BNP. Let’s take this one, since it actually is about freedom of speech. Firstly, let’s deal with “the nation’s most prestigious TV programme”, which I think is something of an overstatement, to say the least. certainly if we measure by viewing figures, QT is not even in BBC1’s top 30 most watched programs. According to the same source, BBC1 itself accounts for a mere 20.7% of audience.

According to this article in the Telegraph, QT’s biggest ever audience was about 4 million – is the number of people who thought it would be fun to see Margaret Becket destroy her career – which still wouldn’t put in in last weeks top 20. Average audience is 2.6 million, which wouldn’t even put it on the top 30 BBC1 programmes.

I suspect Thursday’s viewing figures will be even higher. That’s what “No Platform” gets you, so well done Retards Against Fascism and associated subsidiaries of the BNPs PR wing.

Moving swiftly on

He, who would deny millions of us the vote, is an emblem of democracy and his violent thugs who try to silence so many of us black and Asian Britons become beneficiaries of free-speech doctrine.

That’s not the question, the question comes later, but this is where Yasmin, like so many other seemingly well meaning folk, is starting to trip her self. Yes, the odious little prick that is Nick Griffin is indeed the beneficiary of ‘free speech doctrine’. And that is as it should be. We can’t just go around making exclusions to the ‘doctrine’ (or law, in fact) just because we don’t like what people are going to say. Yasmin is about to argue otherwise – or at least insinuate heavy handedly that other people ought to – of course, but the simple fact is this : The BNP represent a significant minority viewpoint. If you remove any of their rights, you are persecuting that minority.

The fact that you (and indeed I) may find them a hateful, despicable, minority is really central to the point. Indeed, Yasmin made this argument herself, although clearly not on purpose He, who would deny millions of us the vote, is an emblem of democracy and his violent thugs who try to silence so many of us black and Asian Britons

He wants to silence and disempower those (and plenty of other) groups, and that is bad. You want to silence and disempower the group he represents, and that is also bad.

Free speech simply ceases to exist when you deny it to groups of people that you detest. There are no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’, no matter how many times people twist themselves around this argument, speech is either free, or it is not. It is an absolute. There really are no grey areas to be found.

Cue the Hitler comparison. Griffin is nothing like Hitler, I don’t understand why people keep making it. He probably sits in front of his PC all day with his tiny flaccid cock in hand searching Google News for “griffin hitler”.

Hitler won the votes of the majority. Would the BBC have done him the honour, too? I say the BNP should be interrogated on news programmes but an appearance on Question Time is a privilege which the BBC now bestows on racists. It sickens those of us who expect better of the corporation.

Oh. OK, that’s new. Unlike the thuggish boot boys of the new left, Yasmin is only concerned about Question Time. Listen, Yasmin, the beeb has to be impartial, it has to be representative. Those are in the charter. If the BBC denies the BNP a platform it is neither. This is quite simple. Thus, it isn’t, in fact, a ‘privilege’ to be bestowed but a duty undertaken by a political program. When you say you “expect better”, what you are actually saying is that you expect them to enforce your personal prejudices. One of the common whinges levelled against the BBC by the various odious practitioners of race politics is that the BBC is “pandering to political correctness” by selecting non white members for it’s programs, and we don’t expect the BBC to enforce their prejudices, do we ?

Let’s move on to the next of your seven, because it’s a doozy.

Then comes the ghastly Dutch MP Geert Wilder who overturned the order banning him from entering Britain imposed by the former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. He curses the Koran, damns and insults European Muslims, is a fearless xenophobe and seems to enjoy the hurt he churns up. … I agree that he should be allowed into Britain and I was proud Muslims responded with good sense.

A British youngster politely explains why Geert Wilders must die

But to see him fêted as a hero in parliament was an affront. This must mean free passage for proscribed hate-makers – rabid imams, anti-Semites, homophobic black rappers. If not, it only confirms outrageous double standards.

Ah, see now, you’re almost there. Proscribed hate-makers – rabid imams, anti-Semites, homophobic black rappers – must indeed be treated in exactly the same way that is entirely the point.

The most serious threat to free speech has come from David Miliband, now a skilled double-dealer. He talks the talk on good British values and yet rejects the judgement of two senior judges who demand disclosure of information that could prove our intelligence services colluded with the US and others to torture captured Muslims in the “War on Terror”, in particular Binyam Mohamed who was held in Guantanamo Bay for many years.

This has nothing to do with freedom of speech, and the revolting Milliband did not ‘reject’ the judgement, he appealed against it, which he is perfectly entitled to do. You are here conflating the issue of freedom of information, important in itself, with freedom of speech. We will mark this as another invalid point in an article about freedom of speech.

Next the drama over a scientific study on toxic dumping in West Africa by the company Trafigura, whose lawyers obtained an injunction to keep the information secret, including debates on the scandal in Parliament. The gaggers were duly defeated but commercial confidentiality remains an effective weapon used by big business to keep us in the dark.

Yes, and that was wrong. The libel laws need to be reformed, and the judge responsible for granting the injuction should be taken into the street and beaten. Quite so. Was that right ?

You’ve (again) wrongly conflated two issues though. Commercial confidentiality is what the current government uses to keep us in the dark about how crap they are at administering large projects because they wrote an exemption into the Freedom Of Information Act, so that’s an FOI issue, not a speech issue. Trafigura via Carter Ruck used our overly repressive libel laws to try and silence parliament. Both of these are disgraceful, but they are not related.

And of course, no columnists woolly rant about freedom of speech would be complete without it. It’s the question on everyone’s lips. What to do about the bloggers ?

Lastly, the scientist Simon Singh (a good friend) is being sued by the British Chiropractic Association which objects to his attacks on the profession. He, who is supported by Fry and others, got leave to appeal against an earlier ruling that went against him. Many of us are silenced by the might of libel law. Money, as Orwell wrote, “controls opinion”. Singh wants more “freedom to criticise fairly and strongly” on the blogs and scientific writing. I agree but too many bloggers are mad or malicious.
So what to do about them? Not easy.

Actually, it is very, very easy indeed. Nothing. The mere fact that you raise the question puts you firmly in dribbling totalitarian oppressor mode. Again. Seriously, we’ve already agreed that the libel laws are harsh enough to be open to misuse, and we have seen high court injunctions issued via twitter. What do you want that’s extra ? Regulation ? Because some people say things that you think are mad or malicious ? Do you think those people believe themselves to be mad or malicious ? Perhaps they just have very different points of view to you ?

That’s your seven, and in every case where they actually to freedom of speech, my answer is : Let their be freedom, which is not to be limited only to things that do not displease you. I’m sure that this wasn’t the stance that you wished to take, but it is where you have ended up, as we will see shortly.

Let us move swiftly to conclude, because the rest of the piece is seriously confused.

Libertarian ideologues such as journalist Brendan O’Neill have no such moral conundrums:

Because there are none. Free speech is for all, or it is for none.

“Offensiveness is part of life; the politics of inoffensiveness is a threat to free speech and open debate.” Yes, until people’s deep feelings are roused as were Fry’s by Moir.

No. No. A thousand times no.

The Roman inquisition burned Giordano Bruno at the stake in 1600 for the heresy of heliocentrism. Certainly their deep feelings were roused.

Should Giordano have shut the fuck up just because the Inquisition were a little bit touchy about their doctrine ? Perhaps from self interest, yes, but he was convinced he was correct, and so it turned out to be.

Words do violence to humans, more sometimes than sticks and stones

Really ?

Only Sometimes

More and more freedom is what we must strive for, but a complete lack of restraint leads to anarchy and dehumanisation.

What kind of restraints ? A whole article and you haven’t managed to define any.

Because logically, it is not possible to do so and still believe in the right to freedom of speech. Whatever the consequences.

There was a time not so long ago when the military powers of western Europe were prepared to risk turning most of the Northern Hemisphere into little more than a faintly glowing glass wasteland in preference to their citizens losing the freedom to think and opine as they pleased. By contrast, having some tosser from the BNP on a programme with an audience smaller than the Antiques Roadshow doesn’t seem like such a big fucking deal to me.

Just sayin.

Carter-Ruck take it up the arse from horses

Mammoth elephant’s cock ticklers and occasional media lawyers Carter Ruck, not content with trying to gag the free press would now like to injunct parliament as well.

Carter-Ruck partner Adam Tudor today sent a letter to the Speaker, John Bercow, and also circulated it to every single MP and peer, saying they believed the case was “sub judice”.

If correct, it would mean that, under Westminster rules to prevent clashes between parliament and the courts, a debate planned for next Wednesday could not go ahead.

The Minton Report, which Carter Ruck would prefer you not to be able to read because it describes how their clients, Trafigura, are poisoning thousands of people and killing wildlife on the Ivory Coast, can be found at Wikilieaks (of course) here

Mandleson : All the fault of the media

Yes that’s right, Blears is quitting because of the press. My god, he’s right! How dare the media in a democratic nation ask questions of the elected representatives, the bastards!

He also said he had a meeting with her this morning. Oh yes ? Went well did it Peter ?

Idiot.

Gordon Brown : “Lalalalalalalala! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

When asked today what he would do if virtually everyone in the Labour Party turned up at his office and told him he was a diabolical liability and it would really be best for everyone if he just cleared his desk and fucked off, Brown smugly replied that he would simply stick his fingers in his ears and shout “Lalalalalalalala! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” until they all got bored and went away again or there was a general election.

Or at least I think that’s what he said. I haven’t watched the Marr interview because Marr is a pathetic interviewer and I can’t stand to watch Brown at the best of times.

His lying, dissembling, mumbling, grunting, gurning and odd collection of facial ticks – which resemble nothing quite so much as someone in the middle of a particularly nasty Transient Ischemic Attack – combine to form a bizarre parody of a human being to which the very briefest of exposure makes me want to run screaming to the kitchen and scrub the inside of my head out with bleach and a brillo pad.

So I’m relying on the description in the Times (although practically the same article is on all the Sundays’ websites) for this

The Prime Minister said directly he would reject any move from within the Cabinet to persuade him to stand down.

Mr Brown said he would refuse to move aside even if senior Labour figures told him it would help the party retain seats as a general election, arguing that his focus was on tackling the recession and pushing through a programme of constitutional reform.

One of the words most commonly used to describe this disaster of a man in the blogosphere (at least by those bloggers who haven’t got their tongues firmly spot welded to his rectum) is ‘Tribal’. The theory has generally been that Gordon is all about Labour.

He’s not though, is he ? As we can clearly see from his responses it’s not just the proles who can go and fuck themselves as far as he’s concerned, it’s the rest of his own party as well.

Gordon Brown belongs to a tribe of two, there’s just him and his monstrous ego. Can there seriously be any doubt remaining, now, that he is genuinely delusional ? Certainly he’s delusional enough to think that the PLP will put up with being treated like that by the great leader.

UPDATE : Brown is so over that even “government weep rag” LabourList are saying mean things about him

Time and again, we the rank and file, have had to squirm as the Prime Minister’s political judgement has been exposed as sorely wanting

Goodbye Gordon, it wasn’t nice knowing you. Don’t come back.

It’s surveillance Jim, but not as we know it

Behind the curve on this one by some way, but hey ho, there you go. Last week my eye was caught by the some posts on councils using citizens (children, in fact) to ‘spy’ on other citizens.

Ambush Predator asks an excellent question :

A spokesman for the council said: ‘Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and its project partner Serco do not conduct any surveillance of residents in enforcement of environmental crimes, and neither do the community champions that have volunteered.’

Why have you dished out hand-held computers with camera capability then?

A very good question, and one which I am happy to answer in lieu of the quoted spokesweasel.

I think what Mr Weasel meant to say was “… do not do anything which would constitute ‘directed’ or ‘intrusive’ surveillance’ under Section 26 of the Regulation Of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and therefore require an authorisation under Section 28.”

26(2) contains the relevant definition :

(2) Subject to subsection (6), surveillance is directed for the purposes of this Part if it is covert but not intrusive and is undertaken—

(a) for the purposes of a specific investigation or a specific operation;

(b) in such a manner as is likely to result in the obtaining of private information about a person (whether or not one specifically identified for the purposes of the investigation or operation); and

(c) otherwise than by way of an immediate response to events or circumstances the nature of which is such that it would not be reasonably practicable for an authorisation under this Part to be sought for the carrying out of the surveillance.

After all, if one of WHBCs little helpers spots someone putting plastic in their wheelie bin (the horror!) that’s certainly an “immediate response to events or circumstance”, and it probably isn’t “reasonably practicable for an authorisation under this Part to be sought for the carrying out of the surveillance.”

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader (assuming one happens along) to spot the other loopholes possibly being exploited here.

I hope I’m just overly cynical and WHBC didn’t really just try to use children,some of whom – according the original article referenced by Ambush Predator – are below the age of legal responsibility (and presumably WHBC won’t be in loco parentis of when they are out snapping) to try and dodge their obligations under RIPA, because that would make the whole thing even more disgusting than the whole brainwashing them to be agents of the state thing.

And that’s really quite high up on the scale of disgusting.

But we have to assume that if they’re sending people out to take photos, they must at least have read RIPA, right ?

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