“Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has said she will ‘answer any questions’ Parliament’s sleaze watchdog has about £116,000 in ‘second home’ expenses.”
You know, I can sum up my thoughts regarding Jacqui Smith quite succinctly. In bullet points, even!
- Political lightweight.
- Promoted to a job that is quite obviously beyond her.
- Already feeling the knives in her back.
- Destined to rise no further.
- Working the system shamelessly. (I’m being generous here.)
- Possibly a pawn, probably ignorant of the fact.
- As damaging to this country as the rest of her buddies.
Time for her to go, along with Brown and that weird bottom lip of his (his wife really should tell him to stop breathing it in like that — it’s annoying.) My feeling is, however, that Jacqui’s political demise will come a lot sooner than Brown’s. I give her a couple of months at the most.
Well, I can hope, can’t I?
© 2009 Gary William Murning
A few weeks ago, I was watching the above video on YouTube (I was researching conspiracy theories for The Yesterday Tree at the time — that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it 😉 ) in which Noam Chomsky points out, quite correctly, in my opinion, that every authoritarian government (i.e. every government — it’s a matter of degree… of what they are allowed to get away with) benefits from incidents such as the 911 attacks in that it allows them to rein in their populace more effectively (“effectively”, that is, from their point of view.) This is not to say, of course, that the Bush administration planned and implemented the attacks as some (idiots) would have us believe, but it is very much an observable phenomenon, and one which I was reminded of when my friend Lou today sent me the article below.
“Underage drinkers are being arrested by police using laws brought in to combat organised crime, terrorism and identity theft, it has emerged.
“Teenagers using fake, borrowed or stolen ID to get into pubs are being targeted using the Identity Card Act. Offenders can be jailed for up to ten years.”
Now I’m not disputing that we have some very real social problems, in part centred around under-age-drinking, in the UK. The behaviour of some of these young people impacts severely on whole communities and, yes, it has to be addressed — or more to the point, the underlying problems that prompt this kind of behaviour need to be addressed.
But is this the way to do it? No. Absolutely not. We have enough existing laws in place to deal with this problem without taking such an extreme approach. As far as I’m concerned, the comment form Inspector Neil Mutch of South Yorkshire Police pretty much hit the nail on the head:
“The Act was brought out for terrorism but it suits us very nicely.”
Lazy policing. This Act was implemented to protect the UK citizen from serious crime and terrorism, not to make Inspector Mutch’s job that little bit easier.
© 2008 Gary William Murning
“Ministers have been accused of a “massive failure of duty” after thousands of criminals’ details, stored on a computer memory stick, were lost.”
It shouldn’t really be a surprise, by now. We have been faced with so many similar stories over recent months that it is difficult to know what more can be said on the subject, other than to once again point out that this underscores the argument against the planned Super Database and ID cards.
Our current sorry excuse for a government (and, I’m sad to say, I suspect it would be the same whoever was in power) and the private firms that they employ to do research for them et cetera are quite simply incapable of responsibly handling large amounts of personal data.
“On Tuesday, a BBC analysis found sensitive data potentially affecting more than four million people had been lost by government departments in the year to April.“
If you are also opposed to ID cards/database, you can register your opposition here.
© 2008 Gary William Murning
Today came as something of a relief. I have not succeeded, due to a number of distractions and research requirements, in progressing any further with the chapter outlines for We Are Watching, but last night I found myself telling my parents all about it — what I had so far, where I hoped it would go, why I wanted to write it and so on — and the simple act of speaking it, of hearing the story in outline form, rekindled the flame. With this kind of novel, there can be a tendency for it to sound a little silly in an unplanned oral presentation. But it stood up remarkably well. My parents, who are the perfect critics (direct and, yet, well aware that the novel will have a stronger plot foundation than a spoken outline) got it right away. A very productive conversation.
It also helped me see where I didn’t want to go with the story. In many respects, it is an allegory for the current surveillance situation in the UK — but I saw quite quickly that it is fairly vital that it remain an allegory. I do not want becoming a “government conspiracy” novel involving databases etc. All of that will be there, but as a subtext.
On the subject of government and databases, I today read with a mix of relief and scepticism that no decision on the giant database — intended to contain details of all phone calls, emails and Internet use — has yet been taken. More debate has been called for. Whilst reading this article, however, a piece of advice within it struck me as one worth repeating. It’s something many of us will have been aware of for a very long time, but it never does any harm to be reminded of such things.
“There will be more people look at your internet information than look at a postcard when you write it…”
Take care out there 😉