Bordering on the Ridiculous 58

The media is rabid that border surveillance may have been insufficiently paranoid for a period last summer. David Cameron’s defence of Teresa May rests on a curious paradox: he says that she instituted a pilot scheme on more targeted checks which was a tremendous success: detection rates of various categories of malefactor jumped up by figures ranging from ten to one hundred per cent.

On the other hand, Brodie Clark had extended this fantastically successful scheme without authorisation, and that was grossly negligent and indeed terribly dangerous.

Meantime New Labour ask ridiculous questions, determined as ever to show that they can be more rabidly right wing than the Tories. Just how many foreign terrorists, rapists and illegal immigrants had entered the UK last summer? Ha, she can’t say!

Meanwhile the streets are positively littered with the dead bodies of the victims of these dastardly foreigners, presumably.

The truth is that at no stage were passport checks stopped. Passports and visas wewre checked and questions asked, as always. What was stopped was routinely opening up the digital photo to compare it with the physical photo, to make sure that the physical photo had not been swapped. Instead this was only done where there was other reason to be suspicious.

Forget the hype. To replace a physical passport photo in such a way as not to damage the passport, undetectably, is very difficult indeed with modern passports and takes a real expert and a lot of effort. The things are designed so you can’t do that. Very, very few people are going to the massive effort of an undetectable photo swap on a digital passport, which also contains the encoded original photo which is probably going to be looked at. The digital photo is a massive effective deterrent to such behaviour.

They also stopped routinely checking everyone against suspect lists, again only checking those they had reason to suspect. That is exactly how they should behave anyhow. The ridiculous assumption that everyone is a terrorist, requires levels of surveillance that are unacceptable and make life unbearable, as regular air travellers well know.

The scapegoating of officials is typical bad behaviour by politicians. What worries me more is the way this is being used, yet again, to ramp up xenophobia. “Paranoid excessive passport controls were relaxed – and nothing happened” would be a better headline. You won’t see it.

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58 thoughts on “Bordering on the Ridiculous

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  • nuid

    Oops, another comment of mine has gone into moderation. It’ll no doubt appear inside 24 hours!

  • Franz

    I think there is more to this story than a dispute about border policy. This looks to me like a campaign to get rid of a non-compliant civil servant – for reasons we can only guess at – by any means possible, however crass and dishonest.

  • passerby

    Point of order; could the participants please stop being so discourteous towards our ex ministers, and Honourable Members of Parliament, whom are only friends of Israel, and do not take any due payments of any kind none what so ever, and ever, and ever from BICOM etc. These are not Mossad Agents, as were Messrs Fox and Werity.
    Now a little question which hopefully will be met with some affirmative answers; does anyone recollect the four thousand blank passports which were stolen from the group four truck transporting these?
    Knowing the Modus Operandi of Plutarchy; the current brouhaha about “taking laxatives at the border trials of the Johnny Foreigner” which evidently was prescribed by Honourable May , and applied liberally by the ex head of the Border Agency whom was ran out. Could this self-inflicted Kabuki herald a new regiment of inspections/interrogation/humiliation of the punters going about travelling without so much as asking for a travel permit? Given that four thousand blanks are awaiting the infiltration of a brigade of Al Qaeda to UK, and Elsewhere?
    PS Mossad does not need any blank passports, they can apply directly to the Passport Agency and get their agents passports in no time.

  • tony_opmoc


    As a Norfolk boy and former Parlimentary Candidate, and Rector of the University of Dundee, you should know that the people running the University of East Anglia are a bunch of corrupt idiots.

    I have not seen this in the news, but I know someone who works there.

    UEA have decided to just Shut it Down.

    Now there is a lot of nonsense spoken about Music, but it is something that the UK does exceedingly well, and actually generates enormous volumes of money. If you don’t believe this you should try getting tickets for the O2 Arena in London and see how much it costs you.

    But the financial side is not the point.



    “On the 26th October, 2011, the Vice Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, UK, announced the findings of a secretly-held, internal and non-specialist review: that the University should “not to invest further” in creative musical education.

    The review neither involved nor informed the School. Its authors assert, for support, that their review is based on an external, subject-specialist review from 2002. Subsequently, the authors of the 2002 review have commented that references to their review are deliberately “selective” and “misleading”, and that, in their opinion, the “new review follows a familiar model where a department is set up to fail”, and that “the misuse of our report” is “very irritating”.

    The 2002 review’s final conclusion was that “The price of failure to invest … is, in our view, the loss of music as an academic subject at UEA, to the impoverishment of the University and the Nation”.

    The findings of the internal review were presented to the UEA Council and Senate on the 9th November, and the decision to accept or reject the findings will be taken on the 28th November.

    The School currently operates at 25% over target, the largest number of students it has ever had.

    The School is criticised for not producing enough funding from research, earning £363,780 in the 2008 RAE.

    The School was, however, asked to prioritise teaching over research, which saw its National Student Survey score reach the 3rd highest in the UK.

    It did not receive the extra staff it was promised to support its expansion with the new Music and Technology degree (now in its third year).

    Despite this, the School has consistently out-ranked the University as a whole in The Guardian league table, reaching 5th in 2010 and 8th in 2011. The UEA is ranked 19th.

    We ask that the Senate consider our defence and take the time to explore options rather than simply close an entire School.”

  • Parky

    Well they are in something of a bind, all this expensive new and generally pointless technology installed at airports, paid for by increasing air fare tax and now not enough people to operate it properly given all the deep cuts in public spending that are apparently now required. Given the horrendous queues and frustration endured by passengers, it is hardly going to encourage johnny foreigner to visit these shores when there are cheaper places to go without all the hassle. My own experience of other major European airports has been of efficiency and politeness and not the tardyness and rudeness to be found in the UK. Has someone finally woken up and smelt the coffee?

  • anno

    What Jack Straw knew, and no doubt David Cameron knows, is that you can pay bent officials to bribe passport checkers to turn a blind eye to photos in genuine passports which do not actually belong to the person coming through the checkpoint into this country. I don’t know if the machines can detect a difference between the video image of the person being checked and the passport being checked, but I would think it’s quite likely.

    That’s the purpose of the exercise, to catch bent officials.
    That’s also the point of relaxing the checks, to allow bent officials to carry on. This country is open to all, and quickly gives asylum/ refuge to applicants who pop up from any which way.
    It costs us the taxpayers lots of money which we haven’t got.
    If middle England can still afford giving all comers a free lunch plus their children, that’s lovely that they haven’t yet felt the pinch in their livelihoods. That’s really nice for them. And Jack Straw and associates are happy too because they get a cut either way.

  • OldMark

    ‘I think there is more to this story than a dispute about border policy. This looks to me like a campaign to get rid of a non-compliant civil servant – for reasons we can only guess at – by any means possible, however crass and dishonest.’

    You may be onto something there Franz. This whole business has the whiff of a Westminster village points scoring competition. May appears to have learnt nothing from the Balls/Shoesmith episode, and could be heading for an early bath as consequence- a good thing in my view, given her high handedness on this occasion.

    The hype about whether the ‘pilot scheme’ was extended with or without ministerial approval misses the point. The main reason our immigration system is broken is that, singularly amongst the rich countries of the world, we allow immigrants from some of our main source countries (ie the ‘new commonwealth’) to obtain civil service jobs administering the immigration claims of their co-nationals, with predicatable results; see here-

    and here-

  • ingo

    So how long after Brodie Clark has spoken the truth will Theresa resign?
    Shall we open a book? Ingo thinks she won’t last 28 hrs. after BC’s revelations, just add your name and time in Hrs. minutes after your proximate, lets have some fun.

    We could also have a littel flutter on who will replace her, hmmm I have to think about that one. Any ideas?

    The Tories heartstring policy and they cocked it up, UKIP and Taxpayers alliance and all the rotten rest will feel vindicated, it will strenghten their futile arguments.

    This country is flippin over to the right at a speed of knots and some of this seems controlled and enhanced. This stupid spat diverts our eyes from the economic facts, Italy is bancrupt and the Libor rate has gone sky high, that has not happened for a long time.

  • nuid

    Quick update:
    “The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that five of those being detained in Israel are on a Lufthansa flight to Germany where they will get a connection to Dublin tonight”
    Look at this crapology by the Israelis:
    “A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy said that the Irish detainees were responsible for the delays in their return to Ireland.
    He said if they co-operated with the Israeli authorities they would have returned to Ireland days ago.” (presumably if they’d signed documents saying they had entered Israel illegally — despite being dragged there off a boat in international waters!)
    If they’re trying to break their spirit, they won’t.

  • Chris2

    All persons of goodwill will be saddened to learn that Dennis Ross has resigned from his position, as President Obama’s Deputy Assistant Warmonger with special responsibility for Iran, to spend more time with his family.

    Heartfelt condolences to all members of the family.

  • stephen

    Am I wrong but does there appear to be a variant of Godwin’s Law in place on this blog that whatever the subjecy matter raised by Craig that sooner or later the topic gets around to some beastly act committed by Israel.

  • Vronsky

    “All Irish activists must be Sinn Fein at least, and probably IRA as well.”
    I think I’d want to rephrase that. “We must hope that most Irish activists are Sinn Fein at least, and if we are lucky IRA as well”.

  • stephen

    On the subject matter – I am not sure that a little scapegoating of officials actually isn’t a good thing when it comes to issue of visas, passports and border control. Any one who has dealt with that hell on earth which is Lunar House or British Consuls will now that they are often peopled by officials who take great joy in belittling ordinary and designing bureaucratic procedures and processes which have little discernible logic or purpose other than increasing the scale of their self importance, all with a soupcon of barely disguished racism. To actually thing that a handful of politicians from whatever political party is capable of clearing up such a mess really is naive in the extreme. As to whether Brodie Clark was a good guy trying to clear up the mess or was just a creature of the machine I supect we will never know.

  • mary

    Have been to a good talk tonight with a lively Q&A afterwards organised by the Islamic Society at the University of Surrey. It was given by Asa Winstanley on ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Palestine’. He lived in the Occupied West Bank from 2004 to 2008, writes on Electronic Intifada and has his own blog.
    He has just produced a book with Frank Barat entitled Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Occupation: Evidence from the London Session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine

  • Komodo

    Rumour has it that even the screws at Barlinnie knew Megrahi didn’t do Lockerbie. Salmond did the right thing.

  • OldMark

    ‘Any one who has dealt with that hell on earth which is Lunar House’.

    Such was my misfortune nearly 10 years ago when extending my wife’s visa for the first time. In exasperation I wrote to the Immigration minister of the day (Beverley Hughes)-the letter was almost certainly consigned to the waste paper basket (probably along with 50% of the rest of her mailbag). I wanted to tell her that the various relaxations of entry controls her government had introduced (for spouses, via the abolition of the ‘primary purpose’ rule, and for several categories of work permit) had increased the workload of her department massively. At the same time, the salaries offered for admin positions in her Department (including Lunar House)were piddling. These positions were also open (as the job advertisements proclaimed) to ‘commonwealth citizens lawfully resident in the UK for at least 3 years’.

    You didn’t need to be Einstein to work out that this combination of factors was a recipe for disaster.Unsurprisingly, Theresa May looks set to be yet another Home Sec (Like Blunkett & Clarke before her)who’ll see her political ambitions stymied by her occupation of this office.

  • mary

    Sorry that I got the name of the student society wrong. It is the Surrey University Palestinian Society.
    Norman Finkelstein is on a speaking tour of the UK. The Manchester University authorities tried unsuccessfully to get his talk moved off the campus. He is at UCL tomorrow afternoon and evening.

    Prof Norman Finkelstein will be in conversation with BRICUP chair Prof Jonathan Rosenhead
    at 2 pm Friday November 11
    in the Christopher Ingold Lecture Theatre
    UCL Chemistry Building, 20 Gordon Street, London WC1 6BT
    This is opposite the Bloomsbury Theatre.
    To reserve your place please email [email protected]
    Finkelstein and Rosenhead will discuss the proposition:

    The Palestinians having being denied justice for 63 years, those who support their rights must endorse their call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), including academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
    This is in addition to Finkelstein’s lecture at 7 pm in the Logan Hall, Institute of Education for which booking is required.
    After lecturing to packed houses in Leeds and Manchester on Monday and Tuesday, Finkelstein’s tour continues with dates in Birmingham and Nottingham before concluding in London on Friday.


  • Komodo

    Flotilla: What the MSM missed. Released Democracy Now correspondent interviewed at length about her detention. video here:
    Interesting that so much footage was apparently taken of the captives, and so little was released outside Israel.

    Stephen – don’t know what you’re complaining about. It’s about “illegal immigrants” isn’t it?

  • Vronsky

    “Salmond did the right thing.”
    I’m a member of the SNP, and I don’t agree. I don’t believe that Megrahi was released because he was terminally ill – that was just a story. He was told that if he shut up he could go home and, ill or not, that would have been a tempting offer – we can’t suppose he is any different from one of us. I hope that Salmond will do the right thing eventually but I wonder if that’s soon enough to keep me on board.
    Jeez, I complained about Craig being in the Lib Dems, and here I am casting doubt on his new clan.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Talking about more to things than meets the eye, an informant has told me the ‘government’ has ordered a media rewind back to the London riots to pull public opinion against the ‘occupy’ demonstrations. This with Met. violence firmly in the frame and a sharp rise in American protesters is causing concern in the Home office.

  • Alan

    Meanwhile the streets are positively littered with the dead bodies of the victims of these dastardly foreigners, presumably.

    But Craig, Can’t you see all the dead bodies of fine law abiding decent British people littered everywhere. Where are the police to arrest all the murderous FOREIGNERS, taking OUR jobs, stealing OUR benefits, raping OUR women. Don’t you know THEY are to blame for Global Warming, the Euro Crisis, Unemployment, Peak Oil & Craig losing his job as Ambassador to Uzbekistan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Oh hang on, can’t see the bodies. Don’t have the “I hate foreigners” glasses on today. But you know some of my best friends are…………

  • mary

    Komodo. Good one. You are spot on.
    ‘Stephen – don’t know what you’re complaining about. It’s about “illegal immigrants” isn’t it?’

  • mary

    ‘Israel’s Advocate’ to Leave White House for Pro-Israel Think Tank
    Posted By Jim Lobe On November 10, 2011
    Dennis Ross, President Barack Obama’s top Middle East aid who has attracted criticism for his allegedly strong pro-Israel sympathies, will leave his post at the end of this month, the White House announced here Thursday.

    He will rejoin the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), an Israel-centred think tank that was spun off in 1985 from the powerful lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Ross served as WINEP’s counselor and a fellow during the George W. Bush administration from 2001 to 2009.
    “An institution that believes sound policy lies at the intersection of scholarship with statesmanship is especially proud that Dennis is returning to his intellectual home,” said WINEP’s executive director Dr. Robert Satloff.


  • ingo

    Thanks for that powerfull video komodo,so all Israel can do is denigrate, psychologically torture and humiliate those principles people on the Freedom waves flotilla.
    Quiet good of the irish to stand between the goons and their flag as well as that of Palestine. A palestinian flag flies proudly as it sails into Ashdod, what a sight for sore eyes.

    Ashdod is built on mainly sand, but its harbour is well developed and quiet big. It was beginning to show prosperous trading in the early seventies.

    There are ferocious currents and we were kept waiting for four days at anker, it was expected, but we had machine tools onboard and knew that they would be landed. It was extremely hot July or August can’t remeber the exact date. So, after a lunchtime swim round the ship, ending with a ferocious ten minutes swimming back to where the Jacobs ladder was being dragged sideways by the massive currents, we went for an afternoon/evening sightseeing in Ashdod.
    Despite my speaking english, there was no British ship in the harbour, only our German ship, some 14.000brt’s, I was refused service in two cafe’s, this was 1970/71.

    On my asking why, I had a mouthfull of abuse first from the waiter then out came the owner, both now shouting at me about the Holocaust, Dachau and Bergen belsen, how dare I came here and spoke english, trying to hide my Nazi language and and, they were trying to make a scene, by now some people were looking and coming over.

    I waited until a few stood round and then at the top of my voice said that ‘ I’m born in 1952, how can you possibly blame the child for his fathers mistakes?’ then walked away, I did not know how to react to all the bile thrown at us, whys should I engage when there were just too many of them for us two.

    The day ended in us landing in some bar’n babes situation, arguments about drinks with an Israeli pimp and lots of money spent on not very much at all.
    After passing a ryhtmically creaking Fiat 500, open sunroof, half obscured behind a container, a couing female soldiers head popping in and out to the rythmn’, her hat on but the uniform removed, blouse open in the still boiling night, interspersing happy little shrieks with creaks, we went back on board and had a few real drinks. What a day out, bought some weird T shirt, but can’t remember what was on it.

    And yes Stephen, it is about immigrants, legal and illegal, though the distinctions are quickly blurring, leaving only a glow of rightwing fervour ripping the political landscape to shreds.
    Ms. May may go unless it is envisaged to enpower the goons of the right, put legitimacy into their arguments, If Theresa is not going than the Tories are making a great big tick behind those who enticed and cooperated with the likes of Anders Breivig and their masonic/zionist policies.

  • Ben

    This is for you kid.
    Equal opportunity racists they hate every goy equally well. Your guilt of being a German born, you are lucky you made it out, without being put to death or left in some concentration camp, for the crimes of Germany getting beat in WWII.
    The fallacy of “good war” has for long kept the truth at bay, and Germany under invasion.
    PS I am not a national socialist moron helping Rothschild get a firmer grip on the planet, just a good student of history (not the cartoon version taught).

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