The Absence of Liberalism 327

The overruling of a European Court judgement to assert individual privacy, and the anti-democratic rushing of emergency legislation through parliament where no emergency exists, are the antithesis of liberalism. So of course is the jettisoning of all the Lib Dem manifesto pledges on civil liberties.

It is not news that Nick Clegg has become the poster boy for a politics utterly devoid of principle, organised purely around the desire of individual politicians for wealth and power. But even with all that background, I found Clegg’s enthusiastic ratcheting up of the fear factor over the “need” to protect us from virtually non-existent threats, utterly reprehensible.

At his press conference with Cameron, Clegg actually quoted the non-existent “liquid bomb plot to bring down multiple planes” as the reason these powers were needed. He even made a direct claim that telephone intercepts had been instrumental in “foiling” the “liquid bomb plot”. That is utterly untrue. The three men eventually convicted had indeed been under judge approved surveillance for a year. In that year, they made no reference to a plan to bring down airplanes, because there was no such plan. The only “evidence” of a plan to bring down multiple airplanes came from a Pakistani torture chamber. There never was a single liquid bomb. 90% of those arrested in the investigation were released without charge or found not guilty.

The three found guilty had done little more than boast and fantasise about being jihadis. That is not to say they were nice people. They may even have done some harm, though if Clegg were in any sense a Liberal he would not be supportive of imprisoning people in case they one day do some harm. But they had never made a liquid bomb or made a plan to bring down multiple airlines.

The point is, that while any ordinary member of the public could be forgiven for believing in the Liquid Bomb Plot, given all the lies of the mainstream media, Clegg has to be aware that he is spreading deliberate lies and propaganda to justify this “emergency legislation”.

Still more ludicrous was the failure to address the elephant in the room – Snowden’s revelation that the NSA and GCHQ indulge in vast mass surveillance, of the communications of millions of people in the UK, with absolutely no regard for the legal framework anyway.

In the last few weeks there has been a concerted effort to ratchet up the fear of the extremely remote possibility of a terrorist attack. We have seen, as first lead on the news bulletins and front page headlines, the jailing of two young men for “terrorism” for fighting in Syria, when there was no evidence of any kind that they had any intention of committing any violence in the UK. We have the absolute nonsense of the mobile phone in airports charade. We had days of the ludicrous argument that ISIS success in Iraq will cause terrorist attacks in the UK. Now we have the urgent need for this “emergency legislation”.

Why is the fear ratchet being screwed right up just now? What is this leading up to?

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327 thoughts on “The Absence of Liberalism

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  • Phil


    Sorry mate I suspect you are going to find my answer unsatifying.

    Chakrabarti asks people to write letters that achieve nothing and she is rewarded with honours by the corporate state. She is often on the tv machine. She opens the olympic games. She drinks tea with gold command watching live helicoptor video feeds. In contrast London greenpeace, for challenging the flow of money, get imprisoned and raped by agents of the corporate state. They are not often on the tv machine. They do not get to open the olympic games.

    Of course Chakrabarti says things that appeal to you. That’s how she got where she is. She has to appeal to you or you might go off and do something else. But no matter how damning her description may be her prescription is always never a threat to the establishment.

    This is how it works. Ineffective dissent is rewarded and threatening dissent is crushed. All it takes is for everyone to do their job. I don’t even see this as anything contentious. It is obvious.

    Trying to assess Chakrabarti’s motivation and cynicism is entirely moot. It makes no difference to the action I take, which is to ignore her.

  • Phil

    Phil, I feel I should also point out the similarity between Mary’s “Israel is the problem” and your “Google is the evil empire”.

    Of course I only think of Google as one evil corporation in a world of evil corpoprations and lots of evil other things. I give them no special significance beyond their size and influence. As well you know from previous arguments we have had. You’re joking right?

  • Phil


    Sorry mate I can’t debate your crazy faith in evil corporations right now. We have failed to agree at great length before. I’m on holiday and Clare is threatening to throw ne out of the tent if I stay online.

  • Mary

    I sent off a letter to my MP about the Snoopers’ Charter, much good it will do.


    Saw this and found it unbelievable knowing of the crooks’ sharp practices that lie behind PFIs but it fits in with Gideon’s outlook.

    14 July 2014
    Midland Metropolitan Hospital PFI plans approved

    The Midland Metropolitan Hospital will be built on this land in Smethwick

    New hospital business case approved
    £380m hospital ‘one step closer’
    Hospital plans delayed by review
    A £353m hospital is to be built in the West Midlands.

    The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced approval for the 670-bed Midland Metropolitan Hospital to be built on land in Smethwick.
    The building will be funded by both the public and private sector through a private finance deal, he said.


    I imagine the plan in place is that the site of the old hospital will be flogged off to Gideon’s and Agent Cameron’s developer friends once the new one is built and the hospital is closed down.

    Shame on all of them and that includes the execrable LDs who facilitated the rotten coalition.

  • Iain Orr


    When you’re back from holiday – so perhaps on a different thread – I’d like to hear you spell out the things that Chakrabarti would not want me to go off and do.

    “Ineffective dissent is rewarded and threatening dissent is crushed”: fine phrasemaking but I don’t have your faith that the corporate state understands what is effective or ineffective, nor in its ability to crush threatening dissent. As you said yourself earlier in these exchanges: “We need to stop expecting remote elites to make decisions about our lives”. So, why build the current morally and economically discredited neo-conmen into the such powerful monsters?

    I don’t share your rather Manichean or Calvinist view of the world where people and institutions are slotted into good and bad boxes. Like you, I have considerable admiration for Greenpeace. I did, not, however, admire their public support for David Miliband’s declaration on 1 April 2010 of a full no-take Marine Protected Area in the Chagos Archipelago(excluding the area immediately around the US base on Diego Garcia). That support was given in the full knowledge that a key element of the FCO’s strategy to prevent the return to their islands of the exiled Chagossians was getting the weight of the environmental lobby to welcome this disingenuous pretence that the then Labour Government was purely motivated by concern for the global marine environment. But I would not thereby write off Greenpeace as New Labour brown nosers: just as showing very poor judgement in this case and being ready, as many NGOs are, to compromise their values and be diverted from threatening dissent by their hunger for goodies that only the corporate state can currently give them.

  • Phil


    “spell out the things that Chakrabarti would not want me to go off and do”

    I have no idea. I am not interested in what she thinks. My argument does not require her to be cynical in any way. She might be but I do not care. I am interested in what she does. In her role as an acceptable (to the establishment) face of dissent.

    “why build the current morally and economically discredited neo-conmen into the such powerful monsters?”

    I don’t think I did. I do not think the current political class is the problem. I do not think our problems will be solved by a new political class and the problem existed long before our current political class. The problem is systematic. Power corrupts. We need to minimise the destruction that centralised corruption enables. A radically wide distribution of power is the only mechanism I can see which might achieve this. Anarchism.

    “[your] view of the world where people and institutions are slotted into good and bad boxes.”

    I do no such thing. It is the very fact that people are not either good or bad that informs me. Were things so simple all we would need to do is elect the good ones and hey presto we are laughing.


    Possibly incidentally (but probably not) London Greenpeace are not Greenpeace. Different groups with similar name.

  • ------------·´`·.¸¸.¸¸.··.¸¸Node

    Why does our government even want more surveillance powers when it’s already got this, another Edward Snowdon leak:

    “A newly released top-secret GCHQ document called “JTRIG Tools and Techniques” provides a comprehensive, birds-eye view of just how underhanded and invasive this unit’s operations are. Here’s a list of how JTRIG describes its capabilities:

    • “Change outcome of online polls” (UNDERPASS)

    • “Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign” (BADGER) and “mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign” (WARPARTH)

    • “Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content through concerted target discovery and content removal.” (SILVERLORD)

    • “Active skype capability. Provision of real time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.” (MINIATURE HERO)

    • “Find private photographs of targets on Facebook” (SPRING BISHOP)

    • “A tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer” (ANGRY PIRATE)

    • “Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website” (GATEWAY) and “ability to inflate page views on websites” (SLIPSTREAM)

    • “Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube)” (GESTATOR)

    • “Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers” (PREDATORS FACE) and “Distributed denial of service using P2P. Built by ICTR, deployed by JTRIG” (ROLLING THUNDER)

    • “A suite of tools for monitoring target use of the UK auction site eBay (” (ELATE)

    • “Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity” (CHANGELING)

    • “For connecting two target phone together in a call” (IMPERIAL BARGE)”

  • Clark

    Iain Orr, 14 Jul, 9:18 pm:

    “I don’t have your faith that the corporate state understands what is effective or ineffective, nor in its ability to crush threatening dissent.”

    It doesn’t need to understand; it’s more like a reflex response inherent in the structure of the system:

    Such emergent self-organising systems are found to be common in biology; “macrocosm dominates microcosm”, just as the organisation of our bodies imposes non-reproduction upon the vast majority of our cells (and those cells are adapted to comply), the corporate imperatives impose behaviour upon employees (including those high in the hierarchy) and those who won’t yield, it replaces.

    The evidence that the corporate system can identify and oppose actions that threaten or restrict it is all around us. The corporate system blindly* destroys environments and dominates lives; it has major influence upon supposedly democratic governments.

    * – “blindly” – Phil, as I’ve said before, I don’t regard corporations as evil, but as amoral – simply not suitable to be considered in moral terms. If doing something beneficial makes the most profit in a given circumstance, corporations will do it. For me to regard corporations as “evil”, they’d have to choose to do damage in preference to pursuing their own best interests as measured in their own terms – which is profit.

  • Iain Orr

    Phil passim and Clark (at 7.50 am): There’s a lot that is plausible – indeed, accurate in significant parts – in the models you both use to explain how “systems” produce results that are damaging to society without needing bad people or villains. In Phil’s words (and as Clark’s stolen telephone calls example is intended to illustrate): “All it takes is for everyone to do their job. “ What I find depressing is this dehumanizing reduction of people to jobs. If Craig in Uzbekistan had just “done his job” and not rocked the boat he would have been both a bad ambassador and a bad person. Clark’s BT example is beautifully constructed as long as two human qualities are removed from the equations – imagination and trust. At every level Clark populates the BT system with jobsworths. In my book anyone who significantly harms others through failure to imagine what it is like to be the other person and without trusting what others say to them is a bad person. Of course there are often good objective reasons to distrust what someone says – but I will not accept “company policy” as a “reason”, only as a rule which is not to be applied blindly. To the extent that blind application of rules is discouraged at different levels or is enforced with whips and scorpions, the badness may be due to “one bad egg” or indeed be part of the system. But if lack of imagination and trust are integral to the system, the system is far from “amoral”, it’s immoral.

    I agree with Clark that “openness and accountability matter so much”; and I am keen to read Phil’s promised post-holiday suggestions of what I and others can do to promote radical decentralization. Are these activities ones that can be undertaken completely separate from engagement with current defective political and social systems? Interpreting and understanding systems is invaluable as far as it goes, but, as Marx said in his eleventh thesis on Feuerbach, the point is to change the world for the better.

  • Iain Orr

    It’s only 4 days since Craig’s original post on this subject and since I wrote to my MP on the subject (text at 7.02 pm on 11 July). So Tessa Jowell’s office can’t be faulted over speed in replying. Neither I nor anyone else reading it will be surprised by the content of her round-robin reply (below). However, having started, I will continue this stately parliamentary pavane, the next step being to thank her for her email but regretting that she and her party have missed the opportunity to mount a principled opposition to this bill in terms which could have put pressure on those (few) Conservative and LibDem MPs who really do attach importance to big government not prying into citizen’s private lives. (I’ll also send an email to thank all MPs who vote against tonight’s motion: my prediction is 25 against: 8 Lab, 4 Con 1 LibDem and 12 SNP and assorted others.)

    JOWELL, Tessa Today at 5:15 PM
    JOWELL, Tessa
    Thank you for getting in touch with me about the Government’s emergency legislation on communication data and interception. I’ve received over 200 emails today on various aspects of this legislation and I hope you will understand if I reply to these as a whole whilst addressing as many of these issues as I can in the time available.

    As a result of a recent judgement by the European Court of Justice, the police and intelligence agencies are in danger of losing vital information which is used in 95% of serious and organised crime investigations as well as counter terror investigations and online child abuse. In order to prevent this, new legislation is needed which responds to the European Court of Justice judgement on data retention and brings clarity to existing law in response to communication service providers’ requests. If these changes are not made, the police are likely to suddenly lose vital evidence this summer.

    The Government has come forward with emergency legislation and, in considering our response, I believe it is essential to maintain the security of our citizens and also ensure people’s privacy is protected. Serious criminal investigations and counter terrorism intelligence operations must not be jeopardised. That is why I support this emergency legislation which I accept is designed solely to protect existing capabilities.

    I share the concerns that many have expressed about the timetable and the fact the Government has left this until the last minute. Given the limited Parliamentary time to discuss emergency legislation Labour has ensured that the Government’s legislation is temporary and will expire in 2016. This will require the Government and Parliament to properly consult upon, and consider, longer term proposals next year.

    Labour has also secured an independent review into RIPA – the legislation that has governed everything in this area, including data retention and access – in the light of new technology. We announced this pledge four months ago. It is a major reform and will now begin imminently. This afternoon, Labour is also seeking to amend the Bill to make this review part of the law.

    This review will enable longer term questions and concerns to be properly dealt with and debated in time for new legislation. Changes will then follow. In addition, Labour has called for and secured further safeguards to restrict the ways in which communications data and intercepts can be used to prevent misuse.

    Some people have been calling for new legislation in 5 months, but I don’t believe that is enough time for the serious, thorough and sustained public debate and consultation needed to get this right. That’s what Labour’s independent review will deliver.

    It would be far too damaging to the fight against serious crime, online child abuse and counter terrorist intelligence to suddenly lose these capabilities now, and these safeguards have secured a better process for longer term reform to make sure we have the right capabilities and the right safeguards in place.

    I do recognise that these are issues upon which there are wide ranging views but I hope that I have set out my position clearly.

    Thank you again for contacting me on such an important matter.

    With best wishes,

    Tessa Jowell

    Rt. Hon. Dame Tessa Jowell MP

    Tessa on Twitter: @jowellt
    Tessa on Facebook:

    This e-mail is confidential to the intended recipient. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender and delete it from your system. Any unauthorised use, disclosure, or copying is not permitted. This e-mail has been checked for viruses, but no liability is accepted for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.
    UK Parliament Disclaimer: This e-mail is confidential to the intended recipient. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender and delete it from your system. Any unauthorised use, disclosure, or copying is not permitted. This e-mail has been checked for viruses, but no liability is accepted for any damage caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.

  • Iain Orr

    For the record. Here are the 35 (including the No tellers) who opposed the third reading of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (from Hansard at )
    Abbott, Ms Diane Lab; Bone, Mr Peter Con; Campbell, Mr Ronnie Lab; Clark, Katy Lab; Davis, rh Mr David Con; Durkan, Mark SDLP; Edwards, Jonathan PlC; Hemming, John LD; Hoey, Kate Lab; Hopkins, Kelvin Lab; Hosie, Stewart SNP; Joyce, Eric Ind; Lavery, Ian Lab; Lazarowicz, Mark Lab; Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn PlC; Long, Naomi All; Lucas, Caroline Green; MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan SNP; McDonnell, Dr Alasdair SDLP; Morris, Grahame M. (Easington) Lab; Mudie, Mr George Lab; Ritchie, Ms Margaret SDLP; Robertson, Angus SNP; Sanders, Mr Adrian LD; Sheridan, Jim Lab; Skinner, Mr Dennis Lab; Turner, Mr Andrew Con; Watson, Mr Tom Lab; Weir, Mr Mike SNP; Whiteford, Dr Eilidh SNP; Williams, Hywel PlC; Winnick, Mr David Lab; Wishart, Pete SNP; Tellers for the Noes: John McDonnell Lab and Jeremy Corbyn Lab
    Totals: Lab 15, Con 3, LD 2, SNP 6, Others 9
    My prediction was close, but for underestimating the number of Labour rebels.

  • Mary

    Thanks Iain.

    Just three extracts from yesterday’s proceedings. They stand out for standing up.

    1 pm
    Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab):
    I consider this to be an outright abuse of parliamentary procedure. I will certainly vote against the motion, and I hope that a number of hon. Members will do so as well.

    Even if one is in favour of what the Home Secretary intends to do, to do it in this manner—to pass all the stages in one day—surely makes a farce of our responsibilities as Members of Parliament. When one considers the issues that are involved, how can one justify saying that the Bill must pass every stage by 10 o’clock? Does that meet our duty and responsibility to our constituents?

    We must bear it in mind that, as has been said, the European Court of Justice made the decision in April. It is now July. The theatre of last Thursday—the Cabinet meeting at 8 o’clock, the television conference and the statement by the Home Secretary—was all well staged.

    There has been no pre-legislative scrutiny by the Select Committees—none at all. This is the sort of issue that the Home Affairs Committee and other Select Committees that consider human rights should look at in detail. None of that has been done.

    Today, we should try to persuade the Government to provide more parliamentary time, whether by extending this sitting or postponing other business, so that we can go through the stages. One thing is absolutely certain: every Member of this House must consider very carefully, if they are in favour of the measure or not, whether it is right and justified to go through all the stages in one day. Is that not a mockery of parliamentary democracy?

    Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con):
    To follow on from my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kensington (Sir Malcolm Rifkind), I think that we are looking at a third category: a piece of legislation that is being renewed, but that has fallen into disrepute over the years in which it has been used. That is why this Bill is more important than a simple renewal.

    There is an emergency—a legal emergency—but it started on 8 April. It was eminently predictable because, as far back as 2010, the European data protection supervisor said that the data retention directive was

    “without doubt the most privacy invasive instrument ever adopted by the EU”.

    Data retention has been struck down in Germany and Romania, and there have been difficulties in other countries. The two requests to the European Court of Justice came not from bogus organisations, but from the Irish High Court and the Constitutional Court of Austria. Those were therefore serious revisions and it was entirely probable that we would find ourselves in the situation that we are in today.

    Why has it taken three months? Why was the legislation not pre-prepared? Why was the deal with the Labour party not struck in advance? My understanding is that there was an argument inside the Government between the two halves of the coalition. That argument has gone on for three months. What the coalition could not decide in three months, this House has to decide in one day. That seems to me entirely improper.

    Dr Huppert:
    Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

    Mr Davis:
    No, I am going to be very fast and finish on this point.

    Parliament has three roles: to scrutinise legislation, to prevent unintended consequences and to defend the freedom and liberty of our constituents. The motion undermines all three and we should oppose it.

    Mr Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) (Lab):
    In the brief time that we have, I think that I should put it on the record that MPs had only 47 minutes to submit unstarred amendments to the Bill yesterday. Most reasonable people will conclude that Parliament has been insulted by the cavalier way in which a secret deal has been used to ensure that elected representatives are curtailed in their ability to consider, scrutinise, debate and amend the Bill. It is democratic banditry, resonant of a rogue state.


    data retention and investigatory powers bill (business of the house)

    data retention and investigatory powers bill

    data retention and investigatory powers bill (money)

    data retention and investigatory powers bill

    Linked on


    One of the several office assistants that my MP employs (with my taxes)has writtene to say she would be replying asap. The usual. The posh embossed envelope will arrive in a couple of weeks’ time containing anodyne printed on matching stationery. There will also be a government handout.

    Democracy? What democracy?

    This vile bill, designed to demonise Muslims who have lost millions of their peoples to the ‘Christian’ and the ‘Jew’ over the centuries, has been pulled out of the hat in the illusion that British Muslims fighting against Assad in Syria will come back to bomb us.

    Every element is a lie, including of course our own Pearl Harbour – 7/7. And no one in our bloody-handed media (with very few exceptions) has said that Cameron and Hague and the rest encouraged ‘jihadists’ to go to Syria in the first place. Cunning parallels evil.

  • Iain Orr

    Mary – thanks for selecting those passages from the debate. Maybe we need to balance the picture with a few examples of the quality of argument of those supporting the legislation. I was particularly struck by these complacent and disingenuous remarks from Jack Straw at 7.25 pm: ” Of course I accept that the public are concerned, but from my long experience they have a clear view of how to balance the interests of liberty and their own personal security—that is what this is about, not the security of the state—and they implicitly acknowledge that, although the systems that we have built up during the past 30 years may not be perfect, they do provide that balance. They provide a level of control over Ministers and the intelligence, security and police services, which is pretty unparalleled in most other countries.”

  • Phil

    “I am keen to read Phil’s promised post-holiday suggestions of what I and others can do to promote radical decentralization.”

    Become an anarchist.

  • Phil


    Back in fat bandwidth land I have just looked at your profile. We’re practically neighbours. I’m in Waterloo.

    To my horror (read delight) I see you are up to your neck in the world of reformist NGOs I disabuse.

    I would like to offer Liberty’s application to a secret court as further proof of my argument that they direct dissent towards futile action.

  • Phil

    I see the MP for where I live, Kate Hoey, voted against the bill. I am still considering standing against her next year.

    That Straw quote is hilarious. He typifies careerist scumbag. I like Craig’s stroies about his gangsterism. All very Brechtian.

    Iain, what philosophy did you study? Does it inform you now?

  • Clark

    Iain Orr and Phil, sorry I haven’t responded; life suddenly got busy! I’ll come back to this thread – er – later…

  • Iain Orr

    Phil (on philosophy): I followed a traditional Scottish course at St Andrews – Moral Philosophy (Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Kant and modern Anglo-Americans with barely a disdainful look at continental woolly mammoths from Hegel to existentialism) and Logic & Metaphysics (ditto, with the addition of Russell, Wittgenstein, Ryle, Austin etc). I nearly went into academic philosophy but didn’t feel consumed by ideas. Recently I’ve joined the South London Philosophy Group and sometimes do papers showing that I can quickly get lost up my own fundament on issues such as space (if it has three dimensions, why), time, perception and wondering if there could be a “Green Philosophy” [Roger Scruton has signposted one blind alley].

    Where philosophy informs me now is probably in only considering problems real if they come tied up in conceptual and linguistic knots; and in formulating excuses that seem watertight until one finds that the bricks they are built of are made of straw rather than clay.

  • Iain Orr


    Back to politics and thanks for the link to the case that Liberty and others have taken to the Investigative Powers Tribunal (so secret that its website gives the CVs of its members and this week’s hearings are held in public at the Royal Courts of Justice: I’m tempted to go along tomorrow). However, I don’t see this as evidence that Liberty et al are busy doing things that don’t cause the government any problems.

    I was delighted (and I don’t mean horrified) finally to have advice about what I should do instead – inter alia – of wasting my time writing to MPs. However it’s so simple and clear – “Become an anarchist” – that philosophy immediately kicks in to muddy the water. How do I “become” what I am not? Do I need, like Tony Blair becoming a Catholic, to “take instruction” (not quite as anti-anarchic as it might seem)? Or do I need to wait for a moment of quasi-Buddhist enlightenment? Is there an anarchist Alpha course that I can attend? Will it work on a committed but stingy Church of Scotland atheist?

    If you’d be prepared to stand a first round, email biodiplomacy [-] yahoo [-] co [-] uk and we can down some pints as a Hague send-off in or around Waterloo. I’ll be intrigued to hear how, if you stand against Kate Hoey, you will manage not to waste many hours (and pounds, for the deposit and campaign – ask Craig all about it)in futile activity that poses no threat to “the system”.

    Just to round-up on yesterday’s debate and vote on the DRIP bill, here’s the email I sent this morning to Jeremy Corbyn (a campaigner for the exiled Chagossians and many others oppressed by those wielding power), copied to others who opposed the DRIP bill:

    “As you were one of the No tellers for last night’s vote, I write to you, copied to all other MPs who opposed this lamentable bill. You all deserve thanks from those whose dream is of a Parliament which provides effective oversight of the executive. Sadly, last night provided further evidence of the readiness of the majority of your parliamentary colleagues to serve as loyal lobby-fodder, even if many of those who went into the “Yes” lobby did so with a show of reluctance.

    However, though you did not have the numbers, you had far the better of the argument. Also, yours was the argument that had support from more political parties, even if the main ones could rely on carpet-bombing to blanket your sniper-fire. With respect for parliament and for mainstream political parties diminishing, it must be a worrying sign for those with the courage to defy party whips that those you counted through the “No” lobby from the three main parties (18) were nearly matched by those representing minority parties (14), whose strength comes primarily from voters who have lost faith in the ability of the main parties at Westminster to reflect their values, needs and aspirations for a better society.

    But that was just round one on DRIP. You and your “No” colleagues will need to carry this battle into the next parliament. Meanwhile your votes were good deeds in a naughty world. ( ”

    We should meet sometime in or around Waterloo. Email me: biodiplomacy [at] yahoo co uk

  • Phil

    “Investigative Powers Tribunal (so secret that its website gives the CVs of its members and this week’s hearings are held in public at the Royal Courts of Justice: I’m tempted to go along tomorrow)”

    So secretive that it has no location. It has no obligation to publish it’s rulings. So not entirely secretive but certainly not transparent.

    So this court: It is partly secret. All the judges are appointed by the PM (the Queen of course). There is no process of appeal. They keep rulings unpublished. They have dismissed 99.3% of reported complaints.

    This is the process you are happy to participate in? Sorry not participate, watch. If you do go along please write a report up for us.

    “finally to have advice about what I should do”

    Sorry to have kept you waiting.

    “How do I “become” what I am not?”

    Learn, think and act. Honestly, you philosophy types make a meal of everything.

    “Will it work on a committed but stingy Church of Scotland atheist?”


    “if you stand against Kate Hoey, you will manage not to waste many hours (and pounds, for the deposit and campaign – ask Craig all about it)in futile activity”

    Yes. I was joking. Sort of.

    “Email me”


  • Iain Orr


    Thanks for the extra details on the IPT. I imagine few would be surprised that less than 1% of complaints to it are upheld: either it means that snooping authorities are punctilious about staying within their legal restrictions or (more plausibly) that these legal restrictions are as confining as the oceans are to fish. The secrecy of the Swedish procedures faced by Assange [Craig’s latest posting]make the IPT seem almost benign. I’m not in the event able to go to the Liberty hearing today, but will lookout for another opportunity. Meanwhile, I wonder if Liberty will be allowed to report on the hearing.

  • Abe Rene

    “What is this leading up to?” I would suggest, not a lot. The fear of liquid bombs may well be exaggerated, but if the government believes that terrorists are willing and able to make them (or even *might* do so) then airport security will continue banning travellers from taking bottled water past security (as happened to me in the USA some years ago) or insisting that small tubes of toothpaste be in transparent containers, not opaque plastic bags (happened to me more recently).

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