The End of Privacy

Once again, just when you think the British Government could not get more intrusive, they prove you wrong.

I have often discussed the ever-increasing Big Brother approach of the Labour Government as each new plan is revealed. Now we learn that any bottom-rung local bureaucrat will be able to access every piece of information on any individual held by any Government or local department, agency, or council.

When you consider that this will include all medical records, every email and phone call made, and all of the biometric data to be stored for the mandatory ID cards, think about local council workers making £12,000 a year. Certainly most of them are completely honest (even if honesty is not a particular plentiful commodity in this country), but think of the profit that can be made from identity fraud. We are assured by the Ministry of Justice that anyone misusing the data could get a prison sentence of up to two years. Two years = one year with good behaviour. Prisons bursting at the seams mean very few people can be sent away for first, second or third offenses. Seems like a pretty light risk for very big gain.

Or to put it more bluntly, it is handing over the data to people who will do terribly things with it. Then after the bureaucrats are done, the criminals will get it.

Fancy Words

The state of the English language in England is now so poor that local councils have started banning Latin phrases and abbreviations. Staff are not allowed to use them in written or verbal communication. As reported in The Sunday Telegraph:

Bournemouth Council, which has the Latin motto Pulchritudo et Salubritas, meaning beauty and health, has listed 19 terms it no longer considers acceptable for use.

This includes bona fide, eg (exempli gratia), prima facie, ad lib or ad libitum, etc or et cetera, ie or id est, inter alia, NB or nota bene, per, per se, pro rata, quid pro quo, vis-a-vis, vice versa and even via.

Sadly, I can understand that they might have to contact some people who might not be unfamiliar with quid pro quo, but e.g., i.e., and etc.? Will motorists in Bournemouth not understand that they are being diverted via St Paul’s Road? Or that the speed limit is 30 miles per hour? With so many council jobs not full-time, how will they explain that the salary quoted in newspaper ads is pro rata?

Such fancy words and abbreviations are now considered elitist.

Making Space for Religion

It’s not often that you see something positive in the interaction between religion and the state these days. I was surprised to see that Barnet Council in North London is introducing a special parking permit for religious leaders on official business. Parking in any part of London can be a nightmare and when space can be found, fees can be outrageous.

In many areas residential parking is restricted to residents. For those making house calls this can be particularly problematic. The new permit will allow priests and other Christian ministers as well as Rabbis and spiritual leaders of other religions to park in resident spaces.

As you can imagine, parking for worship services can also difficult in some areas. Barnet Council will consider applications for the special permits for these situations.

The permits will cost £40 per year, but compared to the normal parking costs combined with the increased availability of spaces, these seems like a pretty good deal.

No Place for Conscience

A registrar in the champagne socialist London borough of Islington wants to opt out of officiating at gay weddings. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of registrars in the borough who are willing to do the deed.

Lillian Ladele has the distinct disadvantage of being a Christian whose beliefs and conscience are violated in performing such ceremonies. She’s having to sue to try to keep her conscience and her job. Until this year, registrars had a conscience opt-out.

But as with so many of the moral boundary changes enacted by the Labour Government, conscience matters for nothing in this area. After all, if they are going to force all the Catholic adoption agencies to shut down rather than actively provide services to gay couples, what chance do individuals of conscience stand?

Ben Summerskill, of Stonewall, the homosexual rights group, said: “Doctors and nurses can’t choose who they treat, and nor should a registrar be allowed to discriminate.” Too bad he’s wrong. Doctors and nurses can choose not to do procedures which violate their conscience. That’s why there’s a shortage of abortionists in this county, even though we have the some of the most liberal abortion laws in Europe.

Of course the local council is not prevented from accommodating individual registrars, as long as the council’s registry office does not deny the opportunity for the state to officially such unions. But we are talking about Islington. It’s either give in to the spirit of the age or hit the road. A council spokesman said: “Islington council will be robustly defending its position at the employment tribunal.”

Local Government at Its Worst

The world is full of jobworths. It’s really not that surprising when someone with a uniform and a limited secondary education meets a quota by some sort of oppressive official action, usually involving an undeserved and out-of-proportion fine.

Jean Raine is 82-year-old and suffers from Parkinson’s Disease. She was feel ill and taking a rest in her car. The car was legally parked in a handicap bay. She has a disabled parking badge. But, oops, it was the wrong way up. Perhaps not surprising when you are 82, have Parkinson’s, and have been taken ill. Still, in a world of semi-literate, quota-driven jobsworths, it is no excuse.

The only care taken by the parking attendant was to quietly put the ticket on the windscreen, so as not to disturb Miss Raine. After all, had he done that, she would have turned the badge over and proven that it was, in fact, fully valid. Then he would have to find another unlucky driver to ticket.

But like I said, this bit is not surprising. But when faced with this sort of action, sometimes it is necessary to appeal to responsible and rational authorities. Miss Raine and her partner 88-year-old Martin Westgarth (who was shopping while Miss Raine rested) appealed to the South Lakeland Council in Cumbria. The council rejected their appeal. Why? “Guidance notes issued with the badge and parking disc clearly state that it should be clearly and correctly displayed at all times.”

You can read the full story in the Daily Telegraph.

I think it would be nice if people across Britain let South Lakeland Council know how terrible their policies are. The cabinet member of the council responsible for parking is Mrs Hilary Stephenson. If you click the link you will find all of her contact details, including her email address.

Council-sponsored Muslim-only No-go Area

And they said there were no no-go areas.

In January, when Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali suggested in The Sunday Telegraph that some areas had become no-go zones for non-Muslims, he was excoriated on all sides. His fellow Anglican bishops distanced themselves from him. From Muslims he received death threats.

Clissold Leisure Centre in Stoke Newington has Muslim-only swimming on Sunday mornings. Actually, it is Muslim males-only swimming. I don’t have any problem with separate sessions for men. After all, leisure pools have long had some of their facilities set apart at times for women. And as long as there is equal access, I got no problem with that.

But Clissold Leisure Centre owned by Hackney Borough Council in north London doesn’t have a Christians-only swimming session.

So have Muslims created this no-go area? No. The Muslims don’t mind swimming with Christians. It’s the leisure centre employees who have done it. After David Toube and his son we refused admission, even by a manager, they went back several days later to speak to another leisure centre employee, who confirmed the Muslims-only policy.

Since this hit the news, the leisure centre’s tune has changed. Seems they don’t want to openly discriminate in the face of media exposure. The sessions may still be for Muslim men, but they now say that staff cannot ask about someone’s religion or refuse them entry if they don’t appear to be Muslim.

Eliminating Public Prayer

It’s like something you would see in the States. A public body wants to include prayers and they are warned about being sued. After all, somebody might be offended by short introductory Christian prayers. This may seem strange in the country with an established Church.

What you have to remember is that Parliament is no longer the supreme authority in the land. The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) is worried about the implications of Article 9 of the and Fundamental Freedoms, which trumps any British legislation. The language of it seems innocuous enough: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”

The NALC is worried that this could be used by anyone, councillor or member of the public, to argue that their right to practise their non-Christian religion or no religion could be infringe. That’s why they’ve urge the Bideford town council to stop praying. They want to eliminate any risk of a court challenge. Clearly, once one council has been challenged then any others might be challenged. Town and parish councils have such small budgets than any sort of damages awarded would be devastating.

But it is not just European law that is a problem. The NALC is worried that the Race Discrimination Act may also come into play. I have never understood this. What does religion have to do with race? After all, most Christians in the world are not of the same race as the members of Bideford Town Council.

For now Bideford Town Council have voted to keep the prayers, after one councillor offered a motion to get rid of them. Unfortunately they are waiting to see what the Government’s position is on all this before discussing it again. Knowing this Government’s track record against Christianiy, that does not bode well.