The Outrage Continues

The Government must be loving the news out of Mumbi. Just like with 9/11, they are using it to bury bad news.

They haven’t buried it entirely. The Daily Mail has the arrest of Damien Green as the front cover. After all, MPs across the political spectrum are completely beside themselves. There have been waves of questions tabled about it, though ministers don’t have to deal with them until after Parliament comes back into session on Wednesday with the State Opening and the Queen’s Speech.  Tory MPs are threatening to disrupt the Queen’s Speech debate, which should be about the Government’s legislative agenda.

It has now emerged that the Speaker of the Commons, Michael Martin, knew of the plans to arrest Damien Green and authorised the search of his parliamentary office. This has not done the Speaker’s reputation for incompetence any good. The calls for his resignation have never been louder. Unlike like the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the US Congress, the Speaker of the Commons is supposed to be completely politically unbiased and defend the rights of MPs. Again, MPs across the political spectrum are horrified at the Speaker’s actions.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, used the same language that I used in the previous post, “This is something you might expect from a tin-pot dictatorship, not in a modern democracy.” Tony Benn said this indicates we are now in a police state.

Government Terrorising the Opposition

It’s all over the top of the news – the BBC, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Times. The Government of the United Kingdom has just upped the totalitarian stakes.

It’s the sort of thing that happens in tinpot dictatorships. The Opposition spokesman on immigration, Damian Green, MP, has been arrested on allegations that he leaked stories to the media that he received from a Home Office whistle-blower. The police raided his home, his parliamentary office, and his constituency office.

There were allegedly four leaks between November of last year and September of this year. Green let the press know about:

an illegal immigrant that had been employed as a Commons cleaner,

a letter from the Home Secretary to the Prime Minister warning that a recession could lead to a rise in crime,

that the Home Secretary was warned that thousands of illegal immigrants had been cleared to work in sensitive Whitehall security jobs but accepted advice from her officials for a news blackout on the affair, and

a list, prepared by Labour whips, of MPs’ likely voting intentions on legislation to extend to 42 days detention without charge.

The Tory Leader, David Cameron has rightly noted, “As Shadow Immigration Minister, Mr Green has, on a number of occasions, legitimately revealed information which the Home Office chose not to make public. Disclosure of this information was manifestly in the public interest. Mr Green denies any wrongdoing.” Instead, he was arrested by counter-terrorism officers.

Those officers came from the Metropolitan Police. It is no coincidence (and even the mainstream media are saying this) that today is the last day in the job for Met Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, forced out of office by the Conservative mayor of London Boris Johnson.

It is also no coincidence that it came as the House of Commons was in recess. The matter would have been immediately raised with ministers. As it is, they can operate without challenge for several days.

George Osborne said moments ago on BBC’s Question TIme, “It has long been the case in our democracy that members of Parliament have received information from civil servants. I think to hide information from the public is wrong.”  Labour MP Diane Abbott, not being very supportive of the Government, just said on This Week, “Civil servants have been leaking information to politicians since the dawn of the photocopier. The Metropolitan Police do some daft things. They would never arrest a Member of Parliament without getting some form of political cover.” In other words, as much of the media is saying, this has to have been cleared at a very high level, despite the statement by a Downing Street spokesman that the Prime Minister had no prior knowledge of the arrest.

Green is being questioned on allegations of the offence of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. This carries a possible life sentence.

There is terrorism involved here. The Government is terrorising the Opposition to keep it from raising questions about the Government’s competence and honesty at the highest levels. As one not surprisingly anonymous insider question has been quoted in the media, this is “Stalinesque . . . unprecedented in its high-handedness”.

The New Stasi

In the former Soviet Bloc, everyone had to be very careful, because no one ever knew if their neighbour was spying on them to report them to the government. Miss those good ol’ days? Welcome to Gordon Brown’s Britain.

As reported today in the Daily Telegraph, if you live in the UK, your neighbours may have been recruited by the local council to report on you. They may be your very young neighbours.

Children as young as eight have been recruited by councils to “snoop” on their neighbours and report petty offences such as littering, the Daily Telegraph can disclose.

The youngsters are among almost 5,000 residents who in some cases are being offered £500 rewards if they provide evidence of minor infractions.

One in six councils contacted by the Telegraph said they had signed up teams of “environment volunteers” who are being encouraged to photograph or video neighbours guilty of dog fouling, littering or “bin crimes”.

The “covert human intelligence sources”, as some local authorities describe them, are also being asked to pass on the names of neighbours they believe to be responsible, or take down their number-plates.

Ealing Council in West London said: “There are hundreds of Junior Streetwatchers, aged 8-10 years old, who are trained to identify and report enviro-crime issues such as graffiti and fly-tipping.”

Hundreds of Junior Streetwatchers. That’s just the ones working for one council.

Don’t confuse this with a neighborhood crime watch program. This is paying people to look into your garden to see if you have put your rubbish bins in the right place.

This comes at the same time that many councils are only collecting rubbish on a fortnightly basis, because they can not longer afford a weekly service, even though they are still collecting the same amount in council tax. Of course if rubbish has to be stored for twice as long, it is twice as likely that it will result in an infraction of local regulations – more money for the eight-year-old spies climbing over the fence for a peek.

This escalation in Britain’s growing surveillance state follows an outcry about the way councils are using powers originally designed to combat terrorism and organised crime to spy on residents. In one case, a family was followed by council staff for almost three weeks after being wrongly accused of breaking rules on school catchment areas.

It also emerged last month that around 1,400 security guards, car park attendants and town hall staff have been given police-style powers including the right to issue on-the-spot fines for littering, cycling on the pavement and other offences.

Big Brother really is watching.

Big Brother is Tracking

Big Brother is at it again. The Government has announced that every 14-year-old will be issued a number for life. This is not like a National Insurance or Social Security number. It will be called a Unique Learner Number (ULN) . It will be used to access the new Managing Information Across Partners (MIAP) database. It will have all their personal details, exam results, and school disciplinary record to be accessed by employers, colleges, and anyone else in any Government department or 40 “stakeholder organisations” across the education sector. It will be used by Government agencies to track an individual until they die.

All the information will be on the internet. Each person will get two passwords – one for themselves and one to give an employer. How long will it be before the whole system is hacked and all the details available on the black market to anyone will to pay for it? How quick will it lead to wholesale identity fraud? If the Government’s recent track record for losing massive amounts of critical personal details (like the bank details of nearly half the population last year by putting them into the post) is any indication, it won’t take long.

Nonetheless, the Information Commissioner is said to now be happy with the security arrangements, so it will now go online next September.

This MIAP is separate from the ContactPoint database, which will contain details of all of the children in Britain, including names, addresses, schools, GPs and, where applicable, social workers. I don’t know if social worker details will include the health visitor, which is the nurse/social worker assigned to every child from birth until they start school. They were ready to start putting ContactPoint in operation when the Child Benefit details went missing and a security review was ordered.