Monthly Archives: January 2014

Surveillance: Lawyer says No

Parliament’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones, chaired by Tom Watson MP as received QC’s advice on the legality of British Intelligence’s mass surveillance, reported here in the Guardian and the lawyer says the programmes are probably illegal and that any warrants signed by politicians will be in breach of UK Law,  the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the EU Acquis. Watson points at this article from his blog here. The legal justification is based on RIPA, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and Jemima Stanford QC states that it is not fit for purpose given the changes in technology in the last 10 years.

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Cleaning Up Labour’s Politics II

I have just published and backdated my first thoughts in response to Ed Miliband’s speech on “Cleaning Up” politics. This has been written over a six month period. It was started as I shaped my thoughts and was originally written as a contribution to what became the Collins Review but I decided it was insufficiently focused and made no proposals. It merely expressed my anger. The final version of the article was published today and backdated to near the point I started it. It was thus published after the closure of the Collins Review deadline, and before the publication of the Special Conference agenda.

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Rent Controls

There’s been a bit of twitter shower, bit less damp than a twitterstorm about Labour’s policy on Rent Controls. I reflect on the correspondence here, but have also storyfy’d it here. Earlier today Mark Ferguson of Labour List, tweeted,

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Don’t (British) girls want to code?

Among the debates about the UK’s futures is how to ensure that there are enough high wage jobs and skilled labour to perform them for our future. The need for effectively skilled people today & tomorrow requires a clear education and skills supply policy. Furthermore there is a lack of clarity as to where these jobs might come from, with some arguing that we need to ‘rebalance’ the economy, usually away from the financial services industry, others that we need stronger copyright laws in order to allow our ‘creative’ industries to grow. Carlotta Perez and her acolytes, with others suggest that the IT revolution is not over and that it and its multiplier effects are the source of future work and wealth.

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Innovative Industrial Action

Political Scrapbook reports that with sixty employees at Lancashire brewery Thwaites facing the axe as the firm looks to relocate, workers appear to have hit back – by altering the neon ‘THWAITES’ sign on the town centre building to read ‘TWATS’.

The sign is mounted on a giant tower and is visible across Blackburn and much of East Lancashire.

Now that’s what I call industrial action.

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Boris needs a bigger tool

At the meeting, I raised the issue of Boris’ requisition of Water Cannons for the Metropolitan Police. There’s not enough noise about this, but there’s now a twitter hashtag, #watercannon. Nina Power comments in the Guardian, an article called “Boris Johnson’s call for water cannon shows a contempt for the people”. As is pointed out on twitter,

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Voter Suppression?

The Guardian reports that the electoral commission have announced that they propose to extending proof of identity checks at the polling station from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK. This has been a while coming. I reviewed Mike Buckley’s Banana Republic UK, in which he argued that, proof of Identity should be presented when voting and/or applying for a postal vote,
identity checks should be undertaken when applying for inclusion on the electoral roll & postal votes should be restricted to those who have a need. His arguments also strongly suggest that judicial scrutiny of contested or suspicious results should be easier to start.

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A message from Hebron

I spent last night at Deptford Labour’s General Committee at which Mel Ward presented on her experience as an Observer in Hebron, in the Palestinian occupied territories where she had just returned from their where she had served as a Human Rights Observer with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel ( from August – November 2013. She lived and worked in Hebron in the West Bank of the occupied Palestinian territory during this time and reported to the world on her blog, I am sure she’d be happy to speak at other meetings and you can guess what she was saying from reading her blog.

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Remembering our history

Earlier today, Peter Tatchell launched a a petition on and publicised it on twitter arguing that the Dead, not the generals should be the focus of our remembrance of WW1

Also at opendemocracy, an article entitled, “Hiding behind the Cenotaph, Cameron will seek to re-write history” makes a longer and better evidenced appeal to remember that

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santanya, “Reason in Common Sense” 1905

I recommend you read the Opendemocracy article, it reminds us that WW1 was a bloody culmination of a race to empire where dead paid the ultimate price under the incompetent, malevolent and propertied leadership, both political and military.

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