Tag Archives: New Labour

Now That’s British!

“When Gordon Brown called on the British Library to stage an exhibition about Britishness he perhaps envisaged a patriotic celebration of the national identity. ” begins the story in The Telegraph.

It continues to tell of the new exhibition called ‘Taking Liberties‘ – which is a very British response to such a request from a Prime Minister seeking a publicity tool. It’s an exhibition looking at Civil Liberties in the UK, and how they’ve been slowly but steadily eroded since 1997.

David Davis, the former shadow Home Secretary who recently stepped down from the Parliament to force a by election on the issue of civil liberties, said: “It is an astonishingly good idea but is clearly a snub to the Prime Minister and must be accurately embarrassing for him. Gordon Brown likes to talk about Britishness a lot without understanding that liberty is at the core of Britishness. It is our institutional DNA. Our history and tradition of freedom run longer and deeper than any other country.”

(snip)

Iconic objects such as the Magna Carta, the death certificate of Charles I and Cromwell’s Oath of Loyalty from 1857 will be on display among less well known items some of which have never been on display before.

The exhibition will open on the 31st October and end on the 1st March 2009. Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.

The British Library is at St. Pancras – very convenient for tube and rail connections.

The Nasty Party

‘The Nasty Party’ used to be a term applied to the Tories. This is most emphatically no longer the case.

Putting aside historical issues for a moment and looking at recent weeks:

Kathz wrote about an issue (mirror) which I noted, but did not post about until now. That is of Labour playing nasty in Crewe.

The Labour Party is putting out an official leaflet which carries a picture of the Conservative candidate and the question, “Do you oppose making foreign nationals carry an ID card?”

Maybe the Conservative party policy isn’t clear on the issue. But Labour (government) policy isn’t just about foreign (non-EEC, by the way) nationals. Soon we shall all have to carry ID cards. The government is preparing to collect our biometric details so that it can store them on a database. The ID scheme targeting foreign nationals is simply starting with a soft target – people who don’t have votes.

The Labour leaflet in Crewe hasn’t been published to open up a debate on ID cards. The government has made it very clear that the introduction of ID cards is not open to debate. This leaflet is about race. It’s about fuelling fear and race hatred to hold a vulnerable seat in a parliamentary by-election. The implication of the leaflet is that foreigners are dangerous and only the Labour Party will keep them under surveillance.

Spreading suspicion is dangerous. Mistrust is often a two-way process.

(Another source)

In other news, Labour want to institute a database recording the internet activity and phone calls of everyone in the country ‘just in case’. (source)

Jonathan Bamford, the assistant Information Commissioner, said: “This would give us serious concerns and may well be a step too far. We are not aware of any justification for the State to hold every UK citizen’s phone and internet records. We have real doubts that such a measure can be justified, or is proportionate or desirable. We have warned before that we are sleepwalking into a surveillance society. Holding large collections of data is always risky – the more data that is collected and stored, the bigger the problem when the data is lost, traded or stolen.

Let us all recall that Government doesn’t have a good track record with large databases, with multiple leaks over the past year – including the one leak of the records of some 25million families.

As an interesting aside, Guido notices that the number of stress related sick days at the treasury has dramatically reduced since Brown became PM.

Electoral Reform in the UK

Democracy isn't Deskbound

Make Votes Count has re-branded their campaign, and produced an action plan, which I reproduce below:

Continue on to the MVC WebsiteView the Campaign Launch Photos

6 Things you can do

1. Petition the Prime Minister. Sign our petition to Gordon Brown

2. Pledge to a Consultation. Sign the pledge and show people's willingness to be consulted

3. Write to your MP. Ask them to forward your comments to the Minister

4. Contact your nearest PR Politican. Enlist the support of your MEPs/AMs/MSPs

5. Have your say: Governance of Britain. Tell the Ministry of Justice that voting systems matter

6. Donate to the Campaign. Help us maximise what we can achieve

If you would like to post this to your website, see the previous post for the code.

Letter to Lord Falconer – English parliament

This letter will be going to Lord Falconer:

Dear Lord Falconer

Last Friday, you appeared on "The Today Programme". In the interview you discussed many things, not least of which was the anomaly that is the lack of parity between England and Scotland with regard to representation. There was this exchange:

John Humphreys: Yeah, but, but you’re ignoring the anomaly, and it is a clear anomaly isn’t it?

Lord Falconer: It is a clear anomaly, yes,

You gave reasons why there should not be an English Parliament (namely that it would be bad for the Union), but you did not explain why the Scottish Parliament is not bad for the Union. As such I do not feel that you addressed these issues and so am turning to you in the hope that you have had time to deliberate upon your earlier statements.

One point of particular interest was that you said "That that is so is reflected by the fact that there is no demand at all for devolution to England or the English MPs only being able to vote on English issues."

This was interesting, as this was in direct contradiction to that exact demand from Oliver Heald.

In addition, since the broadcast there has been a poll on the BBC News website running at over 5 to 2 in favour of the English Parliament. As I write there have been some 2752 votes with over 72% in favour. Also, in the introduction to "Any Answers" on Saturday, Jonathan Dimbleby said "We have been deluged with calls and emails on this issue.”

We now have a situation where you have admitted that anomalies exist, though you did not indicate how you would solve them. We also have a situation where you have stated that there is "no demand" for a solution and this has been demonstrated to be incorrect.

I would be interested to hear what your next step will be in resolving this anomaly in our constitutional arrangements. If you do not deem that a solution is not needed, then I would ask how a Scottish parliament can be justified and yet an English parliament with similar powers cannot – and why one would necessarily lead to the break up of the Union and the other would not.

I look forward to your considered response.

Letter to Harriet ‘no anomalies’ Harman – English Parliament

This letter has been drafted for sending off to Harriet ‘no anomalies’ Harman.

Ten months ago I wrote to you after an appearance on "Question Time", a letter to which I never received a reply. To refresh your memory, there was a question about constitutional anomalies. At the time I was surprised that as a Constitutional Affairs Minister you said “What anomalies?“.

This was surprising given the disparity between, for example, England and Scotland and the fact that one has the trappings of nationhood, and the other does not.

Last Friday, the Lord Chancellor appeared on “The Today Programme“. There was this exchange:

John Humphreys: Yeah, but, but you’re ignoring the anomaly, and it is a clear anomaly isn’t it?

Lord Falconer: It is a clear anomaly, yes,

The Lord Chancellor gave reasons why there should not be an English Parliament (namely that it would be bad for the Union), but he did not explain why the Scottish Parliament is not bad for the Union. As such I do not feel that the Lord Chancellor adequately addressed these issues and so am turning back to you in the hope that you have had time to deliberate upon your earlier statements.

One point of particular interest was that the Lord Chancellor said “That that is so is reflected by the fact that there is no demand at all for devolution to England or the English MPs only being able to vote on English issues.”

This was interesting, as this was in direct contradiction to that exact demand from Oliver Heald.

In addition, since the broadcast there has been a poll on the BBC News website running at over 5 to 2 in favour of the English Parliament. As I write there have been some 2752 votes with over 72% in favour. Also, in the introduction to “Any Answers” on Saturday, Jonathan Dimbleby said “We have been deluged with calls and emails on this issue.”

We now have a situation where the Lord Chancellor has admitted that anomalies exist, though he did not indicate how he would solve them. We also have a situation where he has stated that there is “no demand” for a solution and this has been demonstrated to be incorrect.

I would be interested to hear your views on these matters and, in particular, how a Scottish parliament can be justified and yet an English parliament with similar powers cannot.

I look forward to your considered response.