Saturday, 18 April 2009

When did it All go Wrong?

No, I don't mean the latest political debacle, or the credit crunch. I mean, when did politicians turn from serving the country, to serving themselves?

When was the last, great, selfless government? Has there ever been one? Was it the governments of Churchill, Attlee, or someone more recent?

The continued Rise of the Police State.

Okay, I admit first of all that we aren't in a full on Police state yet, because I'm able to type this and not face arrest (although I don't rule out surveilance), but we are perilously close.

Last weekend gave us a glimpse of the thought processes at the top levels of government. We got to hear about the lies, the bullying, the arrogance and the refusal to accept any of this was wrong. We've heard during the week that the supposedly free press were cajoled into toeing the party line in order to stay privvy to inner machinations of government. We heard earlier in the year the Police stating there would be a "summer of rage" and then coming tooled up for the G20 protests. We saw an innocent man killed and others assaulted during those protests. We saw last year the abolition of basic liberties during the Kingsnorth power station protest and this week the arrest of people about to protest at the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station before they'd even done anything remotely illegal. We saw Damien Green, a member of parliament arrested and his office in the houses of parliament searched for no other reason than his revelations embarrassed the government. Now we hear that Shami Chakrabarti has been targeted during the search of Damien Green's computer. I wonder how many other champions of liberty are under state surveillance? There are rumblings of internet censorship, using the usual weasel words of "protect the children" to disguise what is an attack on the most democratic of media, the internet. Laws to regulate and surveil social networking sites and the possible extension to blogs.
We've seen new laws making it illegal to photograph Police officers. We see increasing interference from the state in more aspects of our lives. We see the government pushing on with ID cards, despite the majority of the country being against them.

We also have the fact this untrustworthy government implemented a law (the civil contingencies act) that allows them to suspend democracy under certain circumstances. This in the supposed mother of democracy.

What is becoming apparrent is that for the majority, things look normal, as long as they toe the line. Step away from that line (or it appears even just think about it) and it appears the full force of Police surveillance and brutality will be brought into use against you.

Are we in a Police state? Well, for the majority of us, not quite. But its increasingly looking like an illusion, because I for one can certainly see the dark shroud of totalitarianism surrounding us, closing in.

How long will it be before its too late for the majority of us to do anything to stop the rise of a Police state?


You can add vote rigging to that list too, given there have been several high profile cases and prosecutions in the past and two high profile cases only this week where favoured candidates have allegedly been pushed into place by the PLP ahead of local constituency parties. Robert Mugabe would be proud of such a record.

All Hail the Thought Police

This report in the Guardian is spot on.

114 climate protesters were arrested whilst planning to protest at Ratcliffe-on-Soar powerstation. Lets review that again. They were arrested before they did anything criminal. As far as I'm aware, planning a protest isn't illegal, so why were they arrested?

The Police contend that some of the protesters were plotting criminal activities, but not all of them, so why arrest all the protesters. Why not wait until the ones plotting criminal acts actually carried them out so there'd be evidence of them committing criminal acts and they would be banged to rights in court? No, the police decided that thought crime was enough to charge these people with. Someone should tell the fucking idiots in the Police that Minority Report was a film and doesn't bear any reality to UK law. Innocent until proven guilty? Not in the post-Blunkett Police. Since he was made home secretary, he and his successors have made the Police more oppressive to more of the population than ever before. Another reason why the relationship with the Police and the population at large is falling apart.

Jaqui Smith is just as bad. She hasn't reined in any of the excesses of the Police. She should be sacked.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Ian Tomlinson: The Plot Gets Thicker

It seems a second autopsy on Ian Tomlinson has found he had an abdominal haemmorage. See the BBC report here.

The first autopsy has already been criticised for being done in great haste and this second autopsy was done at the behest of the IPCC and Mr Tomlinsons family, so hopefully will be more thorough.

The Police Officer involved quite rightly has been interviewed under caution with a mind to a prosecution for manslaughter.

Although the police officer doesn't strike Mr Tomlinson near the abdomen, you can clearly see that when he is pushed, Mr Tomlinson falls onto his arm. It could well be that this caused the abdominal bleeding. Taking into account reports that he was an alcoholic, then he could have had an enlarged liver and spleen, which could easily have been ruptured by falling onto his arm.

The telling thing was he collapsed only yards away, as I blogged before.

There are a number of points raised by this affair:

First, how come the first autopsy failed to note the internal bleeding?

Why has the result of the autopsy been held for a week before being released?

Why was it stated that there was no CCTV or other video evidence available when there most clearly was other video evidence, as clarified by the IPCC later in the week.

As video elsewhere of the G20 protests shows, why were the Police quite obviously spoiling for a fight on the day?

You could say that the Police got the initial facts wrong (as they did in the DeMenezes case) because they rushed to get information out in the public domain, but it seems unbelievable that they would release official statements that are wrong. It seems that those statements are only corrected after substantial correspondence to the contrary from members of the public.

This whole affair is starting to smell a bit rotten.

Home Secretary Jaqui Smith is a Cunt.

Well, I wanted to say a bit more eloquently, Jaqui Smith's position as home secretary is untenable, but then I read Old Holborne's blog here. He has a point.

Jaqui Smith has so far survived the most dramatically damaging revelations of any Home Secretary I've seen in my life. Whether it's snouting at the trough, or implementing oppressive laws, or sticking up for Chief Constables that lost the plot, or allowing ACPO to become the de-facto head of the Police force, or bullying opposition MPs with prison sentences because they release embarrasing information (that doesn't affect national security), she has shown as Home Secretary that neither her nor the Home Office are fit for purpose.

Jaqui Smith's position is untenable. She has to go as she no longer has the respect of the population. Old Holborn thinks she's a cunt, I think she's a cunt and so do several other people. Just how strong does the language have to get before she either does the decent thing and resigns, or gets sacked? She really is a complete and utter useless cunt.


Ian Dale has a post here that Shami Chakrabarti was targetted by the team investigating Damien Green. It tends to show a culture in place at the Police that could only be influenced by political interference, ostensibly from the home office.

Jaqui Smith is fucked. The stories just keep coming. I'll be suprised if she lasts the week.

THe Guido/McBride/Draper Affair: whats the final verdict?

So, as the dust is settling after the disturbance of the Easter weekend, what conclusions, what changes can be seen from the affair? It seems to me most people have missed the point... the REAL news of what happened this week.

Well, on the one hand it changes nothing, but on the other, it changes everything. I know, very obtuse, let me explain:

Well, on the one hand, it changes nothing: the media certainly knew about the No10 spin machine and how nasty the politics were at the top of the Labour party. They knew about it for a very long time and did nothing, as Guido has said in his own blog. I watched incredulously during the whole Iraq dossier/Kelly/Hutton affair screaming in frustration as the media at large all brayed the same pro-government song. As if to voice dissent was a criminal act. Those that did dissent were cast into the wilderness (Greg Dyke and Andrew Gilligan).
I've screamed at Nick Robinson (even eliciting a terse response from him in one of his blogs) for promoting government spin as fact, for never providing a balanced documentary so that viewers could form their own opinion.
So the media have been complicit in broadcasting a pro-government stance for over a decade.
Against that, the opposition have had a huge mountain to climb since the late nineties when the media switched pro-Labour.

So what was the fundamental change this week?

The media started briefing against the government, in a way it hasn't briefed against government for a very long time. Even the Sun, which has been staunchly pro-Labour since the tenure of John Major, switched sides this week and launched a tirade of critical articles. It didn't once begin to defend the government. Sure, the meter of media bias has been twitching a bit over MPs allowances, but the needle has swung firmly over against the government so far it will never come back.

That is the main news that has come out of this week. Forget the resignation of Damien McBride, forget Dolly Draper. Forget even, claiming more scalps. The damage has been done and the wheels set in motion.

This is the week the media turned against the Labour government. The government is finished. They will not win the next election, no matter what happens, they can't, because the media are solidly against them.

Look at the storm being whipped up around the videos of Police brutality during the G20 summit. Would the videos have been used in this way only a year ago? I doubt it. The old media wouldn't have batted an eyelid.

So, what next?

Well, I'm sure there's a story around the source of the leaked emails. Why would someone in Labour want to cause so much damage? Or did someone in the old media pass the emails to Guido so the new media, free from the old media cabal could release them and to precipitate the turn against Labour?

What of Tom Watson and Charlie Whelan? What is their part in this story? They have been rather quiet of late.

The European elections will add more fuel to the anti-Labour fire. Also, MPs expenses are due to be published in full and I'm sure there will be bombshells for the government there too.

I did say months ago that Gordon Brown only had until the summer before he became a liability to Labour. I may be proved right.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Government Back Wrong Electric Horse.

Well, I did say in my previous blog that if the government backed plug-in or Hybrid electric cars, that they'd be backing a loser and missing an opportunity to really push technology forward.

Well, here is the BBC's report on Gordon Brown's decision to back the wrong horse.

Here is a debate that Sky News had on the news. Some interesting points made, some really whacky statements in favour made too.

What it boils down to, is that hybrids aren't zero emissions or fossil-fuel-free vehicles and plug-in electric cars have significant disadvantages/issues to overcome.

Lets forget hybrids for now as they are most definately NOT zero-emissions vehicles. They still rely on fossil fuel for the engine. I'd forgive them a little bit if manufacturers used Diesel engines in hybrids: at least you could try and be carbon-neutral by using biofuel like rapeseed oil.

Oh and by the way, carbon-neutral isn't the same as zero-emissions. Carbon neutral is a con: basically the premise is the amount of carbon produced by burning its biofuel is absorbed by plants growing that will eventually become biofuel. The bad news is the energy used during processing used to create the fuel creates CO2 as well, which you never get back.

Anyway, back to the battery car: the dead end. Its a dead end for the reasons I stated in my earlier blog, in that there will always be a restriction on range and the charging process is fraught with complexity. A 300-mile range car will need a very high capacity battery, which will require several hundred amps to charge in an hour, let along the 5 minutes or so we take to fill up with fuel now. So, we either sit around for a few hours for every 300 miles driven, or we find some way of whacking several thousand amps into a battery to reduce charging times. Another option would be to replace the battery packs altogether, so you drive onto the garage forecourt into a bay and a robot changes the drained battery pack for a freshly charged one. Interesting concept, but who owns the batteries? And how will insurers react to a claim generated by a dodgy battery given a robot has inserted someone else's battery into your car, effectively modifying it?
Also, who compensates you for the electricity left in the battery if you change a partly-discharged one? Finally, what about people that don't have a drive to park their car on: how are they going to run a lead to their battery-powered car if its parked down the street. How will planners react to hundreds of charging stations springing up on streets, especially in preservation areas? Lots of pitfalls to overcome.

The real alternative for the future is hydrogen. The first benefit is that hydrogen could be made on the garage forecourt. Hook a hydrogen generator to the mains, there's no need for a hydrogen tanker to come calling. Refuelling with hydrogen takes a similar amount of time as current fuel filling times, so no need for a radical change in our driving style. Hydrogen can also be burned in converted internal combustion cars, to it's backwards compatible.

The Honda Clarity, far better than a GWhizz. Picture from here.

Hydrogen fuel cell technology is already proven, its was used on the Apollo spacecraft in the sixites. Its been around for ages. Honda have the Clarity I mentioned in my other blog, which we could be making in Swindon if the government had enough forethought. Other manufacturers also have fuel cell cars in pre-production.

The most telling thing about the electric car debate, is that the current oil companies have their fingers firmly inserted into the hydrogen fuel camp. They are already geared up to distribute and supply high pressure gasses as fuel. It would take very little investment from them and very little encouragement from the government in the form of tax breaks to get hydrogen fuel infrastructure in place.

So whats stopping the government from investing the money in hydrogen fuel? Your guess is as good as mine. All I know for sure is its a very short-sighted and probably short-lived policy. To be honest the amount of money involved is peanuts campared to whats actually needed to get a plug-in infrastructure up and running, so whats the game? Probably a sop to the urban greens, in the hope that the green party don't steal votes from Labour in the EU elections which are only weeks away.

So just remember its politics, not environmentalism thats driving this policy.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

G20 Death - There WERE CCTV Cameras

So it looks like the original IPCC statement there were no CCTV cameras covering the area where Ian Tomlinson was assaulted was either mistaken, or a lie.

The IPCC has issued a new statement, reported here by the BBC there there was in fact CCTV coverage of the area, hopefully as a result of people like myself, pointing out the bloody obvious to them. As my earlier blog stated, there were other cameras in the area at the time, especially the one I pointed out gathering news footage from a building overlooking the scene.

Hopefully this incident won't be whitewashed like all the other deaths at Police hands. Yes the Police have a tough job, but to openly assault a person like that is reprehensible.

I've long been critical of the tactics employed by the Police in these sorts of situations as well as during arrests, there seems to be too much brutish force involved.

Even when force isn't used, there appears to be an arrogance that the Police themselves are above the law. They are wrong.

Guido Site Unavailable: Coincidence?

For the first time in ages, Guido's site is unavailable.

Coincidence? Hmmm.

I wonder if there's a story there in itself.

Update 08:20:

Guido is back.

Monday, 13 April 2009

The Recriminations have Started.

Guido has reported that he's had James MacIntyre, from the New Statesman asking him if he has links to the intelligence services.

So it starts.

The Government are starting to slip into paranoia.

First, they can't comprehend that Paul Staines (aka Guido) can set up such a successful blog without backing. Hence the various claims of right-wing backing in the media from Labour. They just can't understand that Guido could set up a blog on his own for free like I have here and then have it become so successful.
The thing is, Guido isn't an overnight sensation: the site has been
running for a number of years. Its following and popularity has grown organically.
Nontheless, the Labour leadership can't comprehend how the site could get so popular without backing. So popular that Guido now gets sent the same "insider" information the mainstream get.

Now the claims of right-wing backing have fallen on deaf ears, another attempt to discredit Guido seems to be in motion. Hence the report from Guido about the telephone conversation with the New Statesman's James Macintyre.

Surely the most paranoid of assumptions is that Guido is in collusion with the security services.

It just shows how deluded and in crisis those at the top of this government are.

I shall watch the next few weeks with interest. I'm ordering in more popcorn!

A Tale From History

We're all told the history repeats itself.

This weekend Gordon Brown has announced that after winning the next election (yeah right), he will implement a policy whereby people will be compelled to do some community service. The BBC has in its report the incongrous statement that people will be compelled to do 50 hours of voluntary service.

The same idea has been implemented through recent history. First in Germany, then in the USSR.

The common thread amongst all of the regimes that implemented such policies is they were/are Totalitarian in nature.

That for me speaks volumes about what this Labour government has in store for this country.

This policy on its own isn't the mark of a totalitarian regime, but when you put it together with the rafts of legislation that have eroded our freedoms and privacy, put it together with the policy that has bankrupted this country, put it togther with the posters urging citizens to inform on their neighbours and friends, put all of this together and one can only conclude that the future under this government is one that history has already seen elsewhere.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

What a Weekend!

I did say that the Dan Hannan video marked a turning point in the importance of the blogosphere, but this weekend trumps that completely.

Guido's triumph over the Labour smear-vendors shows that given the right circumstances, online blogs can have just as much relevance as the mainstream media outlets. For too long the MSM has been in the grip of the old boys network: deals done, winks winked and nods nodded.
Its been plain to see for too long how the ruling elite have captured every media prize in order to control dissent.
The Blogosphere cuts through all of that: thousands of independant outlets cannot be controlled by done deals.

But thats where the collective entities of the blogosphere on all sides need to be careful, stay united and deny any chance those in power would seek to silence us.

Right now, in his bunker I can imagine Gordon Brown is scheming to silence us, because one of our number has dared to interfere with the machinations of his inner circle. I can well imagine some new law to regulate blogs will be mooted after this, because thats the way the control-freaks currently in power work. This weekends news will be twisted and spun as an attack on the government, spin that will state a government needs protection.

Those on the left of politics need to be wary. Its very easy to be swayed by "your" government that silencing dissenting comments on blogs is in the greater good, but what happens when the balance of power changes and a right-of-centre party is in power? Your right to independantly protest at injustices would be gone. Therefore I urge you especially to protect the right of free speech in blogs. If you are approached by anyone, or anyone close suggests that you promote such action, I ask you to tell them in no uncertain terms: NO!

We all need to stand firm and protect the blogosphere, all the voices within it need I would say have to be heard, it is our right to hold the government of the day (of whatever political spectrum) to account.