Monday, February 28, 2005


"Liberty is something that you have to guard and we could be in danger of losing it." Barbara Follett

Independent "Barbara Follett has joined a growing Labour backbench rebellion against the Bill to allow house arrest for suspected terrorists, saying supporting it would "dishonour" Steve Biko and her murdered first husband, both civil rights activists in South Africa.
Mrs Follett abstained when 32 Labour MPs voted against the Government on the Bill last week but says she would now vote against it. Other MPs who abstained are also threatening to vote against the Bill if Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, fails to satisfy them with concessions today...In a sideswipe at two ministers backing the Bill, Mrs Follett told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend: "Patricia Hewitt [the Secretary of State for Trade] and Harriet Harman [the Solicitor General] were bugged by MI5 in the 1980s. If we had had this law, who knows what would have happened? Liberty is something that you have to guard and we could be in danger of losing it."

Sunday, February 27, 2005


Today Amnesty has 1.8 million members and supporters.

The Sunday Times "Peter Benenson, the British lawyer who founded Amnesty International, the human rights campaign group, has died aged 83.
The son of an army colonel, Benenson set the group up in 1961 after he read about the arrest and imprisonment of two students in a Lisbon cafe who drank a toast to liberty when Portugal was still run by a military dictatorship.
He was so enraged that he walked out of a Tube station and into the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square to light a candle and see what could be done to mobilise world opinion. .."

driven by electoral expediency and political cynicism

Michael Portillo's comment Even Labour MPs are afraid of the new authoritarians
in the Sunday Times sums up very well the current bewilderment over the government's authoritarian stance. "Famously, George Orwell’s Animal Farm ends with the animals peering through a window at the ruling class of pigs, the creatures who led the revolution that overthrew the oppressive rule by human beings. But by now the pigs have adopted all the excesses of the old regime and as the bewildered animals look from man to pig and pig to man, they can no longer distinguish between them.

A similar puzzlement gripped Labour’s back benches last week. Brian Sedgemore lamented that “the unthinkable, the unimaginable” is happening here and talked of “new Labour’s descent into hell”. Barbara Follett spoke of her first husband’s five-year detention in South Africa under house arrest before he was shot dead in front of their young daughters. “I tried to comfort them,” she said, “by telling them that we were going to Britain, where people were not detained without trial or put under house arrest.”

Follett failed to move ministers. Hain, that other anti-apartheid veteran, has set aside his own formative experiences. The powers sought by the government depart from all peacetime precedents, and the behaviour of ministers is at odds with everything that they have stood for during their long political careers. Neither political nor personal principle offers us any safeguard.

Ministers ask us to entrust our liberty to them. But they appear driven by electoral expediency and political cynicism. Those are grounds not for trust but for fear.
" Read in full

Saturday, February 26, 2005


cartoon from International Herald Tribune

Friday, February 25, 2005


February 25 2005 ~ 'The level of threat is what I say it is. You'll have to trust me on that.'

Thursday, February 24, 2005



Mikhail Gorbachev said, "The most puzzling development in politics during the last decade is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in Western Europe"

"The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws." --
Tacitus (A.D. c.56-c.115)

Transcript: John Humphrys and Tony Blair. Sept 29 2004 Extract:

" ..Look. - in the end with this thing, I totally understand why people have a very strong view on it and, you know, you're entitled to have a view and everyone is entitled to have a view. Just understand why I took this decision. I took the decision - I, you know, as I said yesterday - I'm as fallible as anybody else, I may be wrong in it, but I don't believe I'm wrong..."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


24 February 2005 ~ At the nub of the debate is the question of just how grave [the terrorist] threat is.

Feb 23 2005 ~ Labour backbencher Bob Marshall-Andrews has declared the Prevention of Terrorism Bill " the greatest attack on the nation's liberty in three centuries."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Democracy Watch UK

February 2005 ~A spokesman for Amnesty International has said: "Just as the internet is a tool for freedom, so it is being used as an excuse for repression"

February 2005 ~ Conspiring in torture, betraying our freedom. Charles Clarke is a disaster

February 2005 ~ How even the Chief Scientific Adviser was gagged by Number 10

February 2005 ~Sir Alistair Graham: 'Tony Blair and the Government are open to the charge they want to control everything'

6/7 February 2005 ~ “What is he really saying? Provided somebody raises the words ‘national security’ you can do anything to anyone? But is that not exactly the same that any right wing dictatorship has ever said?"

6 February 2005 ~ Sir Humphrey's top tips

4 February 2005 ~

ID cards 'could fall foul of human rights law'

2 February 2005 ~ Government attacked for 'hypocritical' attitude to Freedom of Information Act

30 January 2005 ~ "the most audacious ministerial power grab ever tried in peacetime. .."

30 January 2005 ~ "..By its over- reliance on spin, its corruption of the civil service and its mendacious presentation of evidence for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the government has lost its reputation for honesty.

28 January 2005 ~ "The Home Secretary's plan to intern British citizens without trial stinks. He must know it. His colleagues must know it.

27 January 2005 ~
Lord Hoffmann suggested that the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act itself was a bigger threat to the nation than terrorism.

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