A Warning about the Snoopers Charter

Forget her passage on the Desert Island Disks, Theresa May had made the headlines lately.

As Home Secretary, Mrs. May have proposed that police and security services will get new powers as the UK faces a terror threat « perhaps greater than it has ever been ».

She also says in a that the  »UK is engaged in a struggle that will go on for many years ».

A panoply of measures was then put on the table from  »counter-radicalization measures » to  »forcing firms to hand details to police identifying who was using a computer or mobile phone at a given time. »

There is no doubt that everyone wants to live in a safe society. But as Benjamin Franklin said centuries ago: Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

This is exactly the main problem with these measures, their powers are so immense and the wording is so imprecise that they are easily be overused for purposes other than  »terrorism ». In the US, the NSA  »snooping » case was important in this regard, because it leaded to assumptions that these agencies are beyond the law. It’s very difficult to even know anything about their budgets and operations because it’s classified.

The  »permanent » aspect of these measures also makes it make look like something straight out of a George Orwell book.

It’s not the realm of conspiracy theorists to think that these powers will be sooner or later abused because those working in intelligence are human after all. It could be tempting for only one person to use this data to make damage to a person or an organisation they don’t like. Even if you have  »nothing to hide », this organisation or person could perhaps be you.

Any conservative, liberal or libertarian in Britain, should be wary of these measures, and especially considering that very few people in the mainstream political parties are against those measures.

To see someone like Ed Miliband who is keen on criticizing almost everything the coalition government does having lukewarm opposition to these measures, make it even more chilling.

Why banning extremist literature will only make extremism worse. #ukpoli

Recently, the Home Secretary Theresa May had mentioned that she wanted to make extremist literature illegal. Her goal was even more bizarre, to supposedly combat extremism.

This law is dangerous for many reasons. First of all, what is extremist speech? How do we define it? Who defines it? These are all questions which are too important to be left than to anyone than the reader. The definition of extremism based on one person is not the same as another person. It varies in function of who we are, what we believe in, how we life. One thing is sure, it’s not up to someone at the Home Office to determine what is extremism is in a free society but the reader themselves in their own quest for truth.

What is seen as extremist today could be well be seen as mainstream in a few decades. The best example of this phenomenon in the past is homosexuality or eroticism, which was censored only a few decades ago in Britain. Or being critical of organised religion or the Royal family, as this was seen as a taboo not so long ago in British history. These topics are hardly radical today, but they were seen as very radical (or extremist) not so long ago.

The other problem with banning extremist speech is that the best tool to combat extremism is to know which are people having those views believe in. To know the enemy as the old saying says. A good example is Adolf Hitler’s book called Mein Kampf that he wrote while in prison. As much as this book is xenophobic and anti-Semitic (and banned in Germany for many years), it’s important for anyone to read this book in order to understand this era of human history and the motivations behind the horrors of the Third Reich regime and how someone like Adolf Hitler was able to get so rapidly in power because in part of his own propaganda. The same could be said about any extremist literature. Banning this kind of literature would remove the possibility for people to be able to fight these arguments of extremist people.

Furthermore, like everything which is illegal (like drugs), banning some kinds of texts on the grounds of extremism will create a black market like this was the case in the former Soviet Union with texts which were considered as bourgeois or reactionary. A black market also means that it will associated with shady elements, which is hardly an improvement from today while requiring more and more policing.

But the strangest thing is that for people who are pushing from a smaller state like the British Conservatives, it seems very contradictory to put more policing powers into censorship, especially when this will result in a bigger, more intrusive state. There is no doubt that the case for a smaller state should do done with a respect in individual liberties in order to have a certain consistency. If this is not done, people are right to be skeptical of your intentions and your double standards.

Labour against the working classes, the booze edition

It was only a question of time since the Health Control Freak Lobby and working classes credentials will clash together in the Labour Party. A Labour Party which had become more and more the realm not of working people, but of lobbyists of all sorts.

The fact that Labour is going against the working classes is hardly a new thing. ASBO were invented in order to piss off the working classes.

But seriously, is drinking more than one pint a beer a day is really something this bad? If it makes you more relaxed, or if this is seen as a sort of social ritual, it could have more positives than negatives.

The real hypocrisy is that only politicians (and not real people) have access to subsidized booze. The average Joe must pay tax on booze.

This is the problem with some public health advocates, they think that humans are robots. Humans are imperfect beings, and even if drinking a ton of alcohol everyday is generally not good for your health, people must live a little…

Rochester Blues #ukpoli

First of all, I see British politics as an outsider.

An outsider with ears and eyes.

This is how I see the Thornberry case.

Emily Thornberry was fired from the shadow cabinet, not because of her misstep, but because that Labour has problems with voters that the party had taken for a long time for granted.

Firing Thornberry was an easy, quick way to deal with the problem for a couple of hours.

It was too little, too late for Labour. The way how Ed Miliband reacted to this crisis (I love people who drive White Vans) is a proof that he is clueless about everything.

I, as someone who is autistic, I indeed have some admiration for Ed Miliband, but I am little respect for him after what he had done to his brother.

As much as Tories are depressed right now, Labour is even more depressed. They are very low in the polls considering that the Lib Dems are right now in a coalition with the Tories.

Labour is in trouble in Scotland (where the SNP is eating the left-wing populist vote), in Wales (where their awful NHS management is an handicap to the whole party) and in many places in the North, this while being impossible to have good scores in southern regions.

Even in Outer London, UKIP is a treat. In places like Barking which is a Labour single-party state, UKIP had become the second party.

But the problem is even greater than that, in places like Rotherham and Doncaster, Labour are hardly the party with the new ideas, they are the old clientelistic party machine in place for decades and decades.

And yet, the reason why many Labour party insiders are hating UKIP is that UKIP raise in Labour strongholds is a proof that many Labour voters outside London are hardly liberals. They would rather vote for UKIP than vote for the Greens.

How banning Julien Blanc will only make him stronger

First of all, I must say that I am not a fan of Julien Blanc tactics.

They are degrading, sensationalist and frankly stupid. But he is not the only who use these tactics.

But I agree that for some men who have little confidence (and I know what this is), Blanc seems like a guy who have succeeded. Some kind of magic guru.

The British government is wrong to ban him from the UK mainly because it will put him in a stronger position.

He could use the fact that he was  »banned in the UK » to make it richer and more popular because people are attracted to the  »forbidden » fruit because they think it has special powers.

This is sadly the case with a given situation when people want to ban specific things, they don’t realize the consequences of a ban of a given thing or person, and how it could lead to more problems or unintended consequences.

Did Canada UKIPed before the UK? #UKIP #RochesterandStood

UKIP had finally won their first by-election in Clacton. Bob Spink was the first sitting UKIP MP, but Douglas Carswell was the first MP elected in the UK banner. On the same day, UKIP was also close in the old Labour stronghold of Heywood and Middleton where a few hundreds vote would have  »sealed » the deal for UKIP in beating Labour in this shock result. Mark Reckless had also won his seat in Kent for UKIP after defeating from the Conservatives to UKIP.

In the land of British Politics, we are entering a Terra incognita. Like when Columbus went into the open sea in 1492, nobody know how this support will translate itself in term of seats in the next general election in May 2015.

But however, those similar events are awfully similar to what had happened in Canada during the 1990’s.

In the 1980’s, the Progressive Conservatives in Canada under Brian Mulroney had a transformation like the Conservative Party since David Cameron became leader of the party in 2005. The party ditched some hard line policies (such as reinstating the death penalty) and became supportive of higher immigration quotas and the Liberals multicultural policy. It also was very keen on building in base among French Canadians who traditionally voted Liberal – just like Scotland voted Labour for decades, and this strategy paid out very well in 1984 and 1988.

The Mulroney government also had some very unpopular policies, especially in their second mandate, like the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax, along with two failed initiatives for constitutional reform.

Then came the Reform Party of Canada, which was broadly like UKIP in term of policies and even in term of political timespace. Even if the party was founded in 1987 and was in the wilderness for a few years having a lacklustre performance in the 1988 general election, it became close to the official opposition in the 1993 general election a few years after winning a by-election in March 1989. In fact, on paper, this 1993 election had changed so many things that the official opposition was the Bloc Québécois with the Tories reduced to only two seats. This is exactly like if the SNP was the official opposition in the British House of Commons.

The Reform Party was a populist party and it was initially very reluctant to be associated with conservatism. It was based originally in Western Canada but it had sizable support almost everywhere in the country except in Quebec and the Eastern Atlantic provinces.

Like UKIP, the Canadian Reform Party attracted many people not usually into politics in the sense that it was an house for those sick of  »old » parties. It was critical of state multiculturalism and was for lower immigration quotas.

The Reform Party of Canada was able to do much better with working class Canadians than the Progressive Conservatives, and especially in Western Canada, the party had found a niche among new Canadians. Some MP of the party were of South Asian or East Asian origin. The first federal MP of Muslim faith in Canada was elected in 1997 from the Reform Party.

But what is interesting is that even if the Reform Party was founded by some ex-Tories, the party did very well in constituencies which were traditionally voting for socialist parties – especially outside of metropolitan areas, exactly like UKIP is doing right now in some Labour seats in Northern England. In many ways, they were seeing the mainstream left as equal to the aspirations of people of metropolitan areas as opposed to their aspirations, just like the British Labour Party is seen right now.

So how this division went out between the Canadian right? Well, for a decade in Canadian politics, there was a massive civil war among two parties who were considered on the right of the centrist Liberals. The Liberals won by default, even if they took some Reform Party policies when they reduced the size of the federal government during the mid-1990’s.

The first past the post electoral system also made it possible in some regions that a party wins 98% of seats with only half of the popular vote, as the right was divided between two parties of equal footing in term of popular vote. In a region like Ontario which had about 100 seats at the time, the Liberals won almost every seat in this province.

This civil war ended in 2003, when the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance (the Reform Party new brand) merged together. Stephen Harper, who was a former Reform Party MP, became leader of this party.

Three years after, the Conservatives were in power in a minority government, and there are still in power in 2014. Unity – rather than division, seems to have been the key for electoral success when it counts.

It’s understandable that British and Canadian politics have some differences, but there are too many similarities to consider this historical case something more meaningful than a simple anecdote.

Indeed, perhaps the most important rule to remember, is that under a FPTP system (unlike AV or STV) not having a efficient voting base in marginal constituencies could hurt you a lot and let your opponent win by default – all this with a paltry overall popular vote.

But there is no doubt, that next May, Britain could wake up a Friday morning of May by having the same situation as in the February 1974 general election. The swigometer could go in any way all this with very unpredictable swings all over the UK with regionalism in full swing – exactly like in Canadian politics.

White van in Rochester

Rochester

Seems that the Labour MP for Islington South had tweeted this.

One Nation Labour, eh, when an average housing block in the street in Kent is seen as something exotic. A sort of anthropological zoo where kale is far, far, away and where people read the Daily Mail more than the Guardian. And the people in this house had done the crime of displaying a St. George flag? Quelle horreur. Will this be a crime when Labour will be back in power?

This is why Labour is done with the working classes. As with François Hollande, they see working class people as toothless, as hicks, as hillbillies, as inferior people who are good to bring votes to the party.

And then they wonder why a party like UKIP is doing so well in places like Rochester…