Sunday, 30 November 2008

Jackboot Jacqui Has No Scanners

Having made all those foreign Johnnies get ID cards, Jackboot Jacqui has failed to supply her troops with the necessary scanners to check them.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

A Private Fiefdom In The EU Superstate

EU Referendum's take on the Damian Green affair, taking a swipe at Clegg:
As one would expect, however, the elephant in the room is not mentioned by Mr Clegg. There is not so much a hint of the existence of the EU – which he entirely supports – and its dire effect on the nature of our parliamentary democracy. The deception is thus complete with all the woes put down to "Labour" which is incorporated into the heading of his piece, telling us: "Damian Green arrest shows how Labour is destroying our political system."

The Elephant That Is Never Mentioned: true. But, though it is day by day being reduced to nothing more than a shattered nation of regions, much like the collection of tribal principalities that the Romans turned Britain into, what still remains with its own remnant of government becomes the private fiefdom of whichever leader has control over it. That leader and his coterie may no longer have powers of national self-determination but they (and anyone else in a position of power) can sure as hell make life even more difficult for their citizens if they so wish.

Citizens' Lists: Let's Put THEM on OUR Databases

Why Damian Green's daughter will now appear on a police database (c/o ARCH). Yes, another database.

Raedwald draws up a list of heads to roll. It's a damn short list but we've got to start somewhere.

I know the Tories will be no angels in office (I experienced the Occupation under Thatcher) but I can only hope they will be nothing as bad as Labour.

Hence, I think we should start drawing up Citizens' Lists - lists of those Labour MPs, civil servants, police commissioners, media cronies, etc, who are most guilty of crimes against the citizenry and our democracy, and make them public. Hell, we could even set up a database or two - or lots of them!

Contained in each entry would be details of their crimes and misdemeanours, eg voting strongly for such things as ID cards, the Iraq War, etc, and against a transparent parliament, etc. Luckily, this kind of information is still freely available on sites such as TheyWorkForYou.

I'm sure there are ways round/complying with the Data Protection Act on this one: even if it means handwriting the damn things.

They might not like it up 'em.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Home Secretary Sort Of Denies Knowledge Of MP's Arrest

I was amused to hear Jacqui Smith's weasel words to the press concerning the arrest of Tory MP Damian Green: she said that the 'police have been clear on the level of ministerial involvement - that is, none'.

We can all play semantics: knowledge does not necessarily mean involvement. You can be fully complicit in something without playing an active part. Wouldn't it have been just a bit more honest to have said 'I had no part in it and I didn't know it was going to happen?' Is that too difficult to say? Or would it have been too far from the truth?

As for the Spawn of the Manse himself, he'll probably say Green was abducted by aliens then sit there giggling to himself.

It comes to something when I end up agreeing with the Daily Mail (again).

About time we started organising, citizens.

The Line Has Been Crossed

Gordon Brown and Jacqui Smith are both reported to have had no knowledge that Tory shadow immigration minister Damian Green was going to be arrested by the Metropolitan Police regarding 'leaks'.

Do I believe that? No. Does anyone?

It will be interesting to see if either of those two clowns denies that knowledge in public.

As far as I'm concerned, however, Gordon Brown and his cronies have crossed the line. We are indeed at war with our own government.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

The Gradual Abolition of Britain

The EU are keen to banish fears that its regional policy will lead to the bypassing of national governments and the establishment of a 'Europe of Regions'. The truth, of course, is rather different.

The regional layer of government is already in place (Prescott's tentative foray into democracy on the matter a few years ago resulted in a resounding no - which was completely ignored). Regions are able to apply directly to the EU for funding which isn't supplied by central government. Our money goes to Brussels, collected nationally through VAT and other mechanisms; then the regions cadge some of it back.

In addition to the dividing of England into eight regions, there is also another administrative imposition, under the INTER-REG programme that 'helps Europe’s regions form partnerships to work together on common projects'. It was this that the Daily Mail was railing against earlier in the year.

Brussels' claims that all this is scaremongering is typical mendacity from the unelected anti-democrats who legislated on wonky fruit, denied that they had done so, then when confronted with the truth suddenly said they had relaxed those regulations.

Such is the mendacity of our own spineless politicians, however, that they continue to carry out the behest of the EU without making any mention of their political masters. Take a look at the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill 2007: top of the first page: 'Change from two tiers to one tier of local government'. Bye bye county councils and counties; bye bye District Councils, etc. Hello to big amorphous, distant blocs.

Meanwhile Brown and his cretinous crew have been going on about 'Britishness' and British values (all the while avoiding talk about England, which will end up without a national government of its own, unlike Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) - presumably in a vain attempt to make people feel better when they realise what's actually happened.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Spawn of the Manse and his Secret Public Meeting

Looking for a Voice highlights a forthcoming secret public meeting by The Spawn of the Manse himself in Leeds. Can't have the great unwashed turning up without invites, can we?

Mark Perryman in Comment is Free clearly spells out the truth about New Labour. As we know, New Labour is New Tory run by Stalinists. The big problem is that we are now governed by a political class divided into parties between which there are no real ideological differences. We have reached the stage where the only choice (apart from dropping out, emigrating or turning violent) is to choose the group you think are not as bad as the others. That's not very good democracy.

Guido shows the pre-budget document proposing that the government whack VAT up to 18.5% in 201-12. Will they, won't they? Apparently they have said it was just an idea, and they won't be doing it. Who'd believe this bunch of scheissers?

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Spawn Of The Manse And Sockpuppet Monstered By Tory Toff

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne monstered the Spawn of the Manse and his sad sockpuppet in the pre-budget debate yesterday. Some people think otherwise, but they obviously didn't watch this.

We have entered a period of economic and social crisis likely to be greater than any of us have yet experienced and we are confronted with the main architect of this catastrophe sniggering like a schoolboy who thinks he's got away with it and may even get to keep his job as Head Boy. Mind you, his second-in-command looks a bit worried.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

10,000 Tasers Can't Be Wrong

Jacqui Smith, Home Idiot, has agreed to arming 10,000 coppers with tasers, to fight knife-wielding hoodies, berserkers, hecklers and presumably people who tell her to shove her ID cards up her non-solar fundament.
She believes they are essential to protect the safety of frontline officers and will reduce deaths caused by police shooting suspects with real guns.

I don't want to sound ungrateful, but if I'm in a dangerous situation I'm more concerned about my own health and safety rather than that of 'frontline officers'. And anyway, officers turning up to a scene involving firearms will be toting shooters rather than tasers.

The description of the effect of being shot with a taser makes it sound remarkably reasonable, if inconvenient.
The Taser fires two copper bharbs that send out an electrical shock. It is designed to incapacitate temporarily rather than injure.

The latest version is the X26 which can be effective from 26 feet. It fires a pair of barbs on copper wires that embed themselves in the suspect's clothing and send out an electrical current of 50,00 volts.

The shock can cause temporary loss of muscle control, making the target fall to the ground or freeze on the spot.

The truth is that it is extremely painful and occasionally fatal. Just key in 'taser' on YouTube and see what it's like.

I bet you it's fun using one, though.

Spawn Of The Manse Proffers Pre-Election Bribes

Darling & Brown - sound like a couple of provincial solicitors (apologies to any provincial solicitors) - have prepared a pre-election package to get the voters onside.

Measures include reducing VAT to 15% for a year or two. No wonder they needed Baron Mandy back - VAT is an EU tax and it seems no one can reduce their rate to below the 15% threshold without going into the Headmaster's study and begging for permission.

Presumably this is Baron Mandy's influence - a bit like him suddenly discovering a 'loophole' through the EU regulations which are buggering up the Post Office.

The Times article also reveals an interesting little nugget:
Darling will emphasise new efficiency savings he intends to achieve in Whitehall budgets, worth at least £5 billion a year from 2010 onwards.

Officials are drawing up plans for a sale of government assets including the Met Office, the Ordnance Survey and thousands of acres of Forestry Commission land.

Presumably these savings won't come from scrapping the expensive and abominable databases and ID card system, or the hundreds of totally pointless quangos - unlike useful ones such as Ordnance Survey? Or sacking the scads of poisonous private advisers and consultants the government use?

No, thought not.

Mind you, that's from 2010 - these bastards may not be in power then, so it's not much bloody use now. If they are, it'll be academic, because we'll all be fucked. Taxes will be reimposed, we'll be locked down in their catastrophic ID system and we'll be fined out of existence.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Free Our Bills - Must Do Better

The Wardman Wire has a post about MySociety's campaign for easier access to forthcoming legislation. A good idea but it doesn't go far enough.

Apart from the fact that I believe there should be a limit on the amount of legislation parliament can pass in a single year (that would mean quitting the EU, of course, since most legislation comes down from them) I think all major news and tv channel should be compelled to issue a summary of the major points of every piece of legislation being proposed. On the news, that is, at six o-clock, and in everything from the Times to the Sunday Sport (or whatever).

Until government is compelled to makes its actions known directly through the media that the general public use regularly we cannot rely on it to be truthful with us. Putting stuff up on government websites is easy - it's just that your average citizen is not going to look there.

And it will make the media do something bloody useful instead of cosying up to politicians all the time.

More Protest, Please

More of this, please, citizens, before it becomes illegal (or too expensive) to voice disapproval of your government.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Mainstream Media Wake Up To Big Brother Brown And His Mad Bitch Sister Smith

At last the mainstream media seem to be waking up to the nightmare of ID cards and the accompanying databases - Daily Mail. If the tabloids keep at it we yet may be saved.

Over on Comment is Free at the Guardian, good old Henry Porter thinks there may be a ray or two of hope.

The Spawn of the Manse is keeping himself publicly clear of all of this ID stuff, you'll notice, since he has to concentrate on saving the world and getting himself re-elected. He won't want to be implicated when the whole thing goes down the tubes.

Just A Local Gripe (Or Two)

A short while back I posted a piece about the hassle with NHS dental services, particularly in Lincolnshire, and the problems we'd had with the practice we'd been using for nearly ten years. Well, now we know why they've been constantly cancelling and rearranging appointments - they're going private.

I've no experience of Dentcare1 Smile but I have to say I don't find their publicity material reassuring - too much emphasis on cosmetic dentistry as opposed to health. Anyway, we've managed to get ourselves on the books at another NHS dentist. We'll just have to see how long that lasts.

AND ANOTHER THING...the Health Trust in charge of Lincolnshire recently decided to move the Microbiology Lab from Lincoln County Hospital up to Scunthorpe. Another clever move by people paid too much to abandon common sense for the sake of saving cash. Blood tests at our local surgeries can now only take place in the mornings - otherwise it's too late to be transported up to Scunthorpe that day.

Dodgy Database Delays

Just to reiterate the point about ContactPoint, which was mentioned a couple of months ago in the MSM but seems to have been totally forgotten during the Child P media frenzy. Delayed till next year.

The Communications Data Bill (ie we're going to log all your phone and internet activity bill) may be delayed till after the next election. No mention (again) that this is the implementation of an EU directive.

Hat tip to An Englishman's Castle for flagging up the Identity and Passport Service's risible propaganda for ID cards.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Being Sensible For a Moment...More Sex, Whores and Swearing

I am so old I remember this. It would be odd if they get in this time, with even more on the unemployment register than then. Mind you, Thatcher doubled the number within 18 months of gaining office and nobody gave a damn. This time, however, Labour really MUST NOT be allowed to get in.

Something I didn't know about the exploitation of our libraries by OCLC over at Liberal Conspiracy.

Caught a few minutes of the odiously stupid Mrs Smith yesterday maundering on about prostitutes and the white slave trade. What interested me was the prevarication about openly saying there would be a 'blame and shame' approach (the other word for that being 'witch-hunt') by the media. She said it would be 'easier' for the press to get the details of men caught consorting with prostitutes. Sounds like a load of arse trumpeting to me. Besides which, has she or any of her addlebrained advisers ever thought about the effects of posting the details of a client in the press - on family, children, relatives, friends, colleagues? People who are not involved? Does anyone in government have a brain that is in a further stage of evolution than that of an amoeba? No, of course not.

The BNP membership list - couldn't give a fuck. I had the unpleasant experience of coming across members of the BNP and the now defunct National Front 30 years ago in Leeds, when both were quite happy to flaunt their Naziness. Anyone who thinks they're now a party of reasonable principles is a fuckwit.

John Sergeant walking off Strictly Come Dancing? - couldn't give a fuck.

The Devil's Whore: first episode last night. What's going on there, then? I just want a good old historico-political dramatisation of the English Civil War(s) with plenty of Levellers, Diggers and Oliver and his New Model Army sticking it to the Royalists and demanding liberty. And all I get is some not very graphic rumpy-pumpy and the occasional appearance of a long-tongued devil bunged in with a bit of speeded-up history and a leery John Simm talking in incomprehensible mock 17th century English. I bet they don't give John Milton a walk-on part, either, despite all that pamphlet-waving.

Just realised there's a lot of reference to whores in this post. We know the real ones are to be found in Westminster.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Lying Flip-Flop Spawn Of The Manse ID Card Bastard

Just checking to uncover where the idea of introducing ID cards in the UK came from (ie who are the guilty swine) I find Andrew Sparrow in the Guardian, who seems to reckon Michael Howard first mooted the idea, to be followed by Jack Straw when Labour got into government. This was then taken up with great gusto by the Sheffield Knobhead himself, David Blunkett.

Back in the scuzz-ridden years of the last Tory administration I firmly believed that Michael Howard was the worst Home Secretary in my lifetime. Then we got Jack Straw, who topped Howard. Then we got Blunkett. There seemed no end to the baseness to which each succeeding incumbent could sink. Now we've got Jacqui Smith.

Anyway, back to the bitching.

Later, it appears that Straw did a U-turn, deciding that ID cards were no longer a Good Thing, but a Bad Idea. Oddly enough, the Chancellor at the time, Gordon Brown, was in agreement.

Now he's the (unelected) Boss, Brown is very happy to flip a flop once more and push ahead with ID cards, even though there's no proper debate to speak of. And at the beginning of the year he was blathering about what a Good Thing they would be in an interview in the Guardian with Nicholas Watt.

An interview which ends with the following:
So would it be that British citizens and non-British citizens would need them?

Yes, but under our proposals there is no compulsion for existing British citizens.

No compulsion, eh? Except for workers in airports, etc. The Spawn of the Manse reveals himself to be a flip-flop lying bastard once again.

Pilots ID Bollocks Mad Bitch Card Strike Threat

British airline pilots threaten to strike over introduction of ID cards - if only.

What do you think they'll be bought off with?

Monday, 17 November 2008

Spawn Of The Manse Sprays Fan With Faeces

THEN: 4th September:
Britain is well placed to weather the "first financial crisis of the new global age" thanks to Labour's handling of the economy, Gordon Brown has said.

The prime minister mounted a defence of the government's record in a speech to business leaders in Liverpool.

He said the UK could avoid the worst of the crisis thanks to a flexible labour market and low interest rates. BBC.

NOW: 16 November:
Britain is the worst placed among the world's major economies to withstand the impact of a global slowdown – and the only one forecast to be in recession this year, according to the respected Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The OECD says that the sharp downturn in the British property market, and the increased importance of housing in the economy, has led it to slash its forecasts. The Independent.

(Reuters) - Britain will suffer its sharpest economic contraction in almost two decades next year and the number of people out of work could rise to nearly 3 million by 2010, the Confederation of British Industry said on Monday.

Brilliant. The Spawn of the Manse strikes again.

Mad Old Geezer Internet Mobility Danger Flu Bollocks

That about sums up the level of intelligence of someone like former Home Secretary John Reid, who has come out with this:
"Now you have a completely mobile world. So the great questions of mass migration, international crime and international terrorism were much higher than they were previously."

The result was "far more sources of insecurity than ever before", made worse by the advent of the internet which increased the interdependence of the world.

He said: "We have to recognise that on the net you can practically get the full DNA of the First World War flu that killed 24 million people."

Right. So now I can manufacture the flu virus that killed millions after the end of the Great War - because the information is available on the internet? Crikey, that's a worry.

Sounds like a good reason to let the government take it all over so we can't do anything wrong. That seems to be the reasoning.

Think of recent noises from government - Blears on blogging, Mandelson on Nominet - and the incoming EU legislation to log all our phone and internet activity - and do you get the feeling they're up to something?

Reid is leaving parliament at the next election. Good riddance to him. Pity all the other authoritarian, useless bastards don't follow him.

There's More Than One Way To Tax The Life Out Of You

Gordon Brown may be poncing around promising tax cuts to everyone while ramping up the national debt like a bankrupt cocaine addict scattering IOUs everywhere, but it isn't stopping him and his cronies scamming cash from us by using a multitude of underhand tactics.

This includes hiking up fines - The Magistrate's Blog reveals a disproportionate increase in motoring fines, for instance; and it's been revealed that increases in child protection case fees are putting children's lives at risk.

Motorists are prime targets for fines and penalties: how about being fined £20 for leaving your engine running while in a traffic jam?

Being caught stubbing out your fag end on the street could cost you £80. Fifty if you're caught smoking inside a public building.

Here's a short list of various offences from the Home Office. And the numerous jobsworths who can slap a fine on you.

As a parent, you can be fined £100 if your child plays truant.

Here's the government's own guide to fixed penalty fines for 'low-level environmental crimes'.

Not to mention being done for putting the wrong type of waste in your green bin - even though huge amounts of this recylable waste are now having to be stored in warehouses and military camps because the market has collapsed.

What with trying to regulate every aspect of people's lives, from childhood onward, and impose penalties and fines on us at any opportunity, this government is becoming more mediaeval by the day.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

No Sex Refunds Identity Bastards

Now the EU wants to stop us getting refunds on faulty goods - bastards.

Pudding-faced Labour harridan continues plans to make paid-for sex illegal - "Smith said it was 'not mine or the government's responsibility to ensure that the demand is satisfied'" - in which case, fuck off and leave people alone.

Still no mention by the PM, MPs or the media of Contactpoint, which seems to have been delayed slightly.

Papers, please - the slow encroachment of the identity police; from Leg-Iron via PJC via The Times.

(I notice the mainstream media are actually doing their job by reporting some of these).

Friday, 14 November 2008

The EU Elephant In Your Post Office

As already noted, the British media continue to ignore the EU element of the Post Office card account story. There's a good article over at EU Referendum that picks this up and examines it.

It appears that the government may have found a legal loophole to get round EU regulations compelling them to put the account out to tender. You may ask why they didn't do this in the first place.

It's an an important matter. It's just that it's not in the mainstream media. It's in the blogosphere. Take note, Hazel Blears, before you start mouthing off about the cynicism of bloggers and the professionalism of our regular journalists.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

No More Loons To Retire To The UK

You have to ask yourself what sort of lunatic living outside the EU would choose to retire in the UK. Apparently there are people who do this. Not many, naturally. About 20 a year according to the UK Border Agency.

Despite this small number, and the fact that the applicants have to have a pension worth £25K a year to live on, the government have decided to close the scheme.
According to the UK Border Agency, less than 20 applications were received each year under this category. The Agency also stated that the limited take-up of the program and the fact that these applicants could place future demands on public services had caused them to give the scheme the axe.

The people who put this together are such fuckwits they can't see the contradiction in that last sentence. Twenty people a year - that would really break the country's finances, wouldn't it?

Mind you, they're probably just doing what the EU has told them to do.

Straightening Those Cucumbers

I can't improve on the comment made on the Bruges Group Blog about the inanity of the EU 'wonky' fruit story. The EU, like our own government, is not averse to lying about itself without shame.

I also wonder what has been going on behind the scenes between ex-EU spivmeister Mandelson and his former EU parasites-in-arms to allow the government to delay the tendering process for the Post Office card account till 2015 (it being due for renewal in 2010 as a requirement under EU regulations). Not a mention of the EU in any of the news reports, of course.

So Baron Mandy is proving useful, after all.

Taken with the various moves made by different countries to cope with the banking crisis, we seem to be witnessing the EU quietly changing its own rules.

Labour Already Has The Answer To Child Abuse

In all the coverage of the dreadful 'Child P' case and the arguing in parliament, I have not yet heard a single mention of Labour's system to 'stop this ever happening again'. Otherwise known as Contactpoint, which is due to be in place by the end of 2008.

It strikes me as odd that Labour have not trumpeted this is as their big new answer, having spent years dreaming it up and spending vast amounts of money on it.

Conjured up after the Victoria Climbie case, it bears all the marks of New Labour: it's a technological response to human and system failure; it's also intrusive, authoritarian, unethical and open to misuse. And it will prove inefficient and expensive.

If anyone has heard mention of this in the media I would be grateful for information. They seem to be ignorant of its existence or unwilling to mention it - or confront the government with it.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Booze and Fags

The government plans ways to combat booze-mad Brits. The same government that introduced 24 hour licensing. MPs will still be able to get tanked up in their own subsidised bars in the House of Commons, of course.

And thanks to Old Holborn for this little vid of Paul Flynn (MP, Labour) and mate, enjoying a fag in the only bar left in which you can smoke - the Strangers Bar in the House of Commons. One law for them, another for us.

The Libertarian Party arranged for every MP to receive a copy of Orwell's 1984. The reactions of two Labour clones (Tom Harris and Kerry McCarthy) are reported in the blogosphere. Like them, Paul Flynn also seems confused. Perhaps it would have been a good idea to enclose an explanatory letter with each copy.

Citizen Scams

Citizen Brown backs off 'British Day' bollocks. No point going on about Britishness when we're all citizens of the EU (checked your passport in the last decade, Gordon? Notice how 'European Union' is printed above everything else?)

Citizen Straw plans to abolish justice for drivers by making it too expensive.

Citizen Brown hints at tax cuts to boost his ratings in the opinion polls. Sorry, as a means to ease the pain of recession.

Monday, 10 November 2008

We Have Enough Lampposts, Who's Got The Rope?

Labour are drawing up plans to persecute members another group of people - those who live in council accommodation. Apparently too many of them are either filthy rich or just not bothering to look for work. So they don't deserve to have security of housing.

You would have expected this kind of vicious policy from Thatcher, appealing to the basest instincts of people, stirring up pointless resentment to garner votes. But that's New Labour for you: Thatcherite through and through. Labour just can't leave anybody alone, can they? Except non-doms and their other wealthy friends, of course.

And it's just the kind of thing we need at the beginning of what will be a monster recession. When people are going to be losing their jobs and their homes. Smart thinking, you folks in Whitehall, with your porcine salaries, generous expenses, guaranteed pensions and free housing benefit.

News? What News?

This is getting depressing as well as frightening.

No doubt government officials will try to spin this away but you just know it's true:

Media could face reporting ban on security issues

As if the British media weren't already criminally negligent about reporting the destruction of our liberties.

Which is why I advise every young person and student I meet to leave the country as soon as they can. At the moment the only hope we have is that an incoming Tory government scraps the repressive legislation that the government has put in place or is planning - even if it's on cost grounds alone.

That's a pretty slim hope, given that all politicians are now cut from the same cloth and none of them cares to face up to the EU.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

If There Are No Real Terrorists Just Invent Some

In today's Observer: the threat of Eco-Terrorists.
Although green extremists have yet to embark on an orchestrated campaign of violence in the UK, officers warn that they may be about to launch a campaign of intimidation and fear aimed at disrupting businesses. 'For some people, if they can justify it in their minds, then it's a noble cause even if it's a criminal action. They haven't started yet, but we believe they will come up with a strategy and tactics,' said the source at the unit, who described the movement as well-funded and organised.

Yes, and although I haven't done it yet, I believe it is possible that Imay come up with a strategy to find out where you live and then launch a campaign in which I may just piss through your letterbox. After all, I am well-funded and organised, in that I have some cash, a car, an internet connection and the ability to read maps.

It's becoming a bit obvious that there really aren't any 'well-funded' and 'organised' Islamic terrorists available, so a new group has to be invented. It's a bit unfortunate the person who wrote the article doesn't seem aware of the scam, but that's the British media for you.

(Photo c/o the Observer)

Obama's In - Now What?

The Long Disappointment.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Fisking the Infiltrators

The Public Servant Daily carried this article recently. Below is my brief fisking. It's worth linking it to the recent speech that the Blears made to the Hansard Society on blogging, (and Mandelson's department making a grab for Nominet) since the government appears to have developed an agenda for the internet and is busy mounting a low-key PR offensive. Calling it an agenda makes it sound sophisticated, when it's actually very simple: they want control of the net. Hats off to PJC Journal for finding the article.

Government officials are being encouraged to access social networking websites in order to ensure any discussions on public services among citizens are balanced by an authoritative view from inside Whitehall.

In other words policing social networks to ensure the spread of government propaganda. Do these officials really believe that thousands of people use networking sites to talk about public services? And who asked them to come along to 'ensure' anything about our discussions? Why should they assume we need their 'authoritative' views on anything? Presumably we are too stupid to work things out for ourselves?
Press officers at various departments have already attended training programmes run by the Central Office of Information (COI). The success of the scheme means other civil servants will now be educated on how best to reconnect with the public through online forums.

Director of transformational strategy at the COI Alex Butler told Public Servant Daily that entering into blog conversations and engaging with third-party websites like NetMums, which has 250,000 subscribers, should be "part and parcel of professional life for staff".

"There should be continuing dialogue with the people being served – we are now embarking on a year of awareness raising across the public sector as we want to spread the message," said Butler.

Amazing how press officers need to be sent on training programmes to learn about social networking sites, while the rest of us manage to do it by ourselves without any training whatsoever. Press officers - isn't their job all to do with communications? Don't they use the internet in their private lives? Shouldn't they already know about this stuff?

'Continuing dialogue with the people being served' - nice of them to acknowledge they are our servants and not our bosses. Doesn't stop them from telling us what to do and what to say, however. As for 'reconnecting' with the public, I don't think civil servants have ever been connected in the first place. Most of us would be quite happy to live our lives without having to 'connect' with them at all. And there is no 'dialogue'. Anything to do with this government is one way: they speak, we listen.

And, for what it's worth, I don't accept that infiltrating forums and blogs to promote the government's agenda is an acceptable practice for civil servants to be engaging in. If the government wants to inform the public and engage in 'dialogue' then it should set up its own clearly identified sites.

Not to mention 'Director of transformational strategy' - doesn't that title make you want to laugh and throw up at the same time?
Statistics from the COI revealed that 73 per cent of people with online access had visited a blog website. HM Revenue & Customs is now considering devoting the time of some economic government advisers to answering questions on independent financial websites. Meanwhile, the seemingly private social networking website of a serviceman has proved to be one of the biggest boosts to the RAF's recruitment drive.

"We just supplied him with the raw hardware – a camera and a web platform; it is popular and low cost," explained Butler.

'Blog website', like 'blog conversations' - that's touching. They're trying so hard to sound as if they know what's going on. No wonder they need training. And what's this talk about a 'seemingly' private website of a serviceman? What serviceman? So they gave him the hardware and use the site to attract recruits? Is that it? So they're actually deceiving the public by pretending it's just him when in fact it's a government website? Isn't that simply dishonest?
"We have to enable self-help among the public, it's economically beneficial. The way we talk to citizens has been a one-way thing up to now. Social networking helps people make the most of public services. Just because it happens online does not mean government can ignore it. It can be a powerful tool."

On the popular university-focused website The Student Room, Butler said government workers had the opportunity "to influence students in their own environment, where they trust the advice of their own peers".

But she did make it clear that during any online interaction, Whitehall staff would need to make their identities known.

'We have to enable self-help among the public' - what the hell does this mean? Helping us to do precisely what for ourselves? And what's this got to do with being 'economically beneficial'?

Although, of course, I do know what this means. I'm being disingenuous. Technology for the government is magic fairy dust. It solves all problems. Services will be accessed and provided by the internet - it's the future! It's a powerful tool! It's transformational government!

'Social networking helps people make the most of public services,' Butler proclaims, without providing any evidence whatsoever. We've already entered a Looking-Glass world here. We've gone well past an honest attempt to provide help and information to citizens via the internet. We're seeing the state dismantling actual human contact between citizens and officials and replacing it with technology. And social manipulation is required to make it happen.

It's repellent that a civil servant can talk about influencing students 'where they trust the advice of their own peers'. What is this 'influencing' if it is not simply the presentation of information? Are civil servants pretending to be students in order to 'influence' young people? Was the person who penned this execrable nonsense aware of the disgraceful and sinister import of her words? But I suppose it'll be OK, because she says, almost as an afterthought, that officials will have to make themselves known. Yeah, right, in the words of my ten-year-old grandson. I can just see that happening.

Welcome to the post-bureaucratic age. Welcome to the emerging dehumanised society. Welcome to the brave new world of massive databases, lost or stolen information, endless waiting on the phone, one-way 'dialogues', persistent fobbing off by an ever-changing variety of officials, more form-filling, late payments, incorrectly rejected applications, state snoopers monitoring and infiltrating blogs, forums and websites, along with incompatible software, blocked websites and crashed systems.

I have seen the future promised by our government. It's shit.


Info on Alexandra Butler
Director of Transformational Strategy, Central Office of Information UK

Alexandra Butler: Director, Transformational Strategy, Central Office of Information UKAlex Butler joined the e-Government Unit as Strategy and Marketing Director for Directgov in January 2005.

Her background is mainly from the communications and technology sector as a brand marketeer, where she has worked for Cable & Wireless, General Motors and BT. Alex started her career as a graduate trainee at Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising and has been involved with a number of high profile marketing campaigns, notably the brand launch of Cable & Wireless Communications and, most recently, BT's broadband marketing scheme for Local Broadband Campaigners.

Alex has since moved to a wider transformational role on the board of COI. Alex is responsible for the UK Online Strategy.


Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Hermetically-Sealed Hazel

Hazel Blears, secretary for 'Communities', blames bloggers for the apathy over politics and the political system, in a speech to the Hansard Society:

"Perhaps because of the nature of the technology, there is a tendency for political blogs to have a 'Samizdat' style. The most popular blogs are rightwing, ranging from the considered Tory views of Iain Dale, to the vicious nihilism of Guido Fawkes. Perhaps this is simply anti-establishment. Blogs have only existed under a Labour government. Perhaps if there was a Tory government, all the leading blogs would be left-of-centre?

"But mostly, political blogs are written by people with disdain for the political system and politicians, who see their function as unearthing scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy.

"Until political blogging 'adds value' to our political culture, by allowing new voices, ideas and legitimate protest and challenge, and until the mainstream media reports politics in a calmer, more responsible manner, it will continue to fuel a culture of cynicism and despair."

Couldn't be anything to do with the fact that our MPs are supine invertebrates with no discernible talent who acquiesce to any authoritarian idiocy emanating from No 10 or Brussels? Or who disregard democracy itself by entering office unelected, eg Gordon Brown (unelected Prime Minister; Lord Mandelson, unelected cabinet minister, etc).

Astonishingly, however, Blears cottons on to something true:

She will also warn that the development of career politicans is making ordinary people feel excluded.

"Increasingly we have seen a 'transmission belt' from university activist, MP's researcher, thinktank staffer, special adviser, to MP, and ultimately frontbench. Now, there's nothing wrong with any of those jobs, but it is deeply unhealthy for our political class to be drawn from narrowing social base and range of experience."

Unfortunately, her own career is hardly off the transmssion belt: graduating in law, going into practice then entering local government. Hardly an unusal career path for a modern politician. Hardly outside the hermetically-sealed world of politics, is it, Hazel?

If Blears wants to know why people are cynical all she need do is look in the mirror.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Balls To The London Living Wage

Ed Balls, the notorious champagne Bevanite, and his wife, the dual-domiciled Yvette Cooper, have apparently attacked plans to increase the London Living Wage (ie the London minimum wage) because it would be inflationary. Can't overpay the oiks, can we?

(Photo courtesy of the Guardian)

We Don't Know No Latin Cos We Can't Read No English

This has been doing the rounds, but is still worth commenting on: Councils ban the use of Latin phrases. This is the answer:

Too simple, of course.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Yawn - The 277th Data Loss By The Government

Yet another lost data incident by our security-conscious custodians. It makes you wonder why any of us bother. The government may as well pay everyone to get internet access, set up a MySpace of Facebook page and put all of our details on that. It couldn't be any less secure than entrusting everything to the government.

On the other hand, the government could save itself a lot of embarrassment by making sure that its officials (and those working in contracted-out businesses) don't take their work home with them and leave all data IN THE OFFICE.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Mainstream Media Waking From Their Slumber?

The front page news on today's Mail concerns local authorities' use of 'anti-terror' legislation to spy on ratepayers' bins. Nothing new, but it's nice to see mainstream media may at last be waking up to what's been going on for a long time.

You might ask the question, why did the Daily Mail not talk about the RIP Act when it was going through parliament back in 2000? This appalling and undemocratic piece of legislation received almost no coverage in British newspapers and never (as far as I recall) got a mention on TV or radio when it was being 'discussed' in parliament.

Check Wikipedia for a precis of the legislation. Note that this went through before 9/11 and the July bombings. And before the EU imposed its own legislation on us making phone and internet surveillance automatic (see earlier post).

It would be a good idea to keep a running tally of who votes for what, just so we can see what our MPs get up to. And it would also be a good idea if the mainstream media got their act together and actually reported on what's going on

(Photo from the Daily Mail).