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Friday, February 20, 2009

The attack on our civil liberties

This morning's Independent provides an easy guide to the extent that civil liberties have been compromised in this country. They say that a new audit of laws introduced since Labour won the 1997 General Election reveals that almost 60 new powers contained in more than 25 Acts of Parliament have whittled away at freedoms and broken pledges set out in the Human Rights Act and Magna Carta:

The dossier, compiled by the Convention on Modern Liberty, criticises police powers to detain terror suspects for 28 days without charge, new stop-and-search powers handed to police (allowing them to stop people without reason at airports and other designated areas), and restrictions on the right of peaceful protest.

It is the first time such a picture of the erosion of rights under Labour has been published. The rise in surveillance in Britain is also documented, including new laws allowing individuals to be electronically tagged, and the legal interception of letters, emails and phone calls.

Control orders, designed to confine terrorist suspects who have not been found guilty, are also cited. The orders, created under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in 2005, can include the power of house arrest and electronic tagging.

"The right to privacy has been eroded, perhaps permanently, by broad powers to intercept, collect, store and share our private information," the dossier states.

The Coroners and Justice Bill, currently going through Parliament, is accused of seeking to hand the state the power to prevent embarrassing revelations of Government failure becoming public. Coroners are currently able to criticise the Government and any of its agencies that cause a death. But the Bill would hand the state new powers to suspend inquests, or force them into secret. It would also allow Government agencies to share personal data.

In many cases these measures are unnecessary and ineffective. They are concerned more with extending the power of the state than advancing the safety of individual citizens.


One other local development is the fact that South Wales Police are now introducing into Cardiff "drug testing on arrest"

I take opiates at some point during most weeks, not recreationally, but for pain relief in the form of dihyrocodine, prescribed to me by my GP, will I be arrested and tested if I take photos in Cardiff when there are coppers around?

In addition, Ritalin is prescribed to children with ADHD - this is likely to give a positive test for Amphetamine. So stigmatising with a criminal record young people with behavourial problems
The answer is yes you will be deemed to be taking an opioid and you could be charged for being under the influence of a drug.

But also worse of course has been the DWP using a form of lie detector when people phone up to state they need benefits, Labour see all of us as being frauds unless proved not according to ATOS.

Labour have always been control freaks since Blair took power the small minded git thinks we are all like him we are all after money be that through fraud, or telling a pack of lies to go to war.
Its a lot deeper rooted than Blair in the Labour party. It goes right back to the 1920's. It is an inherent trait in the Labour party to control peoples lives whether that is through the "old" Clause IV or through the current guise. The truth is, that they simply don't trust the people to make decisions that affect their own lives. I can't believe that, we, the Great British public have tolerated it for as long as we have. Perhaps it was simply a perceived lack of a credible alternative. Who knows?

Well now there is an alternative - Its called THE THIRD WAY and its evident in the current Liberal Democrat Party led nationally by Nick Clegg and in Wales by Kirsty Williams.

It is now our task to take our message to the people. A message that there is another way. It doesn't have to always be this way - Labour/Tory/Labour/Tory/Labour/Tory.

There are others out there fighting for freedom of the individual, liberty and justice for all and, above all, restoring faith and trust in the democratic political process. That is the message we will be taking to the electorate of Neath Port Talbot at the next election - Whenever it comes.

- Richie Northcote
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