Tag Archives: communication

How needy is this? Liberal Democrat sends leaflet after leaflet of flapdoodle into our letterboxes

Truer words were never told: I don’t know the context of Lana Lane’s original post but it applies very well to constituents of Brecon and Radnorshire who might actually be considering placing their vote with the Liberal Democrat candidate – or indeed the Conservative, Brexit and UKIP candidates, for that matter.

I don’t know about you but I am sick to death of Jane Dodds, the Liberal Democrat candidate in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election.

We constituents are being bombarded by her. Leaflet after leaflet comes thudding through our doors.

Campaigner after campaigner has come tramping up to finger our doorbells.

Yesterday (July 13), no less than four different election communications landed on my doorstep.

Two were about Brexit. The first – a letter – said, “As your new MP, I’ll fight to stop Brexit. I’ll work hard every day to stand up for local jobs, our NHS and for the local community services we all depend on.”

How? How, exactly, is she going to do that?

She doesn’t say. She scares local farmers with a warning that the “no-deal” Brexit plans of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage will saddle them with 40 per cent tariffs on lamb exports – but doesn’t say a single word about how she would stop it, because she can’t. One MP won’t make any difference at all.

In fact, she wouldn’t have to do anything in any case. Current Parliamentary arithmetic makes a “no-deal” Brexit of this kind unlikely to win any support at all, and if any future prime minister tries it, it would probably break their government.

What does she mean by saying she’ll “stand up” for local jobs and community services? That doesn’t imply that she’ll actually do anything – and you’d be a fool to think that she will.

And of course the NHS is a devolved responsibility; the Welsh Assembly has responsibility for it, not Parliament, so Ms Dodds won’t have any influence over it at all.

The second – a leaflet intended to gather voter information (that’s what the coupon at the bottom is for) – is even more misleading. “This by-election is a unique and urgent opportunity to change the direction of our country,” it states.

How is Jane Dodds, a member of a minority party who has lost three elections in Montgomeryshire, going to manage that where so many hundreds of experienced Parliamentarians have failed? She won’t.

If she wins on the basis of this information, then I invite Liberal Democrat voters to come back after October 31 and demonstrate how she stopped Brexit.

The third election communication – another letter – is so full of flannel I thought she was trying to wash me. Or brainwash me, at least.

“I want to do more to tackle injustice, help people to get the best chance in life, and end years and years of being let down by Westminster politicians.” Flannel!

“Living here in Powys, just outside Welshpool, I understand all too well just how important it is that we have an MP who understands the unique challenges we all face.” Flannel – and falsehood. Welshpool isn’t in Brecon and Radnorshire and conditions there are different.

“I love living in Powys but that does not mean I don’t think it can be even better.” Flannel!

“At home and in Westminster, I will fight to fix our broken politics. I will fight to help protect our Welsh health services. And I will fight to stand up for Welsh farmers and businesses.” Flannel!

Worse still is the claim that she has been “overwhelmed by the number of Labour, Plaid and Green supporters who’ve told me that they will be backing me in this election”. I know that Plaid Cymru and the Green Party stood aside to allow Ms Dodds to be the single candidate who unequivocally supports the undemocratic position of cancelling Brexit without referring the decision back to the people of the UK – but Labour hasn’t. For the good of the whole of the UK, Labour won’t.

And while it is entirely likely that some habitual Labour voters have been hoodwinked by the usual Liberal Democrat flannel that a tactical vote for them is the only way to keep out the Tories or the other right-wingers, I think her claim that “many” have done so is stretching credibility to breaking-point.

Finally, the fourth election communication was another leaflet, containing her “positive plan” for Brecon and Radnorshire. Here are the bullet-points:

  • “Back our health services and improve social care” – this is a devolved responsibility that is nothing to do with Westminster MPs.
  • “Protect vital rural services” – an impossibility for a single MP in a party that is not in government.
  • “Oppose Conservative cuts” – a meaningless promise, especially from a member of the party that, in Coalition with the Conservatives, helped impose many of those cuts between 2010 and 2015. That’s the reason I used the image at the top of this piece, warning about people voting for the removal of free health care, free education, affordable housing and social security. As a Liberal Democrat, Ms Dodds belongs to a party that helped push us towards the dismantling of those vital services – and a vote for her now may well help finish the job.
  • “Fix our broken politics” – another meaningless promise, and she doesn’t even try to say what this means.
  • “Stand up for Welsh farmers and local businesses” – also meaningless, because she does not say what she will do.

The end result is a big pile of waste paper, covered in soundbites. Ms Dodds doesn’t even talk a good fight.

She just fills our homes with meaningless gibberish.

And how will she be if she wins? My bet is, we’ll never hear from her again – at least until the next election.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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‘Shock doctrine’ plan to sell Tory Brexit denied by Downing Street

Well, they would, wouldn’t they?

And, as the Cabinet meeting on November 6 has apparently produced no decisions at all – let alone about Brexit – it seems either the leaked communications plan that “everyone’s talking about” (according to Paul Waugh of the Huffington Post) really is the nonsense Downing Street claims… or someone has been forced to make major changes very quickly.

It outlines a “shock doctrine” campaign to push an as-yet-unannounced Brexit deal on MPs and the British public, demanding that we believe there is no alternative, that the Tories have reached “a moment of decisive progress”, that Theresa May has “delivered the referendum”, the deal “brings the country back together”, and “now is the time… to unite behind it for the good of all our futures”.

Keep a careful eye on future Brexit-related government announcements; if they contain any of these phrases, we’ll know the leak was accurate.

Of particular interest should be the alleged plan for November 20 when, according to the leak, the Cabinet Office publishes an explanation of the deal and what it means for the public. The document says this would compare it with No Deal, “but not to our current deal”. Why not? Perhaps because it won’t do all the things listed in bold, above?

The leaked document is reproduced in full, below. Keep it handy, to check against what the Tories do over the next few weeks.

From what I’ve seen today, the scenario doesn’t seem possible:

Without that, there won’t be a Brexit deal.

Keep your eyes and ears open – and don’t let any of the following nonsense pass unchallenged.

Brexit Communications Grid Summary

Cabinet reviews the deal this Tuesday, the 6th November. They expect all the details to then leak.

“A moment of decisive progress” will be announced this Thursday. Raab to announce.

The narrative is going to be measured success, that this is good for everyone, but won’t be all champagne corks popping.

Then there’s recess until 12th.

After the announcement of decisive progress there follows the 10 days of Sherpa meetings with EU 27 and then daily themed announcements.

19th November – “We have delivered on the referendum” PM speaks at the CBI conference.

Saying this deal brings the country back together, now is the time for us all to unite behind it for the good of all our futures etc. She will also hold a business reception.

This is the day both the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework will be put to Parliament by way of a statement from Raab who will also do media. Junior ministers are doing regional media all day. Government lining up 25 top business voices including Carolyn Fairburn and lots of world leaders eg Japanese PM to tweet support for the deal.

20th – Theme is Delivering for the Whole of the UK – PM to visit the north and or Scotland and the Commons will debate in business motions the date of the Meaningful Vote.

PM will be back in the house to vote. The Cabinet Office publishes its explainer of the deal and what it means for the public, comparing it to No Deal, but not to our current deal.

Other business leaders to come out and back it eg Adam Marshall from Chambers of Commerce and supportive voices in devolved regions like Andy Street and Andy Burnham. Also hoping to get 3rd Sector voices out supporting it.

21st – Theme is Economy, Jobs, Customs. Philip Hammond to open debate in Commons and Raab to close it. Institute of Directors to speak out.

Hoping for Stephen Martin, Martin McTeague etc

22nd – Theme is immigration – take back control of our borders. Home Sec doing media and visits. Raab on QT in the West mids.

Hope Mike Hawes of SMMT will speak out in favour along with influential voices from the rest of the world saying how great this is for the flow of global talent.

23rd – Theme is money – NHS funding and structural funds. Matt Hancock hospital visit. David Everett to welcome the deal alongside Tech for UK.

24th Theme is Northern Ireland and The Union – no hard border in the UK and the integrity of the Union is protected. PM visits border communities and business in NI and maybe also to Wales to visit agri and export businesses. Karen Bradley doing media.

Trying to get Varadker to support and Anand Menon and Henry Newman too.

25th – Theme is global Britain. We can strike trade deals with RoW (rest of world) security in this one too.

Speech from Liam Fox. Jeremy Hunt on Marr. Hope Miles Celic to come out in support (City UK).

Lining up lots of former foreign secs to come out in support and Mark Littlewood of the IEA.

26th – theme is taking back control of our laws, Raab doing media. PM interview with Dimbleby.

27th – morning theme is agri and fisheries. Gove doing a visit and media.

Evening is the vote. HISTORIC MOMENT, PUT YOUR OWN INTERESTS ASIDE, PUT THE COUNTRY’S INTERESTS FIRST AND BACK THIS DEAL.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Downing Street’s denial has attracted debate. Here are just a few comments:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1059890103915503616

What do you think?

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Here’s the best video on Jews, Arabs, Israel and Palestine for a long time. See for yourself

This is uplifting because it’s not about hate, but about understanding.

See for yourself – and don’t be fooled by the title:

We must always remember that there is a solution to the situation between Jews and Arabs in Israel, Palestine, or whatever you want to call that much-disputed land in the Middle East.

And it can be found, if people just put away their preconceptions, hang up their hate for a while, and try – I don’t know – talking for a while.

Maybe they could start by talking about the weather, as suggested in the video! It’d be a start.

Let’s see more communication like this, please – and less of the hate that we’ve had for so long.

I’d be especially keen to run a video along the same lines from a Jewish point of view – or from that of people who don’t belong to either ethnicity but live in the same area. How about it?


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Data retention debate: The lies they tell to steal your rights

Haggard: Theresa May looked distinctly ruffled as she responded to criticism of her government's undemocratic actions. Some of you may wish to abbreviate the first word in this caption to three letters.

Haggard: Theresa May looked distinctly ruffled as she responded to criticism of her government’s undemocratic actions. Some of you may wish to abbreviate the first word in this caption to three letters.

It is ironically appropriate that an Act of Parliament guaranteeing government the right to invade the private communications of every single citizen in the UK, ostensibly in the interests of justice, should be justified by a web of dishonesty.

This is what an indecisive British electorate gets: A government that can lose every major debate in the chamber – and look shambolic while doing so – and still win the vote because all its members have been whipped into place.

We all knew the government’s case for providing itself with a legal ability to snoop on your telephone and Internet communications was paper-thin, and by failing to produce any new justification, the government confirmed our suspicions.

Introducing the Data Retention and Investigatory Bill earlier today, Minister for Security and Immigration James Brokenshire said the three-month delay since the European Court of Justice judgement that allegedly necessitated the legislation was because the Coalition had “sought clarity” on it.

He went on to say that “There is a risk in relation to co-operation on the use of the powers; indeed, there may be legal challenge. The House must face up to the prospect that the powers we use—they are constantly used by our law enforcement agencies—are at potential risk, and we are seeking to address that risk.”

Michael Meacher suggested a more persuasive reason for the three-month delay: “Panic or a deliberate attempt to blackmail the House into undiscriminating compliance.”

He said the argument that foreign phone and Internet firms were about to refuse UK warrants, demanding the contents of individual communications, was another red herring: “It has been reported that communications service providers have said that they did not know of any companies that had warned the UK Government that they would start deleting data in the light of legal uncertainty. Indeed, the Home Office, according to the Financial Times, instructed companies to disregard the ECJ ruling and to carry on harvesting data while it put together a new legal framework.”

So Brokenshire was lying to the House about the potential effect of inaction. That will be no surprise to anyone familiar with the workings of the Coalition government. At risk of boring you, dear reader, you will recall that the Health and Social Care Act was based on a tissue of lies; now your privacy has been compromised – perhaps irrevocably – on the basis of a lie.

MPs could not limit the extension of the government’s powers until the autumn, Brokenshire said, because a review of the power to intercept communications had been commissioned and would not be ready by then.

According to Labour’s David Hanson, the main Opposition party supported the Bill because “investigations into online child sex abuse, major investigations into terrorism and into organised crime, the prevention of young people from travelling to Syria and many issues relating to attempted terrorist activity have depended on and will continue to depend on the type of access that we need through the Bill”.

Mr Hanson’s colleague David Winnick disagreed. “I consider this to be an outright abuse of Parliamentary procedure… Even if one is in favour of what the Home Secretary intends to do, to do it in this manner—to pass all the stages in one day—surely makes a farce of our responsibilities as Members of Parliament.”

He pointed out – rightly – that there has been no pre-legislative scrutiny by the select committees – a matter that could have been carried out while the government sought the clarification it said delayed the Bill. “This is the sort of issue that the Home Affairs Committee and other Select Committees that consider human rights should look at in detail,” said Mr Winnick. “None of that has been done.”

The Bill did not even have the support of all Conservative MPs. David Davis – a very senior backbencher – said: “Parliament has three roles: to scrutinise legislation, to prevent unintended consequences and to defend the freedom and liberty of our constituents. The motion undermines all three and we should oppose it.”

Labour’s Tom Watson, who broke the news last Thursday that the Coalition intended to rush through this invasive Bill, was more scathing still: “Parliament has been insulted by the cavalier way in which a secret deal has been used to ensure that elected representatives are curtailed in their ability to consider, scrutinise, debate and amend the Bill. It is democratic banditry, resonant of a rogue state. The people who put this shady deal together should be ashamed.”

Plaid Cymru’s Elfyn Llwyd said Parliament was being “ridden over roughshod”.

Labour’s Diane Abbott made two important points. Firstly, she called the Bill an insult to the intelligence of the House. “We have had a Session with a light legislative programme, and for Ministers to come to the House and say, ‘We’ve only got a day to debate it’, when weeks have passed when we could have given it ample time is, I repeat, an insult to the intelligence of MPs.”

Then she turned on her own front bench: “I believe… that those on the Opposition Front Bench have been ‘rolled’ [one must presume she meant this in the sense of being drunken, sleeping or otherwise helpless people who were robbed]. All Ministers had to do was to raise in front of them the spectre of being an irresponsible Opposition, and that children will die if they do not vote for the Bill on this timetable, and they succumbed.”

Despite this opposition – not just to the way the Bill had been tabled, but to its timetable and its content – MPs voted it through, after a derisory nine hours of debate, by a majority of 416.

So much for democracy.

So much for MPs being elected to protect their constituents.

When Hansard publishes details of the vote, I’ll put them up here so that you can see which way your own MP voted and use that information to inform your actions during the general election next May.

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See if YOUR objection is mentioned in the Surveillance Bill debate!

internet-surveillance

It seems Parliament’s discussion of the Data Retention and Investigatory Bill, also known as the Surveillance Bill, will now take place tomorrow (Tuesday) rather than today (Monday).

This works better for Yr Obdt Srvt, who has carer-related business today and would not have been able to watch the debate.

Hopefully, many Vox Political readers – if not all – have emailed or tweeted MPs, calling on them to speak and vote against the Bill which, while only reinstating powers the government has already been using, is a totally unacceptable infringement of our freedom that is being imposed in a totally unacceptable timeframe.

As has been discussed here previously, the Bill enshrines in law Theresa May’s ‘Snooper’s Charter’, requiring telecommunications companies to keep a complete record of all your telephone and Internet communications for examination by politicians.

The information to be kept includes the location of people you call, the date and time of the call, and the telephone number called.

It seems the Bill is intended to be a response to a European ruling in April, making the valid point that the government’s current behaviour is an invasion of citizens’ privacy. Clearly, therefore, the Coalition government is determined to continue invading your privacy.

The judgement of the European Court of Justice is being overridden and the Conservative-led Coalition is making no attempt to find a reasonable compromise between the need for security and the right of privacy.

The fact that David Cameron has waited more than three months before putting this on the Parliamentary timetable, during a time when MPs have had very little to discuss, indicates that he wanted to offer no opportunity for civil society to be consulted on the proposed law or consider it in any way.

Cameron wanted to restrict our freedom to question this restriction of our freedoms.

Another reason given for the haste is that foreign-based Internet and phone companies were about to stop handing over the content of communications requested by British warrants – but service providers have confirmed that this was a lie. No companies had indicated they would delete data or reject a UK interception warrant.

Ignoring the fact that this does nothing to support your privacy, at least it does completely undermine Mr Cameron’s case for rushing through the legislation.

He is offering concessions – but they are not convincing and nobody should be fooled into thinking that they make this Bill acceptable. However:

A possibility of restrictions on retention notices is not clarified in the text of the Bill, and is therefore meaningless; and

The ‘sunset clause’ for the Bill’s provisions does not come into effect for two and a half years, by which time (we can assume) the government is hoping everybody will have forgotten about it and it can be renewed with a minimum of fuss. This is how your freedoms are taken away – behind your back.

If you have not yet contacted your MP, you are advised to do so.

If you lose your right to privacy – especially to this government – you won’t get it back.

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The security services are already snooping on us – why aren’t we out in the streets about it?

A Snooper: This woman has been allowing police and security services to monitor your phone and Internet communications - illegally. Now her government wants to rush through a law to make it legal, without proper scrutiny.

A Snooper: This woman has been allowing police and security services to monitor your phone and Internet communications – illegally. Now her government wants to rush through a law to make it legal, without proper scrutiny.

No matter what Nick Clegg might say, the Coalition government will be reintroducing – and rushing into effect – Theresa May’s long-cherished Snooper’s Charter on Monday.

This is her plan to ride roughshod over your right to privacy by requiring telecommunications companies to keep a complete record of all of your telephone and Internet communications. While the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill does not include the content of the calls or messages, it does include the location of the people called, the date and time of the call and the telephone number called.

Theresa May’s Snooper’s Charter would have called on telecoms firms to record the time, duration, originator and recipient of every communication and the location of the device from which it was made.

Anybody who cannot see the similarities between these two would have to be blind and stupid.

Apparently the move has been necessitated by a European Court of Justice ruling in April saying current laws invaded individual privacy.

This means that the government has been doing, already, what it proposes to enshrine in law now.

But hang on a moment – this court ruling was made in April. In April? And they’re just getting round to dealing with it now?

Perhaps they were busy. But no! This is the Zombie Parliament, that has been criticised for muddling along with nothing to do, so it can’t be that.

It seems far more likely that this Bill has been timed to be pushed through without any consideration by, or consultation with, civil society – in order to restrict our ability to question what is nothing less than an attack on our freedom.

Cameron is desperate to justify his government monitoring everything you do: “The ability to access information about communications and intercept the communications of dangerous individuals is essential to fight the threat from criminals and terrorists targeting the UK.”

It isn’t about fighting any threat from criminals or terrorists, though, is it? It’s about threatening you.

Has anybody here forgotten the disabled lady who received a midnight visit from the police, at her home, in relation to comments she had posted on Facebook about the Department for Work and Pensions’ cuts?

She told Pride’s Purge: “They told me they had come to investigate criminal activity that I was involved in on Facebook… They said complaints had been made about posts I’d made on Facebook.”

Facebook is an internet communication, not a telephone communication – so you know that the security services have already been overstepping their mark. This was in 2012.

There’s always the good old postal service, embodied in the recently-privatised Royal Mail – which has been examining your correspondence for decades. You will, of course, have heard that all your correspondence with HM Revenue and Customs about taxes, and all your correspondence with the DWP about benefits, is opened and read by employees of a private company before it gets anywhere near a government employee who may (or may not) have signed the Official Secrets Act. No? Apparently some secrets are better-kept then others.

If you want proof about the monitoring of letters, I’ll repeat my story about a young man who was enjoying a play-by-mail game with other like-minded people. A war game, as it happens. They all had codenames, and made their moves by writing letters and putting them in the post (this was, clearly, before the internet).

One day, this young fellow arrived home from work (or wherever) to find his street cordoned off and a ring of armed police around it.

“What’s going on?” he asked a burly uniformed man who was armed to the teeth.

“Oh you can’t come through,” he was told. “We’ve identified a terrorist group in one of these houses and we have to get them out.”

“But I live on this street,” said our hero, innocently. “Which house is it?”

The constable told him.

“But that’s my house!” he said.

And suddenly all the guns were pointing at him.

They had reacted to a message he had sent, innocently, as part of the game. They’d had no reason to open the letter, but had done it anyway and, despite the fact that it was perfectly clear that it was part of a game, over-reacted.

What was the message?

“Ajax to Achilles: Bomb Liverpool!”

Neither of these two incidents should have taken place but many more are inevitable if this legislation goes the distance and allows the government to legitimise its current – illegal – actions.

One last point: It should be remembered that this is a government composed mainly of a political party with one member, still active, who managed to lose (or should that be ‘lose’) no less than 114 files on child abuse – files that could have put hugely dangerous people behind bars 30 years ago. Instead, with the files lost, it seems these individuals were permitted to continue perpetrating these heinous crimes.

Now, this government is launching an inquiry into historic child abuse by high-profile people, headed by a woman who is herself tainted by association with some of the accused, and by some of the attitudes she has expressed.

It is a government that should put its own House in order before it asks us to give up our privacy and let it look inside ours.

Or, as Frankie Boyle tweeted:

140711surveillance

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