When the law expired at the end of 2016 it was replaced with The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA), which continued to give the Government most of the same surveillance powers it had under DRIPA.
While a separate legal challenge to the IPA will be heard at the end of February, today’s judgement has established that many of its provisions are unlawful and must be changed.
The Court of Appeal ruling found that, because DRIPA powers were used for purposes other than to fight serious crime, and access requests were not subject to prior review by a court or some other independent body, the legislation was in breach of human rights law.
Today’s decision by the Court of Appeal means that the government will almost certainly have to amend the Investigatory Power Act to protect our human rights.
The Smith Commission, which included members of the SNP [Image: PA].
Today’s big news has to be the publication of draft legislation to give the Scottish Parliament more powers – in line with the recommendations of the Smith Commission and three days ahead of the government’s self-determined deadline, Burns Night.
As Vox Political has previously reported, the Smith Commission was set up to find ways of enacting the promises made by the UK’s unionist political parties in what has since been dubbed ‘The Vow’. It reported back in November with recommendations that, in fact, added and expanded on those in The Vow. Scottish Nationalists condemned the report, claiming the opposite – that promises had been “watered down”.
It is worth noting that the Smith Commission gave equal representation to members of all main parties in the Scottish Parliament, including the SNP, and its recommendations were supported unanimously.
The new draft legislation is written in a form that seems to go out of its way to demonstrate that it is taking nothing away from either the Smith Commission recommendations or The Vow. It is available for download here.
This blog is not going to offer an opinion on the draft legislation at this time. Instead, readers are invited to download the document, compare it with what was offered, and then provide an informed opinion in the ‘Comment’ column.
Be aware that “It’s a load of pish” is not an informed opinion; if you disagree with any part of what is on offer, you should state where the offending passage can be found and how it diverges from what was promised.
Effing who? It seems that, when Cameron talked about “giving the effing Tories a kicking”, he was in fact hoping to kick Labour instead – and he has found plenty of FOOLs (see the article) to help him.
It seems a lot of people have become terribly confused and are making a lot of rash assumptions.
The first is that promises by the political leaders in Westminster – to hand Scotland new powers over tax, spending and social security – persuaded voters in Scotland to reject the opportunity to split away from the United Kingdom and form their own country. We don’t know that this is the case. In the run-up to the vote, the result was too close to judge, depending on perhaps six or seven per cent of the total number of voters. If they were persuaded by the offer, does that invalidate the belief held by the other 48 per cent, who always thought Scotland was better off with the rest of us?
The second is that Labour has reneged on the promise to give more powers to Scotland. This claim is utterly inexplicable as Labour has not done any such thing. Only this morning (Sunday), on Andrew Marr’s TV show, Ed Miliband said: “Yes. Yes. Yes. We’re going to deliver. No ifs, no buts. We’re going to deliver on that promise.” That’s about as straightforward as it can get. Labour will keep its word.
Finally, that English devolution is tied up with the promise of more powers for Scotland. It isn’t. David Cameron never mentioned more powers for England until the morning of the referendum result and it was not part of the offer he made alongside Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg in the run-up to the vote.
It seems that the problems have arisen from the last point. Cameron – ever the opportunist – saw a chance to gain something from the unexpected victory, and cobbled up a plan to resurrect the long-dead West Lothian question.
This asks why Scottish MPs can vote on English matters in Westminster, when English MPs cannot vote on matters that have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Cameron wants to introduce a law to ban Scottish MPs from voting on England-only matters in Westminster, tied in with the new powers for Scotland.
It is, as with most Cameron Government ideas, monumentally stupid. The way to ensure Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish MPs don’t vote on England-only matters is to devolve powers to deal with such matters to an English Assembly – or several regional assemblies. In fact, such bodies used to exist; what happened to them? With those powers safely devolved, Westminster could continue dealing with matters that concern the whole of the UK.
There’s only one problem with that: It runs entirely counter to the whole of Conservative policy during the last four-plus years.
The Tories have worked very hard on concentrating power centrally in Westminster, by constricting the flow of money to all other UK authorities and telling them what to do with what they’ve been given. Devolving power to regional English assemblies means a loss of influence that the toffs who pull Cameron’s strings simply won’t countenance. The BBC’s Mark D’Arcy put it very well: “Devolution to regions or city-regions would mean more Labour enclaves.”
Labour clearly wants English devolution to be handled separately from the referendum promises, and this is entirely reasonable; tying them together is something Cameron is trying to do unilaterally – it was never agreed by the unionist parties when they were putting together their offer to Scotland.
The Tories and their followers are trying to spin this, to make it seem that Labour is the renegade party – with some success among the weak-minded, it seems.
Most of all, though – certainly on the Vox Political Facebook page – we’re seeing wave after wave of claims that Labour and the Conservatives are the same because they campaigned side-by-side as unionists, even though this makes absolutely no sense at all in the context of either Scottish devolution or the West Lothian question.
It seems that the many Tory minions who see this muddling of the facts as the only way to win the next election have been released into the community again to do their worst. The mission is explained by Robert Livingstone on the ‘We hate Iain Duncan Smith – The Minister For Manslaughter FB page: “BBC Tory correspondent Nick Robinson has stated that David Cameron’s best chance of winning the next election is to convince the electorate that all parties are the same.”
So we see:
“Tory/Labour theres no real difference and anyone with any sense knows that.”
“Darling Milliband and Brown campaigning with the Tories was the final straw.”
“Labour and Tory are two sides of the same coin.” (This one was from a UKIP supporter, who then claimed “I might yet vote Green”. Whatever.)
It occurs to Yr Obdt Srvt that, if Nick ‘Tory’ Robinson is right and Cameron’s best chance lies in convincing the electorate that all political parties are the same anyway and voting won’t make a difference, then he’ll have asked his campaign chief Lynton Crosby to make it happen.
Therefore it seems that we can safely consider anyone promoting such views to be allied to Mr Crosby – a Friend Of Ol’ Lynton (FOOL) if you like.
You can tell where this is going…
So the next time you hear anyone uttering such tosh, or read it in the social media comment columns, see if you can be the first to ask that person: “Are you a FOOL?”
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