Advertisements

What Conservative Government? – Part 7, 2016 Party Conference Edition

theresa-may-conservative-party-conference-2016-birmingham

Fiscal incontinence, a bizarre grammar school obsession and a new crackdown on civil liberties – forgive me for not cheering along as Theresa May’s Conservative In Name Only Party assembles, victorious, in Birmingham

Theresa May would never have been this blog’s choice to be Britain’s new prime minister, but I have tried to maintain a spirit of cautious optimism in the months since the EU referendum toppled David Cameron and upended our national politics.

And there have been some genuinely positive signs along the way. For one, healthy national pride and patriotism – dead and buried for so long, with New Labour the principal executioner – is starting to make a comeback, no longer automatically scorned by all of Britain’s leading politicians.

Indeed, the Telegraph reports that Theresa May made patriotism one of the lynchpins of her keynote speech to Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham today:

The establishment must stop sneering at the patriotism of ordinary Britons, Theresa May will say today.

During her keynote speech to the Conservative conference, the Prime Minister will proclaim that the Tories are now the party of working class people.

In a bid to attract millions of disaffected Labour voters across the country, she will add that concerns about immigration have for too long been dismissed as “distasteful” and “parochial”.

She will attack the condescending views of politicians and establishment figures who are “bewildered” by the fact that more than 17 million people voted for Britain to leave the European Union.

[..] “Just listen to the way a lot of politicians and commentators talk about the public,” Mrs May will say. “They find their patriotism distasteful, their concerns about immigration parochial, their views about crime illiberal, their attachment to their job security inconvenient. They find the fact that more than seventeen million people voted to leave the European Union simply bewildering.”

This is good. While sneering, elitist anti-democrats like Matthew Parris may suffer convulsions any time somebody outside Zone 2 or with an income of less than £100,000 dares to utter a political opinion, great (and deserved) political rewards potentially await a major political party which stops treating working and middle class patriotism like an infectious disease.

And there was more to admire in today’s keynote speech, not least the fact that Theresa May delivered it from behind a lectern while reading from a printed transcript rather than adopting the tiresome Gordon Brown / David Cameron habit of prancing around the stage while reciting from memory, like an over-eager Shakespearean actor or a Silicon Valley executive delivering a TED talk.

But unfortunately, in that same speech Theresa May also declared “I want to set our party and our country on the path towards the new centre ground of British politics”. In other words, gifted a blank canvas and meaningful opposition only from the ranks of Conservative backbenchers, Britain’s new prime minister is going to play it safe and stubbornly occupy the same tedious middle ground marked out by David Cameron and George Osborne, only a couple of steps further to the left.

But the worst part of Theresa May’s keynote conference speech came when she declared:

“A change has got to come. It’s time to remember the good that government can do. Time for a new approach that says while government does not have all the answers, government can and should be a force for good; that the state exists to provide what individual people, communities and markets cannot; and that we should employ the power of government for the good of the people.”

Excuse me, but no. What is this Miliband-esque, woolly Fabian nonsense?

Opinions differ as to what ails modern Britain, but almost nobody remotely serious would suggest with a straight face that we currently suffer because the state is not yet involved enough in our daily lives, or that it is not performing activities which the market could reasonably undertake. Nobody apart from our new prime minister, that is.

With a new Conservative prime minister singing hymns of praise to an activist state constantly meddling in the lives of its dependent citizenry, we may as well be back in the 1970s. At least David Cameron used to talk about the Big Society (even if he never made it a reality), and suggested that there might be a whole world out there beyond the suffocating reach of the public sector. If we take Theresa May at her word, she seems to believe the opposite – that we should expect to rely on the state in all matters of life, and that markets are terminally “dysfunctional”, requiring constant state intervention.

I’m sorry, but this is unforgivably leftist fluff coming from a supposedly Conservative prime minister. One appreciates that Theresa May has come to office at an exceedingly difficult time, with Britain’s EU secession by far the most ambitious enterprise which this country has attempted in decades. But that is absolutely no excuse for kicking ideology and founding principle to the kerb and engaging in what can only be described as flagrant socialist cross-dressing.

Furthermore, Theresa May’s sloppy wet kiss to Big Government presupposes that until now we have somehow been living in a Hayekian, libertarian nirvana, where the government stayed out of our lives, the successful didn’t have to fork over half of their income in taxes and everybody was left to sink or swim according to their merits. This was hardly the case. The terrible “austerity” inflicted by David Cameron and George Osborne was in reality nothing more than the meekest, politest attempt to stem the constant increases in public spending. Six years on and the deficit remains, the national debt is larger and interest on Britain’s sovereign debt rivals our annual Defence budget.

In other words, Theresa May’s speech made it seem as though working British people had up to now been left to starve in some awful libertarian dystopia, when in fact we remain prisoners of the welfare state/public sector prison created decades ago and put on steroids by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

And yet the parties of the Left uniformly fail to realise just how lucky they have it with Theresa May in charge of the country. A Britain led by David Davis, Liam Fox or Jacob Rees-Mogg would quite possibly offer a taste of real austerity for those parts of the country which have grown fat suckling on the taxpayer teat, but with Theresa May they don’t have to worry about any of that. For the prime minister is every bit as much of a champion of the state as Tony Blair, Gordon Brown or Ed Miliband ever were.

Not that you would know it, to read hysterical, weepy editorials like this one in Left Foot Forward:

Theresa May’s speech to Conservative Party conference was supposed to showcase her philosophy. And it did.

It showcased a nightmarish new Conservative ideology that cloaks drastic social illiberalism in the language of inclusive economics, panders to one section of the working class in order to marginalise another, and brands anyone who dares to disagree as unpatriotic and sneering.

And it takes the vote to leave the European Union as a justification for extreme, inward-looking and divisive policies, completely disregarding the 16 million people who voted to remain, not to mention all the decent leave voters, who voted for change, not for for xenophobia.

The delicious irony of a weepy leftist complaining about being disregarded and demonised when such flagrant hostility is the default left-wing attitude towards anybody with remotely conservative opinions is almost too much to bear, but it gets better:

However, the truly frightening aspect of this speech was its divisiveness, its aggression towards anyone who doesn’t fit into the prime minister’s definition of ‘ordinary’.

This includes anyone not born in Britain, despite May’s claim to want ‘a country where it doesn’t matter where you were born.’

It comprises most of the 48 per cent of people who voted to remain in Europe — May seems to have forgotten she was one of them — and all those who envision a more progressive approach to crime, immigration, human rights, healthcare or education.

Here is a prime minister who did everything but daub herself in red paint and sing the Internationale right on the stage of the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, and still it isn’t enough for the leftists because the Big Mean Scary Lady apparently used “non-inclusive” language. Truly there is no winning with these people.

In fact, the hysterical reaction from the Left only shows how far Labour’s metro-left ruling class have diverged from their party base and from traditional left-wing thought. Theresa May promises German style corporate governance, more wealth redistribution and the state as an overbearing, omnipresent parent – all of which which would have delighted 1980s socialists – yet the modern metro-left pitches a hissy fit because Theresa May didn’t sing paeans of praise to unlimited immigration or bow down before the altar of corrosive identity politics.

The goalposts keep moving and the ratchet keeps tightening and dragging us leftward. But ordinarily one might at least reasonably expect a Conservative prime minister to act as an anchor and a drag on that influence. Theresa May, though, seems eager to beat the centrist, metro-left in a full-on sprint to the left.

Look: I get that Theresa May is not a socialist herself. But the mere fact that she is comfortable using the same woolly, often meaningless language of Ed Miliband should be a real cause for concern among libertarian-leaning conservatives because it shows that she is far more interested in hoovering up centrist Labour voters than making a bold, compelling case for small government, conservative policies. It is undoubtedly the correct approach if one wants to pursue the path of least resistance, but to tack to the authoritarian centre at a time when the Labour opposition has all but disintegrated is an almost criminal waste of an opportunity to radically reshape Britain – not just through Brexit, but in terms of the relationship between government and citizen.

I know I can be a bit of a bore when it comes to analysing political speeches, but it is also depressing to see Theresa May adopt the short sentence / no complex paragraph style also favoured by Ed Miliband.

An excerpt:

theresa-may-conservative-party-conference-2016-speech-transcript

 

And another:

theresa-may-conservative-party-conference-2016-speech-transcript-2

Put aside for a the obscenity of a Conservative prime minister neglecting to talk about the importance of a flexible labour market to a dynamic economy in favour of trying to outdo Labour in promising counterproductive employment rights, and focus instead on the speechwriting style.

This is the same choppy, disjointed, machine-assembled soundbite speech favoured by Gordon Brown and honed to dismal perfection by Ed Miliband, as this blog explained some time ago:

Behold the short, stunted phrases, written with the news editor’s cropping software in mind while the poor listener’s brain isn’t given a second thought. This is nothing more than a word cloud, a jumble of phrases and platitudes deemed by a focus group to be pleasing or reassuring and then awkwardly bolted together by a computer and beamed onto a teleprompter.

Britain is about to embark on the most complex national endeavour that we have attempted in decades. In seceding from the European Union and deciding to forge our way once more as an independent country, the people of Britain are serving as a case study to the world in how best to maintain and strengthen democracy and accountability in the age of globalisation. Is it really so much to ask that we have a prime minister capable and willing to speak in complete paragraphs rather than ten-word soundbites?

Is it honestly unreasonable to expect that the first major set-piece speech of Theresa May’s premiership should make reference to history, to human endeavour, to our national destiny, rather than simply be a laundry list of bribes to the British people, promising them newer, better public services and an easier life?

This is Milibandism all over again. And while Theresa May is more traditionalist authoritarian than Fabian socialist, alarm bells should be sounding that she intends to govern using the same tired New Labour playbook. May’s conference speech reveals a depressingly small conception of what it means to be the prime minister of the United Kingdom, casting Theresa May as a mere Comptroller of Public Services or a puffed-up cruise ship director rather than a consequential world leader.

Nonetheless, Conservatives seem to be streaming away from Birmingham in a very cheerful mood – some almost outrageously so:

Et tu, Montie?

Yes, libertarian individualism is indeed “THE Tory weakness” if one is trying to appeal to people who love socialism and a big, activist state. Which is why a healthy, virile Conservative Party should either seek to make such people see the error of their ways or else quit pandering to them entirely.

But this is clearly not Theresa May’s approach. She has a different strategy. And what has it wrought thus far?

After three months of reflection over the summer, the Tories are absolutely nowhere when it comes to tackling Brexit, but every indication we have seen suggests that they are toying with the unnecessary self-harm option which would see Britain forsake the single market in a couple of years at the time of EU secession, well before any comprehensive replacement could possibly be negotiated.

We were supposed to be wowed by a so-called “Great Repeal Bill” to undo the 1972 European Communities Act, until five seconds of reflection revealed this grand piece of posturing to be nothing more than a statement of the bleeding obvious – if Brexit is to happen at all, the primacy of EU law and courts must be brought to an end at the moment of departure.

Flagship proposals to build new grammar schools only scratch the surface of problems with British education, but jubilant Tories seem to be treating this policy as the alpha and omega of their plans to create a more educated and skilled workforce when in fact so much more needs to be done to make the British education system the best in the world.

The last Chancellor of the Exchequer was bad enough, with his limp deficit reduction targets, obsession with white elephant infrastructure projects and shameful Brexit scaremongering. But his replacement, Philip Hammond, has taken what little authority the Tories retained on fiscal responsibility and thrown it out the window. Now Conservatives are mocked by John McDonnell of all people – John McDonnell! – for failing to grapple with the public finances, and the national debt will have increased every year after a decade of Tory rule.

And to add insult to serious libertarian injury, Theresa May’s steely-eyed authoritarian side is revving up, with planned new laws to criminalise insulting the army or advocating shariah law for Britain veering from the unworkable to the stupid all the way to the totalitarian.

So I’m sorry, but I can’t get excited about this revamped Conservative In Name Only government. While Theresa May is off to a bright start in terms of tone and temperament, what we have seen so far in terms of policy suggests a shift even further to the economic left than Cameron/Osborne, balanced out by a rise in authoritarianism and government meddling in every aspect of private life.

And for what? To beat Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party by a slightly greater landslide in 2020 than is already expected?

Maybe I’m alone in this, but I would rather Theresa May’s government struggle to a 30 seat majority in 2020 based on a really radical, small government manifesto in the model of Thatcher – and then actually go about reshaping the country based on that clear vision – rather than win a 100 seat majority by dressing up in the abandoned clothing of Ed Miliband.

As Margaret Thatcher said in 1968:

There are dangers in consensus; it could be an attempt to satisfy people holding no particular views about anything. It seems more important to have a philosophy and policy which because they are good appeal to sufficient people to secure a majority.

Theresa May clearly disagrees, and there is a very low limit to the respect that this blog can give to a leader who thinks in such unambitious, tactical terms.

 

David Cameron - Coke Zero Conservative - I Cant Believe Its Not Miliband

Top Image: International Business Times

Support Semi-Partisan Politics with a one-time or recurring donation:

Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.

Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on TwitterFacebook and Medium.

Advertisements

Police Should Spend Less Time Persecuting Citizens For Free Speech Offences And More Time Serving Communities

Rome Police - Old Age Loneliness - Questura di Roma

Our police forces should be knitting communities together and keeping them safe, not prancing around in military gear and threatening citizens who dare to express themselves on social media

A heartbreaking (or heartwarming, depending on your perspective) story from Rome forces us to ask stark questions of our own society, the way we treat our elderly compatriots and the proper community role of the police.

From the Evening Standard:

Kindly police officers came to the aid of an elderly Italian couple after neighbours called emergency services when they were heard crying in their apartment – because they were so lonely.

Officers rushed to the flat in the Appio area of Rome after nearby residents heard shouting and crying coming from inside, and found and 84-year-old Jole, and her 94-year-old husband Michele.

The couple said they had not been victims of crime, but were overcome by emotion after watching sad stories on the news.

The pair, who have been married for 70 years, said they had not had visitors for a long time and were very lonely.

While they waiting for an ambulance to arrive to check the couple over, the officers prepared a hot meal.

They then sat down to have a chat while the elderly couple ate the spaghetti with butter and parmesan they had prepared.

More:

The police force said on its Facebook page: “Especially when the city empties and the neighbors are away on holiday, sometimes loneliness dissolves into tears.

“It can happen, as this time, that someone screams so loud from despair that eventually, someone calls the State Police.

“There is not a crime. Jole and Michele are not victims of scams and no thief entered the house – there is no one to save.

“This time, for the boys, there is a more daunting task – two lonely souls who need reassuring.”

Meanwhile, what do our police spend their time doing?

Well, no day is complete without threatening members of the public. Greater Glasgow Police in particular love to ostentatiously warn people that they are lurking on Twitter and Facebook 24/7, ready to pounce the moment anybody posts something deemed the least bit capable of causing offence.

And London’s own wonderful Metropolitan Police also love nothing more than turning up on the doorstep of people who dare to tweet the “wrong” opinions and sentiments, hauling them away to the police station and delivering them to the hands of the criminal justice system.

But never let it be said that the Met Police never leave their comfortable office desks. A new batch of them have recently acquired dystopian-looking, military grade combat uniforms and strutted their stuff before Britain’s news cameras in some kind of perverse authoritarian fashion parade. Ostensibly this new armed response unit is intended to keep us safer from Islamist terror attacks mentally ill people, though doubtless we will soon see the same militarised response to other, less violent incidents too. As is so often when it comes to the militarisation of the police, where America leads, Britain duly follows.

Counter Terrorist Armed Police - London

Meanwhile, communities go unpatrolled and some become no-go areas. Local police, either swamped with paperwork or too busy hounding innocent citizens for daring to exercise their right to free speech online, refuse to show up to cases of reported vandalism or burglary (though they mysteriously appear within minutes if a speech or thoughtcrime is reported by some beady-eyed public collaborator).

And to add insult to injury, we now live in a country where the idea of the police carting you away for something you write on Facebook seems perfectly normal, while the idea of the police coming to cook a meal for a lonely elderly couple is so rare that it makes the news headlines when it happens in another country.

Local Police and Crime Commissioners do not seem to have had much of an effect, though at this early stage it is difficult to be sure whether this is due to a lack of powers, regulatory capture by the police forces they are supposed to control or garden variety incompetence. And so here we are.

Is this the police force that we really want?

Is this the policing strategy that actually knits communities together, making them happier and safer?

Absolutely not. It would be very interesting to see a force-by-force breakdown of the number of police officers, civilian staff and other resources devoted to monitoring and curtailing the free speech rights and other civil liberties of Britons. And then immediately shutting down those statist, authoritarian programmes and diverting all of the freed resources to more worthy causes, like helping to tackle old age loneliness.

We’re not talking about police officers cooking roast dinners instead of catching criminals, but surely it should not be beyond the wit of man for police to act as an intermediary, perhaps connecting isolated elderly couples they come across in their work to suitable neighbours who could check in with them once in a while, or provide much needed regular social visits. The police already work with AgeUK to tackle scam criminals and improve home security. There is no reason why this collaboration could not be greatly extended.

At present, we have a police force of two extremes – small numbers of highly militarised officers, armed to the teeth with every counter-assault weapon one can possibly imagine, and a much larger force who seem unable to respond to garden variety crime in an acceptable way, and who are all too rarely visible on the streets.

If local, county and national government is serious about improving police-community relations, they could do far worse than by immediately ordering a halt to the nasty, frivolous and often arbitrary persecution of individuals on free speech and “hate crime” grounds and diverting those funds and resources to a much more worthy cause – helping to tackle the growing problem of old age loneliness in our society.

 

Postscript: You can donate to Age UK here.

 

Greater Glasgow Police - THINK - Social Media - Police State - Free Speech

Middle Image: BT

Support Semi-Partisan Politics with a one-time or recurring donation:

Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.

Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on TwitterFacebook and Medium.

UK Supreme Court Strikes Down The SNP’s Unlawful Named Person Scheme

Nicola Sturgeon - SNP - Named Person Scheme - Supreme Court

The UK Supreme Court slaps down the SNP-led Scottish Government’s assault on privacy and individual liberty manifested in the evil Named Person scheme, citing the creeping threat of totalitarianism

Good news from the UK Supreme Court today, which has made an important decision in favour of civil liberties and privacy by ruling the SNP government’s insidious “Named Person” child-monitoring scheme unlawful, giving Holyrood no recourse to further appeal.

Specifically the Supreme Court struck down provisions which allowed the sharing of sensitive data about Scottish children between agencies, which the court held to be in breach of the right to privacy and a family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court further held that several of the provisions for data sharing in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 were beyond the legislative competence of the Scottish Government – in other words that Nicola Sturgeon’s nationalist government has been getting far too big for its boots, and should perhaps focus on trying to deliver better governance for Scotland instead of greedily seeking to acquire ever more power over its own citizens.

What is most encouraging about this ruling – besides Nicola Sturgeon being put firmly back in her box, of course – is the strong, uncompromising language used by the justices in their decision.

From the judgment:

Individual differences are the product of the interplay between the individual person and his upbringing and environment. Different upbringings produce different people. The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.

The justices then go on to quote the late US supreme court justice James Clark McReynolds, who held in Pierce v Society of Sisters:

“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”

The child is not the mere creature of the state – a universal truth, but one seemingly forgotten by the Scottish National Party in their paranoid desire to centralise and monitor everything that takes place north of the border.

This is a remarkable tirade against totalitarianism and in favour of individual liberty, and can only be seen as a stunning repudiation of the SNP’s entire suffocating, infantilising attitude towards their own citizens. To warn about the slippery slope toward totalitarianism in such an clear way only serves to underscore just how illiberal – and vastly disconnected from the welfare of the child – the Named Person scheme really is.

What is even more remarkable is that such a start warning against totalitarian instincts came not from a mainstream elected politician, but from unelected judges. In its short history, the UK Supreme Court’s judgments have not exactly set the world on fire or shifted numerous copies of approving books in the way that one might pore over the dissents of Ruth Bader Ginsburg or the late Antonin Scalia. That mild-mannered UK supreme court justices are mentioning totalitarianism and quoting McReynolds at all is proof that we are in trouble.

In their reporting, the British press has been making much of the fact that the ruling later goes on to call the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 “unquestionably benign”. In their article, the BBC makes no mention of these pointed references to totalitarianism in the judgment, immediately revealing the corporation’s bias and reluctance to report properly on stories which are critical of the authoritarian leftist Scottish government.

But as it was with the shock Brexit vote in the EU referendum, once again the media’s barely concealed support for infantilising, authoritarian Big Government policies has been overridden. In this case, the supreme court has spoken (though how much better it would have been had the Supreme Court been able to strike down the Named Person Act with reference to a British Bill of Rights or constitution rather than the expansionist ECHR).

As this blog noted when the Named Person scheme was last being debated prior to the 2016 Holyrood elections:

Whether any given Scottish person wants their top layer of government to reside in Holyrood or Westminster, surely anybody should agree that the bottom layer of government should not intrude deep into the family unit in the way that the Named Person Scheme does.

[..] This is the SNP at work in government. A hectoring, overbearing movement which seeks to centralise everything they can touch, from the state monitoring of children to the police and fire services – with deadly consequences, in the latter cases.

Today, a blow has been struck against the insidious ratchet effect underway in Britain, leading inexorably to a larger and more interfering state. We should be grateful to the Supreme Court for their decision, and to The Christian Institute and other appellants for fighting the case.

But it should not fall to an unelected judiciary to make the bold and uncompromising case for individual liberty. Ruth Davidson did a magnificent job opposing the Named Person scheme on behalf of the Scottish Tories, but we need more politicians across the board who are willing to stand up for liberty and who possess the imagination to conceive of a world where government is not the answer to every single problem.

The Supreme Court did us proud today. It is about time for more of our elected politicians to do the same.

 

No2NP protest

Top Image: CapX

– 

Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.

Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on TwitterFacebook and Medium.

The Left Wing Case Against Mass Surveillance And The Investigatory Powers Bill

Theresa May - Investigatory Powers Bill - Mass Surveillance

The draft Investigatory Powers Bill will neither increase security nor effectively tackle extremism

Laura Westwood argues in Left Foot Forward that existing mass surveillance techniques have proved ineffective at stopping terror attacks, and that the new measures outlined in the government’s draft Investigatory Powers Bill would further undermine civil liberties with no commensurate reward:

Perhaps most unsettling is the potential harm caused by intruding on the lives of innocent people. Whatever the rationale, mass surveillance practices imperil our rights to privacy and freedom of expression. The UK’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation himself warned that taking missteps could sow divisions in society and incubate the problem of ‘home-grown’ terrorists.

Why? Because extremists thrive on exploiting disenfranchisement and grievance. We are told so by former members of Islamist extremist groups. Taking blanket surveillance even further than it already goes is a calculated risk at best, and right now, the sums aren’t adding up.

Already, people languish in British prisons not for committing or inciting terrorist acts, but merely accessing articles and propaganda which praises terrorist acts, or expressing support for them on social media. Such actions may be reprehensible, but bringing the full weight of criminal law crashing down on people with odious foreign policy views and sharp tongues on social media is punishing thought, not words, and is incompatible with a free society.

Furthermore, locking up people like Runa Khan – imprisoned for “disseminating terrorist material”, which basically meant sharing pro-ISIS propaganda articles on Facebook – does nothing to confront and kill the noxious ideas in question, but rather elevates them to an unearned position of nobility, and makes a martyr of their speaker.

As Mick Hume argues in his book “Trigger Warning: Is The Fear Of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech?”:

If she had dressed her young children in suicide vests and sent them out to die in a bomb attack, that would be terrorism. But going online to argue that Muslim mothers should try to raise their sons to grow up as jihadis is something else entirely, more like perverse parenting advice than a military command. Words are not physical weapons and viewpoints are not violence, however ‘radical and extreme’ they might appear to most of us. The opinions expressed by the likes of Runa Khan need to be openly challenged. Trying to bury them instead in prison, on the ground that they are too dangerous to be let loose on Facebook, can only lend their radical message more credence.

At a time when almost all the serious business of governing has ground to a halt for the duration of the EU referendum campaign, mass surveillance is the one area where David Cameron’s ideologically rootless, authoritarian government seems determined to make progress. All other reforms and legislative activity have effectively been placed on hold, yet this most un-conservative government is formalising and expanding the powers of the state to indiscriminately collect and hold data on the private activity of citizens, with the kind of weak and unenforceable safeguards that you would expect from a country with no written constitution.

Why? Because while everything else is allowed to drift as David Cameron seeks to bully and scare the British people into fearfully voting to remain in the European Union, expanding the power and influence of the state over our lives knows no rest.

Those on the Left who oppose this are right to do so – not in pursuit of a political victory over the Evil Tories, but because the Investigatory Powers Bill is bad law and bad policy. And because it will be the poorest, most disadvantaged and least well-connected citizens who first fall prey to the surveillance state, as it always is.

Don't Spy On Me - Mass Surveillance

Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.

Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on TwitterFacebook and Medium.

Hate Speech / Free Speech

Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending an event organised by Spiked, entitled “A New Intolerance On Campus”.

The final panel of the day focused on the question “Is hate speech free speech?”, and while it was a little unbalanced (Dan Hodges was due to provide the counterpoint opinion but was unfortunately unable to attend) there were eloquent arguments in favour of unrestricted free speech from Brendan O’Neill, Maryam Namazie and particularly Douglas Murray.

While the arguments expressed here will be familiar to anyone who closely follows the debate on free speech and the climate of censorship on university campuses – particularly those who have read Mick Hume’s worthwhile book “Trigger Warning: Is The Fear Of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech” – the video is still worth a watch.

Free Speech - Conditions Apply - Graffiti

Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.

Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on TwitterFacebook and Medium.