30 September 2007

Fake Libertarianism: Is It A Religion?

Like religion, any strong ideology can lead people to extreme viewpoints and actions. We now have our first 'fake libertarian' terrorist conviction in the UK.

So angered was this guy by speed cameras, ID cards and the fact his father could not have his DNA records expunged, that he felt compelled to...
send letter bombs to any organisation that he thought administered the 'surveillance state'. I think this demonstrates how dangerous it is to base your views on over the top emotions rather than facts. Whether it be those who encourage religion or those who encourage people to over-react to quite innocuous legislation, I hope they realise this is where it can lead.

28 comments:

  1. I agree one shouldn't base one's views on over the top emotions.

    Take your own advice.

    Trying to smear anyone who advocates liberty as a religious maniac and a friend of letter bombers is low, even for you, Neil, although it speaks volumes about how you regard your fellow man.

    I pity you for your poverty of expectation and your hatred of anyone with a different opinion.

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  2. I could provide you plenty of links to bloggers who are calling this guy and I quote 'a 21st century guy faukes'. Try a blog google of 'miles cooper' and see what you get. They not only support his position - they support his actions.

    Opposing speed cameras, parking regulations, the smoking ban and a congestion charge etc on fake grounds of libertarianism is an extreme position to take. And yes opposing a DNA database is an extreme position as well. I think this needs to be pointed out before, like religion, you lot get more out of hand.

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  3. I think this needs to be pointed out before, like religion, you lot get more out of hand.

    Nasty, Neil, but sadly not surprising coming from you. People are entitled to their views, even you. I don't support blowing anyone up in support of anything, unlike you.

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  4. Neil I did as you suggested. I found NOT A SINGLE VOICE IN SUPPORT of Miles Cooper. Obviously I wasn't looking hard enough - can you post some links to the blogs etc who think his actions were justified please?

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  5. Urko: You obviously looked so hard you didn't even notice the link I provided. Try clicking on it.

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  6. urko: you just said I support blowing people up. You are laughable. As you well know I do not support anything of the sort.

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  7. I think you've overstretched yourself here. I've not seen anyone supporting his actions on the link you posted.

    Further opposing speed cameras (as fundraising tools), parking regulations (as fundraising tools), the smoking ban (as politically correct claptrap) and a congestion charge (when there is barely adequate mass transport) is not an extreme position to take.

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  8. In 'A 21st Centrury Fawkes' the following;

    "I suppose in some ways you could look at Miles Cooper and see a patriotic young man, who wanted to fight for what he thought his country should be, a young man who had tried peaceful protest and for whom the injustices kept piling up as his protests were ignored
    What else could he try? I’ve also got to wonder how many other people feel the same way, but, there is no easy solution to removing a morally bankrupt government. If no one listens, when do you say enough is enough?"

    and;

    "If you feel disenfranchised by the political state of your country, how else do you get yourself heard? What he did, yes it was wrong, I know that, his actions were those of a terrorist, but in some ways I can just understand his reasons."

    Then there are titles of other posts like "Does Miles Cooper Have A Point?, "Surburban Terrorist has a point", "Letter Bomb Had A Point" - Hardly unsympathetic, hardly unquestionable condemnation. And that is just in the first page of a google search!

    As for the smoking ban - the market was failing - it was not taking into account non-smokers (for complicated reasons I have touched on before). To improve the liberty of these people needed legislation. You are probably the sort of person who feels that liberty has been infringed by carmakers being forced to install seatbelts in cars. If you do not understand why that increases people's choice then you are never going to understand the smoking ban. Thankfully the vast majority have more sense and have accepted the ban with good grace.

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  9. urko: you just said I support blowing people up. You are laughable. As you well know I do not support anything of the sort.
    Didn't you say you supported the Iraq war?

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  10. urko: "Didn't you say you supported the Iraq war?"

    No! And I never have supported it. I have said right from the start (on this blog) that it was all about oil, that it would encourage terrorism and be a foreign policy disaster. I also think the Euston lot are a bunch of wishy washy neo-con sympathisers. But what I have said, is that Blair's support for Bush was a different decision from supporting the Iraq war (and maybe, just maybe, Blair got concessions from the US we do not know about, that saved lives and made his decision the right one).

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  11. Neil, that is slippery, even for you. You oppose the war but think Blair was right to support it. Have you no principles which you won't compromise for your love of Blair?

    If you are against the war, you cannot support Blair, becuase he was, and remains, 100% for it, and he thinks God is with him and Bush too.

    You pretend to oppose the war and yet you act as an apologist for the warmonger who took us into it in the face of the largest demo in our history.

    I thought I'd read some pathetic stuff on here but that takes the biscuit it really does.

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  12. Urko: The Iraq war was a US war and the UK was impotent in relation to the US actions. It is not a difficult concept. Things are not black and white. Just as Wilson's opposition didn't make a difference to the total lives lost in Vietnam, Blair opposing Iraq would have been a useless gesture that would have cost the UK economically and maybe cost even more lives.

    Do you really think the Iraq War would not have happened if the UK had not have been involved, YES or NO?

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  13. I can't believe how patronising you are - of course the war would have happned without us, but that isn't a reason to support it. You might just as well say I should have voted Tory when I lived in a safe Tory seat because the Tory was always going to win.

    You excuse the war but then try to pretend you were against it, which is just slippery coward's way of trying to have it both ways.

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  14. Urko: I am not trying to have it both ways. There are clearly TWO different issues here. You admit that Blair could not stop the Iraq War - so his decision was not about that. I can see that from a pragmatic point of view, the UK PM having US public opinion on his side could be a useful bulwark against such a right-wing president as George Bush.

    It is not the same as voting Tory in a Tory seat - as this would not help change policy in any way. Blair's support of Bush was clearly tactical, just as I would vote Lib Dem if they were clearly the only candidate to stop a Tory being elected.

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  15. Come off it Neil. You claim you were opposed to the war but then you claim that "and maybe, just maybe, Blair got concessions from the US we do not know about, that saved lives and made his decision the right one". And maybe, just maybe, Blair secured no concessions and saved no lives, only destroyed them. The evidence rather more strongly suggests this interpretation that it does yours.

    As for the substantive point of your article. I am no libertarian but I completely reject the bug-eyed authoritarianism and social control that you subscribe to. I also wholehearted condemn the idiot who sent these bombs. But I am not surprised that you try to make political capital out of this case.

    Have you ever asked yourself where your deep pessimism about the human character comes from, that makes you believe that human beings must be surveiled and coerced lest they do something that you disapprove of. And no, I am not talking about the regulation of smoking. I thought that such social conservatism was a Tory characteristic but seeing New Labour at work, it is plain that it is not.

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  16. Stephen: I am an optimist about human nature and society - which is why I believe in things like a citizen's income and proportional representation. I believe as much power as possible should be at the lowest possible level of government (and government if democratic, IS the people). This is the key - when you say you distrust government - you are effectively saying you distrust people.

    I am a realist. Nearly everyone (including myself), at some time or other, will do something they shouldn't if they can get away with it. This is not to say that most of the time, the vast majority will not be law abiding, just that occasionally most of us mess up. We are after all, only human.

    Punishment should fit the crime, so I don't subscribe to this macho image of tougher and tougher punishments that politicians are forced to ascribe to by the media, but I do think people who stray are responsible for their actions, in the sense that they need corrective action - there is not good people and evil people, only fallible people.

    People who are a danger to society should obviously be in prison. But far too many are in prison who needn't be and it is making them worse. Prison is failing us.

    CCTV, ID cards, DNA databases are harmless in themselves, they are just information. When you say you don't trust government with this information, you are the one being pessimistic. I can see that properly used, this information can help us correct more people (in the same way we fix a car that has gone wrong - we don't blame the car we just correct the fault) and reduce the negative impact crime has on our society. For me it is just a question of efficiency, information is neutral - it is not authoritarian or libertarian. I trust the government, I trust society, you don't.

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  17. Stephen: As for the war - the war was wrong we both agree. I wish it hadn't happened. If Blair could have stopped it, he should have. If I could have stopped it, I would have.

    But, we both know that was not the decision Blair had to take. Blair is a pragmatist - he knew that the war was going to happen - Bush had taken that decision and there was nothing we could do to stop it. Blair then made a decision he thought would be best for the UK, and best in terms of influencing the US.

    What purpose would it have served if Blair had opposed the war?

    Would lives have been saved overall (remember Iraqi civilians are worth as much as British casualties)?

    Would US troops have been as successful in the South of Iraq? - this probably saved many lives.

    Would you have been happy to see the UK economy suffer?

    Would you have been happy to see a Tory government backed by Murdoch in 2005? (Tory MPs supported both the war and Bush even more than Labour).

    Do you think the focus on Israeli-Palestinian peace would be so great without Blair's profile in the US?

    Do you think that the change in US public opinion on climate change would have happened so quick without Blair?

    Do you think Bush would have been restrained from bombing Al Jazeera if Blair hadn't have dissuaded him?

    Would Bush have used nuclear weapons in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran without Blair influence?

    What would Iraq have gained from our non-involvement?

    These questions all have to be addressed. You may be right that Blair's decision was not worth it, I don't know, but it is a different question as to whether you think the war was justified or not.

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  18. [I believe as much power as possible should be at the lowest possible level of government (and government if democratic, IS the people)]

    This is utopian nonsense and contradicts the British constitution. The government can never be 'the people', unless you believe in an anarchistic society, which you have very well hid up till now. We have a representative government. In Athens, the government was the people - well, the men who weren't slaves - but in modern times the government is not the people.

    [This is the key - when you say you distrust government - you are effectively saying you distrust people]

    When did I say I was 'distrustful' of government generally? You are making things up again. I am distrustful of THIS government, it's rape of Iraq, its compulsive mendacity, its failure to treat police racism seriously, etc, etc.

    [Punishment should fit the crime]

    Punishment should do a lot of things. Firstly, it should fit the criminal; it should have a restorative element for the victim, when there is one; and only at the very end should we consider its deterrent effect.

    [so I don't subscribe to this macho image of tougher and tougher punishments that politicians are forced to ascribe to by the media]

    So as every Labour Home Secretary tries to out do the previous one for 'toughness', that's all the fault of the 'media' is it? What about politicians taking RESPONSIBILITY for their own actions rather than bleating about the media. It wasn't the media that made David Blunkett say in 2001 that he would make Jack Straw look like a liberal. It was his own deeply authoritarian instincts.

    [People who are a danger to society should obviously be in prison. But far too many are in prison who needn't be and it is making them worse. Prison is failing us]

    I would agreee with that. Pity you don;t choose to write about that.

    [CCTV, ID cards, DNA databases are harmless in themselves, they are just information]

    Tell that the black and muslim youth who will be stopped again and again and asked to produce ID. Although not in the initial act, the ACPO has already demanded that it be a criminal offence not to carry it at all times and undoubtedly the Home Office will accede in due course.
    Tell that to innocent people who have been arrested multiple times because their DNA profile matched a sample at a crime scene. Perhaps you are too young to remember the Toxteth riots and the role that the sus law played in provoking them. Read Lord Scarman's report and educate yourself before prattling on about the 'harmlessness' of these laws.

    [When you say you don't trust government with this information, you are the one being pessimistic]

    I would trust the government with it, if the government said why it wanted the information. After five years of asking, we still haven't received a straight answer. Would you trust someone who declined to be candid about his motives?

    [I can see that properly used, this information can help us correct more people]

    How? The NDNAD database does not store medically informative information.

    [reduce the negative impact crime has on our society]

    How?

    [For me it is just a question of efficiency]

    Spending £20 billion on the NIR is 'efficient'? Where is the evidence that spending this money on ID Cards will have the best effect? No private business would spend money in such a naive and profligate manner. It would require a business justification.

    [information is neutral]

    So how come we have hanged and imprisoned people who have acquired information? Information is not neutral. Its dangerousness is directly related to to the use to which it will be put.

    [I trust the government],

    So would you have written that in 1984, during the Miners' Strike?

    [I trust society, you don't]

    Meaningless waffle. I trust individuals and organisations according to whether their behaviour warrants that trust. No one 'trusts' society or distrusts it, for that matter, for it is too amphorous a thing to treat in such a personal way. In the same way I can can love a person but can't love society.

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  19. CCTV, ID cards, DNA databases are harmless in themselves
    That is rather like saying that a knife is harmless in itself. It is still not good practice to spread them about like confetti. Maybe this government won't do anything bad with the extraordinary powers that it has given itself, but what about every government that could conservably follow it.

    when you say you distrust government - you are effectively saying you distrust people.

    No you are saying that you distrust a specific set of people that are in power. We live in a representative democracy, not a direct democracy or an anarchy. Our current electoral system give us a government that has to truly express the will of the people (perhaps a good thing given the consitent support for bringing back the death penalty). You have yourself talked about how the government has lead society on certain issues like gay equality (one of the few areas where it has been consistently liberal), but how could it lead society if it was the same as society?

    The state is not the same as society. I have a lot of trust in people, and so quite a lot of trust in unmediated exchanges between people. But I do not trust the state. Did you trust Thatcher or Major to always be doing the right thing? (e.g. banning the teaching of most of Shakespear's sonnets)

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  20. oops

    Our current electoral system does not give us a government that has to truly express the will of the people.

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  21. stephen, chris: This electoral system is far from ideal (as I would be the first to admit) but the largest minority can overthrow any government if it ever got as bad as you suggest.

    To be distrustful of this government, is to be more than distrustful of all previous governments. This is the most honest and open government we have ever had (still pretty poor, but the best none the less).

    I have written previously about the overuse of prison, here, here, here and here (and on numerous other occasions). It doesn't fit with the image most 'fraud libertarians' try to portray of me, so doesn't attract many comments - so maybe that is why you have not noticed.

    It is easy to say don't blame the media for politicians 'tough on crime' attitude. But politicians have to get elected and that means playing to the media. We only have to look at the volatility of the polls this week to see how powerful they are.

    Ironically (considering you think I am the fascist) I think it is fascist to say 'we agree with convicted criminals being on the DNA database but not 'normal' people like us'. I have a more realistic attitude. We all have faults, I accept mine, you clearly think yourself perfect.

    You cannot compare CCTV, ID cards etc, to knives. You cannot kill people with CCTV or a database or an ID card but it does help you catch the perpetrators, and it does deter. There is incontrovertible evidence for this. People campaign to have CCTV. In most countries people are proud to have ID cards, it is only in Anglo-Saxon countries (with the worst crime and inequality in the developed world) that resist these things on quite illogical grounds.

    As for the Tory repression of the miners. Yes, of course I wouldn't agree with this, but I still could use the NHS and education and potentially have access to all sorts of other services and welfare that the government provided -overall the government were still the most trustworthy. The government help people as a last resort when businesses kick people out of their homes, avoid honouring contracts and send in the bailiffs. I know who is more reliable and trustworthy. Until the government stepped in, did anyone trust Northern Rock?

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  22. [Ironically (considering you think I am the fascist)]

    I don't think you are a 'fascist', Neil, I think you are naive and deluded, with strong authoritarian instincts. Please do not try to reduce my position to silly platitudes. I hate the word 'fascist' used inaccurately. I hated when some on the left called Thatcher a 'fascist' and I hate it when some call Bush a 'fascist'.

    [I think it is fascist to say 'we agree with convicted criminals being on the DNA database but not 'normal' people like us']

    Do you think everyone is a criminal?

    [I have a more realistic attitude. We all have faults, I accept mine, you clearly think yourself perfect]

    No, I just don't think the state has a right to have my DNA profile, which has nothing to do with whether I think I am 'perfect'. I also do not think it has a right to surveil me through its ID Card because it is not my business to prove to the state that I am innocent.

    [You cannot compare CCTV, ID cards etc, to knives]

    Which is why I didn't. Good grief, can't you have a debate with me without ascribing opinions to me which I do not hold?

    [You cannot kill people with CCTV or a database or an ID card but it does help you catch the perpetrators, and it does deter]

    It can also help the state make a mess of peoples' lives, such as the 2,700 who were incompetently misidentified as criminals by the CRB. And most academic opinion refutes that CCTV does deter crime, it simply moves it elsewhere. ID Cards most assurdedly do not deter crime as an inspection of any state that has them shows. In fact, ID Cards will stimulate crime the UK as the centralised data management of the NIR is intrinsically less secure than myriad unconnected state databases. I am an experienced technologist and you are an enthusiastic naif so I don't expect you to believe me. But it is the case.

    [There is incontrovertible evidence for this]

    Lie. There isn't anything of the sort.

    [People campaign to have CCTV]

    Yes, because it moves crime to another place. It doesn't deter crime as you alleged.

    [In most countries people are proud to have ID cards]

    Rubbish. ID Cards have arisen on the continent because of an historical accident, mostly to do with compiling up to date population registers to facilitate conscription. Normal people are proud of their achievements; only wonky Labourite shills are likely to be proud of a piece of plastic.

    [it is only in Anglo-Saxon countries (with the worst crime and inequality in the developed world)]

    Half of Europe doesn't have compulsory ID Cards so whether or not your statement is true, it is beside the point.

    [that resist these things on quite illogical grounds]

    Since you haven't been able to come up with a single truthful justification for either the NIR or ID Cards one must conclude that it is your position which illogical.

    [As for the Tory repression of the miners. Yes, of course I wouldn't agree with this]

    I asked you whether you trusted the government that was in power in 1984. It is a simple question. Did you?

    [but I still could use the NHS and education and potentially have access to all sorts of other services and welfare that the government provided]

    So what? This has got nothing to do with whether you trust a political administration. I trust my doctor. I don't trust the scum in Parliament. There is absolutely no contradiction in those two statements.

    [The government help people as a last resort when businesses kick people out of their homes]

    You have got to be kidding me. Yes the state does provide a safety net and as a socialist I fully support that. But the reason it does that is because millions of people by their voting choices have made it a political reality and have provided the cash through their taxes to pay for it. It is not because the state is some father Christmas figure, for God's sake. You make it sound like the state is some kind of kindly uncle. Perhaps you should read some Tony Benn.

    [Until the government stepped in, did anyone trust Northern Rock?]

    Ask the investors of BCCI as to whether the state is trustworthy.

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  23. Stephen: I am glad you do not consider me a fascist. You are right that the word is overused and I apologise for using it. (I didn't call you a fascist - I just said it was fascist to only have convicted criminals on a DNA database). I think the DNA database is currently unfair because we all are 'potential' criminals (that is just stating a truism) and yet we make it easier to catch some people rather than others. I believe in equality for all.

    It was Chris that compared knives to ID cards. CCTV etc. and my reply was addressed to you both. Perhaps I should have made that clearer.

    Yes, any system will not eradicate incompetence - the CRB has made some lives a misery - improvements are desperately needed, though it is difficult to quantify how many lives it might save - we can say it doesn't kill people.

    You admit yourself that where CCTV is installed, crime falls. Saying crime moves elsewhere is just an argument to have CCTV there as well.

    I was listening to a program about a family who were moving to Israel and one of the most moving moments was when the father described kissing his ID card as it was issued. This ID card symbolised his faith in his new society - he was proud of what it symbolised - his citizenship. I have spoken to many people in Sweden and Germany who would fight as hard as you do now on this issue. Only they would fight if ID cards were to be ABOLISHED in their countries. The status quo is very powerful but these people see the benefits of ID cards and do not want to be without them.

    There is incontrovertible evidence for the benefits of ID cards, CCTV and a DNA database. You admit yourself that CCTV deters crime. ID cards will make ID fraud more difficult (even the hostile LSE study that opponents cite admits that). And the DNA database has puts hundreds of rapists and murderers behind bars who would never have been caught AND DNA evidence has freed hundreds of innocent people who should not have been convicted. These benefits far outweigh any theoretical worries about pvivacy that people have.

    Finally ultimately I did trust the 1984 government - the Tories were driving me to despair but I knew the application of government would still provide me with health, education, welfare etc largely when I needed it and certainly the government were a far more reliable free source of help to people than any commercial interest would ever be.

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  24. Crikey, there has been some quality debate on here since I last looked.

    There is incontrovertible evidence for the benefits of ID cards

    No there is not.

    Now prove me wrong and cite your "incontrovertible" evidence (by the way incontrovertible evidence is not synonymous with Home Office propaganda where I'm from).

    As for your claims about Sweden, Israel, Denmark, et al - that's fine for them, however you are not in any way comparing like with like (as you well know) since the scheme proposed here is totally different to theirs, and for that matter, totally different to that in any other country in the world, except for .......well, let's see. there is some similarity with the Chinese one. Do you really think we should be emulating them?

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  25. urko: ID cards? I agree that there are currently fatal problems with the technology, biometrics, even the particular scheme the government are proposing. I have admitted all this before.

    I was just saying that there ARE incontrovertible benefits otherwise nobody would be considering it. ID cards will have a beneficial impact on ID fraud (which whatever estimate you use, is an increasingly large problem), the LSE report admits this. I was also referring to incontrovertible benefits of the DNA database and CCTV. They do help catch criminals and they do deter crime. Do you deny this?

    The problem I have with a lot of 'libertarians' who come on here is their absolutist attitude. They have decided 'on principle' they do not like something, then refuse to acknowledge how finely balanced the argument is.

    My position is that I do believe the government face serious issues with ID cards, and will sooner or later have to change their proposals. Those who have been honest on this in the IT industry and the very vocal small minority of opponents have served a useful purpose in highlighting the dangers, but the dangers are not insurmountable.

    Just as we know CO2 is a greenhouse gas, we know that more stringent ID will help reduce fraud. You don't need to be an expert to understand this basic concept.

    I have never heard a convincing argument as to why the minor loss of privacy in this area is actually deleterious to people. Democratically elected governments all over the world have accepted ID cards with no dissent from the people. There is safety in numbers and if people seriously reject ID cards they can reject it at the ballot box. The privacy argument just seems abstract. And basing something on a abstract principle does not appeal to me (or a lot of other people which is perhaps why opponents have exagerate and talk of 'big brother' and 'surveillance society' or 'china' and 'nazism' and invoke scary horror stories in a vain hope of supporting their position. Maybe China do have a similar system - that does not necessarily mean anything one way or the other.

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  26. Maybe China do have a similar system
    So you don't know, and you don't care. You just chant the mantra that ID cards will be good. You carry on saying "other countries have them" without bothering to consider what kind of ID card system other countries have. How is that any less absolutist than your opponents?

    You have NO EVIDENCE that ID cards will do any good.

    How do you think ID cards will stop identity fraud? (note - "because they will" is an absolutist answer and not allowed - extra points will be awarded for knowing the difference between Identity theft and Credit Card fraud which the Government doesn't).

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  27. [I am glad you do not consider me a fascist. You are right that the word is overused and I apologise for using it]

    Fair enough. For the record, I don't think the Labour party is fascist but I do think that it increasingly sees the law as being the way to resolve issues that are simply not tractable by passing laws. I think this trend is profoundly damaging to liberty. A case in point would be the attempts to criminalise the possession of 'extreme' pornography, which appears to be driven by disgust, and one notorious criminal case, rather than any evidence showing that passing such a law would make a difference to real violence in our society. What was that about difficult cases making bad law?

    [I didn't call you a fascist - I just said it was fascist to only have convicted criminals on a DNA database]

    Then I disagree with you strongly. It is not 'fascist' to treat those convicted of offences differently from those who have not. CRB checking is based on that very premise.

    [Yes, any system will not eradicate incompetence - the CRB has made some lives a misery - improvements are desperately needed, though it is difficult to quantify how many lives it might save - we can say it doesn't kill people]

    No but it ougtht to give us pause for thought over whether the nationalising and centralising of identity data is the best thing to do. The government has a pretty laissez-fair attitude to the security of our data - there are numerous cases of leaks to confirm this - and the weaking of data protection laws between government departments, for THEIR administrative convenience, rather than our security, can only make this worse.

    [You admit yourself that where CCTV is installed, crime falls. Saying crime moves elsewhere is just an argument to have CCTV there as well]

    To be honest, I am not particularly averse to the sparing use of CCTV; it was you who first mentioned CCTV. But seeing it as a magic bullet for solving and discouraging crime is simply wrong. Where I would have objections is the use of CCTV for automatic facial recognition - many years off technologically - which commit a permanent record to a database as to where anyone goes. The fact that today one cannot make a journey by car without the state knowning where one has been - via ANPRS - is pretty creepy.

    [I was listening to a program about a family who were moving to Israel and one of the most moving moments was when the father described kissing his ID card as it was issued. This ID card symbolised his faith in his new society - he was proud of what it symbolised - his citizenship]

    Yes and the historical and cultural reasons for that are pretty starkly different from those that apply to the UK. It is hardly surprising that a member of the Jewish diaspora returning to Israel might see the ID Card as being totemic of his returning home. No one in Britain is going to think that. Of course the Israeli ID Card is used to enforce discrimination against Palestinians and non-Jewish citzens of Israel so it a poor example for you to cite.

    [I have spoken to many people in Sweden and Germany who would fight as hard as you do now on this issue. Only they would fight if ID cards were to be ABOLISHED in their countries. The status quo is very powerful but these people see the benefits of ID cards and do not want to be without them]

    Strangley enough, I have spoken to French, Italien and Germans on the ID Card issue and they have said to me that if their governments tried to implement an ID Card and National Identity Register of sort that the UK government is attempting to impose then they would also protest - at Tunbridge Wells Fabians last week. The NIR would be unconstitutional under German law.

    [There is incontrovertible evidence for the benefits of ID cards, CCTV and a DNA database]

    If there is then the government has yet to adduce it in support of its case.

    [You admit yourself that CCTV deters crime]

    No I said it moves crime. If a crime happens elsewhere then it has not been deterred. And unless you want to cover every equare inch of the UK with cameras and recruit the millions needed to monitor them, then that will stay the case.

    [ID cards will make ID fraud more difficult]

    No, they will just make it different. Unattended CC fraud will be unaffected as will most benefit fraud. ID fraud still happens in countries that have ID Cards. Given that the ID Card will be an unquestioned proof of identity, it is likely that as forgeries flood the system, the effects of ID fraud will become more pronounced. ID fraud is combatted by having good cross checking procedures. As a specialist in this area, I know that it's process that is important not a single point of failure technology. The governemnt is spending billions on a technology that in practice will have very little difference to levels of fraud. I would rather give that money to the financial institutions who spend the money wisely to create systems that a proportionate and fit for purpose, which the ID Card scheme will not be,

    [even the hostile LSE study that opponents cite admits that]

    As you well know, the LSE study was not opposed to ID Cards just to the implementation of them that the government proposes. The LSE favoured a trusted sponsor system that applies in Scandinavian countries.

    [And the DNA database has puts hundreds of rapists and murderers behind bars who would never have been caught AND DNA evidence has freed hundreds of innocent people who should not have been convicted. These benefits far outweigh any theoretical worries about pvivacy that people have]

    No need for a universal database to free wrongly convicted people.

    [Finally ultimately I did trust the 1984 government - the Tories were driving me to despair]

    Same here.

    [but I knew the application of government would still provide me with health, education, welfare etc largely when I needed it and certainly the government were a far more reliable free source of help to people than any commercial interest would ever be]

    But ONLY if under the strict democratic control of the people. And that requires the ability to know what the government is up to. Parliament is seeking to exempt itself from the Freedom of Information act. It failed last time but it will succeed in time as Gordon Brown has signalled that he supports increased secrecy. It's all very well saying that Labour introuced the FOI act but they are now retreating from it. And's that is the reality against which you must judge the trustworthiness of government.

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  28. One qualification to my post. I was agreeing with the bit about the Tories driving me to despair. I certainly wasn't agreeing with the 1984 Tory Government being trustworthy, for it assuredly was not. The arbitrary use of police power to smash the Miners' Strike. The denial of trade union rights to workers at GCHQ. The obsessive centralisation of power. The politics of personality, which Blair and the Labour party learned so well from Thatcher.

    Sometimes, Neil I don't think you are living on the same planet as the rest of us.

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