We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The State stalking the stalkers – and everyone else

Yet another knife in the face of the rule of law is proposed in England and Wales, to deal with the problem of stalking.

The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, appears to be pleased with the proposals.

New stalking protection orders will be introduced to better protect victims at the earliest possible stage, the home secretary has announced.
Amber Rudd called it “a practical solution to a crime taking place now”.

A closer inspection of the proposals reveals a familiar tactic, imposing a court order on someone who has not been convicted of any crime, and making a breach of that order a crime. This has already been in place since the Protection From Harassment Act 1997 was brought in, which was, IIRC, supposed to have dealt with this problem.

And look at the box of tricks that the State is offering:

The orders in England and Wales will help those who are targeted by strangers, giving them similar protection to domestic abuse victims.
Breaching an order’s conditions will be a criminal offence with a maximum sentence of five years in jail.
Police will be able to apply to the courts for an order before a stalking suspect has been convicted or even arrested.
The requirements of the order will vary according to the nature of the case. Typically, the suspect will be banned from going near the victim and contacting them online.

So no need to even arrest someone, just dump an order on them, and that will be a good start. But there’e more, all very Soviet if you ask me.

They might also be ordered to attend a rehabilitation programme, or undergo treatment if they have a mental health problem.

So without so much as a chance to argue your case, you could find yourself ordered to undergo treatment, and risk 5 years in jail if you refuse.

Not that it is much better that this could perhaps only follow a conviction.

So what do the police think?

The National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead for stalking and harassment, Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, said:”We want to stop stalkers in their tracks.
“The launch of stalking protection orders will help us intervene earlier and place controls on perpetrators to prevent their behaviour escalating while the crime is investigated.”

Not, I note ‘We want to bring suspects before the courts if the evidence justifies arrest, charge and a realistic prospect of conviction in a situation where it is in the public interest to prosecute, even though prosecution is a matter for the Crown, not the police.’, which would be a bare minimum of respect for the rule of law. But clearly not a shoot-to-kill to ‘stop stalkers in their tracks‘.

And what do the ‘charities’ think?

Rachel Griffin, director of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust which manages the National Stalking Helpline, welcomed the announcement.
“We are really excited that the order allows positive obligations to be put on a stalker,” Ms Griffin said.
“But of course that mental health treatment needs to be available at local level.”

This ‘trust’ is named for a murdered estate agent. I don’t see how killing the rule of law is an appropriate memorial to her. And did you note the sly hint that (State) funding is important?

And on what pretext is the rule of law being sacrificed, with a dagger in the chest for the beating heart to be pulled out and eaten warm?

Stalking protection orders form part of a package of government action to coincide with 16 days of action following the 25 November International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.

How about the elimination of violence against the rule of law?

Baroness Warsi on what it is we can all convalesce around

Baroness Warsi on Peston on Sunday, talking about “identity”:

Well there’s a big report coming out on Monday actually, a government report on integration, which tries to kind of unpick who it is we are, what it is that we can all convalesce around. …

It sounded as if she thought we had all been suffering from some sort of medical condition. Brexit? Perhaps she does think this, about that. But, she presumably had the word “coalesce” in mind.

At first I tried to type out what she had said from memory. But the only reason I was watching this was that my video machine had switched to it from something else, because it was about to record some rugby. And this machine can play back a recording even as it is still making it.

The UK just legalised everything that Snowden warned us about

There is a good article on the Verge laying out the horrendous Investigatory Powers Act.

New £5 note is a good start but…

…you cannot please everyone no matter what you do, so do not even try:

Cambridge Rainbow vegetarian cafe refuses new £5 note

I would sign a petition not to remove animal products from the £5 note. Seriously. I am so through with being accommodating in oh so many ways and on oh so many issues.

If it was up to me, bank notes would all be printed on slices of bacon 😉

“The LibDems only won by 4% in Richmond, there should be a second by election.”

“Richmond Park marks the start of a new, cross-party rejection of Brexit”, says Hugo Dixon in the Guardian. Predictably. People like Geraint Davies MP and David Lammy MP been weaselling away since the week of the referendum. Zac Goldsmith’s defeat at the hands of the Liberal Democrats in the Richmond Park by-election has worked on the Remainers like a psychotropic drug in their carrot juice.

A Reddit user called “lordweiner27” neatly turned around every cliché of the Weasel genre. His or her post seems to have been removed from r/ukpolitics, so I thought I would preserve it here:

The LibDems only won by 4% in Richmond, there should be a second by election.

We know that the LibDems lied and put out fake news during the campaign. When people realise this how many people will change their mind?

We also know that this wasn’t really a vote for the LibDems, it was a by election with very low turnout. What this really was was a rejection of the establishment in the form of multi millionaire Goldsmith, not a vote in favour of the LibDems.

I’ve already spoken to people in Richmond and they’re telling me that their having Libgret and wish they’d voted for Zac. They’re telling me that they were decieved by the LibDem campaign, they fell for the lies and they feel that they themselves are possibly retarded.

And anyway, why should ordinary people get to decide who their MP is? Zac was more well qualified than the LibDem candidate having been an MP for years. All the experts back Zac and they’re always right.

Dear UKIP, you’ve changed

“UKIP leader Paul Nuttall says UK should ban burqa”, the Independent reports.

In the 2015 election I was pleased to note that UKIP, the third most popular party in the UK in terms of number of votes, was also the closest to libertarian among the mainstream parties. Since then the United Kingdom Independence Party has both fulfilled and lost its purpose. Its new leader, Paul Nuttall, seems to want to achieve his aim of supplanting Labour as the main opposition to the Tories by outcompeting Labour in the field of authoritarianism. Just listen to the tail-wags-the-dog justification for banning the burqa that Mr Nutall gives in the video clip linked to by the Independent:

“Whether we like it or not we are the most watched people in the world. There’s more CCTV in Britain per head than anywhere else on the planet and for the CCTV to be effective you need to see people’s faces.”

The Digital Economy Bill

The Bill’s intention is to create better data sharing gateways. The plans to digitise our birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates – which will be stored and shared in bulk – will make the sharing of our personal information as easy as clicking a mouse. There will be no requirement for them to consult you. You won’t be asked in advance, you won’t even be told after the event and you won’t have the chance to opt out.

Worried? You should be. Do you remember the ID card furore before the 2010 general election? The scheme was axed at great expense when public support for the plans plummeted after it was revealed that HMRC had lost personal information belonging to 25 million child benefit claimants.

Only then did the reality of how insecure our data is sink in. It’s worth noting the lost information still hasn’t been recovered almost 10 years later.

Don’t be fooled that things have improved. In 2014/15 government departments experienced almost 9,000 data breaches, according to a recent National Audit Office report.

Renate Samson

Samizdata quote of the day

You might not have noticed thanks to world events, but the UK parliament recently approved the government’s so-called Snooper’s Charter and it will soon become law. This nickname for the Investigatory Powers Bill is well earned. It represents a new level and nature of surveillance that goes beyond anything previously set out in law in a democratic society. It is not a modernisation of existing law, but something qualitatively different, something that intrudes upon every UK citizen’s life in a way that would even a decade ago have been inconceivable […] As David Davis said, before being distracted by Brexit, this kind of surveillance will only catch the innocent and the incompetent. The innocent should not be caught and the incompetent can be caught any number of ways.

Paul Bernal. Good article, even if I was a bit bemused by the author’s surprise that a paleo-socialist like Jeremy Corbyn acquiesced.

Repeal the new surveillance laws (Investigatory Powers Act)

If you are in the UK, please sign the petition to repeal the new surveillance laws (Investigatory Powers Act). We are half way to getting a Parliamentary debate (maybe 🙄 ).

Too many see Orwell’s “1984” not as a cautionary tale, but rather a compendium of interesting policy suggestions.

UK government suppressing free speech: nothing less than scandalous

I have mixed feelings about Milo Yiannopoulos, but the notion that representatives of Her Majesties Government have pressured Simon Langton Grammar School in Canterbury into cancelling a speech by him on grounds of ‘extremism‘ is tantamount to a declaration of war on freedom of expression.

There needs to be push-back because this is scandalous.

Push back how? Names need to be named. Exactly who at the Department for Education was behind this? Who did Headmaster Matthew Baxter speak with? Names please. And who ordered those functionaries to contact the headmaster and press him into cancelling this event? Names please, because their reasoning needs to be subject to scrutiny.

Update: very interesting local article reporting on this. Once you get away from the London based media, you are more likely to find journalism that does not reflexively kowtow to the BBC/Guardian orthodoxy.

Samizdata quote of the day

The Investigatory Powers Act legalises powers that the security agencies and police had been using for years without making this clear to either the public or parliament. In October, the investigatory powers tribunal, the only court that hears complaints against MI6, MI5 and GCHQ, ruled that they had been unlawfully collecting massive volumes of confidential personal data without proper oversight for 17 years.

Ewen MacAskill

Right. We’re going in. Those trees gonna die.

Jennifer Saul, a professor of philosophy at the University of Sheffield, has a had a figurative and literal rude awakening. Writing in the Huffington Post, she says,

Authoritarianism in Sheffield

…you might think, local Labour councils would be on the side of the good—fighting authoritarianism and working to preserve what they can of the quality of life in their cities.

This morning, however, Sheffield’s Labour council showed us beyond a shadow of a doubt how they feel about the authoritarianism on the rise round the world. Overruling their own hand-picked Independent Tree Panels, they decided to descend on Rustlings Road, a quiet residential street, in the wee hours of the morning with 22 police officers, to fell 8 trees (6 of which the tree panels said should be saved). Residents were awakened in the middle of the night by police demanding that they move their cars. Three were arrested, including two pensioners. Police in the middle of the night, knocking on doors, dragging people out of bed? Arresting elderly law-abiding citizens? This is not the lovely left-wing city I thought I was moving to back in 1995.

I laughed at her political naivety until I remembered that I shared it. Whether the local authority was Labour, Conservative, or any other party, I would not have expected to read of vanloads of police with arc lights and bullhorns descending at dawn on any street of the UK for anything short of a raid on armed and dangerous gangsters.

Nor should Sheffield City Council get away with this less dramatic but equally ominous manipulation of the law:

We learned their recommendation today [i.e the decision of the Tree Panel], only after the felling. (Although the recommendation was dated 22 July, it was only published this morning at 4.30.) The council’s hand-picked experts recommended against felling 6 of the 8 trees. And yet the council was so determined to destroy them anyway that they engaged in a massive police action against law-abiding citizens in the middle of the night.

Other accounts of the incident can be read here and here.