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Some very bad news indeed

The Civil Contingencies Act became law last Thursday in what can only be described as a blaze on non-publicity. This legislation, which represents perhaps the most serious threat to liberty in Britain since World War II, has put in place the legal tools for some future government to impose rule-by-edict.

It would be hard to overstate how grave this situation is.

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42 comments to Some very bad news indeed

  • Rob

    Sigh.

    A dangerous and stupid piece of legislation. This government is passing from being incompetent and incoherent, into the realms of being genuinely dangerous.

    I don’t know what’s worse; the very idea of the bill, or the lack of opposition it has received. In particular, the Conservatives appear to be entirely in support of the bill, proving their lack of libertarian credentials. Likewise, the media, which has devoted vast amounts of time and space to coverage of the fox hunting debate, has remained almost entirely silent on this issue.

    I can only hope that we do not come to regret this bill, and that it is repealed or made obsolete before it can do any damage.

  • Wild Pegasus

    Wow. From supreme authority to one of the freest countries this earth has ever seen to supreme authority once more. It might be time for Her Majesty to refuse royal assent.

    – Josh

  • Julian Morrison

    What this really does is turn de facto into de jure. The government already has no conception of a “higher law”, views procedural limitations as nuisances, and belives that (if popular sentiment allows/encourages) they have the “right” to sign any arbitrary crap into law. This merely backs up their existing bad behaviour with a “law”.

  • Pete_London

    Wild Pegasus

    It might be time for Her Majesty to refuse royal assent.

    That’s an interesting point. We know that any Minister may repeal any law on the statute book. These are laws passed by Parliament or via the judiciary and not the Government’s to unilaterally abolish. Similarly any Minister may extend the life of a Parliament now (correct me if wrong). Again, Parliament does not belong to government. In my view not only is the CCA 2004 an outrageous piece of legislation but may well be unconstitutional. If so Her Maj had a duty to withold Royal Assent.

  • Given that Liz has failed to refuse consent for a number of Bills transferring power to a foreign body, I don’t think we shall hold our breath.
    As the Monarch has failed this country and her duty on so many occassions we should really be talking about her removal.

  • Euan Gray

    Similarly any Minister may extend the life of a Parliament now (correct me if wrong).

    As I understand it, emergency powers legislation was needed to do this, but in appropriate circumstances it is entirely legal. I think the last time was WW2, when the election had been in 1935 and the next one not until 1945. The case always was, AFAIK, that parliament had to pass emergency legislation which had to be in turn approved by the Crown – not just a case of a minster deciding not to trouble the people with the tiresome business of having to vote now and again.

    EG

  • Pete_London

    Euan

    We then have the possible scenario where for example a Minister decides to extend the life of a Parliament under the CCA 2004. This in turn is followed by Her Maj telling the government that only the Head of State may do so. It seems to me that in empowering a Minister to extend the life of a Parliament, Parliament itself has committed an ultra vires act. I say this because by tradition/custom/practive/whatever the Monarch convenes and ends Parliamentary sessions. Whether its a case of the CCA 2004 simply filling in a constitional gap or indeed changing the constitution its time to issue another forelorn and ignored call to man the barricades.

  • Euan Gray

    I say this because by tradition/custom/practive/whatever the Monarch convenes and ends Parliamentary sessions

    I suppose in extremis she can still do this by sending the army in to remove parliament. There is precedent, Cromwell did it when parliament refused to be sensible and act in anyone’s interest other than their own. Not, I suppose, a stunningly different form of parliamentary behaviour than we have now. Come to think of it, perhaps all we need these days is a modern Cromwell.

    EG

  • The CCA 2004 has already received royal assent according to this press release.

    I found the full text of the original Emergency Powers Act at this link.

    ISTM the primary differences are that:

    * the new Act has a far broader definition of emergency than the old.

    * the new Act vests both full legislative and executive power directly in the hands of senior ministers, where the old Act involved the Queen issuing both the proclamation of an emergency and the emergency regulations on the advice of ministers.

    * the new Act explicitly allows special courts or tribunals to be set up in place of the normal courts, where the old Act does not.
    the new Act explicitly emergency regulations the full force of an Act of Parliament and the power to disapply/modify existing Acts of Parliament where the old is, at worst, ambiguous on this point.

    ISTM quite clear that the new Act removes what few constraints existed in the old Act, and introduces the innovation of allowing the executive full legislative and executive power without reference to either Crown or Parliament. That it does so apparently temporarily is offset by the renewable nature of emergency regs.

    It’s an abomination that should never have passed.

  • Verity

    How many of the people posting above phoned and badgered their MPs and told them not to dare to vote for it? How many of you got up petitions against this haughty, disdainful abuse of elected office?

  • Tim in PA

    “Oh, sure, we don’t need a written consitution… We have traditions, and we can trust the government to abide by them.”

    Riiiight. Sorry guys.

  • Julian Taylor

    As the Monarch has failed this country and her duty on so many occassions we should really be talking about her removal

    How exactly has she failed this country? By not removing Phoney – who hardly even bothers to attend her any longer?

    The Royal Assent is purely a figure of speech now, in much the same way that “take him to the Tower” is more likely to be an request to take Blunkett on a tourist trip of The Tower of London, than an order to take him through Traitor’s Gate to his execution. The Queen does not have anything to do with agreeing or disagreeing with the passage of any Act of Parliament – that is carried out by the Lords Commisioners, most notable of whom is Phoney’s best mate Lord Falconer.

  • I admit to only having skimmed the thing, but the essence of it seems to be:

    1. government can do pretty much anything it wants in the event of an emergency;

    2. government will decide what constitutes an emergency; and

    3. there’s no way the citizenry can gainsay any of it.

    Is that too simplistic a reading?

  • Pete_London

    Verity

    Ehem .. cough … I didn’t need to phone or write to mine; my MP has the misfortune of being a friend of a friend who gets dragged along to our local pub from time to time and has to listen to me. He is a decent sort and I have found it disappointing not to be ‘offered outside’ from time to time. Unfortunately he also strikes me as being very credulous; he honestly cannot foresee a government using the CCA 2004 either irresponsibly or to for deceitful purposes.

  • Verity

    Pete – Well, yippeee. You know your MP and you haven’t bludgeoned him into submission by constantly picking at the point and getting your fellow constituents to call and email him. Given his inability to imagine that the CCA 2004 would be used irresponsibly or deceitfully, he must, given the evidence he sees in the Commons day after day, he can’t be much of a thinker despite his good-chap qualities.

    How many people commenting above have organised an email flaming of their MPs? They are only too aware that all those emails translate into votes. If they think the popular tide is turning against them, they have no problem in doing an abrupt about face.

    The Americans and the Aussies wouldn’t need to be told to do these things. At the first sign of danger to their democracy, they’re out there at the barricades.

    The distasteful truth is, the British are bovine and supine. They have watched with mild disapproval as this government has calmly removed one ancient right after another and is openly contemplating handing their sovereignty over to a cabal on the continent. There are always a few lonely voices expressing grave concern, but then it all dies down and goes away.

    What the British, who use that cringe-making phrase “our political masters”, simply cannot comprehend is that they are the boss. The electorate is the master.

    Kim, yes. I believe this is correct.

  • Pete_London

    Kim

    Exactly.

    Verity

    I’ve done all of those things. I’ve bored relatives, friends and associates rigid with it. I’ve had half a pub full of people look on as I’ve repeatedly banged on about this and the hunt ban and taxes and the EU and seen no-one feel compelled to join in. No-one thinks it important.

    The distasteful truth is, the British are bovine and supine.

    Yep. Terms such as ‘liberty’ and ‘freedom’ mean nothing. I seldom come across anyone who knows the difference between freedom and a right.

    They have watched with mild disapproval as this government has calmly removed one ancient right after another and is openly contemplating handing their sovereignty over to a cabal on the continent.

    They haven’t noticed at all. They have watched soaps and the latest ‘reality’ tv show instead. To tell people that the government is removing the freedoms, powers and rights which reside with the people is to be met with a blank stare. Decades of declining education, aspiration and welfarism have brought us to this point. A small part of me wants the worst to happen. A nation gets the politicians and governments it deserves and Britain deserves the worst.

  • Pete_London

    And another thing … Peter Hitchens is the only journalist/commentator/columnist/talking head I have read who has mentioned the CCA 2004. Its not their job to preserve our liberties of course but they sometimes perform a useful task of bringing attention to what politicians get up to. The entire nation has looked the other way while Parliament has voted this into existence.

  • Verity

    I beg your pardon, Pete, for making an unfair assumption about you, especially given what I know of your opinions from your blogging.

    I think many of them have actually noticed, in between reality TV shows and sports news, but they have a curious dual consciousness. They sort of know that Tony Blair has calmly pulled the carpet of the British constitution out from under them, but at the same time they retain the mindset of, “It can’t happen here.”

    Also, although it beggars belief after seven years awash with evidence to the contrary, they accept the government’s reassurances that there are no plans to actually use these measures, and they’ve been put in place so the government can act quickly in case of emergencies. Tony Blair becomes more contemptuous of the electorate and ancient British institutions by the day.

    And the Queen will be only too well aware that if he can eviscerate the constitution with the stroke of a pen, he can perform similar surgery on the monarchy.

    I have a personal hunch – or maybe it’s just an idle hope – that the Queen will use her veto at some point, but she knows she can only use it once. Once she refuses assent to any of Tony’s legislation, he will destroy the monarchy, so she has to use that final veto with great care.

  • The Queen is supposed to be of vaguely lefty persuasion, so I doubt it, Verity.

    Also, the Queen is a bit old, and Charlie is a charlie. While she’s probably going to live for many many years yet given the longevity of her family, you never know… and I wouldnt expect the monarchy to survive Charlie. Certainly, it would have no authority under him.

    At least Queen Bess 2 is respected.

  • Chris Goodman

    As a result of many years of Leftist propaganda via State funded “educators” the English have little or no concept of liberty. On Radio Four at the moment they are running a competition asking people to think up new laws. The idea that it would be good for a Parliament to pass no laws, indeed reduce the number of laws, is literally incomprehensible to people in a Leftist mindset. In Leftist Newspeak freedom and rights are something the government gives you, and democracy is not a check on government but something that gives it legitimacy.

    At the moment Channel Four is running a series by the constitutional historian David Starkey in which he (sotto voce) draws attention to the need to limit State power. Needless to add every time I have heard it being mentioned on the BBC it has been attacked. In this respect the BBC is getting worse. Years ago the BBC produced a very fine series called Civilisation written by Kenneth Clarke. When it was re-broadcast a few years ago all the BBC arts discussion programmes denounced it – something to do with the fact that it is about dead white European males. Arts review programmes seem to largely consist of people competing for who can be the biggest Leftist bigot. They did a programme about the re-furbished Museum of Modern Art in New York last week and one of the first things one of the [American] commentators said was “It is a tragedy” (or words to that effect) “that they are having the a party for its opening after that terrible election” (murmurs of approval). It is tempting to laugh at the rancid bigotry of Leftist half-wits but they are deadly serious about their hating.

    Do you honestly believe that a broadcasting system that views it as a thought crime to express even a scintilla of scepticism about that corrupt little project called the European Union will make a programme that explains the importance of property rights? Can you imagine a BBC programme that does not seek to justify higher taxation? It is unthinkable. Try doing a school project praising England in a State comprehensive school, try finding a mention of English Common Law tradition in a university Political Science module, or find a Channel Four newsreader who a Newsnight journalist who does not rely on Leftist assumptions (an article by one of the former the other day argued that the war in Iraq is simply a battle between two fundamentalist religious – Christian one Islamic). OK. I am rambling. The point is of course people in England are not complaining about the destruction of their liberties, because they have no concept of what you are talking about.

  • Euan Gray

    Tony Blair becomes more contemptuous of the electorate and ancient British institutions by the day

    People don’t care. As long as they get their welfare and the soaps are on tv, they’re happy. They don’t need to work, and they don’t need to think – God knows the school system deprives them of the tools do do either.

    Bread and circuses, and all that.

    EG

  • “Oh, sure, we don’t need a written consitution… We have traditions, and we can trust the government to abide by them.”

    Riiiight. Sorry guys.

    Tim in PA, having a written constitution hasn’t prevented the government in power from taking a big socialist crap on our liberty – our heritage is just toilet paper to power hungry statists. Also, the U.S. has been in a “state of emergency” for far too many years for the government to worry about putting in new emergency power acts.

  • Verity

    Aaron, with respect, and just about everyone who comments on this blog, and the owners of this blog, are all pro-American, but it is clear from your post that you do not understand what has happened in Britain.

    We are not talking in overblown rhetoric for effect, the way you are in your post. Our constitution has been been rendered down to a dog’s dinner without a naysayer in sight. It no longer offers protection to the British citizen. Blair can declare a state of emergency – over anything he and his minions deem to be an emergency – for example, if people defy the law and continue to hunt foxes, there’s nothing to stop him deeming that a national emergency – he won’t have to justify it to anyone, except with slogans, and he can suspend elections indefinitely. Thus Britain is in train to becoming a one-party state.

    I would say that you Americans have no idea how lucky you are with your Constitution, but that would be wrong. You do know how lucky you are, and you are alert to encroachments.

  • Verity

    For our American cousins, here is what Philip Johnston in The Telegraph has to say about this act:

    “One peculiarity of this Act passed largely unnoticed, though it was picked up by Lady Buscombe, the Tory spokesman in the Lords. Under the legislation, if there is an emergency – and we have to take the Government’s word for it that it would be of the utmost gravity – its powers would enable the Government to order the requisitioning of private property and to tell people where to go, what to do and when to do it. Laws to do with criminal evidence, trials and freedom of expression could be suspended. MPs and peers could be prevented from attending Parliament and it would be possible to take over the media, intern suspects and forcibly evacuate whole communities.”

  • Julian Morrison

    Blair can declare a state of emergency – over anything he and his minions deem to be an emergency – for example, if people defy the law and continue to hunt foxes, there’s nothing to stop him deeming that a national emergency – he won’t have to justify it to anyone, except with slogans, and he can suspend elections indefinitely. Thus Britain is in train to becoming a one-party state.

    He tries that and he’d have open civil war on his hands, and no messing.

  • Euan Gray

    He tries that and he’d have open civil war on his hands, and no messing

    I doubt it very much. This would presuppose that enough people (a) know what is happening and (b) actually think it matters.

    I suppose this type of legislation is not uncommon in Europe, and perhaps our version was even required by the EU. However, the key difference between Britain and Europe is that Europeans ignore laws that don’t suit them whereas the British, long renowned for being officious and petty, implement everything and take it all seriously. It’s the law, after all, and the law should be obeyed. This is how a depressingly large proportion of the people think.

    Since the British population would probably put up with more or less anything the government wanted to do (and where is the contemporary evidence to suggest that they wouldn’t?), I don’t suppose there is too much that can, in reality, be done about this.

    Short of revolution, of course. Even then, I can’t see people going for that because it would interrupt the flow of welfare cash and affect the skoolz-n-hospitals so beloved of the complacent middle classes. In the longer term, it will sort itself out when the EU implodes and we have to rebuild things. In the short term, though, I don’t see a workable solution.

    EG

  • John K

    A civil war? What would we fight with? The CCA is a complete power grab by the state, and the Tories do not oppose it because they still think that one day they will have power again. The CCA is unlikely to be used against terrorists, after all we lived through a genuine 30 year campaign of terror from the IRA without such legislation, likewise for 50 years there was a real risk of a major war with the USSR which could have devastated our country, and again we did not need the CCA. I think it will be used in the context of things such as the fuel protests, which really shook this government. You will note that in true NuLabor style they use weasel words like “civil contingencies” rather than straightforward English words like “emergency powers”. You do not call the police when you have a “contingency” do you? The CCA will enable special powers to be taken in only a part of the country, for instance areas around oil refineries, so that Leviathan will be able to detain protesters and confiscate their tankers without any compensation. So no more fuel protests, Phony Tony sleeps soundly and we are all so much safer. Welcome to NuBritain in year 7.

  • Verity

    Euan has said it all in a nutshell. There will not be a revolution. The media have barely thought it important enough to mention, except in passing. If Blair imposes the terms of the act, and he will, he will, rather than rise up in fury, the papers will pick nits about the manner in which he does it, and ignore the assault.

    I agree with Euan. The British people simply do not care about their freedom, as long as they’re comfortable. And yes, they’re pettifogging rule enforcers.

    I hadn’t seen mentioned before, though, Euan’s thought that this lethal thrust through the heart of our democracy may have been a requirement dreamed up by some high level EU apparachiks. You know it’s true. You don’t need a military force to conquer Britain. Foreign bureaucrats can do it without leaving the lunch table.

  • Julian Morrison

    This talk of “the British people simply do not care about their freedom, as long as they’re comfortable” annoys me. The British people are not dumb, they’re rational within their own inerests. They ask the quite valid question “why should I, personally, care?” The CCA is on the statute books but unless anyone uses it, it’s just hot air (or cold ink). It’s just political crap and beneath most people’s notice. This anarchic atitude is a good thing!

    Don’t assume that because the public are complacent for a theory, they’ll as casually accept actual pragmatic repression.

  • Verity

    Julian, with respect, I think you’re whistling in the wind. “The CCA is on the statute books but unless anyone uses it, it’s just hot air …”. You don’t think that Blair had the thought, and then dared to act upon it is a grave warning?

    This is a nation that allowed itself to be disarmed without a whimper. Doesn’t that strike you as sinister? That people would calmly surrender their means of protecting themselves? This is a nation where crime is now among the highest in the Western world – far, far ahead of the United States. Yet, being in denial, they still sneer at the US and regard it as the murder capital of the world. They just don’t seem to take in facts.

  • Euan Gray

    Don’t assume that because the public are complacent for a theory, they’ll as casually accept actual pragmatic repression.

    Doesn’t seem to have bothered them so far, though, does it?

    It’s illegal to own a handgun, not wear a seatbelt, eat something whilst driving a car, leave the engine running while stepping outside the car, not wear a safety helmet riding a motorbike and not to tell the government when your car is off the road. It will soon be illegal to hunt, to smoke in a public place, to make anything but the most banal and platitudinous comments on religion. If people get their way, we will have to wear a safety helmet and take out insurance to ride a bicycle. It is frowned upon to defend yourself or your property, and the only way you can get the police to take an interest in a burglary is if you tell them the culprits had an expired tax disk on their getaway car.

    We already bear a high burden of taxation, especially the less well-off amongst us. Our fuel is a necessity, yet amongst the most expensive in the world. Everything is expensive, life is heavily regulated, government statistics are massaged when they are not outright lies, unemployment is a lot higher than it officially is largely because of petty regulation and the hundreds of thousands shunted onto disability to hide the scale of the issue.

    All these things are accepted. Where are the protests (other than a few days terribly polite protest at high fuel prices)? Where is the discontent? It doesn’t happen, because people get their welfare money (even if it is less than they pay out in tax), the soaps are on TV. They don’t need to work if they don’t want to, they don’t have to think, they don’t have to worry about anything. Nanny will take care of everything, and they know it – and, which is more, they like it.

    If you chip away the rights and liberties of the people a tiny bit at a time, they don’t notice because each salami-thin slice of control is in itself insignificant in practical terms. By such means is an overarching controlling state built, one slice at a time, with the acquiesence of the people – even with their explicit consent.

    There will be no civil war, no revolution, no insurrection.

    Rather, there will be no *popular* revolution. This is not to say that there couldn’t actually be a revolution, but it will not be on the back of a restive population eager to reclaim their lost rights and liberties.

    EG

  • Verity

    Well said again, Euan!

    You forgot to mention, though, the dismantling of what was once one of the finest education systems in the world. Now, not only is everyone issued with a worthless piece of paper with 117 distinctions on it and ‘pass’ marks lowered to 30% and everyone shunted into the degree factory (except pregnant teenagers), but actual content of courses has been surgically excised. The latest wheeze (see melaniephillips.com) is to take the science out of science. Now, instead of being taught physics, chemistry and higher math, they are to learn “about science” and how it interacts in our everyday life at a social level. In other words, even science, the most immovably neutral of all subjects, is being put to the service of Nulab and the message of political correctness.

    Blair and his cohorts are using the education system they have destroyed to create easily controlled soma people dependent on the state. Somat for nothing. But judging to the non-reaction to the CCA, one could just quote the line from “Send in The Clowns” … “don’t bother; they’re here”.

  • Euan Gray

    I think it’s rather sad when a revolution may be necessary, not to impose some millenarian ideology, but simply to make the bloody country work. “Peace, bread and land” makes a good revolutionary slogan, but “Efficiency, responsibility and limited government” isn’t quite as catchy. Then again, people won’t vote for freedom once they know the price – self reliance, hard work and personal responsibility.

    I do have this pet theory that every 300 years or so England is convulsed by something akin to revolution (actual revolution in the last case) which shakes up the nation for a few years before it gradually slips back to sleep. 360 years ago, the Civil War was in full swing. 260 years before that, it was Wat Tyler. 320 years before that, the Normans. You get the idea.

    Perhaps we’re overdue. Someone go and wake up King Alfred…

    EG

  • Pete_London

    Sky is reporting that there’s been a peaceful handover of power in Ukraine. A prime example of getting yourself heard. Unfortuntely most will be watching some crap on the other side about how to decorate your home.

  • jimdgriz

    “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

  • Tim in PA

    Verity, I know exactly how lucky we are to have our constitution, simply because of the things happening over there in Britain and elsewhere.

    True, Aaron, our constitution here in the states has been encroached upon repeatedly, but it’s a lot better than nothing. If the government here oversteps its bounds, I can reply with more than harsh language.

    British commenters on this site have, at times, ridiculed me when I brought up their lack of arms in relation to their ever-growing nanny government. Silly American and his ‘gun culture’. I don’t think it’s something to laugh at anymore. I agree that even if (ok, when) their government abuses these new laws, most Brits will do nothing. This isn’t simply because too many have become sheep.

    It’s because they no longer have any other real options.

  • Verity,

    Mea culpa.

    For some years now I’ve been publicising the ongoing attacks on civil liberties and other restraints on state power in Britain to friends, readers of uk.politics.misc, readers of my website, readers of the Magna Carta Plus website (along with other contributors) and more recently my blog.

    I have occasionally emailed newspapers and MPs about the issues — usually getting a bland response from the latter and no response from the former.

    Most recently, I became a member of No2ID and contributed money to the campaign. And I also signed an e-Petition against ID cards organised by the same group.

    But I haven’t done what you suggest — I concede that I’ve been too meek and mild about this.

    And yet I’ve done more than just about everyone I know (on any issue), with most exceptions being those who are active on usenet or blogs.

    All of which is to say that you may well be right about the British people and I should endeavour to do better.

    It’s a bit galling that my MP is George Galloway, but he’s probably not immune to voters telling him where to go if he doesn’t please them… I’ll have to see if I can find out how he voted on this legislation.

  • Verity

    Tim in PA – British commenters on this site have, at times, ridiculed me when I brought up their lack of arms in relation to their ever-growing nanny government. Silly American and his ‘gun culture’.

    Really? How exciting! I don’t recall a single instance of a commenter on Samizdata ridiculing an American for keeping a gun in his home. Most of the posts I have read have been written by people grinding their teeth in envy.

    James Hammerton, what’s with the heavy sarcasm? If hundreds of thousands of others did what you have done (other than have Gorgeous Gussie as an MP), Blair’s government would have fear of, rather than contempt for, the electorate.

  • Julian Morrison

    As to worries about guns, this book, which is available in the UK could teach an experienced machinist how to make a smoothbore 9mm machine-gun from commodity parts in a couple hours – or a total beginner how to do so with a few cheap power tools in their garage in a couple days.

    Guns are not hard to get if the need arises.

  • Verity,

    I was not being sarcastic, and didn’t intend my comments to be taken that way. Maybe I didn’t make that clear though.

    I was making some observations about what I’ve done and trying to illustrate that your comments both highlighted some shortcomings of my approach (I haven’t done enough in terms of directly badgering MPs or badgering other people to do so, as opposed to merely publicising things that concern me) and also that my experience confirmed your comments about the mass of British people.

    The bulk of people I know personally show distinct lack of concern when I mention these things to them — though there are some exceptions.

    I fully agree that if hundreds of thousands of others did what I’ve been doing then Blair’s government would be on the run on this issue.

    The fact that they don’t begs the question of why people like me, the contributors to Samizdata and White Rose, the bods @ No2ID, and groups such as Liberty, FIPR, STAND and others have failed to engage the public sufficiently to scare the MPs and political parties into opposing/halting this onslaught.

    Mind you a concerted campaign by STAND, FIPR and others did lead to the delaying and (slight) watering down of the “snooper’s charter” (which vastly extended the number of people capable of exercising RIPA’s powers over you).

    More positively, another concerted campaign by academics, FIPR and civil liberties groups led to the Export Control Act being far less dangerous to academic freedom, and the general freedom to exchange ideas, than it would otherwise have been. So some impact has been made, if only on some specific issues.

  • Pete_London

    I’ve set up a meeting with my (Tory) MP for 4 December to discuss the CCA. Yep, its law already but a chat without an audience and alcohol in the way will be a change. If anyone would like a particular message delivered I’m happy to do so. Also, unless anyone objects I’ll print these discussions and give him something to read.

  • Verity

    Good on you, Pete!

    If you could get people to flame him around the same time (doesn’t have to be his constituents) it would touch up the reality of the concern in his eyes.

    MPs are more frightened of the electorate than they are of the whips. It baffles me that it seems to slip the mind of the British people that they are the boss, and the MP is sitting in Parliament to do their bidding. Any time an MP steps out of line to please the head of his party rather than the tens of thousands of people who went to the polling booth and put an X next to his name, they should receive a sharp reminder of the power of the voter, and that means petitions and emails giving him/her their instructions.

    Americans have the fine art of controlling their representatives down to a T and the British could take some lessons from them. American senators and representatives strive to please their constituents, not their party leaders. They are well aware of who put them in the job and how easily they could be stripped of all their privileges at the next election if they fail. (Of course, in Britain, there may not be a next election.)

    James Hammerton, well it sounds as though you’ve done a lot and I’m sorry I thought you were being sarcastic. You have at least made yourself heard.

    I would suggest that you get as many people as you can to send emails to your MP, even if they’re not his constituents. Noting that hundreds (or dozens) of people are concerned about an issue alerts the MP to the fact that there’s something rustling out there and concentrates his self-centred mind.

    Why not put up notices in your local newsagents and on telephone poles around the neighbourhood describing the issue and consequences with brevity and affixing your MP’s email address? I’ll bet a lot of people would jot it down!