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]

Quote of the week!

“[…] the cards do represent an attack upon the culture of liberty – upon our sense that we can do as we please within the law, and mix freely with others. What ID cards represent is a society where we are constantly having to answer for ourselves – constantly having to say who we are, to prove our identity to officialdom. They also symbolise a society where we are mistrustful of our fellow citizens. In Blunkett-world, we should only trust those who have become a member of the ID-card community, and are allowing the powers that be to keep tabs on them.”

Josie Appleton

White Rose quote of the day

This minute is my contribution but I should re-emphasise that I remain unconvinced by the overall policy. I believe the proposed plan is flawed, and that no tinkering with particular issues will be able to resolve what is a fundamental political matter. We remain as far apart as ever on the acceptability of charging. How will we get people to accept a fee when asylum seekers get the card free? What about the practicality of ensuring every citizen provides a biometric sample while no effective procedures are in place for those who refuse? The potential for a large-scale debacle which harms the Government is great, and any further decisions on the next steps must be made collectively. I will continue to urge strongly that this issue be shelved.

–Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, asking David Blunkett some very good questions in a leaked Cabinet document, as revealed in the Sunday Times.

War of Words

As British citizens we have very little actual power to influence government. One weapon we do have is words, that’s why we write blogs. However if we’re honest the impact is small. Only a tiny proportion of the population will ever read any blog at all. Most will read ones they agree with – we’re largely preaching to the converted.

What we need to do is take our words out on to the street – to get other people using them for us. We can do that not with lengthy arguments or rants but with simple phrases that encapsulate our position. Soundbites, memes, call them what you will. Politicians, advertisers and the media all know the power of a simple slogan: “Things can only get better”, “Beanz Meanz Heinz”, “the innocent have nothing to fear”…

The term I want to popularise is Big Blunkett. David Blunkett is an authoritarian Home Secretary who believes in monitoring innocent citizens. He is responsible for some of the worst threats to civil liberties this country has seen for many years. In particular he seems determined to introduce compulsory National Identity Cards – yet the average person on the street seems unaware of the threat he poses.

I’m not trying to offend or hurt David Blunkett personally. He might be a really nice man socially – but as a politician he is dangerous. The thought that he might become Prime Minister is frightening.

The expression “Big Blunkett” sums up the dangers simply and effectively, especially in the Orwell centenary year. When people hear the name David Blunkett they should automatically think “Big Brother”. The fact that Blunkett is blind simply adds irony and provides a talking point.

I want to get “Big Blunkett” into common usage and I want to do it fast – time is running out. Please help me. Use the term “Big Blunkett” at every opportunity. Use it with your mates down the pub, use it in your blogs, use it in letters/emails to the media. If you’re a journalist use it in your reports, even if only to the extent of saying “some people are calling him ‘Big Blunkett'”. I search Google daily for the phrase “Big Blunkett”, hopefully soon I’ll find 5000 entries instead of just 5.

Words can make a difference. Let’s use them.

I don’t want Big Blunkett watching me.

Cross-posted from An It Harm None and the brand new Big Blunkett blog.

White Rose quote of the day

I do not believe that I was entirely convinced by the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Dinton, that the bureaucracy can be trusted to safeguard our liberty… I believe that, beyond anything else, the preservation of liberty is the business of Parliament and of others who are not concerned with government or, in other ways, with the powers in the land. They must ensure that this critical part of our being a free and worthwhile nation is preserved.

When we consider legislation which, in particular, poses a danger to liberty, we must not give the Government blanket permissions; we must justify each and every trespass. We must ensure that the Government do not only do things because they can but that, when they do things, they are effective. We must also ensure that the Government consider all possible ways of achieving the same end without the diminution of our liberty.

It is common that authorities do things because they can or that they choose to do the things that they can do rather than the things that are important.
– Lord Lucas in Security and Liberty debate in House of Lords, 26th March 2003

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