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Archive for November, 2008

Why has Brown been silent over the Damian Green arrest affair?

Look no further than the following.

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Amongst the furore of the Damian Green arrest, and all the other implications that flow from that, is the largely unremarked element of the collection of DNA ‘evidence’.

I, like many others these last few years, have been extremely concerned about the routine collection, and retainment of DNA evidence. It seems to be the case that collection of DNA is now an automatic part of the arrest procedure. Whilst on the face of it that is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, in that it may help tie the suspect into other crimes, even if the suspect is eventually released without charge his DNA evidence is retained. The mere fact that someone is arrested is apparently sufficient grounds for collecting and retaining DNA

That I would suggest, in a society that was previously thought of as a free society, is completely intolerable. Put simply the state has no right to retain DNA evidence of law abiding citizens. Where might this lead? The state may decide that it would be useful to have as many samples of its citizens’ DNA as possible. Short of passing an Act that would require this, (and I fear that we’re getting pretty close with the iris recognition aspects of obtaining a passport), which even for ZANU Labour would probably be a step too far, it may nevertheless think it a good idea to have as many arrests as possible, the better able to collect DNA evidence under the existing system.

What next? An arrest and DNA collection for any minor traffic violation or speeding offence. An arrest for reading out the names of the Iraqi dead in Downing Street? An arrest for heckling Jack Straw at a Labour Party conference.

What fanciable suggestions. Such things couldn’t happen here.

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Over a month since I last wrote on this subject, and government and businesses are becoming increasingly desperate and concerned over the failure of banks to lend money, (which after all is what they’re in business for), and stimulate the economy. Now that the UK government (along with other countries) has guaranteed the balance sheets of banks, there is no excuse.

My suggestion to get things moving turns the normal rules of debt, saving & interest through 180 degrees. Instead of banks paying interest on money they borrow from one another, why doesn’t the government, (who owns the major share in many banks), pass an Act, perhaps with a sunshine clause that will lapse after say three years, and regulate that banks who hold money for more than a few days will be levied with an interest charge or tax on the level of their average cash balances over that period, and banks who increase their lending to companies or the mortgage market will receive interest on that part of their lending which is derived from borrowing from other banks..

This mechanism could be handled by central banks, who could no doubt make a small margin for their taxpayers on this trade.

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Dear Helen,

Re the Damian Green affair.

I have on previous occasions reminded you that after the primary duty of representing your constituents, your secondary duty is to hold the government to account. I have so far not detected this in your dealings with Ministers. I trust that even you can see the seriousness of this affair and will change your apparent habit of never questioning the government about a controversial matter.

The Damian Green affair is extremely worrying for our democracy and the constitutional position of the House of Commons. I sincerely hope that you will now ask some questions of Ministers and the Speaker George Martin.

1. No one has yet, as far as I can tell, specifically asked Jacqui Smith if she knew of the arrest of Damian Green before it took place. We have had vague comments from government officials that no minister knew in advance but that’s doesn’t preclude the fact that they may have been consulted whilst the police took a decision whether to arrest or not. These are weasel words and need to be examined in detail. Please do not confuse this with the independency of the Police. It is right that they are independent of government ministers since they are essentially a citizens police force and must make decisions independent of Ministers. But that does not mean that in an obviously serious case like the arrest of an MP that the Home Secretary should not be consulted for advice. Even Boris Johnson for heavens sake knew about the police involvement, and I cannot believe that Jacqui Smith was unaware. Will you therefore specifically put down a question in the House, to Jacqui Smith, asking this specific question. Was she or any civil servant in her department consulted about, told in advance, or in any way made aware of the possibility of the arrest?

2. I understand that George Martin authorised the police to search the office in Parliament of Damian Green? This is intolerable. The House of Commons is in our constitutional arrangement a court of law, and carries the special privileges that attach to any court. Amongst which is the security of information contained within the court. Will you also put down a question asking the Speaker why he has failed to uphold the status of Parliament and why he permitted the police to raid the office of an MP?

These events cause me great concern. There is something wrong with our democracy when the Prevention of Terrorism Act is used for a case like this, when clearly Damian Green is no threat to the security of the realm. I’m not altogether surprised at this slide in our freedom.

We’ve seen how this same Act has been used to suppress a poor woman who wanted to read out in Downing Street the names of the Iraqi dead. We had the disgraceful case of the 82 year old Walter Wolfgang being arrested under the Terrorism Act at your Labour conference for having the temerity to heckle Jack Straw, and of course we’ve had the government wanting to lift the detention period of suspects arrested under the Terrorism Act from 28 days to 90 days.

I look forward to your response and confirmation that you will deal with points 1 & 2 above and ask those questions in Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

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So Damian Green the Conservative Immigration spokesman has been arrested in connection with a series of leaks about immigration statistics from the Home Office. Well if that’s to be the case I sincerely hope that as much attention will be paid to those in government, who in recent days were clearly leaking details of Alistair Darling’s pre-Budget report.

Am I the only one who finds this contradiction in treatment extremely worrying. 60 years ago, Hugh Dalton the then Chancellor of the Exchequer resigned for having leaked details to a journalist on the day of his budget. Clearly that is wrong since this sort of financial information is extremely market sensitive. Yet no one seems to be pursuing those in government who have clearly been leaking this sensitive data.

There is a world of difference between non sensitive immigration numbers and tax and financial information.

Why is Damian Green being singled out?

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Alistair Darling, (the nominated UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, although some would allege it is still Prime Minister Gordon Brown who pulls the purse strings), is widely expected to attempt to kick start the economy this week by reducing the standard rate of VAT from 17.5% to 15%.

What of course goes unremarked by the europhile press and political elite is the elephant in the room. Even if Darling wanted to reduce it further, (and let’s face it how many traders will actually pass on a 2.5% points reduction which will involve re-labeling all products), he wouldn’t be allowed to. His hands are tied by his political masters in the European Union. Under the VIth VAT directive the lowest permitted standard rate by any member state is 15%.

Once again we see the powerlessness of Parliament to set laws for the benefit of the UK electors who put them in power. These days about the only real decisions our MPs can take independently of Brussels is what colour to paint the park benches. Why we don’t just pension of the Westminster Parliament and save ourselves a lot of money is becoming increasingly hard to understand.

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So after years of lying to us, and complaining that stories of bent bananas and curved cucumbers  were wicked myths, put about by eurosceptics, the European Commission is today set to remove many of these ‘mythical’ directives from the statute book. Sadly however not all. So whilst the EU commissars are now permitting bent cucumbers to be sold, they are still apparently reluctant to remove restrictions on bananas and several other fruits and vegetables.

At least the truth is now out, and everyone now knows that these mad rulers of ours are as daft as most of us always knew.

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