UK Politics - Intro Notes - Back to Index



If you want to watch live or recorded debates in the Houses of Parliament etc then you can do so at the BBC's Democracy Live website.


Police forces challenged over files held on law-abiding protesters.


Police told to ignore human rights ruling over DNA database.


A woman with multiple sclerosis has made legal history by winning her battle to have the law on assisted suicide clarified.


Lumley greeted as 'daughter of Nepal'.


The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has dropped its official opposition to the concept of helping terminally ill patients to commit suicide.


The Guardian has obtained footage of two women being assaulted by police for daring to ask for badge badge numbers. They were denied bail and held for three days before the bogus charges were dropped.


The Tories have written to five firms bidding to supply ID cards warning them not to sign any long-term contracts.


THE renegade former MI6 spy Richard Tomlinson has finally come in from the cold. After more than a decade in exile, where he lived in fear of arrest and extradition to face trial in the UK, Tomlinson has at last buried the hatchet with Sir John Scarlett, chief of MI6.


The Home Office and Kent Police have buried a report on the policing of last summer's climate camp at Kingsnorth power station, provoking suspicions that it was critical of the controversial police tactics at the protest.


Gordon Brown should hold a national referendum on electoral reform, the Health Secretary Alan Johnson has said.


About a month ago I met a very Scottish young man at a squatted pub in London. He was visiting England and bending everyone's ear about independence etc. He asked a group of us what important event was being celebrated in Scotland this year and none of us knew - do you? Well not to leave you in suspense it is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns (just over a year since the same anniversary for William Blake by the way). To mark the occasion, this year has been declared Homecoming Scotland 2009. Jasper Hamil talked to Alex Salmond about Homecoming and wrote an article for The Midgie called Salmond Swims Home.


A national network of cameras and computers automatically logging car number plates will be in place within months, the BBC has learned.


The Court of Appeal has limited police powers to keep pictures of protesters in case they go on to break the law.


London Tamil protest policing questioned.


MPs expenses: The best example yet of why FOI is a good law.


G20 police 'used undercover men to incite crowds' - MP demands inquiry into Met tactics at demo.


The UK's electronic intelligence agency has taken the unusual step of issuing a statement to deny it will track all UK internet and online phone use.


The Home Office has been accused of colluding with online ad firm Phorm on "informal guidance" to the public on whether the company's service is legal.


Lawyers for seven men who were detained at Guantanamo Bay are seeking a court order preventing any evidence of their alleged mistreatment being destroyed.


A police sergeant seen in video footage apparently hitting a woman during the G20 protest in London has been suspended, Scotland Yard has said.


Ministers have been forced to lift the traditional ban on prisoners voting to comply with a European court ruling.


Dramatic footage obtained by the Guardian shows that the man who died at last week's G20 protests in London was attacked from behind and thrown to the ground by a baton-wielding police officer in riot gear.


UK resident Binyam Mohamed, freed from Guantanamo Bay, has said he would not have faced torture or extraordinary rendition if it was not for British involvement in his case.


The "database state", counter-terrorism laws and press freedom are among issues being discussed by campaigners at the Convention on Modern Liberty.


Philip Pullman has written an article in The Times to mark the Convention on Modern Liberty - Malevolent voices that despise our freedoms.


The Scottish Government has told Westminster it remains completely opposed to its plans to roll out identity cards across the UK.


The body that advises the government on illegal drugs is to recommend ecstasy be downgraded to a Class B drug.


The steady expansion of the "surveillance society" risks undermining fundamental freedoms including the right to privacy, according to a House of Lords report published today.


It is becoming increasingly clear that the Mark Thompson made a grave miscalculation in deciding not to air the Gaza Appeal on the BBC. Far from maintaining impartiality, the decision was clearly motivated by a pro-Israeli bias. Let's hope it all comes out in the wash.

The Press Complaints Commission is investigating a front-page story in the Sun newspaper that claimed Islamic extremists were targeting The Apprentice star Sir Alan Sugar.


The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has cancelled interviews with the BBC over its decision not to broadcast a charity appeal for Gaza.


A child protection database containing the contact details for all under 18-year-olds in England will be accessible to 390,000 staff, say ministers.


The BBC is continuing to resist pressure over its decision not to air an appeal for aid to Gaza, as the Archbishop of York joined its critics.


It seems like the Government's implementation of the EC's data retention directive (2006/24/EC) is in a state of chaos. It is supposed to take effect by March 15th but nobody even knows what it will require. The best explanation I have seen is on the website of my ISP, so here is Mythic Beasts position on Electronic Communications Data Retention (EC Directive) Regulations.


The government has shelved plans to hold a vote on controversial proposals to restrict the amount of information published about MP expenses.


Ministers are about to conceal MPs' expenses, even though the public has just paid £1m to get them all ready for publication.


The Empty Homes Agency is an independent campaigning charity, which exists to highlight the waste of empty property in England and works with others to devise and promote sustainable solutions to bring empty property back into use. They have a site where you can report empty homes directly to councils.

I keep meaning to have another look at The Public Whip website.


A decision on whether a third runway should be built at Heathrow Airport has been put back to January 2009, the Department for Transport has said.


Press Freedom: "Collateral Damage" is a short film released by the National Union of Journalists which tackles the issue of police surveillance of bona fide journalists who document political dissent.

Even if you are not a journalist you are still generally free to take photographs in a public place in the UK, a right which police and private security are trampling on every day. If you take photographs in public and want to know your rights then you should read this short guide to photographers rights in the UK.


A group of leading scientists and MPs has attacked plans to reclassify cannabis as a more dangerous drug.


In a June entry on this page I mentioned that someone had been Arrested by Police on Mossad Case. Natalie Bracht, the woman at the centre of the case has been found safe and well in Germany.


The experts dissed John Sergeant. Ergo, the British public loved him. Were viewers just making mischief, or has reality TV witnessed an outbreak of genuine civil disobedience?


A list showing the full contact details of British National Party activists has been published online.


The UK has been criticised for lacking the "political will" to investigate companies accused of foreign bribery.


Until a few days ago, Britain was admired and respected by the average Icelander. But the UK's moves to seize the assets of this isolated European state has provoked a backlash of feeling and escalating resentment.


Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has said that plans to extend terror detention to 42 days will be dropped from the Counter-Terrorism Bill.


Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair's besetting sin was to forget that he was a servant of the public, not our master.


Anti-monarchy campaigners hope to force a legal challenge to the oath of loyalty MPs swear to the Queen.


Mebyon Kernow, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party are all members of the European Free Alliance, which stands for "a Europe of Free Peoples based on the principle of subsidiarity, which believe in solidarity with each other and the peoples of the world".


A top aide to Gordon Brown has been a suspected victim of a "honeytrap" operation by Chinese intelligence agents.


The British government should not rely on US assurances that it does not use torture, a report by MPs says.


Remember when New Labour swept to power in the 1997 general election? I was only too glad to finally see the back of the Tories and of course I wanted to believe that things could only get better. In the run-up to the election I distinctly remember the Conservative Party's "New Labour, New Danger" poster. A grainy black and white photo of Tony Blair with a strip seemingly torn off to reveal red demon eyes staring out at us. I have just been looking at it again here and it reminds me of Jack Nicholson in "The Shining". At the time I thought it was a bit below the belt but oh how right they were!

I thought it was around that time that I heard someone on the radio refer to "The bollocksisation of Britain" and a couple of years ago I tried to Google it. To my surprise, not only was there no record of that phrase but there were no Google hits for any feasible spelling of the word bollocksisation. So I just Googled it again, and currently there is exactly one hit (making it a Googlewhackblatt I believe - until Google indexes this page). Interestingly it appears to predate the 1997 election by at least four years, having apparently appeared in Vol. 6 Issue 269 of New Statesman & Society (now New Statesman) in an article which "Discusses the term bollocksisation as applied to the British government" - I must try to find a copy.


Craig Murry recently wrote about why the establishment is trying smear Labour backbencher Andrew Mackinlay - apparently the daily Mail either believed the rumours or didn't care whether they had any basis in reality.


Tony Gosling Arrested by Police on Mossad Case.


I just read a couple of interesting articles in What Next?, a Marxist discussion journal.

Top-secret documents containing the latest government intelligence assessment on al-Qaeda have been left on a train in London.


There was a good letter about the 2008 counter-terrorism bill published in the Guardian yesterday, signed by a number of prominent civil liberties campaigners.


The Serious Fraud Office is to appeal against a court ruling that it acted unlawfully in dropping its probe into a £43bn BAE arms deal with Saudi Arabia.


The High Court has ruled that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) acted unlawfully by dropping a corruption inquiry into a £43bn Saudi arms deal.


An MSP who said she wanted to have the right to end her own life if her health deteriorated has called for a public debate on assisted suicide.

Controversial plans for a seven-lane highway in Flintshire have been abandoned, the Welsh Assembly Government has announced.


Green Party London mayoral candidate Sian Berry has urged her backers to give their second preference votes to current mayor Ken Livingstone.


The government has set out changes to its planned identity scheme - including allowing people to use passports or driving licences instead of ID cards. The announcement was branded a "complete U-turn" by Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne - but the Tories said the government was trying to introduce the scheme by stealth.


The UK needs a "modal shift" from road to rail if greenhouse gas emissions from transport are to be curbed, a report concludes.


Thousands of residents, politicians and environmentalists have pledged to resist plans to extend Heathrow.


MySociety is building a freedom of information Filer and Archive.


One of the two contractors in the final round of selection for running the 2011 UK Census is Lockheed Martin, a US arms company that is heavily involved in intelligence and surveillance work. Census Alert is a campaign demanding that our personal information is not handed to these people on a plate.


A Nationalist MSP has lodged a motion in parliament calling for Berwick-upon-Tweed to "return to the fold".


The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have called for an inquiry into allegations that hundreds of lawyers are bugged on prison visits.


An early draft of the government's infamous dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction must be made public, the Information Tribunal says.


Privacy International has published its 2007 guide to the leading surveillance societies in the EU and the rest of the world. Regarding the UK:

The worst ranking EU country is the United Kingdom, which again fell into the "black" category along with Russia and Singapore. However for the first time Scotland has been given its own ranking score and performed significantly better than England & Wales.


Open rebellion is being threatened against the leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin, from dozens of senior activists.


Police fired a 50,000-volt Taser into the head of a 45-year-old company director who later proved to be unarmed and innocent.


IT chiefs at some of the UK's biggest companies have accused the government of failing to take e-crime seriously.


Rupert Murdoch decides the political line of the Sun and News of the World, but not the Times and the Sunday Times, he has told a parliamentary committee.


According the government's Home Information Pack website, properties marketed for sale from 14 December 2007 in England and Wales will need a Home Information Pack. Note that a HIP will not be required to sell a house, only to "market" it. So if you know someone who wants to buy your house or someone approaches you asking whether you want to sell it to them then you are free to go ahead and sell it without a HIP - provided you haven't "marketed" it.


Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly is expected to announce plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport and comment on a possible sixth terminal.


The Tories have told Chancellor Alistair Darling to "get a grip" after he admitted the details of all UK child benefit records were lost in the post.


Henry Porter writes for the Observer We must not tolerate this putsch against our freedoms.


The Land Registry is to remove online versions of scanned mortgage deeds and leases amid concerns that fraudsters have been accessing the documents.


Government policy was too dependent on intelligence in the run-up to war with Iraq, the former head of MI6 has said.


Sir Menzies Campbell has resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats "with immediate effect".


The UK Statute Law Database (SLD) is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online.


New laws going into effect today in the United Kingdom make it a crime to refuse to decrypt almost any encrypted data requested by authorities as part of a criminal or terror investigation.


The head of the Army is increasingly concerned about "the growing gulf between the Army and the nation".


With scenes of worried savers queueing outside Northern Rock, the whole "subprime" mortgage thing and the dollar hitting record lows there is loads of speculation going on about global economic collapse etc. There is also the ongoing issue of rising UK house prices and the fact that buying a house is becoming less and less affordable (or affordable for fewer and fewer people). Where is it all leading? The News Blog at recently got voted one of the 50 best business business blogs in the Times - check it out if you are interested in this sort of thing.


In Autumn 2006, Charter 88 and the New Politics Network came together to launch a new campaign to tackle the crisis of legitimacy facing British politics. The result of this was the creation of Unlock Democracy. They are supporting things like the Sustainable Communities Bill, and are also attempting to get the government to set up a Citizens' Convention to guide the process of constitutional change.


First Minister Alex Salmond has addressed the SNP faithful for the first time since the party's historic Holyrood election victory last month.


LORD GOLDSMITH, the attorney-general, told colleagues this weekend that he decided to jump before he was pushed from government in Gordon Brown's reshuffle.


I was just looking at which is the campaign associated with something called the Power Enquiry. Check out the short video presentation on the site called "10 reasons why democratic reform can't wait". I and many others already know that the system is wrong and are trying in our own ways to change it, however, it seems to me that a large proportion of the population either think that what we have is either better than any feasible alternative, or that nothing can be done to change it, or that it is not their responsibility to try to change it. So makitanissue really have an uphill struggle to get people involved. I am more involved with grassroots/practical/autonomous stuff but I would encourage people to follow up on it and see if is something they would like to support.


Martin Kettle comments in the Guardian on Chris Atkins' film "Taking Liberties".


A proposed £2bn redevelopment of King's Cross is "flawed" because it lacks affordable housing, a court has heard.


The Green Party has called for a boycott of the UK's 2007 census pilot because it is being run by US weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin.


Scotland's new first minister Alex Salmond is due to be sworn in at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.


MPs have approved moves to give Parliament the final say on whether British troops should be sent to war.

Disused schools and swimming pools could be sold to community groups for as little as £1 under a government scheme to revive local facilities.


The government must release a draft of a 2002 dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the Information Commissioner has ruled.


The SNP has surged to historic victory over Labour and become the Scottish Parliament's largest party on a gloomy final election day for Tony Blair.


Britain's reputation for fighting corruption may have suffered "severe damage" because a fraud inquiry into an arms deal was dropped, MPs have warned. And apparently The US issued a formal diplomatic protest against the ending of the inquiry.


Terror leaks: both Home Office and police implicated.


A British man has lost his High Court fight against extradition to the US for allegedly carrying out the "biggest military computer hack of all time".


Devolved government is to return to Northern Ireland following an historic meeting between the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Fein.


In an April 2005 letter to Reg Keys, someone called Gordan Logan claimed to have received information from an unnamed British Army officer about a "secret clause in the Trident submarine treaty that was signed by Mrs Thatcher in 1983". Apparently this clause requires the British Prime Minister to go to war if he/she gets the order from the President of the United States. Can this be true?


Hundreds of lawyers are demonstrating outside Parliament against reforms to the legal aid system.


The Crown Prosecution Service has informed the Metropolitan Police that it has decided not to prosecute Richard Tomlinson, a member of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) between 1991 and 1995, for alleged offences committed under the Official Secrets Act 1989. The CPS has also decided not to prosecute alleged offences of blackmail in relation to threats to disclose information.


Patients are set to be able to look at their medical records on their home computer, it has been announced.


Tony Blair's authority has been questioned after his plans to renew the UK's nuclear weapons system sparked the biggest Commons revolt since Iraq.

I was in London yesterday, protesting against Trident renewal ahead of the vote, which passed as expected but with a fairly significant rebellion amongst Labour MPs. Read more in my nuclear notes.

Watchdog reveals cost overruns on road schemes leave taxpayer with £3bn bill.


The head of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has defended his decision to drop a corruption probe into a defence deal between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia.

From A Plague of Lawyers by George Monbiot:

If any of you doubts that protest is being criminalised in the United Kingdom, take a look at the injunction posted at Granted in the High Court by the Honourable Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, it forbids the people of a village in Oxfordshire from "coming to, remaining on, trespassing or conducting any demonstrations or protesting or other activities" on the claimant's land [which is also their most treasured local amenity].


Plans to make all health professionals take out insurance could spell the end of independent midwifery in England, the government has been warned.


Cryptome makes available a UK medical privacy document which has been removed from the web:

It seems that the UK government's privacy watchdog has quietly removed from the web a guidance document on medical privacy, on which medics and patients had been relying since 2002. We don't know whether this is the harbinger of a change in policy. It may be relevant that our health service is bogged down in a massive computerisation project that's going wrong, and that's attracting serious criticism on privacy grounds.


Oasis's Noel Gallagher - who famously chatted with Tony Blair in Downing Street in 1997 - has launched a scathing attack on the prime minister.


Not having a television I did not see the award ceremony but was happy to hear that Brian Haw won the Channel 4 News award for Most Inspiring Political Figure of 2006. He received 54 percent of the votes cast by the public. Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the British Army, who embarrassed the Government by saying troops should be withdrawn from Iraq, came second with 18 percent. Blair and Cameron got 8 and 6 percent respectively.


A government minister has labelled the controversial online petitions on Downing Street's website as an own-goal thought up by a "prat". So how does the man behind the site defend it? And does the petition reliably reflect national mood?


The government has been accused of "glaring" double standards over a decision to end a fraud probe into an arms deal between Saudi Arabia and BAE.


There is lots of interesting stuff about the "cash for honours" scandal on Guido Fawkes's blog of plots, rumours & conspiracy. He has, for example, published a link to what he claims to be the private email gateway which has been the subject of much speculation recently.


On the same day as parliament was having its first debate for two and a half years on the Iraq war, the row blew up over the Catholic church's plea for exemption on allowing gay couples to adopt. No prizes for guessing which issue dominated the front pages, the blogs and the airwaves. While gay adoption and Catholicism prompted a vigorous, passionate debate, the one about the Iraq war languished down the running order.

Read the rest of Madeleine Bunting's Guardian article These US-style culture wars seeping into Britain are an absurd distraction.


Former Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan says he had no knowledge of the collusion between police under his command and loyalist paramilitaries.

Ministers' refusal to publish a report on a giant BAE Systems' arms contract with Saudi Arabia has been branded an "absurdity and a scandal".

The Mayor of London today joined with Green Party Assembly Members to unveil details of an extra £47 million he is proposing to invest next year to accelerate London's bid to become the leading 'green' city at the forefront of tackling climate change.


A leaked government report claims Scotland has been ignored by Whitehall officials in key European negotiations.


There are "serious concerns" about the UK a fraud probe into a Saudi arms deal, says the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.


I got into a discussion recently on a mailing list where someone had said that the BBC "clearly does the government's bidding". I initially "defended" the BBC by suggesting that they were no worse than any other mainstream media outlet in the UK, but when someone talked about coverage of the build up to war with Iraq I started to think that I was being too lenient. I remember clearly now how frustrated I was by the fact that the largest ever public protest in Britain was essentially completely ignored by the BBC whilst they repeated any tiny bit of pro-war government spin ad-nauseum. At least Channel 4 had the guts to show the Bremner Bird and Fortune Xmas Special Between Iraq and a Hard Place shortly before the invasion. Just over three years ago John Pilger discussed this issue in an article called The BBC and Iraq; Myth and Reality.


A Guardian reporter called Ian Cobain joined the BNP in order to uncover information about the party. He even became central London organiser, and on December 21st he reported on some of his findings.


The government has abandoned plans for a giant new computer system to run the national identity cards scheme.


Campaigners are threatening legal action against the UK government after investigators dropped a probe into a series of arms deals with Saudi Arabia.


Tony Blair has hit back at claims a corruption probe into a Saudi arms deal with BAE Systems was dropped after commercial and political pressure. It looks to me like BAE are, to put it bluntly, above the law.


The government has reaffirmed its commitment to airport expansion plans despite opposition from green groups.


Gordon Brown is apparently gearing up for some good old fashioned scare-mongering about the prospect of Scottish independence.


Britain's airports could run out of runway space for aircraft within 15 years if aviation growth is left unchecked, a report says.


Games Monitor is a network of people raising awareness about issues within the London Olympic development process. So whether you are concerned about scandalous profiteering and rampant corruption or the loss of green space or destruction of communities, check out the site.


There are now petitions hosted at the 10 Downing Street website. I just signed the one submitted by Dr. Benedict Young which states "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to champion the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, by not replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system."

Three million Britons have been issued with the new hi-tech passport, designed to frustrate terrorists and fraudsters. So why did Steve Boggan and a friendly computer expert find it so easy to break the security codes?

There is an article by Gerry Adams called No room for MI5 in the North which was published in Village (Ireland's current affairs weekly).


Not much mainstream coverage of Sack Parliament - here is Press Association report from Guardian Unlimited.

The attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, said yesterday that a written constitution for the UK should be "seriously" considered. He rejected the proposal from the Conservative leader, David Cameron, for a bill of rights to replace the Human Rights Act but said there were "strong reasons in principle" for a formal constitution.


MPs are returning from recess tomorrow and will be greeted by a reception committee operating under the name Sack Parliament. Someone on the cm-london list alleged that Sack Parliament is yet another SWP front group but a bit of basic research suggested that was highly unlikely. Reports suggest that the police are expecting trouble and will be deploying a large force to maintain order (the status quo). I have my own opinion regarding who the real criminals are but will nevertheless be steering clear of London tomorrow, having other fish to fry.


I must admit that I have not been paying much attention to the ID card debate but I know it is still a big issue and the place to look for info is NO2ID. I just read How To Fly Without ID which explains how the US Constitution protects citizens from being forced to submit to routine identity checking.


Lord Falconer has made his strongest attack yet on Guantanamo Bay by denouncing it as a "shocking affront to the principles of democracy".


Tony Blair has faced a wave of resignations by junior members of his government over his refusal to name a date for resignation as Labour leader.


The Belfast Telegraph has a good article titled Tomlinson: The spy who was left out in the cold.

On a slightly related note, Alan Turnbull maintains a list of UK Secret Bases.


Tommy Sheridan has cut his ties with the Scottish Socialist Party and launched a new rival organisation.


Power to the People is a campaign for the establishment of permanent people's assemblies.


The House of Lords Constitution Committee says the royal prerogative is outdated and should not be used in a parliamentary democracy. It recommends that, as well as seeking Parliament's backing before going to war, the government should also indicate the war's aims, legal basis, size and likely duration.


The Child Support Agency (CSA) is being scrapped, with absent parents facing curfews and the suspension of their passports, MPs have been told.


Check out this review of Kevin Fulton's book about his 21 years as an undercover agent of British intelligence infiltrating the IRA.


A three-hour emergency Commons debate is to be held tomorrow on the fate of three former NatWest bankers facing extradition to the US on Thursday on fraud charges.

The UK's current extradition deal with the United States should be scrapped until the US Senate signs its side of accord, the House of Lords has said.


The British government is arguing that government documents, even if released under the Freedom of Information Act or Data Protection Act, cannot be published, on the web or elsewhere, as they remain Crown Copyright. They have required Craig Murray to remove documents from his website on that basis but fortunately the documents have been mirrored at Cryptome.


On July 26th at the Diorama Centre, Euston, London there will be an open forum on Achieving Civil and Social Rights Towards a 21st Century Constitution.


Lance Price writes in the Guardian that Rupert Murdoch is effectively a member of Blair's cabinet.


A key plank of the government's anti-terrorism laws has been dealt a blow by the High Court. A senior judge said control orders made against six men break European human rights laws. Ministers say they will appeal against the ruling.

I don't know much about MI6 but apparently Richard Tomlinson does. Enough at least for him to have been arrested and searched yet again.


Conservative leader David Cameron has said he still believes going to war with Iraq was the right thing to do. Oh well, there goes the illusion that voting Tory might actually constitute the lesser of evils. The Lib Dems have always been cagey about Iraq so I guess that basically leaves the Green Party as the only viable opposition.

The Countryside Alliance and other pro-hunt campaigners have lost their latest legal bid to overturn the government's ban on hunting with dogs.


For the latest news and resources concerning the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill check out Save Parliament!


Passengers are being driven off the railways thanks to the "exorbitant" fares charged by train operators.


Five illegal immigrants have been arrested after turning up for work to clean a Home Office building.

Linda Colley, writing in today's Guardian argues cogently that British values, whatever they are, won't hold us together. She also speculates on the sort of things that might do the job. A World to Win are working on a campaign to promote a new written constitution for Britain. Charter88 have been advocating the same thing for 18 years, and People in Common are starting a similar discussion. It seems like a great time to try to draw these strands together and build some momentum.


Organised criminals are stealing up to £5bn a year from the government's coffers through MTIC or "carousel" fraud.


Henry Porter writes in the Observer about how opponents of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill forced a Government climb-down.


Apparently, the Government's new 146 page "citizenship guide" is riddled with historical errors, questionable suppositions and glaring misquote. It even makes the classic mistake of claiming that Northern Ireland is part of Great Britain (anyone who has a UK passport should know that is false - it says The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).


The Rev Brian Kennaway, one of the Orange Order's most senior and outspoken members, says the core values of the society have been betrayed by a section of the membership who are divorced from the core values of Orangeism, and by a leadership unwilling to take the necessary risks to restore the public image of institution


Criminal gangs trading in people and fake ID are "out of control", senior police officers have told the BBC.

After the Tory leader's recent attempt to convince us of the party's green credentials, we now have the shadow foreign secretary William Haig telling us that the UK must champion human rights and tackle states which abuse them. Well talk is cheap. Remember that the systematic persecution of African people by the South African apartheid government was recognised as a crime against humanity by the United Nations in 1976. Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979 and went on to become the apartheid regime's greatest ally. I can't believe that the Tory party has changed so radically since she left office in 1990. Of course I would like to be proved wrong, but that is a pretty serious blot on their copybook.


New powers that would allow ministers to change laws without consulting Parliament must be watered down, an influential group of MPs says.


David Cameron's Arctic tour has failed to convince Robert Macfarlane that the Tory party can be relied on to keep their green promises - as he explains in Deep blue sea.


Anger with the main parties has led more people to consider voting for the British National Party, a report for a social policy research group says.


It is back to the drawing board for the outrageous Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.

Meanwhile, new laws making it illegal to glorify terrorism and distribute terrorist publications have come into force.


Save Parliament! is a website set up to oppose the anti-democratic provisions of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.


Amnesty International today (5 April) called for a full independent public inquiry into all aspects of the UK's involvement in secret CIA "rendition" flights, as it published a new report on the illegal movement of prisoners to covert detention and torture.


Tony Blair has formally launched SOCA, the new FBI-style Serious Organised Crime Agency. The new agency is intended to tackle international drug and people traffickers and fraudsters. That is all very well, but the similarly named Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) has already been used to prosecute harmless individuals for peacefully speaking out against the Iraq war.


Identity cards will be made compulsory if Labour wins the next election, Home Secretary Charles Clarke has said.

London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe hailed the Olympic Bill becoming law on Thursday, just nine months after the Games were awarded to the city.


I accepted an offer from my MP Grant Shapps to join a group for a visit to the House of Commons this evening. I had never been inside Westminster before and it is an amazing building. The group was larger than planned, with two coaches to take us down to London. Once through the security checkpoint we were taken to the Gladstone room where Grant told us a bit of the history of the place and some anecdotes from his first year in Parliament. He took some questions, showed us round a bit, and then got us all tickets to go in the public gallery to watch a bit of the ID card debate which was still going on. After getting home I learned that MPs and the Lords finally agreed on a compromise. This means that Blair did not have to resort to using the Parliament Act yet again to get his way (Grant told us that the Parliament Act has only been used four times in history, three of them by Tony Blair).

Someone in our group asked a question about the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. He said that he found it hard to believe that anyone would have the audacity to deliberately draft such anti-democratic legislation and hope to sneak it past Parliament, and that the worst aspects of it were more likely to be the result of gross incompetence.


Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps has discovered a loophole which costs residents of university towns millions of pounds in extra council tax.


Council workers have voted for what could be the UK's biggest industrial action since the General Strike of 1926, in protest at pension changes.


Home Secretary Charles Clarke has said he will try to overturn the latest Lords defeat to his ID card plans.


The government was tonight defeated in the Lords over its controversial terror bill as peers voted to reject a clause creating a new offence of "glorifying" terrorism.


Britain's political system is in danger of "meltdown" if major changes are not made, an independent report says.


Amnesty International today released a damning 83 page report titled UK Human rights: a broken promise.


UK police arrest stars of award-winning film "The Road to Guantanamo" under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.


Daniel Finkelstein woke up to a nightmare plot to steal centuries of law and liberty and then wrote about it in The Times. What sparked this nightmare? The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.


Conservative leader David Cameron is calling for curbs on prime ministers' power to declare war or agree treaties without the approval of MPs. On my 2005-09-20 entry on this page I mentioned that I had written to my MP (Grant Shapps, Cons, Welwyn Hatfield) asking him to sign EDM number 85 which was calling for the same thing but he declined, saying he did not feel happy with it. Since then he has signed another EDM number 1088 at my suggestion, so it is not like he has a general aversion to Early Day Motions. He has also that he is a big fan of David Cameron, so I wonder if his views have changed:-)


The government has suffered two shock defeats over attempts to overturn Lords changes to the controversial Racial and Religious Hatred Bill.


Chancellor Gordon Brown has been accused of "waving the wrong flag at Scotland" after calling for Britain's national identity to be celebrated.


The government is preparing to sell its remaining majority stake in defence group Qinetiq and float the business, according to press reports.


Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond has had talks with Green MSPs about "parliamentary co-operation" after the next Holyrood election. I hadn't realised that the current executive is a Labour/Lib Dem coalition. Here is the current makeup of the Scottish Parliament:

Police are to be given sweeping powers to arrest people for every offence, including dropping litter, failure to wear a seat belt and other minor misdemeanours.


Agents like Dennis Donaldson and Freddie Scappaticci and others don't stay undetected for over twenty years without having either buckets and buckets of luck or a guardian Angel.

From a 2005-12-29 post to Cryptome:

The British Foreign Office is now seeking to block publication of Craig Murray's forthcoming book, which documents his time as Ambassador to Uzbekistan. The Foreign Office has demanded that Craig Murray remove all references to two especially damning British government documents, indicating that our government was knowingly receiving information extracted by the Uzbeks through torture, and return every copy that he has in his possession.

The documents in question are reproduced in full in the post.


Up to 13,000 Job Centre staff may have had personal details stolen by criminals making fraudulent claims for tax credits.


Conservative leader David Cameron has set up a policy group on the environment to pave the way for "tough decisions" on cutting greenhouse gas.

The Tories say they are scrapping their traditional week-long seaside conferences as they are only attended by "fanatics" and retired people.


I have just learned of a UK "political party" called The Consensus which is described as "Green libertarian technophile nationalist with a Transhumanist philosophy." It seems to have been in existence since 2002. The introduction on the site begins with a quote from Dune - how come I have never heard of this party before?!

Secret evidence which might have been obtained by torture cannot be used against terror suspects in UK courts, the law lords have ruled.

Three Belfast men at the centre of an alleged IRA spying incident at Stormont have been acquitted of all charges.

The UK government is expected to unveil plans for the biggest transfer of power from Westminster to Wales since the Welsh assembly was set up in 1999.


Labour's "aggressive centralism" is damaging the delivery of services such as health and education, Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy is expected to say.


More money is being spent on running the Child Support Agency's enforcement unit than the amount of maintenance it recovers from fathers, it has emerged.


Police have been asked to probe claims that the CIA has used UK airports to move terrorist suspects to secret jails in other countries to be tortured.


UK ID Card a recipe for massive ID fraud says Microsoft exec.


A senior Aljazeera executive is flying to the UK to demand publication of a memo in which George Bush allegedly discusses bombing the TV station's HQ.


Becta is the Government's key partner in the strategic development and delivery of its information and communications technology (ICT) and e-learning strategy for the schools and the learning and skills sectors. Their policy for infrastructure in schools mandates the use of software which saves files in open formats - primarily OpenDocument. Microsoft does not currently support OpenDocument.


Problems with a government grant programme are damaging the UK's renewable power industry.


I just read on Cryptome that MI6 has opened a website. For some reason the home page just consists of a minimal script which takes you to a static page, so if you see a blank page in your browser just use curl to pull down the script and enter the modified URL manually.

According to the Janet whois server (which serves and the domain was registered on 2005-07-15 by QinetiQ for "Secret Intelligence Service" who's address is SIS, PO Box 1300, London, SE1 1BD.


BBC Wales has revealed that Liverpool council is close to making a formal apology for the drowning of a Welsh valley almost half a century ago.


The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that prisoners should have the right to vote, making a change in British law likely.


An 82-year-old activist thrown out of the Labour party conference for heckling Jack Straw has returned to the venue to a hero's welcome.


In this press release Charter88 welcome Clare Short's adoption of their Armed Forces (Parliamentary Approval for Participation in Armed Conflict) Bill. Early Day Motion number 85 (session 05-06) supports this bill, and I just used to ask my MP (Grant Shapps) to sign it.

While at the WriteToThem site I followed the link where it said "Have a long term relationship with your MP!" This took me to something called Your constituency mailing list which is a project.


People can petition the Scottish Parliament online using their e-Petitions system.


The government is expected to announce that it no longer legally recognises the Ulster Volunteer Force's ceasefire.


As more evidence emerges about the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station by armed police on 2005-07-22 it looks like the initial police reports about what happened were completely at odds with reality. The Wikipedia entry is probably the most comprehensive publicly available document about the case.

Advertisers' representatives are to lobby the Government in protest at plans to stop businesses cashing in on London's hosting of the 2012 Olympics.


I was not present at the mass act of defiance in Parliament Square on Sunday but Hairy Jedi was and has provided us with a report.


The government has admitted "overselling" the advantages of national identity cards.


Britain secretly sold Israel a key ingredient for its nuclear programme in 1958, according to official documents obtained by BBC News.


On Friday in Parliament Square I heard that Brian Haw had won the right to continue his four year protest. The High Court ruled that he is exempt from the law which was designed to remove him:-)


Blair's chickens have finally come home to roost and we in the UK are being given a taste of what our government has been doling out to the Iraqi people for the last couple of years. You are still more likely to be killed in a road traffic accident in London than you are by a bomb, but the inevitable media hype is preparing the way for further restrictions on our civil liberties. For example, plans for compulsory ID cards are bound to get a boost thanks to the bombers, though how they would have helped prevent the attacks has not been explained. Check out NO2ID for anti-ID information.


A 15-year-old boy has won a landmark High Court challenge to the legality of child curfew zones used to tackle anti-social behaviour.


On 2005-10-23 there will be a Freedom to Protest conference in Central London.


Political protests are to be curbed in a half-mile "exclusion zone" around Parliament, it emerged today. Rev Simon Rumble speculates on how this may affect Critical Mass.


I think it was just after the 2004 US Presidential Election that I first came across one of Socialist Steve's Yahoo! groups. I then remember reading some amazingly long rambling screeds that he posted. Steve Wallis as he also calls himself has a fascinating website which covers a variety of topics. As well as being a prolific writer he seem to have created a disturbing number of Yahoo! groups:-) His speciality seems to be a fantastically detailed knowledge of the factional world of socialist movements/platforms/parties in the UK (We're the People's Front of Judea!)


Nurses have called for a reconsideration of the laws governing euthanasia at their annual meeting.


A Briton freed from Guantanamo Bay four years after he was seized by the CIA has told of his campaign to release five UK residents still held in Cuba.


Although Labour has lost its majority in the Welsh Assembly following Peter Law's decision to stand as an independent, they say they have no plans to enter any coalition.


The annual rate of UK inflation increased to a greater-than-expected 1.9% in March, its highest level for nearly seven years.


Rail workers are holding a rally in Glasgow as part of a series of demonstrations calling for renationalisation of the railways.

I just voted at this site to make St Georges Day (April 23rd) a national holiday in England - the more holidays the better:-)


The Greens have promised to be the whistleblowers and scandal-exposers of the next Parliament.


The part-privatisation of the Tube has cost taxpayers almost 1bn UKP, according to a House of Commons Public Accounts Committee report.


The government has been criticised by MPs for twice refusing to say whether Britain uses information extracted under torture by foreign countries.


The Government is facing mounting pressure to come clean about how the Attorney General came to give his approval for the invasion of Iraq. I hesitate go along with the debate about whether or not the invasion was "legal" - the point is that it was wrong.

I have just hived off a separate page about the General Election and created another one specifically about the Sedgefield Campaign

Someone mentioned Boris Johnson as if I should know who he was. I didn't, and was informed that he is a Tory MP who was subjected to serious criticism about remarks he made about Liverpool I believe. Well I just had a look at his weblog and it is actually rather good.


Eight out of 10 voters do not trust politicians to tell the truth, a new poll conducted for the BBC suggests.


The BBC's governors are to be scrapped after 77 years and replaced with two new bodies, under government plans.


The Tory party has attacked the BBC over plans to screen a drama set during the 1984 miners' strike.


I just wrote to my MP, Melanie Johnson (Blairite), expressing my concerns regarding the "Anti-Terror" bill being pushed through parliament. I used "the new FaxYourMP" at which is currently in beta testing.


There will be a CAMPACC Public Meeting in Parliament on 2005-03-02. The New 'Anti-Terror' Laws - Taking Liberties will be hosted by Jim Dobbin MP from 19:00-21:00 in Committee Room 10.


The Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill will be debated in Parliament on 2005-02-07 and one of the things it would do is outlaw demonstrations in Parliament Square - an ideal opportunity to hold a demonstration in Parliament Square I would say! And indeed there is one planned - for details see the Parliament Square website.


The right to protest in Parliament Square is under threat.


Charles Clarke has started work at the Home Office on Thursday following the resignation of David Blunkett.


Mark Steel in the Independent said:

The proposed law on incitement to religious hatred is classically New Labour, because at face value it appears so liberal, like one of Blair's speeches about saving Africa. The attitude seems to be that you shouldn't upset a Muslim by deriding his religion; if you want to upset one, the correct method is to demolish his city - as long as it's done in a manner not likely to sir up hatred. After you've fired a cruise missile into his mosque and you're going inside to shoot the wounded, remember to take your socks off or you'll offend his faith.


Charles Kennedy has been named politician of the year in the annual Parliamentarian of the Year awards, largely due to his principled opposition to the invasion of Iraq.


The Guardian's editor has said the newspaper might endorse the Lib Dems instead of Labour at the next election. I would see that as a very hopeful sign if it were to happen.


European Union ministers meeting in Luxembourg have approved a new five-year framework aimed at coordinating policies on asylum and immigration. Britain however, has retained the right not to implement decisions it opposes.


The long-awaited Gambling Bill paving the way for new casinos across the UK has been published by the Government. The reasons are obvious. The Government will harvest a lot of tax revenue from the casinos, and the idiots who frequent them will be forced to work harder to pay for their addiction, thus keeping them servile and reaping even more tax revenue to spend on killing Iraqis etc.


The UK Independence Party has been trying to ride a wave of anti-EU feeling and in the process has been creating waves of it's own (recently pushing the Tories into a humiliating fourth place in the Hartlepool by-election). Despite reservations about the centralisation of power in Europe there is no way I could possibly support the UKIP because they seem to be acting as a magnet for the sort of people who are looking for a slightly more respectable version of the BNP. The decision by Paul Sykes (the UKIP's largest donor) to pull the plug provides some insight into the complex world of current UK party politics.


John Kampfner is an author, broadcaster and commentator who has published a book called Blair's Wars and writes regularly for the New Statesman. I just read his 2004-08-13 Guardian article This is about politics, not policing in which he wondered why, with crime at a record low, the Government was still going on and on about the never-ending "battle" against crime.


The Labour party conference has voted to renationalise the railways, but the Labour leadership are almost certain to ignore the wishes of the party.


The Tory party have unveiled their revamped their logo and apparently denied any resemblance to communist iconography. They can deny it all they like but that is exactly what came to my mind when I saw it.

A bill to ban hunting with dogs has been passed by 339 votes to 155 despite mass demonstrations and pro-hunt protesters invading the Commons.


Yet another new section of my site to work on! Ian Gregory 2010