It is a source of constant amazement to me how this government just gets things wrong, time and time and time again. It defies belief that beyond handing control of interest rates to the Bank of England (a subject I know very little about, I am no economist), almost every single thing this government has done has been wrong.
Blair was always banging on about how his biggest acheivements were the minimum wage and the Human Rights Act, an item of legislation that is impossible to view without seeing it sat as a part of the European Convention on Human Rights. Yet the remarkable thing is, the entire history of this government is punctuated by them fighting, appealing and losing against challenges brought under this act.
As has been reported widly in the media and blogosphere today, the EuroCourt has ruled that powers of stop and search are illegal under human rights legislation. Apparently, the powers were 'not sufficiently circumscribed' and 'adequate legal safeguards against abuse' were not in place.
This speaks volumes to me. My initial reaction is that to stop someone who is walking down the street just because you want to know what they are up to is just wrong. To do it under the pretence of preventing terrorism is even more wrong. It is objectionable, it is using the flimsiest of excuses, preying on public fears in a most cynical fashion and is against all the traditions of British liberties.
The ruling from Europe seems to be not on those grounds, but on the grounds that the legislation these powers are exercised under is not sufficiently robust. It's almost an invitation to find a better excuse to do it.
Not that it is going to make a big difference anyway. Just as the government were told they couldn't record people's most personal data on a whim, they've decided they'll keep on doing it, they're hardly likely to stop this nice little tool to keep people in their place are they? Just as they blow the paedophile and rapist dog whistle with DNA, they'll continue to blow the terrorism whistle about stop and search. As Old Holborn has pointed out today, the Met stopped 200,000 people under these anti-terror powers in 2008, and yet not one of these people have been charged.
Terrorism is a useful stick to beat people with, it's difficult to object or argue with powers used against people declared as being or supporting terrorists. I certainly find people like that objectionable.
The other day I blogged about Islam4UK and what was going to happen about the proposed march in Wootton-Bassett. The answer now is not a lot, beyond me briefly attracting a semi-literate troll. Having had their five minutes in the limelight, Islam4UK announced that they were scrapping the plans.
It troubled me how many people were screaming for this march to be banned. I did not and would never support the message these people were trying to put across, but we nominally live in a country where we have the right to expres our opinion. And that's the thing about free speech, it means you occasionally have to hear things you don't much care for, it also means that people have the right to demonstrate against free speech. Well, be careful what you wish for, you may just get it.
Al Jolson, or whatever the Home Sec is called has announced that Islam4UK will become a proscribed organisation. I'm not aware of any terrorist attacks carried out by them, I'm not aware of any plots by Islam4UK being uncovered, nor any court cases relating to any activities in preparation of terror attacks. I am aware of them being insulting, objectionable and general fuckwits. But is that grounds to ban them and to chuck any members inside for 10 years?
Many people will greet news of this order with a single word; 'good'. But I'm not so sure. The Home Office say that they are a branch of al-Ghurabaa, who I understand were Omar Bakri Mohammed's lot. I can't say that they are or they aren't, it is just that I cannot accept any information from government at face value. They've lied to us so much, cried wolf so many times, that anything they say is received by me with immense scepticism.
What is for sure is that Omar Bakri Mohammed and Anjem Choudary are two people that I would be happy to see suffer massive and fatal heart attacks tomorrow, but there's this nagging feeling that every time this power is used, every time it is nodded through in the House, makes the next group's demonisation easier. Quite rightly, few people will shed a tear at the removal of Islam4UK from the scene (at least until they re-brand), but it brings us one step closer to a perfectly legitimate group you or I may belong to being banned under the accusation of terror, just because it is politically expedient to do so. These people have a list, and they will get as far down it as they can, will remove as many people that aren't them as possible before someone with real clout says, 'hang on a minute'. By that point it may be too late.
Two final points. Firstly, I wonder if the English Defence League are on that list? I'm betting they are. They don't play nicely and won't do as they are told, just like Islam4UK. Secondly, this is the real sign of this government's dog days, when they begin to turn on their pets.