- Voted against a transparent Parliament. votes, speeches
- Voted very strongly for introducing a smoking ban. votes, speeches
- Voted very strongly for introducing ID cards. votes, speeches
- Voted very strongly for Labour’s anti-terrorism laws. votes, speeches
- Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war. votes, speeches
- Voted very strongly for replacing Trident. votes, speeches
- Voted for equal gay rights. votes, speeches
- Voted a mixture of for and against stopping climate change. votes, speeches
Have been catching up with other people’s blogs from while I was away. Tom Harris has been sent a copy of 1984 in the post. So have I, but with a slightly different covering note. (No contact name, no signature, very brave of them).
Why is ‘bravery’ relevant? Why shouldn’t the sender be anonymous?
Whereas Tom got a slip saying “Young man, This is a reminder that this book, contrary to what your leader might think, is NOT an instruction manual, but a warning. REMEMBER – WE are YOUR masters.” I got a letter:
I have been asked to send you this by the LPUK [Libertarian Party UK].
We presume you have read it in the past but we feel our country might benefit if you read it again – this time understanding that it was intended as a warning to society and not an instruction manual for Government.
We would be grateful if you would consider the impact of legislation on individual freedom before sponsoring or voting for any more laws to prohibit things. Laws to criminalise prostitution would fall into this category.
Anyway, we hope you enjoy the book.”
That’s quite nice, isn’t it? It could have been accepted in good humour and, “hmm, well alright I’ll have a think.”
I think I know what, if he was writing ‘Down and Out in St Pauls and Easton’, [this is a reference to Down and Out in Paris and London] George Orwell would have made of businessmen in BMWs paying drug-addicted teenagers £20 a time for sex on their way home from work.
I confess I don’t know what she means by that, but then I haven’t read it.
Freedom? For who?
Fifty readers felt strongly enough to comment: one was vaguely supportive of Kerry.
[six paras of guff and prostitution-related irrelevance]
I’ve been out on patrol several times with local police in the parts of Bristol where prostitution is a problem (St. Pauls, Easton, Fishponds Road). I have also had long discussions with police officers, the One25 Project, the Vice Liaison Officer, etc, and organised a public meeting with a Home Office Minister so local residents could tell him just what they were having to put up with. I’ve met sex-workers and kerb-crawlers. So any views I might express on this issue are based on what you might call ‘research’.
Someone complained that the All-Party Group on Prostitution and the Sex Trade seems to have made up its mind before it begins its ‘investigation’. It has been set up with a particular purpose in mind, to work with the Home Office on measures to reduce prostitution. That’s what APPGS are, they’re not Select Committees, which conduct investigations and reach conclusions at the end.
… If someone wants to set up an APPG for the legalisation of prostitution or drugs or whatever, they’re entirely free to do so. But that’s not the purpose of this particular group. I don’t have fixed views as to the changes in law we need and I am completely realistic as to the prospects of ever eliminating prostitution, but if we can prevent girls, women and young men from being caught up in that sordid world, then I believe we should.
… The police have had some success. They’ve virtually eliminated daylight soliciting outside schools, and the number of women working the streets has gone down from c.300 to c.100.
You say I/ the Government should be doing more. So what do you suggest?
… On the more general issue of libertarianism. I just don’t agree with the people who have posted on here. It’s a fundamental philosophical difference. I think the State has a significant role to play in tackling some of the serious problems facing this country, whether it be our security, crime, public health, the economy… I don’t think ‘freedom’ is sacrosanct if by that you mean the freedom to oppress, exploit, abuse, harm others. I think it’s the role of Government to protect people from oppression, exploitation, abuse and harm.
I could point you to several other George Orwell books that make this case better than I ever could.
As for spending a few days in Miami for the US election campaign… I’ve already made clear on here that I paid for it myself. Taking an interest in overseas politics is part of my job. If you look at the main issues my constituents write to me about – climate change, energy policy, international development, foreign policy – I think you’ll find they were pretty keen to see Obama elected too!
… Final, final point – I’ve got work to do this evening, and I don’t want to be distracted/ stressed out by nasty comments coming through. So I’ve disabled comments. I think I’ve given you more than enough by way of a response, and don’t intend to continue the conversation.
The first wave of ID cards to be issued to British citizens has prompted airline pilots to threaten a strike rather than accept the documents.
Aviation workers have warned that proposals to make airport staff register for the cards from next year would do little to improve security. The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), which represents 10,000 of the 12,000 commercial pilots and flight engineers in Britain, said its members were being treated as “guinea pigs”. Jim McAuslan, Balpa’s general secretary, said the Government’s “early warning system should be flashing” over opposition to the plans.
Mr McAuslan, whose union holds its annual conference at Heathrow later this week, said he would be consulting members on the possibility of industrial action if the Government presses ahead with the plans. “It may come to an industrial dispute,” he said. “We would want to avoid that. We would want the Government to think again about the compulsory nature of it and think again about the whole scheme. The Government has said previously that ID cards will be voluntary but the indications are that if you choose not to have a card you will not get an airside pass.”
Despite what Jacqui Smith, Home Surveillance Secretary, says about a demand for ID cards, when it comes to the crunch – i.e. being made to pay over £50 for them or lose your job – hardly anyone wants them.
This is why the Government is having to force soft targets such as pilots and airside workers and students to have them, gradually salami-slicing their way through the population.
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa), which represents 10,000 of the 12,000 commercial pilots and flight engineers in Britain, said its members were being treated as “guinea pigs”.
The British Air Transport Association, which represents airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, branded the scheme a “dubious PR initiative by the Government and one that fails to offer any real benefits”
Gordon wants to go against the evidence and press ahead with presumed consent for organ donation.
Gordon Brown said he was still prepared to push ahead with new rules presuming people are happy to donate organs after death, despite the plans being rejected yesterday by an expert task force he appointed. The Prime Minister is backing a change in the law to assume patients have given automatic “presumed consent” for their body parts to be used after their death, unless they decide to opt out.
But the Government’s organ donation task force, which gauged the opinion of the medical profession, patients, lawyers, religious leaders and politicians, concluded there was not enough evidence to justify a move which could actually reduce the supply of organs. It warned that the change could undermine confidence in doctors and surgeons, particularly among families who might fear care for terminally ill relatives could be compromised. (the Independent)
Vivienne Parry, a member of the task force, wrote in the Times,
Over the past nine months, members of the organ donation task force have been considering whether Britain should adopt “presumed consent” – whereby all people are potential donors unless they actively opt out. Each of them, myself included, is committed to increasing the number of donors. All started with an open mind, with many – again I include myself – leaning towards the idea. But when we had reviewed everything we had heard, every single member opposed the introduction of presumed consent.
Why? In a word, evidence. This indicated that presumed consent would not increase the number of donors and might do the opposite. And increased numbers are the bottom line, not whether the public are “ready” for presumed consent – the bizarre suggestion of those Sunday clairvoyants who commented on the report before it appeared.
So why is Gordon pressing ahead? I can’t think there are many votes in it – I’ve never seen this in the top issues at election time. Is he in need of a brain transplant?