Sunday, 21 December 2008

Police State

Sometimes, it feels as if discussing the loss of our freedom is an abstruse intellectual activity. And then something happens in ones own life that makes you realise that we are not bonkers, that we are all, in fact, sleep- walking into an authoritarian society.

One of the many thousand new laws introduced recently was the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005. This legislation was a response to a long and expensive campaign spearheaded by Encams (formerly Keep Britain Tidy and funded by the Department of the Environment) and supported by a host of other anti-smoking charities and quangos. All of these organisations were set up by government departments and all are publicly funded.

So the campaign to lobby for this legislation was sponsored by the government and paid for by the taxpayer. Why it is necessary to create a phony demand for legislation? Is it to create thousands of well paid "jobs" with which to reward party cronies and fellow travellers or is it to convince us that these are laws we really need?

Anyway, as a result of this Act, my eighteen year old son was hauled out of a shop in Liverpool by two PCSO's who accused him of stubbing out a cigarette in the gutter prior to entering the shop.
My son was obviously taken aback and explained he did not know that what he had done was against the law. He offered to pick up the cigarette end but was told that "it had gone too far for that" and was read his rights under the PACE regulations. He was offered the option of the offence being dealt with by way of a police caution which he accepted. Despite the fact that he was assured this would avoid the threat of prosecution, there followed a letter from Liverpool City Council environmental department demanding a £75 fixed penalty be paid, otherwise he was going to court.

So, for unknowingly breaking this new law, my son has been criminalised. The police caution will be recorded on a database and will be 'active' for three years. At the end of that time it will remain on the database for ever and will be disclosed to anyone undertaking an enhanced CRB check.

I recently had an interesting correspondence with my MP, Stephen Hesford, in which I outlined my reservations about new laws that encroached on our freedom and I will send him a link to this blog. I hope he will see fit to add a comment on whether or not he believes that what happened to my son was fair, reasonable and just.

Thursday, 18 December 2008


Following on from the previous post about the failed attempt to impose a congestion charge on Greater Manchester, I did a search for local political blogs on the subject and found The Leader's Blog. This is the weblog of Councillor Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council (hereinafter referred to as The Leader). For some reason unknown to me, instead of taking advantage of one of the many free blog hosting services that exist (like this one, for instance) The Leader has decided to make his blog (which is of course full of his personal political opinions) part of the official Manchester City Council website. No idea how much this is costing the innocent council tax payer, but is it really appropriate for a party political blog to be hosted on an official site? Not in my book. It's worth visiting though, just remember to stand to attention while you're reading The Leader's Blog.

Shortly before the result of the referendum was announced, The Leader posted a blog entry on the subject entitled "White Van Man-v- The Future" - I assume by "White Van Man" The Leader means people who have to drive vans as part of their job, and therefore don't get much of a choice about where they go and at what time. The working class, in other words. In this post, The Leader claims not to have any idea what the outcome of the referendum would be - this would make him very out of touch if true, because I was never in any serious doubt. Out of all the people I've talked to about this, I've only met three who admitted that they thought congestion charging was a good idea. But apparently, they were right and the rest of us are enemies of the future. If only I'd known this before I voted! At least The Leader has shown me the error of my ways. I'll follow his blog more closely in future, so he can let me know what to think, instead of me having to work it out on my own. You should do the same - just remember to get down on your knees while you read The Leader's Blog.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Greater Manchester Police are trying out a new handheld electronic gadget that checks people's fingerprints against a national database. According to the BBC story: "The unit will allow officers to see if people are wanted for any other crime in the country and within minutes, their identity can be established so officers can decide on the spot if any further action is needed." Surely the criterion for deciding if any action is to be taken is if the copper on the spot has reasonable grounds for believing that you've committed a crime? You know, the traditional way. Because the alternative is that some cop has stopped you in the street and wants to fingerprint you just on the offchance that you may have done something wrong - and that's not exactly the way they should be operating.

Another quote from the website: "Anyone stopped will have to voluntarily agree for the device to be used." If I'm stopped without good reason, there's no way that I'm agreeing to this.

Instead of wasting money on these Robocop gadgets that are only likely to alienate innocent members of the public, the police force should concentrate on proper community policing. If we changed over to a system of elected chief constables (which is Libertarian Party policy), I hope we'd have a bit less of this statist rubbish and a bit more common sense policing.

Friday, 12 December 2008


Rejoice! Voters in Greater Manchester have rejected the Congestion Charge! 79% of those who voted, voted "No"! It's nice to see a bit of common sense being exercised. Congestion charging is a typical statist way of tackling a problem - hitting you over the head with a cricket bat until you start to behave the way your lords and masters want you to behave.

Fortunately people have seen through the doubtful promises of improvements to public transport and decided not to accept a tax on going in to work. This tax would have hit the working poor worst - those who could least afford to pay, but needed to be in work on time.

So now that the charge has been decisively rejected, how long do you think it will be before the statists have another go at introducing it? A year or two?


They say if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. Everyone has something to hide.

Thursday, 11 December 2008


Welcome. This is a blog written by members of the Libertarian Party who are based in the North West of England. If you haven't heard of the Libertarian Party, that's unsurprising - we've only been in existence a year, but our membership is growing fast. We're a group of forward-thinking individuals who recognise that the three mainstream parties are taking this country in the wrong direction. In the last few decades, the power of the State has grown to the point where almost every aspect of our lives is over-regulated. CCTV cameras, ID cards, seemingly endless bans and an unaccountable police force who often seem to operate above the law are not signs of a healthy society. In the economic sphere, centralised government planning has led to an unhealthy boom in easy credit, which has itself led inevitably to the current recession. The welfare state - originally intended to provide a safety net to those temporarily down on their luck - has created a permanent underclass, and actually deters the poor from improving their situation. The military is both under-funded and over-committed. This is not just a criticism of the current Labour government - very little would change under a Conservative government, or even a "Liberal" Democrat one. They're all wedded to the idea that they know what's best for the rest of us.

Fortunately there's now another choice - the Libertarian Party. What's different about us? We believe in you. We believe in the good sense and potential of the average citizen, and we believe that you're the best person to decide how to live your life and spend your money - certainly better than a bunch of people you don't even know who meet in the Houses of Parliament to pass laws over the rest of us. We're not anarchists, but we do believe that society would be a lot healthier with a lot less State intervention. We're the successors to the original Liberals - we believe that the government's legitimate functions are concerned with protecting its citizens from aggression. Governments are extremely inefficient organisations, and should concentrate on their core functions. Anything else is up to you - you know what's best for yourself. You know how to spend your money best, so we'll tax you as little - and as fairly - as possible. You know the effects drugs, alcohol and tobacco can have on your system, so we won't use force to stop you ingesting such substances (although I'd personally advise moderation). You know that if someone attacks you, a policeman won't be on the spot to protect you - so we'll allow you to protect yourself. If you want to lift yourself out of poverty and maybe set up your own business, we won't get in your way by tangling you up in red tape, and we certainly won't penalise you for working. It's your life, you have the right to choose how to live it.