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Old 03-14-2005, 06:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
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The Prevention of Terrorism Bill

The so-called Prevention of Terrorism Bill has finally been forced through Parliament after thirty hours of sleep deprivation and wrangling with the House of Lords.

Under the new Bill, (LINK) Judges and the Government will have the authority to issue orders indefinitely detaining members of the British Public without charge.

The Bill, purportedly put in place to protect the British public, comes suspiciously soon after unsubstantiated and appalingly vague claims by Sir John Stevens about the number of terrorists roaming the streets of Britain.

Link to John Stevens story To my mind remniscent of this Python sketch

That Michael Howard, head of the opposition opposed the bill is no surprise (especially in his new cuddly guise) However, that even Thatcher, arguably the last century's most right-wing, authoritarian British Prime Minister, voted for the sunset clause (LINK) really says something.
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Old 03-14-2005, 08:02 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to the club guys.

We need more governments that pick up it's citizens and take them away, never to be heard from again. (<-- sarcasm)

Atleast now you'll all know who not to vote for come next election.
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Old 03-14-2005, 08:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Are they following in suit with the US? I realize they're our great ally and the UK is always ready to back up the US in it's next hair-brained scheme, but are they really willing to begin the same loss of civil liberties that is beginning to undermine America's fabled freedom? I'd hate to have to deal with this spreading to other countries, though I doubt more countries are willing to alienate their citizens. Apparently, American's aren't willing to fight for civili liberties. We'll see if the English have the same apathy. If they try this is Spain or Cnanda, though I'd expect to see some civil resistence. I'd wathc with great interest to see how they fix the peoblem and try to insitgate such resistences here in the US.

UK, good luck in the fight for freedom. You're not alone.
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Old 03-14-2005, 08:57 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I knew not to vote for Labour the first term they got in. Having been a Labour supporter up to that point, I changed my allegiances to the Liberal Democrat party, but now I have no idea who to vote for.

Michael Howard, leader of the opposition, is famed for having advocated exactly this kind of policy when he was Home Secretary, so I suspect his opposition to this Bill is pure vote-grabbing.

As for the Liberal Democrats, the main criticism of them was always that they were wimpish and ineffectual. Now, I can't find a source to substantiate this claim, but I heard on the radio at the weekend that if something like 13 more Lib Dems had turned up for the vote they could have turned it around. That makes me so pig-sick I think I might vote for the Tory party.
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Old 03-14-2005, 09:05 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Heh. How difficult is it to start your own party? All you need is a celebrity to back you. Use the politics of Winston Churchill and the backing of Posh and Becks. If nothing else, it'd be really entertaining. If Arnold Shwartzen... Arnold can be governer of California, who knows.
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Old 03-14-2005, 09:07 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Labour under Blair has become obsessed with controlling people. I used to vote Labour, but now they scare me so much that I will vote for whoever has the best chance to get rid of the Labour candidate in my area. They say power corrupts, and you only have to look at Blair to see how true that is.
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Old 03-14-2005, 09:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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We would of course be taking to the streets about this, if we still had the right to free protest:

Link

Link 2

Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a gradual slicing away of freedom.

From the article above, with reference to Aug 2004:
Quote:
By the time we have lost our freedoms, we will have forgotten what they were. The silence with which the new laws were greeted last week suggests that the forgetting has already begun.
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Old 03-14-2005, 09:31 AM   #8 (permalink)
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It irritates me that party politics is no longer based on party specific principles. All Michael Howard ever seems to do is disagree with Tony Blair for the sake of disagreeing, and when a debate arises on which both parties should agree, or at least discuss constructively, he still attempts to pull the carpet out from underneath the Labour party. It's actually quite childish, and in my opinion suggests that Michael Howard would be a weak, indecisive and generally ineffective Prime Minister. Tony Blair is by no means a tyrant, and Britain has seen a lot of improvements under Labour so I think it would be wrong to dismiss his abilities as a PM based on a few (admittedly large) errors of judgement.

However, in this instance I agree that the sunset clause was a good idea. I'm glad that legislation is being passed to help combat terrorism, regardless of whether the threat is as real as the government says or as non existant as some of the papers claim, simply because in my eyes proactivity is not a bad thing. I'm a standard citizen with as much idea of what's going on in the world as anybody else, and I like to feel that my government is doing their best to ensure my safety. Protests that this legislation will legalise the plucking of innocent people from the streets and holding them without trial are all very well, but in reality will this actually happen to any more people than it did before?

Similarly, I'm slightly unnerved by the inability of some people to trust the investigative skills of their own police force. If someone is suspected of involvement in terrorism by those entrusted with the protection of the British population, then that should be enough for people to accept. It just seems too easy to see corruption or ulterior motives when neither necessarily exist.

I'm not dismissing the flaws of this legislation, nor am I by any means suggesting the British government is perfect (however much I'd like to), but those are my two pence.

Last edited by Aborted; 03-14-2005 at 09:34 AM..
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Old 03-14-2005, 10:03 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Henry
We would of course be taking to the streets about this, if we still had the right to free protest:

Link

Link 2

Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a gradual slicing away of freedom.

From the article above, with reference to Aug 2004:
Link 1 =

Quote:
The Right to Protest

Laws intended to combat problems from anti-social behaviour to terrorism are being used against legitimate protesters.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows the police to stop and search anyone in a specific area. S.44 was used against those travelling to anti-war demos, arms fair protesters and anti-capitalist protesters.

Our legal challenge to s.44, and its use by the Metropolitan Police, is to be heard by the House of Lords in Spring 05.

Protesters are also being issued with Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) by police and local authorities. Breaching an ASBO - which lists forbidden behaviour such as waving a banner or being in a certain area - is a criminal offence and can result in imprisonment.

The Government's Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill proposes to make all offences arrestable, which means that protesters who might receive a warning could be arrested. The police would then be able to store their details, fingerprints and DNA.

The Bill also widens ASBOs, by allowing unaccountable public or bodies to seek them against individuals.

It creates a new criminal offence of trespass on a ‘designated site’ on grounds of national security. ‘National security’ is not defined, which risks the new offence being used against protesters.

There are also proposals to prevent protest outside Parliament. Under the latest version of the Bill it will be an offence to take part in any unauthorised protest within 1 km of parliament.

This extreme measure is a new addition to the Bill, replacing the incredible proposal that senior police officers have the power to remove someone if they are ‘spoiling the view’. This was clearly clearly directed at Brian Haw, who has maintained a site in Parliament Square against the war in Iraq for the past few years.

After significant pressure from commercial interests, ‘economic sabotage’ will also become a criminal offence. This is clearly aimed at animal rights protestors.

The right to protest is a crucial part of political life, with a strong British history. We must defend it.
Heh damn wtf is going on over there with you guys, this is just insane. I thought what was happening over here was bad but that is going way too far. "Spoiling the view"?? What the hell kind of shit is that?

The part that worries me is that since the UK has been taking suggestions from the US on how to "handle terrorism" by taking up our recent move to imprison people w/o charges for however long the government wants w/o any possible arguement, how long will it be before the US looks toward the UK and their removal of things like right to protest and assimilates that? So we'll basically be trading this kind of crap back and forth taking eachothers examples on new and inventive ways to totaly remove the rights of every citizen. There's already that patriot II stuff here that would/does/has propose(d) that the government could just take away citizenship from whoever they deem unworthy and even there after deport that person to whatever country they want. Oh yea, all without a charge or defense too, gotta love that part!
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Old 03-14-2005, 11:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Man, this is some scary stuff. I've seen Brian Haw a few times, and while I think he may be a little nuts, it is totally unacceptable for Parliament to create an extreme new rights-infringing law just to force him to move.

The Brits really could use some good 'ol American judicial protections from Parliament (and we'll take strong labor and progressive taxes in exchange).
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Old 03-14-2005, 07:20 PM   #11 (permalink)
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This sort of thing is hardly new. The Thatcher/Faulkner government used the Special Powers Act in much the same way during the 1970s and 1980s, during the height of the war in Occupied Ireland, and with much the same intent and result.
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Old 03-14-2005, 07:38 PM   #12 (permalink)
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it may not be hardly new, but why aren't people looking back to this and going...maybe we should not try that one again. It makes no sense.
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Old 03-15-2005, 05:38 AM   #13 (permalink)
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On top of that, due to the incredible resistance that the Lords put up against the bill, there's talk of further reform and a move to an all-elected system, but that really needs a new thread.

I hate the way my country is going. I hate the way that I now fear the police as an instrument of what is becoming an increasingly oppresive government. Catch the terrorists, but don't even think of overturning 800+ years of law and tradition in the process.

They'll be bugging Speaker's Corner next... if it hasn't already been done.
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Old 03-15-2005, 07:18 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Furry
I hate the way that I now fear the police as an instrument of what is becoming an increasingly oppresive government. Catch the terrorists, but don't even think of overturning 800+ years of law and tradition in the process.
If you could expand a little on this I'd be grateful, as I've personally experienced no limitations on my freedom since counter-terrorism came so overtly to the front of the governments agenda, nor have I been subject to any treatment that could be described as oppressive.

Also, as far as I can tell reform is continuing in exactly the same way as it always has in this country; slow and steady. There's nothing incredibly radical about this bill, and it by no means represents the "overturning" of 800 years of law and tradition.
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Old 03-15-2005, 10:11 AM   #15 (permalink)
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The Lords is the highest court in the land, as well as being a legitimate and important balance to the Commons. Enable a fully-elected and Commons-like Lords, and you'll have exactly that: another House of Commons with similar political weighting. The precautionary antagonism between the two will be lost, effectively giving any government with a large enough majority in the Commons complete and direct control of the legislative process. The small delaying powers still in effect will be lost. These were not subject to the 1946 (or was it '49?) Parliament Act - they remained as a means to engage a cooling off period and also as a concession.

Here's the story that got me onto it:

"LONDON (Reuters) - Last week's titanic parliamentary struggle over a new terrorism law looks set to prompt government calls to diminish the powers of the unelected House of Lords, newspapers say.
Constant amendments by the unelected upper house led to one of the longest stand-offs ever recorded between the Lords and the House of Commons before the law was finally passed on Friday.

The age-old question of what powers the Lords should have to oppose government initiatives is now bound to re-emerge, commentators said.

"While New Labour has spent hundreds of hours of discussing how to reform the content of the House of Lords, it has yet to begin to address the question of what powers it should possess," said the Sunday Telegraph.

"The Prime Minister is certainly going to confront that question now."

But commentators doubted the struggle, which revolved around the rights of terrorism suspects to be judged by a court rather than politicians, will have much effect on the two main parties' standings in the run-up to an expected May election.

Neither Tony Blair nor Conservative leader Michael Howard emerged with much credit, they believe.

"Watching politicians compete for the "terror premium"... has been distasteful," The Observer said, echoing a common view.

Blair has repeatedly rejected direct elections to the Lords -- where Labour does not have a majority -- believing giving peers a mandate would encourage them even more to block legislation.

Past proposals have included imposing time limits on upper house debates or introducing indirectly elected peers in which Lords seats would be allocated according to the parties' support in national elections.

"The confrontation may lead to a hardening of the Labour manifesto pledge on long-term reform of the Lords," wrote Times correspondent Peter Riddell over the weekend.

The Lords originated in the 13th century and now comprises 26 senior clerics of the Church of England and 669 members of the peerage. In 1999, Blair removed the automatic hereditary right of many peers to sit in the upper house.

The Parliament Act, which Blair used to ram through last month's ban on fox-hunting with dogs, was enacted to overcome entrenched opposition from the Lords but was not applicable in the case of the terrorism bill, which imposed a range of "control orders" on suspects including house arrest.

Compromise was reached only when Blair agreed to give parliament a chance to overhaul the legislation next year."

-----------------

Blair rejects direct elections to the Lords fearing that the result will turn out against his party's lines. Having seats in the Lords allocated by electoral turnout gives the BNP and other extremist parties a chance at representation, but that's a side issue, compared to the very real chance that we lose the only effective block against legislation that in the future may infringe what most people consider to be fundamental human rights. We need some sort of mechanism whereby party politics is moderated before becoming law and the Lords, up until now, has fulfilled that role. We are in danger of losing checks and balances on government and that just does not bear thinking about.

I do not believe that the Parliament Act is legal or indeed constitutional. To force leglislation through parliament regardless of what may be at times deep-seated and necessary opposition diminishes the credibility of the bill in question and raises serious doubts about the legitimacy of the entire process. How can a bill be for the good of the country if half of parilament is so desperately clamouring for amendment? Stripping away opposition to any bill that the Commons wishes to pass is, in the long run, short-sighted, dangerous and reeks of party politics.
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Old 03-15-2005, 10:45 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
If you could expand a little on this I'd be grateful, as I've personally experienced no limitations on my freedom since counter-terrorism came so overtly to the front of the governments agenda, nor have I been subject to any treatment that could be described as oppressive.
See Link

Quote:
When the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act was passed, the government swore that it would not be used against demonstrators: it was intended solely to protect people from stalkers. The first three people to be prosecuted under the act were all peaceful protesters. The government also assured us that it would not misuse the antisocial behaviour orders it introduced in 1998 to deal with nuisance neighbours. They, too, were immediately deployed against peaceful demonstrators. It is hard to think of a better tool for state repression: once an order has been served on a protester, he is banned from protesting until it lapses. The police now use it to neutralise the most effective activists. The government liked this new power so much that in 2003 it wrote it into law, with an Anti-Social Behaviour Act designed to restrict peaceful protest.
Quote:
When some of us complained that the Terrorism Act 2000 was so loosely drafted that it could be deployed against almost anyone seeking political change, the government told us we were being hysterical. Since then, peaceful protesters all over Britain have been arrested as potential terrorists. At the Fairford air base, for example, the police used the act to terrorise the peace campaigners protesting against the Iraq war. The protesters were repeatedly stopped and searched: often one team of police would let someone go after a full body search, and another one would immediately seize her and repeat the whole procedure (this happened to one protester 11 times in one day). On March 22 last year, the police seized three coaches carrying people to a peaceful demonstration at Fairford, held them for two hours, confiscated their possessions, then sealed off the entire motorway network between Gloucestershire and London, and escorted them back to the capital. The police and the home secretary knew full well that these people were not terrorists. They also knew that the law allowed them to be treated as if they were.
Just because it isn't happening to you, doesn't mean it isn't happening.

On that note, if you'll excuse me throwing in a little rhetoric...

Quote:
First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller
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