Many things have been happening in Britain that have caused me concern. I expect you've heard about most of them but perhaps it would be helpful to see them all together.
'Conspiracy theorist' has become a derogatory term and to ensure I don't get labelled such I have not included any speculation whatsoever in this first section. If it seems to lead somewhere, it leads there by pure virtue of the facts.
The English philosopher John Locke, who's views on freedom and democracy are generally accepted and who was a main inspiration of the American constitution and the French revolution, outlined three freedoms that, in a free society, everyone should have
As far as I know we still have freedom of movement, but in the last few years various laws have removed our freedom of expression and our freedom of association. For example, trade union laws dictate what a trade union is allowed to discuss in private. Terrorism laws forbid people to merely join an organisation. It's not just illegal to partake in terrorism, but to simply join a political body who is suspected of being involved in terrorism. It might seem like these laws don't really restrict your freedom much at all, but the idea is that you can say what you want, not say what you want so long as you have the government's aproval. Governments are not supposed to be invloved in this area at all. So the next time you hear someone say "It's a free country" you might want to put them right.
The Magna Carta, an extremely important document in the British constitution, gave the police, who were from the start supposed to be a civillian force (more about that soon), the power to hold someone for 48 hours in order to collect evidence. Other than this the police were to have no special powers. The terrorism laws directly contradict this and give the police the right to hold people for much longer than 48 hours. It's easy to think "So what - who cares what happens to terrorists?", but the people who are held are all innocent, by definition, because they have not had a trial.
Or perhaps not - the idea of innocent until proven guilty doesn't hold so much weight any more. In America they hold the innocent until proven guilty idea in great esteem. The bit of their constitution that outlines this says "...nor shall [any person] be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." So the idea that a suspect in this country can be penalised for not bearing witness against himself without us losing the innocent until proven guilty principle is ridiculous. "If you had nothing to hide, you wouldn't mind." I don't know about you, but I have plenty to hide, none of it illegal, and there are infinite reasons why I would not want to explain myself to the police or to a court. This can now be used as evidence that I commited a crime. I might, for example, have been at a secret organisation planning to protest against the government and it is important that I don't have to air this is to the authorities for it would give them much too much power. These ango-saxon traditions of freedom have developed over hundreds of years and make sense.
It's the same with ID cards, it's not what they are planning to do with them, but what it gives them the power to do in the future. You may have nothing to hide now, but the Jews of Nazi Germany didn't have anything to hide at one point...
As I mentioned before the police are supposed to be a civilian force without special powers. At one time even puting them in uniform caused protests. A bill currently going though (18th January 1997) is going to give them the right to bug private homes without the say so of a judge. Up until now they haven't been able to even enter a home without a warrant. I doubt they'll even bother with warrants any more, they can just enter a home to bug it and go through it while they're at it. It is extremely important that the authorities do not have the right to know everything that is in each person's home or hear everything that goes on - because, again, it gives them too much power to stop protest, silence people etc. I'm not even suggesting that they are planning on doing this, but is important, ultimately important, that they don't have the power to.
(I heard some high up policeman defending this bill today and he was trying his damndest to confuse everyone. In case you heard his argument: the reason it is infinitely better for a judge to give permission for a home to be bugged, rather than the police is that in a court they would have to say "We want to bug him as we have this reason to suspect him of this crime." and couldn't bug an anti-government protester for the sake of it.)
The police have also been given the right to search people who they think look suspicious. It is left to their discression and they do not have to prove that they haven't stopped people for reasons of race or whatever. This went a long way to causing the Brixton riots.
When you put all this together with the fact that they now carry CS gas (generally seen more as a weapon to break up protest than disable a criminal - gasses do float about after all) the police do seem to wield far too much power.
CCTV cameras are being put up everywhere. Statistics are bandied about that show they prevent crime. But one or two things confuse me about this:
Well you know what they say "There's lies, damn lies and statistics."
A long time ago I heard a man on the radio saying that a bill was being proposed that would refuse benefits to people who are non-conformists in the apearance department. I 'm sure I don't have to go into what is wrong with this. I was outraged at the time but heard nothing more about it for months and months. Then I heard Jerry Haze (?) defending it on James Whale's radio programme. More months passed and I heard more about it on Rory Bremner's programme. Why this has barely been reported at all, I don't know, but I find it extremely sinister. Do I even need to say that it is not a governments buisness to tell people how to present themselves?
I beleive the criminal justice bill impedes on peoples right to gather and protest - the way all major changes in the country have come about. I'll try to find details on this. Email me if you know anything.
For hundreds of years people have been extremely predudiced against gypsies and this hasn't stopped now. I'm not talking about your standard new age traveller or whatever, I'm talking about the people who were driven out of India in the 15th century by Timur Lenk, (conqueror of much of central Asia and eastern Europe), and spread all over Europe. They never mixed with anyone else much so they have stayed a race of their own with their own culture. They haven't existed in Germany since the 1930s when they were all killed and now there virtually aren't any in Britain. It has practically been made illegal to be a gypsy. They have been forced to settle down. It is very sad.
The government now chooses what jobs many people do. In a free society a government is not supposed to have this much power over everyone. But if you can't find a job on your own the government will find one for you and you have to do it on pain of, well, starving I suppose.
(This section may include slightly harder to believe things. I have separated these from the last section to ensure maximum clarity.)
At a politics conference I went to some journalist or other told us, quite matter-of-factly that there is a conspiracy between the major political parties to not talk about anything important and to fight the election on unimportant issues. He said that they realised everything they were doing regarding things of any genuine importance were probably against the wishes of the public. He showed us Labour's pre-election pledges (or something). They were all the things they were prepared to discuss in which they differed from the tories. It was printed on the back of a credit card.
It is very important that you don't fall for the old rubbish "People died to give you a vote and you have to use it." I don't know if you ever listen to talk radio stations but before every election every presenter without exception starts to put this view over. It is very important that you only vote if a political party convinces you that they are worth voting for. Otherwise party A could be proposing the mass murder of religious minorities and party B could be proposing the mass torture of religious minorities and everyone who had nothing against religious minorites would vote for B. It means that the parties can, as they are, fight an election on unimportant issues and get away with anything. No party has offered any serious opposition to any of the measures I described above. Less and less people are voting and the parties are getting terrified that people will lose confidence in our voting system. This is their fault entirely for one lot being very convincing as to why we shouldn't vote for other parties and the other parties being very convincing as to why we shouldn't vote for the first lot. They are spending a fortune on propoganda. They are making out that people who don't vote are apathetic. I know this is annoying but just ignore them. If less than 50% of people vote this will show not that most people are apathetic, that's rubbish and they know it, but that most people don't necessarily support the voting system and it is no longer a valid way to bring people to power. They will be forced to do something major. It will frighten them into bringing about some much needed changes, like trying to make themselves worth voting for again.
I wouldn't be suprised if they make not voting illegal, like in Australia. This is very bad, even if you have the option of abstaining because it gives you no way of finding out how many people actually support the system and it turns the whole thing into a meaningless ceremony.
Also, don't trust the media any further than you can throw them - all at once. In the vast majority of cases there is no way of finding out if what they are saying is true, but every now and again the opurtunity arises. Do you remember the story of the American CD ROM computer game "Schoolyard slaughter." that was nearly bought over here? You had to kill little children in it. The distributors decided not to sell it at the last moment.due to the Dunblane buisness. I accepted this at the time but later read in the magazine PC Format that in fact "Schoolyard Slaughter" is a four year old Amiga game. It was shareware and not distributed by a corporation but made entirely by an individual and distributed over the internet. It was certinally not available on CD ROM. It was only because PC Format had an intrest in these matters that I heard about it.
And please ignore any idea of public opinion you get from them. Remember there is no such thing as a 'public outcry', just a 'newspaper outcry'. And for God's sake ignore the bits at the end of news items when they interview people in the streets and they all say the same thing. Just how rubbish this is was first bought to my attention during the French lorry drivers strike. One news programme played about 7 Brits all supporting the drivers. "The feeling amongst the British lorry drivers stuck in France is one of sympathy for the French." Another played about 7 Brits being cross with the French. "The British lorry drivers have lost patience with the French." I know logically we know these things are rubbish, but subconciously they are so easy to believe.
Also just because you never hear about what I'm saying now on the TV, doesn't mean that people all over the country aren't worrying about it. They seem to have us right where they want us, we can't even be shocked without their permission. When you finally do hear about the no-benefits-to-non-conformists it will probably be fourth news item for two days and no one much'll think about it. When I told two people about this one said "Don't be silly, you must have dreamt it." and the other didn't even belive me at all "Oh, I haven't heard that one.".
Do you remember a little while ago even a high up policemen was on the news for saying that we were becoming a police state?
And sorry this is so long, I didn't realise there was so much until I wrote it all down.
When Hitler banned trade unions he didn't say "I am an evil dictator and therefore I want to ban trade unions to upset everyone.". He set up a central trade union and told everyone that it would much more effective than the old ones. This of course was rubbish and from then on people couldn't leave jobs without permission from the government. When things like this happen the people involved aren't open about it, they don't hand it to you on a plate. They always come up with some very good reason for doing whatever they're doing. You have to judge it on the pure merit of the actions themselves. No matter how un-shocked the newscaster seems. All this has happened before, in a slightly less subtle way. But then of course, we've learnt a lot since then. Haven't we?