Parliament passed the Investigatory Powers Bill last week.
It legalises a whole range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services unmatched by any other country in western Europe or even the US.
The security agencies and police began the year rehearsing arguments for the debate. In the end, the government did not have to make a single substantial concession.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden noted, “The UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies”.
What does the new act permit?
It includes powers to force companies to make their phones less secure so that they can be listened in on by spies, and others. It will allow the government to ask companies such as Apple and Google to help them break or hack into phones.
It will require internet service providers to keep detailed information on their customers’ web browsing for the last year.
The government was essentially making legal a series of spying practices that it has been carrying out for years.
It then, since there was little opposition, escalated the bill’s measures. Happily, MPs may be exempt from some of the spying.
Labour peer Shami Chakrabarti made her maiden speech in the House of Lords on Thursday.
Strangely, the shadow attorney-general hadn’t made her debut the previous day, when the Lords had debated the expansion of surveillance powers.
Surely, as the director for 13 years of a civil liberties campaigning group, she might have had some insights.
Labour supported the snooper’s charter. And ermine is a great comfort for loss of conscience.
- Labour peers last week also demanded the introduction of compulsory ID cards. The Tories turned them down because they said it would be too expensive.
Ukip could be forced to repay nearly £150,000 after allegations that the money was misspent.
The Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe, which Ukip is part of, has been accused of using European Union money for electioneering in Britain.
“This is pure victimisation,” said Ukip leader Nigel Farage. “I am the most investigated MEP in history.”
Former Tory MP David Ruffley, who was forced to quit parliament in disgrace, has failed to pay back wrongly claimed expenses almost a year and a half after he stopped being an MP.
Ruffley double claimed a £144 house removals bill. The Commons has now given up trying to get the cash back.
Making up the facts about migration...
The Times led last week with the headline, “95% of new workers are foreigners”—but the newspaper is misleading its readers.
So, the number of people in work increased by 454,000 between July and September last year and the same period this year.
Workers born overseas was up just over 430,000. It sounds right but it isn’t.
Every quarter, when employment figures come out, such headlines are common across the press.
The Sun did the same in May. The Daily Mail, Express, Telegraph and the Spectator all do it.
Newspapers divide the rise in foreign-born workers by the rise in employment.
But it is wrong. Official employment figures do not show how many new jobs went to foreign-born workers. No such figures exist.
The economy is growing so there are both more jobs and more people.
Non UK nationals make up about ten percent of the workforce—if it matters.
...and making up facts about Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was accused last week to of having “broken into a jig” en route to the Remembrance Day commemoration at the Cenotaph.
A carefully cropped photo from Steve Back’s politicalpics account was to blame. Back is a regular in the Downing Street press pen.
Last year, after the Battle of Britain 75th anniversary commemoration at St Paul’s Cathedral, politicalpics claimed, “First time I’ve meet Corbyn at St Paul’s for 75th battle for Britain, don’t like the fact he took 2 free lunch bags for veterans Nasty … Jeremy Corbyn leaving St Pauls Battle of Britain ceremony takes 2 free lunch bags which were offered to veterans”.
This was also not true.
Queen gets the builders in—you’re paying
Theresa May is to hand over £369 million to the Royal family so the leeches can refurbish their 775-room Buckingham Palace home.
The work on the Palace includes replacing flooring, electric wiring, toilets and pipe work. It will begin next April and take ten years to complete.
That means the queen will receive £76 million in April, up from £43 million this year.
Her funding for the next ten years is projected to almost double on the previous decade.
Apart from her personal wealth, the queen receives an annual income from the Duchy of Lancaster’s profits which was £17.8 million this year.
The Royal Collection contains many artefacts deemed priceless but many estimate its value as above £10 billion.
Files reveal Thatcher plot over Orgreave
Margaret Thatcher’s government plotted to back up the cops in the wake of the 1985 Battle of Orgreave.
Police attacked striking miners then framed many for riot.
Home Office files show that Thatcher was told that serious flaws in police evidence “may lead to an investigation” the day after the first trials collapsed.
One note between senior Home Office officials discussed a draft response for Thatcher to use in parliament.
“I have made it more supportive of the police, on the lines we discussed,” it said. It advised Thatcher to say, “I see no ground for a public inquiry.”