social policy news


Two things occur to me today as points of interest. Well, there are more of course – the fact that essex has now moved within the arctic circle for one, and that the evidence for this is that the northern lights are visible. There are worse consequences which might have resulted from this unexpected geographical relocation and personally I dread the day when polar bears ride up the thames on icebergs and demand fish, or pack ice destroys Chelmsford (although on the other hand the destruction of their famous nazi-themed town hall could not be altogether a bad thing). Anyway this was a great result for the friendly people at ‘guaranteed northern lights tours’ of Braintree who had long tired of explaining to disgruntled, often abusive and sometimes violent customers disappointed by the complete absence of any lights (apart from the streetlights visible to all in clement weather) and unsatisfied by the assurance that ‘guaranteed northern lights tours’ is only the name of the company and should not in any way to be taken to imply a guarantee of either lights or their visibility from the locations visited.

No, this is not what interests me. First on my list is the collection and storage of thousands of private images sent through the yahoo video chat service and intercepted by gchq under their ‘sheer nerve’ or ‘state pervert’ protocol. It seems that gchq were surprised to discover that their innocent and harmless interception of private pictures was bringing a harvest of ‘inappropriate’ images – mostly (no doubt) of genitalia. Little help there then in testing out facial recognition software as had been proposed. Perhaps rectal recognition? Anyway, strenuous efforts should now be made to prosecute William Hague for causing obscene images of persons potentially under the age of sexual consent to be stored on hard drives under his control, and further questions arise – in what sense can it be said that this is ‘necessary’ or ‘proportionate’ (or indeed ‘legal’) under the terms of even the current legal framework? Surely the collection of amateur pornographic images on state computers cannot be justified, their storage cannot be condoned and their perusal must be prevented? Even if the intention was not to collect such images but to test out facial recognition software as has been suggested, what permitted gchq to use the pictures of entirely innocent and oblivious yahoo users as an unofficial database for their experiments? How could this be called ‘necessary’ when it was merely thought likely to be useful? How can it be classed as ‘proportionate’ to intercept and steal the (very) private images generated by otherwise innocent citizens who believed they were in the seclusion of their own homes performing intimate acts for a chosen audience? And if this is legal it is a very bad law which makes it so, a law which requires immediate repeal. This however is an outcome for which we can hold out little hope since our smug and repressive government rests assured that gchq is a national treasure making us important in the world and useful to our ‘allies’ (the hegemonic power which controls our foreign policy) and our press and broadcast media are so rightwing and supine that the merest whisper from the security services becomes a gale of instructions in their ears and a purposeful omerta spreads over all public discussion. Thus does the daily mail, that bastion of freedom, paranoia and historical Nazism seek to discredit anything to do with human rights and more particularly in recent days attack the precursor to the organisation ‘liberty’, then known as the ‘national council for civil liberties’ for association with a paedophile organisation. No danger of William Hague supporting that, of course, just making possible the storage and continued access to informal pornography through official government databases. But hang on a moment (I hear you cry), all this is in the pursuit of the murderous types who destroyed the twin towers and then slaughtered lee rigby, people called addysomething who are plainly terrorists (but probably never used a computer or exposed their private parts to a webcameron) and so therefore is not only justified but right proper and necessary, never to be forgotten and vital to our security as a nation and our values of freedom tolerance and justice for all (except them). Yes, this is very good and comforting to recite, especially on the same day that it is revealed that more than 100 terrorist were granted secret royal pardons or letters assuring them they were not being sought by the police in connection with crimes we have every reason to believe they did actually commit – and why? For just those same reasons of peace and security which cause us to selflessly spy on amateur pornographers.

There is also the hideous and tragic case of Sheila Holt, a woman suffering long term form severe bipolar disorder who was so hounded by the dwp and its cohorts, having been placed in a work related activity group that she became increasingly distressed and although unable to cope she was threatened with ‘sanctions’ and became so distressed that she was sectioned under the mental health act. when in psychiatric hospital she suffered a heart attack and lapsed (as we like to put it) into a coma. Despite this and despite the fact that the dwp was informed of her condition she was sent further letters requesting her attendance at work related activities. It is plain that in this case the classification and treatment of this unfortunate woman has caused such a deterioration in her health that she is now not only not ‘fit for work’, she is fit for nothing. It is not enough then that the dwp has repeatedly declared fit for work the lame the halt and the dead and has been implicated in grave distress and helpless anxiety caused to the dying and the incapable but now it can be shown once more that they have  caused serious indeed life threatening health problems in those they are pretending to assist. The dwp kills. Iain Duncan Smith is a killer. His murderous rage against the poor and incapable is harvesting a store of human misery sufficient for him to wallow in like a pig in slime. I hope he is happy, since most of us are not and why should we all suffer? It is not a question of who administers the preposterous tests designed by an American i.t. company responsible for u.s. workfare programs (unum), whether atos or another. in this case the lesser known seetec was contracted by the dwp to provide ‘services’ for Sheila Holt, ‘services’ which have nearly killed her. This is the care the helpless are offered at the hands of this government, this is the fate of each of us as incrementally the noose tightens around those with the temerity to ask for help.

So that is two government ministers we should arrest today. Perhaps we could arrange to have them specially rendered to Romania and tortured until they admit not only these crimes of which they are plainly guilty but all manner of other crimes of which they previously had no knowledge? That would be  justice of a sort. But perhaps they will flee to Russia where they would no doubt be assured of a pleasant welcome from fellow conservatives and from there resist attempts to try them at the International Criminal Court. Such a shame that we may never be treated to the headline writers’ variations on the Hague in Hague theme.