back to article MPs criticise government's climate of fear

The "permanent state of emergency" over terrorism since 9/11 has blocked debate over whether the dozens of new laws introduced to combat the threat are justified, according to a cross-party group of peers and MPs. The Joint Committeee on Human Rights today questioned ministers' claim that there has been a "public emergency …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    About 8 years too late

    But a welcome outbreak of common sense nevertheless. It's a shame that those in a position of influence usually don't choose to use it when the heat is on, but wait till what they have to say has long been overtaken by public sentiment.

  2. g e

    Longer than the Second World War, then

    Which also produced some fabulous, if scaryily poingnant, quotations...

    "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

    Sometimes attributed to Goerring, sometimes to Goebbels, sometimes claimed neither said it.

    In the spirit of Dark Star 'The concept is valid no matter where it originates' ;o)

    "Errr hello... bomb?" - Dark Star <-- couldn't resist

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Jonathan Evans ....... You have IMPortant Mail with Transparent* Novel Script.

      Seems like there is a Global Conspiracy to have everyone Living in a Lie ........ and that is a Virtual Reality in an Artificial Intelligence which the Simple Truth can Destroy as Easily as IT can Repair with Systems Plugged into an Advanced CyberIntelAIgent Security Service which doesn't Deal in such Dope and False Hope.

      MuI7 ..... AIdDivision of Global Communications HQ ....... for All of your MkUltraSensitive Private and Pirated Public Leads/Feeds/Needs.

      And this is something of a Scandalous Global Conspiracy which rings as a Lutine Bell ...... and obviously was deemed Unfit and too Sensitive for Wwwider Global Viewing, even though it is supported by a following message .....

      <<< Is not the Pope the figurehead champion of a self admitted paedophile ring ..... a dirty little secret society, using the Church System as a cover for immunity and impunity of action?

      Have not recent developments and the confessional papal pastoral letter ....<=en ..... not proven that inconvenient truth/unpleasant fact beyond any shadow of doubt?

      Posted by amanfromMars on Mar 25, 2010 @ 05:09 AM >>>>

      Time for Everyone to Realise that Times have Changed Fundamentally in the Information Space and being Economical with the Truth is a Radical Liability which Marks you Out as a Person of Interest to Higher Authorities when a Figure in Authority.

      * The PM's new favourite buzzword, although his past phorm would suggest that he hasn't a clue what it means or entails.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hopefully not too little too late...

    Security theatre (as opposed to anything approaching mature sensible security) is now a huge gravy train, both financial and bureaucratic. It provides an unbeatable wishlist for every unscrupulous politician, ambitious bureaucrat and cheap-pinch police officer.

    The point being that - in addressing such people - this report doesn't tell them anything they didn't already know - and certainly nothing they wish to know. Far too many instruments of surveillance are already in place, far too many fingers are already in the financial and political pie. They're just not listening - aren't going to listen. Fear brings control, acquiescence and profit - bottom line.

    This is a very welcome piece of common sense, but I can't see it changing anything.

  4. Dances With Sheep
    Big Brother


    I won't be opening the champagne yet

    When this was read out on Radio 3 this morning, the news article following it was the wish for cyber cafe owners to grass up customers for accessing 'terrorist' (read 'Islamic') material.

    1. Intractable Potsherd
      Thumb Up


      ... in our local freesheet this week, there is a flyer bearing the ACPO logo encouraging people to ring the "Terrorist Hotline" if you see anyone basically storing stuff in their garage! "If you are at all suspicious, call us and let our specially trained officers decide if it is important. We will never treat your call as a waste of time". It's been said before, but who is the real terrorist - the person who tries to fuck up a few lives with a single action, or the one that maintains a sense of fear in an entire population for the best part of a decade?

  5. David Pollard

    A question for all candidates in the general election

    If elected will you use every effort to implement the March 2010 recommendations of the Joint Committee on Human Rights?

  6. Andrew Newstead
    Big Brother


    Wasn't maintaining a permanent state of emergancy the way that the state was kept in power in 1984?

    Big Brother of course...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother


      You see, some people were foolish enough to think 1984 was a work of fiction. It was actually a leaked policy document, just with wonderful goverment ineptitude they got the date slightly wrong.

      And of course, V is a documentary.

      1. Steve X
        Black Helicopters

        Name is a giveaway

        And 1984 was written by a bloke called "Blair" as well.

      2. Oninoshiko
        Big Brother

        the date in 1984....

        It has been a bit since I read 1984, but as I recall in the book Orwell establishes that history has been so minipulated that noone is even really sure of the date anymore. The implication is that it's probibly not actually 1984, but could be substantally later.

    2. Graham Marsden
      Big Brother


      It wasn't just 1984, look up the term "Enabling Act"...

  7. Anonymous Coward


    If enough people make enough noise, particularly in the run-up to the election, this might just make soem difference. I pushed my Tory MP for a response to control orders and eventually received the following reply... (Note the closing statement, "We cannot defend our liberties by sacrificing them")

    “My colleagues and I are very concerned about control orders in their current form. While they do much to undermine our rights and freedoms, they can be ineffective at keeping us safe. If the authorities believe that a suspect poses a serious danger to national security, then a control order is usually a poor substitute for prosecution.

    It is deeply worrying that we have reached the situation where the regime is unraveling in the courts and we have nothing to replace it with. My Party has warned the Government many times that control orders are not working and we have urged Ministers to put more effort into finding effective alternatives.

    As you have pointed out, my Party has previously abstained on votes regarding control orders. We take issues of national security extremely seriously, and we do not want to see dangerous people released without a system in place to ensure that terror suspects do not pose a risk to the public. We have abstained in previous years because the Government has not proposed any alternatives to control orders beyond letting dangerous people go free. This close to an election, it would be irresponsible for us to vote against the renewal of control orders while the Government still fails to offer alternatives. However, if elected, a Conservative government would launch a full review of the whole system of control orders.

    When considering future counter terrorism measures, my Party will send the message that we understand the values we are seeking to defend from those who would violently challenge them outside the democratic sphere. We cannot defend our liberties by sacrificing them.”

    1. Anonymous Coward


      If I thought for one second the Tory party were actually serious about protecting liberties then I would vote for them. However the noise from CCHQ shows little or no difference from the Labour position on this - in that the ones we lose arent quite as essential we may have thought.

      For example: "This close to an election, it would be irresponsible for us to vote against the renewal of control orders while the Government still fails to offer alternatives. "

      Basically means they think going against control orders is a vote loser, so the chances of TV-loving, Man of the People Cameron deciding to repeal them is approximately zero. Can any one reasonably see the Tory party doing *anything* that could be seen as going soft on criminals and terrorists (especially when the terrorists are brown skinned and unlikely to read the Daily Fail).

      While in opposition the Tory shadow home sec has failed to offer any alternatives so when they have the added burden of government, why should that change?

    2. Gordon is not a Moron

      Called me a cynic if you like

      but the end of the first sentence renders the reply meaningless "in their current form", which using my handy politico-ese to cynic dictionary comes out as "we like control orders, but we don't think they go far enough"

      And his closing statement seems a little familiar too - "Any civilisation that sacrifices essential liberty for temporary security, deserves neither"

    3. Daggersedge


      Ha, ha, ha! Do you think anything any MP says right before an election means anything? Sure, they'll tell you that they will protect your liberties the day before you vote and the day after, they'll vote to have CCTV cameras installed in everyone's house 'for the children'.

      Yes, MPs will attempt to 'send a message'. They will play their lyres while Rome burns. Oh, and they'll continue to collect their salaries and expenses while all around them collapses.

      Don't kid yourself. The only thing that is going to change things is the guillotine.

  8. dervheid

    Keep us in a state of 'fear'...

    and keep tweaking it plausibly every now and then. Remember the festive season 'incident'? And there's another lovely 'holiday' just around the corner. Anyone taking bets on there being a 'terrorist scare' of some sort over the Easter weekend. Awaiting details from the Home Office/Minitrue.

    Election, what election? Countries in a 'State of Emergency' don't you know! <vague sound of Jackboots in the distance, but getting louder...>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters


      Dont forget, as we get closer to Easter there are now news items about Terrorists putting bombs into breast implants (bet the Sun loved that).

      Just what the easter bunny ordered.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh, the irony

    So we have a government that feels justified in the use of torture, secret evidence, surveillance, and detention without charge. Isn't it ironic that these were reasons we were given to be afraid of 'communist' regimes?

  10. blackworx

    All well and good but...

    As long we play second fiddle to Uncle Sam, and as long as Uncle Sam is scared of shadows, no real change will happen.

    "British sovereignty" in these issues is basically deferred to the USA. Doesn't matter what the rest of Europe thinks - nothing changes here unless and until we're told to change it.

    And I don't have the words to describe how much that stinks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      last time i checked...

      ...We didn't have detention without trial or control orders here. We may have started the horror, but it seems like you've taken the lead...

      1. blackworx


        Never heard of a little sunshine holiday camp called Guantanamo Bay? Just because it's not happening to your own citizens doesn't make it alright.

        Anyway sorry - I wasn't talking specifically about human rights abuses, I was talking about the whole shooting match, if you'll pardon the pun. In Britain we are fed this UK sovereignty bullshit by our own government, who tell us on one hand that we can't cooperate with our European neighbours, whilst on the other they're taking orders from three thousand miles away and spending billions of our taxes to pay for shit like a nuclear deterrent that wouldn't even get used without it first being sanctioned by the US.

        The UK isn't a world power, and we should stop pretending that we are. There's only one pair of trousers in this so-called "friendship", but the truth of the matter is that you need us more than we need you. Your government needs the UK to be complicit in its human rights abuses otherwise it'd be on its own amongst western democratic nations in trying to tell the world that in actual fact it's all just A-OK and there's not a thing wrong with it.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Another tanker load

    of whitewash is delivered to Downing Street.

  12. John A Blackley

    I'll hazard a guess......

    that, no matter how much a bunch of underemployed politicos posture and mutter, the whole exercise will result in...............................................................................

    Not one single word of any "anti-terror law" being changed.

  13. Mr Bear
    Big Brother


    ...what about all the other laws that need looking at?

  14. Alan Firminger

    There is only one terrorist act to fear

    A nuke in a container of carpets.

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    welcome to the state of fear

    How much of this has stopped *real* terrorists?

    1. Intractable Potsherd
      Black Helicopters

      Not at all ...

      ... because the real terrorists are the ones making the laws and implementing them.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    ee hee hee?

    MPs would attract more credence in my view were they to tackle the climate of fraud that seems quite prevalent in UK.

    For example, I checked broadband speeds in my locality and was overjoyed to see that a BT Option 1 user has recorded faster speeds than a BT Option 3 user in the same locality.

    Stunning is it not?

    1. Ben Tasker


      IIRC the options relate to how much you can download in a month, and have f*ck all effect on speed.

      I'd also point out that there are a number of factors under the home owners control that could lead to a lower speed.

      Either way, can't quite see how you equate this to fraud?

  17. jason 7


    We were never told to be scared when the IRA were bombing us nearly monthly. A day or two of outrage in the papers and then it was a case of Thatcher saying "just ignore them and get back to normal ASAP".

    We have two attacks (only one of which was in the UK) and now the Govt tells us its " live in fear" "terror, fear terror".

    I asked my local Labour chappie the reason behind this change in attitude to "fear fear fear" and he couldnt give an answer. I said I didnt know anyone actually afraid of terrorism and refered the the situation we had back with the IRA. He went on about it being a different ideology but I just responded that there will always be someone in the world with a chip on their shoulder.

    I stated it was all about control of the population. The fact that the Govt is now the biggest advertiser on TV telling us to do this, do that, eat this, dont do that is evidence enough.

    There was Blair after 7/7 saying that the attacks would never change our way of life, that our freedoms were sacred etc. Then two weeks later a whole raft of legislation taking away basic rights came in. Nice.

    Terrorists have never taken away any of my rights. Plenty MPs have though.

    1. Steve Roper
      Big Brother

      That happened in Australia in 1996

      After the Port Arthur massacre, which left 35 people dead, our PM John Howard went on TV stating that the government would not indulge in reactionary, knee-jerk responses. A month after that a raft of anti-gun legislation spewed out of parliament, banning semi-automatic rifles, pump-action shotguns, handguns and pretty much anything more substantial than a pea-shooter. I had to give up my trusty Sportco .22 semi-auto which had slain many a bunny in its time.

      From that time on, I've watched while our civil liberties have been systematically eroded away to a level that would have been unacceptable in the time of Napoleon Bonaparte. And I think this is just the start of what's coming. We will certainly see even worse police-state atrocities like inter-suburban checkpoints / permits, mandatory in-house surveillance and regulated sexual activity in private homes within the next 15 years.

  18. Ascylto
    Big Brother


    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

    C S Lewis

    Government is good at only one thing.

    It knows how to break your legs,

    hand you a crutch, and say,

    See if it weren't for the government,

    you couldn't walk.

  19. elderlybloke

    Down in NZ

    I think the politicians try to frighten us, but we distrust them so much we pay no attention to their ravings.

  20. John Savard


    The terrorist attack in London on July 7, 2005 took place more than one year after September 11, 2001. And al-Qaeda still exists and is still in operation.

    The danger of a terrorist group fully prepared to carry out attacks, if it can, that kill thousands of people at a stroke is a very serious one, and most people expect the government to do everything it can to ensure that no such attacks take place.

    So far, there has been no indication that any of the measures that the major industrial democracies have put in place in response to terror have been exploited to suppress legitimate dissent. I would suspect that most people in the U.K. would view the government as, indeed, far too tolerant, failing to whisk behind bars those who would dare to disrupt public ceremonies honoring the fallen in Afghanistan.

    1. jason 7

      Oh the risk is there.....maybe.

      But the Govt shouldnt be implying to its population scare tactics to justify what it's doing.

      There is no reason why the Govt. cant work against terrorist attacks without having to tell us what level of 'terror' or risk we are supposedly at. What the hell do I need to know that for?

      Is it so I can just decide to stay safe in bed?

      This can all take place behind the scenes like it did with the IRA. No need for the population at large to be aware or need to get actively involved in snooping on their neighbours.

      My Govt. shouldnt be telling me to be scared or need to know what I'm up to. Dont worry about what we are all up to, just concentrate harder on the likely suspects.

      Whatever happend to just "Keep Calm And Carry On"?

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