Dundee SSP

Scottish Socialist Party branches from Dundee

Archive for the 'Civil Liberties' Category

You call this radical?

Posted by alangdundee on 26th May 2009

David Cameron has been all over the press today with his sweeping radical reforms as he likes to call them.

These include:

  • seriously consider[ing] the possibility of fixed-term parliaments
  • reducing the number of MPs by 10%
  • Text alerts on progression of Bills.
  • More publication of expenses
  • possible curbs on the whipping of votes
  • backbenchers would get powers to choose the chairmen and members of select committees

These, he claims, will transfer power from the state to the people. Sounds good, unless you realise this is a man who voted for people to be detained by the state without charge for 28 days.

So lets look at the list:

seriously consider[ing] the possibility of fixed-term parliaments.

Not only is it a pitiful reform but it is surrounded by two weasily non-commital caveats. Why not fixed numbers of terms for MPs if you want to fix terms? (The SSP voted for 2 terms at our conference a number of years back)

reducing the number of MPs by 10%

In a parliament which is a representative type this makes the body less accountable, not more.

Text alerts on progression of Bills.

Post a reply if you can name one Bill currently going through parliament.

Yep, thought not.

The bills are available here if you wish to see.

More publication of expenses

Long overdue, but whilst MPs make the rules they then defend themselves by not breaking it is toothless and purely populist.

possible curbs on the whipping of votes

How exactly would this be enforceable? Notice again the weasely caveat.

backbenchers would get powers to choose the chairmen and members of select committees

Well hold me back, that is exactly the demand being made by everyone on a daily basis, the problem with parliament being the backbenchers don’t get to choose chairmen of talking shops. Sounds more like throwing a bone to get the support from backbenchers though.

Reforms which were noticeable by their absence included

  • Reducing pay of MPs or linking to some measure of wages/income. Might we suggest a maximum of 5 times the state pension? Then there might be some action on pensioner poverty.
  • Abolition of the unelected and undemocratic House of Lords
  • Abolition of the unelected and undemocratic Privy Council
  • Recallability of MPs – by petition of a percentage of constituents or triggered by voting against election promises or by changing their political affiliation
  • Proportional Representation – deliberately excluded by Cameron
  • Extending the franchise
  • Overhauling voter registration to remove the current ease to commit fraud with postal vote registration.

None of these are revolutionary demands. They are basic reforms which are far more radical than anything Cameron has just dreamed up. Of course further reforms would be a real democracy, with the parliament chosen by lot, rather than the oligarchy we have now.

Posted in Accountability, Campaign, Civil Liberties, Election, Equality, Public Services, Scotland, Tories, Westminster, Youth | 1 Comment »

Police Brutality – more step forward

Posted by alangdundee on 20th April 2009

In the past week a number of others victims of assaults by police officers have come forward and more footage has emerged. Some of the footage which has appeared in the press has been cut and other more damning footage has been ignored.

Fitwatch have been helping to identify some of the bad apples who perpetuated these crimes.

There are a number of serious questions about events at the G20 which still need to be answered.

A. We will take as a premise the claims that the police officers involved in these incidents were bad apples and that the majority of police don’t condone or cover up these actions.

  • 1. Why did it take until after footage of these incidents became available for police officers involved to come forward as witnesses if A is true?
  • 2. Why did the media not follow up the lies about there being no CCTV in the areas of the incidents.
  • 3. Why did the first coroner think that Ian Tomlinson died of a heart attack? Was it because the police claimed before hand they suspected this to be the case so they did not investigate further for the cause of death?
  • 4. Why did the police in almost all footage of the events have their badges covered?
  • 5. Will the police who seized peoples cameras and phones and deleted footage and photographs be charged with conspiracy to destroy evidence?

Additionally there are also concerns over any investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The police are investigating the police. That is not independence by any stretch of the imagination. It would be like having the investigation into the second homes scandal being carried out by the partner of the accused. What chance is there that those being investigated will be found guilty.

What has been surprising is the high level of critical media coverage of the police during the events. After the execution of Jean Charles de Menezes the majority of the coverage was doubting the claims of witnesses and backing the police story, especially in the immediate aftermath. It is clear the broadsheets smell Browns blood and want to put as much pressure as possible on the government.

Those who have watched the film Injustice will know these were just the latest in a long line of people killed by police or who have died in police custody whos families have had no justice.

Posted in Campaign, Civil Liberties, Media, Public Services, Video | 2 Comments »

Working Class History: Tolpuddle Martyrs

Posted by alangdundee on 19th April 2009

The recent long awaited showing of Comrades on Film4 comes at an anniversary of the movement.

It is 175 years since the protest march demanded their pardon and freedom.

A blog has been set up detailing events surrounding the anniversary of this extremely important movement.

Got to tolpuddlekx.wordpress.com/ for more information.

Posted in Campaign, Civil Liberties, Demo, History, Trade Unions | No Comments »

Outrage as Police Threaten to Confiscate Strike Fund

Posted by alangdundee on 8th March 2009

Outside the Labour Party conference there were a number of protests about the organisation’s presence in the city, from those dressed as fat cats objecting to billions being given to the bunch of bankers, to Palestine Solidarity stalls.

Among them were members of the SSP and of Solidarity working together to highlight the Prisme occupation and raise funds for them.

The police, prompted by a complaint by a member of the public (most likely some Labour Party loyalist, approached each of these in turn to threaten them with further action should they not desist from their activities. The Palestine Solidarity Stall were spoken to for a while. The fatcat banker was warned over his possession of clearly fake money – something companies and churches use all the time for advertising and prosthletising respectively.

Most outrageously was the police action over the solidarity with Prisme workers. Those collecting were told that they must immediately stop collecting money. Their names, addresses and work details were taken. They were further informed that if they continued to collect money in a bucket they would be charged and that the money would be seized.

The rest is nonsense and worth fighting for a day in court, but the threat to seize donations raised for workers in struggle was believed to be most serious. The SSP unreservedly condemn the police decision in this case. Surely for one Tayside Police have better things to do such as continually and habitually break the speed limit without penalty, such as their 140MPH+ chief constable. Secondly the money is being raised for workers who have been treated appallingly by their employer.

We will continue to work with the striking workers and to raise money for them. Currently they have no mechanism for receiving donations other than directly in cash, so we will publicise any other ways to do so if and when they are available.

Posted in Accountability, Campaign, Civil Liberties, Dundee, Occupation, Scotland, Strike | 1 Comment »

Another Attack on Democracy

Posted by alangdundee on 22nd January 2009

The following is a statement released by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

Public report of police harassment and charging of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! street protest. Dundee, Saturday 17th January 2009.

The day had started very well with a militant, angry and noisy protest march against Israel’s attack on Gaza going into Dundee’s city centre. After the rally, activists from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism, one of whom had spoken at the event, set up a protest stall in the Murraygate to continue building support for the people of Gaza and Palestine.

Once again the city centre ambassadors demanded we remove our stall as we did not have permission or insurance. Once again we told them no! The police were called this time and proceeded to threaten the comrades with Breach of the Peace or causing alarm. It was suggested they go and consult their law books and superior officers as we were not backing down to such contrived charges. They appeared to accept this but returned an hour later with a van and told those present that this time they had come up with obstruction as a charge.

Third time lucky for them maybe but the comrades then began speaking to the gathering crowds explaining what the police were doing and asking them to stay around as witnesses, sign the petitions and support political rights. People were told to check out the YouTube videos about the cops in Liverpool trying to close down protest there and to check out Dundee Arrest on YouTube where a comrade was violently assaulted and arrested by Tayside police for handing out leaflets about Cuba. Speakers explained that when people start to protest here about unemployment, low wages and rent rises that the same cops would be out attacking their rights too. We were speaking out for the people of Gaza who were dying at that moment and we would not allow the police to silence us.

Talk about obstruction! – by now there was 1 police van and 100 people prepared to listen to speeches and chants about free speech. Comrades from the Socialist Workers Party joined the protest having been harassed for doing political work for Gaza that week.

By now the police action was a very public affair and they were not looking so comfortable. They charged Michael with obstruction under Section 53 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. As Michael explained to the youth present this was one of the hated Margaret Thatcher’s laws and it was no surprise that her favourite bobbies were digging it up now!

53. Obstruction by pedestrians.
Any person who, being on foot in any public place—

  • (a) obstructs, along with another or others, the lawful passage of any other person and fails to desist on being required to do so by a constable in uniform, or
  • (b) wilfully obstructs the lawful passage of any other person shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £500

Michael was threatened with arrest if the stall was not immediately removed and after consulting with the comrades and the crowds it was decided to call a rally in the Murraygate at 12 the following Saturday to protest the harassment and charges.

We call on everyone to openly and publicly challenge this attack on democratic and political rights. Get up! Stand Up! Stand Up For Your Rights!

Defend Democratic Rights!

no to Police interference!

Rally at Murraygate. 12 Noon, Dundee, Saturday 24 January 2009.

Contact the campaign on frfiscotland@yahoo.co.uk

Venceremos!

We Shall Win! Shall Win!

Posted in anti-war, Campaign, Civil Liberties, Demo, Dundee | No Comments »

New book by Dundee Uni Rector Craig Murray

Posted by alangdundee on 12th January 2009

After his spineless publishers gave in to legal threats from mercenary Tim Spicer, Craig Murray has pushed his latest book online for free.

The Catholic Orangemen of Togo and Other Conflicts I Have Known is his autobiography from 1998 to 2002. It is also available to buy online through links on his site.

Posted in Accountability, Civil Liberties, Dundee, Equality, Scotland | No Comments »

What Do They Know?

Posted by alangdundee on 9th October 2008

The people who make the excellent write to them have created a new tool what do they know.

This project automates the process of writing Freedom of Information Act requests by:

  • Detailing bodies you can make request from
  • Showing what requests have been made to bodies
  • Showing the responses from those bodies if there is one
  • Automates the process of complaining to the Information Commissioner if they have not replied

Go nuts!

Posted in Accountability, Campaign, Civil Liberties, Public Services, Scotland | No Comments »

Craig Murray on Glasgow East

Posted by alangdundee on 26th July 2008

Craig Murray (Rector of Dundee University) made a short post on Glasgow East

Hurray for Glasgow East

Apparently some commenter objected to his personal attack on Margaret Curran. He then responds explaining why he gave up civility on party politics, particularly in relation to the Labour Party. Why Margaret Curran is the cheerleader for a party which supports torture.

Margaret Curran is a lot better off than thousands of very real women, who were just as human as her, and whose lives the illegal wars of New Labour have destroyed.

It is worth remembering that Labours appalling policies haven’t just attacked the poorest members of society in Glasgow East or Dundee East, but throughout the world too, mainly in the name of “The War On Terror”.

Posted in Accountability, Civil Liberties, Election, Glasgow, Glasgow East by-election, Labour, Westminster | No Comments »

How Local Councils use Anti-Terror Laws to Spy on People

Posted by alangdundee on 15th June 2008

Given the recent new anti-terror laws it is worth highlighting the flaw in the government’s “if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear” argument. The main one of course being that the laws are used against everyone, not only those they suspect of being terrorists*

*terrorists not being the dictionary definition of course, but New Labours makey upey definition.

A local political activist, Alan Hinnrichs had submitted a request to every Scottish Council about their use of the “Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act” to spy on members of the public and has compiled his results. These have now been printed today by the Sunday Herald today.


SACC article detailing his investigation

Sunday Herald Article detailing his investigation

SACC claims councils are abusing the civil liberties of the Scottish public and says civil servants and bureaucrats should not have such wide-ranging powers. The watchdog believes that spying on ordinary citizens should only be a power granted to the police or the security and intelligence services in cases of extreme danger such as threats to national security or to prevent major crime.

Of the councils which replied to the FoI requests, Edinburgh was found to be using the Ripa laws the most excessively, authorising spying actions 1252 times.

Posted in Accountability, Campaign, Civil Liberties, Dundee, Scotland | No Comments »

 

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