Author Archives: James Baker

No, we didn’t call the flag nasty.

There is a story in the Express UKIP fury as Labour and Lib Dems ‘claim Union flag is nasty and nationalistic. This story is based off a Conservative party press release that UKIP MEP Jane Collins has reacted to. She is quoted as having said:

They’re quite happy to take their expenses off the British taxpayer yet insult the country by saying that children should not sing the national anthem and that the Union Flag is ‘nasty’.

We categorical deny having called the Union Flag nasty, and wonder where the UKIP MEP who wasn’t at the meeting got this quote from. 
What we said was:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 19 Comments

Opinion: High Court rules DRIP legislation introduced by Liberal Democrats in government is unlawful

Last year there was widespread criticism from Liberal Democrat members  towards the parliamentary party’s support (with the honourable exception of the four Lib Dem MPs) for emergency DRIP surveillance powers.  A fair number of us warned our parliamentarians that the legislation seemingly did not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights.  In addition to the warnings that came from those of us within the party there was an open letter from leading UK internet law academic experts  and widespread criticism from civil liberties groups.

Norman Baker who was then a minister of state at the Home Office minster

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 11 Comments

Opinion: Why Scots should worry about their national identity scheme

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 16.45.55One of the first things Liberal Democrats in government did was to scrap the UK wide National Identity Scheme. It would have been all to easy then for NO2ID to pack up, say job done and go home. Thankfully that didn’t happen and the remnants of the campaign instead carried on keeping watchful eye on developments of what has been coined the database state. The database state is the term we now use to describe the tendency of governments to try and use computers to manage and control society.  Another attribute of this database state is function creep. This is the phenomenon whereby a system setup for one discreet purpose starts to grow out of control expanding to be used for ever more administrative functions.

A perfect illustration of function creep can be seen with the Scottish National Entitlement Card (NEC). This card started off as a replacement to pensioners bus passes in cities like Edinburgh but quickly developed into a system for accessing Council services such as libraries. Now it has about 30 uses including proof of age,  paying for school lunches cashlessly and accessing leisure services. In all but name it is a National Identity Card.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 15 Comments

Labour kicked out in Calderdale: The inside story

Calderdale CouncilThis week the Liberal Democrat group on Calderdale Council came to the decision to vote out the minority Labour administration, and vote in a minority coalition of the Conservatives and Independent Councillor. Allow me to explain why.

From 2010 we had worked in a fairly successful Coalition with the Labour party. We didn’t shut a single sure start centre or library, we opened up cabinet meetings with a public question time, and we had the highest recycling rate in West Yorkshire.

As that coalition went on it became increasingly apparent Labour wanted to control the Council alone, and to ignore the wishes of the other parties. It was harder and harder to work with them as continued to propose political motions that did little for local people, but did a lot of party point scoring. Finally last year they managed to secure the support of the Conservatives who abstained at the right votes in return for some scrutiny chairs, and Labour got their wish of a minority administration.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 12 Comments

Opinion: We should be ashamed of these emergency surveillance powers

Fingers typing at keyboardIn April the European Court of Justice ruled that the UK’s regime of mass data retention was incompatible with the treaty on fundamental rights, particularly with article 8 that stipulates the right to private and family life, right to protection of personal data and the right to freedom of expression. This was a major victory for many Liberals, civil liberties advocates and privacy campaigners who have fought against the widespread blanket retention of innocent and law-abiding citizen’s data.

The ruling set out 10 principles that new legislation should adhere …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 56 Comments

Opinion: The case for increased surveillance hasn’t been made

At the heart of the draft Communications Bill is a drive to make it easier for a range of officials to access information about people’s communications.  The Home Office maintains that officals need this push-button surveillance in order to help fight emotive crimes such as terrorism and paedophiles.

Despite widespread criticisms of the bill put forward by the Home Office to achieve those ends, most politicians appear to be uncritically accepting their underlying premise – that officials need to be granted more powers to snoop on citizens. Just take for instace Clegg’s statement on the bill:
“They were very clear that …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 3 Comments

The Independent View: Selling our NHS data is not putting us in control of our health records

Back in 2010 there was a wave of optimism amongst civil liberties campaigners, especially those of us concerned with protecting privacy from an over-bearing database state. Not only did the coalition agreement set out a promise to scrap ID cards and its associated population register, there were other promises too: “We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason” and then on page 25 of the coalition agreement the statement that “We will put patients in charge of making decisions about their care, including control of their health records”.

In our briefing document ‘Privacy Under Threat’ …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Tagged and | 25 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 27th Sep - 2:30pm
    I agree Adrian but doctors strikes are life and death, unlike teachers strikes etc. Of course I support junior doctors but I don't support telling...
  • User AvatarAdrian 27th Sep - 2:13pm
    Eddie Sammon - you can't simply rely on the ballot box as you say. Strikes and other forms of direct action are an important part...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 27th Sep - 2:13pm
    I want to support the idea of standing every time, even paper candidates are a massive omprovement on no candidates, we seem to be getting...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 27th Sep - 2:13pm
    Rebecca Thanks for responding , glad your business is going well, and what is the comment on a by election regarding, are you now a...
  • User AvatarJames Cole 27th Sep - 2:03pm
    Thanks Geoff, that is exactly what I am trying to get people to do by explaining annother reason why it is so important.
  • User AvatarJames Cole 27th Sep - 2:01pm
    Thank you Glynn, its good to know that the trends are stacking up in a more widespread analysis and that the lack of candidates still...