Philobiblon: If you are a chicken, be a bit worried

Thursday, April 06, 2006

If you are a chicken, be a bit worried

... if you're a human, just snort with annoyance at the hysteria over bird flu. It is the only symptom you are likely to see, unless you are in the habit of rooting in the entrails of dead birds in the park, or collecting guano for garden fertiliser, in which case it would probably be a good idea to stop. Yes, I am very fed up with bird flu stories already, and there'll be days and days and days of it yet...

Meanwhile, the government is destroying civil liberties and centuries of checks and balances in government, as neatly laid out by Jenni Russell in the Guardian:

The government is briskly and fundamentally reshaping the relationship of the individual to the state, of the Lords to the Commons, and of MPs to ministers. The ID cards bill will allow the authorities unprecedented surveillance of our lives, and the power to curtail our ordinary activities by withdrawing that card. The legislative and regulatory reform bill, now entering its final stages, will let ministers alter laws by order, rather than having to argue their case in parliament. Then this weekend brought another shocking government proposal to increase its own power and weaken the restraints upon it. Lord Falconer made clear that the government intends to drastically curtail the powers of the Lords. The current convention is that peers cannot block any legislation contained in a party's manifesto. In future peers will have to pass any legislation that the government deems important, whether it was in the manifesto or not. They will effectively be neutered.

Now that really is something to get hysterical about.

And to demonstrate what these sorts of things mean in practice, two Yorkshire grandmothers face up to a year in jail for taking a walk:

Helen John, 68, and Sylvia Boyes, 62, both veterans of the Greenham Common protests 25 years ago, were arrested on Saturday after deliberately setting out to highlight a change in the law which civil liberties groups say will criminalise free speech and further undermine the right to peaceful demonstration.
Under the little-noticed legislation, which came into effect last week, protesters who breach any one of 10 military bases across Britain will be treated as potential terrorists and face up to a year in jail or £5,000 fine. The protests are curtailed under the Home Secretary's Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

Finally the good news, the discovery of the missing link between fish and land creatures. The Guardian is hopeful that this will be a blow to the proponents of "intelligent design", but that of course presumes that their views have anything to do with evidence, which sadly I doubt.


Blogger clanger said...

If we were a democratic country, we wouldn't have or need an (unelected) house of lords in the first place. That they have actually been some use in slowing barnpot legislation says a lot about the failure of our democracy and the low quality of our politicians.

Point well taken though, on the decrease of freedoms. 911 has been cynically exploited by the US and UK governments to destroy centuries of carefully worked out layers of rights and responsibilities.

So, a victory for al-qaeda then, changing our society so much, the press running scared of printing so much as a cartoon, and the US and UK governments pissing on the memories of the victims of 911, using their deaths as a chance to 'Go Stasi' on their own people, rather than standing firm with a decent set of civilised values.

In the light of their behaviour, and bearing in mind that the Tories would do exactly the same as Labour, whilst ripping apart the NHS, welfare state, and education systems at the same time for good measure, hands up anyone who respects any UK politican?

I'm waiting.


I know you're out there, I can hear you breathing.

*drums fingers on table*


Thought not.

4/06/2006 10:38:00 pm  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

I may be biased, but some of the Greens - in fact most of them - are OK... and, ahh, Martin Bell, if a bit on the self-righteous side, wasn't bad.

4/06/2006 11:49:00 pm  
Blogger clanger said...

Fair do's, some are OK, but you fear for their chances as a consequence.

The decent ones have no political power, and the powerful ones have no political decency.

4/07/2006 12:38:00 am  
Anonymous Purple Elephant said...

The Tonys Benn and Banks I always admired and despite what a lot of people say, I did have a great deal of respect for Mo Mowlam. OK so thinking about it none of these are actually current, so maybe i get your point.
As for the bird flu, as statisitcs go, for the time being, I'll remain more frightened of dying whilst crossing the road outside, or from my house burning down in the middle of the night. Especially as I don't even eat poultry!

4/07/2006 08:50:00 am  

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