Although this doesn't seem to have been reported on the news, we reckon this must be what has happened. How else can you explain the great tide of freedom-stealing measures currently being imposed on us?
Let's begin with the chilling news that "Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded" (Independent, December 22). Said the report: "Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years. "The network will incorporate thousands of existing CCTV cameras which are being converted to read number plates automatically night and day to provide 24/7 coverage of all motorways and main roads, as well as towns, cities, ports and petrol-station forecourts."
Frank Whiteley of the Association of Chief Police Officers confirmed that it would not just be the Boys in Blue that would be using the technology, but also the likes of MI5: "The security services will use it for purposes that I frankly don't have access to," he admitted.
And it's not just cars. The Guardian reported on January 24: "The police are being given access to advanced travel details on more than 40 million passengers a year who travel on domestic flights and ferries within Britain."
So far it seems that the only way to avoid the prying eyes of the police state is to stay at home. But you're not even safe there. The Independent on Sunday revealed on January 1 (Happy New Year, folks!) that "John Prescott has told tax inspectors to use satellites to snoop on householders' attempts to improve their homes." It added: "Even minor improvements, invisible from the road, will be caught by 'spy in the sky' technology that uses a mix of aerial and satellite images taken over time to spot changes. The Government is planning to compile a database of every home in Britain, which will include details of how many bedrooms each house has and what kind of roof it has. Inspectors will look at whether garden sheds have been converted into offices or studios and whether kitchens or porches have been extended."
Now let's turn to communications where, reported The Guardian on January 12, a new EU directive "requires every telephone company and internet service provider (ISP) to save call records and internet logs up to two years", supposedly in order to "aid law enforcement". The information that will be stored includes details of numbers dialled, call duration and location, websites visited and header information on emails.
Then the Independent on Sunday reported on January 15 that Tony Blair was set to allow MI5 to bug MPs' phones. Hang on, aren't MI5 supposed to be "civil servants" working for MPs and Parliament? And if the politicians aren't safe from the police state, where does that leave the rest of us?
We haven't even mentioned ID cards yet. The Daily Telegraph revealed on January 8 that all those government promises about the cards being "voluntary" are a load of hogwash. The revelation, no surprise to cynics like us lot, came from a trawl through "an obscure Whitehall consultation paper", the report explained. The small print revealed that town hall officials will be asked to police the scheme by using the Electoral Register to identify homes and individuals without cards. "The register will be cross-checked against the proposed Identity Card Database. Those who fail to register for a card or to keep their details up to date when, for example, they change address, face fines of up to £2,500."
Then on January 28, the Daily Telegraph reported: "Anti-ID cards campaigners accused the Home Office yesterday of misleading parliament and the public over plans to include radio tracking devices in ID cards. "Only last month, Andy Burnham, the Home Office minister, said in a parliamentary written answer that there were 'no plans to use radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in ID cards'. However, a leaked letter from Mr Burnham indicates that the chips will use radio frequencies to allow "contactless" reading of the card by special scanners." Phil Booth, co-ordinator of the No2ID campaign, said this would allow anyone carrying the card to be tracked in the street or entering a building.
If all this makes you want to go up to London and tell Mr Blair what you think of his Big Brother state, watch out! Milan Rai, a Sussex peace campaigner, was on January 19 formally charged with organising a protest outside Downing Street. Never mind that this amounted to just him and one other person - quite a feat of "organisation"! And never mind that all they did was ring a handbell and read out the names of victims of the Iraq war. None of that is allowed any more, under the new Serious Organised Crime and Police Act which bans "unauthorised" free speech within a one-mile radius of Westminster. The maximum penalty for this heinous crime is a week short of a year in prison. (To support Milan go to www.j-n-v.org or write to Justice Not Vengeance, 29 Gensing Road, St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex TN38 0HE).
And it doesn’t end there. Did you know that more than five per cent of the UK population are now registered on the DNA database - just by being arrested, though not necessarily charged, let alone found guilty? This figure will now shoot up as the good old Serious Organised Crime and Police Act also means you can be arrested for any minor alleged offence, even something like dropping litter.
Did you also know that a fifth of the world's CCTV cameras are in the UK and the average person is caught on film 300 times a day? Or that the NHS is building a database of everyone's medical history to which, it is believed, MI5 will have access? Or that body scanners are being installed at mainline stations, which will probably include Brighton, using mobile phone technology to create a virtual image of people minus their clothing.
Things are not looking too good in the future. Victor Keegan wrote in The Guardian (January 5): "If you think surveillance in Britain has reached the limits of acceptability, then think again. Last week's successful launch of Europe's Galileo global satellite navigation system will take surveillance into a whole new era. When it is fully operational in 2010 it will be able to locate people, cars, mobile phones, planes, trains, goods in transit, front door keys and maybe even footballs, to within a metre of where they are."
With the "threat of terrorism" now being used as a cover-all excuse to strip away the last vestiges of English freedom, it is essential as many of us as possible stand up and make our opposition known.
We can't pretend we don't know what's happening. As Henry Porter wrote in The Observer on January 23: "Make no mistake – we are wiring up for the police state".
I don’t want the details of my life
To be ever regarded
As pieces of idle gossip
That imprudently travels around
So openly unguarded.
It seems that man is building
A house of tumbling cards
Because taking away freedom
Will never replace wiser defence
When handling the system's broken shards.
This 'genius' scheme on ID
Really hasn't the brain to fulfil its worth
On fraud, terrorism, immigration
It just seems a total waste of money
And we should give it a wider berth.
As it would develop greater state control
Where they could stretch the goal posts
Altering personal data to their favour
And providing them with the authority
To turn us all into living ghosts.
Clamped into deep repression
Feeling like it's all take and no give
Hoodwinked in following a risky plan
That just juggles with our rights
And the licence we have to live.
If you want to get involved locally in campaigns against the police state contact firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or us lot at firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
That’s the message from campaigners after some extraordinary developments at a Worthing Borough Council planning meeting on January 5. With the council concealing on its website that the meeting was being held at 2.30pm, not 6pm, it was a miracle that any of the campaigners managed to attend. But those who did, witnessed complaints from councillors that they had been fed misleading information about the scheme when they gave it outline permission in June 2005.
The argument is centred on the issue of Titnore Lane itself, the widening of which would result in the loss of hundreds of trees. The lane is a crucial part of the plan for a massive 875-home estate as it will provide the only access.
Councillors were told before reaching their decision that Titnore Lane is an A-class road. However, campaigners' research has revealed this is not the whole truth. The road was wrongly classified as a A-road in 1995 on the understanding that major 'improvements' were about to be made to it. But in fact this never happened, so the classification should have been reversed. In its current state the road simply does not meet the requirements to be an A road or even a B road. It is only because of an adminsitrative bungle that it has even been listed as one.
As if this wasn't bad enough, correspondence from a West Sussex County Council paid official has revealed that he knew about the crucial discrepancy all along, but decided not to tell Worthing councillors before they made the all-important decision! And the reason? He didn’t want to 'confuse' them!
Councillors' concern at these revelations has led to the issue being deferred and the final go-ahead delayed. But a spokesman for Protect Our Woodland! told us the decision should now be torn up completely and the local government ombudsman brought in. He added: "Councillors were misled in such a blatant way that there needs to be a full investigation into what has happened here and why. Those responsible cannot be allowed to get away with it."
Details are: WB/06/0108/TPO - Site of proposed residential development land east of Titnore Lane Application for consent under Worthing Tree Preservation Order No. 35 of 2002 to fell one English Oak within Group G3 (in connection with proposed West Durrington development).
Objections to Mr H Barnes-Moss at WBC - by 2nd March. Tel: W. 221348 - email objections to: firstname.lastname@example.org quoting reference number above.
So, does the Greenhouse have any real eco credentials? Well, staff report that the project sends a remarkable amount of donations to landfill. And the flagship eco-friendly electric lorry is apparently left parked while Guild Care’s gas-guzzling trucks do the furniture collecting rounds in Worthing. Add to that the lack of any environmental education or outreach work, the fact that there's been virtually no publicity since the centre opened and the management's lack of any apparent interest in environmental issues whatsoever, and, really, you'd have to say 'no'!
Here's the first selection. Late nights only are listed. * means the exact timing depends on how busy the pub is.
Swan, High St: Fri-Sat 12.00.
Montague Arms, Montague St: Mon-Thu 12.00*, Fri-Sat 1am.
Royal Oak, Brighton Rd: 12* (not Sun).
Warwick Arms, Warwick St: Th 12.00, Fri-Sat 2am.
The Rest, Bath Place: Mon-Th 11.30, Fri-Sat 12.30.
Thomas a Becket, Rectory Road: Fri-Sat 11.30.
Wheatsheaf, Richmond Rd, Fri-Sat 2am* (in by 11).
More next issue!
1. Apocalypso Now, a new audio double CD from comedian and satirist Robert Newman. Politically excellent and funny too. Send a cheque or PO for £12.00 made payable to Nicky Fijalkowska to: Robnewman.com, PO Box 4458, Worthing, BN11 2WL
2. The Man Who Killed Durruti by Pedro Paz, a short detective novel set in the Spanish Civil War and published by ChristieBooks, PO Box 35, Hastings, East Sussex. ISBN 1-873976-26-7 It costs £7.99.
Printed and published by The Pork-Bolter, PO Box 4144, Worthing BN14 7NZ. No copyright, no missing wheelchairs around here, honest!