Archive for April, 2010

Lest we forget

I thought I would reproduce this in full.

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Dear Friend,

As election day gets closer and closer it is vital that the expenses crisis isn’t drowned out in promises and spin. Over the last two years the Sunlight Centre’s largest campaigns and investigations have been into the Smith Institute and former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. With your help we want to remind voters about this in the run up to polling day.

Not many people, and certainly not many of his constituents, know the role that Ed Balls played in the scandal around Gordon Brown’s favourite, think-tank The Smith Institute, and its breach of the charity laws covering party political activity.

Following the Charity Commission investigation initiated by the Sunlight COPs, the board of the charity had to resign. In the year between leaving the Treasury as Brown’s Special Adviser and becoming an MP, Ed Balls was paid close to £89,000 to write two pamphlets for the sham organisation. We want to tell the voters in his constituency of Morley and Outwood about this so the Sunlight Centre will be running an advert highlighting this and his expenses claims throughout the local paper websites in his constituency. We also want to remind Jacqui Smith’s constituents of her role as the “poster girl” of the expenses crisis.

Electoral Laws allow us to spend £500 in each constituency, but we need your help in order to raise these funds. If you could please contribute perhaps £10, £20, or £50 then together we can make sure that these two rotten elements of the last rotten parliament are not returned on election day.

Thank you in advance,

Harry Cole

Media Director
The Sunlight Centre

The Sunlight Centre for Open Politics

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Ubuntu

10.04 LTS (Long Term Support release) is out tomorrow.

I will go over to it after my full monthly backup on the 30th of April.

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My new phone arrives today

And, quite honestly, I am excited. Noo, it is certainly not an iPhone. My friend, who is a serious freelance computer professional working with City and West End corporations in London has said that the number of IT departments who have standardised on this phone report many problems.

My phone is the top of the range “HTC Desire” and, right now, I desire it to be delivered soon. It’s coming by UPS and I have checked it is on the van! It uses the Android operating system and, as I use a lot of Google applications for running my newspaper, it is ideal. I have the “HTC Hero” at the moment. This has been terrific with Google Apps, which I will set up and pass over to my wife, and at least I will be able to show her how it works!

It’s ridiculous really, Here I am, at seventy, and can still get excited about a new gadget! The technical specification is below, but don’t bother to read it unless, like me, you are fascinated with new gadgets.

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Product Features and Technical Details
Product Features
* 3.7-inch AMOLED display
* 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
* 5 megapixel colour camera
* Social networking including Facebook®, Twitter™, and Flickr™
* Up to 7.2 Mbps download speed
Technical Details
Dimensions (LxWxT) 119 x 60 x 11.9 mm (4.7 x 2.36 x 0.47)
Weight 135 grams (4.76 ounces) with battery
CPU Speed 1 GHz
Power & Battery – Battery type: Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery – Capacity: 1400 mAh
Talk time:- WCDMA: Up to 390 mins -GSM: Up to 400 mins
Standby time: -WCDMA: Up to 360 hours -GSM: Up to 340 hours
Camera -5 megapixel color camera -Face detection capability -Auto focus and flash
Widescreen photo capture
Geotagging
Connectors -3.5 mm stereo audio jack -Standard micro-USB (5-pin micro-USB 2.0)
Sensors -G-Sensor -Digital compass- Proximity sensor -Ambient light sensor
HTC Widgets
Bookmarks, Calendar, Clock, Footprints, Friend Stream, Mail, Messages, Music, News, People, Photo Album, Photo Frame, Search, Settings, Stocks, Twitter, Weather
Downloadable widgets
Social Networking -Facebook™ integration -Friend Stream -Photo sharing on Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter
Video sharing on YouTube™ -HTC Peep for twittering
Recommended Windows System Requirements -Windows® 7, Windows Vista®, or Windows XP
HTC Sync
Special Features
Automatically lowers the ringer volume as soon as the phone is picked up
Mutes the ringer when the phone is flipped face down
Backs up certain data and settings to the microSD card automatically, such as SMS/MMS messages, bookmarks, Wi-Fi passwords, and more
Display 3.7-inch AMOLED touch-sensitive screen with 480 X 800 WVGA resolution
Platform Android™ 2.1 (Éclair) with HTC SenseTM
Storage -ROM: 512 MB -RAM: 576 MB
Expansion slot: -microSD™ memory card (SD 2.0 compatible) -Supports up to 32 GB
Network Bands
Europe: -HSPA/WCDMA: 900/2100 MHz -GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
Asia Pacific: -HSPA/WCDMA: 900/2100 MHz -GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
Internet -3G: -Up to 7.2 Mbps download speed -Up to 2 Mbps upload speed
GPRS: Up to 114 kbps downloading -EDGE: Up to 560 kbps downloading
Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g – Tethering
Internet sharing through USB
Bluetooth -Bluetooth® 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate
A2DP for wireless stereo headsets
FTP and OPP (object push) for file transfer
Other supported profiles: AVRCP, GAP, GOEP, HFP, HSP, PBAP, SPP, Service Discovery Application Profile
Multimedia
Photos application for viewing photos and videos -Music -FM Radio
Audio supported formats: – Playback: .aac, .amr, .ogg, .m4a, .mid, .mp3, .wav, .wma -Recording: .amr
Video supported formats: -Playback: .3gp, .3g2, .mp4, .wmv -Recording: .3gp
Location -Internal GPS antenna -Google Maps -HTC Footprints™

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What a novel idea

This contract with the public in the Cambridge constituency has been signed fby an independent candidate. Would any reader please copy it and broadcast it on your blogs and send it to any political or press contacts. It deserves a full airing.

http://www.oldholborn.net/2010/04/contract-with-cambridge.html

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Constituents Contract

I, Old Holborn, as candidate in the General Election 2010 hereby agree to the following contract with my constituents:

• I will remain a fiercely loyal representative for my constituents. I will not put any party or other interest, before my constituents. If I do, I will resign.

• I will work with any organisation in Scotland, the UK or Europe if it will help the people of my constituency.

• I will never promise what I know I cannot deliver.

• I will endeavour to acknowledge all letters from constituents within 24 hours between Monday and Friday.

• I will endeavour to acknowledge all emails from constituents within 24 hours between Monday and Friday but hopefully sooner.

• I will attend regular advice/consultation sessions which will be widely advertised in the constituency. I will arrange home visits for the elderly, disabled and carers.

• I will never knowingly claim credit for something when the credit is not mine.

• I will tell people my real views, even when I know they will disagree with me.

• I will do my best to keep my website updated every day. I will blog regularly.

• My calendar will be published on my website and kept up to date daily from Monday to Friday.

• I will not claim one penny in expenses that is not absolutely required for me to carry out my job as an MP. If I do not keep this pledge, I will resign.

• I will publish my expenses (if any), in full, monthly or possibly weekly on my website. If I do not keep this pledge, I will resign.

• I will not use any taxpayer funded equipment or office for any other reason that to carry out my duties of MP. If I do not keep this pledge, I will resign.

• I will be a whistleblower against anyone. In this, I will not be anonymous and I will use the press. If I am caught knowing about illegality or sleaze and not whistle blowing, I will resign.

• I will be a full time MP with no jobs outside politics nor will I take any money from anyone for access. If I do work for anyone, it will be in a voluntary capacity which will not infringe on my time as an MP.

Signed Old Holborn 27.4.2010

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What does the Sunday Times Rich List prove?

I have just read that Gordon Brown is rallying his activists with the slogan “Only Labour can deliver fairness to all”.

Well, Gordon has certainly delivered fairness to the top 100 richest people in the UK. They have seen their wealth grow by 30% higher than it has ever risen under the Conservatives.

This isn’t my statement, the 30% is listed as the highest the top 100 richest people have ever seen their wealth multiply since the Rich List started.

So, if you are filthy rich, don’t vote Conservative, vote Labour.

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A picture is worth a thousand words.

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Something needs to be done about the House of Lords.

One amusing thing is, although the Socialists wanted and have, got rid of hereditary peers, they all long to be “Lords” and to sit in the House of Lords.

As I have mentioned before, one of the things I did like about hereditary peers is that a hundred years were short term for them and I have come up with an idea, after discussing possibilities with Richard, a friend of mine, to keep this essence, but to change the name of the House of Lords.

In African tribes we have  “elders” who would be asked to rule on a problem from time to time, and it is a good system and I would like to introduce it to the UK.

The second chamber could be called the House of Elders. There could be one member from each county in England with additional members co-opted depending on their experience pertaining to a problem which may need specialist help from time to time, but the number of “Elders” never to exceed a hundred.

The “elders” from each county to be voted in and none of them to be sponsored by any party or business organisation.

They would have to have been a “fellow” of a Chartered Profession for at least thirty years or been the chief executive of a business of at least a hundred employees for at least twenty years. There should be a minimum age of sixty.

These “elders” would be voted in for a fixed term of two General Elections. However, half would stand at each General Election so that there would be continuity as half would stay and stand at the following General Election. As these would not be political appointees, the two term principle could be acceptable. No “elder” would be allowed to stand a second time in their lifetime. By holding the elections together with General Elections, money would be saved.

The members of the House of Elders would get a fixed allowance of £200 a day. The Internet would be used for “project management” and conferences and no expenses would be paid.

In other words, this would be a vocation for people who have made their money and don’t need the State (read taxpayers) to pay for them.

Elders in African tribes do not get paid at all but do it as a vocation to help their tribe prosper.

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Joke of the week

Now and again, when I hear of a good joke, I like to share it with my readers.

Here is one such joke.

A Labour Minister “Chris Graham” has written to Google complaining that they aren’t looking after their customers private data securely enough!

When I read this I just collapsed in laughter. My wife came in and slapped my face as she thought I was in hysterics. I was.

Mind you, I did wonder if she had a hidden agenda! 😉

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Test

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The sins of the Fathers

Here is an intriguing post by “Working Class Tory” on Nick Clegg’s upbringing.

Nick Clegg’s privileged background

The media seems to wish we lived in a three party state. As such, the leaders of the three parties must come under the same level of scrutiny – whether this scrutiny is rational or not.

An irrational factor that David Cameron has been bashed with is his privileged background and education.

Nick Clegg deserves equal irrational hatred based on his background. He went to the Westminster School – with yearly fees of nearly £30,000, he ponced around in three universities (while David Cameron had managed to find a job after only one degree), and he comes from a family of very rich and aristocratic international bankers. Apparently Louis Theroux was his “fag” at school.

For the whole post, go to the website.

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No more famine in East Africa

Article in today’s Electronic Telegraph:

Fresh goods for supermarkets rot in Kenya as volcano grounds flights

Millions of pounds of vegetables and flowers destined for British supermarkets are being destroyed in Kenya as European flight bans hit air freight operators.

Does this mean we no longer have to support East African charities?

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Corporate Directors

I once came up with an idea which I thought might make a difference to the bad press that corporate directors were getting. It was really quite a simple idea and it would give the shareholders more control over their savings.

First of all, all directors of public limited companies (PLCs) would not be allowed to earn more than £50,000 a year as their basic salery.

Secondly, they could earn as much as they wanted in the way of annual bonuses.

They could decide themselves on the criteria that the bonuses will be paid and it wouldn’t matter if they decided the bonuses could be paid of there was any rainfall in Manchester over the last year – or anything else as daft as that. It would be OK.

But here’s the rub, which would ensure that wouldn’t happen.

The criteria laid down for the bonus to be paid – for each director – would have to be printed in the Company Reports that is sent to shareholders. Anything daft like my illustration above, or anything sounding unreasonable, would get the shareholders flocking to the AGM calling for the offenders head – or, at least, his resignation.

Also, at the AGM, each director would have to justify (a) their choice of criteria and (b) the amount of their bonus in relation to that criteria.

This may not result in huge savings but not only would there be savings, but the greedier the executive, the harder he would have to work his arse off.

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Labour’s IT Skills

When state databases go wrong

from Big Brother Watch by Dylan Sharpe

Brilliant FOI work by The Sun today reveals that in the past six years, 15,000 people have been mis-labelled as criminals on their CRB check. As they explain: The blunders by the Criminal Records Bureau, a Home Office agency, amount to around seven smears every day.

The victims discovered they had been branded sex offenders, violent thugs or fraudsters when they had a CRB check before a new job. Many went through lengthy appeals to clear their names.

Our Freedom Of Information probe found the CRB coughed up an incredible £290,000 last year alone in “apology payments” to the worst-affected victims….

Click on the link above to read the full article.

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We are bailing out Greece now

Greece, yesterday

According to Old Holborn’s blog (he is a Parliamentary Candidate for Cambridge) British taxpayers are going to be forced to give Greece £650 Million as part of a huge bailout package.

Note: Greeks retire and enjoy a full State pension (the best in Europe, 95% of earnings) at 61. British taxpayers have the worst pension in Europe (30% of earnings) and retire at er..65 (and looking to extend)

Get back to work now, break over, the Greek Socialist Government needs your money!

Thanks to Old Holborn for this.

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I’ve been stitched up

I have a great mobile smart-phone called the HTC “Hero”. And I have a great deal with Virgin, a monthly Sim only contract for £18 a month for 300 minutes, 3,000 texts and 1 gigabyte of Internet use.

The other day I went onto the HTC website to upgrade my firmware on my “Hero” to the latest edition of Android which the phone is based upon. There was an edition of the update for T-Mobile and 3 but nothing for Virgin. I asked HTC support about this and they told me that I had to get the upgrade from Virgin. I contacted Virgin Mobile support and was told they could not give me an update as they didn’t officially support the HTC “Hero”.

It is my opinion, although I have no proof, that HTC have made a deal with their official customers to make it impossible for the poor customer who purchased the phone in good faith to be able to upgrade their firmware unless they changed their preferred operator to one forced upon them by HTC. I would be grateful if you could prove my suspicions incorrect in the comments below.

Needless to say, if this is true it is the most blatant dishonesty imaginable. As I cannot give them the benefit of the doubt, I shall never deal with that company again. It is their loss as I was thinking of giving my “Hero” to my wife (she always wanted a hero) and purchasing their new “Desire” model just released. I will wait for the Google Nexis 2 from Motorola.

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PS, A very good reply from HTC in the comments.

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Joanna Lumley: boiling over but still in control

Joanna Lumley has a forthright opinion on everything from TV to politics but prepare to be won over, writes Michael Deacon.

By Michael Deacon
Daily Telegraph
Published: 11:13PM BST 09 Apr 2010

Joanna Lumley on one of her many trips to Westminster during the Gurkhas campaign. Despite her success in the political world, she has no desire to be an MP .

Joanna Lumley on one of her many trips to Westminster during the Gurkhas campaign. Despite her success in the political world, she has no desire to be an MP . Photo: EDDIE MULHOLLAND

‘I think our politicians should be paid top dollar, and be absolutely scorchingly good,” says Joanna Lumley, in that unmistakably Lumley-ish way of hers, bursting with the zest of a Famous Five adventure.

“The fact that heads of TV stations get eight times more than the Prime Minister — I don’t know if that’s right. I think politicians should be the boiling people, because they represent us.

Boiling is an adjective she uses in a lot of different senses – in recent interviews she has applied it to children who watch The X Factor, the young Martin Amis and the war in Darfur – but here she means she wants MPs who are robust, dynamic, furiously bright. Well, MPs will need to be all those things, if they are ever again confronted by a rampaging Lumley.

Meeting at the offices of ITV in central London, we are here to discuss the former Absolutely Fabulous star’s new travel series, Joanna Lumley’s Nile (which starts on Monday), but talk inevitably moves on to other subjects.

Shortly before our interview, Kevan Jones, the Defence Minister, criticised Lumley for what he called her “deathly silence” since the success of her campaign a year ago to give more Gurkha veterans the right to settle in Britain. “I don’t know what he was talking about,” says Lumley. “He was speaking with parliamentary privilege, which apparently means you can say whatever you like and nobody can get back at you.”

Read the rest of the article in the Daily Telegraph here.

The article ends with:

“There’s a danger with these platforms I get put on, where one’s quoted [in the press],” she says. “I haven’t really earned this position in society to be able to yap on.” She flashes a wicked smile. “But yap on I do.”

Isn’t that so true of most celebrities?

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Tax on Jobs

Taken from Guido Fawkes blog.

Michael Caine puts it succinctly:

“You’re saying to poor people, ‘let’s tax those rich gits’ and I understand that. You slice up the cake, give everyone a chance, but don’t destroy the people that are making the bloody cake!

I really believe about taking care of people, I don’t mind paying tax. It’s how the government spends my tax that I detest, really detest, because I see the waste. More money than all our income tax is spent on benefits. Now you tell me there is nothing wrong with that system.”

The socialists seem hell bent on destroying small business. It is small business who create jobs, big business is forever shedding them.

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Keep crime down.

Keep crime down leaflet

Thanks to G.O.T. for this leaflet

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Lies, damned lies and more lies

Just been listening to politicians on the BBC nattering away lying through their whatever.

I am probably a little more political aware than many, but do people really believe that thieves (expenses scandal) can be trusted to tell the truth?

And who on earth thought that putting a tax on jobs would help kickstart the economy. Admittedly I know that both the American left (Democrats) and the American right (Republicans) are both in total agreement that in tough times you lower the tax rate, you don’t increase taxes. but surely it doesn’t take much of an intellect to realise that this is true?

And America have already proven, more than once, that lower taxes produce a higher yeald as business do better. Surely this is also common sense as well? Not to mention more jobs equate to less money in social security!

Or am I really the brightest apple in the barrel? I can’t believe it is only me (and the whole American race of course).

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What does Ubuntu really mean?

Mark Shuttleworth, the first African space tourist states in his Ubuntu version of Linux software:

Ubuntu is an ancient African word, meaning “humanity to others”. Ubuntu also means “I am what I am because of who we all are”. The Ubuntu Linux distribution brings the spirit of Ubuntu to the software world.”

Ignore this last bit as it is not about software or computers that I wish to write about today, it is about people changing their community environment.

Desmond Tutu described ubuntu in the following way:

“A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole.”

Last October saw the first monthly edition of North London’s Finchley community newspaper. Since we started up the newspaper we had the intention to try to change Finchley from a dormitory town to more of a caring cohesive community, we noticed that, simultaneously, other groups have started up with the same goals and I can’t help but think that maybe the time is right and that the people are beginning to want to put a little back into their community and not either just take, or to live their reclusive lives without wanting to reach out to the rest of the community.

Let’s check Mark’s definition: “I am what I am because of who we all are” Wouldn’t we all feel a little more whole if we lived in a thriving cohesive community? Wouldn’t we feel better in every respect if we all had ubuntu?

As many of my readers know, I am from South Africa and don’t mind admitting I used to think Tutu a bit silly at times but this man turned into a veritable giant when he introduced the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as this is what saved South Africa from bloodshed. I think he did as much, or even more, than even Nelson Mandela.

Desmond Tutu’s version is interesting as it suggests that we grow in stature if we live in a real community of people who interact and care for each other. It may take a few years, but shouldn’t you try to create this in your community?

If any reader would like to start up their own community newspaper (this is the second one I have started in the last two decades) please feel free to contact me and I will try to help by showing you how I started The Finchley Arrow in London N3 and The Archer in London N2 (where I used to live).

It has always been my belief that we can learn from everybody in this world and this certainly upholds that belief for me as I have certainly learned from ancient Africa. Does it for you?

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Violence in the UK – official figures

The U.S. has a violence rate of 466 crimes per 100,000 residents, Canada 935, Australia 92 and South Africa 1,609.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘This is a damning indictment of this government’s comprehensive failure over more than a decade to tackle the deep rooted social problems in our society, and the knock on effect on crime and anti-social behaviour”.

EU crime figures

Britains terrible crime statistics

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Not all toffs are bad

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a cracking war history – in fact one of the most exciting books I have ever read concerning war – called “The Great Boer War”.

Here is an extract concerning such a toff, who was not only toff, not only a hereditary peer, but also a politician. I quote verbatim:

The action had cost us, altogether about seventy men. Among the injured was the Duke of Norfolk, who had shown a high sense of civic virtue in laying aside the duties  and dignity of a Cabinet Minister in order to serve as a simple captain of volunteers.

You can download this most exciting history of the Boer War, where Sir Arthur shows a high regard for the enemy and reports them with considerable fairness, from The Gutenberg Project. In fact, the first paragraph of Chapter one has this say about the Boers…

Take a community of Dutchmen of the type of those who defended themselves for fifty years against all the power of Spain at a time when Spain was the greatest power in the world. Intermix with them a strain of those inflexible French Huguenots who gave up home and fortune and left their country for ever at the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The product must obviously be one of the most rugged, virile, unconquerable races ever seen upon earth. Take this formidable people and train them for seven generations in constant warfare against savage men and ferocious beasts, in circumstances under which no weakling could survive, place them so that they acquire exceptional skill with weapons and in horsemanship, give them a country which is eminently suited to the tactics of the huntsman, the marksman, and the rider. Then, finally, put a finer temper upon their military qualities by a dour fatalistic Old Testament religion and an ardent and consuming patriotism. Combine all these qualities and all these impulses in one individual, and you have the modern Boer—the most formidable antagonist who ever crossed the path of Imperial Britain. Our military history has largely consisted in our conflicts with France, but Napoleon and all his veterans have never treated us so roughly as these hard-bitten farmers with their ancient theology and their inconveniently modern rifles.

I was brought up as a child among these bastards, but I love them!

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What We Have Lost

19 February 2009 – A report by UCL Student Human Rights Programme Compiled for the Convention on Modern Liberty

One of the problems with the erosion of liberty in Britain over the last decade was that the public failed to pay attention to what was happening in Parliament. Laws that fundamentally challenged our traditions of rights and liberty and flew in the face of the Human Rights Act (“HRA”) were passed with relatively little debate. Few grasped the impact they would have on our society and Ministers were able to brush aside protests with assurances that their desire to protect us was equal to their respect for civil liberties.

The difficulty campaigners faced was to press home the argument about the scale of the loss. An account was needed to show that the legislative programme, which swept away centuries old rights and transferred so much power from the individual to the state, actually existed.

Now we have that evidence and the Convention on Modern Liberty can demonstrate with confidence what Britain has lost and discuss how this crisis of liberty took root in one of the world’s oldest democracies and what to do about it. This report by the UCL Student Human Rights Programme (“UCLSHRP”) is a concise and approachable inventory of the loss. It is a profoundly disturbing document, even for those who thought they knew about the subject, for it not only describes the wholesale removal of rights that were apparently protected by the HRA and set down nearly 800 years ago in Magna Carta, it also shows how the unarticulated liberties that we assumed were somehow guaranteed by British culture have been compromised.

Read the rest of the article here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/19606667/What-We-Have-Lost

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Lest we forget

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