What's in Paisley's Pants? Political ramblings about things that catch my attention... (rather than some smutty double entendre...)

Friday, March 25, 2005

Tories Target New Vote Winner

The Tories announced a new target in their latest round of electioneering today, setting their sights firmly on those people who go to express checkouts clearly carrying more than their allocated 8 items or less.

Ian Liddell-Grainger, the newly appointed Shadow Spokesman for Checkout Affairs, said yesterday, 'It's time for action. For too long under Labour have decent, right-minded people had their rights usurped by some no good, probably foreign, individuals who feel that the limits imposed on checkout queues are there for other people. Well hear this now - item limits are for everyone, and the Conservative party is here to enforce them'.

Biting back at claims that the Tories were yet again jumping on a populist bandwaggon, Mr Liddell-Grainger said, 'This is a populist movement, but only because people have finally grown sick of Labour's inadequacy at dealing with this serious issue. The Tory party will give people what they want, be it regular gypsy burnings, or a fair checkout system, rather than the Labour party giving people what the Labour party say they need.'

Labour were quick to respond however. A senior Labour backbench MP said 'This is simply rubbish from the Tories. If you look at the figures, while it is true there has been an overall increase in item number-related incidents, that is simply because the way we are recording such incidents has changed. If we look at the more serious 'trolley through basket only aisle' incidents, we can see these have fallen under the current Labour government.'

It remains to be seen whether the new Tory proposals will capture the hearts and minds of the voting public. In a Tesco store in Wycombe yesterday, shoppers remained unconvinced as to the effect the Tory proposals would have, 'I'm unconvinced' remarked one unconvinced shopper. 'I still need convincing' commented one shopper sans conviction.

Jamie Oliver declined to comment on the matter.

Slipping from the agenda

So what have we learnt over the past few days? Well, we now know that the grounds for going to war were exceedingly dodgy; we know that Blair was already set on action, and waited for the people who were making the case for war to make his case for war; we know that the Government has been desperately trying to cover things up.

Hang on a second...

All that has happened in the past few days with the Wilmshurst resignation is that we, as the people who have been against the war all along, have merely been told all over again what we already knew.

But now there is a fervour (see front page of Independent - 'Publish or be Damned') to have the full documentation behind the decision to go to war in Iraq. But still, what good will that do? The evidence against Blair is stacked pretty high already, but there is still limited progress being made in taking any effective action against him. What is more, the war is slipping off the election debate - just look at the protests last friday: around 100,000 protestors, and barely a whisper on any major news source. As lenin wrote after the event,
The antiwar movement has been far too staid and conservative, partly because the main bodies in it need to maintain a broad coalition, which means being
inoffensive to mainstream opinion. The enterprising vigour of the anticapitalist
movement would be a welcome addition to the antiwar movement here. I'm not
talking about trashing McDonalds windows (and surreptitiously stealing the McMuffins), but a bit of ingenuity and militancy would not go amiss.

In short, the protests have become predictable, and boring. It need not be the case: look how Fathers 4 Justice got their campaign on the map. Something that catches the headlines and highlights Blair's indiscrepencies over the war needs to be done before the election to tap into the feeling - that is still there - that Blair needs to be brought to justice somehow.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Latest School Shooting: Critics blame ‘difficult second album’ syndrome

As the smoke rises on another cliché filled report on another high school shooting in America, critics are starting to appraise the work of Jeff Weise’s in the latest high school shooting.
Anything that is following up to Columbine is going to face criticism: that particular massacre was such an astounding debut, it had many marvelling at the work of the two gunmen, as they paved new roads on the path of shootouts. Deservedly they were post-humously awarded an Oscar, as they created some quite astounding CCTV footage.

Columbine had everything, and when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold released their work, it had ‘classic’ written all over it. The boys obsessed about Hitler, they targeted ethnic minorities, they had a homoerotic frisson between them, they had an impressive arsenal – bombs, pistols, machine guns, they had the cold remorselessness that came across so well on camera, and they had a high death count.

When set against this, what hope does this latest shooting have? The first signs aren’t great – a lower death count, no SWAT teams, no neo-fascist motives. All signs that we could be in for a disappointment.

In fact, applying the formula D=(H / w) x k (D = days news coverage; H = number of posters of Hitler on bedroom wall; w = number of weapons carried; k = number of kills) we can calculate that there will be 6 days worth of media coverage, followed by another week’s ‘What Next For America?’ debate. By comparison, Columbine scored 15 days worth of coverage, with an entire month devoted to ‘The Gun Debate: Where Now?’ news programming.

One grave negative to the follow up is the lack of apparent motive. Classmates claim Weise was bullied for wearing black all the time. As grounds for psychotic musings on the destruction of your playground mates, it lacks a certain flair that in this writer’s opinion you can only really achieve with a nice bit of racial hatred, or possibly sexual humiliation.

However, there are positives to be gleaned from the events. Note the nice family links between Weise and his grandfather who is on the town’s police force: Weise killed his grandfather with the force issue pistol. It’s a Hollywood scriptwriter’s wet dream. Also to be noted is the way Weise waved and smiled as he shot – a nice touch of Tarrentino, contrasting gory action with happy music/acting.

In conclusion, it was always going to be hard to follow up to Columbine, Harris and Klebold set such high standards for the rest to live up to. Naturally then, we are disappointed both by the low death count and by the lack of proper motive. However, we should not look too critically on this, Weise is a youngster making his first (and probably last) impression on the world of high school shootings. Good effort, but needs more Hitler.

"Paul Wolfowitz kicked my Puppy" Shock

George Bush’s nomination for the head of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, was embroiled in fresh controversy last night, after an accusation that he kicked a puppy.

Felicity Sanchez-Sanchez, 48, made the tearful accusation around lunchtime yesterday, claiming that Wolfowitz, ‘kicked’ her puppy after it barked at him in the street. Police called an immediate press conference, in which they described the incident in the hope of spurring any witnesses to come forward.

‘Between 11:00 and 12:30 today, a Ms. Sanchez-Sanchez was walking her puppy. A tall man, with greasy, slicked back hair and unmodest ears was walking towards Ms. Sanchez-Sanchez. The dog barked twice at the man. Upon hearing this, the suspect increased his walking speed. As he was passing the Ms. Sanchez-Sanchez and her puppy, the dog barked once more. At this point, the man stopped and kicked the puppy. He then carried on his way, leaving the Ms. Sanchez-Sanchez in a state of shock.’

Police said they were looking for Mr Wolfowitz for questioning. Ms. Sanchez-Sanchez accused Wolfowitz after picking his photo out from a book of previous offenders. Police refused to be drawn as to whether this was the first puppy-kicking incident Wolfowitz had been involved in.
Police were quick to play down fears that Wolfowitz could now be on some sort of dog-booting frenzy. ‘There is nothing to suggest the Mr Wolfowitz will do this again. In most cases of attacks of this sort, the attack has been a one-off incident, and we see no reason at the moment to treat this attack as anything other than that.

However, criminal psychologists suggested Mr Wolfowitz will strike again. Carmichael Brewster, a leading expert in the field, said that Wolfowitz had ‘all the traits of a serial canine-abuser’. ‘The characteristic are all there – unsettling scowl; obtrusive ears; complete disregard for life. Mr Wolfowitz is 97% likely to attack another puppy in this heartless manner.’

Dog owners were bracing themselves for more attacks. A spokesman for Dog Owners International said ‘We haven’t had this much unease felt in the community since the dark days when puppy-kicking was still an Olympic sport. Need we remind you that Wolfowitz was on the puppy-kicking team in his days at Cornell?’

The incident is certain to bring Mr Wolfowitz’s past sporting success back into the limelight. Before puppy-kicking was banned from the Olympics, and most countries, Mr Wolfowitz was widely regarded as one of the best puppy-kickers the sport had seen, displaying a poise not seen since the sports heyday in prohibition era America. Many commentators even compared him to the great Rockman Santy, who held the world record for the longest puppy-punt at just over 13 miles.

It is unclear as to whether President Bush will change his nomination. A spokesman for the Whitehouse said ‘I can neither confirm nor deny that I have any idea of what you are going on about, nor whether Mr Wolfowitz has or has ever been in contact with President Bush, nor as to whether there are such things as puppies’.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Brown unveils controversial budget

Gordon Brown announced a controversial budget yesterday.

Most contentious was the plan to raise more than £2 billion through the sale of illegal immigrants. Any foreign national coming into Britain with the aim of staying more than 3 months will be rounded up and sent to centres around the country, after which they will be sold on the international markets.

Brown announced the plan to a shocked Parliament, ‘In the first year, we will raise £2 billion. Although this is less than the immigrant community contributes to the economy in the first year, after intensive farming, by 2012, sales of immigrants will raise over £14 billion.’

Details of the ‘intensive farming’ methods Brown mentioned are hazy at the moment, but one Labour party MP commented, ‘Farming gives such a negative image: it’s more of a holiday camp. Immigrants go in, are selectively bred to give the best product, and are sold off to various countries around the world – we predict a big market in the South Asia ‘Tiger’ economies. We also have interesting plans for the child harvest’. At this point the MP left, salivating slightly and with a copy of ‘A Modest Proposal’ in the pocket of his slacks.

Further details are expected to be announced shortly, although some experts in the field are predicting that immigrant production could become hugely important to the British economy. Brett Whipplesnapp, a leading economist said, ‘If the conditions are right, the right breeding decisions made, come harvest time in 2015, we could be looking at a bumper crop of immigrants, providing prime meat for all, and good strong workers. British immigrants will be the world leaders.’ He went on to add, ‘Brown has put the British immigrant industry ahead of the world field through this momentous announcement.’

However, not everyone is so assured of success. An emotional Conservative party spokesman said ‘We don’t like this. We don’t like this one bit. You can’t take our Michael away from us. Not our Mikey. Take that oaf Johnson.’

Human Rights groups have been strangely silent on the matter, refusing to talk to any reporters.

Leaked e-mail reveals truth behind Howard’s abortion campaign

The true reasoning behind Michael Howard's abortion campaigning was revealed today after Paisley's Pants was anonymously forwarded an e-mail from a senior Conservative party official.

The e-mail detailed the outline of the planned campaign on abortion, and was sent by Mr Howard personally to all senior Tory party members. Unusually, in the last paragraph, the message gave the reasoning behind this policy decision, and the content was surprisingly personal.

The passage read, 'This policy decsion may come as a surprise to some of you, to those of you who know me more personally, it will not. I must announce now to you all that the reasoning behind the policy decision was that I myself was aborted, and it is for this reason, and this reason alone, that we must campaign to stop these barbaric practices. Imagine how many Michael Howards we may be killing each day.'

Westminster was in shock when the news was revealed. One Labour MP declared 'It's simply the Tory party again trying to use personal cases to illustrate problems with the system as a whole - problems that simply do not exist. I mean, are we meant to believe Michael Howard's foetus is the new Margaret Dixon's shoulder?'. Ann Widdecombe, stopped on her way to the hit ITV show Fit Club, refused to comment that she had always suspected he had something of the unborn about him. No Liberal-Democrat Member could be found to comment.

The medical world was also curious as to just how Michael Howard was aborted, and as to the identity of the abortionist: if the claim is true, it would make him both an illegal immigrant and and illegal abortee. A spokesman for the Daily Mail said that they had already started a campaign, although they can't decide what exactly they are campigning about yet. The British Medical Association commented 'You are a very silly individual, please go away, and take your beef paste sandwiches with you.'

Monday, March 14, 2005

Full of the joys of Spring

In my part of the country, the sun is just about shining (or at least, it’s slightly less grey then it has been), the wind has finally abated, and it feels fresh and clean outside, as opposed to that frigid feeling that traps you in layers of coats and scarves, and makes buildings stuffy with central heating. I think it’s time for a bit of spring cleaning.

Firstly, The Strokes. A couple of years ago the height of cool, then quickly becoming derided as simply the band of choice at the moment – coffee table music for the dinner party classes who consider themselves too cool for David Gray. And then there was the relatively disastrous second album, which was a disappointment after all the build up that it had. There is nothing like a difficult second album to turn people off, and find new cool bands, like Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party et al. However, I think a disappointing second album could be a blessing in disguise – a nice way to mop up all the excess hype surrounding a group, and relieving some of that pressure to produce something acceptable. (I have no idea what sort of reaction Coldplay will face with ‘X & Y’, to be released on the 6th June – having skipped the disappointing second album stage, they have built up massive expectations, almost to the point where anything will be a disappointment.) However, having stuck on ‘Is This It’ this morning over a morning pot of tea and a browse of the paper, I can’t help but feel that it was actually a damn good album – short catchy tunes that you just have to sing along to, punctuated by classics such ‘Last Night’, which, listening with fresh ears, you can appreciate why it was voted top of John Peel’s festive 50 in whichever year it was. I think it is time for The Strokes to be forgiven for being adopted by the chattering class, after all, it wasn’t their fault. Dig out the ‘Is This It’ album (after all, it seems every other person bought it at some point), listen again and try to block out the sound of stale hype that surrounded it three years ago. ‘Room on Fire’ isn’t as bad as is made either.

Secondly, the Anti-Terror bill was passed on Friday, after a 30 hour sitting game of ping-pong between the houses. Both sides are declaring victory: a sunset clause was introduced in all but name, as the bill will be up for review at the end of the year; I think Labour are claiming victory for the simple reason that they managed to get the damned thing passed at all. I think Labour are going to be happiest in the long-run however. In 8 months, when the bill is up for review, groups opposed to the bill are hoping to be able to strike it off the books. This is unrealistic. In 8 months time, the momentum will have gone from the dissenters, and they will find it very difficult to conjure up enough support to get the bill struck off. Their best hope is to try and influence whichever committee is set up to review the bill, although we all know what Blair is like at choosing investigative committees, for example, the Hutton inquiry, or the Butler inquiry. My bet is that the committee will find that the bill is actually alright after all, and we should all just leave it alone and become good responsible docile citizens, and don’t complain because Big Scrotum is watching you.
I’m still puzzled at the Lib-Dem’s absolute idiocy to be honest. Those strong advocates of civil liberties (voting for ID cards in Scotland obviously is a perfect example of this) didn’t even bother to turn up to a vote which could have defeated the legislation. I actually saw Charles Kennedy last week outside the Houses of Parliament. I would have said something to him, but unfortunately I didn’t realise it was him until he just got let in past the security – he was using the public entrance for some reason, and well, to be honest, from behind he just looks like any other short fat ginger arse. I’m still annoyed that people are going to be denied basic justices, such as the freedom from being detained without trial, and the freedom to an open trial. These laws allow the corruption of these basic rights, and inevitably, the Muslim community will suffer the most (as the disgusting Hazel Blears so kindly pointed out, hey, maybe they should just learn to live with it). The Daily Mail gloats over a ‘humiliating’ climb-down for Blair, the Tories gloat that they have won the battle as they got their sunset clause put in, the Lib-Dems gloat because they managed to turn up for a vote, Labour gloats because they has got their Anti-Terror legislation passed. It is a sickening spectacle of self-congratulatory bullshit, and in the midst of it all, everyone seems to have forgotten that basic human liberties are going to be denied to many. Politicians have lost their principles in a trough of their own defecate, sitting around discussing how awful it was when they had to stay up all night. The poor lambs.

Finally, an excellent opinion article by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in The Independent today about the ‘dangerous delusion’ of the domino theory. Alibhai-Brown questions the motives behind the US/UK drive for democracy in the Middle East:
‘Why not go further back in time and seek cause and effect? Why not give credit
for those welcome rumbles of change across the Middle East to the 11 September
attacks by al-Qaida in the US? If those hadn’t happened, then the Taliban
wouldn’t have fallen, and it would have been business as usual with the US doing
deals with the Taliban, and Arab dictators and the cosy relationship between the
House of Bush and the House of Saud growing ever more strong. The US and the UK
have never cared about human rights and freedom for Arabs and others in the so
called Third World. When they suddenly claim they do, their motives are always
suspect, and rightly so.’
She ends the article with a letter from a friend of hers, a Jordanian professor, who writes:
‘they must think we are stupid to believe that their democratic longings will
come out of this state of terror of the UK and the US and Israel. They wish to
legitimise this illegal invasion.
‘It is correct that in all Arab countries we have more dissent, more questions, more daring politics. But that is because we now have al-Jazeera and we see Ukraine and admire India. We don’t want another generation of our children living in a feudal country where they are too afraid to speak out.’
Democracy was blooming naturally in the Middle East: it is a classic case of education being the strongest incitement to revolution – if people have knowledge of what it possible, they can strive for it. An uneducated mass is directionless, but give them the knowledge of what can be achieved, following the example of India and Ukraine, people can fight for democracy. As it is, while the UK/US war to promote democracy may result in elections (no matter how dubious), any winner still lacks the legitimacy due to the nature of their victory – they are the child of an illegitimate war, their administration the puppet of the people who destroyed the country they were trying to save – whether the strings are real or imagined is irrelevant, what matters is the perception of the strings being there.
The war will prove a drastic setback to the drive for democracy in the Middle East – every action has an equal and opposite reaction, as Newton said, and it equally applies here. Opposition to coalition forces is clearly strong, and will make any sort of democratic rule impossible. The religious conservatism that is sweeping the country seems to be a direct reaction the war, and these parties gaining power could result in untold damage to the rights of women, which, under Saddam Hussein, were relatively liberal compared to places such as Saudi Arabia. For how long this feeling will remain is unclear, but it won’t go away any time soon.

Anyway, for now, I'm off to watch rabbits copulate.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

"68p to lick Camilla"

So said the Daily Sport front page yesterday.

It's enough to make you blush. And vomit.

Terror Act Passage Surrounded By Controversy

Tony Blair found himself swamped in a new round of controversy last night despite managing to get his Anti Terror bill passed through both the Commons and the Lords.

Suspicion was raised when only three Lords turned up to vote on the motions presented, all three of them Labour peers known to be in support of the controversial bill.

Questions were being asked late into the night, and it was only the small hours of the morning that it became apparent that a number of peers had in fact been detained under house arrest.

It was later revealed that Blair had in fact forced the Anti Terror legislation through using the 1949 Parliament Act, and then using the legislation he had just passed to detain rebel peers in the hope of legitimising the laws by getting them passed through the second chamber on a second run through.

A senior Labour backbench MP commented, ‘I’m not really sure what’s happened to be frank. Tony assured us all that it all made sense and was perfectly legal.’

Those peers detained include Baroness Helena Kennedy, a leading human rights lawyer. She spoke from the window of the second toilet of her home in Gloucestershire, as she didn’t think the rozzers would see her there, ‘It’s an absolute travesty of human rights, I can’t think of any other time in history when… oh Christ, I just slipped into the bowl’.

In a curious move, no Liberal Democrat peers were detained. The Labour beackbencher explained ‘Tony didn’t really think to bother.’ True to form, none of them showed up to the vote anyway, despite insistences from the party of standing up for civil liberties.

A spokesman for Amnesty International said ‘Please, please stop phoning us, you annoying arse. We have more important things to do.’

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Ooooh, the irony...

Have just discovered, much to my amusement, that if one types in 'paisleywhitworth.blogpsot.com', then a website confessing to be 'A mega-site of Bible, Christian and religious information'... Given the content of the end of my last post, I can't help but feel that surely this is proof of God's existence - that could be a whole new branch of philosophy: proof by irony...

A choice quotation from the site:

Fuck off and leave me alone.
On second thoughts, this site is almost too ridiculous to be true - links that say 'Click here for salvation' - it's like something from Father Ted. I found the 'Voice of Satan' part of the site most disappointing - I was expecting some sort of infernal midi file, all I got was an endless list of bible quotes...

A bit of a rant...

I’ve decided to give this post over to a bit of a rant, as I have been in the most foul mood today. It will probably be rambling and vaguely incoherent in places, and possibly not worth reading at all, so if you’d prefer to just skip to the end it’ll be much easier.

Firstly, the absolutely idiotic suggestion being put forth about the place pro-war types that in fact the Iraq war has spearheaded some sort of democratic revolution throughout the Middle East, and all of our Arabic cousins are embracing democracy.

What absolute bollocks.

This for me was triggered by the Independent front page today asking ‘Was Bush Right?’ They then proceed to list countries which are moving towards a more democratic political system. These changes range from Bahrain embracing a constitutional monarchy to Saudi Arabia allowing about three people to vote in local council elections. All this, it is claimed by people like the odious types at Harry’s Place, is demonstrative of the domino effect of gifting democracy to the people of Iraq. Lets just look at some of the candidates for ‘Middle Eastern Democracy of the Year’:

Libya: This state is still ruled by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi with an iron fist. The only reason we’re meant to look at Libya as being progressive is because Gaddafi admitted responsibility for the Lockerbie bombings and to renounce WMDs. Correct me if I’m wrong, but taking responsibility for a terrorist atrocity is not the most usual route for becoming a democracy…
Iraq: But 8 million Iraqis voted! But look they all got purple fingers! Just look how brave these Iraqis are for standing up for their right to democratic elections! Not exactly the ideal elections, what with turnout in some areas down in the Sunni triangle at around 7,000; the Sunnis being massively under-represented, and people dying in their hundreds in bombing attacks. For a full run-down of the Iraqi elections, I suggest looking here (head down to February 12th for the post on 'PR & the IRaqi election).
Egypt: Under the rule of President Hosni Mubarak since 1981 - not a great start - but elections are planned for September. And guess who will win? Mubarak’s son! Of course it will all be fair though…

This is just a selection of a few choice democracies in the Middle East. Of course, I have been quite selective here. The thing is, the places the Independent offer as democracies have all been operating as such since before Bush’s evangelistic war(s). For example, Bahrain voted in 2001 to become a constitutional monarchy; Qatar has been enjoying a period of open government since 1995; Yemen has the most open political establishment in the Arabian Peninsula, but it has done so since before Bush came to power. I was talking to someone about the Lebanon situation today, and they tried to claim that the Lebanese government only changed it’s stance on Syria because it knew it had the US backing. This is really desperate stuff. The reason the Lebanese government changed its stance was because there was a revolution and the pro-Syrian government was overthrown by a massive up swell of grassroots protest. The US has nothing to do with the change of stance.

So in conclusion, fuck off you war mongering fuckwits, and no you cannot start any more wars, because they do not do good things, they kill and maim people indiscriminately.

My second rant is that if God exists, then He is a complete cunt. What other thing could be so fucking malicious as to create things like genocide and tidal waves that kill some of the most vulnerable people in the world? And don’t give me all that ‘training exercise’ bollocks, you self-important Christian shit-weasels: is the massacre of 6 million Jews really necessary so little Obadiah can go to heaven because he has chosen not to massacre 6 million Jews? My personal feeling is that people rely on God when they are too unwilling to accept that possibly we may not be as important to the Great Scheme Of Things as we like to think we are. That’s the real problem of Darwinism for Christianity: it’s not that it negates the Genesis story (though it does), it’s that it means that humanity is nothing more than primordial scum that evolved a little further than the rest of the creatures that came from the same scum as us. And to those self-righteous arse-wipes who insist on trying to dictate to me what I can watch on television, or whether a woman can have an abortion or not: fuck off. Freedom of religion should also entail freedom from religion. Don’t force your own irrational morals onto me or anyone else: if I want to watch Jerry Springer the Opera, or watch someone get raped in a Sikh temple in a play, then you have absolutely no right to stop me doing that, just as I have no right to stop you worshipping whichever hollow figure you chose to place your futile hopes of there being a Bigger Meaning To It All in. Guess what? We’re all going to die, and rot, and get chewed up and shit out by worms: Nirvana, Heaven, whatever you want to call it, is worm excrement.

That was aggressive of me wasn’t it?

I think I’ve done with my ranting for today… I think I’ll wake up in a much better mood tomorrow morning.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Prevention of Terrorism Act

The apocalypse is coming. First it was the COMMUNISTS and the A-Bomb, but as is noted at Everything Reviewed 'I hope it [the apocalypse] doesn’t happen because of the Bomb, because that would be very 80s.' You see, the cold war is over, and for quite along period in the 90s, we didn't really have much to be scared of, and everyone got rather good at making money and being hedonistic and looking forward to a Bright Future. However, there is a problem for governments here in that if everyone is feeling free and safe, they're going to want to cut the cords with the government, and fly a bit further from the nest. This, naturally, was an uncomfortable proposal for the neo-conservative movement, which had srisen in the 1980s in American universities, but had since found itself lacking somewhat after the collapse of the 'red threat'. A rethink was needed, and a new threat was needed. This is where terrorism came to the fore, and the September 11th attacks were exactly the sort of platform the neo-conservative's needed to relaunch their particular brand of Imperialism, spreading the joys of democracy and free-market capitalism throughout the world.

The anti-American, Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups that have become the US's target for the war on terror have been around since the 70s too (there is an interesting parallel to be drawn between the rise of the neo-conservative movement and the rise of the now vilified islamist movement: both came out of anti-Soviet mindsets). Attacks in the 90s include the mortar attacks on the US embassy in Kenya, and the bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York. It is only after September 11th however that the terrorist threat came to the forefront of American minds. Part of this was of course the scale of the attacks, and the wall to wall coverage with which people could watch it. But another part must be the continued playing up of the threat by the US government. One of the few good parts of Michael Moore's 'Farenheit 9/11' was when he explained the climate of fear that the Bush administration have created in the US, and with this fear, the public become more malleable and willing to listen to authority. (Even now, the 'Homeland Security Advisory System' is set to 'Elevated', meaning there is an elevated risk of attack). The fact is, this hightened state of fear is built on nothing. It is an empty threat. That may need rephrasing - it is a threat that is no greater than it was before 9/11 (although this isn't taking into account bad feeling created by the war on terror).

I'll ask everyone now to forgive me that quick resume of what I'm sure a lot of people reading this take as read. However, I feel it's important to get the groundwork out of the way, because it leads us to the Anti Terrorism Bill that Blair and Clarke have proposed, and is being debated in the Lords today. Blair went wholeheartedly along with Bush's war on terror, but I'm not going to speculat on his motives for doing so. He lead us along a path to join America's imperialistic drive to 'spread democracy'. Going along with this war on terror has meant that Blair has also had to go along with the idea that terrrorists pose a massive threat to our very way of life here in Britain. Blair has had to peddle to us the same largely empty threats that terrorists pose, he has to heighten the sense of fear within the country. This is why Charles Clarke has been, and will continue, to bang on about the Madrid bombing coming up just before the election: the obvious resonances being with our upcoming election. It raises the climate of fear in a country. The same tactic was used by Blunkett when he sent tanks into Heathrow airport a year or so ago - the action seems faintly ridiculous now. But just as with the US, the fear is built on a lie that the threat is any greater now than it was in the mid 90s, when Osam Bin Laden was bombing US embassies in Africa.

Blair has said
"I believe (the new powers) are a proper balance between the civil liberties of
the subject and the necessary national security of this country that I will not
put at risk,"

Blair is right on one thing here: a balance needs to be found between civil liberties and the protection of the citizens in Britain. However, he is wrong that these powers are where that balance lies. These new powers destroy any notion of a fair trial - or as Hazel Blear pointed out yesterday: this is a redifining of the justice system, while before people could only be arrested if they've actually done something wrong, under the new system, they can be arrested if they are suspected of planning to do something wrong in the future. Even with a Law Lord deciding if someone can be placed under house arrest, the subject will still be held without trial, and have no idea of the evidence held against him or her.

I am still not sure whether it is the gross violation of human rights in the proposals that grates the most, or the fact that the reasoning for needing these measures is based on nothing more than right-wing rhetoric.