Scotland's 5th Estate

Oligarchy and Surveillance

banksycheltenham‘Madness slunk in through a chink in History. it only took a moment.’ – Arundhati Roy

The only people “taking back control” in any meaningful sense is the British state, which this week enacted “the most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy’. A combination of mass apathy, media misdirection, an opposition in disarray – and a cultivated sense of fear and foreboding allowed the legislation to come into being with barely a shrug. Though, let’s not pretend that Labour have any credible track record in human and civil rights, they don’t. The myth of ‘Labour as protector if only Corbyn wasn’t so useless’ is as pervasive as it is wrong.

Znet described it’s content: “The law will force internet providers to record every internet customer’s top-level web history in real-time for up to a year, which can be accessed by numerous government departments; force companies to decrypt data on demand — though the government has never been that clear on exactly how it forces foreign firms to do that that; and even disclose any new security features in products before they launch.

Not only that, the law also gives the intelligence agencies the power to hack into computers and devices of citizens (known as equipment interference), although some protected professions — such as journalists and medical staff — are layered with marginally better protections.”

This week our rights were given away, and our civil liberties undermined in the most significant way possible. The Investigatory Powers Act was passed and the government didn’t have to make a single substantial concession to what’s called quaintly ‘the privacy lobby’.

US whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted: “The UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies.”

This isn’t some abstract debate, and with the Five Eyes (the security sharing agreement between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the United States), we now have the prospect of GCHQ sharing our ‘data’ with an unhinged US government restrained comically, under the most favourable scenario by the moderate influence of Mitt Romney.

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The erosion of civil liberties that were once held dear shambles into normality hand in hand with establishing fascists as suitable candidates for a wee chat on the telly. This could only come about with a wider culture of digital complacency and the tacit approval of large sections of the media, who are complicit in much of this build up and avert their eyes from state intrusion, just as they hyperventilate about the Nanny State. It’s a profoundly hypocritical stance. It’s one that could only come into being because of Britain’s shambolic constitutional ambiguity.

Our lack of  a Bill of Rights or a written constitution is also a contributing factor to the unfolding Brexit shambles, which of course took a delicious twist this week with the announcement of the High Court ruling that the Scottish Parliament must have a say in triggering Article 50.

CxkDvl2WIAAG_58.jpg largeAs Parody Britain descends into the Game of Thrones today we’re told that the government’s ‘secret weapon’ is to lure Donald and Melania Trump to Windsor Castle – and presumably dazzle them with incomprehensible bling – thus bypassing Nigel Farage, who’s fast emerging as a sort of Dick Dastardly of the far-right, a sort of louche International Wide Boy. The Windsor Plan would be funny if it wasn’t so desperate. Seems our Special Relationship isn’t so special. “Dear Britannia, It’s not you, it’s me. Yours Uncle Sam”.

If the Brexit High Court ruling brought more than a hint of constitutional schadenfreude, the Deloitte’s report that Britain would need 30,000 more civil servants to cope – was hilarious given the obsession with ‘Brussels’s bureaucracy’ – and that: ““Despite extended debate among permanent secretaries, no common strategy has emerged,” says the memo, warning that more than 500 Brexit-related projects were “beyond the capacity and capability” of Government.”

That there was ‘no plan’ was self-evident, but the Oligarchical nature of Britain unfolded before our eyes this week, as penniless Elizabeth II (sic) was on the receiving end of a state handout. She was effectively awarded a 66% pay rise to fund a £369m 10-year refit of Buckingham Palace, after the PM and chancellor agreed that an increase in the sovereign grant was the best way to fund urgent repairs. Officials warned there was a risk of a potential “catastrophic building failure” if the repairs were not carried out, a bizarre exceptionalism for one of the wealthiest individuals on the planet.

As Children in Need comes round scrabbling about to fund essential children’s charities, with slebs clambering over themselves to virtue-signal their charidy profile, the obscenity of living in a world of aristocracy funded by austerity hits home.

 

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17 Comments

  • david kelly 10 months ago

    I am taking steps. My “Invizibox” will arrive this month, TOR based, VPN, anonymiser.

    Reply
  • David McCann 10 months ago

    And our Sunday politics consist of UKIP leadership and slow trains. I despair.

    Reply
  • bringiton 10 months ago

    All that has happened is that current practice has been made legal.
    What was previously thought of as illegal activities,mugging the elderly,sick and disabled,is now standard fare for England’s Tory government.
    The footpads of the 21st century.
    The people of Balmedie better start building bunkers (underground people shelters that is,not golfing ones) now that Trump has his hands on the USA drone programme.
    The neocons on both sides of the pond feel they can do what they like now.

    Reply
  • Yan 10 months ago

    Yan.is.an.online.alter.ego.a.device.for.exploring.epolitics.the.electronic.statements.and.surfing.habits.may.not.be.misconstrued.as.the.real.world.persona.of.the.Yan.operative. 🙂

    Reply
  • Dougie Blackwood 10 months ago

    If it was only “Big Brother” it wouldn’t be so bad. Alas, his pals are to get in on the act.

    Reply
  • Anton 10 months ago

    The Queen is “one of the wealthiest individuals on the planet”? No she isn’t. She doesn’t even figure in the wealthiest 300 people in the UK.

    And as for Buckingham Palace, she may technically be the legal owner while she’s the monarch but it doesn’t belong to her personally. That’s because she has no control over how it’s managed nor is she allowed to sell it.

    So I really don’t think she can be held to account on the question of refurbishment.

    Just saying.

    Reply
    • Pilrig 10 months ago

      Puir auld soul !

      Reply
    • Bella Caledonia Editor 10 months ago

      Depends who’s counting, and who has the best accountants and lawyers.

      This from 2011:

      “The world’s primary feudal landowner is Queen Elizabeth II. She is Queen of 32 countries, head of a Commonwealth of 54 countries in which a quarter of the world’s population lives, and legal owner of about 6.6 billion acres of land, one-sixth of the earth’s land surface. Her position is a relic of the last and largest land empire in history, rumours of whose demise would appear to be somewhat premature based on her position and possessions. But her power is real, or at least legally real, and it derives from a tradition based on a specific and unbalanced relationship between rulers and the ruled.”

      and

      “A tax haven is, fundamentally, a bandits’ lair, as in those old-style Hollywood westerns where the bad guys gather with their stolen loot. Modern tax havens are where the international kleptocracy, often the rulers of states and their families, hide the money they steal while in office and where multinational corporations keep the cash and assets on which they have no wish to pay tax. Indeed, with its own peculiar rules of domicile, the UK, the Queen’s primary realm, is itself a kind of tax haven for many.

      Of the world’s 24 largest tax havens (see the table above right), the Queen is sovereign of no fewer than 13. Their existence is currently dividing the coalition government, with the Liberal Democrats seeking to regulate all of them and the Tories unwilling to terminate the source of so much of their party’s donations.

      The list of the world’s largest individual or family landowners (see table above), dominated by the Queen, has some interesting entrants. The largest individual landowner after the Queen is another monarch, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. He holds the land in trust for the people and as a gift from God. This ancient constitutional formulation also applies in Scotland, where the monarch holds the land in trust from her ultimate feudal superior, God. The same religious formula applies to the King of Morocco, Sultan Quaboos of Oman, King Abdullah of Jordan, the Emir of Kuwait and Sheikh Hamad of Qatar.”

      If you dont think she’s personally wealthy that’s fine

      Reply
  • Mike Edwards 10 months ago

    Great article. The act is actually even more creepy than you suggest. The best analysis I’ve come across is here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=U3o1bgvBlPw&sns=fb

    Reply
    • Bella Caledonia Editor 10 months ago

      Thanks Mike – I agree its much worse, and we’ll cover it in more detail through the week.

      Reply
  • John B Dick 10 months ago

    A bizarre connection between the themes in this piece raises the question whether we might actually be better off if the folk in the picture were in charge.

    The Royals meet a lot of different sorts of people, whereas the ‘elite’ only meet their own kind.

    Greens, ex-servicemen vegetarians and crofters have issues that concern only them but the one thing they have in common is that they are marginalised and ignored by the ignorance of the elite and their friends in the media. It is a shocking thought that they might find more knowledge and empathy from one or other of the royals.

    Old Labour class warriors, who cannot say ‘Peer’ or ‘House of Lords’ without preceding it with the word ‘unelected’, even if it is an elected peer, cling to the idea that a 90 year old woman directs a system in which an obedient aristocracy and House of Lords controls every aspect of life through a deferential middle class with the twin aims of preserving a system of privilege and keeping the working class in their place.

    That system ended with the creation of life peers, and their increase in number, and the cessation of royal involvement in Queen Charlotte’s ball in 1958, when the retired naval officer in the picture persuaded the Queen that the event was ‘bloody daft’.

    The royals do modernise, but are said to be always a generation behind the times. Authoritarian followers of a 19thC Russian Jewish intellectual are TWO generations behind

    Reply
    • Pilrig 10 months ago

      Perhaps one day we’ll be mature enough to elect our Head of State.

      Reply
      • Yan 10 months ago

        Nobility obliges.

        Reply
  • c rober 10 months ago

    Pretty good summation of the weeks news.

    Suppose I better hack my neighbours wifi for my daily dose of mexican donkey and midget lesbian shows , as he hacks mine for Westminster boy snuff movies . But I suspect the search engine that Her majesties quartermaster in number 10 uses , to hunt out all the deviants , will be set up for treasonists instead.

    But what do you expect , not much on the news about the admitted covert recording of Scotlands politicians? As the author mentioned its only now more open and legal. But this is the establishment that found no case to answer for phone hacking by their billionaire masters empire.

    Heres the thing that our puppets in Holyrood need to enact in an emergency session – Scots law and English law being entirely different , then Scots are exempt from such measures so are essentially protected , thus regardless the second that WM or any ISP uses it on a person based in Scotland its a criminal act. But then again some would say they too are wanting such powers also – under the guise of named person for example , or that they would simply be happy anyway with the increased workload for their lawyers within the party.

    Her maj , god luv her , you would have thought her cousin would have had a whip round , seeing as hes worth 10 times what she is for only having a few streets in London. Or perhaps she could just leave Westminster to Charles , abdicate its not like they will have inheritance tax to morry about – Charles , the only one that has adopted paying tax (to a point). 8 quid for four biscuits FFS – without the manonaise of the privately educated oxbidge kind anaw.

    We also have to have an honorable mention for the other palace , perhaps thats why we see only a refurb for 370m sterling in the news. The palace of Westminster is already predicted to be 12b sterling , lets hope they dont get the feckers that done Holyrood then. Perhaps then there is an argument to move the parliament itself to Birmingham , the centre of England , and a new cheaper digital one – and just leave the decaying husk of WM palace to the tourists – or sell to non dom property speculators to avoid even more tax.

    Then we have Hinkley , 37 billion and rising – with at least 10x that clean up costs by the taxpayer. No wonder the energy bill is to go up 9 percent over winter , should tide over the monopoly until the govt tax payer assured cost pkwh , of near 5 times the current price kicks in for them.

    Of course , seeing as how the topic today is about housing of sorts , one just needs to look towards Catalonia , it too a region subservient to its masters , in the change of circumstance of pensioners – One old lady just died using candles because she had been disconnected due to bad payment. So essentially then we are doing the opposite for our pensioners just like Lizzie , and surely thats a good thing then? or merely shades of what is to come , http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38024374

    I know wonder just how the pensioner vote with Indy has changed , if any , as our pensioners sit there in heat or heat decisions – one of them at least is getting her heating , roofing and electrical done – as our councils leave them in 2nd floor flats to do the decent thing and die to free up housing and reduce their own bills on social care.

    The next 30 years will see the Scottish demographic of pensioners become even more dominant in politics – it wont be long then before project soylent green is enacted for our old C.H.A.P.s by WM.

    1984 is well and truly upon us , obviously everyone has also forgot the Cameron kill switch enacted after the London Riots – while WM decried Egypt for doing the same during arab spring?

    All they have done is switch the ones needing watched over to the dark web – and are left with what they really desired , control of the masses instead. This may well be the new poll tax for the Tories , even those racists against the immigration and non christian religion among them will be opening their eyes soon enough…. and this time it wasnt the EU.

    Reply
    • Yan 10 months ago

      ” … even those racists against the immigration and non christian religion among them will be opening their eyes soon enough…. and this time it wasnt the EU.” – c rober

      That is a cheap shot blaming what you call the “racists” and Christians, their eyes have been open way longer than most.

      The Left have been the totalitarian virtue-signallers demanding safe spaces and policing what people can and can not say both in the real world and online.

      Reply
  • Wullie 10 months ago

    The House of Lords is a travesty, a circus.

    Reply
    • House of Flops 10 months ago

      The House of Lords is actually a repository for flaccid old men, where the only upright member you might encounter would be one not asleep in a chair.

      Reply

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