What’s Hidden Inside That Conservative Manifesto That No-one Is Talking About
By Graham Vanbergen: I have spent the last two years since the last general election attempting to raise awareness that the current incumbents in the seat of power in Britain have been slowly and surely salami slicing civil liberties laws to not just deprive a largely unsuspecting population of their hard fought rights but to neuter activists and civil society groups along the way. The Conservative manifesto is proof that our guided democracy will morph into a new form of authoritarianism to ensure the Tories remain in power for decades to come.
The exact definition of authoritarianism is “the enforcement or advocacy of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom” – it’s not hard to see or feel this enforcement of obedience effort happening right now.
This salami slicing has included new laws such as (RIPA) the Snoopers Charter, a law designed to hack into all your devices and surveil your entire life. Then there have been various laws passed that make it illegal to protest without police permission, or to gather in groups of more than three, feed the homeless and Closed Material Proceedings – or secret courts, that have doubled in number in just one year.
I have just been informed by a diplomat that after the Manchester bombing, the escalation of national security to ‘critical’ with the deployment of “Operation Temperer’ is in fact Britain’s code for ‘state of emergency’ – they just haven’t said it is so.
Get Briefed, Get Weekly Intelligence Reports - Essential Weekend Reading - Safe Subscribe
In 2015 Theresa May planned for the deployment of ‘Operation Temperer’ in secret but documents were leaked and the media published them.
The Daily Mail was just one of many that reported it: “A top secret plan for the mass deployment of armed troops on the streets of Britain in the wake of a major terrorist attack can be revealed for the first time today. The plan, codenamed Operation Temperer, would see troops guard key targets alongside armed police officers, providing ‘protective security’ against further attacks while counter-terror experts and MI5 officers hunted down the plotters.”
Many commentators are speculating that Operation Temperer was deployed because as Home Secretary, Theresa May had fired well over 1,000 highly trained armed police officers. They are probably right. But one should not forget that there is another crisis going on – in No10 Downing Street. Sky News political analysts predicted just one month ago that the Conservatives were on for not just a landslide but an unprecedented majority: “If one recent poll is realised, Labour will end up with the lowest proportion of the vote since 1918, Sky’s Harry Carr says.“
In the last two weeks, that massive majority has been slashed and each day moves towards hung parliament territory. The debate has moved from Brexit to domestic policies and with it sentiment has drained from the ‘dead-cert’ outright pre-ordained winner in the direction of the rank outsider.
The ‘state of emergency’ idea backfired and the army told to stand down.
In the meantime, the new Conservative manifesto has a number of interesting little points tucked away that no-one is talking about. They will continue to salami slice civil liberties and dice up Britain’s democracy if they do win with half a decent majority.
They are proposing to make it much harder for certain voters, namely traditional supporters of Labour to vote in the first place with voter ID requirements at polling stations. These measures would make it harder – particularly for young people and immigrants – to vote. There are no valid reasons behind this measure other than to deter specific groups of potential voters.
It sees the return of boundary changes that they couldn’t ram through first time around when the Tories were in coalition with the Lib-Dems. This will see the number of opposition MP’s falling, to the great advantage of the Conservatives.
It has been calculated that under these new boundaries, Labour would lose as many as 28 seats, the Tories 8, the SNP 6 and the Lib-Dems 4. At the same time it will create more Labour marginal seats, thereby increasing the number of political battlegrounds that the tories could fight.
The First Past the Post (FPTP) system is outdated, unfair and benefits the Conservatives hugely in elections. So the manifesto proposes changes to ‘modernise’ the voting system by replacing the current Single Transferable Vote (STV) system used in mayoral and police and crime commissioner elections with FPTP.
It is precisely because voters can cast a ‘second choice’ vote in STV, that it ensures vastly fewer votes are wasted and removes the advantages the biggest party gets from FPTP – hence, the reason why the Tories want to get rid of STV.
There is a Bill on the table right now that proposes to jail leakers and whistleblowers and the journalists and editors that publish information critical of government and MP’s. It the type of thing you’d expect in places like Burundi and Belarus, not Britain. Sentences will equal that of spies passing on sensitive information of national security to enemy foreign states.
Theresa May does not perform well in public so her response to that is to create a new internet that would be fully controlled and regulated by government. Free speech to be another victim to her authoritarian tendencies.
Other than calling for a state of emergency in Britain, Theresa May’s only reply to the Manchester bombing was asking the world’s biggest countries to launch a crackdown on social media, as if somehow, Twitter or Facebook was wholly responsible for it. The trouble with social media is that it has become a force for political change and the Conservatives don’t like that idea much, so they want to control that too.
Theresa May was not a good Home Secretary. “Her six years at the Home Office were marked by an instinctive secrecy, a talent for “going missing” or delegating when things went wrong, and a too careless approach to civil liberties.”
In leaked cabinet correspondence, Theresa May wanted to have Ofcom vet British television programmes before they were broadcast. This was dropped after she was told this amounted to nothing less than state censorship and an attack on freedom of expression.
Edward Snowden’s revelations disclosed in the Guardian in 2013 highlighted the true scale of GCHQ bulk harvesting programmes of everyone’s confidential online data, that none of us were informed about. There was no national debate about the construction and architecture of such a huge project costing billions of taxpayers money whilst austerity was driven home. Theresa May accused Snowden of damaging national security and her legislative response has not just ended with the oppressive Investigatory Powers Act, it goes much further than that.
In fact her record on immigration, policing and crime, her handling of refugees, and views on basic human rights, are really quite appalling and in many respects much more extreme that you would expect in a modern democracy.
The Conservative manifesto is proof that too much power in the hands of someone like Theresa May will be a very bad thing for democracy.