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Who can you trust in Britain today?

The latest evidence that GCHQ in their systematic electronic harvesting of information went far beyond what the law allowed, and were acutely well aware of this, is certainly troubling, but perhaps not surprising. The mood and culture in Britain today in the use of power is push your advantage to the limit and beyond – so long as you can get away with it.

Deregulation masquerading as the removal of red tape is all the fashion, the law is there to be circumvented if you can, and conscience and justice don’t really fit into our fast-moving commercialised world. If it were GCHQ alone, that would be bad enough. But the last 4 years have seen every institution of trust tarnished if not disgraced – the banks, the media, the police, the politicians, and now the security services. It isn’t just austerity that is now biting hard, it’s the painful awareness of the huge accountability deficit that affects every part of the power structure.

We now know – but only thanks to Edward Snowden and the Guardian, both of whom have performed a stellar public service – that GCHQ knowingly perpetrated a mass surveillance programme for which there was no adequate legal authorisation and then sought to stifle any public debate which might generate a challenge under privacy laws or reveal how far they were operating beyond or outside the law.

We now know that the large telecoms companies lied in response to the Tempora revelations by declaring they simply complied with the law when in fact they far exceeded what the law provided for. And we now know that the Home Office and GCHQ campaigned to reject the use of intercepts as evidence, not as they said at the time because of the risk to national security, but because it would expose how far they had gone beyond the law including accessing communications networks abroad.

The governance of Britain’s power institutions has all but collapsed. The feeble and ineffective Intelligence and Security Committee should be swept away and replaced by a powerful Select Committee responsible to Parliament, not the Executive. A major restructuring of the dysfunctional banking, hedge fund and shadow banking system is needed which will break up the Big Five and ensure that banking sticks to its real function of lending to British industry and householders and not seeking self-serving enrichment through tax avoidance, overseas speculation and securitised derivatives.

The media should be dragged back to their true function as a genuinely free press which is holding power to account, not tycoon propaganda based on ownership of great wealth. The manifold abuses revealed in current police activities requires renewed governance to be recommended by a far-reaching inquiry into police ethics and standards. The politicians, badly tarnished by the expenses scandal but failing even more in their duty to hold the Executive effectively to account, require a major constitutional conference into the composition of Parliament and how patronage and careerism must be subordinated to the public’s demands for securing accountability.

One Comment

  1. Robert says:

    I think Labour 42 detention , rendition, terrorism laws, ID cards, data bases which ended up all but a tattoo on your arm. you have CCTV cameras everywhere you cannot even to day get away with wearing a scarf over your face for toothache somebody will tell you somebody cannot see your face so remove it.

    I was sitting at home one day when I saw two men in suits take my bin bags and I called the police the police brought the two people to my home they were going around with a list of names trying to find people on benefits who were working, they were hired by the DWP.

    We had terrorism laws used by councils to come in to your homes, they could check your bank accounts without asking you or a court.

    That alone is enough not to ever vote Labour again, what ever the Tories now do Labour will have tried it.

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