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Thursday
Dec282006

The Eighty-Five Theses

As your government totters towards its end, Prime Minister, it is time to begin an assessment of the damage you have done to the country. I set down here some of your least glorious acheivements. There is little with which to balance them, on the credit side of the ledger.

  1. Your government, Prime Minister, has continuously and systematically attacked the civil liberties for which generations of Britons have fought.
  2. It has passed the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 which allows it to access all records of internet and telephone records without any judicial oversight. It can demand access to passwords and encrypted data from anyone. Government is to know everything for whatever reason it chooses. It is to have unlimited power as far as the privacy of the individual is concerned.
  3. By means of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, you have taken the power to orally declare an emergency. The reasonableness of such a declaration cannot be questioned in a court of law. Once a declaration has been made, the government can exercise the Royal Prerogative or can repeal or amend any Act of Parliament, except the Civil Contingencies act itself and the Human Rights Act, without recourse to Parliament.
  4. It has sought to treat all children as criminal suspects. The Children Act 2004 seeks to create an intrusive database on every child in the country, and to destroy any privileged relationship that children might have with third parties, such as doctors and lawyers.  You have already started to collect fingerprints of children as a matter of course.
  5. Your government, Prime Minister, has demanded that every citizen carry an identity card, under threat of fines. Everyone willbe expected to make themselves answerable to officers of the state on demand. The Identity Cards Act will do nothing to protect identities. It will make state control of the people much simpler.
  6. It has also sought to put the medical records of everyone in the country on a central database from where it will be possible to share the data with other government departments. By doing this, it will destroy the privacy of millions of people. Once again, there are to be no limits to what the government can know about us.
  7. It has attacked the sovereignty of Parliament by means of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act which will allow it to amend laws and create new criminal offences without recourse to Parliament.
  8. It has passed the Human Tissue Act 2004, which allows the police to take DNA samples and to perform tests on them without consent. This power is not restricted to those found guilty of a crime but applies to anyone who is arrested. The samples can be retained indefinitely.
  9. It has sought to prevent lawful assembly and protest throught the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act. This act designates certain areas where protests cannot be held without prior police permission. The Act has been used to stifle lawful protest particularly in the vicinity of Parliament, and has lead to arrests for trivial displays of dissent.
  10. The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act has also created a secret police force, the Serious Organised Crime Agency. The location of the agencies offices are not to be disclosed. Its officers do not swear to uphold the law like normal police officers, but are civil servants answerable only to the government. Never before in the history of the United Kingdom have full powers of arrest been given to anyone other than the police.
  11. The government has attacked the hard-won freedom of speech which has been enjoyed in this country for centuries. It has created a new criminal offence of "hate speech". The principle of punishing acts rather than thoughts has been tossed aside for narrow political gain.
  12. It has created, through the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, an Assets Recovery Agency. This allows it the power to confiscate assets on mere suspicion that they are the proceeds of crime.
  13. The Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003 has been widely abused. Under ASBO law, people have been banned from playing football, feeding pigeons, swearing, being sarcastic and riding a bicycle. ASBO laws have also been used to curb people's rights to free speech and association. It is not uncommon for someone to be banned from being with more than one other person in a public place. All this without recourse to a jury.
  14. The Extradition Act 2003 allows the government to extradite British Citizens to certain other countries without presentation of any evidence by that country. It is well-known that one of the designated countries is the United States. Fewer people are aware that this kind of extradition is also possible to Russia.
  15. It has used the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 to create instruments of tyranny such as "control orders" - which allow a politician to place restrictions on freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and communication, all without recourse to a judge or jury.
  16. It has given itself the power to remove British citizenship "for the public good" by order of the Home Secretary. The powers in the
    Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill 2005 are not suitable for any politician to wield.
  17. Through the Football (Disorder) Act 2000, it has created a power to prevent someone boarding a flight at the whim of a policeman.
  18. It has overseen a terrifying expansion in surveillance of everday life. As many as 20% of the world's CCTV systems are in operation in the UK.
  19. Your government has attacked the culture of volunteering by the ridiculous requirement that everyone who has contact with children must be subject to background checks. This has created enormous problems with staffing of schools and has discouraged many from involvement in activities where children might be present.
  20. Quite apart from its assault on civil liberties, your government has launched into a foreign policy of unparalleled recklessness.
  21. The war in Iraq was launched on the basis of a dossier of information that was mendacious and misleading.
  22. Having launched the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the government has failed to properly equip the forces deployed there. In particular it has failed to deliver adequate thermal imaging equipment, body armour, and bomb-proof vehicles. Lives have been lost unnecessarily because of these omissions.
  23. Instead of purchasing the equipment required in the Middle East, the goverment has pursued a policy of purchasing equipment from European countries in order to foster a proto-European army. It has bought unsuitable equipment from European suppliers rather than suitable equipment from anyone else.
  24. The last ammunition factory in the UK has been sold. Eurofighter aircraft have been bought in the name of European solidarity despite the fact that they are of little use in modern conflicts. Meanwhile the Parachute Regiment are not allowed to practice parachuting in order to cut costs.
  25. As the leader of the country, the Prime Minister must possess unassailable integrity. You have failed, Prime Minister, to demonstrate any of the qualities we might reasonably expect from the holder of your office.
  26. The Labour Party, of which you remain the leader, has, it is alleged, sold seats in the house of Lords to anyone who was willing to pay.
  27. Donations to your party have also been closely associated with changes in government policy which favour the donors. Mr Ecclestone has benefited. Your policy on windfarms seems also to have benefited one of your party donors. Another was awarded a startlingly profitable government contract, a peerage, and a post in the government.
  28. Overseas donors have likewise benefited. Lakshmi Mittal was able to have you lobby the Romanian government on his behalf. The Hinduja brothers got British passports.
  29. You have diverted public money to your backers in the unions under the guise of "modernisation funds".
  30. None of these allegations are proven. Evidence has been destroyed or lost. Your integrity has gone with it, Prime Minister.
  31. Your supporters are rewarded with lucrative posts in public sector bodies. The boards of the Big Lottery Fund and the Commission for Equality and Human Rights are packed with your supporters. The heads of the Charities Commission, OfCom, and Sport England are your supporters.
  32. You have bankrupted your party, and now seek to refill your coffers from the pockets of the public.
  33. You have tried to ensure that hospital closures take place largely in constituencies of your opponents. Meanwhile you ensure that Lottery money is spent in Labour constituencies. You cannot claim to govern for the whole country, Prime Minister. You seek to help only the minority of the population who voted for you.
  34. Your record in the detailed governance of the country is just as shameful.
  35. You have drowned the country in a sea of red tape. Since you came to power in 1997 you have created 365 new acts of Parliament and 32000 new statutory instruments. Does it never occur to you, Prime Minister, that this is simply ludicrous? Do you ever ask yourself when it will stop? Do you understand that it must stop?
  36. You have sought to control the public services by means of targets and micromanagement. In doing so you have demoralised civil servants, and you have damaged, perhaps beyond repair, the services themselves. Doctors, teachers, soldiers, and police officers have all attacked your approach, but you refuse to listen, despite abundant evidence that your prescription is not working.
  37. You have no control over the civil service. You have no idea of the financial state of most of the public sector. In some cases you do not even know how many people are working for a government department. Basic management controls are therefore not available to you. You are flying blind. It is small wonder that you always crash.
  38. National statistics have been subverted by your government, in order to help your campaigns of lies and spin. Home office statistics have been declared "not fit for purpose". The truth about NHS statistics leak out occasionally. Nobody believes anything you say any more.
  39. You have set out on a plethora of massive IT projects which have mostly been expensive failures. The Tax Credits Project, the Magistrates Courts IT systems, the Foreign Office system, the Child Support Agency. The fact that many projects are started without any idea of how much they will cost damns your government's ability to run anything, let along the country. Nobody is ever held accountable for these failings. In fact they are usually rewarded.
  40. Perhaps your most significant legacy will be the damage you have inflicted on the British Constitution and the way in which you have undermined the rule of law.
  41. You have botched the devolution of power to Scotland and Wales by your refusal to address the West Lothian Question. You may well be the remembered as the man who started the United Kingdom on the road to break-up.
  42. You have eliminated the hereditary peers from the House of Lords and have replaced them with your cronies and party donors. In so doing, you have preferred, yet again, your grubby party interests to those of the nation as a whole.
  43. You have encouraged the adoption of postal voting, with the inevitable result of an increase in voting fraud.
  44. The sheer quantity of new legislation has inevitably meant that much of it is badly drafted, causing damage to innocent lives.
  45. Your government has made a habit of introducing retrospective legislation, undermining one of the fundamental principles of the rule of law.
  46. You have further undermined the rule of law by the attacking the principle that the law is blind and that all should be equal under it. You have passed a statutory instrument to outlaw a company which had broken no law.
  47. You have quashed a serious criminal investigation in order to appease a foreign government, leaving the rule of law in tatters. Your Attorney General apparently thinks that the Rule of Law may conflict with the public interest.
  48. Your government has undermined democracy by the creation of the Standards Board for local government, which allows officials appointed by you to disqualify democratically elected local government representatives. This ludicrous body has also prevented councillors from speaking on matters affecting their constituents.
  49. You came to power claiming to be a different kind of Labour leader. In reality you have governed just like your predecessors - taxing and spending.
  50. You have overseen a massive increase in the size of the public sector with little or no discernable benefit.
  51. The waste in the public sector has reached unimaginable proportions.
  52. You have destroyed the private pensions system which was once the envy of the world, at a cost that some have estimated at more than £100 billion. The money you have stolen has been squandered.
  53. Meanwhile you have made public sector pay and pensions much more generous, leaving a vast black hole which will have to be filled by private sector workers. The unfunded liability is now estimated at £960 billion, or £40,000 per household, all to be paid for by private sector workers.
  54. Your government has squandered money on a series of white elephant projects: the Millennium Dome, the National Centre for Popular Music, the Earth Centre in Doncaster, British Films, and more which have been completed late or over budget.
  55. You have created a raft of PFI schemes which are preposterously expensive and will saddle future generations with a massive debt burden. The extra cost of PFI hospitals is £45bn above their capital value.
  56. Lottery cash has been diverted from the advertised "good causes" making the Lottery merely another tax-raising device.
  57. You have thrown money at management consultants in the naive belief that this will answer the problem of public sector inefficiency. You might as well have burned it.
  58. You came to power claiming to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. You have failed to live up to your grandiose words.
  59. Instead of tackling crime you have sought to create the impression of action by making new laws. 3000 new criminal offences have been created since you came to power in 1997. It is now illegal to sell grey squirrels, impersonate a traffic warden, offer Air Traffic Control services without a licence, create a nuclear explosion, or fail to nominate a neighbour to turn off an alarm. It is an offence for a ship's captain to be carrying grain unless he has a copy of the International Grain Code on board. Where does it end?
  60. Your target-driven culture has lead the police to direct their attentions to minor misdemeanours rather than serious crime.
  61. You have failed to build enough new prisons, preferring to release prisoners early, or not to jail them at all.
  62. If there was a role which only you could play, it was to reform the welfare state. In this, as in so much else, you were weak and preferred to take no action. You sacked the only man in your party who knew what to do.
  63. You have overseen the introduction of a system of tax credits which was botched, was over-complicated and failed to help those caught in the poverty trap. All this despite some within your party pointing out that means-tested benefits don't work. Huge overpayments were made, with lives thrown into chaos when your government tried to claw the money back.
  64. You created a retrospective "windfall" tax to create your "New Deal" - an attempt to deal with structural unemployment, particularly among the young. Ten years later we have millions of young people with "no work, no school and little hope", and a new initiative on the table to deal with the problem.
  65. The Child Support Agency has been reformed again and again, but still fails to collect more than a fraction of the money due. You have now attempted to spin your way out of trouble by renaming it.
  66. Education, education, and education, you declared were your top three priorities for your time in power. But after 90 years of compulsory state primary schooling, and ten years of your government throwing money at schools, your own education secretary admits that 5 million adults can't read and 15 million are not numerate.
  67. Consumers of your education "services" are not impressed either. Two-thirds think that schools are no better than before you started your spending spree. Presumably they think your opinions to the contrary are lies or spin.
  68. Exam pass rates have crept steadily upwards. "Because students are working harder", you claim. Nobody believes you though. We all know it is because the courses have been dumbed down.
  69. You have set a target of 50% of young people to attend university, despite the evidence pointing out that this is of no economic benefit. The result has been dumbed-down degree courses and graduates working in fast food restaurants.
  70. The NHS has likewise received billions in extra funding with little or no discernable result. Hospitals remain mired in debt, filth and incompetence. Nobody who can afford private insurance would dream of using the NHS.
  71. There is little comfort for you in any other area touched by your government either.
  72. Prime Minister, you are transfixed by polls and focus groups, looking to them to tell you what to say and think. You are a follower, not a leader. In the words of one of your former spin doctors you are "ambitious, vain, [and] obsessed with image and petty rivalries".
  73. You have elevated spin to the highest priority of your administration.  You try to "bury bad news" like a naughty schoolboy, rather than face your failings like a grown-up. You are in danger of sinking under the tide of lies emanating from your spin doctors.
  74. You legislate to give the impression of action, even where no legislation is needed. Law-making has become a part of the public relations industry - it has become the highest form of spin.
  75. You are a poor judge of people. Mandelson resigned in disgrace, but you brought him back, only to have him forced out again. It was a similar story with David Blunkett.
  76. You try to frighten us into supporting your oppressive measures by a constant repetition of the threat of terrorism and crime. You claim, ludicrously, that security is the most important freedom of all; as if Soviet citizens were, in some way, free.
  77. Your government interferes endlessly in the lives of law-abiding people. You apparently accept no limits to what government may do. One of your ministers even speaks out in favour of a "nanny state".
  78. Your administration of the immigration and asylum system has been shambolic. It has been swamped by the numbers of arrivals, but because you have tied its hands it is unable to remove even many violent criminals.
  79. The Department of Work and Pensions has issued National Insurance numbers to illegal immigrants.
  80. Your government's Rural Payments Agency has botched the payments of £1.3billion of farm subsidies - some 87% of the total. This has not prevented you paying £7million in bonuses to senior staff there.
  81. The outbreak of foot and mouth disease lead to wholesale panic in your cabinet and fully exposed the incompetence of you and your regime. The report of the European Parliament stated that your government's handling of the crisis had "traumatised farmers, broken animal welfare laws, and generated miles of unnecessary red tape, and that burning pyres and mass burial sites damaged the environment and people's health."
  82. You have gone along with the EU line on fisheries policy, despite the damage this is doing to fish stocks and livelihoods. How can you stand by as much of the fish caught is thrown back into the sea to rot? When the example of a sensible way to run a fishery is clear for everyone to see?
  83. Your own advisers admit that your government is seen as a shambles. Your half-denials fool no-one. You know you are not governing, you are clinging to power.
  84. You have made some decisions which were undoubtedly correct. When you made the Bank of England operationally independent of government, you recognised your own lack of ability, and in so doing set the country on a path to economic stability. You can hold out few hopes though that an isolated success will be remembered better than the tidal wave of incompetence, dishonesty, corruption, vandalism and excess which you have unleashed on us.
  85. This is your legacy, Prime Minister. You can't change it now. Please go. Soon.

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  • Response
    Response: Damning
    The ecclesiastical court passes judgement on Blair.

Reader Comments (2)

here here.
Dec 29, 2006 at 12:43 AM | Unregistered Commenterpfb
wow that is a long list, but since they still have 3 years to go it will only get longer. We are told Blair is always looking for his legacy, well I think that he has got quite enough of one already.
Dec 30, 2006 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris strange

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