Archive for the ‘The War on Stupid’ Category

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 12, 2006

Category: The War on Stupid

I’ll provide links as they come in. In the meantime, I have a question…

When will Sergeant Tim Nunn be fired, fined, or prosecuted for lying under oath?

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 12, 2006

Category: The War on Stupid

Independent – Labour peers will try to extend terror detention limit to 60 days: Pro-Government peers are planning to rewrite the Terrorism Bill to let police hold suspects without charge for up to 60 days. They claim that the 28-day limit set by MPs is too short, but critics say they are engaged in political manoeuvring… Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale, a Labour peer and former intelligence officer, said: “It’s our duty, as well as our right, to ask the Commons to think again. They never debated the proposal that there should be a limit of up to 60 days – and it’s ‘up to 60 days’, not ’60 days’, just as it was ‘up to 90 days’.”

Closely followed by; “What about 49 days? No-one debated 49 days, did they?” FFS…

Posted by Tim Ireland at January 10, 2006

Category: The War on Stupid

BBC – Safety fears at ‘illegal’ protest: A police sergeant feared for his colleagues’ safety at a demonstration over new laws banning protests near Parliament, a court has heard… Mr Nunn told the court Mr Shaer used a loud hailer to call the police fascists and accused them of trying to gag demonstrators… He said he ordered officers to withdraw in an attempt to let the protesters disperse but his colleagues became more tightly packed among the crowd. Mr Nunn told the court: “At this point I was concerned regarding the safety of the officers and so I instructed Pc Hunt and Pc Minnahan to start effecting the arrests.” He said Mr Shaer was the focal point of the protest and when police arrested him Ms Gallastegui tried to drag him away.

You’ll pardon me for saying so, but what a load of unmitigated bullshit.

Exhibit A – Immediately prior to arrests:
Note that while Aqil Shaer may be holding the megaphone, it is Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn actually using it. Also note that the police in the background are not “tightly packed among the crowd,” but instead are quite relaxed, and enjoying complete freedom of movement.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B – The police move in:
Jeremy Corbyn is still in place, and from this photo one might very well get the impression that both men are about to be arrested. One might also surmise from this picture that – now, at least – the police are “tightly packed among the crowd”… but this did not happen until after they moved in and the media rush to get pictures of an arrest (clearly visible in the foreground) is a big reason for this sudden change/charge.

Exhibit B

Exhibit C – Pandemonium:
The media are right ‘on top of things’ and all police attention is on Aqil Shaer. Jeremy Corbyn (highlighted on the upper right) has been removed from the scene.

Exhibit C

Exhibit D – Aqil Shaer is arrested:
Note that protestors that were previously distributed around Parliament Square are now rushing toward the scene. Again, it should be recognised that it was the actions of the police that prompted this alleged safety issue. Oh, and the man apparently making a grab for the megaphone will want to watch himself; anyone using a megaphone in this area (who is not a Labour MP) risks arrest.

Exhibit D

(Original full-sized images can be seen here.)

The arrest of Jeremy Corbyn would have caused Tony Blair’s government some embarrassment. As would the arrest of Cherie Blair’s sister, Lauren Booth, who was also present and active in this protest.

It also needs to be pointed out that the primary reason for friction on the day was the police being deliberately and annoyingly coy about whether or not they were actually going to use these new powers. Even after people were arrested, they refused to say under which conditions/powers arrests were made.

Police claims that safety concerns prompted the initial arrest of Aqil Shaer are false.

Police claims that – at the time of arrest – Aqil Shaer was the focus of attention (and therefore the cause of alleged safety concerns) are also false.

Lord Falconer appeared recently on Radio 4 to assure the public that this new legislation is fair in that it applies to ‘everyone’.

It isn’t and it doesn’t.

It didn’t apply to those of us demonstrating on December 21st, because this would have caused Tony Blair embarrassment*.

It didn’t apply to Jeremy Corbyn, because his arrest would have caused Tony Blair embarrassment.

It didn’t apply to Lauren Booth, because her arrest would have caused Tony Blair embarrassment.

It did apply to Maya Evans, because allowing her to read out names of soldiers killed in Iraq at the Cenotaph would have caused Tony Blair embarrassment.

And it may or may not apply to a certain gentleman who actually lives within the exclusion zone… a lot appears to depend on whether or not he intends to cause Tony Blair embarrassment:


(Brought to our attention by Rachel North and reprinted from The Friday Thing. Subscribe today for further weekly entertainment and enlightenment.)

Ring, ring. Ring, ring.
‘Hello, New Scotland Yard, how may I help you?’

‘Hello, I wonder if you can help me?’
‘Good. I’ve just been looking at the map of your protest exclusion zone around Parliament Square.’
‘It’s not an exclusion zone, sir.’
‘It’s not an exclusion zone. If you want to protest, you need to get permission. We’re not excluding protest.’
‘How exactly can I help you, sir?’
‘Well, the funny thing is, I was looking at your exclusion…’
‘Permission zone around Parliament Square and I realised my new flat is right smack-bang in the middle of it..’
‘I have a question.’
‘Well, you see, I have a roof terrace which can be seen from the road. I was just wondering whether I’d be allowed to protest there if I wanted to? I’m just worried about being arrested and having all my banners torn up.’
‘Who owns the property, sir?’
‘I do.’
‘And who are you planning on protesting against?’
‘Who are you planning to protest against?’
‘Does that matter? The point is whether it’s now illegal for me to protest on my own roof… Let’s say I’m protesting against myself.’
‘Are you planning to protest against yourself?’
‘Well, I don’t like myself very much at the moment, so let’s say yes…’
‘Then that’s a good question, sir. I’ll have to put you through to my colleague who deals with SOCRA [the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act] at Bloomsbury.’
Ring, ring. Ring… Click.

‘Yes… protest… exclusion…’
‘Sorry, protest… permission… roof terrace… myself…’
‘Let me look at my map. Well, as far as I know, as no-one would be likely to complain if you were to protest against yourself…’
‘They might.’
‘It’s unlikely.’
‘OK. Forget me then. What about if I was protesting against my neighbour?’
‘On your roof?’
‘Well, then that would depend whether they were likely to see it and be upset by it.’
‘Not see it and not be upset? OK. Got it. Oh, only thing is, my neighbour is the Home Office.’
‘Well, if you’re protesting against the Government and they were likely to see the protest then you’d need to come in and have a chat with us.’
‘Oh, right, OK. But only if I’m likely to upset them.’
‘What do you mean, sir?’
‘Well, if I protested *for* the Government that would be OK?’
‘*For* the Government? You mean protesting in favour of the Government?’
‘Essentially, yes.’
‘Then that wouldn’t be a protest.’
‘Got it. So it’s only illegal if I’m protesting against the Government in a way that might upset them?’
‘Yes, no. That’s not what I actually said.’
‘Oh, I’m terribly sorry. What did you actually say?’
‘I said that if you wanted to protest against the Government on your roof terrace then you should come in and have a chat with us first.’
‘But only if I’m protesting against the Government.’
‘That’s right.’
‘In a way that might upset them.’
‘That’s right.’
‘Otherwise I might be arrested?’
‘It’s possible, sir, yes.’
‘Ok. Thanks.’
‘Thank you sir, is there anything else I can help you with?’
‘No. Yes. Are you going to the carol concert in Parliament Square tomorrow?’
‘Parliament Square comes under Charing Cross, sir, you’d have to ask them.’
‘Right ho! Merry Christmas.’
‘Thank you for your call, sir.’

(*Allow me to clarify something I blogged the night of the carol service…. The police were hiding. Not keeping a low profile in order to avoid antagonising the crowd, but hiding. When I moved the crowd for (ahem) safety reasons, the backdrop for the media suddenly switched from the Treasury building to the gates of Parliament. About 30 seconds later, the police on duty at that gate received a call and immediately hid from view. The police were obviously under instructions not to be photographed anywhere near the event.)

Posted by Tim Ireland at December 29, 2005

Category: The War on Stupid

BBC – Iraq protest in ‘demo ban zone’: More demonstrators have gathered in an “exclusion zone” to test the limits of a law banning protests without the police authorisation. Catholic peace group Pax Christi read out names of children killed in the Iraq conflict at Downing Street. Members said prayers at the event, which did not have police permission, but officers chose not to intervene.

Posted by Tim Ireland at December 21, 2005

Category: The War on Stupid

Tonight we established that the definition of what constitutes a demonstration (under Section 132 of the Serious and Organised Crimes and Police Act 2005) is open to interpretation.

The police did not dare show their faces. At all.

Once the cameras were pointed their way, even those at the gates of Parliament were quite obviously directed to keep a low profile. No-one in authority wanted a picture of police challenging this event to make the newspapers.

Given this, and the failure to evict Brian Haw, it is certain that this legislation will have to pass through Parliament once more.

Hopefully, with more scrutiny this time around.

Cheers all.


Guido has a report, and a photo that I can better with a screengrab from this evening’s BBC news.


Also, the online report from the BBC has been updated to read: A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said: “We treated the event as a carol service and not as a demonstration so the legislation did not come into play.”

So that’s 51 less weeks that I can expect to spend in prison, then. Nice to know.

Independent – Carol singers provide chorus of disapproval at Parliament: Last night’s event was organised by Tim Ireland, an Australian-born internet campaigner who uses an American-style web-log,, to campaign on issues from demands for an inquiry into the attacks on London on 7 July to the anti-terrorism laws. He said: “The aim is to sing carols and that is it. The Serious Organised Crime Act outlaws demonstrations within the exclusion zone around Westminster but it does not define demonstrations. You could break it by wearing a Make Poverty History wristband or demonstrating your own stupidity.”

Well, that’s not *quite* what I said (I said that MPs were at risk of prosecution under this act for demonstrating their own stupidity), but I hope that readers of the Independent will see the point regardless… and, if not, I’m hoping that they will see the absurdity of a ‘stupid’ act being targeted (or not) by the Serious Organised Crime Act.

And what of the readers of the Sun? The newspaper that champions the view that our lives have/will not be changed by terrorism? They ran a nativity scene into this area at the same time last year (on the back of a flat-bed truck), in order to ‘save Christmas’… but this year that act was illegal…. technically.

Did the Sun repeat this stunt? Did they even bother to file a report on this carol service?

(checks Scum)

I’m sad to report that it’s ‘no’ on both counts.

Rebekah Wade is a hypocrite. Rebekah Wade is a coward. Rebekah Wade is a ginger-freckled tosspot. But I wish her a Merry Christmas Happy Holidays regardless.

Rachel was there and has lotsa links to offer. Go see.

UPDATES (22 Dec):

I’ve just counted the donations. We raised almost 300 pounds for Medical Aid for Iraqi Children!


BlairWatch has an archive of the BBC Radio 4 report.

Harlow Liberal Democrats filed this report: The police have been notable by their absence; there are normally far more of them around Parliament than there are tonight. Clearly they’ve decided they’d look utterly foolish trying to enforce Blair’s new law, and arresting a bunch of well-behaved citizens (including at least one member of the House of Lords) for simply singing Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all Men.

They also sent in this great picture of Brian on the night. Says it all for me. Just look how happy he is.

Brian in his element

Merry Christmas, Brian… and thanks again to everyone who attended/supported this event.

Posted by Tim Ireland at December 21, 2005

Category: The War on Stupid

Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la.
Will we be arrested for singing carols?
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

BBC – Singers defy Parliament demo ban: Carol singers are to become the latest group to defy a ban on unauthorised protests around Parliament… A Scotland Yard spokeswoman was not able to comment on whether a carol service constituted a demonstration and said a decision about whether to take action would be taken on the day.

Human Rights Act 1998: Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others… No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

The ‘decision on the day’ would appear to hinge on the carol service being a danger to public safety or morality if it does not qualify as a demonstration* (though media scrutiny may also play a role).

It’s hard to see how we could be endangering public safety or morality if all we are doing is singing Christmas carols.

And that is all we will be doing. There will be no placards, there will be no flyers.

There will only be carol sheets and candles.

We plan to arrive, pass out these carol sheets and candles (accepting any donations people care to give in exchange), sing our selection of Christian and secular verse, and then quietly depart after a short prayer.

The only thing that can turn this into something other than a peaceful affair will be heavy-handed actions by the police.

(* Section 132 of the Serious and Organised Crimes and Police Act 2005 – which appears to have written by an 8-year-old – bans demonstrations within a carefully defined area, but does not define what constitutes a demonstration. Technically, you could be arrested for anything from wearing a ‘Make Poverty History’ bracelet to demonstrating the correct way to use a potato peeler.)

PS – Admittedly, we are open to a legal challenge over public safety if the turn-out is massive (i.e. if there are more people than Parliament Square can safely accommodate) but there is a contingency plan that covers this unlikely event.

UPDATE – The main page for this is currently 2nd in MSN and 5th in Google for ‘carol service’.

Posted by Tim Ireland at December 16, 2005

Category: The War on Stupid

Demand for a Public Inquiry into the July 7th 2005 London Bombings

Posted by Tim Ireland at December 15, 2005

Category: The War on Stupid

Rachel from North London: How dare you presume you know our questions and how dare you presume that they can be answered by a ‘narrative of what happened’, as if we are children to be placated with a story. I know what happened, I want to know why. I want a debate, Mr Blair, I want a dialogue. I will not shut up about it either. (via)

More here. And a great post here.

UPDATE – Another “Well said!” via Warmwell;
Professor James Crawford: A government is not exonerated from conduct which leads directly to a person being tortured merely by closing its eyes to that prospect.

Posted by Tim Ireland at December 15, 2005

Category: The War on Stupid

Carol serviceWe’re good to go.

I’ll really need your support on this folks; we have just over five days to let people know about it:

You are cordially invited to a public carol service in Parliament Square at 6pm on Wednesday the 21st of December 2005.

This inclusive service will contain both Christian and secular verse, and is expected to last no more than an hour.

Candles and song sheets will be made available, with donations going to Medical Aid for Iraqi Children.

Please note that if you attend this carol service, it will classify as a spontaneous demonstration (of faith, hope, joy and/or religious tolerance) and there is a possibility that you will be cautioned or arrested under Section 132 of the Serious and Organised Crimes and Police Act 2005.

Click here for more information.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

UPDATE – Oh dear… I wanted to send an invite to Charles Clarke, but his website has gone bye-byes (see what it used to look like here). Oh well. I’ll take a shot at and see how far I get.

UPDATE – Invites sent to Tony Blair and Cherie Booth (some nice folks who happen to live just down the road).

UPDATE – In the spirit of the season, I have also invited Michael Foster.

Posted by Tim Ireland at December 14, 2005

Category: The War on Stupid

Trust me; you’ll want to use this information after reading Michael Foster’s letter to the Independent on Monday:

Michael Foster – Labour MP for Hastings & Rye
The Ellen Draper Centre, 84 Bohemia Rd, St Leonards, TN37 6RN
Phone: 01424 460070

(OOPS! I initially got the wrong Michael Foster. These details have now been updated. Thanks to poons for the heads-up.)

Here it is the full text of that letter. If you haven’t seen/read it yet, I suggest that you put your coffee to one side for a moment…

New law protects the right to protest

Sir: I am really sorry that my constituent Maya Evans was convicted under Section 122 of the new Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (report, 8 December).

On the face of it, it looked to be an overreaction on the part of the prosecutors but be that as it may, it would be wrong to say that the legislation is unnecessary. Its purpose is not to deny protest but to ensure that such protest is possible.

Historically all sorts of protests have taken place around Parliament, but with the current terrorist threat it would be easy to mask a terrorist atrocity under the guise of a legitimate demonstration. The easy solution would have been to simply ban such protest – as the media indeed claim is the purpose of the Act – but that was not the Government’s intention.

Section 122 of the Act makes protests within 1km of Parliament illegal unless authorised by the police. However, the police are required to give that authorisation unless public safety or national security is compromised. Thus protests such as that of Maya Evans can be accommodated, provided the police are informed in advance. Indeed it should be noted that Miss Evans’s fellow demonstrator Mr Rai did give such notice and was not prosecuted.

Ms Evans’s prosecution is unfortunate and appears to have been somewhat zealous, but to suggest it is an attack on free speech is bizarre. Such a right must be, and indeed is, protected by this legislation.


Jesus H. Christ on crutches…. I know that dancing to Blair’s tune requires a fair degree of ingenuity and creativity, but this step is a doozy!

Derek Cole says it best in his follow-up letter that appeared the next day: Never can the reputation and standing of a Member of Parliament like Michael Foster have disintegrated in so spectacular and public a fashion. He abandoned his constituent Maya Evans to her fate for a “Serious and Organised Crime” on the very day the Government legal team to which he belongs was opposing the ban on torture in the courts.

On that same letters page there is also a response from Milan Rai, who may yet be charged.

The purpose of this legislation (covered previously on Bloggerheads here, here, here and here) is twofold:

1. To evict Brian Haw
2. To stifle protest at the heart of our democracy

Over to Milan Rai: The crucial issue is not whether you “give notice” to the police – as I did – but whether you fill in a new form requesting permission to hold your demonstration. Somehow Mr Foster thinks that these forms will protect us from terrorist atrocities disguised as anti-war protests. They don’t and they can’t. Filling in the new forms is co-operation with a law that forbids the use of loudspeakers (which undermines the ability of stewards to keep large crowds in order), and that gives the police the power to impose conditions on your protest that can rob it of any real meaning (an all-night vigil might be turned into a 20-minute protest). It’s a law that forbids any spontaneous protests near Parliament, and covers a wide area well beyond Parliament, across to the South Bank.

And now a quick word from moi: If the Blair government do anything so outlandish that it prompts immediate protest, from Monday the police will have the legal right to shut down any such protest at the very seat of our slowly dwindling democracy and arrest anyone they damn well please, just for being there. And that’s the real point of this stupid law. It may have been sold to willing MPs who (if they are human) feel pangs of guilt every time they have to pass Haw’s encampment, but what this is really about is stifling dissent.

If David Cameron had any balls or morals (or perhaps even a simple sense of priorities), his opening volley would have been aimed directly at this new legislation and Charles Clarke’s near-to-total exploitation of it.

Our government has crimes past and crimes ongoing to answer for and nothing – nothing – is going to move forward until these bastards are called to account. Education, health, the environment… nothing!

Further, the risk of terror only grows under a government that exacerbates the threat by seeking to manipulate it. Torturing people doesn’t help, either.

This matter must be addressed…. and your starter for ten is this legislation. It is specifically designed to minimise the consequences of our government’s actions, and exposes the Big Lie for what it is.

Perhaps David Cameron feels that if he lets it slide for a while he will have a better chance of winning an election against a discredited government. If that’s his plan, then he can fuck right off. The Brownies deserve a slap, too. They can take their planned smooth transition and stick it up their arse. Sideways.

The last thing we need right now is a bunch of bloody bystanders.

If we’re not careful, this could get very ugly: Tony Blair provokes terrorism. By denying what causes it and silencing dissent with anti-terror powers, he creates the very conditions in which terrorism thrives.

The matter of this government’s disgraceful conduct over Iraq and the ‘war’ on terror must be addressed, and it must be addressed now.

Start. With. This. Legislation.

Back a full Parliamentary inquiry into our government’s role in the run-up to the Iraq war and its aftermath.

The only alternative is to let the next bastard know that he can get away it.

UPDATE – Chicken Yoghurt – Protest too much

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