December 16, 2004

Shrek forces ID cards on Britain

So David Blunkett has resigned as British Home Secretary - “Destroyed by the woman he loved,” as the tabloid press puts it in 2-inch high letters today.

But his plans for compulsory I.D. cards remain. And glancing at the pictures in today’s press, it seems Tony Blair has drafted in Shrek to achieve the blind man’s vision...of seeing, hearing and sniffing out everything that freeborn Britons get up the privacy of their own love-torn lives and careers, homes and investing.

The UK Home Office – roughly the Ministry of the Interior - is no stranger to Charles Clarke’s weighty presence. Back in 2000, as a junior minister, he had his first taste of defending the indefensible, pushing through the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP!) Bill. It granted practically any UK government agency the power to steam open private emails - and any other form of digital communication it fancied - because if you don’t have anything to hide, what have you got to fear?

Besides, as Clarke argued at the time, the authorities already had the power to read your snail mail. Why shouldn’t they pry into your emails, too?

Clarke, the new Home Secretary has already said his No.1 priority will be to tackle organised crime and international terrorism, "to create a secure country in which everybody can live at peace". Noble aims for a heavyweight bureaucrat; but they won’t come cheap, we bet. And having the RIP act on the UK statutes as early as July 2000 didn’t help prevent the 9/11 atrocities - all apparently planned by email, with some plotters allegedly based in Britain.

As Clarke lugs his bulky frame over to the Home Office, he leaves the UK Ministry of Education under the command of Ruth Kelly, Chancellor Gordon Brown’s former ‘leutnant’ at the Treasury. The fragrant and fertile Ms Kelly – four kids in 7 years, as the London press gasps today - is the perfect New Labourite to run Britain’s tax-funded education system.

She was schooled at a number of top private establishments...including rugby-loving Millfield and top-notch Westminster...before reading Medicine at Oxford, and switching within a year to study politics, philosophy and economics – the degree course of choice for Britain’s high-flying mandarins.

Kelly’s first paying job was as a financial hack at the affluent’s Left’s favourite daily newspaper, The Guardian. The old ladies at Britain’s central bank - the Bank of England - then hired her to edit their quarterly ‘Inflation Report’. From there, she went on to help the UK Ministry of Agriculture make a rotting-flesh mountain out of the Foot-and-Mouth outbreak in summer 2001...before scolding the financial markets and keeping investors back for detention – first as economic, and then as financial secretary to the Treasury.

Yes, it’s all been great preparation for bullying teachers and rapping university chancellors across the knuckles...if they dare to hold old-fashioned and reactionary opinions - like education being a good thing in itself, rather than simply a training seminar for career bureaucrats.

Meantime, the fraud and humbug of New Labour’s missionary zeal is becoming ever clearer to anyone who’ll look. Tony Blair’s aim? To nationalise the UK labour force and seize control of the means of production...without the bother of owning them.

The official UK unemployment count fell in October to a new all-time low of 833,200 claimants. Even on a simple “worklessness” measure, the number of people without a job – but wanting one – slipped from 10.8% of the working population to 10.7%.

But behind the headlines, the fraud as ever - and Britain lost 70,000 private sector jobs in the 3 months ending October...while public sector hiring rose by 29,000.

Since the beginning of 2004, in fact, the UK has lost 112,000 jobs from private sector employment. Some 115,000 workers have joined the state’s bloated payroll.

Nor was I surprised to learn that Britain’s state-employed workers – now nearly 1-in-5 of the active population - enjoyed a 4.6% hike in wages, annualised, between August and October. Average wage-growth in the private sector, meantime, ran at just 3.9%.

Ahead of Tony Blair’s re-election bid next May, ain’t that odd?


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