I Am Not A DNA Sequence, I Am A Free Man!
January 19, 2001 6:09 AM   Subscribe

I Am Not A DNA Sequence, I Am A Free Man! Yet more proof that NewLabour, and in particular Jack Straw, regards the further erosion of civil rights as a vote-winner. Volunteer to give a DNA sample in order to eliminate yourself from inquiries, and it'll be kept on the record just in case you're naughty in the future.
posted by holgate (8 comments total)
The standard argument for constructing a DNA database is that "law-abiding people have nothing to fear." Given the capacity of the police to fit up law-abiding suspects in recent decades, this is patent nonsense. Ideally, the police would like us all DNA-registered and electronically tagged, so that they could sit in warm offices watching CCTV cameras and drinking weak tea rather than, um, actively policing.

But that's it: I'm voting LibDem next time round. Straw makes Michael Howard look like a member of the Salvation Army.
posted by holgate at 6:10 AM on January 19, 2001

Strange, holgate, I'm currently reading The Future of Politics, since I'm definitely not voting Tony's cronies in again and the thought of voting Conservative is too abhorrent to consider. In the last 10 years the LibDem's have been slowly creeping towards political credibility, I'm seriously considering giving them my vote.

Straw seems to be going straight for the 'middle England' vote in the election run-up. This will appeal to precisely those parents who have no idea that it's their 15 year-old son who'll be arriving home with a police escort if many of these laws are passed.

Another example of focus group politics at work.
posted by Markb at 6:50 AM on January 19, 2001

I'm seriously considering giving them my vote
Though I'm fully aware that I'm pissing into the wind if I think it'll make much difference to the outcome of the election.
posted by Markb at 6:53 AM on January 19, 2001

Did you see Danny O'Brien's Sunday Times column last week, when he suggested that a British version of the Nader Traders sites might be useful in the forthcoming election? After all, the size of British constituencies makes tactical voting far more effective than in the US: look at Portillo's glorious exit in 1997.

The LibDems have certainly seized the initiative on the radical left. They've also benefitted from devolution in Scotland and Wales, because it's given them experience of executive power that would never have come otherwise.

The Observer also suggested that if the Tories are to regain any kind of political credibility after their inevitable defeat in May, they might do well to shift focus from the authoritarian right of Widdicombe and Hague to the libertarian right which Portillo now appears to represent. After all, there's not much space on the right for either main party to claim in terms of social policy, beyond the revival of the birch and National Service.
posted by holgate at 1:51 PM on January 19, 2001

Heh, I wouldn't put corporal punishment past Straw if the current climate continues....
I just can't see the Tories taking a libertarian line, their grass roots membership (and much of their most loyal and die-hard supporters) simply wouldn't wear it - Labour managed that kind of fundamental shift only because they were acutely aware that there was a large percentage of the electorate who didn't see the traditional Labour politics as a viable alternative, but were aching to show a failing Conservative government the door. In many ways they stole the middle ground from the LibDems (remember all the consultation with Paddy Ashdown before 1997) while the LibDems were still seen as a 'wasted vote' party.
As for a UK eqiuvalent of Nader Traders, it's a nice idea, and would be a step in the direction of PR, but we're still some way behind the US in terms of internet access, coupled with the general apathy towards politics I don't think it would have a particularly noticable effect (though I'm certainly not discounting the message such an action could send to the government, and returning them with a weakened majority can only be a good thing). I agree too that tactical voting can be more effective than in the US simply because of the smaller number of voters per constituency.
At the moment, we seem to be in the same position we were 15 years ago - a government with an almost unassailable majority and an opposition party with a charisma-deficient leader and outmoded policies. The LibDems are still not in the position required to pose a serious threat to the status quo, but little acorns and all that. Lord knows I'm sick of the policy-by-concensus and bandwagon-jumping which dominates the British political scene at the moment.
posted by Markb at 4:23 PM on January 19, 2001

Yeah, but the Tories are quite literally a dying party: Conservative clubs look more and more like old peoples' homes, given that Newlabour has been good at appropriating the "me first" Mondeo demographic. The only card they have left to play from the old Right is Euroscepticism, and Blair looks likely to head that way unless the eurozone really triumphs in the wake of a US slowdown.

In the meantime, we so need proportional representation in Westminster elections that it hurts.
posted by holgate at 4:33 PM on January 19, 2001

And the difference between now and 1985 is that the Tories governed with conviction. An utterly crazed one, of course, spearheaded by a megalomaniac, but at least sincerely bad, as opposed to the insincere mediocrity of Newlabour's home affairs policy.

Perhaps we'll see some radicalism in the next Labour term of office, given that Blair is paralysed by his desire to be the first to lead a two-full-term government. But my hope is wearing thin.
posted by holgate at 4:37 PM on January 19, 2001

You think Blair is going to go the Eurosceptic route? I get the feeling he's just waiting for his second term before finally announcing that the 'conditions are right' (how many times have we heard that phrase, to me it's just spin for 'when we can get away with it') for British entry into the Euro. He'll have to do it soon after the election because there will be one hell of a furore, which a strong Tory party would sieze upon. With the Tories in disarray after their inevitable loss, trying to work out what went wrong this time round, the best time for the govenment to announce it would be this summer, just before recess so that Joe Public has the summer to get used to the idea, no debating on the topic can take place and the Conservatives are otherwise engaged.

The Tories are indeed full of OAPs, but the local conservative associations still rule the roost and like to assert their independance every now and again, the old dears like to rattle their sabres every once in a while.

I live in hope that NewLabour will fulfil some of the radical promise they seemes to hold in 1997, but like you, I'm not holding my breath.
posted by Markb at 4:47 AM on January 20, 2001

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