‘Big Brother Watch’ and Alex Deane


10:20 am - September 7th 2009

by Clifford Singer    


      Share on Tumblr

The Sunday Times yesterday carried news of a civil liberties campaign being launched by the TaxPayers’ Alliance in October.

TPA chief executive Matthew Elliott wants the campaign, called Big Brother Watch, “to become the central hub for the latest on personal freedom and civil liberty – a forum for information and discussion on something that directly affects British citizens in their everyday lives.”

In response, Spy Blog challenges many of the claims in Elliott’s article and asks:

Why exactly should Spy Blog, or anybody else who cares about these issues, support Yet Another Campaign Organisation rather than existing ones like:
• the NO2ID Campaign,
• Privacy International,
• GeneWatch UK,
• Open Rights Group
• the Foundation for Information Policy Research
• Liberty Human Rights.


It’s a good question, and one that is particularly pertinent to an organisation that every week rails against “non-jobs”.

Big Brother Watch’s choice of staff doesn’t bode well either. Elliott says it will be headed by Alex Deane, a barrister and former chief of staff to David Cameron, and “supported” by Dylan Sharpe, Boris Johnson’s press officer for his London mayoral campaign.

But while Elliott attacks the growth of CCTV and says the campaign will “use the legal system to help the man in the street fight injustice and regain his personal freedom”, Deane has used his ConservativeHome column to boast that “David Cameron was instrumental in the introduction of the network of CCTV cameras”, and was hardly brimming with concern over the tale of a Muslim family who were abused, detained and deported by immigration officers.

You can read more of Alex Deane’s musings here, including his views on legalising drugs (against), voluntary euthaniasia (against), the right to choose an abortion (against), and Simon Cowell (for).

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
This is a guest contribution. Clifford Singer runs The Other Taxpayer's Alliance website. You can join the Facebook group here.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Conservative Party ,Our democracy ,Think-tanks ,Westminster

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


I think it’s pretty transparent – Elliott has decided the Right needs its own civil liberties pressure group, because the other ones ostensibly have what he sees as a left-wing agenda (or alternatively are too narrow in scope – i.e. NO2ID).

Personally, i don’t mind this too much, if it means there’s consistent pressure on a Conservative government from the right-wing (and i don’t just mean David Davis and, sometimes, Peter Hitchens) to keep up some kind of commitment to civil liberties.

In short, rather this than a neo-con pressure group, wouldn’t you say?

Carrion,

Are you seriously saying that Peter “String up the darkies” Hitchens is committed to civil liberties?

Civil liberties for white middle aged men, yes. As for everyone else…

I can understand why the TPA are not likely to be too popular on this site but you have to say that they have been fairly effective at what they do. Also there is some synergy between defending individual freedoms and highlighting financially wasteful projects- curtailing liberty tends to be expensive.

Don’t much like the sound of the principals involved but lets give them a chance.

Paul

Be interested in your source for “string up the darkies” ! ! !

Alex Deane is a weird choice considering the number of civil liberties orientated people there are on the right. But this could still be good news. After all, the TPA have been very effective at driving their agenda into the news and civil liberties need more oxygen.

Pagar,

yeah, I exaggerate.

but you know what I mean.

It’s not a case of whether one “should” support the TPA’s new campaign or not; I think the TPA may get people interested in liberty who aren’t interested in, or haven’t heard of, NO2ID, Privacy International, GeneWatch UK, Open Rights Group, the Foundation for Information Policy Research, or Liberty Human Rights, or those who find themselves more inclined to support the TPA than other organisations / campaigns.

@6 Well yes he’s a hideous reactionary and i’m not about to defend his views, but from what i’ve read of him, he likes to bang on about how the historic British tradition of liberty is manifested in civil liberties, and how it’s a disgrace that they are being eroded. Look, Wikipedia agrees with me (!):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Hitchens#On_Liberty.2C_Security.2C_and_Crime

He’s certainly been extremely vocal in his opposition to ID cards.

My guess: for this group, it’s all about speed cameras and the the motorist vote.

Well motorists do disproportionately face arbitrary administrative penalties, and administrative experiments, like the fixed penalty notice, are sometimes tried out on them before being extended to the wider population.

@8 He was a Trotskyist member of the International Socialists from 1969 to 1975, and joined the British Labour Party in 1977, campaigning for Ken Livingstone’s unsuccessful candidature for Hampstead in the 1979 general election.

Ah well.

I suppose there’s hope for us all.

Nick, I’d have thought he one issue the TPA-types might be big on is Automatic Number Plate Recognition, but I’ve not found anything by them so far. Besides, why focus on speed cameras rather than the penalties for speeding?

Why not just abolish speed limits if you’re going to get rid of speed cameras? (I don’t support doing either.)

15. Guy Aitchison

The more people fighting the cause the better in my view, especially if it’s more people from the right. People who get involved with the TPA campaign may be coming at it from a different angle, as UK liberty points out and I don’t think we should greet it from the start saying it’s illegitimate because of TPA’s views on x, y and z…

Re Peter Hitchens, he is quite strong on civil liberties. See for example this article about his encounter with aggressive riot police written months before the G20….

http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2009/01/the-onward-marc/comments/page/2/

Well, I suspect that creating a superfluous, extra ‘campaign’ rather than joining existing ones has more of a “look at us” effect. It’s tantamount to running up and down and flailing your arms about rather than quietly stating your case.

It’s another angle of attack on the surveillance state, so yes, Id support them on this.

Besides, it keeps them away from interfering with other, more worthwhile, government initiatives

This is off-topic, but it’s a shame we can’t comment on today’s “TOP STORY: Sexism In The City At 80%”, because there are a number of problems with the article and the report it is based on (as Guardian commenters, and Tim Worstall, have noted).

I’ll bet you it’s about the smoking ban! The idea that these guys will care for civil liberties generally is a farce (given Alex Deane’s earlier posts).

What we have here is simply an org on the right saying that they need to set up a front that will offer their own take on civil liberties because the rest are too left-wing for them (which is rubbish anyway, none of the No2ID, Liberty etc lot identify with being on the left or right).

#18

Did you just come straight out and say you wished someone would write a feminist article so you could pick holes with its methodology and stats rather than its argument?

We support you in The US
http://www.townhallliberals.com

Oh surprise surprise, Tim Worstall denies any sexism in the city. In other words the Pope is Catholic etc.

>Why not just abolish speed limits if you’re going to get rid of speed cameras? (I don’t support doing either.)

One example is that a speed limit near me has just been lowered to 30mph, outside a built up area, just so a mobile camera can be put in. True, people shouldn’t speed, but that isn’t a good reason in itself for the camera, anymore than having soft drugs illegal is a good idea just to wage a war on users. Also as far as I know there are no other mobile speed cameras in use near me since this.

For me it’s not about opposing speed enforcement, but watching that it’s being used effectively and for the right reasons. This isn’t really a left/right issue in my view.

If it doesn’t seem like a left-right issue, why is it always the right who are going on about speed cameras?!

It just seems funny to me that the right are all for zealous law enforcement except when it’s laws that affect them.

Personally, I would like more mobile cameras and for PCSOs to be able to use handheld devices to record speed.

tim f,

Did you just come straight out and say you wished someone would write a feminist article so you could pick holes with its methodology and stats rather than its argument?

Is English your first language?

Sunny,

Oh surprise surprise, Tim Worstall denies any sexism in the city. In other words the Pope is Catholic etc.

I don’t recall him denying there is sexism (and I’m sure there is some sexism). What he argues is that a gender pay gap may well be due to women making different choices from men and that such reports don’t explore those choices.

Who would have guessed, for example, that people who choose to work more hours might just be paid more and promoted more? /sarcasm

That is not evidence of sexism in itself. But it is presented that way, and I don’t think that helps.

tim f @24:”Personally, I would like more mobile cameras and for PCSOs to be able to use handheld devices to record speed.”

As a liberal, I’d like to get rid of PCSOs full stop. The role that they ostensibly fill is that of a probationary officer, but they do not receive the full training. I don’t have a problem with security guards at public gardens or bus stations, but coppers need to be coppers. Trained in their duties and culpable for their mistakes.

As an illiberal, I’d take PCSOs over PCs any and every day.

Tim F, surely all powers are subject to poor use or abuse though. I don’t support getting rid of all terrorism laws for example, and perhaps would even agree with a statment like “terrorists should face more crackdowns”, but it would be absured to agree to it without making sure the powers are targetted at the right people. It’s hardly surprising people get upset when safe and previosuly lawful driving is redefined as speeding (via a ludicrous limit change) purely to create an artificial speeding problem.

>It just seems funny to me that the right are all for zealous law enforcement except when it’s laws that affect them.

I agree with this. Hitchens, Littlejohn etc. are unbelievably hyocritical and seem motivated largely by ill will to other groups. I hope I can be better than that.

Sunny: are you SURE the Pope is Catholic?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Paranormal Guru

    Liberal Conspiracy » ‘Big Brother Watch’ and Alex Deane: Liberal Conspiracy is the UK’s most popular lef.. http://bit.ly/45uugV

  2. Other TaxPayers Alli

    RT @libcon Liberal Conspiracy: TaxPayers’ Alliance launches civil liberties campaign http://bit.ly/O3ieq

  3. Paranormal Guru

    Liberal Conspiracy » ‘Big Brother Watch’ and Alex Deane: Liberal Conspiracy is the UK’s most popular lef.. http://bit.ly/45uugV





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.