Didn’t you just love the fine and stirring sight of an elderly man being roughly manhandled out of the Labour Party conference today for daring to attempt to raise an objection to Blair’s policy on Iraq? Truly our leaders and their party worship at the twin temples of Democracy and Freedom of Speech…

Even better the police used the hastily rushed through anti-terror laws to keep the 82 year old Walter Wolfgang from re-entering the conference, despite the fact he is rather obviously not a terrorist (although we know the police have great difficulty in telling who is a real terrorist – perhaps he is lucky they didn’t just shoot him) and has been a Labour Party member for several decades.

Labour have now apologised for the heavy handed removal but I’m moved to wonder if they would have made such an apology if it wasn’t for the fact that cameras caught their flunkies bodily handling an octogenerian party member from the auditorium and shown it on national television. Pretty embarassing stuff, but hardly unexpected to see that Blair’s party cannot even listen to criticism on the war (they earlier blocked on MP’s attempts to have a debate on the war – Tony showing again that he really values the opinion of the British citizens). To rub salt in the wound they also threw out another party member who dared to object to the treatment of this elderly man.

Blair ignored huge amounts of MPs and millions of those who marched against the war and now his conference flunkies stymie debate on it and bodily manhandle elderly delegates out for trying to speak. What next, Tony? Next time maybe you’ll just have the offending person arrested and held for weeks without trial? Maybe we can build a camp on one of the deserted islands of the West Coast of Scotland and hold a whole bunch of micscreants there who are a threat to security? Nah, surely not – no civilised nation would hold people without trial or lock them up without charge on an isolated island… Oh…

And as an interesting addendum to this travesty, Newsnight observed that it took five hours for Labour to apologise for Mr Wolfgang’s rough treatment but they still haven’t apologised to Steve Forrest, a local party chairman who had merely remonstrated with the overly steroidal-looking thugs for their ridiculous treatment of an old man. And watching the footage I’m also wondering – couldn’t Mr Wolfgang sue the stewards for assault? They have no right to physically handle him in that way; hell staff in stores are told not to touch shoplifters if possible because it could be taken as assault. I’d love to see him take Labour to court for assault and for denying his rights to the freedom of speech and expression. Democracy in action. What a fine example to set to the youth of Britain – if someone is bothering you get some large apes to physically deal with them on your behalf. This from the government who is committed to stamping out ‘yobbish’ behaviour…

Choice Point

If I may take a leaf from Matthew’s web-book and point you in the direction of an excellent story in today’s Guardian. Choice Point, the information company behind the disenfranchising – accidentally of course – of thousands of US citizens during the 2000 presidential elections in Florida are back in the news.

Choice Point have been paid millions of the American taxpayer’s dollars by the Bush government (who they helped into power) to gather data on the citizens of other nations. No, we’re not talking about criminals, drug lords or terrorists here – they want info on every person in these countries, most of which are friendly nations. They have allegedly secured the entire electoral register of Mexico – a grossly illegal and immoral act – and are gathering data on the date of birth, employment, education, marital status, bank and passport details etc. of all adult citizens in countries like Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentina and others. We have to assume Western Europe is on that list too. Quite why Uncle Sam requires this information on every citizen of neighbouring lands is not clear. Perhaps as with the spying on their own citizens – authorised by the so-called Patriot Act – it is to protect us from the Bad Men. Intercepting their own citizen’s emails and scanning their bank accounts while checking credit card details of tourist coming into the city and compiling dossiers on people all around the world – who are they protecting us from?

And who is going to protect us from them? If knowledge is indeed power our leaders – the British government is eyeing these moves up and planning an amended snooper’s charter that Blunkett tried to get through parliament last year – then our leaders are determined to get as much power over us as they can. Big Brother is alive and well long after 1984, complete with sinisterly-named Orwellian ministries, such as the Ministry of Homeland Security – eroding your rights to protect you. Spying on your citizens and allies, illegal obtaining of confidential data by suspect organisations, suspension of your democratic rights – who exactly is the bad guy now? Andy why do the American citizens stand for these repeated violations of all that is sacred to the American spirit? Keep reading and making your voice heard, people, we need to let these smeggers know we have teeth and that we’re watching them. We’re plugged into the planet, we’re smart and we have got power too – and nobody is going to take it from us without a fight, least of all our own ‘elected’ representatives.