1984: my final word

I THINK we’re all going to have to agree to disagree on this one, don’t you think?


Filed under Politics, Society

92 responses to “1984: my final word

  1. John

    Well worth the wait. I see you addressed all the salient points raised and showed us we have nothing to worry about.

  2. pr roger j clementine iii cbe

    Tam, wit dae ye make of yer mate Jim Murphy?

  3. Andy

    I logged on today genuinely hoping to see you rebut some of the very compelling arguments posted by commentators .. and you just cave .. you’re truly pathetic

  4. Guthrum

    Well if you cannot see that we have degenerated into a surveillance state, how the general public feel, and experts in the security services feel, we will have to.

    Under our present consitutional arrangements we cannot remove an unresponsive Parliament, equally we have no intention of letting the next lot get away with this either.

  5. Agree to disagree or “agreeing to disagree” is a phrase in English referring to the resolution of a conflict (usually a debate or quarrel) whereby all parties tolerate but do not accept the opposing position(s). It generally occurs when all sides recognise that further conflict is unnecessary, ineffective or otherwise undesirable. They may also remain on amicable terms while continuing to disagree.

    Usually the last refuge of a rogue

  6. R. A. Morris

    This reply is what I expected.

    “You think this is politics Tom”

    not any more.

  7. Gosh.. That was not what I would expect from one of our elected MP’s.

    People here have raised concerns, yet you, even now, refuse to address what real people, real voters, perceive as cause for genuine concern.
    You still do not believe that there is such upset, and anger in this Country?


    A poor show indeed.

    The only thing that has me retaining an even miniscule amount of respect for you, Sir, is the fact that you have allowed all this criticism, to remain visible in your blog.

  8. Jay

    I am very disappointed. Some of the posts were extremely comprehensive and incisive; all reflected time taken to express genuine fears. Your response, Tom, is akin to a slap in the face.

  9. Lame.

    The fact you are an MP should shame your constituency and this country.

    I am glad in the knowledge this will be fixed at the next opportunity.

  10. Andrew F

    You are pretty good at avoiding the arguments on this one. But then, most public figures on your side of the ‘debate’ are.

    I’m still waiting to hear what the point is of civil liberties – supposedly iremovable rights – if you’re just going to curtail them when it becomes convenient. The people governing us are not supposed to go over certain lines in the course of their daily activities.

  11. Ian Shephard

    Oh dear.

    Seems you just want it all to go away. What a waste of time and effort on all contributors parts.

    No one expected you to concede the argument or be ‘converted’; although in reality you completely failed to ‘compete’.

    It would’ve been good to get a sense that you carry out the wishes of; and represent the views of your constituents; yet you seem to feel you should use your own views to act as you see it in the interests of your consituents whether they like it or not….as if the letters MP mean that somehow you know best.

    That attitude represents everything that is wrong with modern politics.

    I will continue to hope that the other members show a little more respect for us.

  12. Um… Tell you what, let’s not, eh?


  13. Dave H.

    You were right to duck.

    Since you usually come across as a level-headed, reasonable chap I was very disappointed by the arrogant complacency of your original posting.

    The question isn’t whether we have more freedom than China, it’s whether that level of freedom is rising, being maintained, or falling. I can’t see how you can credibly claim for it to be anything but the latter. We face increasing state control, less democracy, more information-gathering, less freedom of speech. And 1984 was written precisely so that this should set alarm bells ringing.

    If your answer is “don’t worry: we’re nice and we’ve got it right this time” forget it. Don’t delude yourself about a magical ability to self-immunise against a slide into totalitarianism. You (we) haven’t. You (we) never will. How many more historical examples of a society designed with the best intentions becoming corrupted do you need?

    Yes of course, Britain is still a democracy of sorts, but in the most important sense of the word, the ability to choose our own lawmakers, British democracy is in steady decline, together with its’ freedom of speech. And these are cherished, nation-defining principles, achieved over many years and at great cost.

    If you can only sneer at people upset by the erosion of their fundamental rights, then shouldn’t we seriously wonder about your fitness to be an MP?

    But as you say, time for a final word. Like the Brand and Ross story, this thread has gone on enough for now.

  14. “If you can only sneer at people upset by the erosion of their fundamental rights, then shouldn’t we seriously wonder about your fitness to be an MP?”

    For the record, I hope you will acknowledge that whenever I’ve left a sarcastic or – in your words – sneering remark, it is always in response to someone who has failed to observe the common courtesies and who has made a silly and rude remark or who has been sneering or sarcastic first. I reserve the right to fight fire with fire. If commenters are polite and respectful, they can expect the same in return. Same goes if they are less than respectful and polite.

    I apply this rule with everyone – not just those who comment on this blog.

  15. Ha! That actually made me chuckle aloud. Yes, we must agree to disagree for the moment. And there will be many who will appreciate the licence you have allowed here. Not many MPs would put up with many of the more extreme comments, and that’s the truth.

    However, if Labour continues its fine record of U-turning and adopting the policies of the Right as its own, you may well find yourself contending the next GE with a freedom and liberty promise on your pledge card …. 😉

  16. “For the record, I hope you will acknowledge that whenever I’ve left a sarcastic or – in your words – sneering remark, it is always in response to someone who has failed to observe the common courtesies and who has made a silly and rude remark or who has been sneering or sarcastic first.”

    Really? Because I remember simply asking where your supporters were, given that all replies at that point in your blog yesterday, were made in opposition to your reaction.

    I was not snide, and certainly was respectful enough, to the point of addressing you as ‘Mr’.

    You were saying that the people commenting were merely a minority, suggesting that the majority were in favour of your view on the matter, yet there were no posts at that point to confirm that.

    Did I therefore deserve your sarcastic, and patronising response.
    “I expect they’re having a life, even as we speak” ?

    It’s all well and good at this stage for you to point out that you fought fire with fire, and to an extent, I do agree with you, that some of the responses in your blog were indeed disrespectful, and even threatening, but mine was neither, yet you felt sarcasm was the best response to my perfectly legitimate question.

  17. Johnny Norfolk

    One day Tom something will happen to you that will make you change your mind. Probably not whilst you are an MP as you have privileges that we do not.
    ie you will not be on government data basses. This fact alone should change your mind if you were a free thinking person.

  18. Jim Baxter

    If that’s all you were going to say Tom you should have said it yesterday. As it is, the suspicion will be that you have been got at in the meantime. Fairly or otherwise, that’s what a lot of people will think.

  19. Nicholas

    At least your response is consistent with New Labour’s general unwillingness to engage in proper debate about its repressive policies; as evidenced by their refusal to field a candidate against David Davis in a democratic election specifically concerned with the issue.

    That disengaging approach compounds the problem because it exposes the fact that your party is more about ideology, dogma and cant than democracy. Your party appears to believe that its Utopian goal justifies any means to achieve it. The hubris without the slightest humility or circumspection that seems to run through New Labour like a seaside motto through a stick of rock is part of the danger posed to democracy. Your own posts and responses perfectly, but unfortunately, demonstrate it.

    New Labour has used bogymen to reinforce its repressive measures. The bogymen are real but the threats have been hyped and in any case many of the measures, proposed and/or imposed are of questionable effectiveness in actually countering the threat. The consequences of the measures (deliberate or unforeseen) have had/will have a significant impact on civil liberties, the relationship between the public and the state and the way the police services operate. To deny this is either arrogant or ignorant – there is plenty of evidence and much of it has already been posted here. The measures do undermine the characteristic freedoms long enjoyed by the British people and I am one among many who does not believe the risks or benefits justify the sacrifice. That is the proper debate and it comes before accusations of creating a police state.

    You are probably correct that we have not yet reached the conditions for an actual police state in Britain, but New Labour have made a good start and set in place the building blocks necessary to that end. It is not a record you should be proud of but it is probably to be expected from a political party that has done so much to destroy or degrade the rich constitutional, cultural and historical heritage of this country in the name of “progress” and “change”, the twin impostors of socialism. Not forgetting the effect that “Political Correctness”, a wholly socialist creation, has had on stifling honest debate.

    The one positive is that you have published most of the comments opposing your party’s policies and have not yet resorted to the censorship or manipulation so typical of New Labour.

    And, by the way, I am not a member of the Libertarian or any other political party. Prior to 1997 I was pretty much politically neutral. Nowadays, after 11 years of living in a country governed by your party, my political beliefs might best be described as determinedly anti-New Labour.

  20. Adrian P

    We will have to agree to disagree, therfore means in Orwellian speak that we have nothing to worry about.

    Glad that’s cleared up then, I was worried for the Liberty and freedom of my children.

  21. Billy Wallace

    There are alot of people who do not like what this government is doing to our country.

  22. swindon_alan

    0 out of 10.

    To be expelled.

  23. Dave H.

    Having also written ‘final word’ I’ll now ‘do an Archer’ and try to answer, for the record. This sounds like an insult but isn’t meant as one: I haven’t read your blog often enough to know how you ‘always’ handle commenters. However you seem, as I wrote, a reasonable man and as such I doubt very much that you are deliberately rude without provocation.

    My comment was intended to give measured offence considering your original post. You used words like “paranoid”, “fantasy” and casually dismissed the ‘anonymous benefactor’ and anyone who agreed with them (casually to an extent this paranoid fantasist found slightly irritating). Sending the book was a crude gesture but I think the reaction to your post showed quite a few people disagreed with the way you handled it. You just, as the Devil’s Kitchen puts it, don’t get it.

    Incidentally, we are some way from totalitarianism if you can be rude to an MP and the worst that befalls you is a rude reply. Perhaps we should test democracy more formally and write expletives rather than crosses on the ballot paper. In time, Britain could become the most democratically impolite nation in the world.

  24. True Percula

    “I THINK we’re all going to have to agree to disagree on this one, don’t you think?”

    Truly pathetic.

    An MP incapable of listening to serious questions and giving reasoned answers.

    Please resign from parliament immediately, encourage all others of your quality to do the same.

    How can you have the cheek to take payment as a representative of the public to parliament?

    Once again, truly pathetic

  25. mitch

    You claim to represent our views yet it would seem you have no idea what they are or make any effort to find out.There is a genuine fear out here of what your government is doing and making possible for the future. Just remember this you will not be an MP forever and on that day you will be the governed and subject to all this “legislation” your so fond of.

  26. teganjovanka

    Pathetic. And no we won’t agree to disagree – you’re wrong and we’re right. We’re just fed up with the lot of you and one things for sure, we won’t be putting up with much more of it.

  27. Nick

    A final thought.

    “The best way to take control over a people and control them
    utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which
    these changes cannot be reversed”

    These words by one of the greatest Tyrants of all time, seems to be the handbook in use today.

  28. soapy

    I THINK we’re all going to have to agree to disagree on this one, don’t you think?

    Pardon my ignorance Tom but is this your reasoned response you promised?

    The answer to your question is no, there are a lot of people commenting who are genuinely afraid of what their representatives are doing, and yet you have done nothing to ease their fears, why not?

  29. Madasafish

    As the current Government passes legislation against terrorism and then uses it for lots of pruposes unconnected with terrorism, uou don’t have an argument Tom.

    Forget words. Actions matter.

    And on its own actions the Government is condemned: 100%…

  30. Chuck Unsworth

    A truly awful response. Still, many have come to expect such quality of debate and thought from our Masters.

    Roll on the General Election.

  31. Matle

    I am twenty and will be voting for the first time at the next election. I will not be voting for the Labour party as they like to steal away the property that I earn and give it to people who did not earn it. I find this immoral.

    I have a small business that I have managed to grow and I have my time wasted constantly by bureaucrats asking to see certificates or licences and wanting to inspect things. I did not make my business successful by filling in lots of forms.

    I was stopped by the police last week and breathalysed. I was driving flawlessly so it was obviously just a random stop without suspicion. They probably swabbed the spittle off the tube to put me on their databases.

    On the rest of my journey I was amazed at how many cameras there are on the roads. I do not know what possible function there could be for all this apparatus. I fear it is only a matter of time before the government starts mapping all my journeys in real time.

    I think that government policies always guide people into short term thinking. I am talking mainly about things like welfare, inflating the money supply to encourage consumption and discourage saving for the future. It is barbarous.

  32. You have entirely failed to defend your insolent posts and your baseless belief that the UK is not sliding into totalitarianism.

    From this I can only assume that your fingers are in your ears and you’re shouting “la-la-la-la” at the top of your voice.

    I expect nothing better from the shameless authoritarians that would rule us, rather than serve us.

    Your chest can swell with pride, Tom. You represent the very acme of the British political class: arrogant, complacent, patronising and condescending. You have done them proud in this “debate”.

    If the time should ever come that you are forced to wonder where it all went wrong, just think of all these paranoid know-nothings that you so casually dismissed today.

  33. C Jones

    Well Mr Harris, it would appear you cannot defend your position. I would claim that as a victory for those of us who have genuine feelings of fear for the future of this country. I no longer expect our elected representatives to truly represent us. The best I can do is vote out the present incumbent at the next election, then do the same thing again in a few years time. That is, if elections haven’t been banned by then. The real truth is that our parliamentarians are surplus to requirements. With most of our laws made in the EU, there is really very little for you people to do. Maybe that is why none of you really care anymore.

    The best I can say is, thank you for allowing me to express my opinions on your blog. I wish I were able to engage with my own MP in the same way.

  34. Ruth

    Mr Harris, it seems to me that you’re pulling the plug because your blog on Orwell did NOT get the response you wanted.
    You talk about anti-Labour feeling not yet having reached Glasgow South. Perhaps not, however, it has reached Glasgow East hasn’t it? Hopefully, later this week it will reach Glenrothes – where next? Another commenter spoke of you realising that ‘the game was up’ & knowing that after the next General Election you would be out of a job, therefore you didn’t really care if you upset the current voters. However, in that case you’ll have to obey the laws & procedures you & your Party have instigated, your family ( either children or grandchildren) will have to go on the childrens’ database & you’ll all go onto the NHS database. No more VIP airport lounges – join the long, long queue with us proles at least 2 hours before takeoff, have your water bottle confiscated, take your jacket & shoes off & walk across a filthy floor in your socks or your bare feet. Be thoroughly frisked – or worse. An attractive prospect? No, I didn’t think so but that’s what you have forced on the rest of us. I last voted Labour in 1997 – I won’t make that same mistake again.

  35. Ruth – where on earth did you get the idea that MPs aren’t subject to exactly the same queues and the same security procedures as anyone else?

  36. George

    This government does not have preservation of our freedoms in mind.


    Voted strongly against a transparent Parliament.

    Voted a mixture of for and against introducing a smoking ban.

    Voted strongly for introducing ID cards.

    Voted moderately for introducing foundation hospitals.

    Voted strongly for introducing student top-up fees.

    Voted very strongly for Labour’s anti-terrorism laws.

    Voted very strongly for the Iraq war.

    Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war.

    Voted very strongly for replacing Trident.

    Voted very strongly for the hunting ban.

    Voted very strongly for equal gay rights.

    Please, justify the above.

  37. Nick

    Mr Harris,

    You miss the whole thread running through the replies to your original post. The average person knows, that slowly but surely their liberties are being taken away. The average person is now beginning to wake up to the truth that we have sleepwalked into a totalitarian state.

    Tom, We don’t like it.

  38. Keith

    Tom Harris
    November 2, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Ruth – where on earth did you get the idea that MPs aren’t subject to exactly the same queues and the same security procedures as anyone else?

    Are you joking?
    I used to be protection duty with an MP and I know exactly what goes on. You might fool some of these commenters but you don’t fool me.

    As to your comments, well, it’s nice to know I wasted my time here and 30 years in London’s finest protecting people like you.

  39. Alan Douglas

    Mr Harris,

    You are elected to represent the views of the electorate.

    You have copied Bliar and Brown in pretending to offer discussion and interchange with matters that concern the electorate.

    You have by you final “considered” response, betrayed us.

    Thank you for so clearly demonstrating the complete bankruptcy of Labour.

    You, singular and plural, are a disgrace.

    Spring 2010 cannot come soon enough.

    Alan Douglas

  40. Martin Cullip

    Very disappointing Tom.

    I can understand that you, as a modern politician, are never admit that you have got something badly wrong, and ‘agree to disagree’ is sort-of to be expected.

    However, I’d have thought that there would at least be some part of a response aimed at calming people’s frustrations by stating, or even hinting, that the matter will be discussed somewhere within the PLP, and that some excesses may be looked at.

    Whilst I understand your dislike of those that you consider to have implied threats, surely a response that effectively dismisses a vast number of people expressing genuine fears, is a perfect example of why so many are so very angry in the first place, and perfectly illustrates why people are posting in that way at all!

    All your response seems to prove is that Labour will NEVER listen, no matter the frustrations and genuine desperation of those that you yourself termed, your ’employers’.

    By that reasoning, I reckon you have proved that your book donor was acting quite sensibly in sending you a copy and asking you to read it again.

  41. Nick

    Where is your support? Surely someone should agree with you? Maybe the other 645 are frantically reading the book and trying to understand what they have unleashed on the populace. No, they know full well what they have inflicted on the populace.

    One thing about the downturn, (Nulabour term), Piano wire is cheap.

    The worm will turn, and with a vengence. The public not only distrusts politicians, but are now considering them to be their enemy. Central and local.

    Please reply in full to the original question. A one liner is stupid.

  42. Jim

    “Voted strongly for equal gay rights”
    Err .. how exactly is legislating for equal gay rights an example of the government depriving people of their freedom?

    I think your mask just slipped.

  43. You don’t really think we are going to let this lie do you? I most certainly do not agree to disagree.

    1 totally, humiliatingly owned ( and his local press AND Jacqui Smith informed), 645 to go.

    Roll on Wednesday 5th November.

  44. defender

    “I THINK we’re all going to have to agree to disagree on this one, don’t you think?”

    Nothing to see here folks, move on now, nothing to concern yourselves with.
    Great, your answer has only made me more convinced that you care not a jot. Not your fault really, you got voted into your position. Our fault again.
    We are going to be a lot more careful about who we vote for from now on.
    Thanks for having the balls to at least put your head above the parapet, hopefully you realise that we are getting very very angry and it is real.

  45. MrsJJS

    The people voicing their fears on your blog are only in the minority in so much as they are taking their time and putting forth an effort to voice those fears to someone they believe can change things. I am not one of those people, as I do not believe you have the power to change anything, as that would require you to go against the beliefs of the party you are affiliated with, which in the long run would jeopardise your bank account.

    If you were truly in touch with your constituent’s views, you would know that most people do believe that the government is trampling our right to privacy and interfering too much in how we live our lives.

    But don’t take my word for it, I challenge you to spend a day walking around the area that you represent and stop people in the street and just ask them one question. “Do you believe that the government is trampling your right to privacy and interfering too much in how you live our life?”

    Due to my occupation I am well versed in RIPA and I agree we do have the right to hunt down paedophiles, benefit fraudsters and other such criminals, as I’m sure the posters on your blog do. However I do not believe that RIPA should be employed by local councils to catch fly tippers or to find out if someone is sending their child to school in the wrong catchment area. What people want is the route causes of these infractions to be addressed. There’s a reason why typically law-abiding citizens are pushed to break the rules. Councils have a tendency to be reactive and not proactive, they are keen on apprehending these offenders yet are willing to do nothing to fix the problems that cause them.

    The vast majority of the people living in this country are law-abiding citizens. We are not paranoid, it’s just as adults we, are fed up with being told how to live our lives. If we are intelligent enough to get a job and pay our taxes we are intelligent enough to live our lives as WE see fit.

  46. rech

    Good idea Tom. Who are those idiots out there anyway who dare to disturb your equanimity? Oh, they voted you in…they are citizens of this country, of equal status to you..hmmm….

  47. George

    Tom, just for the record, lobbyists, extremists, single issue fanatics, think tanks, consultants, big business, mega rich individuals, “stakeholders” and the like do not represent me. I did not award them my proxy, they do not speak for me or dare I say the vast majority of the population. Gordon Brown famously stated recently that he /you will “start to listen” to the voice of the people. The very fact that he felt compelled to say this is rather worrying, just who are listening to?

  48. In that case

    See you at the ballot box Tom.

  49. Stewart Knight

    Yes Tom, they will all agree to disagree with you, but they just don’t get it do they?

    They assume you vote and justify your views on the basis that you serve the people of your constituency first, and the people and electorate of the UK second, and this just is not the case.

    As you have shown a few times here, you serve the Labour party first, the Labour party second, the Labour party third, and maybe, if the issue fits in with Labour party policy, the people of the UK who pay your wages a very poor last.

    When all these silly commenter’s realise this they will stop being silly and agree to disagree with you as they will then know that they are wasting their time.

  50. Pingback: Tom Harris MP « UK Liberty

  51. What next

    So, given that you have totally ignored the charge that Brown is a compulsive, serial liar, one can only assume you too know it to be the truth.

    Today’s lie exposed – that the UK is well-placed to deal with recession


    Alas, poor Tom – I guess one of the big boys and girls took you to one side and told you to be quiet eh?

    Democracy in action. Doncha just love it.


  52. What? Is that it? Is that the best you can come up with? Shame on you Tom, shame. You lose the argument so you take your ball away. Shame.

  53. Richard T

    I apreciate you may wish an end to this but I suggest you read the blog on http://www.mattwardman.com/blog on how 2 police officers stopped a couple at St Pancras to appreciate the concerns felt at the cumulative effects of the panic anti terrorism legislation. The empowerment of the police and officialdom (including private security guards) to be officious and oppressive is all part of this as an offence to liberty; Austin Mitchell has written about the attempts by officials to pevent photographs being taken and this falls precisely in this category. As an MP and heid yin you’ll be immune from this and I suppose you can take the line you do. I had thought better of your openness to reason.

  54. Beness

    Looks like you have no answers,evasions or political doubletalk to add. well and truly beaten I’d say.

  55. George

    “Voted strongly for equal gay rights”
    Err .. how exactly is legislating for equal gay rights an example of the government depriving people of their freedom?

    I think your mask just slipped.”

    Why does the government need to legilsate for equal ‘gay’ rights? Aren’t all humans equal?

    How about spending money legislating for ‘the wearing of funny hat rights’ ?

  56. I think you have missed the point here Tom.

    In terms of the civil liberties that have been trashed in the name of the fight against terrorism and crime, this is a political issue, but not a party issue. After all, it is not just Labour MP’s that have allowed the passing of this legislation onto the statute books. That notwithstanding, much of this legislation was dreamed up by your party. But you are wrong, as a previous commentor has stated, to label people as Libertarians.

    What is a party issue however, is the fact that New Labour has been so focused on the so-called “disadvantaged”, that they have ignored the very people that have allowed New Labour to fund its initiatives. Governments rule by consent and history is littered with examples of governments that have fallen because they forgot this rule.

    I am not a political expert, just a normal person that is sick and tired of politicians talking at us, or down to us. Referring to us as “people” in a term that implies we are different to them (MP’s). You have chosen to walk away from this argument, and in a way, I can’t blame you. One man cannot fight the good fight on his own, perhaps you will now know how the rest of the forgotten electorate is feeling? Our electoral system is such that even if the majority of people don’t want a particular party, they can still get in with a minority vote. Please don’t kid yourself that New Labour has majority support.

    Our civil liberties are only one constituent part of the issues your party is facing, albeit of far more significance than your party credits it. But, when times are good, you can take more and more of our money and we may let it pass. When times are bad, we look at your “achievements” with more objectivity, that is where New Labour is becoming unstuck. Because, even your traditional, hardcore supporters are wondering what it is that you have achieved over these past 11 years.

    When I look at what we have lost over the past 11 years, it saddens me and then it angers me. I am sure many that have commented on your original post will agree with those sentiments. As a country and as citizens we have lost our identity, as a people we have allowed the state more and more control over our lives, from snooping on dustbins, through to spying on children to see if they are at a school within the right catchment area. Now the state wants more, to spy on our calls and internet habits. It is quite simply too much, you may have got away with it during your heyday, when everyone believed your promises, but those days are long gone, now your party will have to accept that it can no longer take the goodwill and trust of the electorate for granted.

    New labour reminds me of the 50 year old guy that thinks if he learns some new ‘hip’ words, dresses casual and buys a bottle of Grecian, he will not be seen for what he is. A old man trying to be something that he is not and the sad part, is everyone else knows, but not the old man!

  57. Time to draw a line … move on … blah de blah …

    A yes or no answer please.

    Are these encroachments on our civil liberties solely because of radical Muslims ?

  58. CyprusGrump

    “I will post my final comments on this tomorrow (Sunday) at 12 noon.”

    Another broken promise from labour…

    Totally, utterly pathetic response… as expected.

  59. Nicholas

    UK Voter. Good post. Resist!

  60. Martin Cullip

    No wonder you don’t like the idea of a book being sent to you Tom, you voted FOR the restrictions on free assembly!


    Seriously. What is the point of a free country if one is not allowed to protest unless one is approved by the state?

    It gets worse the more I am educated about it. Democracy my backside. Was this in any Labour manifesto ever?

    You stated that the majority don’t care about civil liberties, well, the majority don’t see this sort of stuff. Your party make sure it is kept well hidden like the anti-smoking ‘consultations’.

    I can see why you got a bit tetchy about being sent ‘1984’ now. It must be like being caught with your fingers in the till.

  61. Martin – I wasn’t remotely tetchy about receiving the book. In fact it’s a rather nice copy and my old copies are looking a tad dated.

  62. “Agree to disagree”

    Did you write those words on your white flag first? Not much of an effort to make a cogent argument for your party’s actions to reduce the freedoms of the people. Disappointed, but not surprised.

    You have been pwnd. Well done DK, OH and all those 1984’ers out there.

  63. I feel it incumbent upon me to remind people that, at the last election, Labour were returned as the majority party in Parliament with less than 22% of the vote.

    Don’cha just lurve democracy?


  64. Paul Weston

    I see Mr Harris has the penultimate comment as of 01:35 4th November.

    I also see that despite the outpouring of anger, frustration, and genuine fear for our country, Mr Harris is content to leave those questions aside whilst he makes some asinine comment about a book.

    Why don’t you just exhort us to eat cake Mr Harris?

    Can you really not see the writing on the wall – perhaps not this year, but certainly within the next decade – when the Marie Antoinettes thought cake rather beneath them, but got their just desserts none-the-less?

  65. Mr Papps

    ‘Terrorism’ – the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear.

    Can you recognise your party’s policies in the above definition? This treasonous government have been relentlessly hyping a nebulous threat to make the citizens of this country change their legal system and their way of life. Your Party has been deliberately trying to frighten – to terrorize – the population in order to make them conform to your ideals. You will be held accountable for your treason Tom. For your treason and for your crimes against humanity (1 million Iraqi dead). Your reign of terror is coming to an end. And England will once again be a free and tolerant nation.

  66. Tacitus

    Must be time for a ….. BIG CONVERSATION!

    Or how about … a .. CITIZENS JURY

    Democracy in action. Not.

  67. C Jones

    Amen to that Mr Papps. The only thing that keeps me going is the surety we will one day be free of this controlling, meddling government. Then the rebuilding can begin.

  68. SolongAndGoodBye

    Very much looking forward to voting Labour out of office. I grew up under that witch Thatcher, I cheered when TB gained power, but I’d rather have that bunch of evil corrupt Tory barstewards back than allow your lot to keep eroding any chance my children have of living free lives.
    Schools and hospitals can be fixed by future governments if the Torys screw them up – but our hard won freedoms from oppression cannot so easily be regained.

  69. Many are concerned that the reduction in our civil liberties, using terrorism as an excuse, is a serious problem and it’s one that you refuse to acknowledge. I am rather dismayed at the shockingly naive comments you have made about terrorism. Specifically, you wrote “I believe that the aim of the terrorists is not to bring about a reduction in our civil liberties, but rather to kill as many people as possible – the more the better.”

    That’s what you think the motive of the Islamic terrorists is? While their are many groups of Islamic terrorists and they frequently have differing goals (e.g., whether or not they support the Caliphate), their central goals are fairly clear cut. They want the Western powers to stop meddling in the Middle East. They want a resolution to the Palestinian/Israeli situation and they particularly want foreign troops out of their holy land in Saudi Arabia. They are not killing people because they want to kill people. They, like most terrorists, are employing terror as a tactic to further their long-term political goals.

    We must try to understand the root causes of terrorism and address them. Looking at the longest-lived and strongest terrorist movements in the world (IRA, Sendero Luminoso, Al Qaeda, etc.) and you see a common factor: they tend to have strong support of their local populace. Our best chance for dealing with terrorism is to find a way to undermine that local support in the Middle East, not bringing the war home and attacking our own people.

    Remember, it was appealing to “hearts and minds” in Ireland which led to a situation which, while not perfect, is at least considerably less lethal. Curbing civil liberties and trying to use a military solution to crush the IRA did nothing to improve the situation. Have we completely forgotten this lesson?

  70. William Nicholson

    I’m really enjoying this. I will become rapidly depressed once the exhilaration of seeing the vast majority backing the New Labour wagon in this blog has died down, and the tiny minority of 78.6% are quietened once and for all. What kind of democratic corner do you call this, when the ‘in power’ party is just going to have to ‘agree to disagree’? None of these people (maybe there are a few, but I haven’t had time to read through all of this rebellion) are agreeing to disagree. What are you going to do?

    I’m going to prepare for a little early lunch and a stroll down Whitehall.

  71. You should read it. It shows just how hopeless these so-called “security” measures will be in the long run. Human ingenuity loves a challenge and the oppressed *will* always fight back.

    Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
    ISBN: 0765319853

  72. Bob Sherunkle

    Perhaps you thought you could restore “new” labour’s vision by putting in more cameras?

    Welcome to failsville, population – you!

  73. Gareth Jones

    Tom, if this post is your last word on the matter why are you still involved in the discussion?

    Feel free to say no more on the subject, that is your perogative. Don’t think for a moment that your exit from the discussion means everybody else must also remain silent. That does seem, however, to be your party’s favourite method of debate. It seems once more that one of your colleagues, Blears this time, has gone on record as saying that political debate should be left only to elected members.

  74. Anne Droyd

    Whether Shawcross said “We are the masters now” or “We are the masters at the moment” is neither here nor there – the fact is that YOU, Mr Harris, failed to recognise the reference and also failed to see the relevance of Orwell’s classic. You thereby showed your self to be not only a self-important bully but an ignorant and unread bully.

    Orwell also wrote: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” You need a sharp reminder (perhaps by Taser) WE, not you, are the more equal.

    Aux armes, citoyens!

  75. Oh, “Anne Droyd” – Android. I just got that!

  76. Emmanuel Goldstein

    Who would vote for this joker?
    He’s more Tory than Thatcher! We are your masters, you represent OUR views, you work for us as our representative, if we have a view you must take that view on.

  77. Never Answer the Question

    I’ve taken a bit of time to read through the 3 sets of comments to the 3 blog entries.

    The majority of the time Tom’s simply answered those bloggers who are offensive/rude/incoherent (with anger?). Is there an answer given to those people who feel deeply that Labour’s chiselling away at our civil liberties. No. The cogently argued, detailed, intelligent replies are ignored. Trolls are fed.

    Tom, I’ve voted Labour all my short voting life, I won’t be at the next election. I’m not on the wild fringes of Libertarianism, I’ve just had enough of a government that doesn’t listen.

    I’d offer you congratulations on having such an open blog, but it appears to have no purpose. In this debate, you won’t give ground, won’t admit you could be wrong and won’t answer the question!

    Oh the Question. Let’s try rather a long list of Laws detailed by “Jim Callaghan” in comment 5812 Nov 2nd @ 11.45 and explain to me how the totality of what has been done and is proposed is not a fundamental assault on my freedom as a citizen.

    No ad-homs about Jim please, just something substantive about the list.

  78. Sadie

    With all due respect, thats a BIG cop-out, isn’t it?

    The trouble is, your own personal feelings OR the attitude & approach of the current (soon to be former) government has nothing whatsoever to do with that of any future governments.

    Telling us we have nothing to worry about just won’t cut it I’m afraid.

    Whilst “new” labour have been in power an electronic survailence network larger than any other has been constructed throughout the UK. I remain in awe of Orwells’ ability to predict the path of technology, which was unthinkable at the time (1984 was first published in 1949, having been written in 1948, hence the digits of the title), even before you address any of the political issues the book raises, this foresight is startling (the book was taken as political rather than sci-fi at the time of course).


    Any future government could use the laws & technology your government has installed for oppression of the proles… It’s that simple.

    Because you got your copy of the book early this debate (for want of a better word) is ahead of the game of course. You have been unable to understand why anyone might be worried about the loss of our civil liberties (despite the large quantity of well reasoned arguments against your insulting flippant attitude), or engage in the debate in an intelligent way. I would have expected more from an MP frankly.

    I haven’t heard a reaction from any other MP yet. I hope, having read your feedback, they’re all cowering under their bedclothes with their own copy (you are not alone) trying to work out where it all went wrong & what line they could possibly take to save face in the debate which is bound to follow.

    Several of my friends have already left the UK because of the state of the nation. I feel it’s not unlike the Jews leaving Germany during the 1930’s, forseeing the future that might await them if they stayed & thinking it wasn’t worth the risk of staying. I will be leaving my homeland too, if things don’t start changing pretty soon.

    I am proud to say that it was I who sent the one to my MP. I just hope he gets the message which has so clearly gone over your head.

    Please Tom,




  79. adam

    I am not a Libertarian. I’m a Labour voter. Or I was – Iraq killed that.

    The problem here is that, unfortunately, there is no answer that Tom can give. Effectively shouting “shut up” at everyone was the last defensive point left. There was no more spin, there were no more points left, it was all gone.

    Our loss of civil liberties is going to be done, because the government wants it. And the people can go hang.

    The reality is that we, as citizens of Britains, increasingly feel that a remote, expensive, and often incompetent government is encroaching on our lives.

    It used to be that a decent law-abiding person could live their entire existence without being particularly aware of the police. Now police, or untrained “police-lite” organisations, wander aimlessly around looking for something to justify their pretty decent salaries (and their pension scheme, especially the completely over the top pension schemes). The result is that they cause a lot of trouble for people, usually under ill-thought out legislation. Actually dealing with crime is a lot of hassle, so its easier to go after people that argue a lot less and don’t run away.

    The current view of the government is that a more controlled population will be somehow better. Better for who remains undefined. As Tom himself says, we’re not his masters… merely his employers. I know a bit about the history of political violence and such thinking is the basis of most African coups. If a better offer comes along, which just happens to put him personally above us, well then he’ll be after it like a dog after a rabbit (which is probably also illegal). After all, he owes us no more duty than a McDonalds employee owes Ronald McDonald.

    Actually the funniest bit was when poor old Tom was bleating that total surveillance would stop people shagging kids. Most of that occurs in the home, in the family, so where precisely is the camera going to be? Oh, hang on… That’d be exactly the point that 1984 was making.

    Now if only Tom had both read and understood 1984. Its a warning, not a template.

  80. We Are All Doomed!

    An excellent, considered response by Mr Harris. We clearly have nothing to worry about.

  81. V

    Masters we are, employee you are, get over it or go and work for a private company. Remember, remember…

  82. Mustafa

    Dear Mr Harris,

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for maintaining and updating what is probably the most enlightening political blog on the web.

    You see, for a long time now i have been trying to convince everyone around me that politicians only pretend to listen to our concerns once every four years. That the vast majority of them only strive to get elected because it serves their personal interests and fattens their wallets. I have been telling them about how people like you, Mr Harris, are conceited to the point of forgetting who put them where they are, or even the very meaning of the word democracy.

    I have been gathering evidence to support my argument, but i never hoped to find a signed confession. And so i thank you again, Mr Harris, because you have dared show your true colours, as well as the contempt in which you hold your electorate.

    And in doing so you are bringing your country one tiny step closer to the time when the people finally rise up and burn the rotten system your are getting rich by upholding down to the ground

  83. Jay

    Mustafa, you do Tom Harris an injustice in thinking the he, alone, has provided evidence of the contempt in which politicians hold the electorate. You must have missed Paul Flynn’s blog on which he posted about smokers. The posters who responded were subjected to derision, insults and partial amendment of their posts by Mr Flynn. He ended by inviting the two posters who agreed with his viewpoint to tea at Westminster. (Coincidentally, I think that only two posters over the three threads on ‘1984’ have supported Tom Harris’ stance) Kerry McCarthy, too, blogged about smokers and, although she remained courteous, she concluded that the posters didn’t reflect the general mood of smokers in the UK (rather as Tom Harris believes that those posting here are a few fanatics).

    I used to believe that governments were benign and respected the electorate, however, as part of its ‘White’ series, the BBC broadcast a programme about Enoch Powell’s famous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech during which an MP admitted that after that speech both Tories and Labour tacitly agreed not to speak of the issue of immigration “in front of the children” ie US.

    No government has, however, I think, been as blatant in its contempt as this one with its broken manifesto promises (eg the Lisbon Treaty referendum, partial public smoking ban) and its spin and deceit. I now think that it’s got to the stage where it believes it doesn’t have to justify its actions which have become increasingly authoritarian.

  84. BlastaBling

    You just lost another Labour voter. The sooner someone can come in and reverse the damage your Party has done to this country the better. I’d leave the country now and get out forever, if it wasn’t for the fact I need to renew my Passport – and the Passport Office would probably take my data and insert me into your for-all-time ID Card Database travesty on the way out, just for good measure.

  85. john turnbull

    “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever”

    O’Brien could say this because it didn’t matter, nothing that Winston said or did could change things, there was no reason for deception. Tom Harris is in much the same position, I think those comments which praise his willingness to be so open miss the point – he can be that way because it doesn’t matter. What does he get from it? Something to chuckle over with his friends in the bar after a hard day’s work turning the screw a little more.

    I doubt if he’s actually evil but as part of the nomenklatura he knows he’s the boot, not the face and he’s letting us know it too.

    It’s a shame though, when he started out he probably felt quite proud of following the Maxtons – they must be spinning in their graves.

  86. I used to think the Americans were mad – havin a general election, every 4 years, on the same day, each time…

    Not any more.

    Glad to see no one is falling for Mr Harris’ would-be-Jedi mind tricks: “Move along now… These aren’t the politicians you’re looking for…”

  87. nobbo

    Tom I am amazed by the arrogant and weak response you have shown here. You obviously think we are stupid. Why should we vote for you again?

  88. Livid

    I have read the three threads concerned and I am livid.

    Harris, you Sir, are a Grade A

  89. Justify This!

    Of course we’re not living in 1984, after all, the Police wouldn’t move you on from a pub if you were having a peaceful drink, then threaten you with arrest if you didn’t go, would they?


    Who passed the relevant legislation again?

    Nope, we’re all wackos who can’t see that the state’s just looking after us.

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