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Warrantless mass surveillance? Bring it on! I’m all the way with Theresa May…

Theresa may police conference

 By Simon Davies

My colleagues in the privacy realm should think twice before attacking the fledgling British Prime Minister, Theresa May, over her plan to introduce sweeping new surveillance laws. I personally think she’s a very courageous woman and deserves some kudos. And she has nice hair.

I mean, no sooner were the Tory Party’s former coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, out of the picture (well, more accurately, out of existence) after the last general election, there she was, bravely championing one of the most discredited and unpopular ideas of recent years. That takes guts – and don’t we always complain that politics has lost its courage?

Theresa May: secretly working for honesty and accountability of government

Theresa May: secretly working for honesty and accountability of government

Now, I do agree that Theresa May has come to resemble former UK Home Secretary David Blunkett without the charisma, but we shouldn’t let personality get in the way of reasoned argument. Let’s look at the facts.

To some, this surveillance law is a betrayal of the Tory party’s previous commitment to “freedom”, but this irony didn’t stop Theresa. Oh no! She isn’t going to let arcane ideas like ‘integrity’ stand in the way of a good old-fashioned authoritarian beating. In any event, the need for these new powers is obvious – proven by the scrupulously evidence-based justification offered  by the security services.

Both May and former PM David Cameron have been quite up front that they intend to give the police and security services whatever powers they need to do their job, which is the kind of statement East German leader Erich Honecker used to come up with, but let’s not get too paranoid. Tin foil hats and all that.

The world is filled with criminals, so this surveillance law is a wonderful idea. After all, with such powers wouldn’t it have been so much easier to nail Maria Miller, the Tory Culture Secretary, who was forced to resign following an investigation into her past expenses claims? Or how about Tory bone cruncher Andrew Mitchell, who had to flee his post as Chief Whip following allegations made about his  “plebgate” conduct during an altercation with police at Downing Street?

While we’re at it, what about Tory MP and culture secretary Jeremy Hunt who fell on his sword as a result of alleged corruption in dealing with Rupert Murdoch’s bid for News Corporation’s takeover of BSkyB?. Wow, we sure needed those surveillance powers then, just like we need them now. It’s not even necessary to glance at former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rivkind’s suspension from the Tory party over alleged corrupt payments to figure that one out.

Official surveillance could have found the truth about Rivkind and others, but instead the matter was left to legally dubious covert filming by media organisations. Put everything on a legal footing, that’s what I say.

 the true brilliance of May’s patronage of the surveillance powers is that in some parallel universe it could make people like her more accountable.

If the need for increased surveillance was not obvious, consider the case of the Tory Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox, who resigned from Cabinet  over his friendship with Adam Werrity. Poor Liam was so enamoured of his friend Adam that he improperly took the man on one or two official foreign trips. Well, sixteen foreign trips to be precise.

See, if there had been ubiquitous surveillance back in 2012, some friendly authority could have tapped Liam on the shoulder and provided helpful advice. But as it was, he went blissfully on his merry way and Britain lost a first rate defence secretary. Or, at least, a defence secretary.

But the true brilliance of May’s patronage of the surveillance powers is that in some parallel universe it could make people like her more accountable. We could find out details of her alleged racist double standards in the application of the extradition laws, her inflammatory comments that attempted to link human rights defence with the support of terrorism, the 2012 charge of Contempt of Court laid against her by a British judge, her intimidation and bullying of civil servants that are critical of her policies and her support of a litany of horrendous and inhumane deportations.

We ‘could’ find out more about those matters with a Snooper’s Charter, but I’ll bet we don’t. But, hey! It’s the thought that counts, and good will in politics has to count for something.

No, let’s face it. A surveillance law – a Snooper’s Charter  – is exactly what the Tory Party and the UK public need right now. If focused in the correct way, it’s perhaps our only hope of creating a decent Tory government that’s cleansed of hypocritical, lying, corrupt political thugs.