Terrorist or tourist, who took this? The low flat building in the background, which is obviously not the subject of the photo, is part of the local council offices.
Over on the often-reasonable Tom Harris's blog, there's a video by Five-Bellies Prescott, the man whose face resembles the moon rising over a stack of crumpets, all about why people should shut up about the NHS and stop complaining. Be silent about the deaths, you don't hear those dead people complaining, do you? If they don't mind, why should you?
This isn't about the video. This is about a throwaway remark, intended to be a little joke, at the end of that post:
But in recording the video, JP has identified a crucial area of public policy: why are MPs allowed to record videos on the Terrace of the House of Commons whereas my constituents are frequently told by police officers that they’re not allowed to take photographs?
Honestly, it’s one rule for them MPs and another for the rest of us…
Yes, very good. Laugh it off, Mr. H. It doesn't affect you, so really there's nothing to worry about is there? Just like all those fancy new diseases introduced into the NHS since Labour took over, but not found in the private care you MPs enjoy, there's no need for alarm and hysterical babbling from the public. Why don't they all just get private care if they're so worried about it? Why don't they all just give up carrying cameras around if they're so scared they might be arrested for photographing landmarks, London buses, butterflies and anything else that might be of use to a tourist?
And why, oh why, won't they get the message and just stop driving? Most of all, why do they protest their innocence when we send them fines? If they've been charged, they must be guilty. Don't they see that? Some of the commenters on this article do see it. They have complied with the doublethink brainwashing entirely. They have been trained by a method that I've tried to elucidate but never succeeded. Fortunately, Dick Puddlecote has a very nice analogy which goes a long way to showing how it's done.
Well, Mr. H. will no doubt be delighted to learn that now, if you are charged with a speeding offence (and soon, any offence because this is just testing the water) and you didn't do it, proving your innocence will cost you far more than just paying the fine and accepting that you are now a DNA-recorded, CRB-check-failing criminal. Once charged, you are guilty. Your options are to confess and accept a lesser punishment or to protest your innocence and take the harsher punishment. There is no 'free to go' option any more. Do go and read about the Spanish Inquisition's methods. They were the same.
So MPs can take videos where the rest of us can't take snapshots. That's small fry compared to the fact that MPs and their extraordinarily wealthy friends will soon be the only ones able to afford to prove their innocence in court. For the rest of us, once charged, we either pay the fine or go to court - which will cost us far more than the fine if we win, and vastly more than the fine if we lose. In effect, once charged, you are guilty unless you can afford to prove otherwise.
Where is this headed? Well, imagine you've been stopped while photographing something and told that you are to have your camera confiscated and then get fined under the Prevention of Tourism* act. Your DNA will be recorded and you will be flagged as a suspected terrorist on any future CRB check. What do you do? Go to court to prove your innocence? That's going to cost a lot more than your camera and a lot more than your fine because even if you win, you'll be paying the lawyer who represented you.
It's open season for ridiculous charges once this takes hold because no matter what you are charged with, just accepting the charge and paying the fine will cost you considerably less than trying to get any kind of justice.
It already happens - if a council prodnose claims he saw you drop litter, you pay the fine or go to court where his word will be taken over yours (note he does not need to present actual evidence) and you'll pay a higher fine. Whether you are guilty or not is of no interest to the court. They just want your money.
So now, speed traps with radar guns no longer need to catch you speeding in order to generate revenue from you. They just need to say they saw you speeding. All they need is your number plate, and they can collect cash from you. Try to protest your innocence and they'll take more.
It's all about revenue generation. Police can confiscate money from you in the street if you have a sizeable amount of cash on you. Paying in the takings from your shop? Well, the police are entitled to pretend they think it's drug money and take it from you. So watch out for the Dick Turpin Patrols on your way to the bank. If you're a real drug dealer you have nothing to worry about. Real dealers are likely to be dangerous so they'll be left alone. The easy targets are the ones they go for.
We pay tax on money we earn, tax on interest on money we save, and tax on money we spend. In anything that has a form of duty on it, we pay that tax and we pay VAT on the whole price, including duty - so we pay tax on the tax. Still it's not enough. So now we are to pay fines whether guilty or not, and if we object, we pay more.
We will soon pay fines for committing crimes that don't exist. Don't like it? Just you try going to court with it. You'd better be stinking rich if you want to prove your innocence. Even if you win, it's going to cost you a lot more than just giving them the fine in the first place.
What are the Tories saying about all this? Are they going to change any of it?
Or are they going to continue in the same vein, now that they've seen how far Labour can push people and get no reaction?
*Before anyone corrects me with some made-up story about a 'prevention of terrorism' act, consider how many thousands of tourists have been legally harassed under the Act, compared with zero terrorists even slightly inconvenienced by it. Whatever it was written as, in practice it's a prevention of tourism act. That's what it does, so that's what it should be called.