Labour to Britain's Internet: drop dead

Harriet Harman, deputy leader the UK Labour Party, has explained her party's programme for the British Internet: "implement the Digital Economy Act under a clear timetable including getting on with the notification letters." "Notification letters?" Why yes, those would be the letters notifying you that you have been accused, without proof, of downloading copyrighted material without permission, and that everyone in your household is now at risk of being disconnected from the Internet, without a trial. If that costs you your job, if that costs your children their education, if that makes it harder to engage with politics, civics, and your community, well, tough shit. Thanks for sticking up for the little guy, Labour. And thanks for passing the Digital Economy Act without Parliamentary debate, over the howls of protests of your own veteran MPs, even after music industry lobbyists were caught rewriting portions of it to suit their corporate masters. (PS: she also wants all the worst stuff in SOPA to be taken on voluntarily by Google).

88 Responses to “Labour to Britain's Internet: drop dead”

  1. jaduncan says:

    Wow. It’s hard to be left wing right now; the Labour party fail entirely on civil liberties (including here – WTF?), the Tories are the Tories, and the Lib Dems are…well, the Tories.

    I’m lucky in that my constituency has a Green MP and council, but if I lived anywhere else I’d have to consider spoiling my ballot.

    • asuffield says:

      Lib Dems aren’t Tories – you’ve been believing too much of what the press writes. And why are you remotely surprised by Labour here? We had them in government for 13 years, I’d have presumed you realised their position is one of authoritarian state control and complete opposition to civil liberties.

      (Almost the only thing that the Lib Dems agree with the Tories on is that this kind of state intrusion is wrong)

      • euansmith says:

        Tories is as Tories does. To my eyes, the Lib Dems have conspicuously failed to distance themselves from their abusive partners.

        • asuffield says:

          What would you consider to be “distancing”? I’d like to point out that the coalition government does not represent the policies of either party.

          Please note that every time any significant member of the party expresses public disagreement with something the Tories are doing, the (mostly Tory and Labour controlled) press don’t bother to print it.

          • Hobozombie says:

            A much funnier friend of mine came up with a great analogy for the Tory/Lib Dem relationship back when the coalition was first announced. “The Tories will wear the lib dems like a condom while they fuck the public sector”.

          • jaduncan says:

            What would count is denying their votes on something important. Saving the NHS from privatisation would be nice, for example.

      • jaduncan says:

        Would you prefer Tory enablers?

    • euansmith says:

      The only alternative in my area to the “big three” conservative parties is the BNP – I’d best start starching my brown shirts.

    • failquail says:

       It’s easy (just immensly frustrating) to be left wing: your vote is the green party, and unless you live in brighton, your vote is worthless due to FPTP.

      The right are spoilt for choice, includes all the 3 main parties (Labour would have to tack to the left a fair bit to even reach center nowadays)

      So to sum up, if you don’t like rightwing policies: tough, best bet is to move abroad :(

    • Martijn Vos says:

      LibDems are Tories too? Are there any non-Tory parties in the UK? My impression is that since Tony Blair, Labour is basically the second Tory party.

      And why does everybody keep voting for all those tories? Why doesn’t anyone start a left-wing party in the UK? With only right-wing parties, you’re likely to become indistinguishable from the US.

      • Tynam says:

         Thanks Martijn; your last paragraph describes neatly exactly why UK politics is falling apart.  (And yes, there’s a few well-funded US-based political groups dedicated precisely to making the UK more like the US. Sadly, it’s working.)

  2. Guest says:

    If you’re accused of mail fraud, are you denied the post?

  3. sickkid1972 says:

    You gotta admire the sheer bloody-minded doggedness of certain MP’s in their desire to see the UK turned into little more than a giant prison camp, by making it nigh on impossible to NOT end up as a criminal.

    No wait, not ‘admire’. What’s the word I’m looking for?

    Despise… that’s the word.

  4. MoreMoschops says:

    I genuinely do not believe Harman is sane. I’m not joking; she has a long history of drawing truly fantastic (as in, actually fantasy-based) conclusions from what we must assume is the same UK everyone else lives in. I first started to think something was up when she would consistently insist that the UK public was overwhelmingly in favour of ID cards. For a while, I thought maybe she just had terrible advisers who were giving her bad data, but it just went on and on and on. She really, really is able to look at the same data as everyone else and reach utterly fantastic conclusions. Not even conclusions heavily influenced by her alleged political beliefs; much of what she says bears no relation to either leftist or rightist axioms. She’s just…. not sane.

    • Wreckrob8 says:

      So it is not me who is going mad, that’s okay then.

    • Just curious: if it is clear this person spends quite a lot of time out to lunch in crazyland …who elected her and/or keeps re-electing her?

      Obviously if the people of Minnesota have elected Michele Bachmann then crazy must have a certain appeal.  Or stupid people can’t tell the difference and you’ve got to vote for *someone*…

      • NelC says:

        She has a so-called ‘safe’ constituency, because she’s adept at party politics. Although, you have to bear in mind (from Wikipedia)

        On 1 April 2008 the Daily Mail reported that Harman had decided to wear a kevlar-reinforced stab vest while touring her Peckham constituency under police guard.

      • MoreMoschops says:

        In the UK, people tend not to vote based on who their candidate is, but on which party they’ve always voted for (and failing that, the party they agree with; most UK voters can’t name their MP). As such, clever politicos get themselves safe seats in which the odds of the local punters voting against them are minuscule. Her seat was created for her in 1997 and she’s held it since.

        • manicbassman says:

           sadly there are some constituencies where they could field a monkey under the labour remit, but as long as they’re wearing a red rose, they’d get returned to parliament…

          mind you, judging by the quality of some MPs, a monkey would be an improvement…

          • Wreckrob8 says:

            It has already been done. Hartlepool and Baron Mandelson spring to mind. Legend has it that the people of Hartlepool confuse people with primates at times.

      • If I recall correctly you guys in the UK still don’t have IRV?  Sounds like that would solve this particular problem… although the bigger, existing problem of lazy, uninformed, careless, bored voters would remain.  

        Oh and this isn’t to pick on the voters of the UK; these problems are obviously everywhere.

        • MoreMoschops says:

          That wouldn’t fix this particular problem. Last election she gathered 59.2% of the vote.
          We did have a referendum recently to do something about our frankly ridiculous “first past the post” system. The British electorate frankly get the government and economy  they [ we :( ] deserve.

        • asuffield says:

          We recently attempted to introduce IRV, but the Tories threw their money behind a campaign of lies and Labour decided to side with the Tories (and against their own manifesto). As a result we’re stuck with the same broken system for decades now.

    • andygates says:

       It’s a curious thing that whoever gets into Home Secretary takes a big plus in Crazy Evil.  I think they get taken down to the vaults beneath the Commons and shown the vast, writhing horror that gnaws at the heart of Parliament, and thus shocked, they are never the same again.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        I think that it’s the same person and they just change the name and the wig. I’ve never observed a facial expression other than sour & dour.

  5. riverlaw says:

    Does Britain have the same issues with corp money in elections as the US? 

    • Wreckrob8 says:

      No. But Labour have an infatuation with wealth and the wealthy which is fucking embarrassing. Bring back Michael Foot, please.

    • Good question.  We don’t know for sure.  Our FOI laws are weaker (and I suspect that our politicians are also better at cover-up).

      One thing is certain: lobbying goes on a lot.  Which to my mind indicates that the answer to your question is “hell yes”. 

      • Wreckrob8 says:

        Lobbying is not evidence of funding.

        • Err … it isn’t?   If a group of rich individuals pay a lobbying group to put pressure on the government in order to influence policies, that sounds very much like it will inevitably lead to under-the-counter funding to me.

          How do you suppose the lobbying groups use all that money, otherwise?   Corporate lunches?

      • asuffield says:

        Lobbying is an entirely separate (and far more twisty) problem. There’s not a lot of money changing hands, but there are a lot of people changing jobs between the government and the industries they were supposed to be regulating.

        This is nastier because, unlike campaign donations, you can’t just ban it.

        • Wreckrob8 says:

          Agreed. But with New Labour I seriously think that is not the issue. They simply do what they think is acceptable for the wealthy and business for the freebie holidays and the ‘right’ dinner invitations, etc.

        • And you know that there is not a lot of money changing hands how?

          Also, does lobbying stop at election time?  I think not.

    • asuffield says:

      It’s a bit different. There are two big sources of money in elections: the Tories draw their big money from the personal fortunes of extremely rich people, and Labour gets theirs from the unions.

      So, we don’t have the “corporate money”, but we have essentially the same issues from other sources.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Labour gets theirs from the unions.

        I wouldn’t count on that anymore; they’ve really pissed off some of the biggest unions.

    • NelC says:

      Election finance in the UK is tightly controlled by the Electoral Commission, an independent body, so we don’t have the spectacle of the parties trying to outspend each other in the run-up to an election. Not that there aren’t other routes to financial corruption, though.

    •  In the UK the big issue isn’t with lobbying so much as shadowy interest groups protected from public eyes who are molding the leaders of the future (like Common Purpose), and the manipulative think tanks funded by private interests, who go out and find members of the public who will say whatever they want, and then present their findings to politicians as though they are cold hard fact, whilst pushing their own ideas through their media contacts. (Adam Curtis has an interesting blog on think tanks in the UK here:

    • andygates says:

       One big difference is political TV.  We don’t have the attack ads “brought to you by some corporate shill or other” — thank the gods.  Horrid.

    • Brad Bell says:

      Yes. Every country has corrupt governments that loot and lie to their people. This is the lesson of Wikileaks, which provided a moment of transparency. We know the Tories have been get their money from tax havens in the Caymens; although over half their funding now comes from the financial services industry. (Still no prosecutions; no need to change regulations after destroying the economy and social infrastructure). With bank debt levels of 600% of GDP, the banks may yet bankrupt the country. Still, we mustn’t regulate extremely high risk betting and fraud because it will affect bonuses.
      Oh, sorry. You just mean actual elections. Then no.

    •  Yes and no.

      But nothing like in the US.

      Labour is owned by the unions and the Tories are owned by banks.

  6. ialreadyexist says:

    This is all a desperate attempt by governments around the world to cling to power.  It has absolutely nothing to do with copyright.  Something wicked this way comes and they want to make sure the masses are held in check.  An open Internet threatens their plans.

    • Andrew Singleton says:

      This assumes something other than Blind Stupidity. I take Stupid over Evil 99 times out of 100.

      • Kimmo says:

         As this insanity grows to stupendous and terrifying proportions, the Blind Stupidity theory appears less and less plausible.

        Stupidity would result in randomness, wouldn’t it? Unless somebody was manipulating the stupid…

        • Andrew Singleton says:

          Just because they’re stupid does not mean somebody isn’t gaming the system to take advantage of that stupid.

          Evil still in there but far fewer people are knowing participants than the number of Stupids.

  7. yeahyeahwhtever says:

    While reading her comments, I thought I was being punked, that it was a satire site making fun of her….  
    That she really said those things is just plain scary.

  8. md1500 says:

    It is also worth noting that after this, Harman posted a tweet from the Brit Awards……

  9. Hakuin says:

    the web is inherently inimical to any form of government, but the stupider governments fail to understand why they must hide this.

  10. I was born in the same ward as one of Harman’s children. I am reliably informed that her kids were born virtually into the arms of their full-time nanny, which doesn’t marry up well with my preconceptions of a left-wing politician.

  11. stephenl123 says:

    It’s particularly amusing that the passage where she says these things also includes “promote London and our hub cities as the melting pot for both creativity and technology.  What we offer is the synthesis of these two – while elsewhere in the world there are technology centres or creative centres – our cities offer both.”  So she wants to destroy the internet and promote technology and creativity.  Very nearly in the same breath.

  12. stephenl123 says:

    But meanwhile, yes, the LibDems are now Tories. The coalition government has promoted only and entirely the Tory agenda with a very few minor exceptions that had no impact.

  13. Snarf says:

    I really wish people would drop the lazy habit of using acronyms all the time. I grow tired of having to google them so often. Whats wrong with typing in the actual words? 

    MP, IRV, NHS, BNP, FPTP, FOI? Found in this thread alone.

    These might make sense for persons from Britain, but I’m pretty sure we boingboing readers are from all over the world and a lot of us won’t necessarily understand what they are. Yes, there’s google, but it gets really really tiresome in the long run.Or I am I just TSTGTA (too stupid to get the acronyms) ?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      I’m in the US and I read international news, so – Member of Parliament, instant run-off voting, National Health Service, British National Party, first past the post, freedom of information.

  14. Jim Grinsfelder says:

    If UK does not have the same (or at least similar) issues with money in politics as the USA, why in the world would any political party push for an unpopular position like this one?  It’s got to be money funneled to politicians. 

    It’ll never happen, but it’d sure be fun if the whole UK population were to react by canceling all private internet subscriptions and telecom services.  You’d see the politicans backpedal rapidly.

  15. Lane Yarbrough says:

    Programme  or Pogrom?

  16. Finnagain says:

    Is there any country, anywhere, where the politicians are not doing their damnedest to fuck us over? 

    • Robert says:

      ‘Pol-i-tics (n). From Late English politicks, from the Greek poly, meaning “many”, and tick, a small bloodsucking arachnid that is a vector for infectious disease.

  17. Sam says:

     Time to break out the tar and feathers.

  18. Ashley Yakeley says:

    Don’t you think she looks tired?

  19. geng lee says:

    Harman is SOPA wikipedia should be blacked out in the UK till she loses her seat.

    If she lost her safe seat because of this they would wake up.

  20. Jim Smith says:

    Some of the commenters are making the mistake that this is an important electoral issue.   It will be very much a minority issue when it comes to an election.   There is also almost no disagreement on it among the main parties.  Authoritarianism is popular.

    The problem with Labour is not so much that they have taken the corporate shilling (though there is some of that), is that they have fallen in love with business and the notion  that business knows best.  They naively believe everything the lobbyists tell them.

  21. stephenl123 says:

    While the Tories cynically advocate for everything the lobbyists tell them, and the Liberal Democrats simply do what they’re told.

  22. miasm says:

    I am struck by the apparent similarity in tactics of Obama’s Democrats to that of Alex Salmond’s SNP.
    It seems they both need only wait and watch their opponents blunder around and act as they are accustomed, then present a montage of the behaviour at the appropriate time.

    The most striking difference, of course, is that the behaviour of the ruling parties of the UK may lead to it’s dissolution:,_2014.

    • miasm says:

       derp, I thought I had heard Salmond had abstained from the vote but apparently there is party support for the bill. : (

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