I could never be a politician. The Queen’s Speech today included a Lords Reform Bill, Draft Communications Data Bill, Banking Reform Bill, Energy Bill, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, Children and Families Bill, Pensions and Public Service Pensions Bill, Crime and Courts Bill, Croatia Accession Bill, Electoral Registration and Administration Bill, Defamation Bill, European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill, Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill, Justice and Security Bill, Small Donations Bill together with Draft Draft Care and Support, Local Audit and Water Bills and Carry Over Bills on Civil Aviation, Financial Services, Finance (No. 4), Local Government Finance and Trusts (Capital and Income).
I’ve listed them in one long string for effect. I guess I must be interested in the outcomes of some of them as they affect me – comms data for one. It has to take a very particular sort of person to want to become a politician. We pay politicians to sort this stuff out but do have to keep an eye on them because as we all know they can get a bit out of control.
The Communications Data Bill which caused such a lot of fuss a few weeks ago when it was leaked to the Sunday Times that it would include surveillance seems to not be getting any attention in the media today with things like Lords Reform hitting the headlines.
This must be remedied. We must rally the troops, man the battlements. In fact I think Shakespeare foresaw all this as you will see from this early version of another monarch’s speech:
Scene 1. France. Before Harfleur (Life of King Henry 5th)
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the web up with our English censorship.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest browsing in the privacy of his own home:
But when the blast of political doctrine blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lean on your MP with the threat of voting against him at the next election;
Let pry through the portage of the proxy server
(Like the brass necked Civil Servant who wishes to pry on us)
As anonymous as a pixel in a feature length HD video
O’erhang and jutty his confounded filters,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful web.
Now set the bookmarks and stretch the windows wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every online subscription
To his full value. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call’d parliamentarians do not understand technology.
Be copy now to men of Tory hue (not forgetting the Labour party who also tried to get this sort of legislation passed – this should worry us),
And teach them how to correct the error of their ways. And you, good surfer,
Whose limbs were made in England and various other former colonies, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your broadband subscription; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath private browsing in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Freedom, Privacy and, and a Surveillance Free Internet!’
You can understand why Shakespeare changed this early version of the speech. After all it was written before the invention of anything more technical than the printing press and the wheel and they used to burn people with strange ideas in those days. I’m not so sure it reads as well as the final version anyway. Also I did reproduce it from memory so there may be an error or two but I thought in the interest of scientific research I’d present it for your study.
We now await the publication of the draft of the Bill – it is still with ministers for completion. In the meantime keep your powder dry, prime the flintlock and wait until you see the green of the paper.