Politics Technology

Why Tories Don’t Get It

Conservative Party poster from 1909, in which ...
Not much to do with the article, but ain't it great?

The basic problem of the Conservative party is that they’re the party of old. Not even the old, just old in general. A young Tory is like a baby smoking a pipe, a puppy barking at strangers, a flower behind glass in a museum. Oddly inappropriate and not very pleasant. It is not youthful to be a Conservative, and in the end the party always has to appeal to and reflect the mindset of the older voter. They absorb it, and come to embody it.

So despite the fact that riots occurred in the 80s in the same cities and even the same neighbourhoods, the problem must be social networking. Because it’s new, and the rioters used it to talk about rioting.

Look, I use social networking to talk about sex. That doesn’t mean it causes sex. I can assure you. It’s just the way these things are done now. If the riots had occurred five years ago, the Tories would have been talking about banning text messages. Five years before that, they’d be trying to shut down Internet chat rooms. As it happens though there were no riots on those occasions, so it’s fortunate that the Tories weren’t in power. Not of course that we’re suggesting any possible oh yes we are.

If I were a British voter, at the last election I’d have been tempted to vote for the Conservatives – or at least abstain from voting for Labour. Why? Mainly because of Labour’s pursuit of ID cards. I thought it was a case of a socialist party going a bit collective on individual liberty. But here are the Conservatives, party of individual rights and responsibilities, wanting to police our texts and sit in on our conversations. Because they don’t know what else to do.

“Free flow of information can be used for good,” said David Cameron to the House of Commons. No David. Free flow of information cannot be “used for good”. It is the fundamental basis of liberal democracy. If you don’t understand that, get the hell out.

3 replies on “Why Tories Don’t Get It”

To be fair, I think in regards to the actual proposals, there’s some projection/spin going on. If I understand it correctly, David Cameron doesn’t want to ban social media, but rather give some persons a “social media” ban. Whether that’s enforceable is a big open question, but in essence it’s a very modern sort of approach.

When somebody is stalking somebody, they get a restraining order, where they can’t get within x yards of that person. When people have been making trouble at stadiums, they can get banned from the stadium. If someone has been using social media for incitement, why couldn’t a restraining order for them be out of the question? Internet has always been as much a “place” as as a technology.

The same as working together with Twitter and RIM and others on policing. Over here, in the ’80s, quite often when dealing with stand-offs with squatters or university occupations, the police would cut landlines and other forms of communication in order to establish control. To have sophisticated, quick means to disrupt communications of rioters is not a bad thing in my book.

In essence the GSM system already has a provision for it. Whenever a cell tower is overloaded, it can prioritize traffic, based on a bit in the MSIN-part of the IMSI of a SIM. That’s to say, there’s a number on it, which you could divide: 1-2-3 is regular subscribers, 4-5 is important government personnel, 6-7 is emergency responders, 8-9 is reserved for key personnel like government ministers and such. It would be pretty useful for the police, in case of riot, to turn off communications for everyone below level 4.

Whether it is desirable is debatable, but in case of a riot, several rules change. The police can also block off streets, to prevent flow of people and traffic to a riot area, why shouldn’t they be able to block non-essential cellphone traffic?

Never mind the fact that he’s talking about monitoring social media. How much more modern than that can you get? It’s a bit of an open door for everyone even remotely tech-savvy, but the law hasn’t completely caught up.

Frankly, I was thinking the British police was already doing stuff like this. Until I learned that they don’t even have such basic tools for crowd control like tear gas and water cannons available to them. Makes me worried that they’ve got a long, long, long way to catch up on modern technology.

And again, though I’m far from a conservative, I got the impression that _that_ was exactly what David Cameron was suggesting.

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