The Long Road…

Back in 2012, I wrote to my MP – I was living in Airdrie at the time, so that was Pamela Nash, the Labour party careerist. Aside from working as the assistant/advisor to the previous incumbents, she had no real experience.

Still, I had contacted her a couple of times, with reasonable results – until I wrote to her about ACTA. I heard nothing, so after a period, I called her out on Twitter about not responding.

She DM’ed me, asking me to e-mail her the details of my letter.

I sent this;

Hi Pamela,

I wrote to you with a quite narrow problem about ACTA (and the fact that it seems to be slipping into the UK legislative arena without any scrutiny) – although more recent events at the Home Office have eclipsed things a little.

Let me explain – I have been writing to parliament for many years, usually on the same subject: civil liberties. It’s an absolute bright line for me, and something that I feel is the mark of a civilised and free country. For most of my life, I was a labour supporter – I attended Strathclyde University along with Jim Murphy and grew up under Thatcher.

I stopped supporting Labour when labour started implementing one draconian policy after another. I wrote to Helen Liddell expressing my horror about The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill (RIPA), and how it could be abused. I worked in the NHS (blood transfusion service at law hospital) and saw a lot of abuse of medical records first hand (people looking up celebrities or family members).

In the end, RIPA has been used exactly as I feared it would – by councils spying on people letting their dogs crap in gardens, or to see if people are in the right catchment area for schools.

Labour mishandled the DNA database in England and Wales, keeping the DNA of innocent people forever (which I wrote to John Reid about), and implemented the Section 44 powers which have been used to terrorise people for taking photos of famous buildings.

I’m a socialist at heart, but I can’t trust Labour. The tendency to want to control, snoop and manipulate seems to just be too strong. For what it’s worth, one of my reasons for supporting the SNP and independence is that I want to see us break way from the mindset of spying and centralised control that exists in Whitehall. Holyrood has so far handled things like Privacy and DNA retention in a more liberal and free minded way.

Anyways – the letter.

I then included my original letter. You might think it was nasty or aggressive, or party political… you can judge;

Dear Pamela,

You are on the Science and Tech committee, so I assume you know about ACTA? If not, I would ask you to have a quick look here:

ACTA was negotiated in secret between the US, EU and other interested parties – the EU Rapporteur was so disgusted by the lack of democratic process that he resigned rather than sign this: but the UK has blithely signed it (but not enacted it in UK law – yet).

We are coming out the back of just how bad it is to have overpowering media influence on the political arena with Levenson and the like, but ACTA is ten times worse – this will quite literally hand the investigative powers of SOCA and the intelligence services to media interests and copyright owners to be used for something as frivolous as policing copyright.

We will mandate the interception of everyone’s emails, web traffic and the like, for the sake of protecting copyright. We will be outlawing the encryption technologies that have allowed the Arab spring to happen, and building an interception and surveillance apparatus that would make even the most hardened “nothing to worry about if you have nothing to hide” brigade raise an eyebrow.

Throw in the Home Office’s latest attempts to carry out the Intercept Modernisation programme and snoop on all our internet traffic for “serious crime” reasons (the exact same reasons for RIPA, which has been abused enormously) and this is looking pretty bleak.

If you can have a look at this, and see if it’s something you can get behind, I would very much appreciate it.

And for what it’s worth – thanks for the DM on Twitter. Clearly, there’s an election on, so there can be a bit of showboating and the like, but I’m a fair minded person, and I’ll acknowledge that you contacted me directly to get this sorted.


How did my MP respond? She blocked me on Twitter, and didn’t ever reply to me again, either by e-mail or letter.