Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday, 22 December 2004

Time to take a break for Christmas

A great deal has been happening in the past few days, domestically and internationally. At home, we have had the resignation of an illiberal and duplicitous Home Secretary; the passing, with the connivance of both the Labour government and the Conservative Official 'Opposition' of the first reading of the ID Card bill through a House of Commons where a very significant number of MPs couldn't be bothered to turn up to vote on this momentous issue; the condemnation by the Law Lords of the Government's policy of detaining indefinitely, without charge or trial, foreigners suspected of involvement in terrorism, a judgement which our quasi-dictatorial government is so far choosing to ignore. Elsewhere, two French journalists have thankfully been released safely from their four-month long captivity in Iraq, although the mechanism by which their release has occurred is not clear; Tony Blair has been visiting the Iraqi Interim Government at Baghdad and British troops at al-Basrah (and at the same time US troops are sweeping Mosul after yesterday's attack, the deadliest on Americans in Iraq since the invasion to oust Saddam Hussein last year), followed by a visit with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and then with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

With luck (a lot of luck!) there will be relative peace during the next few days, over the Christmas period at least, and we will not return from our breaks to find that our own Government has taken further steps to erode our liberties whilst we were not looking. I hope, too, that my fellow British citizens will waken up to the damage to their freedoms that has already been perpetrated, all in the name of fighting terrorism; we need to remember what we are fighting for. We should not be aiding and abetting the terrorists by acquiescing in restrictions on our own hard-won freedoms; once these are lost it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to roll back the powers that the state, in the guise of protecting us, is garnering to iself.

Now with this somewhat gloomy assessment of our domestic situation here in the UK, I'll sign off until the middle of next week and leave you with this:


With all good wishes
for a Joyous Christmas
and a Peaceful, Happy
and Prosperous
New Year


My Christmas tree this year


... and a reminder of what Christmas Day is supposed to represent
(a small Nativity display I have in my home)


(On a somewhat more ironic level I must thank Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, for making my Christmas break all the more noteworthy; today I received my Inland Revenue statement for the first interim payment of this year's tax bill, payable by 31st January 2005. No doubt the motive is to remind tax-payers not to overspend at Christmas, but of course he probably wants us to spend enough to give our rickety ecomony the appearance of health. I shall spend at my normal moderate levels - that's why I am one of the [relatively few?] people with no debts of any kind and this, coupled with a number of other factors, makes me a happy man. Go in Peace.)

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