An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Messages and media

I'm not going to labour this point or even to new labour it. I just want to know who changed the nature of the British legislature. Who changed it, and when did they change it? Who changed it, when did they change it, and did they ask anyone? I mean to say - why they changed it is patently obvious - because they wanted to but the why and the who are mysteries.

Now I used to believe and was actually taught that the job of the government and legislature was to frame, debate, amend and pass laws onto the statute book. And to repeal laws too, when they were no longer relevant. Was I wrong all along?

The reason I ask is that of late all recent legislation in the UK houses of parliament has been to do not with passing legislation for its necessity but in order to "send messages". And so the British parliament sends messages to terrorists, and is very fussy about including a single, poorly defined word (the verb to glorify). They reclassify a particular drug and then worry that this reclassification may have "sent the wrong message". Police chiefs talk of "sending messages" when they want particular legislation passed. The FSA talks not about its own desperate failure to address effectively any of the problems that they were set up to deal with but resorts instead to talking about sending messages.

In order to "send a message" the British parliament passes legislation that is entirely unnecessary (Abu Hamza was prosecuted successfully only a week or so before the "glorification of terrorism" clause was argued back and forth and was convicted under pre-existing legislation) and that would appear to outlaw the advocacy and encouragement of groups of similar colour to the French resistance under the Third Reich: that would have sought to lock up people who supported the ANC in their overthrow of the apartheid government in South Africa; the list is long.

Why is legislation suddenly about sending messages? Could it be that sending messages is easier than doing anything about the underlying issues? From where I'm sitting it surely looks that way.

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