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In our Taking Liberties blog, not only will we keep you uptodate on the progress of the film, we'll also post news about the ongoing civil liberties movements we're related to.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Random Fact of the Week

Taking Liberties is released on June the 8th 2007.

The first publication of George Orwell's 1984 was on the 8th June 1949.

Go Figure.

The Police State We're In...

Tony Blair has taken a curious approach to the accusations that Britain is drifting towards a Police State, by announcing radically more draconian powers for the Police - powers that not even the police want. At present the police have section 44 powers that enable the police to detain and search whoever they want without any reasonable suspicion. The test case that went to the House of Lords showed that the Police can use these powers arbitrarily and do not have to ever say why they stopped someone - even if it's because they don't like the colour of their skin. The most famous misuse of these poweres was to stop 82 year old Walter Wolfgang from re-entering the Labour Party conference in 2005. Several members of the Taking Liberties team have earned their section 44 wings during the making of the film. Thousands of peaceful protesters have been stopped demonstrating and a massively disproportionate number of Muslim men have been hassled using these powers. In all over 100,000 people have been detained using section 44 in the past 7 years.

The number of terrorists caught? None.

So what does our Tony do? Announce he wants to extend these powers. As this announcement was with the usual tough rhetoric in the Murdoch Press, there's precious little policy detail (this normally gets improvised the night before the bill goes through parliament) but it seems that the police will soon be able to:
-Stop anyone in the street without there being suspicion of a crime.
-Demand to know your name, DOB and address, and see identification.
-Demand to know where you have been and where you are going.
Refusal to comply with any of the above would result in a £5000 fine.

Sounds like a recipe for national harmony, apart from:

1) New Labour repeatedly said, when introducing ID Cards, that they would never be demanded on the spot to create a "papers please!" society.
2) The people who are most likely to be unfairly treated under these powers would be young Muslim men.
3) The Police don't want these powers. Several senior police officers told the Guardian that these new powers are not needed, have not been asked for, and will only make the terrorist problem worse.
4) Even senior New Labour Figures are publicly rubbishing the idea. Peter Hain said that these powers will only serve to radicilise people even further and could end up being the British Equivalent of Guantanamo Bay.

But apart from these little niggles, sounds like a great idea.

Tony says ta-ta to Torture and signs an Oil Deal

Blair's grand farewell just keeps on getting more and more classy. As part of his whistle stop "Giz a Job!" tour to mark the end of his reign, he has spent 5 days mincing round Africa to try and boost his value as an after dinner speaker. Journalists wanting to get on board Tony's Jet (Already nicknamed "Vanity Blair") were being told to stump up £1800 if they wanted to fly with his highness. Most of the Broadsheet Journalists have balked at this, but there is a large delegation from Men's Vogue on board the flight to cover Blair's every move..

The trip has neatly avoided anywhere that has gone to shit during Blair's reign, which is sadly most of the continent, but Blair made sure that he touched down in Libya to spend a few hours with his best pal, Colonel Gadaffi. Despite Libya's horrendous and ongoing human rights record, the nutty Colonel will always have a special place in Blair's heart. New Labour is still doing it's very best to send various unfortunates back to Libya to be Tortured (including Omar deghayes), and Blair is still maintaining that - thanks to his soothing influence - Gadaffi is no longer a bloodthirsty despot, but a cuddly amiable despot who wouldn't hurt a fly. And the fact that BP are signing a multi billion dollar deal with the man is neither here nor there...

Goldsmith Refuses to Publish Iraq Torture Advice

Anyone have a feeling of Deja Vu? Goldsmith's secret filing cabinet must be fit to bursting. Not only is he having to hide away:
-The advice he gave on the Iraq War.
-The Reasons why he dropped the BAE Fraud enquiry.
-Why he still hasn't properly excused himself from any decision making role in the cash for peerages affair.
But poor of Lord "Fag Packet" Goldsmith is now having to hide away the advice he gave about the use of Torture in Iraq by British Soldiers. This all stems from legal advice issued by the flexible Attorney General on whether the Human Rights Act (and in particular the ban on torture) applies when British Soldiers are dealing with Iraqi Civilians. This comes after a spate of incidents where British Soldiers have been blatantly mistreating and torturing Iraqis, which seems to have stemmed from the fact that they were not given clear instructions that hooding and being forced in the stress position is completely illegal. Goldsmith denies that he gave advice that would lead to Torture, but - strangely - is still refusing to publish the advice to put himself in the clear. He's almost certainly going to need a bigger filing cabinet.

Fairford Two Are Cleared

This is an unexpectedly bold move by a British Judge, that has enabled 2 peace activists to be cleared over trying to stop planes taking off from Fairford on the eve of the Iraq War. The pair were caught red handed trying to put the planes out of action, but as their defence they claimed that they were trying to stop a greater crime being committed by the illegal invasion of Iraq. This defence has been tried by numerous protesters and activists, but has, until now, been thrown out before it's heard by a jury. But with the Fairford Two the Judge allowed this defence to be presented, and the Jury found them not guilty. This is the furthest the Judiciary has gone to date in declaring the Iraq War illegal, and could be a crucial step towards bringing some of the perpetrators of the war to book. Geoff Hoon - if you're reading this - they criminal defence lawyers at are very reasonable...

Tuesday, 29 May 2007


Yes the good people of the midlands came out in force to see Taking Liberties at Warwick Arts Centre on Saturday the 26th. We had a queue and everything. And the reaction was extremely good - laughs, tears, and angry tutting in all the right places... and there were even a few claps for the Rendair sequence.

Review in Birmingham Mail.

The campaign to get the film shown in the Midlands on the opening weekend continues - watch this space. It also seems that there are other campaigns starting up to get the film in other cities, including Glasgow.

Next preview screenings are next week. There are ones at various picturehouse cinemas on June 5th (including special panel debate at the Ritzy in Britxton and Directors Q&A at the Greenwich Picturehouse) one at the Everyman Cinema on June 6th, A Big Issue one at the Rich Mix Cinema on June 7th.

Tony's Totally Lost It

Over the weekend the Sunday Times published an article by our dying king, in which he clearly states that civil Liberties are a waste of time and he no longer believes in the Rule Of Law.

Full Article

But the highlights are:

"Within the next few weeks we will publish new proposals on anti-terror laws. Our aim is to reach a consensus across the main political parties. "

Nurse! The Screens! The opposition parties have all said they this new legislation is barking mad and even his own party is completely incredulous as to how on earth he thinks he can get a new terrorism act through in a month - especially as it seems that only John Reid is taking his calls.

"After September 11, 2001, in common with many other nations, we passed new anti terror laws."

Correct that New Labour rammed through a draconian anti terror law after the twin towers atrocity, incorrect that other nations passed laws anything close to what Britain had. Britain and the US were the only nations to abolish Habeas Corpus and allow the government to lock up foreign nationals without charge. Fortunately the House of Lords effectively tore up the 2001 anti terrorism act in 2004, and called it a greater threat to our way of life than Al Qaeda.

"So we were forced to opt for the much milder remedy of control orders, applicable to both foreign and British nationals. These do not involve detention. They impose some limits on the individual’s freedom."

Firstly no-one forced the government to do anything. They could have just not passed the 2005 act that brought house arrest without charge into Britain. Secondly it is hardly a "milder" option, when he extended arbitrary detention from just foreign nationals to everyone - including British Citizens. And thirdly the last 2 sentences are completely contradictory, by saying that Control Orders do not involve detention, but that they do impose some limits on an individuals freedom. But these limits on your freedom can be increased to a level where you can be locked up in your own home 24 hours a day... a form of detention.

"In addition, after September 11, and again after July 7, we have tried continually to deport foreign nationals who were either engaged in or inciting extremism."

Here Blair has completely abandoned any pretence that he cares whatsoever about the Rule Of Law. In most of these cases the accusations of links to terrorism had not been proved in court of law, and in some cases no formal charges had ever been brought. So in Blair's eyes there is no differentiation between a suspect and someone who is guilty.

"We have chosen as a society to put the civil liberties of the suspect, even if a foreign national, first. I happen to believe this is misguided and wrong."

I wonder if he feels the same way when it comes to:
-Lord Levy's involvement in Cash for peerages affair
-Tony Blair's involvement in Cash for peerages affair
-Tony Blair's involvement in Rendition Flights
-Tony Blair's involvement in starting an illegal war in Iraq.

Strangely whenever these issues are mentioned, suddenly everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

"Their right to traditional civil liberties comes first. I believe this is a dangerous misjudgment. This extremism, operating the world over, is not like anything we have faced before."

Bullshit. What about the Nazis you idiot? What about The Cold War? The threat today may be different, but it is preposterous to say that we are under a threat unlike anything we've seen before.

"This extremism can be defeated. But it will be defeated only by recognising that we have not created it."

Just gobsmacking really. A last desperate attempt to try to convince whoever will listen that Iraq is not a cause of the terrorist threat. But he is now going one further by pushing the absurd logic that the only way to stop terrorism is to stop blaming him for it.

And over the weekend we saw exactly what the mad king has in mind to stop the baddies... another post coming up.

And also a few people complained that the ITN Control orders clip was trick to find so we've put it up on youtube.

Friday, 25 May 2007

It's all kicking off

It's been a mental couple of days. In no particular order....

First 5 star review!

From the Birmingham Mail - which is nice of them. And an extended plug for the film's first public screening which is at Warwick Arts Centre on Saturday 26th May. Tickets still available but starting to shift so book now to avoid heartache.

ITN News

Used a scene from Taking Liberties in piece on Control Orders. More on the Control Order story below, but it was deeply satisfying to have us inter cut with "Dr" John Reid trying to look tough outside Downing Street.

See The Clip

Myspace traffic still very strong. We should have a new viral/sketch/webclip coming very soon, so watch this space...

The Brummies are revolting!

Even though the press in the midlands is raving about the film, it is still not showing anywhere in the midlands on the opening weekend. A few people in Birmingham have started a campaign to see it, which just involves emailing your local cinema and telling them that they should screen it. Apparently Cineworld Broadstreet Birmingham is the most likely to go for it, so please email them and tell them you want them to open it along with the rest of the country on June 8th. Write to

It's been a busy couple of days in the news for civil liberties...

Google launches Fortune Teller Service

Google has taken it's smug hype to a whole new level by saying that it will soon be able to use what it knows about you from your Internet behaviour, to start telling you how you can live your life. The CEO Eric Schmidt (a man who is so damn cool and smug he has a full size snooker table in his toilet) gleefully told a conference in London "The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask questions such as:
-'What shall I do tomorrow?', and
-'What job shall I take?'."
Presumably the correct responses are:
-'Tomorrow I shall remove Google from my homepage as they are using private data to make even more money out of me', and
-'any job other than work for google as they obviously have less respect for individual privacy than New Labour.'

John McCarthy Condemns "24"

For helping make torture acceptable. John knows better than anyone what a barbaric and completely counter productive practice torture is, so it's good to see him lining up to slate the crypto-facist wankfest that is "24". Taking Liberties has it's own pop at "24" for much the same reason, he also uses the same clip in his argument as we use in the film (Jack Baur shoots man in the knee and threatens to do the other one unless he talks)

The current resurgence in the use of Torture in The War Against Terror stems from the myth that is the "ticking clock" argument: A bomb's about to go off, and the only way to stop it is to torture someone to get the information you need. The only problem with this argument is that this has never happened once in the history of the world ever. When the proponents of Torture (George Bush, Tony Blair, Jack Straw, "Dr" John Reid and Rupert Murdoch) tell us that Torture is sometimes necessary, they can never describe a single occasion where the ticking clock scenario has actually happened.

Control Order Suspects still on the run.

So to avoid embarrassment, John Reid wants to declare a state of emergency. This was the subject of the ITN news story that used a couple of clips on the film, and the row is still showing no signs of going away. A quick recap:

-A cornerstone of the the Rule of Law is that no one can be detained unless they have been charged with a crime.
-When Britain has tried Internment (ie locking people up without charge) in Northern Ireland in the 70's, it backfired completely and actually helped recruit people to the IRA.
-After 9/11 Blair and Blunkett panicked and brought in a law that gave them the power to detain foreign suspected terrorists without charge. They tried to derogate from the Human Rights Act with the claim that there was "a genuine threat to the life of the nation".
-When the law was tested in 2004, the Law Lords threw out this argument and declared that the real threat to the life of the nation was not from terrorism, but from laws like that.
-Blair and Charles Clarke went back to the drawing board and came up with "Control Orders". This means that the home secretary can now put anyone under house arrest without charge. All he needs is a reasonable suspicion (no need for evidence) and you can be held indefinitely.
-The first problem with this is that completely innocent people end up getting completely screwed - one of them is Mouloud Shihali whose devastating story is told in the film (and this is the clip they used on ITN News)
-The other problem is that people who really are dangerous aren't charged and locked up properly... they just get left on control orders from which anyone can escape from if they put their mind to it.
-At the moment 6 of the 17 people who were placed under control orders are currently on the run. The Government on the one hand has said that these men are so dangerous that they need to be placed under house arrest without charge, but as soon as they do a runner we are told they aren't dangerous in the slightest and there is no need to panic.
-"Dr" John Reid yesterday blamed the whole scenario on whinging Liberals like us, and said that if only he had the power to lock up anyone he wants and throw away the key, we would all be completely safe.
-"Dr" Reid, has also said that he is going to declare a "state of emergency" in order to overturn the offending part of the human rights act (ie the presumption of innocence, Habeas Corpus and other pesky rights) so that he can detain who he wants with impunity.

But what is this state of emergency? Where are all these terrorist attacks that we keep being told are going to happen? And if these men really are that dangerous, why don't the police charge them in the usual way, try them before a jury, and if guilty put them in prison where they belong? New Labour is the very first to howl about "innocent until proven guilty" when it comes to the cash for honours affair, but as soon as the "suspect" is a dodgy looking Muslim bloke with a beard then the rule of law no longer applies.

Amnesty International condemns New Labour. Again.

Not that New Labour is going to take a blind bit of notice, but Amnesty's annual report has condemned Britain's record on Human rights, from curtailing the free speech of anti war protesters, to failing to stand up to the US over Guantanamo Bay. Tony Blair's response? Books himself in for a manicure before his tough day on the sofa with Richard and Judy...

And finally...

Robert Rodriguez to remake Barbarella

OK nothing whatsoever to do with civil liberties, but looks pretty damn cool.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

My Head Hurts

Contributor and crew screening went extremely well. A little too well judging by the green faces around the s2s offices. Everyone who had worked on the film or had their stories told came down to the Rich Mix Cinema on Bethnal Green Road, and in 90 minutes watched what has taken us a year and a half to put together. The delightful Helen and Sylvia came all the way from Yorkshire, but clearly enjoyed the screening.

Sincere thanks to everyone who came along and took part in what has been a surreal but massively fulfilling experience. Now we just need to get the rest of the country to see it. Cinema listings are up on the listings page if it isn't screening near you, bombard your local cinema with emails until they put it on!

Big Brother takes flying lessons

I honestly thought this was a Chris Morris practical joke, but sadly this is a real story. Police in Merseyside have obviously run out of places to put CCTV cameras, so they have spent a fortune on remote control helicopters with surveillance cameras on. The reasoning behind this absurd piece of techno-snoopery is that the police want to "record anti social behaviour"

These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's) were designed for military use and were used to identify where to bomb. For a long time we have been saying that Britain is becoming a nation where we are all considered suspects. Now it seems that the next stage is we are all being considered military targets.

Yet more blog chatter...

Stumble upon stumbled upon us.

The one and only Boriswatch

And a considered review on samizdata. Though they seem to think it's a right wing polemic. We should start keeping track of how many comments we get on whether the film is right wing or left wing, but at the moment I'd say it's running neck and neck.

And the triumphant return of Rachel North - the queen of the blogosphere...

Who's space?

The myspace situation is now getting out of control. We have got some truly remarkable emails from people who have only seen the trailer and already think we are the spawn of the devil. We have no choice but to publish on the blog some of the weirdest emails. Today's winner is below:

"I am appauled at you.

Look at your film. It is a fashionable statement of cheap biased jibes aimed at a man of such credability and integrity, of such success and brilliance, that it only portrays you further as ignorant and blind.

This is a man who for 10 years, has built upon the crumbled ruins of tory rule, and lit a beacon of political light for the working people. You're film merely takes pot shots based on the naive media attacks taht he suffers as a result of one mistake. A mistake that i am in no doubt he was pressured in from all angles.

How dare you frame this man as the man i see in your trailer. Be thankful for everything he has done. Be thankful for his work and his time. Be thankful that you and i are not under another 4 years of Tory rule.

Thank you for your time.

Your's truely,"

We are still not sure if this is a wind up, or it's been sent by a Mr T Blair.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

The time has come...

Contributor Screening Tonight! Which should be interesting considering the massively diverse groups of people who have taken part. By the looks of things most people who have been involved in the film will be coming along. Notable exceptions will be Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Jack Straw - but we're going to keep seats free just in case.

Anyone who thought that individual liberty is going to flourish under the stewardship of Gordon Brown, need only scan some of today's news to see that the gradual drift towards authoritarianism will not be slowing down when TB kicks the political bucket.

-Heckler bundled out of Brown's hustings.

Admittedly this was not an 82 year old refugee from the Nazis, so maybe things have improved slightly since Walter Wolfgang was booted out the Labour conference for daring to disagree with New Labour. Gordon's speech on Iraq could well have just been cut and pasted from any of Blair's recent diatribes on this subject. Rather than admit that the country has descended into out and out civil war and make a decision about when pull out the troops, he is copying Blair's favourite trick and avoiding any rational approach to the argument and just insisting that the decision "was right".

The other key similarity in the Brown/Blair rhetoric is the phrase "I acknowledge that this is an issue that has divided the country." Which sounds like an admission of fault but is actually nothing of the kind. It also implies that the country has been divided on the issue equally which is also slightly inaccurate. There's everyone in the country who still thinks the decision to invade Iraq was a good idea (Tony Blair, Gordon Brown & Rupert Murdoch) and those people who don't (the rest of the population).

Russians Refuse to Extradite Litvinenko suspect

The Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett showing, once again, that Britain has less clout on the world stage than Azerbaijan. When other countries (eg The USA, most of Europe, Russia) want to extradite British nationals to stand trail in America, the US simply fills out a form, and off they go - without the need for the tiniest shred of evidence to be presented in a British court. The Natwest Three are still under house arrest in Texas awaiting trial and Alex Stone had his life ruined thanks to a chronic miscarriage of Justice - all because New Labour gleefully hands over British Citizens for extradition even if it's blatantly obvious they are innocent. But when it comes to extraditing people the other way, then suddenly it's a different story. The evidence against the Andrei Lugovoi - the KGB officer accused of poisoning Litvinenko - is compelling, and the head of the DPP has publicly said he should stand trial. But because Britain has a risible record of negotiating extradition treaties, he will probably never face justice in the UK. And there's fat chance of him facing justice in Russia as if he did carry out the poisoning he did so at the behest of teh Russian state itself. When Margaret Beckett requested extradition, The Russians basically told her to get stuffed, and she has scuttled back to the Foreign office to angrily count paperclips with Geoff Hoon.

ID Cards to be used for racial profiling

After soothing noises from the government over the past 3 years that in no way would some one's ethnic background be a reason for them to be stopped for ID, an all party committee of MP's has just announced that this is precisely what will happen. The very fact that they will be brought in for foreigners first, means that statistically you will be more likely to be asked for your ID card if you have dark skin. Papers Please!

Control Order Contradictions

It can't be easy being John Reid. On the one hand you have to justify your hard man image by making wild announcements in the tabloids about being "tough on terror", and on the other hand you've got to sit in front of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and justify these authoritarian measures. His recent performance is riddled with contradictions - first of all saying that Control Orders are not "completely effective" - even though when passing the legislation they said it was "vital to protect the nation from future attacks". And when 3 people had been under control orders for a long period of time (because - according to John Reid - they were all about to commit major terrorist outrages) suddenly escaped, "Dr" Reid then turned around and said there was no need to panic as they were not a threat to the public...

Monday, 21 May 2007

Born To Be Wild (Just as long as no-one submits an FOI request)

The logical sommersaults surrounding the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill continue. The Tory MP David Maclean has proposed ammending the FOI Act so it basically exempts MP's from having to declare their expenses. This has the tacit support of New Labour, who have long argued that the maxim "Nothing to Hide, Nothing To Fear" should apply only to the public, not to politicians. As if to prove how embarassing MP's expenses claims can be, Mr Maclean recently bought a £3300 quad bike and got the taxpayer to fork out for it. Presumably he did this to demonstrate how much MP's can fiddle their expenses if they put their mind to it, and therefore how important it is to keep what they spend our money on secret. Mr Maclean has defended his toy purchase by saying it was "vital to help him get round the constinuency". This is up there with other great lame excuses from politicians after they've been caught out:
-Jeffrey Archer apparently gave that prostitue a stack of cash "to further her studies in biology and chemistry"
-Jonathan Aitken's bill at the Ritz Hilton was paid for by a Saudi Arms broker "As an act of Christian kindness"
-Richard Nixon authorised the Wartergate burglary as "A practical joke".

But now that it looks like the FOI ammendment will be going through so MP's can buy their perks in peace.

Taking Liberties is Myspace Featured Film

Which is nice of them. Lot's of people now want to be our friends - and some of them are not from Porn sites!

News item by Shami in the Telegraph.

And the comments underneath are definitely worth a read. Particularly the one that uses the civil liberties argument to try to repeal gun control laws.

And lots of mentions on blogs far and wide...

Bread and Circuses


Solo Passion

The Next Wave

Friday, 18 May 2007

New Narration

The narration for Taking Liberties has just been re-recorded by the wonderful David Morrissey .

You heard it on the Blog first.

And boy is he good. Apart from being one of the the best actors of his generation, there is the wonderful irony that David famously played Gordon Brown in Steven Frears award winning drama "The Deal" based around the turbulent relationship between Blair and Brown.

Some might say we are cutting it a bit fine (we are) but the machinations surrounding the narration for Taking Liberties have been the subject of the biggest rows in film making since James Cameron wanted to make a little film about a boat that sank. However we now have something we are completely delighted with and maybe, just maybe, the film might actually be finished in time for people to see it on June 8th.

Tony Blair is clearly doing all he can to make sure his legacy is well and firmly entrenched before he packs his bags...

No 10 Website hosts racist petition

A BNP led campaign to ban a new Mosque in East London has found a home on Blair's website. Number 10 has distanced itself from it by saying that "The views expressed in e-petitions in no way reflect those of the Government or Downing Street." Strange though that they haven't pulled it down immediately as they do to petitions calling for Blair to be tried as a war criminal.

DNA Database Screw up allows 200 crimes to be committed

This can't be right surely? The DNA Database is foolproof?!? The men at the IT Firm we gave hundreds of millions to said that as long as we kept giving them money it would be perfect. It didn't say anywhere in the contract that errors would go undetected for 11 years and allow a string of rapes, burglaries and arson offences to happen that were completely preventable. Ho Hum.

Blair Might get Wolfowitz World Bank Job

So it's no all doom and gloom for our Tony. Even though Wolfowitz has been handed his P45 for corruption, the Bush administration is keen to make sure that his replacement as the head of the world bank is also a war mongering neo conservative. And as Tony's got some time on his hands, he is currently being given odds of 25/1 to get the job. But once the world bank gets TB's updated CV, and sees his extensive experience in spending other people's money and dicking over 3rd world countries, these odds are expected to shorten.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Bombers Widow Released

The wife of Mohammed Sidique Khan (Ringleader of the 7/7 attacks) was arrested last week in a blaze of publicity. Yesterday she was quietly released without charge. The only thing it seems to have achieved is pissing off the Muslim community even more, and added yet another reason for having a public enquiry into the attacks.

A last hurrah for "Dr" Reid

Go on John - play that song just one more time... Yes, John Reid is going to deliver one final criminal justice bill before he stands down as Home Secretary at the end of this month. And thank heavens he is, as the other 53 Criminal Justice Acts that New Labour have passed in the last decade were starting to get a bit lonely. One might have thought that "Dr" Reid might have actually run out of things to criminalise, but he's pulled through and clearly wants this to be his authoritarian swansong. Still on the hunt to stamp out "yobbish" behaviour, the New Act includes:

-Police Powers to shut and seal premises. It also gives people the power to simply evict neighbours they don't like. If only this law had been passed sooner then Gordon Brown might have got into number 10 much quicker.
-Violent offender orders. Lots more on this in the Taking Liberties book, but these are police powers to put restrictions on people who they think might commit a crime in the future.
-Introducing Tasers to the police force. These are weapons that deliver a debilitating electrical charge and are very popular in the US, so naturally we have to have them in the UK. The Arizona based company that makes them (that's shortly going to make a ton of cash courtesy of the British Taxpayer) defends it's product by saying that they "save" hundreds of lives. This amazing backwards logic is based on the reasoning that if the police didn't use a taser then they'd just shoot the person instead with a gun. This is rather like running someone over with a car and seriously injuring them, but then claiming that you have in fact saved their life as you could have run them over with a bus. The statistics speak for themselves - 220 people have died from being "Tasered" in the US and Canada according to Amnesty international. But they look really cool on the US TV show "Cops" so who do we make the cheque out to?

When "Dr" Reid announced these measures to the Police Federation in Blackpool he was booed and heckled by the audience - though mainly over pay and working hours. Surely this yobbish behaviour warrants them all being evicted from their homes and given a 50,000 volt electrical charge?

And a great running debate on the political affiliation of Taking Liberties on Chris Paul's Blog. For the record we have kept Taking Liberties apolitical - hence we have got contributions from the 3 main parties in the film.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Vanity Fair Screening

Was a blast. Our eternal thanks to the wonderful Henry Porter for hosting the occasion. Some real movers and shakers turned out in force, including Malcolm Macdowell, Shami Chakrabarti and Tony Benn. Fantastic response, and the wine flowed very freely afterwards. And some of it managed not to get drunk by the film makers.

The next step is to get people to actually pay to go and see it, but with the help of the fine people at Revolver Entertainment, there should be a few bums on seats. Apparently it's rather important that people go and see it on the opening weekend as this will dictate how long it plays for, so keep June 8th free. We're up against Ocean's 13, which has the edge on us when it comes to marketing budgets, but we have the edge over them by not being marketing led hollywood drivel.

Microchips in children

You really can't make this stuff up any more. Public hysteria over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has inevitably come round to the conclusion that if we had a microchip in every child then it wouldn't have happened. This is of course utter twaddle, but still doesn't stop various companies and individuals making a load of cash from kiddie surveillance gizmos. Along with microchips in your tots arm (that need recharging once a year - just wave your bundle of joy near a gigantic electromagnet) the surveillance industry is using the fear of paedophilia to flog you:

-Sim card tracking services so you know where your child is 24/7.
-An easy to throw away tagged badge.
-A cuddly device called the Teddy-fone which enables parents to listen to everything the child says and does.

Apart from being absurdly expensive, and detrimental to the child's upbringing, all of the above will be completely hackable so any budding paedophile just needs to go on a few IT courses, and these devices will actually assist them in their ghastly antics.

BBC documentary on CCTV

Apparently Jamie Theakstone thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread. Strange that a man who's career collapsed (and later rose again) because of slightly unorthodox goings on in his private life should want cameras recording our every last move. Presumably if he had been filmed enjoying vast quantities of coke in the company of several prostitutes he would have been sacked as a kids TV presenter much sooner. More on this at Tim's Blog.

Libetry Blogging

Starting to get the hang of this Blog thing. Published our first photo above which was so exciting I had to go and lie down for a while.

Absolutely Brilliant promotional idea for film at Beau Bo D'Or. Where can you get 10,000 stickers printed?

Heavyweight political discourse at Open Democracy

Yes the whole written constitution debate has been a pleasant surprise in terms of timing. Yes we'd all be a lot happier if we had a Bill of Rights that put the core Civil Liberties out of the hands of meddling politicians. Only question is who's going to write it? If his first name is Gordon and he's good with numbers we might as well not bother...

And the netherworld has some nice things to say as well.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Still not finished

At this rate the film won't be finished for Gordon Brown's departure, never mind Tony Blair. More on this later but the decision has been made to re-record the polemic narration with a named actor. Can't give the name away just yet, but there is a delicous irony in the choice that hopefully will not be wasted on New Labour.

More chatter on the blogosphere:

Devil's Kitchen - yes we can confirm that we do look into Magna Carta and the destruction of the British Common Law tradition. And we can safely say we are the first (and possibly the last) cinema film to do this.

And a nice review on Bloggerheads. In fact in general the reaction from the Press screening last thursday night was very positive. Though the death threats and accusations of us all being Hard Let/Hard Right/MI5 Agents are starting to trickle through.

Police are starting to arrest for really absurd reasons in order to keep their arrest quotas up:
-Man in Cheshire arrested in posession of "Egg with an intent to throw".
-A child in Kent arrested for throwing cream buns at a bus.
-Bride in the West Midlands arrested for criminal damage when she accidentally hit a park barrier on her wedding day. Women drivers, eh?

Sunday, 13 May 2007

John Reid's last hurrah

No one can ever accuse our chum "Dr" John Reid for going out with a whimper. Although he has spent the last year at the home office making absurd and sinister authoritarian proclamations along the lines of:

-"The Rule of Law should be scrapped."
-"Muslim Parents have to shop their children if they stay out late and grow beards."
-"I will sort out the Home office in 100 days" (where in fact he broke it in two after a year)

He has saved the best til last. He told a European summit that judges should stop following the law "to the letter" as it hampered the fight against terrorism. How exactly judges follow the law if it is not to the letter was not fully expanded on, but one can only assume that he means that they should follow the law to his letter, and stop making rulings that make him look like a tit. Obviously still smarting from his humiliating defeat in trying to send Lybian nationals back home to be tortured, "Dr" Reid decided that the law had to change so that judges would just do as they were told.

Yet again he came out with the potty logic that the European convention on human rights was outdated as we live in far more uncertain and dangerous times than when the ECHR drawn up. Of course we do. Europe in 1950 was a time of peace and harmony... there hadn't just been the most brutal devastating war that the world had ever seen, 60 million dead and the world in tatters... god no. The Europe of today is far more deadly now than it was at the end of WWII. Osama Bin Laden is a much graver threat to our way of life than those wannabe's Hitler & Stalin, so all those pesky civil liberties (that were entrenched to stop the Genocide of WWII ever happening again) have now got to be given up in order to make John Reid look like less of a dipstick.

Yes, "Dr" Reid knows how to end on a bang.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Film Is Finished

Nearly. We still have to mix the sound and strike the prints, but we had 3 screenings yesterday and the response was fantastic. Packed house at the Amnesty screening, and people laughed, cried and tutted angrilly in all the right places. Thanks all for coming alone - please spread the word! Cinema listings now up on listings page.

No-one will be disciplined over the shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes, though this is no great surprise. However Sir Ian Blair has announced that they will be pressing charges on Mr Menzes for getting blood on the policeman's boots. Still the finest moment in the Menezes affair was when Richard Littlejohn wrote in his liberal column that the guy basically deserved it for being an iillegal immigrant.

The Cost of ID Cards

We would never question the government’s sense of timing when it comes to bad news but it seems almost uncanny that once again on a day when most news cameras are busy pointing in one direction, bad news should be released in another. This time it is the news that the projected total costs of the ID card scheme has risen to £5.55 billion. This is despite some clever accounting, which means that they will no longer be including any of the costs accrued by the Foreign Office (estimated to be £510 million). It’s interesting that even though these figures are supposed to be released by the 9th May at the latest, the Home Office found that they were unable to do so until the day that Tony Blair announced his departure.

While others may doubt the sincerity of this government when it comes to the timing of its announcements we in the Taking Liberties office believe that all Home Office staff were taken hostage for the past month and have therefore been entirely incapable of releasing this news on any day until yesterday. They have been making pitiful excuses about why they were unable to release the report only because they are too modist to tell the truth which is that they fought off these darstardly attackers armed only with a stapler, a hole punch and some biros (fortunately civil servants are big fans of Macgyver).

Thursday, 10 May 2007

The end of the Blair era (well almost)

Tony's departure announcement

Just in case anyone missed it Tony is stepping down on 27th June (if you hadn’t noticed then I am pretty sure that this isn’t the blog for you, British politics being something of a central theme to the blog, documentary and book we’ve written).

You wonder how newspapers managed to muster enough excitement about this to put it on their front pages. It’s hard to imagine cabinet this morning sitting in shocked silence while he announced that he had decided to step down “But Tony, this has really come out of nowhere for us. What do you mean you’re leaving; we didn’t even know you were unhappy. We came into the meeting this morning thinking that we were going to discuss the paperclip thievery from the Cabinet stationery cupboard” (cue pointed looks at Geoff Hoon - well he has to get something out of cabinet, after all he’s not allowed to vote) “and here you dropping this bombshell on us. I really think you could have given us more warning.”

Fortunately, this means that Tony really won’t have a lot to do over the next couple of weeks while his party squabbles over the entirely useless position of deputy leader. This will leave him free for other pursuits which he hasn’t had a lot of time for over the last decade, like going to the cinema…

Tony Blair – the man that irony forgot

If there’s religious tension in your neighbourhood, who’re you gonna call? Tony Blair!

After 10 years in power, during which time relations between Muslims and Christians have hit about their lowest ebb since the Crusades (thanks in no small part to our glorious leader) Tony has decided that he will set up a foundation to foster interfaith relations.

Times article

A friend is quoted as saying “He sees this as where the action is and nobody else is really doing it.” Does this mean that the War on Terror, Iraq War and general breakdown between Christian and Islamic religions has merely been a ruse to give Tony something to do when he retires?

Now that’s what I call forward planning.

Tax Credits – the gift that keeps on giving

It looks like more money is going to have to be written off due to overpayments on the tax credit system. This time they think it is going to be £1.4 billion. I’m going to say that again in case anyone missed it the first time £1.4 billion.

Now I don’t want to quibble with the Treasury about every pound that goes missing, and I understand that there will always be a fair amount of waste in government but I don’t think I am exadurating when I say that it is going to take Gordon a bit more than a quick rummage down the back of the sofa to make up that kind of loss.

BBC article

Tax credits were one of the flagship systems introduced in the last ten years and seem to have been a source of fraud, incompetence and heartache ever since.

Next up from the government that brought you tax credits, ID cards.

Well, nothing could go wrong there…right?

Monday, 7 May 2007

Reid all about it

The Home secreatry "Dr" John Reid has announced that he will throw himself on Tony Blair's funeral pyre, as he can't bear the thought of staying one more day in the Government wihtout his beloved master. A few other things might have hastened "Dr" Reid's announcement of resignation:

1) If he holds a senior cabinet post for more than a year he turns into a pumpkin. "Dr" Reid has held 9 cabinet posts in 10 years. As usual, just as it starts to become apparent that he has made a pigs ear out of whatever unfortunate department Blair has parachuted him into, he gets promoted to cause havock somehere else. Reid's trail of disaster includes: Northern Ireland, Health Service (made NHS trusts overbudget by millions), Defence (he said that British Troops would be able to leave Afghanistan without firing a shot), and of course the Home Office where he has continued the work done by David Blunkett and Charles Clarke in pulverising what's left of our civil liberties.

2) "Dr" Reid and Gordon Brown detest each other. No-one is quite sure why but it has been going on for 20 years and is certainly a factor in Reid's departure, given the impendiong coronation of Gordon. We reckon the feud could be over a woman, a drunken fight, or a fiver that Gordon lent "Dr" Reid that he has never given back.

3) "Dr" Reid suddenly had an epiphany, realised that he was a belligerent, authoritarian dipstick who had no right on gods earth being let near a poition of civic responsibility and has quit in shame and has gone to spend the rest of his life shouvelling mud in the shetland islands. OK a bit far fetched but it's nice image.

In any event it looks like he will soon be in need of gainful employment. Any suggestions please let us know and we'll pass them on when we next see him in court.

More on Taking Liberties on various Blogs

More nice things being written... though it's only a matter of time before the serious verbal abuse starts. Thanks to:

Andrew Ian Dodge

Chicken yoghurt - is there such a thing? Please send us a sample if possible.

Mr Eugenides

And a reactionary snob

Thanks one and all. There are some new previews coming up soon and we'll try and keep a few tickets aside for Bloggers if possible.

Film nearly finished - no really. We have 3 screenings on thursday so this crazy war will be over soon.

PS. Schools now banning playgrounds and break times to keep children safe.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

It was only a matter of time

Words. They don't really mean anything do they? "Deadline"... "Picture Lock", "Bankruptcy"... They're just sounds that people shout at you before they bury their heads in an oven.

Yes we just changed the cut again. It's only 5 DAYS UNTIL WE SCREEN THE FILM FOR THE FIRST TIME?!?!

But it has made it a lot better. Kurt was in town so we asked him to come in and re-record the star spangled banner - Hendrix style - for the torture section. Had a lot of fun doing that in a recording studio on Brick Lane, and then we came back to the edit to have a look at some scenes... and it all went downhill from there. The sound department are can now only finish the mix if they go back in time, so Steve and Vince are brushing up on their quantum theory in order to make sure we have some sounds to accompany the pictures for the 3 screenings this Thursday.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Taking Liberties with Taking Liberties

ok we admit it. The title "Taking Liberties" is not an original one and has been used by:

-numerous articles on the loss of civil liberties (like the one last week by Henry Porter)

-A blog by Simon Clark, that seems to look at several of the issues that we bang on about in the film/book/blog.

-A Raucous touring nightclub. This is a slightly surreal coincidence, but they have a very colourful website and if I'm ever in manchester looking to get a really bad hangover and VD then I'll be stopping by.

Big Brother Awards

Britain has won the Privacy International Big Brother award (again). For some reason Tony Blair didn't turn up to collect the award, so they screened a trailer of taking liberties instead which went down well.

Amnesty Screening

Is now completely booked out. In fact it's over subscribed so get there early. However the film still isn't finished, and if we don't get it done by thursday we will be screening Butch Casssidy and the Sundance Kid instead. Will be quite an interesting occasion - apparently there's a delegation from the Home Office coming so it looks like the secret's out.

Taking Liberties in the Press

Nice couple of articles in the week. Made page 2 of the Telegraph and Reuters carried a healthy piece as well.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

The Long Goodbye

The seemingly unending departure of Tony Blair rumbles on and more and more New Labourites jump up and down to tell us that while there may have been mistakes over the last ten years they are "nothing to do with us, honest"
see our friend Geoff Hoon
and the delectable Peter Mandelson

On the other hand Eclectech has decided to mark the historic ten years of Tony Blair through the medium of song. Take it away Tony

This is a short post as we're all completely knackered. Becca and chris have now been working on the film for a year and 4 months, but feels a lot longer.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Jarvis Rocks

Jarvis said yes… well he had to really. Write a song called “c*nts are still ruling the world” and you’ve got to expect penniless film-makers banging on your door asking to use it for polemical documentaries about civil liberties. And so the great music chase is complete. Better get the film released before any of the bands change their minds…

Freedom Of Speech – US military style
Isn’t it nice that the US and Britain are exporting their democratic values to the unfortunate people of Afghanistan. The US and UK backed government is now openly arresting journalists who disagree with it. They have presumably taken the lead from US soldiers who enforce censorship among the locals at gunpoint. Recently a convoy of Marines shot and killed 10 people and wounded 33. A budding reporter managed to take some pictures of the incident, but was accosted by the marines and had his pictures deleted. A US commander later justified the deletions on the basis that “untrained” Afghans might capture “visual details that are not as they originally were.” A preliminary enquiry later found that all those killed were unarmed civilians.

Full Guardian Story

Bring out your dead – just don’t count them
Clearly embarrassed by the Iraqi body count, the US backed government in Iraq has now found a cunning way to hide this embarrassment. Stop counting and not letting anyone into the country who looks like they might have a go. Dr Latfa is a respected scientist who was barred from travelling to Iraq by the British Foreign office as he was intending to carry out a study into civilian deaths. Possibly this is an existential argument now being pushed by New Labour – if no-one actually counts dead Iraqis, are they actually dead? Discuss.

iraqi death count story

John Reid attempts to sign Memorandum of Understanding with Foxes
Well it’s the next logical stage isn’t it? While Amnesty International has a fat file showing that the fox has eaten over 300 chickens in the last year, John Reid wants to deport a chicken into the foxes den, and has strict assurances from the fox that this particular chicken will not be eaten, even though the fox signed the memorandum of understanding with the blood of the chicken it ate for lunch.

This is of course New Labour’s long running attempt to deport people back to countries where they face torture. No one knows how much public money they’ve spent trying to bypass the torture conventions, but if they keep this up then the Olympics could be in trouble. Then again if they turned trying to deport people to be tortured into an Olympic sport then John Reid and Tony Blair would be in with the chance of the gold.

On April 27th the court of appeal ruled that John Reid’s precious memorandum of understanding with Libya is not worth the paper it’s written on, so he cannot deport the 2 Libyan nationals back there. This might have something to do with the fact that:
1) Libya is still run by the bloodthirsty lunatic Colonel Gadaffi.
2) The head of Human Rights in Libya is said lunatic’s son.
This is the latest in a long line of Home Office screw ups when trying to send people back to countries where they might be tortured.

John Reid loves torture story

Mouloud Shihali (who is in the film) is in a very similar position. New Labour like to pretend that Algeria is now a land of peace and harmony and it’s perfectly safe for him to return – even though the last two people that they deported (with strict assurances that they would not be harmed) have since been banged up and their show trial is any year soon.
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