Henry Porter on HMRC Postal Snooping

Henry Porter serves up another reminder of just how much the UK is aping the defunct DDR.

The last days of this dreadful government are being accompanied by an attack on rights and privacy that seems unprecedented during Labour’s 13-year rule.

The government is now drawing up plans to amend the Postal Services Act to allow tax inspectors to intercept and open people’s mail before it is delivered. Given the state’s ambitions to collect all communications data this is hardly surprising, but we must ask ourselves how many more rights are seized by government and its agencies before Britain becomes the GDR‘s most obvious European imitator.

Who would have thought, in the dying years of the 20th Century, that the United Kingdom would slide inexorably into acquiescent totalitarianism by the end of the first decade of the 21st? Not by the gun, the bullet or the bomb; not by armed insurrection or war; but for the chiiiiilllldreeen, for health and safety – oh, yes, most certainly safety, for it is a human right these days to be safe. Safe from the monsters under the bed. Safe from the bad people who say things that might upset us. Safe from offence or, horror of horrors, lack of respect. Safe from things that might happen and we must all be controlled, just so that they don’t – even if they weren’t going to anyway; just to be sure. And we must be made safe from ourselves, because, like naughty children, we are too fat, too thin, eat too much salt, eat the wrong size chips – and too many of them, drink too much alcohol and smoke like a 19th Century Blackburn mill. So we must be told what to eat, how much to eat, what we must not eat – and certainly, oh, most certainly, no tobacco, no alcohol and no mind-altering substances. We, the good little proles under the all-seeing all-benevolent eye of the brave New Labour project, must live forever in brain-dead tedium; our bodies temples of radiant health and fitness as dictated by our all-knowing, all-wise masters in Westminster, who know better than we what is in our best interests.

And, it is under the guise of tobacco that this egregious little plan has been hatched. So it’s for our own good – as all of these new laws are. We need to be controlled, cajoled, chivvied and nagged like the recalcitrant charges that we are, or we wouldn’t behave as our enlightened political masters want us to behave.

Quoted in the Daily Telegraph, Heather Taylor, a senior tax partner at Grant Thornton, said: “This seems like a very small and limited change, but it could be a very big step for increased powers HMRC. Once new powers are in the hands of HMRC they tend to be extended.”

Well, that goes without saying. We can also add to that, that any powers dished out to these people will be abused. All that is in doubt is the timing. Do we measure in hours or minutes these days?

It seems extraordinary that we are about to allow the exact same type of interception to be established in Britain with such little complaint. How long will it be before we protest?

Porter isn’t the only one asking that question. Britons have become creatures of passive compliance. Sure, don’t rock the boat and don’t make a fuss in polite company are admirable traits in their place – but surely the time has come to scream the house down? Time, is it not, to hold those responsible to account? Would our forebears who took to the streets, who fought a civil war and suffered ignominious death for their liberties look kindly on the current X-Factor generation?

I think not.


  1. Come on, all together now.

    Auferstanden aus Ruinen (German for “Risen from Ruins”), the national anthem of the former East Germany.

    Auferstanden aus Ruinen
    und der Zukunft zugewandt,
    laßt uns Dir zum Guten dienen,
    Deutschland, einig Vaterland.
    Alte Not gilt es zu zwingen,
    und wir zwingen sie vereint,
    denn es muß uns doch gelingen,
    daß die Sonne schön wie nie
    über Deutschland scheint,
    über Deutschland scheint.

    Sing for the Fatherland… and put your backs into it this time!

  2. A campaign should be started sending letters to persons of importance (MPs, lawyers, accountants, CEOs), already slit open, then sellotaped, with a rubber stamp saying :

    in accordance with the
    Postal Services Act 2010

    The contents should be a ref to the relevant sections of the proposed act. By the time this is read, the rage already caused due to the envelope will mean many of these persons will fire off missives to all and sundry.

    Alan Douglas

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