UK secretary of state: "There is no surveillance state"

Originally published at:

It does sound contradictory at first, but there is a simple explanation that reconciles everything: the statement is a psy-op. :slight_smile: problem solved.


A small correction, GCHQ (along with MI5) is the responsibility of William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, not Teresa May, the Home Secretary (responsible for MI5).

Of course that doesn’t stop what she said from being a load of old propaganda.

Looks like they are still pissed that they didn’t manage to get the last couple of surveillance bills through and are now going to try the slow-mo tactic, tweaking rules here and there until they get what they want.


Just a quick clarification for non-brits about the term Secretary of State as used in the UK vs the US

The US Secretary of State is the single person who runs the State Department, which deals with foreign affairs. In the UK, any minister who runs a department (apart from the Treasury, which is run by the Chancellor) is a Secretary of State.

So Theresa May is Secretary of State for the Home Department (known as the Home Office and roughly equivalent to parts of the US Justice Department and Homeland Security). She is not “UK Secretary of State” in the US sense. The Home Office is responsible for the police, the Security Service (MI5), and the Border Force (although not the courts, which are administered by the Ministry of Justice). The Security Service (MI5) is roughly analogous to the FBI and Homeland Security’s counter terrorism and counter espionage roles.

William Hague is Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, who runs the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, equivalent to John Kerry and the US State Department. The Foreign Office runs the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and GCHQ as these are both (theoretically) foreign intelligence services equivalent to the CIA and NSA.

This push by the government has not mentioned GCHQ, but has been all about giving the police more powers to request communications data. They have clearly decided that GCHQ has become a toxic brand for them.


See Also Quite apart from Lord Byron being a terrorist under current rules there’s this snippet.

How gullible do you have to be to believe that in the last seven years this 4,000 committed terrorists in the UK, with their 34 active plots, managed to kill nobody at all, except for the two deranged and utterly disorganised Nigerians who murdered the unfortunate Lee Rigby? The other 3,998 must be the world’s least productive terrorists. Surely between 3,998 fanatical and committed murderous terrorists they could at least have injured somebody? The truth is that in the last seven years Irish political violence has again killed more people in the UK than Islamist political violence.


Just look for police cars with “ANPR” marked on them - for some reason, they are marked - presumably not for the police, because why would they care? It might be some legal requirement.

ANPR is Automatic Number Plate Recognition. Not insured? They know automatically. Now I want everyone insured, so this is just an example.

But if there’s overt surveillance, then you always know, there’s covert surveillance.


Thanks for that, I’m British and I can never work out what those useless forkwits are supposed to be up to. I always find myself calling the Teresa May post “the Minister for the Interior”, but that is probably from playing the board game “Junta”.

Politicians have long since moved beyond the bounds of parody.


Yeah, this piece immediately lost me when the opening image is comparing the state of surveillance in the UK to the Nazis. Congratulations, Cory, you Godwin’d yourself from the get-go!

Long before Jeremy Paxman started quoting it, the journalist Claud Cockburn said “Whenever you interview a politician, keep asking yourself ‘Why is this lying bastard lying to me?’”

He also popularised “Believe nothing until it has been officially denied”.


Is there attribution for the illustration for this article? The image is powerful enough so that I would want to seek out the artist.


Following on, I just found a relevant quote by his son Alexander, writing about the nearly thirty years of surveillance his father was subjected to by British security services:

“…a clear picture of my father’s character and activities is submerged in a vast accumulation of details. There is a failure to distinguish between the important and the trivial, between the reliable and unreliable. It is as if intelligence officials found reassurance in the sheer bulk of the information they acquired.”

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Thankfully they keep the details secret. The last time they made a plot public, they caused the absurd ban on water bottles and other liquids in airports.

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Hi! Thanks for keeping up the running moan on Cory’s posts. It makes for an entertaining side-show to the banality and mediocrity of the content here.

I’d have to ask myself why I really bother coming to read this banal mediocrity. It’s almost like, I’m so banal and mediocre, that it’s just the kind of tepid, thin broth needed for my constitution.

Your inspiring sideswipes are just the cure! I’ll continue to anticipate them warmly, happy in the knowledge that a sensible hand is on the tiller, saving me from the lukewarm inevitability of my unconscious destiny reading BoingBoing.


Oh you just HAVE to be different, don’t you? With your colours and your theatre. Why can’t you just be American like everybody else?


Is it just impossible to get a shot of Theresa May not about to extend her feeding proboscis directly into the nearest child’s soul in order to refill her loathing gland, or were our BBC buddies doing a little…quiet editorial work… in the selection of the photo?

The ‘standing directly in front of deliberate symbols of state power, with an expression that suggests “the worst thing about a surveillance state is the fact that I have to look at you filthy inferiors”’ pose is less than notably flattering as well as ‘not on message’ as the PR hacks like to say.

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That’s the arms of the Corporation of the City of London, not the UK.

Readers in Scotland: you know what to do about this. You are getting exactly one chance on the 18th of September.


To be fair, I’ve moaned about Xeni’s posts as well. I do believe in equality for woman, after all!

Data = Knowledge, so more data = more knowledge, and knowledge is power, ergo more data = more power (never you mind about that pesky ‘making sense of it’. That might have been a problem in the past; but we have Big Data now, which is super scientific.

See, everything is so easy when you don’t let bothersome facts drag you down!