Friday, February 05, 2010

House Points: Full-body scanners at airports

My House Points column from today's Liberal Democrat News. Some of the same arguments have appeared in recent posts on this blog.

Bare cheek

The introduction of full-body scanners to British airports was announced in a Commons written answer last month by Paul Clark. More than that, he announced that no alternative search methods will be offered. Travellers who refuse to submit to a scan, which produces an image of the naked body, will not be allowed to fly.

Paul Clark? Me neither, but extensive research reveals him to be the Labour MP for Gingham and Rainham and a junior minister at the Department for Transport.

It’s a sure sign a government has outstayed its welcome when someone you have never heard of announces an outrageous imposition without any pretence of democratic debate.

And it’s a sure sign that British radicals have run out of steam that hardly a complaint has been raised at this decision. It seems that it takes one Nigerian to set fire to his underpants and our concern for human dignity is forgotten.

What complaints there have been have largely been at the thought that some travellers might be singled out for extra attention because of their dress or background. So much of our moral energy goes into our anxiety not to be racist that we have too little left to be outraged at anything else. As long we are all oppressed equally, what is there to complain about?

There was one other concern with these scanners. When the security people at Manchester Airport announced they were introducing them last autumn, they were told that using them on children would break child pornography laws.
Not a problem for Paul Clark. He used another written answer to declare that the scanners were quite compatible with those laws.

It is just like government to make parents feel nervous about taking pictures of their own children in the bath while granting itself powers to do much as it likes with them.

Perhaps making air travel more unpleasant will encourage people to go by train. There were plenty of suggestions for improving the railways at transport questions last week.

The Labour MP Martin Linton wanted Battersea station to be reopened. It turned out to have been closed by German bombing in Word War II.

To be fair to the Department of Transport, they have been very busy since then.


Joe Otten said...

This may do more to reduce the country's carbon emissions than anything else this government has done.

Lavengro in Spain said...

They say the images will be reduced immediately. Hmmm.They say ...

But even if they are, it won't be long before some security goon with a camera snaps the image of some celeb passing through the machine and puts it on the Internet.

Lavengro in Spainh said...

They say the images will be deleted immediately !!!