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back to article Osbo jacks up spending on spooks to keep us safe from TERROR

As George Osborne hacked away at what he saw as money-wasting thickets in Britain's welfare system during his spending review on Wednesday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer - at the same time - upped the budget for the country's security services. Spooks at GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 will see a "real terms increase in funding ... to …

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Big Brother

Priorities

We don't have money for schools or hospitals, but we can damn well find the money to keep an eye on you, in case you get uppity about the lack of schools or hospitals...

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Re: Priorities

It's not cheap buying hippy costumes so PC Plod can get his leg over with a female eco-warrior. Love 'em, spy on 'em, fit 'em up, and leave 'em - the prison and single-mother population is exploding thanks to the Bill equating undercover with under-the-duvet.

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Re: Priorities

More seriously, these cases indicate the type of people the authorities feel it is important to spend our money on monitoring. Specifically political activists. Not dangerous fanatics, but people who they fear might organise legitimate protest against the current political status quo.

When we think about protest-lead change- the things that lead to women getting the vote here and the civil rights movement in the US. They all began with political protest by people the state chose to criminalise. The power to take that far further now is the greatest danger that the recent intelligence overreach stories suggests.

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Unhappy

Re: Priorities

"It's not cheap buying hippy costumes so PC Plod can get his leg over with a female eco-warrior. Love 'em, spy on 'em, fit 'em up, and leave 'em - the prison and single-mother population is exploding thanks to the Bill equating undercover with under-the-duvet."

Indeed.

"Pumped by the Met" in every sense of the word.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Priorities

"Priorities: We don't have money for schools or hospitals, but we can damn well find the money to keep an eye on you, in case you get uppity about the lack of schools or hospitals..."

Well Said! . Maybe it was always this way, but its increasingly obvious that politicians and politricks is about power and control..... The USA is in an even worse state. The NSA builds its Utah facility to spy on absolutely everyone, meanwhile they decimate police forces and education in the ghettos...

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Joke

A downvote for us all?

Does Osbo read El Reg?

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Re: A downvote for us all?

Since when did anyone in power put money towards prevention of anything going wrong?

The only thing they are interested in protecting is their own necks and cushy little jobs.

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Trollface

Does Osbo read El Reg?

Apparently he does, and he's gone through my previous posts to down vote as many as he can! I must have touched a raw nerve...

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Re: Priorities

Don't forget power supplies. No money to increase spare capacity which is going to be down to 2% in the next two years (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23081695), but they need to protect us form getting uppity when the power cuts start ...

George Osborne JATT*

*Just Another Tory Tosser

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Coat

Purpose?

Given the media bruhaha of recent days, how much of the increase will be headed straight to the PR department?

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"fully within a legal framework"

We all operate fully within a legal framework. Some people bump up against the scaffolding and get noticed. others manage to slip through and are never noticed or caught. Some people are part of the architecture team and know where all the gaps and alarms are.

The question is: Do they operate in accordance with the law?

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Re: "fully within a legal framework"

"Do they operate in accordance with the law?"

They don't worry about it. Any time there's a problem, they'll just retroactively change it...

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What terrorists?

The UK survived the blitz, the IRA, and the entire cold war without losing our liberties and freedom.

What's so special about the latest batch of people trying to destroy us that we need to hand over all our cash to GCHQ, MI5 and MI6?

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Re: What terrorists?

They obviously think that a few terrorist cells have a bigger strike capability then Hitler's wehrmacht.

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Joke

Re: What terrorists?

Terrorists are everywhere silly - the government told me!

  • If you know someone with two mobile phones - terrorist
  • someone who keeps their curtains closed - terrorist
  • someone who uses encrypted email - terrorist
  • paedophiles - terrorists
  • people in wheelchairs trying to board EasyJet flights to Spain - terrorist
  • market traders who sell fruit and veg in imperial units - terrorist
  • people who make crap jokes on twitter - terrorist
  • people who appeal against wrongly issued penalty fares on commuter trains into London - terrorist
  • kids who take pictures of buses/trains/buildings/cats/squirrels - terrorist
  • people who switch energy supplier on a regular basis in order to get the best gas tariff - terrorist

These are all warning signs - this is why we NEED the PRISM system! Duh!

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Unhappy

Re: What terrorists?

What's so special about the latest batch of people trying to destroy us that we need to hand over all our cash to GCHQ, MI5 and MI6?

Nothing really.

What's different is that we now have the technology for mass monitoring.

<irony> So why not use it? If you have nothing to hide... </irony>

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Holmes

Re: What terrorists?

We survived the Blitz (well, WW2 in general) by funding intelligence work through the likes of Bletchley Park, SOE, etc.

And I'm sure that the security services had reasonable budget to fund their work against the IRA (through 14 Int, etc.)

The work that MI5/6 and CCHQ need to do nowadays is higher tech = higher cost = bigger budget.

There's no such thing as a new problem, but inflation is real

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What terrorists?

I detected and foiled 14 terrorist attacks just last week (I won't give you the details because it might make me less effective this week, but I did. Honest, I really, really did)

Shouldn't I get paid for keeping you safe?

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Re: What terrorists?

"We survived the Blitz (well, WW2 in general) by funding intelligence work through the likes of Bletchley Park, SOE, etc."

True in part at least. Yes, the intelligence work helped without doubt, but I think there were a lot more people to thank. Intelligence didn't do much good during the blitz unless you include the invention of radar as intelligence. We pretty much knew they were coming every night and what routes they'd take. I'm sure the people outside of the intelligence arena who fought the Germans would be glad to hear they didn't contribute.

"The work that MI5/6 and CCHQ need to do nowadays is higher tech = higher cost = bigger budget."

I'm not sure this is really true. Whilst we get some information from SIGINT, a lot of operations are still based around people, much to the disappointment of politicians etc. The death of Bin Laden is one such example and is why the police etc. still spend a lot of money infiltrating gangs etc. Also, SIGINT can be badly interpreted or even misused. Iraq WMDs is a good example of that. All of these things are important.

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Re: What terrorists?

What's special about the current batch of people trying to destroy us, is that for once, they virtually don't exist. The real problem is us: we (the tens of millions of us) are now the main enemy of the State. The State has to find ways of containing us.

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Re: What terrorists?

I wonder what percentage of the GDP was spent on counter terrorism activities whilst the IRA were running around with bombs blowing things up compared to now.?

I would hazard a guess that it is a lot less.

Now everyone is considered to be a terrorist and monitored as such.

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Alert

Re: What terrorists?

Joke alert icon??

The people of Iceland: all terrorists

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Pint

Re: What terrorists?

As are all mums who shop at Iceland - total terrorist home grown lone wolf extremists the lot of them!

I've gone for beer instead of joke alert this time - actually joke alert, is that the next stage up from amber alert on the scare the public scale? Does it mean a joke about Robin hood airport on twitter is imminent?

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Stop

Re: What terrorists?

> The UK survived the blitz, the IRA, and the entire cold war

Keep calm and... Oh, bugger that! DON'T PANIC! DON'T PANIC!!

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Re: What terrorists?

And don't forget that the IRA were actually well trained, well organised, well funded (thanks septics!) and well equipped compared to the current bunch of clowns.

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Re: What terrorists?

It has to be said that the spending on combatting Hitler's wehrmacht was a vastly bigger proportion of the GDP than the security services get now. That isn't to say that they aren't over-egging the terrorism threat and its plausible consequences now of course, or that spying on everyone is the most effective way of dealing with it.

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Unhappy

Re: What terrorists?

The people of Iceland:

Well certainly the banks of Iceland.

It was anti-terrorist legislation that Broon used to freeze their assets.

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Joke

Re: What terrorists? @ AC 11:04

If you're going to remain anonymous, we can't send you the cheque!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What terrorists?

You're not important enough to be told

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What terrorists?

This is the thing about children posting here. They grew up in the most peaceful time in earth's history and they think it's always been like that.

I'd been out of school a decade when they finally stopped testing air raid sirens.

Such is the success of the intelligence services at abstracting the real world into rose tinted, that the love, peace and harmony crowd think they only exist to stop them pirating content.

I know it's against their mandate, but it's a pity they can't let a few nutters through to blow up the Guardian. It would change the mood sufficiently.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What terrorists?

"Also, SIGINT can be badly interpreted or even misused. Iraq WMDs is a good example of that."

What are you talking about? Iraq was a success, the oil is secure, and hence politicians weren't voted out because of ambulance shortages.

What's it like wandering around the world with absolutely no idea why things happen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What terrorists?

"IRA were actually well trained, well organised, well funded "

... and tried to avoid killing children, and tried to get away.

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Holmes

Re: What terrorists?

If there's an actual threat, the dodgy side of territorial protection has effectivly carte blanche at trying to prevent The Other Side from getting the upper hand, financially and "legally". That's what their funding *is* for...

It's only when politicians feel the need to up the Official Budget, you know there's some people getting paid for twiddling their thumbs and Looking Important. That's the time to say "no"and wait until a real threat comes along.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Priorities - Totally agree

With less and less investment in UK Gov as well as UK Plc, what, exactly is it that we're being protected from?

IMO, this just comes across as some "insurance policy" against which the politicians can claim "we did this to protect you" and “we’re playing our part in monitoring terrorism.” Of course the technology is pretty useless unless when, despite the apparent efforts currently in place, we didn't seem to have the people to either shadow the 'identified targets' or ‘take them out’ or there’s an active decision not to act…

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Unhappy

Re: Priorities - Totally agree

"With less and less investment in UK Gov "

Err, the reason we're in the pickle that we are, is simply because there's been too much "investment" in almost everything that counts as "public services", plus an excess of private sector investment. The country has been, and continues to live well beyond its means to the tune of about half a billion pounds a day, every single day, but unfortunately there's the problem that too much of those past expenditures were on unproductive assets.

So pouring more money into the NHS might please voters, but there's no return on it. The vast increase in welfare payments generates no return. Foreign wars - no return, half witted energy policy - little return, and so forth. Likewise private sector mortgage drawdowns to buy new cars and tellies (Guilty, m'lud), no return. Inflated lending to the property sector, no return. High multiple lending to business, no return (in aggregate, because the banks didn't price the risk in).

China has tried "investing" its way to wealth, but is now a giant Ponzi scheme of bad debts and a shadow banking sector on the verge of collapse, because you can't keep on "investing" productive assets. To give you an example, China claims to have built over 32 billion square feet of office space in the 18 months after the 2008 bank funded stimulus to support growth. That's about 30 odd square feet of office space for every man woman and China, and in addition to everything built before and in the three years since.

What the UK should have done is stuck to a balanced budget, and kept interest rates higher, although it's a bit late for that now. The best course of action is the least comfortable, of slashing public spending, not by £11bn, but by at least £111bn, of forcing the banks to admit to their non-performing assets, consolidate them, close half of them. That isn't going to happen, and the only other way out is inflation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Priorities - Totally agree

Nope, the only way out is economic growth, which means investment.

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Re: Priorities - Totally agree

"Nope, the only way out is economic growth, which means investment"

Wrong on two counts. You can't grow your way out of a depression until you've purged the system of bad debts and investments, and changed the rules to free up business. Even if we pretend that has been done, to grow means productive investment.

The simple act of building roads, railways and offices creates no wealth other than some paltry multiplier effects (ie the labourers spend their wages). It's only when somebody does something genuinely useful with an asset that it becomes an investment. Even if you rig the market to use subsidies to make a return (eg wind farms), the problem is that there's no meaningful incremental economic productivity from the investment - you write down the book value of a perfectly serviceable CCGT, you then have to pay a "capacity payment" to keep the CCGT hanging around for when the wind doesn't blow, you pay over the odds for the wind turbine power. Yes, you've "invested", but the economy as a whole is poorer because power prices go up for no tangible benefit.

That's why HS2 and Heathrow expansion will be wasted investments, because they won't make much difference to the wealth created in the UK. BAA might make a few more quid from transit passengers, but there's no related trebling of hotel capacity in the country, is there? Speeding a few fat directors between London and Birmingham won't make a tangible difference to the cost, or quality of their company's products, nor to the return on the company's invested capital.

The USSR collapsed essentially because state directed capital was frittered unproductively on an arms race and bogus economic output (eg trains to nowhere). Europe is digging itself a similar hole with current account spending on crap, and "investments" in non productive assets.

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Re: Priorities - Totally agree

@Ledswinger.

It's not really that investment is the issue per se, but the investment of money that doesn't exist. A loan that is not 100% backed with real money is actually a means of inventing money. If a bank lends £100, but actually only has £10 in assets to back it, effectively £90 has been invented. Now, this is OK if the loan is repaid and everything keeps growing, hence the constant wittering on about growth all the time. However, continual growth is actually very. very difficult to achieve. Why does everything have to keep getting bigger all the time?

Without continual growth or if enough of the loans aren't repaid, you soon get into the position where the bank has insufficient money. This is exactly the problem we're currently in. There is too much borrowing and especially for things that don't deliver a return. The government is as bad as the rest by borrowing more and more and more. The US is probably the pinnacle of this. However, the UK government even invented new ways of getting the equivalent of loans, but not calling them loans and hence keeping them off the balance sheet. It was called PFI. A huge con to try and keep the books looking OK whilst delivering to the public a massive increase in investment and services to make them vote for the government next time round.

Sometime we'll learn. It won't be soon, but the situation can only get worse, especially as everyone is constantly talking about continuous growth getting us out of this mess, which is exactly what got us into it!!

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Re: Priorities - Totally agree

@AC

"Nope, the only way out is economic growth, which means investment."

I'm afraid this is all wrong. Because governments (and others) constantly bang on about growth above all else, they will do anything to increase growth, whether sensible or not. Rising house prices are loved by governments as they make people feel wealthier and also help to raise GDP and therefore help growth. Unfortunately, house prices cannot constantly go upwards and must correct at some point as people have to be able to afford them etc. House prices now are stupidly high and must fall considerably to get anywhere near a sensible level.

In reality (and you only have to look at nature to see this), constant growth is simply not achievable in the long run. Anything that is not backed by something tangible is not real, but we constantly create money which isn't.

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Re: Priorities - @Mad Mike

"It's not really that investment is the issue per se, but the investment of money that doesn't exist."

Well, I'd suggest that fractional reserve banking merely moves the assets and liabilities around, rather than making a difference to their worth.

If I invest a billion quid in a pointless rail link that isn't of any economic benefit, and I then go bust, then a billion quid has still been wasted that could have been put to better economic use (which can include not spending it at all). If I borrow from the bank, then I go bust, the bank own the unproductive asset, and are down a billion quid, because the asset was built (or the transaction made), and cash changed hands, and then taxpayers have to bail the banks out (or in Cyprus, savers have their money taken off them at the diktat of the German Chancellor. Ultimately, excess investment (or debt fuelled current spending) is still wasted cash. If all that debt had been well invested we'd be entering a golden age; instead we're finding ourselves each with a non-speaking role in Gotterdammerung.

Fractional reserve banking is actually the foundation of modern society - you couldn't have built the good and clever things we have without bank debt. The problem is the bad, pointless and unproductive things thta have also been and are continuing to be done with it, because it was too cheap and too readily available. Gormless George's announcement about new infrastructure show that he understands none of this, with the money to be directed on almost exactly the wrong things to be spending on. In the bigger picture, universal broadband roll out would be the least bad of all the investments, but even promising £10^11 of spending they've managed not to have universal and high speed broadband, because spying on us, (amongst other pork barrel projects) is apparently better value.

So I'll disagree with you: We won't learn, because the politician's solution to too much debt and spending is more debt and spending, and that applies across all political parties and across most countries. Japan have had twenty years of bugger all growth after getting themselves into the situation that the UK is now in. Welcome to the future.

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Re: Priorities - @Mad Mike

"Japan have had twenty years of bugger all growth"

That's because the state keeps intervening to keep the currency devalued whilst they put their house in order.

Just wait - when everyone else is crying out for money, it will be the Japanese that hold all the cards.

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Flame

What are you doing to protect us against the US?

The Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights has just said, "European states are obliged to protect individuals from unlawful surveillance carried out by any other state". How much of the money designated for "further investment in the protection of UK interests in cyberspace, making it harder for hostile states and criminals to target the UK" will be spent on protecting people and businesses in the UK from the US government and companies?

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Facepalm

Re: What are you doing to protect us against the US?

None at all. Cos it's all lawful, innit? They told us that. So that's all right then.

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Stop

Right now, our Government scares me more than any bomb-backpacking jihadist. They not only watch me, but I pay them to do it!!

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Black Helicopters

<----Do you think these are cheap?

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Of course....

all of this has to be increased. I'm becimming increasingly convinced this is all going to go bad really fast. Something will trigger it and BOOM. So they need to be ready.

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Re: Of course....

What do you mean by "all this"?

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Black Helicopters

Which, translated means...

"protect UK citizens and interests against terrorism threats"

Gather more data for the NSA under the 'Special Relationship'

"enable the agencies to operate more effectively"

Dear NSA, here's your PRISM login to GCHQ

"protecting Britain from the terrorist threat remains a top priority"

The Yanks wanted more data, and were happy to contribute to the cost

"the police counter terrorism budget will not be cut"

Had a great lunch with those fab guys at the ACPO

"Single Intelligence Account settlement"

Unaccountable slush fund

"protect the country from online threats"

Increased internet Surveillance

"raising awareness of the cyber threat"

Encouraging businesses to do our work for us

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Big Brother

An increase in funding?!

To the casual observer, it could seem that some of our politicos might have some juicy little secrets and that <insert TLA (or 4LA) agency of choice> have shown them the pictures...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: An increase in funding?!

if the politico has been subject to developed vetting then the goons do indeed have the dirt on them, and the spooks also have tame journalists on tap...

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