Thank god for Boris (or, why I’ll never get my hair done in Manchester)

Really. I’ve never said it before. I’ve never thought it before. But thank god for Boris.

Because if London was still a Labour city, if Boris was not chairman of the MPS, London’s women would shortly become guinea pigs in the trialling of – and I kid you not – targetted war on terror propaganda in hairdressing salons.

Who gets the pleasure instead? The only major city left in Labour hands – the city that will also have the dubious pleasure of “piloting” ID cards. Manchester.

From the Manchester Evening News (who, to their great credit have splashed this on their front page in today’s print edition):

HAIR salons could soon be in the frontline in the war on terror. Police research shows women are less likely to take on board security messages.

Now experts have pinpointed hair salons as the perfect place to target them.

They plan to show videos while women are having their hair done to encourage them to report suspicious behaviour on a special hotline.

Remember Children of Men? That futuristic dystopia, in which anti-immigratrion adverts encouraging people to inform on their neighbours are constantly played on public transport?

Can this be true? I don’t mean to imply any slur on the subs and fact-checkers at MEN, but really, can this be true? It’s grotesque.

It must be stopped – they must be stopped, this is bloody ridiculous. Campaigning trousers are going on. More later.



  1. Bad enough we also got to ‘pilot’ the new scheme where you no longer have a right to a lawyer if you’re arrested… Manchester seems to be to Labour what Scotland was to the Tories in the 80s, a place to try out every bad idea first…

  2. How exactly do they intent to make this happen? People go to the hairdressers to be pampered, to relax, to escape from the world.

    If you force them to put TV screens in playing terrifying videos then… I mean.. which salon owner’s going to go for it?

    So to do it it’d have to be compulsory. And if they do that then seriously what next? Anti-terror messages on those screens in Doctor’s surgeries? On public transport? Is this Government really going to resort to terror tactics???

    I’m thinking this isn’t going to happen. It’s just too crazy. Surely this one is too crazy?

  3. You haven’t been to the doctor’s recently, then, Charlotte? They have a telly in the corner of the waiting room at ours which the ovine masses watch and absorb the messages from.

    Last time I went there was one about reporting suspicious stuff in among all the “stop wasting your doctor’s time, you wimps” and “eat more veg!” nannying.

  4. Charlotte, this thing – . I got extremely shouty about it at the time, and emailed my MP, but I don’t know if it actually got put into practice – it’s certainly something that completely dropped off the radar in quite a surprising manner, and having not been arrested myself I don’t know if that story’s accurate…

  5. There’s all sorts of propaganda-y nonsense on the one at our surgery. Will have to make notes next time.

    If you throw chairs around be careful. You don’t want to injure yourself; you’ll only end up there being drip-fed government propaganda more often.

  6. Charlotte – incidentally, if you want a shorter answer to your questions about what differentiates a ‘liberal’ from a ‘social democrat’ of the New Labour type, a liberal is someone who responds as you or I did to that link…

  7. Jennie, that’s particularly terrifying because the people being targetted there (I’d be prepared to bet) will be children. I used to read all the leaflets in the doctors when I were little.

  8. Manchester’s had quite a positive experience with terrorism – maybe they should be welcoming terrorists by appointment.

    I seem to remember the big IRA bomb in Manchester city centre in ’96 or something: no-one died and it paved the way for a redevelopment of the area and the renaissance of Manchester city centre from a no-go-after-dark to a bustling, desirable place to visit and live in.

  9. Mr Quist, that is an interesting assesment of what happened. Of course the flip side is the Corn Exchange is no longer there, all the little alternative market stalls and similar got destroyed, a large chunk of valuable collectible items were trashed and the business went bust (Andrew will doubtless remember Odyssey 7 if he was about back then) and the centre of Manchester is now a huge pile of glass and steel without a soul.

    And I never had a problem going out in Manchester after dark, even went for a midnight run through Moss Side once.

    At least there’s still Affleck’s.

    But yeah, what Alix said. And Jennie. And Andrew. And Charlotte. I reckon Charlotte’s right about salon owners being insane to accept the ads, and customers should vote with their feet if they do.

  10. Oh, not sure it’s local knowledge, I’ve been back there once total since the rebuild, and recoiled in horror at what they’re done to the area I used to hang out in when I was there supposedly to study aged 19.

    I keep planning on going back properly to spend a bit more time there, but, y’know, time and money, even though it’s just over the hills now.

  11. I’m afraid Mat’s pretty much right. Manchester City Centre used to have character, like the city centres of other proper cities. Now a whole chunk of it’s like a transplanted bit of the South Bank, all hideous glass buildings and coffee shops. The bits that escaped ‘renovation’ are still pretty good though…

  12. Andrew, I may have omitted to say that I spend on average every other weekend in Manc. Didn’t know you lived here (am “here”, ie in Manc, now). Where are these bits which escaped renovation? We have found Trofs pub near the Shudehill interchange, but other than that it is much as MatGB says. Where are all the decent pubs??

  13. Ah, alas most of the decent pubs *did* go… I’m thinking more of the scummier bits of the Northern Quarter and so on – all the cheap second-hand bookshops and obscure record shops and so on that are much like the bits that used to be in the Corn Exchange…

    But I do spend as little time as possible in the city centre itself now – it’s not a very pleasant area…

  14. I mostly go to a couple of locals near my flat in Didsbury (though I’m moving to Levenshulme soonish). I can ask Dave Page where a good place is though – he runs or helps run about every campaigning organisation in Manchester (NO2ID, Free Software Society, etc etc) and most of them appear to be run from meetings at pubs…
    And let me know when that starts up (assuming here that I’m welcome despite my occasional rudeness to people on LC…)

  15. Decent city-centre pubs are not exactly uncommon, just not in the area around the Arndale. The Town Hall Tavern is where NO2ID meet, and has a free-to-hire function room which is commonly used by political campaigns.

    The Knott at Deansgate is a lovely pub, as is its sister establishment, Bar Fringe up in Ancoats. The Castle on Oldham Street is a very traditional boozer which apparently hasn’t changed much since John Cooper Clarke’s first gig there…

    Corbiéres off St. Anne’s Square is a pleasure, though frequently packed and noisy. The Bull’s Head near Piccadilly is also good, though if I’m near the old UMIST campus I’ll make the effort to go to the Lass O’Gowrie down on Charles Street near the BBC.

    I’m sure there are others…

  16. The Bull’s Head! I’d forgotten all about that, but I went to the quiz there for *years* when The Lovely Jonathan was the quizmaster. Dave’s right, that is/was a very nice pub indeed.

  17. >Charlotte, this thing – . I got extremely shouty about it at the time, and emailed my MP, but I don’t know if it actually got put into practice – it’s certainly something that completely dropped off the radar in quite a surprising manner, and having not been arrested myself I don’t know if that story’s accurate…

    Might dig into that. Try here:

    It all talks about solicitors, but that could be weasel words.

  18. Ah that’s the Criminal Defence Service, which is what we currently have.

    The plan is “Criminal Defence Service Direct”, like NHS Direct. You won’t be speaking to solicitors, you’ll be speaking to legal advisers which is absolutely no substitute at all. Everyone with half a brain knows that if you get arrested and taken to a police station you always, always, always, always ask for a duty solicitor, without fail.

    If they’re seriously taking away people’s ability to speak to a duty solicitor then people are being forced to interact with the legal system without qualified representation… this is another one of those, “they can’t seriously be doing this, can they?” things, like banning people from taking photos of the police. Except that’s really happening. As of now, in fact.

  19. Matt: Lizw on Livejournal.

    Charlotte: I suspect people manning the phones at Criminal Whatsit Direct will be people like me – there’s shitloads of people with law degrees and no job in the law.

  20. ChG is right. Digging:

    Judging from the pilot, Criminal Defence Service Direct is a phone bank that sits alongside the Duty Solicitor Phone setup, and takes calls for a specified set of offences within a tigth set of prcedures.

    Assessment by solicitor: Dec 2007

    Detailed report by Kings College:

    Law Society Gazette Feature Feb 2009:

    (Suggests savings of £8m nationally, includes a “random sample” assessment that is +ve).

    Lords Debate on Initial Statutory Order

    Costs (which I think relate to the Pilot)

    Web page:

    CDS Direct office manual (300k), March 07 Looks to have been updated for Live Environment.

    “Benefits realisation plan” (small, Feb 08):

    List of offences for which telephone advice is the only option:

    (a) Cases under Sections 4,5,6,7 and 7A Road Traffic Act 1988, of
    driving with excess alcohol, driving whilst unfit through drink or
    drugs, drunk in charge, and failing to provide a specimen.
    (b) Cases in relation to a non-imprisonable offence.
    (c) Cases of warrants for failing to appear at Court, failing to pay
    court fines, a means warrant or warrant for commitment,
    arrested on a warrant for recall to prison
    (d) Cases of breach of Police or Court bail conditions.

    Exceptions to this rule (attendance at Police Station is “allowed”):

    (a) An interview or an identification procedure is going to take
    (b) The client is unable to communicate over the telephone.
    (c) The client complains of serious maltreatment by the police.
    (d) The investigation includes another alleged offence which does
    not fall within the cases limited to telephone advice.
    (e) The supplier is already at the police station, in which case the
    supplier may attend the client but may not claim more than the
    telephone advice fixed fee.
    (f) The client is arrested on a warrant for failing to attend court,
    and the solicitor has clear documentary evidence available that
    would result in the client being released from custody.

    Telephone Advisers are not Duty Solicitors, but their supervisors are.

    Snippet from Office Manual re: indemnity:

    “38. The Legal Services Commission provides CDS Direct with indemnity insurance by
    underwriting any exposure to claim.”

    That’s all for now.

  21. Looking especially at the Law Society Gazette report, it seems to be the usual: measures introduced with some good points (as acknowledged by both Con and LD in House of Lords) but with the implementation taking away some basic rights and trampling on people who fall outside the standard template by poor drafting and cocked-up implementation of details (e.g., right to see a solicitor at any time).

    I don’t like the prospects for more offences being added to the list quietly.

    And I think that introducing the changes via a Stat Instrument is a disgrace if it couldn’t be amended.

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