Berlin. What a garrison of spies! what a playground for every alchemist, miracle worker and rat-piper that ever took up the cloak – John le Carre, A Perfect Spy, 1963

The UK appears to have woken up (one eye half-open, the hand ready for the snooze function) to the fact that our intelligence services do things without our knowing about them. An MP was eavesdropped on while talking to a constituent. By law, conversations between a constituent and MP should be free from the prying ears of UK spooks. The same right applies to lawyers and clients. Fair enough. It’s called the Wilson Convention, after Harold Wilson believed he was being listened to when he was Prime Minister and protected MPs from “our friends on the river” (M15). He wasn’t paranoid: we later learned that M15 and the CIA thought he was a Soviet spy.

The Tricky Little Imp has had quite a few real spies in her life. For why, that’s just the odd way of the world. It wasn’t professional. But she knows that spooks, just like journalists, MPs, doctors, bin men, shop assistants and engineers, can be strange people. A security clearance does not a man of integrity make (nor a woman). As in all walks of life, there be nutters.

So while we may docilely accept living in the country with the biggest amount of surveillance in the world, all in the name of safety and security, it’s worth remembering that not only do mistakes happen, but that not everyone shares the same idea of what is right or justifiable as you do.

If you’re white and middle-class, don’t make the mistake of assuming all this is being done for your benefit. If you’re not white or middle class, you probably knew that anyway. Ask questions, speak out. Ask for a decent explanation of why ID cards should be introduced – check out who your MP is and contact them at www.theyworkforyou.com. Ask them to write to the Home Secretary on your behalf. If you do that, they have to do it and let you know the response.

When The Guardian and the Daily Mail are saying the same thing on this, you may well check under your chair to see whether hell is bubbling over. But they are: rare and worth taking note of. Go on, click here and send that email.

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