In an earlier article on freedom of speech and expression, I said this right was our only real protection against state intimidation and preserving democracy and human rights. And yet it annoys me when most debates around FoS or civil liberties around Muslims, as if they present the real danger. No, the government does because only it has the absolute power to take away those rights.
A few weeks ago the government announced that the Freedom of Information Act was costing them too much money, time and hassle and so maybe scaled down. This is a brazen attempt at censorship but no real furore has followed.
The problem is this is only a part of the enroachment on our civil liberties. As Garry points out:
Last week, Sir Ian Blair and Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller launched what is obviously another coordinated attempt “prepare public opinion” for yet another round of authoritarian tabloid pleasing measures. Neither of these people is an elected politician but our great leader has no qualms about destroying the barrier which has historically existed between politician and civil servant and co-opting them into participating in his political strategies.
This dangerous dismantling of a crucial long standing distinction serves no-one but Blair and is likely to do long term damage to the British political process. He really is an unscrupulous self-serving git.
Quite. And there are other problems. A Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust report on Monday said:
The government’s counter-terrorism campaign is often driven by party-political and electoral motives that are ‘submerging’ its own ‘sensible’ counter-terrorism strategy.
The actions of ministers, particularly Home Secretary John Reid, could have a ‘boomerang effect’ by alienating the Muslim communities whose trust and co-operation are vital.
Not Saussure has more. This is the nub of the problem. The ministerial dimwits currently in charge of formulating anti-terrorism policy are no help when all they seem to do is generate illiberal and idiotic policy measures that get us nowhere.
The MI5 chief’s speech, which detailed the extent of their surveillance activities, also alluded to the obvious in saying real peace lay in sorting out the Israel / Palestine problem. But given that Blair didn’t have the balls to admonish Israel when it invaded Lebanon, or push for it to negotiate with Hamas for a settlement, he cannot be seen as a bulwark against terrorism. He is making things worse.
These are the same intelligence services that pointed out Tony Blair’s own foreign policy “exacerbated” terrorism. Unsurprisingly he said little then.
Yesterday Newsnight aired a bizarre short film on how Omar Bakri and Hizb ut-Tahrir were helping radicalise people. Bizarre because halfway the focus shifted entirely from Bakri to Pizza HuT without any real point.
What I want to know is:
1) if everyone knew Bakri was radicalising youth, why didn’t the police or intelligence services, who have been banging on about terrorism for years now, not lock him up earlier? Political correctness? Gimme a break.
2) Notwithstanding criticism by Shiraz Socialist, it featured an imam trying to combat radicalism, who said the government ignored his proposals to help form a team of imams dedicated to combating radicals at universities.
Pull all these strands together and what do you get? A government that ignores sensible proposals (incl most made by the committee following 7/7) and yet rushes out policies and makes statements (about veils) that only patronise people. We get debates on how ordinary Muslims pose a threat to our freedom while the government is quietly installing more video cameras, trying to introduce ID cards, restricting the FOI Act and much more.
It’s a farce. You want to stop terrorism? Then work to get rid of Tony Blair.
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Filed in: Civil liberties,Current affairs,Party politics