Writing for the Comment is Free section of the Guardian, Henry Porter discusses the current UK government’s track record on civil liberties – or, more accurately, the apparent removal of many of our freedoms by stealth.
I feel quite strongly about this subject, and have written about it in the past. I’m not a great believer in conspiracy theories, and I don’t spend my time fretting that the government is out to get me, but, this gradual erosion of basic rights and liberties – which go back centuries in some cases – is deeply worrying. Maybe, this government are telling the truth and are only doing these things because they believe they will protect the people of this country. Maybe, they would never dream of using these powers for any malign purpose, but that doesn’t mean a future, less ethical government would behave in the same wa.
We are in danger of losing freedoms our forebears fought long and hard for, and sadly, a large number of people seem to be prepared to let this happen. Some, are simply unaware of the situation, others feel it’s all for the greater good. ‘If you have nothing to hide . . .’ they say. To them I ask this: If you have nothing to hide, why do you have curtains at your windows? Why don’t you tell every Tom, Dick and Harry your PIN? Why don’t you discuss your entire medical history with the queue at the bus stop? Is it possibly because some things are private?
The issue isn’t whether anyone has anything to hide. It’s a simple matter of living free from state monitoring and interference. Or, to put it another way: When you get up in the morning you put on clean knickers/pants, you wouldn’t expect your mother to come around to your house to check you had. If she did you would feel very silly, and rather offended. Surely, she should trust you as a grown adult to put clean underwear on in the morning? Well, yes she should, and the government should trust us all to behave like responsible citizens too! The money spent on badly designed and intrusive schemes would be better spent on more police officers to enforce the laws we already have.
In my previous post I quoted Shami Chakrabarti, I’ll repost the quote here because I think it is pertinent.
“If you throw live frogs into a pan of boiling water, they will sensibly jump out and save themselves. If you put them in a pan of cold water and gently apply heat until the water boils they will lie in the pan and boil to death. It’s like that.” – Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty
If, like me, you would rather not go down the boiled frog route, try the following links:
- No2ID – campaigning against id cards and a state database.
- Charter 88 – campaign for a fair democracy.
- Liberty – UK civil liberties and human rights organisation.
- The Big Opt Out – campaign to protect the confidentiality of medical records.
- Leave The Kids Alone – campaigning to end the practice of finger-printing children in schools.
- The outcome for the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill