Just when I was getting scared by America’s lurch towards 1984, the UK’s ruling Labour Party have reminded me that it could be so much worse.
The UK government has declared “a state of public emergency”, even though the UK hasn’t actually been attacked by al Qaida. This will allow Blair and his cronies to enact laws that would otherwise violate the European Convention on Human Rights. The laws, expected by the end of the year, will allow the police to get free access to passenger lists whenever they feel like it. They will also make it harder to claim political asylum (like that has anything to do with stopping terrorists), and allow suspected terrorists to be detained indefinitely without trial.
Not that different from recent US laws, of course. The differences being (a) they’ve already bypassed any flimsy constitutional issues, (b) there’s no excuse because England wasn’t attacked anyway, and (c) the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, felt able to be completely candid about his intentions:
“We can live in a world with airy-fairy civil liberties and believe the best in everybody—and then they destroy us. That’s not the world we live in.
Bush may be an authoritarian nitwit, but at least he doesn’t openly mock the idea of civil liberties as something worth preserving.
Once again, I’m so glad I finally emigrated.