Sunday, February 26, 2006

Bare Bones

Oh look everyone. A nice juicy bone. Now wag your tails like the obedient little dogs you are.

Looking on the bright side, perhaps this shows that they are listening. They might actually introduce some useful Lords reforms. Given their track record, you'll forgive me if I don't start celebrating just yet though. And Lords reform is only a small part of the problem.

On the wider issue, here's a test for any die hard Labour people who doesn't understand why people are so concerned with the government's attitude towards civil liberties. Let's look at the last election campaign. Remember this?

If Michael Howard wanted to hold suspects for 90 days without charge, what would you say? If Michael Howard wanted to construct an enormous national register to store the personal information of everyone in the country, what would you say? If Michael Howard insisted that you must apply to the powers that be for permission (at least a week in advance) if you want to hold a demonstration outside parliament, what would you say?

Worse still, what if it was Thatcher? (I'm pretty much in agreement with Pete, but this is for those who are not.) Would it be a good idea to have given Thatcher these powers?

The essential point is that legislation outlasts government. No-one knows exactly what sort of Prime Minister we might elect in the future. One of the essential duties of any parliament is to legislate with this in mind. It can be summed up a couple of questions.

Could this legislation, which we are passing into law today, make it easier for a future wannabe dictator to subvert the democratic process? Have we made sure that there are suitable safeguards in this bill to combat this possibility to the best of our ability?

All too often, this government has failed to ask these questions when legislating away key freedoms and protections. They display not even a hint of understanding of the law of unintended consequence.

And this leaves very many people asking that same question: ignorance or mendacity? At the moment, I've got them at around 8/3 on the ignorance/mendacity ratio. I suspect there are many others who would not be so generous.

And talking of other people, Tim Neale has a good look at Blair's nonsense. MatGB has collected a few more. And Tim Worstall goes for a broad view.

As rightly pointed out by Bloggers4Labour in the comments, I did them an injustice by using their site for the "Labour" link above in the way that I have. I offer my apologies.

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