Alastair’s Place

Software development, Cocoa, Objective-C, life. Stuff like that.

Good for David Davis

In the wake of Parliament’s passing of the bill allowing forty-two days detention without charge for terrorist suspects, David Davis, the Conservative Shadow Home Secretary, has resigned as an MP to fight a by-election on the issue of whether or not it is right to curtail our civil liberties in this way.

Good for him I say.

The only reason the public thinks (at least according to the polls it does) that these kinds of illiberal measures are acceptable is that the government of our country has been conning us. The theoretical threat from Islamist terrorism and in particular Al Qaeda—and it remains primarily a theoretical threat, unlike for instance the IRA during the late 70s and 80s—has been used to justify large numbers of illiberal and frankly unpleasant measures which we are promised are “to combat terrorism” and which are then promptly misused to keep pensioners out of the Labour Party conference, to spy on people sending their children to school, to prevent law abiding people from attending legitimate peaceful protests and all kinds of other similar things which have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.

The steady creep of authoritarianism into the British state has continued unabated under this Labour government and the problem is that because our civil liberties have been chipped away one piece at a time it has been difficult for the public to notice the impact it is having.

Aside: I should perhaps say at this point that I’m actually a supporter of the idea of ID cards, but I am most certainly not a supporter of this business of attempting to scare the public into letting politicians take increasing control of and an increasing interest in the minutiae of everyday life. ID cards I support because we already have them… lots of them, in fact; they’re called (variously) credit cards, debit cards, chargecards, bank cards, driving licenses, membership cards, clubcards, reward cards, points cards, passcards, passes, and even “identity cards”. I’d rather carry just the one, which does not mean that all the organisations whose cards I currently carry would have access to all of the information held by all of the other organisations.

David Davis, it seems, intends to bring all of this to the fore in his constituency and it will hopefully make his constituents—not to mention the rest of the population—realise that something is seriously amiss.