01 November 2008

Authoritarian MPs

There are a couple of schemes in progress responding to the breakneck progress of the all-knowing, all-powerful state in Britain.

One is the sending of copies of 1984 to every MP, and another is the stroll that some bloggers have in mind for Wednesday.

Alarmed as I am by the situation, I think these protests are fundamentally misdirected.

I do not believe that the Labour Party is pushing in this direction (ID cards, national childrens databases, national ID databases, detention without charge, ID required for buying mobile telephones, etc. etc. etc.) because the MPs are a bunch of authoritarian bastards, despite appearances. It is not their aim to see all these powers gathered and used. I suspect they actually aren't bothered about it one way or another, and, given the chance to offer their honest opinion, would probably say most of it isn't worth doing.

They are pushing it all because they think it is a vote-winner, and for no other reason.

That being the case, demonstrating that there is a small group of people who are very strongly opposed serves no purpose. They know that, but we only have one vote each, and they don't believe there are enough of us to matter.

The only way to win this is to gain the attention of the ordinary voter, and bring home to them the problems of having the all-powerful state monitoring their every move. The biggest publicity victory we have had so far was the news that local councils were using anti-terror surveillance powers to monitor people putting non-recyclables in recycling bins. That beats the by-election victory of David Davis and the Lords' defeat of 42-day detention.

Even politics doesn't help. It is true that, in the boxing match of electoral politics, the Conservatives have taken very good positions on most of these issues, and therefore, if they win, there should be some relief in the short term. But in the longer term, the fundamentals will reassert themselves. The Tories will find their pro-liberty positions a liability, and, in due course abandon them. Liberty simply isn't what the MPs went into politics to fight for, and if push comes to shove, it will be sacrificed to improve electoral chances and therefore whatever it is that they are aiming for.

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