MELANIE PHILLIPS: Yes,
Big Brother Britain is a menace. The irony
is, it's the civil liberties lobby who are
Last updated at 8:10 AM on 02nd March 2009
BY MELANIE PHILLIPS, WRITING IN THE DAILY MAIL
Suddenly, a new political
consensus appears to have emerged for the
chattering classes. At the weekend, lawyers,
celebrities, writers, politicians and
lobbyists took part in a series of meetings
across Britain, organised by the umbrella
group Convention on Modern Liberty, to
discuss their fears about the erosion of
Britain's historic rights and freedoms by
the 'surveillance society'.
The convention brought together such stalwart Lefties as the human rights lawyer Baroness Kennedy with the former Tory home affairs spokesman David Davis - who resigned his post specifically to devote himself to campaigning on the civil liberties issue.
The Convention on Modern Liberty brought together such stalwart Lefties as the human rights lawyer Baroness Kennedy with the former Tory home affairs spokesman David Davis (above)
Even the former Home
Secretary David Blunkett, who is regarded as
a security hawk through his strong backing
for a national identity card scheme and
tough anti-terror laws, warned of the danger
of a 'Big Brother' state through
data-sharing between public bodies. Like all
bandwagons, however, this one needs a beady
eye cast over it, not least because of its
occasional note of hysteria.
Its claim that Britain is
turning into a police state is clearly over
the top (and reveals no small ignorance of
what terrors a true police state inflicts).
Its alarmism over closed-circuit TV and DNA
profiling pays scant regard to their
usefulness in catching criminals. And
there's more than a whiff of an underlying
agenda to paint Britain as worse than the
tyrannies and rogue states that threaten its
interests, with a corresponding anxiety to
downplay the terrorism threat against this
Nevertheless, we should,
indeed, be concerned about some of the ways
in which freedom is being compromised. Some
local councils are making wholly
inappropriate use of anti-terrorist
legislation to snoop on citizens, while
other public bodies - such as the Charity
Commission, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society
and the BBC - are able to make deeply
questionable use of further surveillance
There will soon be
compulsory CCTV cameras tracking people as
they shop in supermarkets for a bottle of
wine, and pubs are being told they will only
get a licence if they agree to train their
security cameras on their customers.
The Coroners and Justice Bill will allow inquests involving matters of national security to be held in secret if ministers so decide. And the Home Office is planning a new 'Intercept Modernisation Programme' which will store details of every phone call, email and internet visit - a proposal condemned by Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, as 'a step too far for the British way of life'.
These are very real
concerns. But despite them, the campaigners'
argument is skewed. They claim that fear of
terrorism has curtailed freedom.
But this ignores the role
played by the civil liberties lobby in
bringing about this state of affairs in the
first place. For many of those now howling
about the erosion of our ancient principles
are the very same people who were behind the
introduction of human rights law.
It may be thought a
curious irony that the Human Rights Act was
introduced in 1998 to tackle precisely the
concerns expressed last weekend of a slide
into tyranny - and yet liberty has been
eroded in the past decade.
In fact, this isn't
curious at all. Although the campaigners
would sooner cut off their hands than admit
it, the one has followed directly from the
other. The idea that human rights law
expands freedom was always a serious
mistake. It has the opposite effect.
One of the main reasons
the State has resorted to gathering
intelligence within Britain on such an
alarming scale is the collapse of the
ability to control our borders. And that was
brought about by the systematic refusal by
the courts, on human rights grounds, to keep
out or deport a range of undesirables.
The reason this country never had the identity card system common to so many European states was the fact that it used to have robust border controls. Once those barriers came down, the only way to protect the country's security became internal surveillance.
Of course, this runs
wholly contrary to the historic principles
of English liberty. But that is the
inevitable outcome of human rights law -
which has ridden roughshod over those
principles - because many of those now
campaigning against the erosion of liberty
also claim that 'universal' human rights
principles trump Britain's own.
Under that law, judges have been handed the power to balance rights against each other. And time and again, they have come down in favour of the rights of terror suspects, illegal immigrants and common criminals against the rights of indigenous, law-abiding people. So it's a bit rich for the liberty campaigners to claim that fear of terrorism has eroded human rights.
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And it's even more hard to
take when such campaigners claim they are
passionate about defending the English
common law. This is, indeed, the bastion of
our liberties by holding that people are
free to act unless the law expressly
prohibits them from doing so.
But the human rights law
these campaigners foisted upon us has taken
a judicial axe to that principle by making
judges the arbiters of our freedoms.
In doing so, they
deliberately transferred power from
Parliament to the courts. And the inevitable
consequence of that has been that MPs lost
power to the judges. This weakening of
Parliament has enabled the Labour Government
to use Parliamentary procedure to
short-circuit debate and force through
legislation without proper scrutiny.
A more robust Parliament would have prevented the Government passing those laws which threaten our fundamental freedoms. But over the past few years, Westminster has had the stuffing knocked out of it by a series of measures, including human rights law, whose purpose was to destroy this country's constitutional settlement and powers of democratic self-government.
Devolution took away
Parliament's power to decide many laws for
Scotland and Wales. Above all, EU
membership - whose impact upon Britain has
greatly increased during the past decade -
has taken away more and more powers of
self-rule and made Parliament increasingly
Most of today's liberty
campaigners are also supporters of this
constitutional revolution. That's because
the dominant creed in such progressive
circles is the belief that the historic
values of this nation should be superseded
by international laws and institutions -
which will apparently usher in the utopia of
the brotherhood of man.
In fact, this is
profoundly anti-democratic and anti-freedom
because it upholds the rights of some
preferred groups against others. As such, it
is responsible for the real curtailment of
our liberties through anti-discrimination
laws and codes against 'hate speech',
hijacking freedom by deciding who is or is
not entitled to have it.
Accordingly, such liberty
campaigners have been notably silent over,
for example, the banning from Britain of the
Dutch MP and anti-Islamism campaigner Geert
Wilders. They have been silent over the
erosion of the rights of men accused of rape
to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
They were silent when a Christian was forced
off an adoption panel because she opposed
undermines their claim to be the true
defenders of liberty.
Some of the concerns they are now raising are valid. This country's bedrock principles of freedom and democracy are, indeed, being eroded. But the campaigners should look in the mirror if they want to know who is to blame.
[As no doubt with many others we also had doubts about the OPEN FORUM which included many of those very individuals who have themselves been responsible for the very abuses of so-called HUMAN RIGHTS which have undermined our hard fought for Rights and Liberties from the Revolution of 1689. The above article has covered the twists and turns which the so-called Liberty lobby were unable to bring to the fore -that they had within their ranks the very persons and ideology which were responsible for the rabid doctrines within our society. What ever the subject in view the false prophets will always appear but the message is a matter for the individual to assess in an open debate so that the TRUTH can escape from the maze of UNTRUTHS.]
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