Monday, December 20, 2004

The reassurance of Newspeak

I've been a tad worried about the state of British liberty of late - prompted, I thought, by recent departures by this government from established legal liberal principles such as the right to trial by jury, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, and now the proposed introduction of ID cards. I needn't have worried: freedom is slavery and those who advocate "woolly liberal thinking" are the real enemy, as Melanie Phillips and Charles Clarke have helpfully explained. Take this, for example, from today's Times:

I claim that the ID Cards Bill that I am introducing today is a profoundly civil libertarian measure because it promotes the most fundamental civil liberty in our society, which is the right to live free from crime and fear. Both in practice and in principle ID cards are right. I hope that they will gain wide support throughout our society, and the sooner the better.

So giving citizens the obligation to pay to be monitored by the state is "civil libertarian"? What a relief; had I known this, I would have supported them earlier. But I was still worried by the detention of terrorist suspects in Belmarsh Prison where, I understand, they have been detained without charge, trial or access to legal representation. Given this mindset, I was inclined to agree with the Law Lords who ruled 8 to 1 that these detentions violated all known principles of human rights. Fortunately, Melanie Phillips is on hand to explain that liberal societies, when under threat are entitled to cease to be liberal, thus preserving freedom - and it's anyone who disagrees with this erudite reasoning that is the real enemy:

The human rights culture is actually a mortal enemy of life, liberty and democracy. The Law Lords' judgment is but the latest example.

Phew, these meddling judges really are a menace! Hitherto, I'd imagined that it was countries such as ours with a "human rights culture" that enjoyed the most liberty. Now I've seen the light: freedom has been most advanced in countries unburdened with this insidious legal sophistry. Only I'm still a bit confused because one historical example would be the Soviet Union, where the state was protected from its enemies in much the same way - but inexplicably, Ms. Phillips doesn't like the comparison. Can't think why...

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