Brave New World 2005-03-09

Blair defiant on terror measures despite massive opposition in the House of Lords.

It is beyond me how Blair can stomach to introduce what in effect is a return to the days when the government could lock someone up without evidence.

The very fact that these "control orders" are intended for use in cases where the government can be reasonably sure NOT to be able to secure convictions should be a big red flag.

Now, there's a lot to be said for having the ability to track or restrict the movement of people where there is a significant risk that these people are involved in terrorism activity, however there is a huge difference between allowing the Home Secretary to unilaterally decide to lock someone up (which stinks of fascism) and allowing the government to secure such "control orders" via a judge after having provided a reasonable level of documentation and allowing a security cleared barrister to argue on the persons behalf.

The scariest aspect of this is how the terrorism threat has been pushed forward to the front of peoples minds even when a tenfold increase in terrorism over the levels of the last 5 years would still make terrorism a trivial risk to peoples lives and safety compared to a wide number of other issues, such as road accidents.

This is particularly bizarre in the UK, where IRA terrorism was a fact of life for decades - I worked in London and regularly passed not far away from the BBC building around the time of the car bomb there, and also remember well the calls from relatives after the Ealing Broadway bomb (the two last (?) of the IRA related attacks against targets in England).

Despite the continued threat of attacks, including the infamous attack against the Conservative party conference in Brighton in 1984 that nearly left the UK with large parts of the cabinet killed, the UK has not seen such brutal attacks on civil liberties in decades.

Maybe the UK government should focus a bit more on the things that actually kills the most people instead?

And perhaps they should also consider that the current terrorism in part is an attack on democratic ideals and in part an attack on what is presented as Western abuse of powers - by attacking civil liberties the UK government is falling into the trap of both giving these would be attackers what they want and at the same time handing them further ammunition.

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