Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday 21 November 2004

Home Secretary Blunkett proposes more dictatorial legislation

The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, today proposed yet more crackpot, and deeply sinister, legislation with the stated aim of 'fighting terrorism'. He said in a television interview that he wants to have anti-terror courts without juries and for phone-tap evidence to be used in trials.

Even more sinister (if that is possible), is that consideration is being given to having civil orders imposed against people suspected of 'acts preparatory to terrorism' even if no offence has as yet been committed and that breach of such orders would become a criminal offence which could result in imprisonment. Yes, this is really what is being proposed. Don't believe me? This is what he is quoted as saying:

"We'd be able to use civil law, like anti-social behaviour orders, to say, 'If you step outside what we've precluded you from doing, if you, for instance, use this particular banking network... then we can move you from the civil into the criminal law', and then we can use the normal criminal justice process."

- does this frighten you as much as it frightens me? Basically what it boils down to is this: the state says it thinks you are planning action against it, gets a civil order approved in some secret show trial, without a jury, you breach the order - and voila you are in prison. ALL WITHOUT HAVING COMMITTED ANY ACTUAL CRIME!

Blunkett says that legislation to do all this will not be tabled until after the next General Election, whenever that is. I am not reassured; the Government knows that if it tried to push through this draconian legislation before the election it would jeopardise its election prospects - that's the only reason for the delay, in my view.

And to top it all we have the 'Civil Contingencies Bill', debated in Parliament last week. This charming piece of legislation, which has on Thursday 18th November 2004 received Royal Assent to become the 'Civil Contingencies Act', allows the Government to repeal or suspend any Act, apart from the Human Rights Act, and despite attempts by the House of Lords to preserve Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights (1689), the Government insisted they might have to be repealed, too!!!!!!!!! Read more about the Civil Contingencies Act here. This has received remarkably little attention in the media this week, all the attention having gone to the fierce debate between the Houses of Commons and Lords about the Hunting Bill, which was forced through by the Parliament Act - all very convenient for the Government, of course, as the Hunting Bill drew all the attention away from the far more important Civil Contingencies Bill. If you consider that preserving what remains of our democracy is in ANY way important, that is. In summary, we are being asked to acquiesce in the destruction of our democracy in order to preserve it (to coin a phrase).

All in all, a very depressing end to this year's legislative programme. I await with trepidation to see what further attacks there are to be on civil liberties in the United Kingdom in the forthcoming Queen's Speech.

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