Thursday 29 June 2006

The Independent: Blair laid bare

There's an excellent article in today's Independent by Henry Porter. The intro blurb is:

In the guise of fighting terrorism and maintaining public order, Tony Blair's Government has quietly and systematically taken power from Parliament and the British people. The author charts a nine-year assault on civil liberties that reveals the danger of trading freedom for security - and must have Churchill spinning in his grave.

For example, here's an interesting extract:

"For instance, the law banning people from demonstrating within one kilometre of Parliament is contained in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act of 2005. The right to protest freely has been affected by the Terrorism Act of 2000, which allows police to stop and search people in a designated area - which can be anywhere - and by antisocial behaviour laws, which allow police to issue an order banning someone from a particular activity, waving a banner, for instance. If a person breaks that order, he or she risks a prison sentence of up to five years. Likewise, the Protection from Harassment Act of 1997 - designed to combat stalkers and campaigns of intimidation - is being used to control protest. A woman who sent two e-mails to a pharmaceutical company politely asking a member of the staff not to work with a company that did testing on animals was prosecuted for "repeated conduct" in sending an e-mail twice, which the Act defines as harassment."

And so it goes on. It gets worse. Your right to trial by jury doesn't apply in some cases. You can now be tried twice for the same offence. Hearsay is acceptable evidence for ASBO orders. Ministers now get complete control over goverment inquiries rather than Parliament.

If the Tories campaigned to address this imbalance, they might just get my vote in the next election.

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