Sunday 6 February 2011

The State Of Civil Liberties In Modern Britain

After only a tiny bit of begging, I was invited up to the HQ of Big Brother Watch on Wednesday evening for the official launch of their new book, The state of civil liberties in modern Britain. Having now finished all 300 pages, I can report that it's a right scary read.

Consisting of 27 essays from an impressive line-up of authors - including MPs, respected journalists and barristers - the book is an eminently readable catalogue of the destruction of our freedoms and liberties in all spheres of life which, when put together in one tome like this, paints an appallingly oppressive picture of Britain today.

Readers of this blog will be most interested in the contributions of Brian Monteith, author of The Bully State featured in the right sidebar (which is where the BBW book is headed once I can remember how to do it), along with those of Philip Johnston, Josie Appleton, and Mark Littlewood. All chapters, however, are illuminating in their description of runaway state control and incessant interference in our everyday lives by local, national, and supra-national politicians.

Depressing though this publication is, departing BBW co-founder Alex Deane (left) should be congratulated for compiling a comprehensive account of how the state has shamefully abused its authority and systematically derogated the lives of all UK citizens by way of legislation, opprobium, surveillance, denormalisation and a total destruction of personal responsibility and self-reliance. The book lays down a marker by which to measure the future progress - or lack thereof - towards a respect for personal liberties previously believed to be enshrined in seminal laws passed by historic politicians who - unlike the current hideous crop - cared for the public's freedom over and above their own self-importance.

This contrast between a state which takes our civil liberties into account and the hideous mutation of governance we now suffer on a daily basis is starkly illustrated in the culmination of Leo McKinstry's chapter. In articulating the abject nature of authoritarian modern government, he points to a sadly prophetic quotation by Liberal PM, Lord Rosebery, delivered in 1908.

The modern cry is, 'Let the Government have a finger in every pie, probing, propping, disturbing. Every day the area of initiative is being narrowed, every day the standing ground for self-reliance is being undermined; every day the public infringes - with the best intentions no doubt - on the individual. The nation is being taken into custody by the state.'
We are, indeed, now presumed to need guarding and cocooning from our own self-determination - whether we like it or not - by those we elect to serve, rather than master, us. It's high time such an invasive condescending attitude was challenged, so all credit to Alex and BBW for doing exactly that.

The book is available here for less than the price of a couple of pints of Guinness. I can heartily recommend its bite-sized format for the train, bath, bog, or wherever else you choose to do your reading.


WitteringsfromWitney said...

Promptly ordered DP!

Dick Puddlecote said...

I think you'll enjoy it (if that's the word) WfW. I look forward to your review. :)

Anonymous said...

I have decided to buy the book and have just placed my order. It costs about £6, which is not a cost that I cannot afford.

I will read it. I am sure that it will describe all the anti-freedom actions of the Gov.

What I do not expect is any hint whatsoever about what to do about the problem. I discount such suggestions as 'write to your MP'.

It bothers me, DP, that there may be people who see The Smoking Community as an easy way to make some money. I am not saying that this is true - I simply worry about the possibility.

What I say may be true. I mean, why do the authors of these essays not simply publish them on the internet? And why does not Forest (or Big Tobacco) provide some funds to print copies and send them to MPs, and just give copies away?

We all try to do our bit, but the fact of the matter is that no really effort has been made to organise The Smoking Community. A real effort would require full page ads in newspapers and TV ads. On the other hand, I would not want The Smoking Community to become an extension of Big Tobacco. I would want it to be an agent for freedom form Gov interference in the way we live our lives.

Angry Exile said...

On the one hand I'm tempted to leave it a couple of years, after which they'll no doubt have added a chapter or two on the Cobbleition's contribution. But on the other the book might be banned if I leave it that long.

rb said...

thanks for the link DP - bought it today - looking forward to reading it (although it will probably fill me with rage and at the same time reinforce my firmly held belief that we are fucked).

All the best


Ian R Thorpe said...

I have noticed over the past few days that Dave might be wittering about multiculturalism being dead but this only appears to mean we will be able to be politically incorrect only with strict guidelines drawn up by the Politically Correct Thought Police

Anonymous said...

I'll buy in when it's available as an e-book. When is that?

Dick Puddlecote said...

Anon: I understand BBW are currently talking to their publishers about that very subject.

Sheila said...

The most dangerous threats to our freedoms develop quietly behind the scenes regardless of which colour(s) of politician are "in power" on the stage and don't get reported in the mainstream media.

Kenneth Roy, a highly respected old school journalist with his own online publication has recently highlighted the Scottish surveillance scandal - a joined-up, cradle to grave citizen surveillance and monitoring system which makes ID cards , Contactpoint and the NIR look almost benign.

Open Democracy commented thus on his latest articles:

"In this two-part exposé, Kenneth Roy, editor of the Scottish Review, reveals the true nature of the long-awaited 'privacy principles' and the back-door introduction of a compulsory ID scheme for Scotland. In both cases, it is the liberties of children that are first on the line. In addition to the intrinsic importance of what happens in Scotland, there are two reasons why everyone across the UK should be alert to warnings of this kind. OurKingdom and openDemocracy played a big role in the 2009 Convention on Modern Liberty. This was a"wake up call" about the dangers of the database state. The evidence it brought together shows that there is a driving state-culture pushing for the penetration of information on citizens and central control of that information, while people are far too complacent and trusting about what this process is, which is being developed with minimal publicity. This is the first reason. Second, from the Poll Tax to the Scottish Consitutional Convention, in both bad ways and good, what happens in Scotland today can impact on what happens in London tomorrow. This is a warning!"

Please heed this warning and read the rest of Kenneth's excellent articles and other related coverage which I'm collating on this thread:

For some reason, an awful lot of effort has been put into painting Scotland as the epitome of privacy friendliness when nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing myself and others can think of is that our Scottish system, with its prize-winning eCare framework, is destined for further rollout.