In this regrettable era of madness we call the “war on terror” the British state has greatly expanded its power and the British people have been scared into a subservient mentality.
The Conservative party has not done enough to restore the civil liberties taken from us by the Labour Party. When the Coalition scrapped ID cards and destroyed the National Identity Register there were reasons to be hopeful.
Since then an authoritarian instinct, encouraged by the security services and spearheaded by Theresa May, has kicked in and led the Conservative Party down the dark path of statism. It is lamentable that it has been left to the Liberal Democrats to curb this instinct.
The highly overrated Home Secretary and (worryingly) possible future Conservative leadership candidate, Theresa May, is a bigger threat to liberty than any Islamist. Her time as Home Secretary has been one of fear mongering and ever increasing authoritarianism.
In order to gain support for draconian measures, she has made cynical and hysterical claims such as the assertion that the terror threat in the UK is “greater than at any time before or after 9/11”. Statements such as these are designed to lay the groundwork for the expansion of state powers.
It is also demonstrably false. Before 9/11 the greatest terror threat we ever faced was the IRA. Although we had to concede an awful lot to implement the Good Friday Agreement, we did not destroy our ancient liberties in the face of that threat as we have done post-9/11.
Theresa May is forcing us down the road of creating a British thought police to tackle “extremism”, curbing free expression in Britain in a way never before seen.
Her illiberal instincts have been laid bare by her attempt to give the Home Office control over our universities, schools, nurseries and other national institutions and compel them into McCarthyite monitoring for “extremism” or views that are “conducive to terrorism”.
“Extremism” is defined in a broad and arbitrary manner wide open to abuse, as exemplified by the proposed “extremism disruption orders”, which will tell British citizens what opinions they can and cannot have. Words such as “conducive” are so vague that it becomes clear that the measures have the potential to go beyond their already dubious remit.
We have plenty of authoritarian laws on the statute books already. Anti-terror legislation has set us on the path to a police state and armed with a suitable excuse the state can use the Civil Contingencies Act to turn Britain into a dictatorship. It is in this inglorious tradition that we can file the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill.
All advocates of liberty must speak out against these continuous spasms in response to acts of terrorism. We cannot protect our values by betraying them. There is no wisdom and responsibility in creating piles of unjust legislation just to be seen to be doing something. We keep responding in the same way but the fact is no matter how much liberty we destroy, every so often an unhinged criminal may attempt to commit a heinous act in the name of Islamism.
In response we are asked to submit to vast, far reaching powers that severely infringe on the individual freedom of innocent citizens while accepting the surveillance of the internet by secret police.
We cannot live by the mantra, If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. By the same logic, we might as well allow the security services to open all our letters and listen to all of our telephone calls. Why not go further? Just to be safe, allow the state to place a bug into our homes to guard against extremism. Let’s create a British version of the Stasi so we can cling to false sense of security.
The smell test for any law that gives powers to the state should be whether it is foreseeable that the state could abuse that power with impunity and use it to victimise innocence citizens. We have gone so far beyond the pale in recent times that the liberty lobby is very much against the ropes in this struggle.
The Conservative Party must remember that one of its primary duties is to conserve liberty. All freedom lovers within the party must make their voices heard and strive to gain influence.