Left Out Liberal

A left-wing/liberal look at the UK's General Election of 2005.

Monday, February 14, 2005

House Arrest?

I can't really tell whether this issue of what Charles Clarke is going to do over the plans to give him the power to place anyone under "house arrest" is resonating in the country. We don't seem to have much of a tradition of defending our civil liberties in this country, and normally when the token spokesperson of Liberty is invited onto a news programme, their views are dismissed as somewhat "peculiar" by the establishment.

But this is one issue everyone should be concerned about. More now than ever we need to show that the Rule of Law is an integral part of our nation. There is a threat from terrorism, but our reaction to it must be proportional to the risk. There is still only an infinitely small chance of being involved in a terrorist event, something like 1 in 100,000... while the chance of you committing suicide is around 1 in 9,000. Statistically speaking, you're more of a danger to yourself than the terrorists are a danger to you.

It is vital we uphold the Rule of Law, since if we start adjusting our country to deal with terror, we risk giving a victory to them. We can't just allow any Home Secretary to decide to detain people forever just because he says so. The whole process is open to abuse.

I am glad that the Conservatives look set to oppose these issues, at least at the moment. They are horrendously illiberal, and if they are pushed through before the election as most commentators are predicting, it will effectively mean the game is up for civil liberties in this country.

What shocks me the most is that all of this is being considered under a Labour government. It rather indicates just how far to the right the present Blair administration is. There needs to be a major change in the Labour party soon, but I fear this election is not going to provide the excuse we need to do so.

There must be another way.


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