Left Out Liberal

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

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Game Is Up

So the Lords wilted in the end. Or rather, the party leaders got caught out by Blair offering an almost "sunset clause", and as soon as one of the Tories or Lib Dems accepted it, the other would have no choice to back down as well.

The whole episode shows the dangers of having one party with a huge majority and control of both Houses. Thankfully, we at least have the Lords to act as some kind of the restraint on the Commons. And I do believe that the events of the past few days have set new precedents in our Constitution for allowing the Lords to resist for as long as they think fit, even in the face of the primacy of the Commons, if they believe the Commons is trying to permanently damage the liberties of this country by handing over excessive power to the Executive.

Max Hastings wrote an excellent article in the Guardian today talking about how we cannot trust this government with anything any more, and by trusting them to make a judgement on our civil liberties, we could be making a terrible mistake. He's absolutely right... this is just the thin end of the wedge and it's already quite a dent in the British way of life. The next step will be much worse.

The fact is that this one isn't ever going to leave the statute book. The Tories may claim they have a sunset clause in all but name, but they shouldn't have give up. I'm very disappointed that the Lib Dems and Tories dropped their opposition to this in the way they did. After the excitement of the whole day, and some excellent speeches, the end when it came was an anti-climax. The independent review will be a whitewash, with a few tinkerings at the edges to make it look like Charles Clarke Listens To Opposition And Is Good! - but the Act will stay forever.

The end of liberal democracy is nigh. We can't keep justifying the destruction of civil liberties with the excuse that "we're protecting the greatest liberty: life". That excuse can be used to do anything, including run a militaristic dictatorship. There is arguably little point to life if there are no liberties in to exercise in it.

Blair must be stopped. Fast.


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