Monday, April 22, 2024
HomeLaura PerrinsLaura Perrins: Knee-jerk power grabs and sweeping enquiries. Not so fast, Dave

Laura Perrins: Knee-jerk power grabs and sweeping enquiries. Not so fast, Dave


How did you sleep last night? Are you a jibbering wreck knowing that we now live in “dangerous times”, as I heard David Cameron say on my radio yesterday morning?

It seems from the headlines in the last few days that not a single upstanding citizen or parent should be sleeping soundly. We should be on-guard for the paedophiles that lurk around every corner. I am sure there is one staring through your window right now. He is probably a celeb, or an MP, or an ex-MP from the 80’s. Who the hell knows but we should be afraid.

That is why the Coalition have promised a super inquiry to inquire into anything that was ever done by anyone at any point in time. Okay, I am exaggerating, but the inquiry seems to be so broad that it is difficult to see how it will come to any clear findings. But it sure will create a lot of smoke and therefore headlines.

More importantly, I am at a loss, as has already been pointed out, as to why we are having an inquiry into serious criminal behaviour when usually it is the police who investigate this. If we are talking about a vast criminal conspiracy to commit crimes, then similarly this is also a criminal offence and should be investigated by the police.

I suppose the allegation that there was a cover up of a criminal conspiracy by people who may not themselves have participated in the criminal behaviour itself, has sparked the inquiry, but this will be very difficult to prove.

Proving people knew about something and not merely ignored it, or had suspicions but actively covered it up is always challenging. In fact, it may be even more difficult to defend an accusation of: you knew something was going on, or must have/should have/ought to have known something was going on so prove that you did not tell the police for wholly innocent reasons. Figure that one out.

Then there are the terrorists. This threat is so grave, we are told, that we now need sweeping new emergency powers right at the end of the parliamentary term that will be subject to minimum legislative scrutiny. In fact, this is to combat the threat from both paedophiles and terrorists, the two scariest and most reviled groups of people in modern times.

We are told that just to maintain the status quo in terms of retaining data that may be destroyed as per a European Court of Human Rights decision, we need to close a ‘loop hole.’ Only that decision was handed down three months ago and the Coalition is only limping to this legislative solution now. Further, it will not be reviewed until 2016, and a requested “sunset clause” that would trigger a review in six months time has been rejected.

Liberty have pointed out that that this should not be considered legislation that merely plugs a loop-hole, as the current legislation was found unlawful anyway. In addition, the powers are too broad as it permits the state to snoop on everyone, not just suspects.

Now, I have nothing wrong with granting reasonable and necessary powers to combat terrorism and paedophiles. What I do object to are knee-jerk power grabs by the state and over-the-top inquiries that will certainly use up enormous amounts of time and money and may not yield the proportionate results.

I particularly resent the use of terror language to manipulate the population.

We live in dangerous times. I am sure we do – but then we lived in dangerous times in the 80’s and for most of the last century. In fact when was the last time a Prime Minister said, actually folks, all is hunkey-dorey, the threat is no longer immediate, we don’t need all those powers thanks. Have them back.

Never I say, never, because governments and states always want more power. It is what they do and who they are. As such they should be subject to vigilant scrutiny.

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