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Saturday, September 26, 2020
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Home COVID-19 Who’ll speak out against this war on freedom?

Who’ll speak out against this war on freedom?

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NEW Zealand: Elections postponed; you and your household locked in a ‘secure facility’ should one of you test positive.

Australia: The state of Victoria in a ‘state of disaster’ allowing martial law and curfews without any right of appeal.

Britain: A Government running wild, unchecked by any of the normal brakes our system possesses.

When do we say enough is enough? Surely, the above conditions, even with a light reading of history and dystopian fiction, are enough to send a shiver down the spine.

I have little time for the far-fetched conspiracy theories relating to this virus; but I do worry about all the things being trampled on in the name of public health and safety of the group.

We may see constitutional issues as restricted to dusty legal tomes hidden away in a library, not important enough to see the light of day in our ‘modern’ era. But we consign these issues to the bin at our collective peril. 

Briefly, our country is not to be run by a presidential Prime Minister who, like Mr Blair, seems to see Parliament as a fly in the ointment. Perhaps this attitude is actually Dominic Cummings’s ruthless search for technological efficiency (another time, another article).

Placing an entire country under prolonged house arrest is simply unacceptable. It smacks of totalitarianism. Normally such draconian measures would be placed before Parliament for debate and consideration, but not this time.

Our right to peaceful protest or political assembly was curtailed under regulation 7 of statutory instrument 2020/350. This authoritarian legislation was slipped on to the statute books by amending the 1984 Public Health Act. A current judicial review is considering whether the Secretary of State’s actions were ultra vires, or acting beyond his legal authority.

Former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption wrote that the Government’s new style seems to be ‘legislating the lockdown on the hoof in late-night press conferences’. These late-night decrees seem to be Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s favourite: announcing local ‘lockdown’ measures via Twitter is surely the low point!

All the brakes on executive power have failed. Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition are meant to critique all Government policy – that is why they exist – but they are silent. Human rights advocacy groups are silent whilst our human rights are overridden. The once-independent House of Lords, now packed with ‘Tony’s cronies’ and party loyalists, is impotent. The majority of the media accept the Government narrative without question and continue to terrify the populace. MPs and ministers keep schtum for the sake of their careers. The police, to whom we have delegated enforcement of our law, have become an arm of the nanny state.

Coming full circle, we may still think the constitution a dusty issue and that these measures are merely temporary. Income tax has been a temporary measure for more than 220 years. Once laid down, precedents are difficult to remove and are liable to nefarious use.

Benjamin Franklin said: ‘Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.’

We should not take our liberties for granted.

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Edward Gifford
Edward Gifford is a second-year politics and social policy student.

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