Thursday, February 16, 2006

Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill - the Professors' Letter

Commenting on my post about the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, a gentleman named Paul asked me for some "blood curdling hypothetical examples of how this legislation might be applied". In a letter to The Times today, Law Professors at the University of Cambridge have done the job for me.

Sometimes I feel we liberty-minded bloggers are ploughing lonely furrows. Britain sometimes seems too drink-addled and debt-saddled to care. M'learned friends in Cambridge have therefore made my day. Not only are they speaking for England, but proving liberty bloggers are no mere nutters!

Please follow the links and read the letter. Please accept, if you are British, that your nation's future as a liberal democracy is in imminent danger. Please call or write to your MP and let him/her know how you feel and make it clear that he/she will pay the electoral price for failing to vote against this - and future - "police state" legislation. Then please ask all your friends to do the same.


ContraTory said...

I have found it curious during the course of the past 35 years that Labour administrations always rely on their "mandate" for passing such controversial legislation when Conservative (and Liberal)Governments would never dare do such a thing. As Labour believe that they are "on the side of the angels" they cannot conceive that any legislation of this nature that they pass could possibly present an unacceptable infringement of our liberties. It is, as you say, a very, very dangerous situation.
Of more concern to me, is that when I talk to people of the threat this Government poses to our liberties, most people seem disinterested. It is depressing.

Paul said...

Thank you Mr. Paine, you've put my mind at rest (the paranoid bit anyway). Now all I have to do is work out how to persuade my loyal Labour MP, who is a lawyer, that he is wrong to support this Bill when all my best arguments on ID cards came to nought.
Having just checked on public whip his "rebellions" are limited almost exclusively to procedural issues (MPs mileage allowance, who should be chairman of a select committee etc.). It takes a special kind of person to be so free of independent thought.

Tom Paine said...

Paul (please call me Tom) your MP ought to be more capable of independent thought if he is genuinely a lawyer, as he has some alternative employment if victimised by the Whips. However if, like Tony Blair, being a lawyer was just a way to keep busy while finding a seat, then you may be out of luck.

I am increasingly convinced that our informal constitution served so well for so long because our MP's were essentially amateurs. If lawyers, they could neatly fill in the time when the courts were not in session by sitting in Parliament. Other people with real-life experience of work and business could readily find their way into the House of Commons and combine it with their other careers. The tabloids persecute the poor guys so much now, that companies don't want them on their boards (unless the companies are iffy DNA testing outfits desperate for Government ID Card contracts).

I am unhappy enough with the way things are going to retire early and go in for politics, but as I am over 40 none of the three main parties would take me as a candidate. As a financially-independent politician I might be free from corrupt temptations, but I would also be free to defy the Whips. That does not suit them.

Clinton-like professional politicians who have no other experience of life are focussed (as are most people) on what advances them in their career. Since in Britain the Executive (in the highly personal form of the Prime Minister) determines directly the career advancement of every MP in his party, it is able to direct issue threats through his Whips which bring his troops quickly into line. Thus the "separation of powers" between Legislature, Executive and Judiciary has broken down. This new piece of legislation merely illustrates the contempt our Executive now has for a Legislature they routinely abuse with impunity.

Under the fancy dress of a parliamentary system, we have inadvertently appointed a Lord Protector. Blair, alas, lacks all Cromwell's virtues and none of his vices.

Deogolwulf said...

Contratory: "Of more concern to me, is that when I talk to people of the threat this Government poses to our liberties, most people seem disinterested. It is depressing."

My gloomy thoughts almost exactly.

Paul said...

Tom, alas my MP last showed independent thought when he resigned as a PPS over Iraq. Now he's back climbing the greasy pole. I agree with your analysis, and he is, as far as I can tell, a "proper" lawyer with a practice in the town. As such he can't be ignorant of the potential consequences of this Bill. He walks through the aye lobby with his eyes wide open. That's what leaves me confounded.