THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
The blame shifters
The quote (and the smear) of the campaign

The Dog That Didn't Bark

The Magistrate's Blog: The Dog That Didn't Bark In The Night.

I rarely agree with Bystander at The Magistrate's Blog. He has those moral calluses that policemen, magistrates and judges acquire from long labour at the coal face of justice. He tends to see everyone as a potential offender and is particularly unfond of motorists. Yesterday, however, he made a good point; one also made by Henry Porter in his foxhole behind enemy lines at The Guardian;

What is worrying is the chill that has descended on civil liberties, as though freedom was some minority issue for eccentrics, rather than the oxygen of democracy. The failure of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to raise the attack on liberties by the Labour party and so signal its vital importance to the electorate is one of the more depressing aspects of the last few weeks.

Poor dear Henry underestimates the issue. Freedom is not subordinate to democracy. Democracy is of no value unless it serves to protect freedom. It can sometimes be better to be a subject of a tyrannical but limited monarchy than a citizen of a big State kleptocratic democracy.

Labour's worst crime has been its onslaught on Liberty. Five long years and thousands of words ago, that onslaught inspired me to start this blog. This election is a disappointment to me in so many ways, but the key one is this. For all that Labour has done, Liberty is not an election issue.

Our infantilised electorate has been under the clumsy care of Mother State for so long that the bars of its play pen have become its horizon. As Bystander says, echoing Porter;

As the General Election campaign enters its last week there has been little or no mention of one of the most significant legacies of the New Labour years; the erosion of liberty and the increasingly authoritarian way in which we are governed.

He goes on to make the interesting point, of which I was only vaguely aware, that thousands of new crimes are largely enforced not by the courts but by legions of public servants;

Only about half of the so-called 'Offences Brought to Justice' ever get to court, as a succession of hardline Home Secretaries have preferred to allow the police the CPS and other bodies to impose sanctions out of the public gaze, behind closed doors. Now, incredibly, even night club doormen are being allowed to hand out fixed penalties. Civil Enforcement of parking regulations means that your only appeal against a decision is to an adjudicator, and if he is not on your side, that's it - no further avenues are open. Proportionality has gone out of the window. Jumping a red traffic light, an offence that can in some circumstances kill people, carries a fixed penalty of £60. Overfilling your dustbin will attract a fine of £100 or more from some councils; where's the logic in that?

The logic is simple, Bystander. It's not about the command given, but the response. These offences are not about restraining wrongs at all. They are about training citizens to instant obedience, and state servants to command. The more illogical, for that purpose, the better. When you call your dog to heel, do you want him to consider why? Labour only knows that the state, when guided by it, knows best. In its view, that's all we need to know. To question is to be insubordinate.

I began to blog as a disillusioned Conservative. I could not understand why my then party was no longer making the case for freedom. Blogging introduced me to a band of others who believe the state should be subordinate to the citizen, but we are few, far apart and often more inclined to bicker than to unite against tyranny. I fear we may have achieved nothing but to give some future Stasi a convenient list of doors upon which to knock in the night.

Consider the language of election coverage. According to our press (and Bystander) we are choosing who will "govern" or even "rule" us. Consider the key issues; they are all to do with the performance of the State, not its size or scope. The children want a newer, stronger playpen and more and brighter toys. They don't care how mummy affords them and they certainly have no desire or inclination to grow up and buy their own. I may yet have the satisfaction of outliving the Labour Party, but I despair of outliving its evils.

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