THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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My authoritarianism is better than your authoritarianism?

Ken Clarke refuses to rule out retention of control orders | Alan Travis | Politics |

The founding principle of Western civilisation - and England's greatest contribution to it - is "the rule of law." I hate it when journalists describe political contests in terms of deciding who "rules" us. That is far too medieval a concept. Free men rule themselves and submit only to lawful authority as confirmed by independent courts and (in the case of criminal law endangering their liberty) a verdict of their peers. The government of the day exists to serve us, not to rule us. To the precise extent that it is not serving us, it is oppressing us.

I was delighted to see the most oppressive government of my (and many) lifetimes fall. It was a government without moral boundaries. It interfered in our actions, and - despicably - tried to interfere in our thinking. That I was glad to see Labour go did not mean, however, that I was unconditionally glad to see the new government arrive. I took the view that it was entitled to look about it and decide its priorities. I even accepted its more urgent need to address the economic crisis than to repeal Labour's many vile incursions into our liberties. I could never have imagined however that leading figures in the new government would openly contemplate retaining control orders.

Control Orders were the reason I began blogging. It was unbearable to me that the home of Magna Carta, the presumption of innocence, and the concept that "Be you never so high, the law is above you", should introduce a system of house arrest for people suspected of crime. It is a system to be found in countries like North Korea and Burma and - whatever the law's lazy minions may say - has no place in England. I was happy that the now "Justice Secretary" Ken Clarke (a man for whom I generally have little time) opposed the concept at the time. I am shocked that he now contemplates with equanimity that it might be retained. According to the linked Guardian report;

Clarke was in a relaxed mood, reflecting that in government there was an inevitable temptation that the regular and heavy briefings led to ministers holding a different perspective from their views in opposition.

Or in other words, power corrupts. No freeborn Englishman should be "in a relaxed mood" about this. Clarke is by all accounts a nicer person than his Labour predecessor, but his usurped authority is every bit as hateful. He has revealed that politics is not about principles to him - not even the great principles that make civilisation possible - but rather about who has his sweaty palms around the levers of power. That is precisely what most of our people suspect, and precisely why they are so cynical about politics.

Clarke hopes he will still be "a friend of Liberty" in two or three years time. Whether that flawed organisation (of which I am a member) still embraces him or not, he is no friend of liberty today.


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History shows us it can, because it did. Nor will the glories of the US Constitution long hold against the corruption of politics by Socialist ideas that equate to no more than "vote for me and I shall enslave your neighbour and make him work for you; I shall steal his goods and split the spoils with you."

You are barking up a forest of wrong trees on this point. A written constitution enacted in Britain today would give the force of entrenched law to every idea you and I despise.


I hate it when they (the press) talk about politicians and parties being in power. They are in office, not power. People who become politicians really don't need their egos stoking any more than is necessary.

Telling them they are in office reminds them that the position is temporary and just might bring about some much needed humility, a virtue sadly lacking in most politicians, especially Clarke.


Justice and a State that does not have a written Constitution protecting the liberties of the Individual cannot coexist.

This is the rule of the Caesars

Suboptimal Planet

As for Clarke, he's a thoroughly bad apple — Europhile to the core. It says a lot about David Cameron that Clarke is allowed to serve as a Secretary of State for Justice.

Suboptimal Planet

I hate it when journalists describe political contests in terms of deciding who "rules" us.

Indeed. I saw this very phrase recently in The Telegraph:

"At the end of the day, we have to be able to rule this country"

It was attributed to an anonymous cabinet minister, so it's questionable whether any real person uttered these words, but it's the sort of remark that passes without comment.

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