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 | guardian.co.uk.

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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