Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, comprised of peers and MPs from all parties, has reached a conclusion that many of us formed a long time ago - the government’s response to the threat of terrorism in the UK far exceeds the probability of an incident.
The committee has questioned whether ministers could legitimately argue, nine years after the 9/11 attacks, whether a “public emergency threatening the life of the nation” remained.
The government insists the threat from terrorism remains “real and serious”
A Home Office spokeswoman stated:
“The threat to the UK from terrorism remains real and serious and we are committed to doing all we can to protect our nation's security while protecting individual liberties using the proper safeguards.”
And therein resides the lie...
Individual liberties have been eroded massively since the turn of this century. A knee-jerk reaction, Anti-Terrorism Bill, was rushed through the commons after the attacks of 9/11 and 7/7. It was not properly drafted, or debated, and has introduced all sorts of restrictions on the ‘individual liberties’ we have been permitted to enjoy in recent years.
Local and district councils have used the bill as a ‘snoopers charter’, monitoring the recycling habits of residents within their boundaries, while tourists and photographers have been left open mouthed with shock, when stopped and searched by police officers for the potential terrorist crime of photographing public buildings. Refusal to comply with intrusive questions has often led to unjustified arrest. Nearly every time, the police officers themselves, do not understand the rights of individuals under the act.
Identity cards are still being discussed as a mandatory requirement for all of us residing in the UK and ministers use every opportunity to hype up the terrorist threat, to ensure we comply with their wishes to introduce even more controls over our everyday lives.
I have not bothered to go into the number of surveillance cameras operating in the UK since 7/7 or the diversity of their use, which cannot even be slightly justified by any terrorist threat.
I do not question whether the UK is a target from an act of terror in the foreseeable future. We have always been threatened by terror of one sort or another. The seventies were a far more dangerous period than that we are in now and it became a common occurrence to be within range of an IRA bomb going off in London. We were not, however, stopped in the streets for no reason, or surveilled by faceless camera operators while going about our daily lives.
I find it surprising that none of the mainstream political parties have mentioned the present erosion of our civil liberties as being something worthy of discussion in the forthcoming general election debates - or is it really that surprising?
“…it is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
It seems nothing has changed!!