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15 November, 2006

It was going so well...

According to the Guardian, there is to be a 'crackdown' on commercial use of personal data obtained by deception.  The mayor of London also proposes to crack down on urban use of 4x4 vehicles with a £25/day congestion charge.  It's even said that chocolate may have major health benefits.  A good day.

But then the Home Secretary spoils it all:

Mr Reid said he wanted to give police the immediate power to close down premises being used for drunken parties, raves, brothels or other persistent antisocial activity, and to "move away from the traditional view that justice has to involve going to court".
Enforcement accountable to an independent judiciary? How quaint.

Define 'other persistent antisocial activity'. How about political protest? Should the police be able to shut down a BNP meeting without a court order, using the pretext that the neighbours don't like the BNP? How about Greenpeace? How about Amnesty International? How about [your choice of minority interest group]?

The article goes on to say the police may be given powers to shut down an event immediately, so long as a court order is obtained within the following 48 hours. What happens if, say, a protest is shut down then a judge declines to issue a court order? Too late.

Mr Reid acknowledged in his speech in Bristol yesterday that the government's renewed drive against antisocial behaviour was based on a concept of justice that many legal authorities might not recognise. "The problem we face is what I call the justice shortfall. That is, the difference - sometimes big - between what you and I think is justice, and what a lawyer or legal academic might think it is. My kind of justice is swift, effective and matches the crime," said the home secretary.
That's deeply scary, and unacceptable. Justice cannot be based on one person's opinion of 'right' and 'wrong', nor can it be based on the collective morality of a majority. There has to be protection of minority interests and a freedom to dissent.
Effectively, Reid is awarding himself extraordinarily wide powers and saying "trust me; I'm acting in your interests". Where does that leave those of us who don't share his interests or, for that matter, consider him trustworthy? Even if he was, what guarantee is there that the next Government will be entirely benevolent? And the next one?


I think I can honestly say that John Reid scares me far more than terrorism. He's actually more nastly rightwing than the vast majority of Tory home secretaries. Even Michael Howard. He's blatantly pandering to the agenda of the Daily Mail and the racist Daily Express.

Since this thug entered the home office, I now consider the Tories to be the lesser of two evils.

Posted by Tim Hall at November 15, 2006 08:48 PM
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