Case not proven


Sir John Major's article in yesterday's Times was a near-perfect analysis of the government's assault on Britain's traditional civil liberties. Writing about their plans to raise the maximum period of pre-charge detention to 42 days, Sir John wrote:

There is no proof that an extended period of 42 days would have prevented past atrocities. There is no evidence it will prevent future atrocities. No example has yet been given of why the police need more than 28 days to frame a charge. This is a slippery slope. Assertions that it “might be useful" simply will not do. If we are to curtail the liberty of the individual, we must have more certainty than that.

Exactly. The government's knows it can't make the case rationally, which is why they rely on demagoguery and scaremongering. The same logic applies to ID cards:

[T]he Government has admitted that such cards would not have stopped the London bombers. Nor will they cut illegal immigration, since asylum-seekers have been obliged to carry ID cards for nearly eight years. Nor will they have any real impact on benefits fraud, as this is typically caused by misrepresentation of financial resources rather than by identity.

And then there's the national identity register, containing the DNA of tens of thousands of people who have never been convicted of a criminal offence, and the intrusive surveillance state (which doesn't even need judicial approval), and so on.

We're always told that "only the guilty have anything to fear" – but that is a tyrant's plea. It's also a lie. The act of centralizing so much power and gathering so much information is, in itself, something we should all fear. The mere possession of such power and information creates the risk of abuse. Anyone with access to it is put on a position of power over others.

That's why, ultimately, the only good government is limited government.