...How long before it loses its effectiveness in cowing the British public into ceding liberties to the State?
Damn soon, I dearly hope, considering that the latest 'anti-terrorism' surveillance measure - a giant database of all online and telephone communications - would have given George Orwell nightmares, will cost at least £12 billion (realistically it is likely to be several times that), and is so ludicrous in its scale that if realised will give information overload a whole new meaning.
How did Geoff Hoon, speaking on Question Time, defend this extraordinary proposal?
“If they are going to use the internet to communicate with each other and we don’t have the power to deal with that, then you are giving a licence to terrorists to kill people” … “The biggest civil liberty of all is not to be killed by a terrorist.”
From one perspective, this is little short of laughable. It is something you might expect a satirist, making fun of the approach to governance of New Labour, to put into the mouth of a minister. But, no - in the face of sense from a Liberal Democrat MP who pointed out the civil liberties implications of this database - our Transport Secretary actually said it.
Over the past few years, there is a list longer than this blog's blogroll of measures that this Government have taken ostensibly to fight terrorism. Not a lot shorter is the list of such measures that have been misused. From the use of the 2000 RIP act to investigate noise complaints, tackle illegal fishing and even establish if a school's pupil lives in its catchment area, to the seizure of Icelandic banks' assets; once they have it - they'll take advantage of it. It's more control.
Hence all of this fear-mongering, despite the fact that terrorists have killed precisely 0 innocent people in the UK so far in 2008. Precisely 0 in 2007. And precisely 0 in 2006. The chance of being killed by a terrorist is miniscule. Personally, I'm a lot more terrorised by the knowledge that we are governed by, as Longrider put it, ministers who are both fools and control freaks. It doesn't get any better...