Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday 13th - Lucky For Some? (Part One)

Following David Davis's shock announcement that he was to resign as the MP for Haltemprice and Howden and to put himself up for re-election on the single issue of holding suspected terrorists for up to 42 days without charge he wrote this article in the Daily Telegraph. As a result I posted this comment on the Daily Telegraph website:

"We are into extraordinary territory, Mr Davis, as a result of your decision. My first reaction is to applaud you for standing by your principles - and I agree with all you say about the erosion of our fundamental liberties by this Labour Government.

"But I'm not sure that I understand why you have taken this step at this point in the electoral cycle. The Conservative Party has strong support at present and there is, for a very long time, the real possibility that we could form the next government at the general election.

"Why have you jeopardised that position now by handing our opponents the opportunity to show us as divided? You must act very quickly to spell out to the general public why your stand on this issue is important.

"I wish you luck because Joe Public is not always as well-disposed to the type of libertarian views you espouse. They will be confused and sceptical about your motives and be influenced by the mischievous (and misleading) media who will portray you as a cypher for the beginning of the self-destruction of the Conservative Party.

"I hope you have thought this through very carefully otherwise you might find Brown and his unworthy bunch of "never-weres" are here to stay."

Let us hope that over the next few days and weeks David Davis can indeed create the sort of debate he is hoping to achieve. My fear is that too many people will see the issue as relatively unimportant when they are contending with the higher costs of living, higher borrowing costs and the potential that they will lose their jobs. Who cares about a few "Islamist extremists" intent on bombing and maiming innocent people being locked up while the police build a case against them? According to a couple of recent opinion polls some 70% think this a price worth paying.

But, if he can widen this debate to show how we have all been suckered into this authoritarian society that Labour has been steadily building over the last 11 years then maybe they will sit up and listen. As soon as you get into your car to go to work you are already being tracked. Speed cameras can read your car number plate; call in at your local petrol station you are on CCTV; use your credit card and you've been clocked; make a "hands-free" call from your mobile - you've been logged - even to the extent that your exact position can be pin-pointed; your company can trace exactly when you arrive at work and can also record all the websites you visit.

There is no escape from this surveillance society. If the Labour Government are allowed to have their way every detail of our lives will be electronically recorded on ID cards, electronic medical records and other central databases that are all vulnerable to illegal access.

If Mr Davis can make a case that there is a grave danger that our fundamental freedoms are being eroded and cause us all to think very carefully before we give away any more, then his "noble gesture" will not have been in vain. At this stage I'm not so sure he can.