Imagine a country where the right to trial by jury has been undermined, where an individual can be tried twice – the rule on double jeopardy abandoned – where well over 3000 new crimes have been enacted in the past ten years; where racial, sexuality and religious tensions are said to need the protection and might of law.

Imagine a country where the chief justice and many leading judges fear for the future of justice and civil liberties because the government of that country has eroded civil liberties in the name of countering terror and  has reduced support for those of limited means, and vulnerable people, to fight their corner and pay for lawyers.

Imagine a country where people are imprisoned without charge for 28 days (42 days was defeated).

Imagine a country where the right to speak freely is restricted and individuals can be threatened by lawyers who can simply telephone a judge in Chambers to restrict them from speaking out,  on what may well be a matter of great public importance,  to protect sectional and very private corporate interests, where attempts to restrict the reporting of the proceedings of the press are routinely granted through the use of super-injunctions and, latterly, a country with laws which allowed lawyers to attempt to restrict the reporting of proceedings in parliament itself.

Imagine a country that leads the world in CCTV surveillance with more cameras per head of population than any other on Earth.

Imagine a country where not only the police but local authorities and other civilian bodies can routinely spy on you, intercept your email, bug your phone and can intrude to examine your bank accounts and then, even for quite minor offences, can seize your assets, freeze your bank account and seize and crush your car; powers intended to tackle terror and organised crime but which now will, inevitably, be used for far less serious offences.

Imagine a country which has restricted the money paid to experienced criminal lawyers with the result that many lawyers can no longer afford to practice in the field and the quality of representation may decline as a result.

Imagine a country with over 85,000 people in jail, a country where the Justice Ministry wants yet more prisons and even considered hiring prison ships from elsewhere.

Imagine a country where the government uses the device of statutory instrument to slide controversial legislation through into law without the eyes of the public, expert commentators or members of parliament being able to see, or objective  minds,  to consider those laws.

Imagine a country that allows the prime minister to wage war without the consent of the elected representatives of the people…

You don’t need to imagine such a country.  You are living in it.

25 thoughts on “Imagine….

  1. What most imagined in 1997 wasn’t quite what we got. I’m not sure if it is “our” fault for not being vocal enough when we disagreed, or whether whether the government knew “we” did not agree and truely believed that they were doing the right thing.

    I think the government has been abusing I mean exercising their power by fear for too long, and its time that some perspective is brought back to those issues you mention.

  2. Should be required reading by all MP’s and local councillors .. and more important the electorate that put these people in power !

    Never has some much freedom been taken away from so many by so few …

  3. And to think of the hope that existed on that drunken May 1997 morning on the South Bank. The tragedy is that for my generation that had to wait until our 30s to see the back of the Tories, there is now every likelihood that we are now going to be stuck with them again for another 20 years hence. Betrayal is not too strong a word.

  4. Barboy… I watched it on television…. it did seem hopeful back then… but what a difference 10+ years make.

    I am done with Labour after 30 years. I am not, however, a Tory!

    Libertarian? Liberal-Democrat? Who knows…. but I shall definitely vote, of course.

  5. I hate to say it, but I saw New Labour for what it was back in 1997 and had a great sense of foreboding (I wasn’t a tory and still am not, but it was then I disconnected with modern politics). Hence I am not surprised at where we’ve ended up and it is likely it would have happened regardless of whether it had been Conservative or Labour, maybe even Lib Dems.
    Ultimately they all end up take virtually the same advice from the same people and have a general disdain for the public as a whole.

    Modern politics in Britain is going to have to undergo a seismic shift before any of it changes too, because it’s all geared for the wrong things.

    Adam Curtis’ great polemic documentary “The Lonely Robot” summed it up most succinctly,I strongly recommend a viewing:

  6. LCJ afraid of the state of justice? Isn’t he the one who wants to deny access to the House of Lords in criminal appeal cases? hmmm

    Otherwise very good post Charon.


  7. Imagine a country that allows its citizens to be extradited to other countries without the requirement to provide prima facie evidence.

    Imagine a county that allows unaccountable officials to take children away from their families,

    Imagine a country where breaking a civil order can result in up to five years imprisonment.

    Imagine a country where it is proposed that police patrol with sub-machine guns.

    Imagine a country that keeps the DNA profiles of over 4 million of its citizens on a giant database, including 24,000 profiles of children and young people aged from 10 to 18 who have never been convicted, cautioned or charged with any offence.

    Imagine a country where two police officers are not allowed to look after each other’s children.

    Imagine a country where an estimated 11 million people will need criminal records checks, just so that they can continue working with children.

    Imagine a country where tens of thousand of citizens are being trained to look out for ‘suspicious behaviour’:

    Imagine a country where its citizens are encouraged to spy on each other:

    Imagine a country with an unelected prime minister

    Britain is being turned into East Germany.

  8. You voted for them, Mr Charon, blame yourself.

    The ever-increasing power of the State is what socialism is all about. All that pretentious guff that it is the only way to improve the lot of the working classes has been proved wrong all over the world every time a new bunch fools the gullible with the message “we’re really nice and will give you lots of other people’s money to help you”.

    And you know it. You knew it when you voted for them. It happens every time and it will happen any time an electorate is duped again by the undeliverable message of riches for all.

    You have no right to complain, it is what you chose.

  9. Who to vote for? Well I tend for vote for the candidate not the party – I’d rather have a honourable person I disagree with than a party hack who nominally shares my opinion. But the golden rule is: never vote for the party in power.

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  11. have borrowed (err by borrowed pinched wholesale is prolly closer to the mark) and shot at the local MP, for all the good it will do.

    having challenged him earlier in the year over expenses I got a swift party political broadcast which essentially said yeah but no but mps are outside the law.

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  14. Imagine a man whose only ambition was to lead a quiet unassuming life and care for his family.

    Imagine a man who served his country for seven years.

    Imagine a man who had taken almost nothing from the state.

    Imagine a man with almost zero desire to learn about politics.

    Imagine a man who “fitted in” and was the very model of a corporate citizen.

    Imagine a man who become so enraged he entered Lawful Rebellion.

    Imagine a man who became so disenchanted with “the establishment” that he declared himself a Freeman On The Land.

    Imagine a man whose sole ambition now is cause havoc for the government of the day.

    I am he.

  15. Awesome post.

    What’s do be done, when most of these laws were brought in at the behest of the EU? True, Labour campaigned for them.

    Here’s another:

    Imagine a country where the police “service” (ACPO) is a private limited company in equal partnership with the state.

  16. I’m not sure anyone will be bothered with an update of me sending your piece to my MP but after some prodding have received this.

    Doubt I will hear about it again.

    Dear Mr Sumoking

    Thank you for your e-mail about civil liberties. I appreciate you have strong views on this subject and I have raised your concerns with the Home Secretary for his comments. Once I receive a response I will be back in touch.

    With best wishes,

    Yours sincerely,

    Tony Lloyd

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