Thursday, April 16, 2009
So it has now become one of the main causes of anxiety. Among all the other worries that people face - the recession, crime, hospital superbugs and terrorism - a new fear has emerged: that of the Big Brother state.
According to a survey by the Mental Health Foundation, we are a pretty fearful lot. In fact, more than seven million of us are living with some sort of anxiety problem.
And the proliferation of surveillance equipment such as CCTV cameras (of which we have more than the rest of Europe put together) only makes people more worried of the very things the cameras are designed to tackle: crime and terrorism.
It is ironic that something which is supposed to put our minds at rest has exactly the opposite effect.
But there is also a darker side to the proliferation of monitoring equipment which should also be a cause of great concern to us all.
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The evidence can no longer be ignored that after a decade of New Labour, Britain has become a far worse place for honest citizens to live their lives as they please, away from the eyes and ears of the state.
In the name of ‘efficiency’ and ‘national security’, our civil liberties have been systematically eroded.
We have calmly allowed our rulers to grab enormous and unprecedented power. They claim it is needed to protect us from criminals, but in fact they are using it to bully and enslave us with a litany of regulation and red tape.
Police and other state officials have turned from our servants into our masters.
We have granted these sweeping powers to our rulers on the understanding they would only be used against the most determined and brutal terrorists.
But, in fact, they have been used to browbeat ordinary, honest, tax-paying citizens - particularly when they oppose the Government’s point of view.
Now they can be used to check on your rubbish bins, an extension to your home, or even that you do actually live where you claim to live when applying to a local school.
If Taliban extremists ever did bring Britain under their control, you might imagine that the first thing they would abolish would be our right to free speech. But they wouldn’t need to. We’ve already done it for them.
It’s already a crime to demonstrate your views peacefully, or heckle a politician, or even wear a T-shirt making fun of one.
Meanwhile, the Freedom of Information Act, which is meant to allow us access to what is happening, is under threat of being watered down to the point of being pointless.
This article was posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 8:59 am