Week 3: Villain – David Cameron

by George_East on January 18, 2015

Tory_VillainThis Week’s Villain of the Week Prime Minister David Cameron for using the the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks as  a pretext for yet more security legislation

One of the worst aspects of the Tony Blair government was its authoritarianism.  From the moment of 9/11 onwards, that administration passed a seemingly endless stream of laws that restricted civil liberties.  The consequence of this authoritarianism went from the ridiculous (the Twitter trial) to the truly grotesque (rendition and complicity in torture).

In opposition David Cameron promised a less oppressive approach.  Yet like all governments, a few months in office sees liberal rhetoric being replaced by security service capture.

The attacks in Paris of a couple of weeks saw a response by David Cameron that matched Blair, Blunkett and Reid at the worst.   The policy proposal  announced on Monday was not only draconian but also moronic (if it wasn’t for prize pratting elsewhere, the Prime Minister could have found himself winning both awards).

If you want to know just how draconian, this was the rhetorical question that David Cameron posed in a way to suggest that the only possible answer was a loud negative:  ‘do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?’

The notion that the government through whatever agency ought to be entitled to read any communication without probable cause or even reasonable suspicion is the stuff of dystopian nightmares.  The kind of thing that Orwell and Huxley warned about in their novels written when the capacity of the government to do so was so much less. An attack on freedom of expression in Paris leading to the ending of a right to privacy and through the chilling effect deep restrictions on freedom of expression here.  The irony would be amusing if it wasn’t so terrifying.

This is where it becomes moronic.  In order to achieve such blanket surveillance you have to outlaw encryption.  Yet vast amounts of our interaction throught the web are encrypted.   From social networking applications like WhatsApp and iMessage, to on-line banking, on-line retail (if it is to be secure) and on-line banking.   To outlaw encryption would throw the UK back into the digital dark ages on a par with North Korea and China.  It would be a disaster for the British economy  – something even recognised by the (these days) loyalists of Conservative Home which published a piece saying that the proposal made the Tories ‘look like the Thick Party’ (nothing new there you might say).  It is the sheer knuckle dragging stupidity of the proposal that might save us in the end (though Dave is so thin skinned he will no doubt want something to pass to look tough and to give the impression of not backing down).

Our civil liberties are not his or this government’s to take away.  David Cameron is our Villain of the Week.

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