June 12, 2007

Things can only get ... worse

According to the Telegraph there are now some indications as to what Gordon Brown plans to do when then pry Tony Blair's fingers from the door frame of Number 10. It is not good news. Apparently he wants:
a blizzard of initiatives to mark his first 100 days in office.
Because loads of headline grabbing initiatives will really set him apart from his predecessor, and of course Labour hasn't already created enough legislation despite creating new offenses at ten times the rate of anybody before. As part of this he plans to "rewrite the constitutional settlement" ... again.

This rewrite will be from the suggestions of a "people's assembly", a phrase I find oddly familiar. Not just with the resonances to late nineties when Blair dubbed everything the "peoples" since he thought it gave a good headline; the Peoples Panels, the Peoples Peers, the Peoples Princess, the People's Democratic Republic of the British Regions. Oh that was it. The Supreme Peoples Assembly, the legislative body of North Korea. There is a difference, or course, between what Brown appears to be planning and the one that rules that murderous, famine ridden, despotism. In North Korea the Peoples Assembly is elected, which you can bet this one won't be. The "people" might accidentally vote for somebody that Gordon doesn't want.

The reason for this new super quango? The telegraph explains
The public will be invited to help write a new Bill of Rights to try to show that Mr Brown as prime minister aims to give more "power to the people" and reduce central Government control as he did when he handed independence to the Bank of England in 1997.
removing central government control from the Bank of England was the singularly most successful, and most out of character, policy of the present regime. Should Gordon Brown really want to reduce central government interference in other areas of life then that would be an extremely good thing. Unfortunately it is also an extremely unlikely thing, it simply goes too far against the grain of the petty micromanaging style of the Labour Party. You could try to argue that that was all Blair's doing under a new leader it will be a new party, but do not forget the architect of New Labour was Brown as much as Blair. Not only that the amount of power over the domestic agenda that Blair ceded to Brown at Granita in order get his claws on the keys to number 10 was unprecedented. You could even make a case that it was this inability to get his own way on the domestic agenda, because he had to OK any spending with Brown, that lead to Blair's focus on foreign policy and all those wars. We already know the style of leadership that we will be under since we are already under it.

What I would like a new Bill of Rights to be would be a Bill of Liberties. A bill for things like freedom of speech, of thought, and of conscience. A bill that restored to us the people the choice of when and about what we can speak, and when we choose to stay silent. A bill that gave us back our private lives, that restores the ancient custom of innocent until proven guilty, and stops the spread of the panopticon state. An act of parliament that says to parliament that we will allow it to stick it's nose into our business this far, but no further.

That is what I would want, but from the style of the last decade of labour misrule I can already guess the kind of 'rights' that this bill will enshrine; the 'right' to be ignored, the 'right' to privacy (but only if you are a public figure), the 'right' to prevent other people enjoying themselves, the 'right' not to have your superstition made fun of, most of all the 'right' to lots of other people's money.


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