This is a follow up to the articles The state is not your friend and What is Government for? which you can read by clicking the highlighted text. They describe just how awful those who rule us are and how your rights are continuously stolen from you.
Just now the British government is proving, inevitably, that it really is your worst enemy, with two shocking pieces of legislation which massively remove your rights and which give the government utterly unacceptable power over you.
The first is the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and it allows a single council official, with zero democratic mandate, to impose draconian restrictions on public behaviour and to criminalise anything they want. PSPOs can be enforced by police officers, police community support officers, and even any council officer. Enforcement officers can issue fixed penalty notices of up to £100 whenever they want. A successful prosecution following breach of an order could lead to a fine up to level 3 (£1,000). This is really out of the horror stories of the 1930s when Hitler and Stalin were imposing their authoritarian dogma. Liberty, the human rights organisation, is campaigning against this.
Dover District Council has a PSPO mandating that dogs be kept on leads, or their owners will face criminal prosecution. Oxford has a PSPO that prohibits people under 21 years old from entering a certain tower block, Foresters Tower, and another that says people can’t remain in a public toilet without reasonable excuse. Bassetlaw District Council has a PSPO that prohibits “under 16 year olds … gathering in groups of three or more”. Hillingdon Council bans standing in pairs (unless you’re at a bus stop). Kettering Borough Council has banned under 18s from part of town between 11pm and 8am, enforcing a curfew. North East Derbyshire have criminalised carrying a golf bag. Swindon have used it to make pavement art illegal. Luton & Wolverhampton have used it to ban being in a camping vehicle. In Blackpool you can’t stand or wait around without apparent purpose and in Guildford shouting makes you into a criminal.
The civil liberties group Manifesto Club says that already 130 PSPOs have been issued, including 12 bans on standing in groups, 9 bans on swearing, 3 on face coverings, and 2 on charity collection. Big Brother is controlling the minutiae of your life. Our law making process has been totally abused by our politicians and there is no democratic oversight over the imposition of new criminal offences. They are often being made up by just a single council officer. You really, really cannot trust your government.
The second travesty is the investigatory powers bill currently going through parliament. This seeks to make legal activities which the intelligence services have been doing illegally for many years without any prosecution being brought against them (this article, The spooks own you, describes some of what they have been doing). They want to be able to look into the private business of every law abiding person in Britain, they want it made legal to know everything that you do with your computer and with your mobile phone (remember they are already doing this illegally). Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, says that: “The powers were too broad, safeguards too few and crucial investigatory powers entirely missing”. It is deeply intrusive legislation, giving the government Brave New World powers which, you can be sure, will be used against you.
The government should be there to serve us, not to control us, but their authoritarianism means that they are utterly out of control.