Not a Liberal Democracy 45

New Labour were the chief culprits in moving Britain away from a liberal democracy and into an authoritarian state.  The series of “anti-terror” laws they put through were the most draconian in British history, far outweighing anything the government of Lord Liverpool did with the Six Acts.  Yet the entire liberal establishment went along with Blair, and those of us who warned we were sliding fast away from democracy were denounced as conspiracy theorists.

You hope there will be moments which will wake people up.  I not only hoped but believed that I could myself trigger such a moment when I blew the whistle on the Blair/Straw policy of widespread complicity in torture.  I discovered to my great personal cost, and as a matter of cathartic personal disillusionment which has defined my entire life since, that the establishment were perfectly OK with torture.

I should like to believe that today’s advent of totally secret criminal trials in the UK is another moment when revulsion might set in.  But I am not holding my breath, as an 800 year right to open justice is removed.  Theresa May had already applied to have another case heard in secret in which the government is being sued for complicity in torture.

I know from eye-witness report that it was only Jack Straw’s fear of an open trial and a free jury that prevented my own prosecution under the Official Secrets Act for blowing the whistle on torture.  If I did it today I would get a secret court and no jury. Now two men stand to be imprisoned for life on the basis of “evidence” from the intelligence services which even the accused are not to be allowed to see.  Remember this is “evidence” from the same intelligence services who told you that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.  Anything they have to say against anybody must always be open to the widest public scrutiny.  The idea that people should be convicted in secret on stasi evidence ought to be truly shocking.

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45 thoughts on “Not a Liberal Democracy

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  • Mary

    The lead up explained.

    Everything you need to know about the secret trials coming to a courtroom near you – Angela Patrick
    March 3, 2013

    The author

    Angela Patrick – Director of Human Rights Policy

    ‘Angela Patrick is a qualified barrister, educated at Durham and Cambridge Universities.

    Before joining JUSTICE, from 2006 – 2011, she was assistant legal adviser to the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights. In this role, she was responsible for advising on a broad range of human rights issues, from the compatibility of the treatment of detainees by UK armed forces with the UN Convention against Torture to respecting the right to privacy in the operation of the national DNA database.

    Following pupillage at Matrix, Angela practised at Hailsham Chambers. She has held academic posts as a visiting fellow at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and as a part-time lecturer at University College London. She acts as an expert trainer for the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute, training parliamentarians and parliamentary staff in emerging democracies on parliamentary engagement with international human rights standards and the rule of law.

    Angela has published and lectured widely and is a contributing author to Sweet and Maxwell’s Human Rights Practice.’

  • nevermind

    Sorry for OT comments, but the NHS is wheeled into the knackers yard it seems. mental health care patients are being shifted into London and Yorkshire for treatment as NHS Norfolk and their mental health calamitists fail to serve clients, but manage to hang on to their jobs.

    The NNUH, so I have heard this monring, has no been able to take any appointments for the last 14 days, you can’t get any appointments with them.
    The NNUH is full all year round it had problems with its A&E admissions camping out and the leader of Broasdland DC Andrew proctor assured me that the new NDR bypass will not have any space allocated or saved for a future new hospital to the east of Norwich.

    My friends father age 85, after being referred to the NNUH, has tried in vain and for two days to get him an appointment. She overheard the woman she was speaking to making the following comment to somebodcy else in the office.
    ‘Its about time we are doing something about this’

  • DomesticExtremist

    It’s you that has changed, not the state.
    The state was perfectly OK with torturing the Mau Mau in Kenya, the rebels in Malaya and even the Nazis during WW2.
    Whilst Blair did a lot to move the ball down the field of authoritarian government, Mrs T got it rolling with the SUSS laws, the summary justice of on-the-spot fines and the seizing of the proceeds of crime.
    We tell ourselves these fairy tales about being a liberal democracy but that is only superficial. The government is getting worse at hiding its illiberalism as it surrenders ever more power to markets and monied interests.
    All we are experiencing is a loss of innocence, though if we didn’t believe the fairy tale, then nobody would ever kick up a stink.

  • Edward

    Is Britain being influenced by the U.S. example? If the U.S. were not setting this precedent would Britain be less likely to adopt secret trials?

  • Ba'al Zevul (Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I do)

    Simon Jenkins gets it right –

    Whatever their warped motivation, terrorists commit common crimes and should be subject to common justice. They should not be accorded warrior status and the reward of a suspension of the rule of law. If open justice sometimes means a criminal going free, or even a bomb going off, that is the price of liberty. Pretending such justice might infringe the security of the state is beyond scaremongering. It is an abuse of language, unpatriotic, untrue.

    Whenever I argue this, somebody retorts that I would not like it if someone I loved were killed by a terrorist. I am sure I would not, but then I also grieve death in an accident or at the hand of a madman. I hope only to have the courage to accept such a tragedy as the price of living in a free society. Rowing back on the rule of law is not security. It is cowardice.

    Note also – four police permanently guarding Blair’s town house. And what of the 7 other Blair properties?


    ” I have said it before but I will repeat myself, what the hell. You are a product of a lifetime of indoctrination, the central theme of which is the myth that Britain and its allies are democracies.”

    In craigs defense I must say that he feels the current methodology of democracies is the best bad idea we have. I disagree with that but will defend to the death, his right to say it. Personally I don’t think you can make a palatable apple pie from fruit that has rotted from the inside.

  • Phil

    Secret trials are not new. But still, as good a reason as any to be shocked yet again and to crow bar another mention of the Great Heroic Moment ™ into a death knell to that which never actually existed.

  • Phil

    “In craigs defense I must say that he feels the current methodology of democracies is the best bad idea we have.”

    I thought Craig had become a “political revolutionary”?

  • Phil

    Anyway, why hasn’t anyone slapped up some details of this trial on an overseas server?

    The internet is captured! Leg it!

  • fuddle

    Obviously this “trial” is required to establish the new laws and amendments in fact. Particularly to establish the “last resort” criteria.
    Once in place how long will it be before the “security services” win the argument that the physical civil justice court is unsafe to allow a hearing and that it should be moved to a safer, more remote, location. The Judges would of course need specialist knowledge in order to understand the intricacies of the trial material and therefore would need separate and secret appointments.
    It doesn’t take too much effort to extrapolate to the extreme, applying NWO and Bush doctrines, to see that “last resort” becomes “first step” and the “in” is removed “infrequent application”. Not forgetting the loosening interpretation of terrorism to mean dissent.

    We have already ended up with mass surveillance no doubt with Big Business having access to the data for its own use.

    Will we see another Ed Snowden type event? Or indeed any political revolutionary movement?

    Never mind, the Fita Wurld Cup is about to start best to sit back in the sofa and crack a tinnie or two. Not much will happen over the Summer will it?

  • fuddle

    I’m sorry but I don’t understand your comment. From its construct it appears it is a negative reference to either Prime Minister Thatcher, the Thatcher governments or perhaps what has rather the Thatcher doctrine from 30 years ago.
    As an outsider looking in I am not sure how the politics from this era is relevant to the modern digital age.
    What I am trying to understand is when and how the surveillance state moved from being a wet dream of Western security services to a viable and political aim. This must have happened only by agreement with the USA and UK (and others) who must have looked at East Germany and eastern Europe pre-1989 with awe. In the 1990s it must have appeared on the agenda as a possibility. USA probably saying “We can do this.” and Britain saying “We can’t afford this.”
    I was wondering when the notion of a total surveillance state took root and moved onto the agenda of Governments. What were the triggers? 1960s civil unrest in the USA, French riots? Was there ever true civil unrest in the UK in 1970s and 1980s or was there an acceptance that “things had to be done” which opened the door for creeping legislation to legislation to prepare for a panopticon state. This was my jibe about football and sofas. I could equally have referred to cups of tea, or bright shiny baubles I guess.

    As I say I am just trying to understand. Here in Germany we see the UK as having thrown its lot in with the USA in terms of the digital future. The German government are encouraging an alternative more private digital future be created; all the while, I suspect, agreeing to deep levels of cooperation with Five Eyes (a club I am sure it would like to join).

    So Chris, please elucidate.

  • Mary

    A little leeway, a sop to the British public, from the judiciary on the ‘secret trial’ which starts at the Old Bailey shortly.

    We now know the names of the defendants and some of the trial will be heard in public. Big deal.

    12 June 2014 Last updated at 11:28
    Fully secret terror trial blocked by Court of Appeal

    ‘Terror trial’. What a leading headline there.

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