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Council’s spying demonstrates danger of bad laws

Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.

Palace of WestminsterOver the past decade or so, this government has become frighteningly bad when it comes to creating legislation – not just because I disagree with much of it, but also because some of it is just bad. Much of this bad legislation is passed for the supposed purpose of ‘preventing terrorism’. Whatever that really means.

Time and again, this Labour government has passed extreme legislation – some of which has later been found to be in breach of Human Rights – which ministers have claimed will be used only in ‘specific, extreme circumstances’ – or sometimes even at the sole discretion of the Home Secretary of the day. Whoever that might be.

Those laws are, by definition, bad.

Our own history shows us that laws created for a specific purpose but not legislatively restricted for such use will be willfully misused, whether by the same government, a future government, or quick-thinking individuals. You cannot pass a law and then propose not to use it – it’s illogical, dangerous, and unnecessarily restrictive of freedom.

Just this week, a council has been found to be covertly spying on families applying for school places, in order to ensure that they genuinely reside within the catchment area. The government told us that this was ‘anti-terror legislation’ – and, by all accounts, is now shocked at this apparent misuse of the law.

Yet they created the law. They knew that such situations could arise, and actively chose not to restrict use of the legislation. It’s shocking that a government can pass such sloppy legislation, and then not monitor for its misuse or more actively prevent it.

If a government insists on using its powers in such a slapdash fashion and then overriding the due concerns of the House of Laws through the overuse of the Parliament Act, then it can only be considered a bad government – and one which should be removed from power as soon as possible.

» Image Credit: Photograph from my personal collection

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.




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