Saturday’s Daily Telegraph editorial nails the point perfectly – once out of the EU, Britain needs to roll back the creeping tide which is undermining our freedom and democracy. The tide that arguably began incoming in 1972 and accelerated under Tony Blair through David Cameron. The list is long but the underlying point simple – the State has increasingly taken upon itself the authority to right all the (perceived or real) wrongs of the nation (even of the world!) and to force its solutions upon us, heedless of the costs, the practicalities, and careless of the need for the checks and balances vital to protect the citizen from over-mighty authority.
Surely this is exactly the theme that differentiates UKIP from the other political parties?
The repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act is simply the necessary precursor to this ambition, the first battle in the war that must now be fought. In the Referendum result we have only achieved the tactical success required (but not sufficient) to enable us to win that first battle.
Leaving the EU aside, some of these attacks on our freedom may be readily listed:
- The increasing use of secret courts where justice cannot be seen to be done – indeed, given that all the participants are human, and in many instances the cases involve a department of (local) government versus a family or individual, we must assume that miscarriages of justice are taking place. I note that the number of children being taken into care is reported as being at an all-time high – this seems to be a dreadful situation, but we can only guess at the truth.
- The deliberate attempt to muzzle the freedom of the press via the Leveson inquiry (note that it’s not too late to respond to the Government’s consultation at Freethepress).
- The naked attack on our money, whereby the target for inflation is 2%, thus (if met) guaranteeing that our savings are whittled away. Likewise the desperate (and so far futile) attempts to achieve inflation through QE, which has ensured derisory rates of interest on savings and a distorted investment market.
- The fear of the term “racist” causing crimes within immigrant communities (eg: FGM, forced marriage, sexual abuse) to be swept under the carpet. The associated concept of “institutional racism”, used to put law-enforcement agencies on the back foot. Likewise the concept of “racial aggravation” used to demonise a criminal and punish the motivation as well as the crime. Is racial motivation really any worse than any other kind? Hitherto we had drawn a line between criminalising actions and criminalising thoughts inclinations or beliefs, thus we encouraged free speech and freedom of religion and criminalised only incitement and criminal action – we need to get back to that.
- The unnecessary extension of postal voting to enable anyone to get one, thus removing defences against coercion and vote-rigging.
- The lazy assumption commonplace in politics that improvement can be guaranteed only by spending more money (foreign aid, welfare, NHS, defence etc). When will we insist that the focus moves to what we get for the money? Until then, money spent translates into money down the drain; money not spent translates to impaired services.
- The drive to make government ever bigger and more costly, exemplified by (a) devolution (why have two parliaments when we can have four, or with luck five?), (b) the ever-increasing complexity of our tax and Planning systems, (c) the growing plethora of Quangos and Regulators.
- The trend towards trying to commit future Parliaments to current policy by enshrining it in law (e.g.: foreign aid). No parliament may bind its successor and that should be it – to do otherwise is to attempt to suspend the will of the people.
- The commitment to major agendas (e.g.: “climate change”, HS2, Hinkley Point, foreign aid, NHS reorganisation(s)) which will span several parliaments, will be supremely costly, but which have neither popular mandate nor reasonable chance of success – this is an affront to our collective freedom to spend our taxes as we choose. Where a project will span several parliaments, major spending policies should be put to the nation in a referendum before being given the go-ahead. They should be authorised subject to a specified ceiling on cost overrun that would trigger cancellation.
- The perverse selective cutting of expenditure for vital services (e.g.: police, legal aid, prisons, defence) whilst splurging tax receipts and borrowed money (future tax receipts) on (9) above.
- The use of elevation to the House of Lords as a reward for “cronies”. The Lords has a long and illustrious history but has been traduced by “cronyism” and the spill-over of party politics (and politicians) from the lower house. It needs sensitive reform to restore its function as a repository of wisdom and a respected apolitical revising chamber of historic grandeur. It should be dedicated to ensuring that laws that reach the statute book are just, workable, and in keeping with our freedoms.
- The extradition of our citizens to other jurisdictions (currently to the EU and the USA) without the need to demonstrate a prima facie case to answer.
I’ve taken up enough space – one can no doubt think of more. The key principles to be reasserted may be summarised:
- Freedom of choice, movement, expression, and association.
- Freedom from excessive taxation and other costs mandated by government.
- Accountability of Parliament to the People through fair elections.
- Democratic control over spending priorities and mega projects which span more than one parliament.
- The presumption of innocence until proven guilty, reinstatement of “habeas corpus”, justice to be seen to be done.
- Justice blind to race religion colour class condition sentiment and supposition and alive only to firm evidence, heard in open court. Life-changing cases (heavy sentences, family break-up, care orders etc) to be heard by a jury.
- Oh, and especially: “less is more”.