More Proof of an Orwellian State

I love the UK. I love the people. I love the culture. I love the history. Their government is rubbish. In many ways, the UK government makes the US government look like a model of enlightenment.

Without belaboring the point, the latest (creeping up to a) police state news (edited):

Moves by Home Secretary John Reid will allow police to act against organised criminals without taking them to trial.

Gangsters suspected of being involved in organised crime will face a wide range of tough restrictions - and could be jailed for five years if they fail to go straight.

But Jago Russell of civil rights group Liberty said: "We used to believe in hard evidence and fair trials in this country - now we dispense rapid-fire justice as quickly as the Government can develop a catchy four-letter acronym for it. These new orders targeted at the 'Mr Bigs' of the criminal world will likely be as unfair and ineffective as Asbos and control orders before them."

The range of restrictions which will be imposed on criminals could include limits on their financial, property or business dealings, their working arrangements, the people they can associate with or communicate with, premises they have access to, and their travel in the UK or abroad.

Now does that last paragraph read like something straight out of the former Soviet Union or not?

For those not in the UK, you may wonder what an 'ASBO' is. That's short for Anti-Social Behavior Order. They can forbid you from doing all manner of things, and you face stiff penalties if you breach the orders. You can get one merely on the basis of anonymous testimony or hearsay and kids in troubled neighborhoods are now sometimes deliberately going out and getting them to achieve status with their peers.

ASBOs typically cost about £5,000 to obtain and the recidivism rate amongst recipients is high. Does anyone in the UK government even ask if acronyms are our best weapon against crime?

The Guardian, in its typical style, points out how ridiculous ASBOs are getting:

A 23-year-old woman who repeatedly threw herself into the Avon was served with an Asbo banning her from jumping into rivers or canals. A man with mental health problems was banned from sniffing petrol anywhere in Teesside. A woman living on an estate in East Kilbride was given an Asbo ordering her not to be seen wearing her underwear at her window or in her garden. The local Asbo unit handed out diaries to her neighbours to record when she was seen in her underwear, giving a new meaning to neighbourhood watch.

And polls I've read suggest that greater than 80% of UK citizens support ASBOs even though most don't feel they're effective. Sigh.

  • Current Mood: disappointed disappointed
God save us from governments with good intentions
As always I'm sure they mean well, although to be honest I doubt that more and more the longer this lot are in power.

Labour's problem is that a) they think they can see what the country needs by measuring column inches in the red tops, and b) see success as the 'solution' having more column inches in the red tops than the problem.

Utterly hateful.

Fortunately we have a fairly liberal opposition, even the traditionally hardline Tories are now more liberal than labour, and of course the Liberal Democrats (unlike the other two) stick to their founding principles of liberty and democracy, so you can do something about it - get involved with your local lib dems, or tactical vote a tory into power, or harass your labour MP and help him realise that voting with instead of against labour stupidity will help lose him his seat even quicker.
Re: God save us from governments with good intentions
While this sounds great, mostly all I can is carp about it. After all, I'm not a British citizen, so voting a Tory into power isn't much of an option, even if the local council does keep sending me personalized letters enjoining me to register to vote :)
Re: God save us from governments with good intentions
Your current local council has also been known to send out a letter that began "Your Housing Benefit has been cancelled because you are dead.", so you might as well register to vote - I don't think they'll notice that you're not a British citizen and every extra Liberal Democrat vote always comes in handy!

This does seem the latest in a disturbing trend though, with the proposals just last month to withdraw the passports of those alleged to owe child support. trouble is, most people are oblivious to what's happening around them and will not take action as they won't care unless it directly affects them - apathy is the party of choice in this country.

Re: God save us from governments with good intentions
Oh, and in response to an earlier reply you had here, yes, I'd love to get together again before I take off. I'm guessing I'll be here another two or three weeks.
Now does that last paragraph read like something straight out of the former Soviet Union or not?

Eeesh. I spent Monday sharing a bottle of wine with an older woman who's had a very adventurous life (like escaping from Greece during the military takeover in the late 60s). We were talking about where things seem to be headed and one of her comments was "What will you do if you wake up and your money is gone, because the government took it, because they _suspect_ you of something?"

The local Asbo unit handed out diaries to her neighbours to record when she was seen in her underwear, giving a new meaning to neighbourhood watch.
So, her behaviou^Hr was bothering people, yet those (supposedly) same people are supposed to keep track of the bothersome behavior, giving them extra incentive to be bothered by it. I'm confused.
What happens when you get multiple Asbos? Is there some kind of anti-merit badge for that?
And for the record, I think that standing in the window or walking around the garden in one's underwear is the exact opposite of antisocial behavior...
Re: So.....
You don't get multiple Asbos, as far as I'm aware. You get prison time instead.

And I certainly agree with the 'underwear' comment :)
Wanna know what's even scarier about ASBOs?

They can be issued to "control" *non-criminal* behaviour. And once you've got one for your non-criminal alleged behaviour, otherwise lawful behaviour really *is* criminalised.

Reminds me more of Judge Dredd than the Soviet Union. In the USSR, they didn't really care much about the law. In Megacity One, they did, and so to control the population they introduced a large number of petty laws to make sure that everyone was a criminal.