By Tim Hardy
Dan Hodges is infamous but that doesn’t make his masturbatory celebration of the paternalistic, ever-watching state any less chilling:
I don’t want less surveillance, I want more of the stuff. My idea of the perfect society is one where every street corner has a CCTV camera, everyone has a nice shiny ID card tucked in their wallet and no extremist can even think of logging onto a dodgy website without an SAS squad abseiling swiftly through their window.
For one thing, I have a relatively benign view of the state. There are some things it does much better than others, and I realise it’s high time it learnt to cut its coat to suit its cloth. But on balance I view the state as a force for good, rather than some giant, menacing monolith, and that’s especially true when it comes to stopping myself, my family and my friends getting blown up by crazed terrorists.
Our media rewards attention grabbing narcissists and, like all the other well-fed contrarians feeling green with envy at the success of Samantha Brick’s trolling Blitzkrieg right now, Hodges has clearly decided to up his game and take his usual silliness one step closer to self-parody. Clearly it is an exaggeration but by how much? It is still at heart a statement of the Blairite vision that continues to infest Labour.
Sadly the so-called left wing of his party feel the same. As the Home Secretary used one of the most vile parts of the Murdoch press to defend her proposals, blaming teh paedos and teh terrorists for the need to move Britain one step closer to a police state, Ed Miliband criticised the means by which the story was released but was predictably happy to back the government’s plans for increased surveillance.
In spite of admirable outrage from Conservative MPs like Steve Baker, anger from a few Labour activists and another flurry of meaningless, insincere squeaking from the Liberal Democrats, it seems likely that these changes will be forced through by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat leadership to the glee of many on the Opposition benches. The contempt of governments for the people, even their own people, is breathtaking as ever.
As Evgeny Morozov warns in the Financial Times (reposted here):
The idea that we need to make it easier for governments to do this, in the UK and elsewhere, is ludicrous. We need to be doing the exact opposite. It is only by anticipating the consequences of this coming unholy alliance between internet companies and intelligence agencies that our freedoms can be defended.
With police warning that they intend to arrest in advance peaceful protesters demonstrating against the Olympics – a tactic they trialled before the Royal Wedding to total silence from Labour and the Liberal Democrats and applause from David Cameron – we should be very scared indeed at any further permanent escalation of their powers.
Neil Postman warned that there were two ways of advancing dictatorship. As governments of all colours push forward with an Orwellian vision of control, our media continues to advance Huxley’s vision of dystopia by keeping us distracted and treating politics as a spectacle, a soap opera about personalities not the issues that matter.
Last night on Jeremy Paxman’s punch-and-judy show, Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson – two men who give even strutting cock Paxo a run for his money in the contest for who can be the most arrogant – squabbled over their respective tax avoidance schemes like two bald men fighting over a comb. It took the only woman on the panel, Green Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones, to calm their little temper tantrum and suggest the debate return to matters of policy. Paxman rewarded her wise intervention by continuing to keep her sidelined from the debate so that the men could have their say. Unsurprisingly the Murdoch-owned Sky News will be excluding her from their mayoral debate.
Just as it attempts to exclude alternative voices to the Conservative-Labour establishment, the media with the greatest reach will be using its influence to promote more powers for the police and real debate about the dangers will be drowned out by breathless fear mongering before cutting to the next big distraction and the story of a potato that looks like Kate Middleton.
After all, big media stands to profit. If the police are given greater powers to snoop into our private lives there will be even more opportunities for corrupt police officers to sell journalists stories about those they wish to blackmail or expose. No doubt Cameron’s friends have already had a word with him about his pre-election promises to roll back the surveillance state and made him see the error of his ways.
Labour sold their souls a long time ago and show no signs of repentance. Conservative promises never rang true. The Liberal Democrats were more convincing in their deceit: but they too have been shown to have no principles that cannot be overruled by the naked desire for power.