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Cleaning the Augean stables

Bishop Hill comes up with a list of the legislation that an incoming UK government should get rid of to restore some of the civil liberties lost over the past decade or so. As he accepts, this is probably only scratching the surface of the issue, but still. The sheer quanity of the legislation that has been brought in, and its scope, is pretty startling even to a grizzled veteran of chronicling such outrages.

Maybe the simple solution is to repeal all the acts in one go.

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27 comments to Cleaning the Augean stables

  • the last toryboy

    If I believed that shifty liar Camoron would repeal even one of those I’d vote for him.

    As it is, I’m voting UKIP.

  • Andrew Duffin

    What toryboy said.

    But possibly LPUK if they field any candidates.

  • Not enough. The people who took us here need various bad things to happen to them, at the VERY least being driven out of politics.

  • There is no point voting for any of those who run for any office, as their only function is to maintain the status quo. Even if they aim to do otherwise they have to use the current system to achieve their ends and this is what corrupts them.
    The system serves itself and twists the good intentions of those who participate to maintaining itself. So it doesn’t matter who you vote for that vote is always wasted if what you’re looking for is real change and progress back towards freedom.
    It cannot be changed from within, it must be destroyed from without and a clean start made, sorry.

    I am now considered to be an extremist for holding these views and could be imprisoned for them. Britain is dead, liberty is not safe in the hands of the state (if it ever was) and I await the knock on my door in the dead of night hoping my family can forgive me. Melodramatic? Closer to the truth than you would care to admit. Talking about revolution is no longer safe, voicing your dissent is now a crime. 25 years late but we now live in 1984. Welcome to hell.

  • Linda Morgan

    Have Brits just given up on regaining government respect for the right to own handguns?

  • Johnathan

    linda, they took that right away years ago.

    For a perspective on the UK experience, I can recommend Joyce Lee Malcolm’s book written on this issue a few year’s ago.

  • Time for some horse trading.Use the influence of the internet to put a price on our votes, vote tactically unless parties agree to certain things.
    We are far too supine in this country,bombard MPs,threaten them with with withdrawing support.Without pressure politicians will keep doing whatever is easiest.

  • Linda Morgan

    I know that handguns are banned in Britain, Johnathan. I just wanted to point out that it seems strange to see such a list of suggested legislative roll-backs and repeals as Bishop Hill provides and note that it — like you in linking it here — doesn’t mention the law(s) pertaining to handgun ownership.

    I realize Bishop Hill cribbed the bulk of the list from the Liberal Democrats, but he did throw out a couple of suggestions of his own, neither of which pertains to the handgun ban, even though a quick search of his site shows he grumbles about it from time to time.

    I note that one of the presumably onerous acts whose repeal is suggested — the Protection from Harassment Act — dates back to 1998*, just a year after the much more onerous (I would think) handgun ban.

    For the record, I’m with those who doubt a list of “suggestions” (not even demands!?!) is worth any more than a bucket of warm swill for the purpose of restoring proper respect for individual rights. But if the list is just wistful fantasy, it’s all the more surprising that neither Hill nor you even dream of a repeal of the handgun ban.

    Thanks for the Malcolm recommendation. I scanned an article she did for Reason just prior to commenting above, and that’s where I snagged the date of the ban.

    *1998 is given at the link, but a search shows 1997 cropping up on other sites

  • RW

    It may just be conspiracy theory but there have been many rumours that, following the Dunblane massacre, Blair imposed the handgun ban as a distraction to the links between the murderer (Hamilton) and a minister (Geoffrey Robinson), together with other links between these people and labour party paedophiles. “We owe it to the people of Dunblane!” Yet a 100 year secrecy order is almost unprecedented.

    Try this,among many others

  • RW

    Sorry, George not Geoffrey.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Linda, apologies for any misunderstanding. I don’t believe that any apart from the likes of us libertarians and some others believe that the individual Briton has a right to own a handgun in self defence. I am afraid that that battle is a folorn hope.

    As I said, Bishop Hill was scratching the surface with this list, as he was the first to concede. The list of things that need to change is far longer than that and you are 100% right to stress that self defence and the means thereof are essential.

    I agree with those in the US who argue that the 2nd Amendment is just as vital as the 1st. Increasingly, the Left, and even parts of the conventional Right, hate both the right to free speech and the right to self defence.

    It feels rather lonely to hold the sort of views I do in Britain, I am afraid.

  • Michael

    When on a journey, such as the one we each are on, we move along towards a goal. This is a quality of the thinking rational man. If we have no goals then we are fodder to any who choose to use us for their goals.
    The road of each of our journeys have led us to this point where the looters and second raters think they may decide our lives absent our consent, paying lip service to our proper desires.
    Freedom and liberty, once taken and denied become possible again only through struggle. How do we each struggle against the tide?
    I used the journey analogy to make this point:when you find that the road you’re on there is NO way to get to where you want to be, do you continue on that road, or do you make your way to the road that leads to your goals?
    This goes to the point that if this road we are on leads only towards further diminishment of our freedoms and liberties, is anything but an abrupt change of direction going to further us along towards our goal?
    We have gone too long down that road that has brought us to where are now, and it will take men and women of ability and conviction to resume the journey on the only road that leads to freedom. I speak of capitalism as that road. Socialism cannot generate wealth, it can exist along side of capitalism only in the relationship as a vulture is to carrion.
    I say that in any compromise between the rational and the irrational, it is only the irrational that profits.

  • Er… The handgun ban was John Major.

  • Yes, I’d concur with the thoughts above. My post was indeed just a crib from a couple of LibDem posts in terms of the list. I’m currently working up something longer based on the excellent list at SpyBlog.

    In answer to Linda’s point on firearms, I’ve posted before about what I believe to be the centrality of the firearms issue to civil liberties. It’s fair to say though that the vast majority of the UK public are not even close to being convinced. (Sean Gabb is quite right when he says that the first step in halting the advance of the state is to destroy the BBC).

    So do we try to deal with firearms first, or wider civil liberties concerns? (Or just bang on about both at the same time?) It may be possible to create a coalition that will support (or demand) a platform covering the broader civil liberties issues right now, but only if firearms are not on the agenda. Is it better to achieve limited objectives in the short term and give up a little ideological purity? Clean sweeps are few and far between in politics. The Fabians recognised that and we should too.

    However this is not to say that the firearms issue should be ignored. My gut feel is that a coalition built without addressing the firearms issue would soon run up against the contradictions inherent in that position – for example how do you enforce law and order in a disorderly society without creating a police state? If your civil liberties platform says “Close down the CCTV cameras” there will be a chorus of voices asking what it is proposed to do about crime on sink estates. These kinds of question might prevent the coalition actually being successful, but it would force people to consider rather harder how you can achieve a “polite society”. Libertarians know already, but we haven’t persuaded many people yet. Anything that helps people to bump up against their own contradictions can only help us in the longer term.

  • We are about thirty years too late; the voices of dissent will be lost in the cacophonous roar of the mob whose consent has been engineered by the political masters. For it not only removing the trappings of totalitarianism but the mindset also, not only those who have come to accept the idea that humanity has been reduced to data strings over the past twelve years, but those who have been brought up under the regime. (I am thinking in particular of children being led to believe that using fingerprint scanners as ‘fun’ and ‘necessary’.) And, considering that initiatives such as ContactPoint possess the ‘right’ to vigorously assess parentage on the basis of whether a child is deemed to be dressed ‘inappropriately’ or whether they have explained the factors leading to homelessness adequately enables whichever party gains power next year to own a child from cradle to grave. ‘Give me a child when he is four,’ said Lenin, ‘and I will show you a socialist state.’

  • We are about thirty years too late; the voices of dissent will be lost in the cacophonous roar of the mob whose consent has been engineered by the political masters. For it not only removing the trappings of totalitarianism but the mindset also, not only those who have come to accept the idea that humanity has been reduced to data strings over the past twelve years, but those who have been brought up under the regime. (I am thinking in particular of children being led to believe that using fingerprint scanners as ‘fun’ and ‘necessary’.) And, considering that initiatives such as ContactPoint possess the ‘right’ to vigorously assess parentage on the basis of whether a child is deemed to be dressed ‘inappropriately’ or whether they have explained the factors leading to homelessness adequately enables whichever party gains power next year to own a child from cradle to grave. ‘Give me a child when he is four,’ said Lenin, ‘and I will show you a socialist state.’

  • ‘Give me a child when he is four,’ said Lenin, ‘and I will show you a socialist state.’

    Well that all went tits up!

  • Nuke Gray!

    Couldn’t you pass a law giving all laws a limited lifespan, an automatic sunset clause? That way, politicians would be so busy justifying and voting on re-endorsing good laws, they wouldn’t have time to come up with look-busy laws to justify re-electing them.

  • Linda Morgan

    Bishop Hill:

    I’ve posted before about what I believe to be the centrality of the firearms issue to civil liberties.

    I’d seen but not read the post you link prior to commenting. Now that I’ve read it, I see that you’ve made quite a compelling case for the centrality you note.

    With an unarmed populace warned (and wise) to leave all interference with crime and criminals to the police, there’s not enough threat of being apprehended — or even hindered — to so much as give the bad guys pause. To make up the manpower deficit (quoting from your link):

    [The state] has taken on all the powers of surveillance that we would associate with a police state – CCTV, DNA database, warrantless searches, fingerprinting children, ID cards, in a desperate bid to convince criminals that the risk of being caught is so high as to make the effort pointless.

    and

    We won’t allow the law-abiding to uphold the law, so our streets get swamped with CCTV. Witnesses can’t defend themselves guns, so we have to allow anonymous evidence in court. Women can’t defend themselves from rapists, so they shouldn’t go out alone. The opinionated can’t defend themselves from retribution, so better to legislate them into silence.

    Not only does taking the right of gun ownership from the citizenry make it easy for the state to take all other rights, in the way that you’ve outlined, it makes relentless encroachment against freedom inevitable.

    Is it better to achieve limited objectives in the short term and give up a little ideological purity?

    I don’t see how any measure that helps re-establish the primacy of individual rights in our civilization — or just helps to pull them back from the edge of the abyss –sullies any ideology that honors freedom.

  • Alice

    “the first step in halting the advance of the state is to destroy the BBC”

    That is actually a doable project, because the “license fee” is one of the few taxes that people have to consciously pay out of their own pockets. Now that, thanks to Gordie, lots of Brits have no jobs and no money, this would be an ideal time for individuals to refuse to pay the BBC tax anymore.

    If a national move of deliberately not paying could get some momentum, it could become a repeat of the Poll Tax fiasco, which would be positive in its own right. And anything which undermines the BBC serves the cause of truth & liberty.

  • guy herbert

    NukeGray,

    Couldn’t you pass a law giving all laws a limited lifespan, an automatic sunset clause? That way, politicians would be so busy justifying and voting on re-endorsing good laws, they wouldn’t have time to come up with look-busy laws to justify re-electing them.

    Useless I’m afraid. Renewal would not involve any discussion, it would be by statutory instrument. Such as this one:
    http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2009/draft/ukdsi_9780111473474_en_1

    Parliament actually spends far less time legislating than it did 20 or 30 years ago and produces much more law. And that primary legislation is much more broadly drafted and much more designed as enabling ratgher than substantive than it was.

    What’s more likely to have an effect is stopping government departments drafting law. If all the Law Commission’s recommendations had been implemented, and nothing from the Home Office in the last 20 years, then we’d have massively less, and far better, criminal law.

  • Guy

    Re Statutory Instruments, I’ve added the Legislative & Regulatory Reform Act to the list.

  • FYI just because it is highly likely that the LPUK will repeal everything since 1997, does not mean it will stop there.

    Job 1 will be to abolish income tax.

    Not only is it “Gabbean” in that it will be very hard to re-implement in subsequent, it is very libertarian in that the individual is no longer considered as State chattel to be milked, e.g. the desire to track all movement to check on “days out” for tax purposes.

  • guy herbert

    My Lord Bishop,

    Statutory Instruments are a broader problem than that. Some are necessary, but only an active parliament, and constitutional and procedural change will deal with their administrative abuse. (Ditto Orders in Council.)

    The discussion in Lord Hewart’s the New Despotism, which ultimately led to judicial review as a constraint on administrative orders (that they have now largely found their way round), is still worth reading, though it was published in 1929.

  • I notice that the Convention on Modern Liberty has missed LegReg off its list of bad legislation.

  • Paul Marks

    The “license fee” is especially wicked.

    I might oppose (I do oppose) many of the help-the-poor schemes of the state, but at least I accept that the intention (help the poor) is a noble one. But the B.B.C. does not cure the sick (however poor and late the treament is practice) or give money to the old, or try and teach the young how to read and write (please no one mention “educational television”).

    What the B.B.C. does is produce a few lame entertainment shows, mixed in with leftist propaganda news shows and documentaries (giving the far left view of history and so on).

    It is not just the money being taken by force that I find repulsive – it is the things done with the money.

    If someone (out of the goodness of their hearts) decided to fund the operations of an N.H.S. hospital that would be a good action – but to give money to the B.B.C. (to produce more of the above shows) would be a wicked action.

    Sadly the commercial stations are not really better.

    They to have to be “objective” – i.e. far left.

    The future of Fox News under Comrade Obama?

  • Paul Marks

    “Deal with the specific point Paul – should all Acts of Parliament passed since 1997 be repealed by one Act”.

    Yes, of course. Nothing good has been done.