Over the past two decades, there have been numerous instances of the state taking more power for itself and putting in place an ever-increasing raft of restrictions on the freedom of the individual.
The most glaring example of this, and very recently, has been the seizure of control over the Brexit process from the government by MPs, led by Tory Oliver Letwin and Labour’s Yvette Cooper. Ms Cooper, for those who may be unaware, is the wife of former Labour MP Ed Balls. He was one of the New Labour luminaries responsible for many of the restrictions put in place under Blair and Brown between 1997 and 2010.
To their eternal discredit, since coming to office, the Conservatives have done nothing to redress the balance and the latest example of the crushing jackboot of the state is the government’s attempt to do ‘something’ about internet excess.
That action needs to be taken, given the rise of harmful content, is not in question. But governments are too fond of saying, ‘We must do something. This is something! Let’s do that!’ The aim is to gain favourable media headlines rather than actually create legislation that really does work for the benefit of everybody. The result is ill-thought laws that increase harm, not decrease it and at the same time, removes even more freedoms from the individual.
The Government White Paper released yesterday (if it becomes law) gives any government, including the present incumbent’s successors, the power to arbitrarily shut down websites that it considers to have allowed harmful material to be posted. This includes social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. And it also includes news sites like KJM Today.
Granted we must thus declare an interest but if we as a nation are not extremely wary, and are not prepared to tell our elected representatives to think again, this White Paper could see the end of free speech in the United Kingdom.
(See also a forthcoming related article under News Commentary)