There has been a digging away at the core principles of Britain’s system of Law and Justice over the last decade which threatens to undermine it entirely, in my opinion.
So I'll start with stella Rimington, the former head of MI5 who in 2009 accused the British government of exploiting the fear of terrorism to pass laws intended to restrict our civil liberties.
The Labour government passed 25 Acts of Parliament and 50 individual measures to restrict civil liberties for UK citizens in the name of ‘national security’ in its thirteen year term.
Control Orders were passed in 2005 and gave police the right to place citizens under permanent house arrest with an electronic tag without any judicial intervention, that is, outside of the court system. Between 2005 and 2011 fifty people were made subject to these control orders.
After promising to remove the powers on election, the Coalition government simply replaced them with TPIMS, which amount to the same thing but restricted the orders to a review after two years.
The Terrorism Prevention Act and other legislation give the State the power to detain citizens indefinitely by identifying them as a terror threat, without reference to a judge or a court. This amounts to "protective custody."
The Coroners and Justice Bill of 2005 which removed the independence of Coroners, and gave the Executive (state) the power to suspend inquests or hold them in secret, even in cases of homicide.
Recently, when British citizens started to be released from Guantanamo Bay and seek justice for their treatment, the UK government first appealed to the courts to block the cases, then to redact information that would show their complicity in torture and rendition, and finally sought to pay people off.
The Justice and Security Bill, which stipulates that in future, all such civil cases will be tried in secret courts. These courts would be blocked to the media and the state would be able to present its argument and evidence to the judge in the absence of the plaintiff in the case.
The Rev Nicholas Mercer, a lieutenant colonel who was the army’s most senior lawyer during the last Iraq war said:
“The justice and security bill has one principal aim and that is to cover up UK complicity in rendition and torture. The bill is an affront to the open justice on which this country rightly prides itself and, above all, it is an affront to human dignity.”
These two pieces of legislation have made it legal for the state to intervene in and end the investigation of suspicious deaths, and lawfully kidnap and imprison its citizens without ever being challenged in an open court.
Now we have a government attacking the disabled, the poor, immigrants, and previously a labour government going on about "British jobs for British workers."
Recently, undercover agents were used to smear the family of murder victim Stephen Lawrence in efforts to cover up their own racism induced botched investigation, and that GCHQ have been monitoring our personal internet use including reading our emails, messages and listening in on Skype calls for years.
We even find that the disbanded unit of Undercover Police responsible for some of the above, was simply renamed the ‘National Domestic Extremism Unit’, and that more than 9,000 people, most of whom do not have criminal records, have their data on this database – including surveillance. The state is now gathering enormous data, through intrusive means of surveillance.
So Fascist you may ask? Well, if you have a look at the Nazi government in the period between 1933-37, there are quite a lot of stunning similarities when it comes to law and justice.
You don’t prepare your system of law and justice for the best possible government; you prepare them for the worst possible government. If this government hasn’t taken full use of its overwhelming powers, then another might. Only a person with no understanding of history, or grasp of social behaviour would ignore the dangers of a state engaging in protective custody, closed courts, poverty and propaganda on a people. When these forces are combined, they almost inevitably lead to an unstable, embittered and violent society. Britain is on the cusp of such circumstances today.
But of course, "It couldn't happen here."
So discuss. No muttering of Godwin, and leave your tin foil hats at the door.