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Cllr Keith Standring: Draconian measures

Keith_standringKeith Standring, a Conservative Councillor on Rother District Council, East Sussex and a member of The Freedom Association Council, examines government plans further to restrict our freedom.

"Today again the Union Jack flies over Port Stanley, and may it ever fly there. So we in the Falkland Islands and in Great Britain re-dedicate our lives to the cause of freedom and justice of people here and everywhere. We have given an example to the world, and hope to many of those who do not enjoy these great qualities. May we also act as a beacon of hope to them, that so long as we defend that which is ours now, they too one day may enjoy these great things." - Margaret Thatcher, Port Stanley Town Hall, Falkland Islands, 10th January 1983

According to the BBC, proposed new anti-terror laws could give police greater powers to stop and question anyone in the UK. The proposal, allowing police to ask people about their identity and movement, is among measures first considered by former Home Secretary John Reid. The new legislation would be similar to that already used in Northern Ireland.

Police are still likely to need a "reasonable suspicion" a crime may be committed. Anyone refusing to co-operate could be fined up to £5,000. At present, under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, officers already have the power to stop and search people or vehicles in an area seen as being at risk from terrorism even if they are not suspected of any breach of the law. A Home Office spokeswoman said that the new proposals would give officers an automatic right to stop and question anyone in the UK about suspected terrorism.

The former Prime Minister wrote an article in the Sunday Times (27th May) explaining why he thinks it is all our fault as a society that three suspected terrorists have absconded in breach of their control orders.

Further, the Government has established a shadowy new national anti-terrorist unit to protect VIPs, with the power to detain suspects indefinitely using mental health laws. This further revelation is set to reignite the row over the Government's use of draconian measures to deal with terror suspects amid accusations they are abusing human rights.

The Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (FTAC) was quietly set up last year to identify individuals who pose a direct threat to VIPs including the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Royal Family. It was given sweeping powers to check more than 10,000 suspects' files to identify mentally unstable potential killers and stalkers with a fixation against public figures.

The team's psychiatrists and psychologists then have the power to order treatment - including forcibly detaining suspects in secure psychiatric units. But the new unit uses the police to identify suspects - increasing fears the line is being blurred between criminal investigation and doctors' clinical decisions.

It also raises questions about why thousands of mentally ill individuals have been allowed back into the community - including some who have attacked and killed members of the public - while VIPs are being given special protection.

Linking all of these issues together and numerous others, it is difficult not to draw a parallel with the actions of the Stalinist regime in the USSR. This government seeks to distance itself from all forms of accountability and to remove the ideology of representative democracy from its political manifesto, yet it wishes the electorate to support it in its quest by exonerating itself of guilt and responsibility by the inclusion of fear.

Fear is a controlling emotion used by anyone in authority to coerce conformity and solicit servitude. I personally distrust the motives of ex-Marxists such as Reid, et al, who now have a newly created and administrative empire in the form of a re-organised Home Office who stand to profit from it.

Democracy is a fragile ideology, which has been eroded to near extinction by this government. By its very nature, democracy must be a compromise. How can the imposition of internment in the UK, stop and search without reasonable cause, DNA registration for all UK nationals and the dubious and unethical use of mental health laws uphold democracy? This pending legislation is the very antithesis of the meaning of democracy.

Three important anniversaries arise in this period, Falklands Liberation Day (14th June 1982), Waterloo Day (18th June 1815) and Battle of Britain Day (15th September 1940) – historic British victories in defence of liberty and sovereignty. A lot has changed since Wellington, Churchill and "the few" and Margaret Thatcher’s government, each stood firm in defence of freedom. Many of us feel that Britain is no longer a free country, and that we have ceased to be “an example” or “a beacon of hope” to the world. To quote the old saying, "All that is needed for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing."

But, with determination, we can recover our lost British freedom, identity and independence – and restore our traditional role in the world, not least by building stronger bridges towards the Commonwealth that has been so sorely neglected in recent years. If the Conservative Party strongly commits itself to liberty, personal responsibility, free markets, limited government, low taxes, the nation and its defence, and the family, it will place itself as the major force in the vanguard of this movement. 


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