There are three reasons why Blair will pursue his authoritarian path. They combine to form a deadly cocktail.So I figured that, when I'm just not in the mood to rant, I could go back, find a good comment, and respond to it with an analysis or a fisking (I'm a bit behind on responding to some of the longer comments anyway). However, on this point, I disagree with Gary only on one point.
The first is simply that Blair is playing to the crowd. The second is that much of that crowd is Sun- and Daily Mail-reading - and they aren't overly concerned with niceties. In their minds, whenever a piece of non-English, anti-freedom legislation is considered, they know exactly who they want it applied to - nasty terrorists and their mouthpieces, mainly - they assume that's only who it will be applied to and they have little or no conception of how such legislation can then be used against almost anybody else for almost any reason.
Hence, we get an old man barred from a Labour conference for which he has a legal pass using the Prevention of terrorism Act. Nobody who wants to see these nasty terrorists being banged up without mercy foresaw that the same legislation could be used against OAPs. Unfortunately, they will not learn from this and carry on demanding ever 'tougher' laws to deal with their favourite bogey men.
The third reason Blair does this is simple. Along with his fellow leftists he belives that society is perfectable - a delusion that conservatives scoff at - but it's only perfectable by, of course, a managerialist, central government whose influence reaches down into the very stuff of our lives. The left do not believe society can manage itself. They have a blue-print of what should be; their task is to turn should into is.
The Labour virus must get into our every cell to achieve this because it's only when all human action is in keeping with their grand design can they finally consider themselves to be successful. Laws must reach further into our lives and affect what we say, what we do and, ultimately, how we think.
This nanny-state managerialism he points has as point 3 isn't a symptom of the 'left' in general, if it were, it would apply to me, which, well, it doesn't. It's a symptom of the division of the left I talked about here and here, the authoritarian left. In many ways, they share traits with elements of the Tory party; the part that Cameron dissasociates himself with, the part that goes for the populist easy options, or appeals to 'Victorian values' or 'traditional morals'. The part that doesn't want to live and let live, and is up in arms over civil partnerships and the rest because it's "an attack on marriage". It's not just the Left that has it's nannies Gary, it's both the main parties, and, to their shame, the LibDems sometimes make appeals to them as well.
For a politician, appeals to populist authoritarianism are the easy way out, you get a good headline; frequently in the Sun or the Mail, and you hope to win votes. Explaining yourself, debating the issues, compromising around the best solution; those are challenges, difficult, they don't make good headlines. All the parties are prone to it, but Labour appears to be making it a matter of policy.
I honestly believe the majority of the electorate dislike such approaches, the disillusionment many have with politics is partially caused by the petty point scoring and headline grabbing statements. I hope that bloggers can, through their ability to react quickly to news and discuss problems and ideas across blogs and comments, at least highlight this tendency. If, between us, we also promote the existence and cheer on those politicians that also seek to engage, debate, reason and not react, then we may, just possibly, have something tangible to add to British politics.
Here's hoping, anyway. Gary? This leftist doesn't believe society is perfectible. But he does believe it could be a lot better than it currently is.