Tuesday, February 05, 2008
The fact that the Secretary of State for Justice was unaware for so long whom had authorised the bugging of an MP should be a cause for concern. This country has always been proud of its history of free speech, the question is to what extent that freedom should be limited? The war in Iraq has had a huge cost in human lives, both civilian and military, and is apparently being fought in the name of "democracy" and "freedom". One of the devastating consequences of that war has been the erosion of the rule of law under the banner of "a war on terror". Guantanemo was a shameful example of this and has given dictators the world over the ability to imprison without trial those they suspect of perceived crimes but without wanting to test that evidence in a proper court, with due process. There are always opponents of the State, who may have a different perspective from the Government of the day. When the line is crossed and there is a serious threat to National Security then there is a case for tapping. However the concern over the "Wilson Doctrine" is that control lies in the hands of the Secretary of State. What is to stop a decision that opposition to the policies of the Government of the day are a threat to "National Security". Apparently we have not yet reached the stage that as a former member of Liberty standing in a constituency with a Labour MP who is a Minister in the Justice Department is that going to provide the justification for my phone being tapped. The fact that Jack Straw was unaware of the current bugging incident because the Wilson Doctrine only covers telephone taps is of great concern, where does this leave the home or office of an MP, apparently within the remit of the police. The concern about constituents is one which is properly expressed by MPs. They should be free to tell their Member of Parliament confidential personal information with the expectation of confidentiality in the same way that they could talk to their doctor or lawyer.