There is only one crime, is there not?
The last bastion of global freedom was put in chains last night. Now, on a whim, a government minister elected by no-one can legally shut down absolutely any site on the internet, indefinitely, on the mere suspicion that it might, in the future, infringe someone's copyright, or in some way inadvertently assist some third party in the breaking of some other law.
Of course, these powers will be used only sparingly and with the most careful and wise consideration. No further democratic scrutiny is or will be required. Authority has been wholly established.
New Labour has plenty of form in this field, of course. Eight years ago it tried to introduce more Minority Report-style legislation, in that case a new Mental Health Act aimed at granting it the power to put mentally-ill people in jail if it was thought they might, in the future, commit some crime.
And of course, Labour have already brought us the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which grants our supposed servants the right to snoop on just about any conceivable form of private communication, just in case we might, in the future, be thinking of doing something which is now or might someday become a crime.
(And even now, it only requires the government or police to allege that we might have committed some crime, or be thinking of doing so in the future, in order for it to lock us up without charge for weeks at a time, and to forcibly extract and indefinitely record the DNA of millions of citizens not found guilty of – or even charged with – any offence.)
The logic plays out pretty obviously, of course. After an administration that has introduced too many thousands of new crimes to keep track of, what could be more reasonable for a future government than to clarify and simplify this bloated, unwieldy penal code by reducing those thousands of crimes to just one?
A Big Brother state doesn't happen overnight. It happens in steps and increments, with each individual one often barely noticed. But beneath the watchful eyes of New Labour, that police state has progressed in leaps and bounds, undoing centuries of freedoms in barely a decade of government given absolute dictatorial power by the assent of just 36% of voters, and barely 20% of the eligible electorate.
Last night, in indecent haste, with barely any of our elected representatives even bothering to attend, one of the most significant single destructions of civil liberties ever to take place in the United Kingdom was smuggled through a deserted Parliament under the cover of darkness, both literal and metaphorical. They might come for you next. Be prepared. Good luck.
"He had committed – would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper – the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed for ever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you."