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The New Totalitarianism

by Stuart Millson

Here is the text of a speech delivered by the editor of the Freedom Party newspaper in London during October 2003. The speech was addressed to the Society for Individual Freedom – a pressure group which supports the traditional freedoms and liberties of the British citizen.

I am not sure whether, in the future, events such as these will need to be licensed by the Ministry of Truth, or whether the application will have to go through the appropriate European Union authority. But for now, let us at least give thanks that we can still meet in relative freedom, and express our opinions.

Tonight, I would like to talk about how our traditional liberties are being eroded – by a Government fixated on the rights, not of our own citizens, but of those of Iraq or Sierra Leone; a Government which cares nothing for our constitution and the failing health of our faltering democracy. And make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen: we are also being betrayed by a so-called Opposition, dedicated to such important things as “NHS patients’ passports”, the cones hotline, and the wearing of fancy dress. I refer here to the Tory Party Chairman’s belief in the importance of leopard-skin shoes, and the Shadow Home Secretary’s apparent conviction that community problems can be solved by grinning like Tony Blair, or appearing like an extra from Carry On Up the Khyber.

But seriously… Increasingly, our society is losing its free speech and freedoms. The Government wishes us all to be stamped and barcoded; with a centralised records office holding our personal details and even our DNA. Our movements, from the cradle to the grave, will be monitored by the brave, new Welfare/Surveillance state which our paranoid and regulation-minded rulers have designed for us. With crime at an all-time high, and illegal immigration rushing like flood water around the desks of the Department of Paper Shuffling (otherwise known as the Home Office), one wonders if the right identity cards will be sent to the right people, or even whether the Government can hope to tackle the insurmountable problems it has helped to create.

I doubt if a glorified bus pass (with a National Insurance number on it) will help! Instead, it will merely allow the Government to keep tabs on the rest of us – the uncomplaining, easily-pushed-around majority. I have yet to read J.G. Ballard’s novel about a violent middle-class revolution of the near-future, but perhaps we may all find ourselves sucked into it instead.

The European Union, once described by Christopher Booker as “the most insane system of government ever devised”, stands like a backdrop to this liberty-destroying process. Like the fiery mountains of Mordor casting an ever-growing darkness and shadow across the land, the EU stands poised to crush freedom, and national and individual dignity. Nations and parliaments will dissolve – EU-appointed, regional rubber-stamping bodies will take their place. Race commissars, equality commissars, human rights commissars, Europol – plus every busybody who is able to hold a clipboard, will be out to make us good, obedient Euro-citizens. Political parties (soon to be funded and no doubt approved by the state) will have to satisfy the EU’s “anti-xenophobia” requirement. If you are a Euro-sceptic party, prepare to go to the EU gulag.

Already, your freedom to grow food, to fish the sea, to run your butcher’s shop, to run your vegetable stall is curtailed by order of the EU. Catch a species of fish which is not on your quota approval form, and you will be fined and put out of business. Sell someone a pound of this, or a pound of that, and you will find yourself plunged into a nightmare of litigation, prosecution and pedantic, nasty, robotic officialdom. Few in politics will be able to help you. After all, the three “main” parties all believe that our place is within the corrupt, obsessive, neurotic and self-important European Union, with opponents of the EU derided as if they were lunatics – a truly dangerous development.

We should certainly not mock the idea of “thought crimes” – or of a free people suddenly being subjected to a frightening Nineteen Eighty-Four scenario. Ten years ago, I wrote a piece for the much-respected quarterly magazine, This England – an article which criticised the idea of a multicultural society being imposed upon the ancient English nation. I sought to warn readers that unless something could be done to halt this process, our country would cease to be recognisable. Agree or disagree with my argument, I hope we all believe that I have the right to express it. I returned to this theme in other editions, but I greatly upset the Guardian writer and self-appointed cultural historian, Patrick Wright.

In one Saturday edition of the freedom-loving Grauniad, Mr. Wright informed his readers that the leftist Searchlight magazine had tried to apply pressure upon W.H. Smith – one of This England’s distributors – to remove the magazine from its shelves. And because I had written on the issue of multiculturalism and immigration – something which I believe should be debated by all, whatever their ethnic background – Wright stated: “…we can only ask why the DPP has not taken action.” Could anything be more indicative of how traditional British freedoms are being replaced by ideological decrees and witch-hunts. Mr. Wright’s position is truly worrying.

But it’s not just the “big things” – such as the EU, or Mr. Wright’s apparent belief that people who disagree with him should be locked up. Recently, walking through the countryside near my home (or at least, the segment of the countryside not yet turned into a superstore by John Prescott) I found myself in a favourite quiet lane. Along the verge and by the hedgerows – horror of horrors – were signs, erected by the local authority, which said: “QUIET LANE”! I wondered if I would come across a noticeboard telling me that I was walking beneath a tree, or whether a council-approved vending machine or cashpoint had been placed in the ragstone wall – for the “convenience of the citizen”.

It is difficult to remain composed when discussing “local authorities”! Once a symbol of municipal pride, quietly getting on (no doubt in a “quiet lane”!) with day-to-day duties, “the council” as it then was, has become a mini-government. Officials – all on substantial salaries – have a policy and a department for everything. Try to ring them, to solve a problem, or to get things done, and a flat, dry voice tells you: “no, we can’t do that”, or “your call may be monitored for training purposes”. Dare to be late with your council tax (i.e. your compulsory contribution to a commissar’s salary, or the Chief Executive’s index-linked pension) and a stern letter will come winging its way to you. Thanks, dear local authority – it’s nice to know that we, your paymasters, are so valued.

Over-regulated, grossly over-taxed, pushed about, controlled, bossed, lectured – the citizens of the Queen (herself a “citizen of the European Union” thanks to that nice Mr. Major) are in chains. If you want to escape to the countryside, you find yourself in an officially-regulated “quiet lane”, or “recreation resource”. If you want to speak to a “customer services operator” you are recorded and categorised. If you have to defend your home, family and possessions from crime, it is likely that you will find yourself in a cell – answerable to the very criminal who has attacked you. It’s nice to know that your council tax, which finances the police, is put to such good use.

There is now a sense of simmering discontent in Britain. But still we remain too passive, too easily discouraged from doing anything to change things in our “banana republic”. We put up with cancelled rail services – an estimated 15 million minutes of delayed trains each year; we put up with the ever-growing NHS waiting list – despite Mr. Blair’s famous declaration in 1997 – “we will restore the National Health Service as the pride of the nation.” We pay millions of pounds in taxes, national and local, yet still the infrastructure and appearance of the country seems run-down and tatty. Just where is our money going? No doubt it is being wisely spent, topping up the pension schemes of council officials, or helping to relieve the Kinnocks’ restaurant expenses in Brussels.

Like a spluttering engine on its last legs – in fact, like something from the nightmare that was Connex South Eastern – the public sector, and indeed large chunks of the deregulated sector, seem to be breaking down. But the ever-spinning Government remains optimistic. Surely our minds will be diverted from these serious problems by that smiling, guitar-twanging “straight kinda guy” in No. 10, or by Cherie giving us a chorus of “When I’m 64” – a sensitive touch, especially just after the suicide of Dr. David Kelly. And there’s always Pop Idol or Beckham’s latest haircut to remind us of the important things in life.

Ladies and gentlemen. Our forefathers fought for basic freedoms. Many lives were given so that free speech and a more or less settled society could exist on this island. Today, discord, depressions, stress – a sense that we can’t turn to anyone, and that no-one cares, exists as never before. Organisations such as the Society for Individual Freedom do a valuable job in keeping the flame of individual freedom alive. Long may your work continue.

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