The Independent newspaper has an article (reprinted from Vanity Fair) about the way Tony Blair has eroded civil liberties and freedom in Britain and the scary way in which many people seem compliant and almost resigned to their fate.
Certainly there’s a lack of interest in politics these days. Partly because politicians and the media have managed to make the subject so boring. Sometimes it seems like one group of public schoolboys (the journalists) having a matey jousting match with another group of public schoolboys (the politicians).
Television — the most powerful medium we have, and the one from which most people get their information, has been dumbed down. The awkward programmes — World In Action, This Week, Panorama — have gone or been emasculated. Scare stories about paedophiles, terror threats and health risks are used to distract the public from what the Government is doing in the background.
Tony Blair has created a society where British people work such long hours that many have neither the time nor appetite for serious subjects in the few hours they have to themselves. They seek escapism.
On the subject of ID cards, Neil Tennant of the PetShopBoys is quoted in the article as saying: ‘my specific fear is that we are going to create a society where a policeman stops me on the way to Waitrose’.
Already I see that attitude developing amongst the police. Most recently I noticed it when we went to the Manchester Passion event on Good Friday. We asked a policeman for directions to the street from where the parade was starting off and I happened to mention that I was there to shoot some video. He replied that he had ‘no objection’ to me filming.
I wasn’t asking for his permission to film. This was on a public street at an event that was intended for the public. But, apparently, he felt it was in his power to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to me using my camcorder.
Shooting pictures at the Carribean Carnival last year, I was asked by one policeman where I was from.
Instead of assuming that most people are at an event for perfectly innocent reasons, now there always seems to be a suspicion that you are up to something.
I’ve been out on the streets shooting photographs and video for twenty-five years and this is something that never used to happen. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I can see the day coming when they will expect to review your videotape or look at the photos on your memory card.
Quality of life for ordinary law-abiding people is being eroded because there is a one-in-a-million chance that the Police may catch someone who is up to no good.
This is sneaking up on us. We are being ‘groomed’ ready for a society where we will be tracked and logged twenty-four hours a day and any variation from the home-to-work-to-supermarket-to-home routine will prompt questions and a request to prove who we are, what we are doing and why.
Like Neil Tennant I’ll consider leaving Britain if ID cards are introduced.
PS. I can’t believe I’m quoting one of the Pet Shop Boys. How gay is that? ;-)