Saturday, April 18, 2009

‘The executive must take tighter control to stop its own power grab’

Today’s Independent leader sounds off about civil liberties, weaving some recent incidents together as demonstrating “the unaccountable and rampant executive arm of the British state”.

The piece manages to a make a couple of fair points along the way, but too much of it is a mish-mash of standard Indy fare. It concludes:

Those who warned that the executive's power grab would end in an unacceptable erosion of our freedoms have been vindicated. The Government was warned when the council surveillance Bill was going through Parliament that it was too loosely drafted and gave too much power to local authorities. …
We need a completely new approach. Any powers granted to public authorities to protect public safety must come with strict conditions of accountability. The police, in particular, need to be brought under much tighter control.
Whichever party forms the next government needs to take back those powers that should never have been conferred. But more than this, it must expunge the mentality that says security always trumps freedom. It is time our arrogant executive was put back in its rightful place.

This is incoherent. How can giving “too much power to local authorities” represent an executive “power grab”? How can “strict conditions of accountability” and “much tighter control” for bodies such as police forces constitute a diminution of the “rampant executive”?

As I say, the editorial isn’t completely nonsensical, but any substantial case it might have is deeply submerged beneath a torrent of boilerplate gripes that gives the impression of having been hastily cobbled together after a good Friday lunch.

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