Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Default Law: Subverting democracy in the face of terrorism

TBH I'm on holiday and haven;t got the time to go into details of emergency laws being passed. But two things strike me as pretty significant:

1. Nobody seems to be discussing safeguards in legislative process. As the BBC article mentions:
A bill's passage through the Commons usually takes a matter of weeks or months, although there are well-established procedures for fast-tracking bills when MPs believe that it is necessary to do so.
So under our democratic system, it's OK to basically route around the democratic system if the belief of the representatives say otherwise.

Some may say that we hand our electoral power over to our representative not as the power to vote, but as a token of trust. I'd say a democratic system which doesn't put in safeguards against inefficient and minimal debate and evidence is pretty lacklustre. Which comes on to...

2. Emergencies create their own default law. In other words, it doesn't matter what a specific law pertains to - if it relates to a "higher purpose" ("safety" in this case, but any significantly hyped meme could be substituted) then the details can be assumed to be mere bagatelles. It becomes about the intent of the law, not what gets trampled in its way. The details will default to the intent.

That intent stems from two things - the threat of a specific incident (such as a building being blown up), and an emotional response to the idea of a form of power (such as people threatening to blow up buildings).

In other words, our MPs are happy to bypass their democratic role when the idea of terrorism frightens them. They are happy to skip their responsibilities on a responsive whim.

Not only that, it is easier for them to do this. It is easier to take the safe route at whatever cost. "Nobody ever got fired for voting for more surveillance."

Remind me again how exactly we don't bow down to terrorist threats? If subverting your entire legal system isn't bowing down, I'm out of ideas.

"If we delay we face the appalling prospect police operations will go dark, that trails will go cold, that terrorist plots will go undetected.
"If that happens, innocent lives may be lost."

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