Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Absolute power

I wrote to a colleague about the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill this morning and then I saw this in the Guardian, Tuesday March 21:

"The Cabinet at its meeting this afternoon decided on the text of the [...] Bill [...] If this bill is passed, the [...] Government will be endowed with absolute dictatorial powers. The Act will enable the Cabinet to legislate and to make laws even if these "mark a deviation from the Constitution", [...]"

I didn't mention the report was from Tuesday March 21, 1933 and the deliberate gaps were included to hide the fact that I was referring to the then German government. I know. I know. I've succumbed to Godwin's law but the parallels were rather striking, even though I accept the UK government are sincere in their belief that the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill is purely supposed to be a mechanism for cutting through red tape and will not be used for "controversial" matters. Lib Dem MP, David Haworth, was right to remind us recently, though, of James Madison's advice in The Federalist Papers: when handing out political power remember that “enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.”

Update: Marina Hyde would probably accuse me of being overly generous towards the goverment. She seems to think they're not even very good at deceiving us any more. "It is not all very well to have had one's dreams trodden so unsoftly upon by the Blair administration. None the less, it has happened. But if we are to be routinely misled, could it not at least be with some modicum of skill, some pretence to rigour, something that resembles anything other than a two fingers to sentient beings over the age of seven?"

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