Thursday, April 06, 2006

Blair's inner circle and its ferocious grab for power

Jenni Russell is concerned that

"Piece by piece, month by month, Tony Blair's administration is removing the safeguards that protect all of us from the whims of a government and the intrusions of a powerful state. It is engaged in a ferocious power-grab. Yet this story has not seized the imagination of the media or the public. In our failure to respond, the government must be reading a tacit acceptance that it can do what it chooses, because we either don't notice or don't care...

A leading Blairite was recently at dinner with a friend, and found himself being challenged over the government's activities. Eventually, frustrated by the criticism, he leant forward and said: "What you don't seem to understand is that we are good people!"

That injured comment is revealing. Even if it were undeniably true, it could not justify the hijacking of our democracy by a small, determined group. Good people can do bad things. What's more, bad people can follow them. Assurances of virtue are irrelevant. What matters is where power lies and how it is controlled. That stale phrase, an elective dictatorship, is now a real danger.

The perverse fact is that we are being asked to place great trust in a government that makes a point of distrusting everyone outside its inner circle. If we don't share their assumption that they alone know what is best for the rest of us, we had better start protesting now. Last year Blair promised to listen to us. As he dismantles our defences, what he is hearing is something close to silence."

I believe it was St Bernard who said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Bernard, as I vaguely recall the story, was a key figure in the aftermath of the schism of the Roman Catholic church when two rival popes were elected in the 12th century. Maybe the UK government need their own St Bernard to sort out the rivalry of their very own double papacy, in a way which will break through the inner circle's absolute faith in its own infallibilty?

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