The Quiet and Sorry Death of Liberalism, Part CCXXXIV

10 January 2014

The whole point of the House of Lords is that it lacks democratic legitimacy. This, as they say, is a feature not a bug. A damn good feature too. It is – or can or should be – a valuable cooling saucer into which ploys devised by the lower, popular, house are poured until such time as they congeal to be revealed in all their unappetising horror.

From time to time the will [sic] of the people, as expressed by Her Majesty’s Government, jolly well should be frustrated or otherwise suppressed. Take this headline, for instance: Peers block law on being annoying in public. 

That’s from the BBC not The Daily Mash though I’d forgive you for assuming otherwise. You click on it because you think, hang on, even Westminster wouldn’t try and pass such an obviously daft notion. And then you discover that, by jove, they would. And did! You see:

Ministers want to replace anti-social behaviour orders in England and Wales with injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance (Ipnas).

Courts could impose these on anyone engaging – or threatening to engage – in “conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person”.

An Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance! How marvellous. Can one be issued to the House of Commons?

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You may now, if you have not already, bury any lingering hopes this might prove a pleasingly, refreshingly, liberal government. Hark at this, however:

The Home Office has said the new injunctions – part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill – would never be imposed in an unreasonable way.

Of course not. Just as no-one making a joke on Twitter would ever be tried and convicted for falling foul of anti-terrorism laws. Move along now, do not trouble yourself, none of this will ever be imposed in an unreasonable way. Only tinfoil-hat-wearing libertarian lunatics could think that.

You would like to think the Home Office – and MPs – might appreciate that there is virtually no aspect of human life or behaviour that is not capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to someone. Only a fat-headed optimist could think such measures would not be abused and, more to the point, abused as a matter of course. It is, naturally, yet another invitation to petty, interfering, illiberalism.

Such is the temper of the times, alas. The spirit of live and let live  – the spirit which ought to be the default presumption in all matters of public policy – evidently perished long ago. Shame on the 178 peers who supported the government’s proposals.

Granted, a Labour government led by Ed Miliband would be no better and, heavens, might even be worse but that’s a miserably low bar to better. You would like to think David Cameron and Nick Clegg could or would be better than that but such hopes, for the love of god, might be held in vain. Poor liberalism, for she is dead.

What a country.

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Show comments
  • Raw England

    You’re really, really confused. The reason these terrifying, totalitarian laws are being implemented is due to (a) having millions of violent, destructive, uncontrollable foreigners in our country (that’s England I’m referring to. Your country has hardly any immigrants), and (b) an authoritarian hard left establishment, police and political class.

    You have got things the wrong way around completely.

  • paulus

    As per usual the same old confused liberal nonsense, Nuisance is an old common law tort that was qualified by the term persistant. Your brains only work in one way.. generally stupid. Yous can’t understand the concept of judgement, primarily as yous don’t have any.

    • SimonToo

      Public nuisance has long been a crime anyway. This bill does not appear to confine itself to public nuisance, and if it did it would be unnecessary. Private nuisance is a tort giving rise to a civil action for interference with the use or enjoyment of one’s property (as in land). This bill goes way beyond interference with use or enjoyment of one’s land.

      • paulus

        The police dont enforce nuisance, it fell into abeyance along time ago. However, nuisance can be a misery to some people such as that unfortunate women who was disabled and being nuisanced by those thugs who committed suicide. They got away with murdering that woman, the police and court will now be able to decide on their judgement of what is and what is not acceptable.

  • Peter Stroud

    Another bat with which Manmade global warmists, can batter those who dare disagree with their dogma. And the politically correct can take action against any joker, that even comes close to criticising anyone who is gay, bisexual, Muslim or black. Strangely, Christians, Jews and the elderly will be exempt from this law, and available for criticism.

  • allymax bruce

    The ‘Lords’ has become its own ‘sheltered housing complex’; an elephants graveyard, where old farts go to ‘pour’ over their inabilities to function in an ever modernising political world. Take the Euopean Union Referendum Bill in its second reading just now, the Labour cronies like Liddell, Foulkes, Liddle, Anderson etc, all ‘dutifully’ poo-poo any suggestion of reforming a very bad Lisbon Treaty; and ‘pour’ scorn on even the temerity to ask for a Referendum; the ‘referendum both Bliar & Brown promised us! Labour, as a function of ‘the Lords’, are too fat, too rich, and too stupid, to understand The Lisbon Treaty is the worst thing to happen to UK, that the people want this referendum, and Bliar, Brown & Darling sold all our gold, prosperity, & Sovereignty to this ‘many headed monster’ against our (sic) will. Lord Inglewood, like Baroness Warsi, has made the sensible argument, that reform of this horrid Lisbon Treaty WILL happen; better sooner, than later! I just want to thank Andrew Neil for the wee ‘heads-up’ mention at the end of his Thurs’ Daily Politics programme; forgiveness is a Gracious virtue, Andrew, thanks. I too forgive all my ‘political adversaries’ over the past; with Grace & thanks to Eliz, broadly.

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