The following leader appeared in this weeks New Scientist:
POLITICS is often said to be the art of the possible. Complex real-world problems rarely have neat solutions. But British politicians appear to have forgotten this: the impossible is becoming law.
Consider the Psychoactive Substances Bill, which attempts to ban almost everything that alters mental state. It was passed last week by mostly supine MPs after a clueless debate (see “You’re not hallucinating, MPs really did pass crazy bad drug law“).
Last week also saw publication of the draft “snooper’s charter”, which asks for some powers that are nonsensical, because they bear little relation to how digital communications actually work, and others that are draconian. And it saw the release of the “evidence base” behind the drive for a seven-day National Health Service, though this provides scant justification for the proposed reforms, as the medical profession has explained.
Rationalists may hope these laws will prove unworkable. But with the government seemingly also bent on removing checks and balances on its power, from freedom of information requests to human rights laws, we should be concerned that it will instead be free to interpret their vagaries any way it wants, unchallenged.
In a democracy, that may seem unthinkable. But it is beginning to seem worryingly possible.
I have little to add. We seem to all be sleepwalking into some sort of Orwellian nightmare. Orwell, of course, was very familiar with the Spanish Civil War. Will the Tories keep pushing, provoking and alienating people until civil war erupts here?