Polly on Civil Liberties

The poor dear. She gets very confused here, very confused.

But the Porter view turns the state into public enemy number one. That is the traditional rightwing view, but many on the left are buying into this creed of individualism against the collective. The left can\’t resist also being victims: oh, to be arrested for a cause! Labour has played into their hands with cavalier curtailments of civil liberties for illusory political gains. But the left should beware the old rightwing wolf dressed in civil liberties sheep\’s clothing that pursues individual freedoms for the powerful at the expense of collective freedoms for all.

This is the same mindset that sees taxes as an infringement of liberty and an Englishmen\’s property as his inalienable untaxed castle to hand down, untaxed, to his children. It is the mindset in which the right to choose "personalised" services trumps everyone else\’s fair chance for best schools and hospitals. Liberty and equality will always rub along together awkwardly. But social democrats should guard against the individualistic my-rights culture of our times that simply ignores the rights of those whose needs are most urgent, in favour of often relatively frivolous paranoia about an overmighty state.

The positive rights which she argues for, well, OK, let\’s argue for or against such positive rights. But there is no conflict here between having or not those positive rights and the having or not of the negative rights. They\’re entirely different questions. My right to silence on questioning, to a jury trial, to the presumption of innocence, what have these to do with the treatment of asylum seekers, or the method of delivery of state services? Nothing, nothhng at all, and to claim that either concentration upon one reduces the efforts on the other, or that advance on one balances degradation on the other is nonsense.

But the phrase that really chokes going down is "frivolous paranoia about an overmighty state."

The one thing the 20 th century really ought to have taught us is that paranoia about an overmighty state simply isn\’t frivolous. It should be the default position for us all.

9 thoughts on “Polly on Civil Liberties”

  1. She gets confused a bit earlier than that in the piece (are any of us surprised), when she vomits:

    Jack Straw, the justice secretary, wrote a robust defence of the party’s record, rightly proud of some civil liberties gains.

  2. Oh crap, I should read the whole thing before ranting – this:

    or indeed the silly anti-protest laws that make rather happy (Turner prize-winning) martyrs out of mild protesters.

    No you daft witch. Brian Haw did not win the Turner prize, Mark Wallinger did. Brian is the protester, Mark is the pillock who thinks dressing up in a bear suit is art. Now, if there were any justice in the world, Brian would have got the cash. However, if there were any justice in the world, you would be stacking shelves in your local Lidl rather than being given print space in a national newspaper.

    This is depressing me so much I might actually have to go and do some work.

  3. There aren’t words for how bad that piece was. It’s not as offensive as her Euro-crazies rant a couple of months ago was, it’s just utter drivel from start to finish. She seems to think that it’s impossible to be against the surveillance state and for social justice at the same time.

    I liked the part where she admitted that ID cards will be an expensive failure. It’s a shame she didn’t think about the consequences of that a bit more before she wrote this awful article!

  4. I think the clue is in her first sentence in Tim’s quote. She equates “the collective” with the State. She can’t see the difference. That has some rather unpleasent consequences.

  5. Please publish a collected anthology of pretty Pol’s essays in idiocy.

    If it shows anything it will show how she is consistently forced to back-track from her polemical incoherence, and it should soften the blow to her income levels when the last shred of her credibility is lost in the last diatribe to her defence.

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    It is rare that the MSM manages to produce a better response than a blog, but the Observer, of all papers, has done us proud on the subject of Polly:


    “The breathtaking dishonesty of her argument is to describe anyone who opposes Labour on these grounds as a being a right-winger. In our democracy liberals exist in all parties – thank God – and it is eloquent of her desperation that she seeks to portray those who stand for liberty, rights and privacy as being individualists who are seeking the aura of victimhood, which of course decrypts as privileged middle-class dilettantes. The allegation comes from the hard-line sectarian communists of my student days, and it is hardly surprising to find the same generation still at it in New Labour, yet now adding notes of vanity, self-righteousness and priggishness.”

    Yep, that’s our Pol.

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