Or take the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act (Ripa). Many people have been appalled to discover in recent weeks that hundreds of public sector organisations are entitled to carry out MI5-style surveillance on people and keep tabs on whom they phone or email.

Wasn\’t this legislation brought in to authorise undercover operations against terrorists, not stake out the homes of parents trying to get their children into a decent school? Well, no, actually.

When Ripa was introduced in 2002, this newspaper carried the front-page headline: "Alarm at sweeping powers for state snoopers", so it was no secret. However, it is in the nature of these illiberal developments that the reasons they were introduced get lost and they become the norm (as will happen with the planned increase of detention without charge to 42 days).

Yes, it\’s the slippery slope argument again. Yes, it\’s a logical fallacy….there\’s no reason in logic why it must happen. Just the accumulated empirical evidence of the ages, that\’s all.

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