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These schemes are part of the government’s drive against “anti-social behaviour.” New Labour introduced Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) in 1999, written decrees which tell individuals how they must behave. A local authority can issue an ASBO forbidding an individual from walking down a certain street, using bad language in public or even wearing a certain item of clothing, without having to prove in a court of law that the individual is guilty of anything.
ASBOs are like feudal rulings: they are dished out on the whim of local officials and on the basis of hearsay rather than hard evidence of misdemeanor. They’re a shocking affront to liberty and to the rule of law.
So in Blair’s Britain we are spied on constantly; we’re nannied everywhere from the pub to the soccer stadium; we can be reprimanded and have our freedom of movement and association restricted on the say-so of a local official. Dear reader, we Britons are no longer free. Instead we live in a permanent state of parole, where we must walk, talk and act in a certain way or risk having our collars felt by a CCTV spy, a cop or a council official.
That is Blair’s legacy: the transformation of Britain into one big holding cell, and British citizens into constant objects of suspicion.
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