Thursday 8 July 2010

Kylie cocktails all round!

It must be National Common Sense Week. In the last two days, Matron has noted not one but two positive developments in the area of civil liberties.

Today, the Home Office came out with the surprise announcement that it would suspend the dreaded section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 under which police officers were able to stop anyone in a designated area without having to show reasonable suspicion. According to the Guardian, the powers were used on more than 148,798 occasions which leads Matron to believe that this includes more than it's fair share of "driving-while-black" incidents. Admittedly, the decision follows a decision by the European Court of Human Rights in January that the powers were too extensive and therefore unlawful. What is particularly heartening, however, is that the announcement was made only a day after the fifth anniversary of the London bombings, normally - Matron would expect - a trigger for the introduction of more security theatre like measures.

Not wanting to be outdone, the Supreme Court then decided yesterday that gay and lesbian asylum seekers have the right to remain in the UK, if there is a danger that they would be persecuted for their sexuality in their home countries. The Home Office has apparently accepted the ruling and has confirmed that the policy would be changed with immediat effect. Of course, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, but such a quick and humble reaction is sure to be commended. Long may the civil liberties honeymoon of the coalition government continue.

Matron first read about this development in the Guardian, a paper she can generally read without the risk of increasing her blood pressure to dangerous levels. However, even as she read it she wondered what the Daily Mail would make of this. Today she checked and in true form the country's most cherished chip wrapper has its priorities dead right. Gays can stay, it quotes one of the judges (who surely should have known better) because "they must be free to enjoy Kylie concerts and cocktails". Nothing to do with the threat to their life and liberty in countries like Uganda and

On the other hand, Matron cannot shake off the feeling that we are paying a rather high price for these victories. With news of ever more asinine spending cuts, she fears that things in her part of the country will become very unpleasant very soon as a growing number of people experience the direct fallout of policy measures deviced by peole who have no real experience of life on the breadline. So while we still can: Kylie cocktails all round!

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