Remember what happened after Trump won? Angry blogs were typed out, roads were blocked and half the country threatened to move to Canada.
While Robert DeNiro has yet to pack his bags for Montreal, now might actually be the time for libertarians in Britain to consider a relocation.
You see, while the whole world has been freaking out about what Trump might do, British Prime Minister Theresa May has (slowly and quietly) been actually doing something. And by “something,” I mean erasing the freedoms of British citizens.
Last week, the UK government passed the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, a law that has been described as the “most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy” by the Director of Open Rights Group. The bill forces internet service providers to store the internet history of every UK citizen, and allows dozens of government bodies to peer in at any time. The law is supposed to help prevent terrorism, which is presumably why it’s vital that the Food Standards Agency and the Scottish Ambulance Service Board are allowed to view your activity.
During the same week, the Digital Economy Bill was also presented. The law would build on a 2014 law banning British porn producers from creating videos featuring any of a wide variety of sex acts, including facesitting, spanking and female ejaculation. The laws have been justified for the purposes of safety, because we all remember how many people died during the Great Facesitting Tragedy Of ’09.
Yet no one has blocked any highways. Or threatened to move to France. Very few have even typed out angry blogs.
In part this speaks to the disinterest towards freedom in the UK; we have no real libertarian movement strong enough to stand up for our natural rights. But I suspect a major part of the reason these bills have become laws, almost unnoticed, is that there’s no real surprise in them. Theresa May has always wanted to do these things and we’ve always known she wanted to.
May has been a lifelong authoritarian. As Home Secretary, May banned Khat, a drug about as addictive as coffee and about as threatening to a populace as an actual cat. In January she built on this legacy by pushing the Psychoactive Substances Act, a law which made any mood-altering substance (even ones yet to exist) pre-emptively illegal unless they are on a government-approved list. That’s right, Theresa May is already narking on unborn drug-users.
And the list doesn’t end with drugs. In 2012 she proposed plans that could deport non-EU immigrants, simply for earning less than £35,000. In 2013 she introduced legislation to allow “Secret Courts,” in which the state can prosecute citizens without allowing them to know the charge, see the evidence, or even enter the hearing.
So we ignore it, because it isn’t shocking any more. It’s barely even surprising.
But just because something isn’t surprising doesn’t make it any more moral. It’s always easy to focus on the scary new Villain of the Week, but we shouldn’t forget that while President-Elect Donald Trump may prove himself to be terrible for freedom-lovers, liberties have been under attack across Western civilization for far longer than November 8th.
* Luke Terry is a freelance journalist who has written about libertarianism for Spiked, LibertarianHome, and others. He freelances comedy content and regularly performs stand-up on the London circuit. Follow him on Twitter at @Vitrioholic