Sometimes, when the chips are down and you are facing into the abyss, it is necessary to take certain liberties away from the population in order to safeguard the future.
For Britain, the most striking examples lie in WWII, when it became necessary to impose many draconian restrictions on the people. These decisions were not taken lightly, and few would agree that they were a mistake. The very fabric of our nation and culture was under threat from a very real enemy. Our fate, at that point, was very much undecided. Hardship and a change in our civil liberties were necessary; vital even, to protect us from the approaching armies of Hitlers Third Reich.
Go back now to 1933. Arsonists had just torched the Reichstag building causing panic to sweep across Germany. Hitler, used the situation to manipulate the people into believing that their very nation was in danger of destruction from the many forces of evil both at home and abroad. Driving them on with fear, Hitler tore apart his nations democracy and destroyed his peoples civil liberties.
In truth, there was no threat. It was a skillful piece of propaganda used continuously as a reason for German's re-taking of the Rhineland, annexing of Austria and invasion of Czechoslovakia. All in the name of protecting the homeland from the evils around them.
Fast forward to 2005. In Britain, our Government continues to report the dangers we face. The very real dangers of international terrorists that may strike at any time, robbing you of everything you hold dear. The basis of this feeling? 3 terrorist attacks (9/11, Bali and Madrid) which have only tenuous links between them.
Almost everyday we hear a report about how police have arrested people on suspicion of terrorism. Remember the ricin plots? What about the arrests in connection with blowing up Old Trafford? Almost all of the people arrested in these raids and others have been released without charge. Of course, nobody bothered to report it, because innocence isn't news.
With 24 hour news coverage the threat seems very real, just like it did in the 1940s for the British people staring across the Channel at a seemingly unstoppable enemy; just like it did for the people of Germany in 1933. However, one of these threats was built on fact, the other was built on opportunism.
I wonder which one is true of today. Well, that's for you to decide, but whatever happens now, our nation has taken a dangerous step away from the democratic principals we hold dear. Will we ever get them back?