It emerged this week that Green Party activist Jenny Jones has been the subject of pervasive police surveillance as she was deemed a potential domestic extremist; she has no criminal record and has fought for such ‘dangerous’ change as banning fracking and protesting against austerity measures.
This is not right in a liberal democracy; we are already aware that we are all being watched by GCHQ and NSA surveillance programmes, but now our politicians are being followed and investigated by authorities as well. This Orwellian machinery has reached its boiling point; it cannot go on any longer if we are to continue to call ourselves a democracy.
Any regime that deems it necessary to constantly watch its own citizens and its opposition parties is dangerous, and this is no exception. Domestic extremism is certainly a threat, and it is fair to increase security measures in some contexts, but to launch a perpetually ubiquitous surveillance system is an overreaction and a tragedy for democracy itself.
…a perpetually ubiquitous surveillance system is an overreaction…
In the international arena we watch with scorn and dissatisfaction at how other regimes bolster their power through physical means; Putin’s Russia is a prime example of this. Yet, in our own country we remain apathetic and lethargic to the clandestine attempts to take away hard-won freedoms such as the right to privacy, and the right to protest.
Jenny Jones, and the Green Party, did not enhance racial divisions during the European Elections; that was Nigel Farage and UKIP’s doing. They have not launched a violent protest; that was EDL’s doing. They have peacefully protested a plethora of times for positive change, as well as actively seeking to change the political system with an overhaul that would improve it. This may seem extreme, but as the means for doing this are democratic, there is no excuse for the systematic surveillance.
…actively seeking to change the political system…
Why should the state be able to investigate political movements like in this manner? Surely our right to protest and create political change ourselves is one of the hallmarks of democracy? It is one of the things we should be most proud of, but it is being crushed by an overzealous state concerned about its self-preservation as the people are becoming rapidly dissatisfied with the mantra of ‘all in this together,’ when in fact there is a clear class divide. Food banks are becoming a standard part of people’s lives, charities have expressed concern over domestic poverty levels- despite this the government seems to think spending money on monitoring ‘extremists’ like Jenny Jones is an acceptable use of public funds.
This should make people livid; If you are not outraged by this threat to our freedom then you are simply not paying enough attention. Once small freedoms are given away for the sake of short term security it becomes extremely easy for far more fundamental rights to come under threat; this is not to say we are falling into the hands of a despotic regime, but we are under threat of losing some of the basic rights that give us the ability to criticise the government and hold them to account, as well as the right to actively take part in politics between elections.