One worrying trend in recent years has been the moves by Tory government’s to avoid scrutiny and accountability by parliament.
The government increasingly use ‘fast track laws’ and decrees that bypass the trouble of having to go through parliament.
Government ministers and Tory back benchers have also engaged in regular public criticism of judges and lawyers who have used the law to hold the government to account. When Boris Johnson shut down parliament early in 2019 to avoid a political row over Brexit the Supreme Court intervened and order them to return parliament as what Johnson had done was unlawful. This led to Tories making noises that the Supreme Court should have fewer powers to force parliament to follow the law.
The COVID Pandemic saw a number of laws and restrictions introduced to protect public health. Whilst these were necessary to save lives, it was also inevitable in the hands of the Tory government that they would be misused, and now Priti Patel, a hard right authoritarian, is keen to extend and expand the emergency powers from COVID into the future, even when the pandemic is over.
This is also a government that has banned journalists from briefings that it deems to be troublesome and has used government social media accounts to launch attacks on journalists for doing their job.
The political system we have now is far from perfect, and has to be replaced by something more radical and representative, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore or downplay the chipping away of what democratic rights we have and ways we have to hold those in power accountable.
The danger is that Labour pursues an agenda not too dissimilar to the Tories. They are trying to out play the Tories on law and order, they are pulling their punches when it comes to the government’s handling of the Corona Virus.
With few friends in parliament, we need a broad based movement to defend our political and democratic rights.