In reacting to the now infamous pasty tax proposed in this year’s budget, one former Labour minister expressed his amazement that the government hadn’t seen the reaction coming. It was, he said, a proposal which the civil service had put before him but which he’d rejected.
There’s a similar message behind the latest proposals for more monitoring of website traffic, including e-mails. It’s another one which was floated under Labour and has now been resurrected under the UK Coalition. Just for a change, I agree with Peter Black’s take on this “Once an idea is fixed in the minds of advisors and civil servants, they keep revisiting it until they find politicians prepared to take it forward”.
There is a certain inevitability about the way that these things keep getting raised by our real rulers. I don’t know whether it will actually happen or not, but past experience suggests that an alternative proposal is likely to be presented which will be less intrusive – and which will then be built on on an opportunistic basis as and when the proponents of the original idea see their opportunity. Incremental changes always manage to look less sinister than major changes.
There’s a surveillance and control mindset lurking behind this one – and people with that mindset aren’t just going to abandon their plans because of reluctant politicians.