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Letter: Mounting bills for an authoritarian government

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SIR – I wonder if your readers share my concern that this Conservative government is becoming more and more authoritarian? There are a number of proposals afoot that we should be very worried about.

Firstly, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which will make it harder to protest about government behaviour or inequalities in society. For example, the police could be given powers to stop "noisy" protests or protests too close to parliament. On that basis women would never have got the vote back in 1928.

Suspicion-less stop-and-search is another provision of this bill despite the fact that its use in places like London has had minimal impact on preventing crime. Surely police must have reasonable grounds to stop and search people?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Secondly there is the Nationality and Borders Bill which will criminalise asylum seekers. Around 70% of migrants arriving by boat across the channel eventually have their asylum claims accepted. This government, however, wants to lock them for up to four years, just because of the way they arrive here.

Do we not have any compassion left for people fleeing war in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan? Do we really think people should stop and think about applying for a visa before they are killed by bombs? The government should set up safe ways to process these people in collaboration with our French neighbours.

Thirdly, the Elections Bill proposes mandatory voter ID in order to cast our vote.Yet, there isn't any significant evidence of voter fraud. Some people will not bother to do this and thus become disenfranchised. If this happens which political party will benefit? Do we want any deterrents to voting?

Fourthly, the government proposes to grab more power through its Judicial Review and Courts Bill which will allow it to override judicial review findings that disagree with its own agenda! Other proposals like the ones above being brought forward. For example, the Online Safety Bill may be used to silence critics of the government on social media platforms.

The underlying theme appears to be to inhibit citizens, journalists and judges from interfering with government business. Readers may recall that the government suspended parliament to prevent debate about Brexit. Ironically for a government making rules for others it was found to have acted unlawfully by the highest court in the land.

It doesn’t like BBC journalism either. Not because it is inaccurate but because it doesn’t like how its analysis reflects on government actions. What does our local Conservative MP Sir Desmond Swayne think about these things? His voting record will tell you all you need to know. For example, he voted for the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill!

Roy Kennard,
New Milton

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