A letter a day to number 10. No 1,269
Saturday 28 November 2015.
Dear Mr Cameron,
I am sure you know what a Panopticon is – ‘The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow all (pan-) inmates of an institution to be observed (-opticon) by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that all inmates must act as though they are watched at all times, effectively controlling their own behaviour constantly.’ (Wikipedia)
The reason I am sure is because we are living in a Virtual Panopticon of the ever more intrusive state. Since the proliferation of CCTV in Britain, the digital age has enabled ever greater intrusions into our lives from hidden watchers. The entirely specious argument that ‘if you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about’ does not answer the effects the insidious invasion of hidden observers has on our lives. It ‘nudges’ us in the direction of accepting such invasions and to cease questioning how we feel about that, lowering our guard through their very omnipresence and being given no choice in the matter.
It becomes ever easier to ramp up hidden surveillance by an ever more intrusive state. The Snoopers Charter has raised barely a flutter of protest across the nation except amongst the few who pay close attention to politics and the behaviour of government and ask the question, does government serve the people or do people serve the government? Clearly we have a difference of opinion on that matter as you erode our rights at work and at home. The Trade Union Bill is a direct attack on workers and workers rights just as your plan to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA) is an attack on each individual in the UK.
One of the most egregious statements you made just this year was, “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’.” If the law is no longer sufficient to protect us from state intrusion in our lives, Britain has become a totalitarian state, ‘a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible’. Iain Duncan Smiths sanctions regime is a direct attack on people’s right to life (just as Workfare is explicitly forced labour) and far too many lives have already been lost, small wonder you want shot of the HRA.
We have laws because we are moral creatures, were we not the law would be meaningless, in fact we’d be unable to make any laws at all. Within the Virtual Panopticon it becomes the moral duty of each one of us to resist conformity to the dictates of a government gone entirely rogue.