Little Red Blogger

This blog looks at radical politics(with a libertarian socialist slant), music and culture. Marx to Mises, Girls Aloud to Steve Reich...

Location: Wiltshire, United Kingdom

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

'New' Labour Just Can't Stop Trying To Lock People Up Without a Trial..

After somehow managing to get its House Arrest laws on the books(albeit with major caveats) 'New' Labour is now trying to curtail liberties in another way. The government's mental health bill contains measure that should worry any proponent of civil liberties. In response to tabloid headlines and the public perception of risky, violent mentally ill people the government proposes to detain and enforce treatment of mentally ill people.

The government as per usual wishes to make laws that appeal to the Daily Mail reader within us all, thus confirming popular prejudice and making the mentally ill even more stigmatized than they already are. The government's argument is that it is protecting us from potential harm. It is hard to see that even if these illiberal and coercive measures were adopted that they would make us any safer. Many violent crimes are committed by people who suffer mental illnesses yet are not patients and the further monstering of those suffering mental illness could make them even less likely to get the help they need. Indeed it is quite possible to posit a scenario where violent crime from mentally ill people increases with these laws.

The other objection is the potential threat to our civil liberties, introducing indefinite detention with trial is something that democratic governments should never do. Power tends to corrupt and provide its own rationalisations for the most despicable of actions. It is not to hard to imagine a potential future when this legislation could be abused as a tool against political and cultural opponents. We of course have a real historical example of how psychiatry can be abused by the state. The Soviet treatment of dissidents and those unable to accept the communist party's rule condemned to the asylum for 'treatment' and 're-education', consensus reality shocked into them via the electrodes of the 'people'. This is not the future I wish to see in Britain and this is not the future that the public should let 'New' Labour unwittingly create.