Everyone (who was old enough at the time) remembers what they were doing on 31st August 1997. Lady Diana Spencer died in a car crash in Paris and the relationship between ‘us’ and ‘them’ changed forever.
I’m not about to debate whether this was a genuine accident or an assassination. There are plenty of blogs doing that already. But, if it was an accident, then two accidents occurred that day: one in which someone died and one in which the government got a new toy. They realised they could provoke a malleable public reaction if they were to ever cause harm to something the public held in high regard.
Diana was a symbol. People looked up to her; possibly more so than they did the monarchy. When she died, there was wall-to-wall media coverage of her death, public sobbing and considerable anger directed at the monarchy for mishandling the event. The people wanted national mourning. The monarchy wouldn’t give it to them.
Fast forward to a time when the dust had settled; it started to dawn on government(s) that, if you harm something the people love, you’ll end up with a reaction you can direct to your advantage. As far as I’m concerned, 1997 was the turning point. This was when they learned the trick.
Anyone remember 7/7? The tube is a London symbol. As much as we all complain about it, we also love it. Some trains got blown up and lots of us started begging for more CCTV and the introduction of ID cards. On a side note, I’d be very interested to hear exactly how an ID card would have helped during 7/7. Would they have set up force fields around the bombers? Fat chance. But increased surveillance was exactly what the government wanted. With 7/7 we gave them our permission to do exactly that. We asked for it.
More recently – Drummer Lee Rigby. He was publically beheaded while collecting for charity. People have high regard for the armed forces. So, if you take one and kill him or her in front of several witnesses you guarantee, not only first dibs on the front page, but a strong public reaction. Again, we were almost dropping to our knees asking for tighter security. ‘Please watch us for our own good. Please!! We can’t look after ourselves! We need you to watch over us!’
If I’ve lost anyone in the above two paragraphs, what I’m proposing is that the government is behind the very terrorism from which they claim to shield us in order to press ahead with their own agenda. I’ll admit I can’t prove it. But I’m saying this because it’s healthy to question the government. And since I hold them in such low regard, I question them all the time.
We’re not doing ourselves any favours here. We are inviting (or at least allowing) too much surveillance of ourselves. We’re not being watched for our own good. But this surveillance does increase the government’s hold over us. I don’t care if I haven’t done anything wrong. I don’t want to be watched like this.