While this great tradition can be traced back to the Magna Carta, it was the rise of the modern state with all the new powers at its disposal that made the 17th century the pivotal period in the struggle against arbitrary and unaccountable government —— as Britain led the way in the battle for freedom from hierarchical rule, for human rights and for the rule of law.
And tracing Coke’s defence of common law, the work of John Locke and the Bill of Rights of 1689 right through to the first of the Reform Acts, Macaulay concluded that ‘the authority of law and the security of property were found to be compatible with a liberty of discussion and of individual action never before known’. (“Speech on Liberty,” Gordon Brown)
It’s a fascinating speech for the depth of understanding it goes through before proposing national ID cards and a DNA database. In today’s United States, I can hardly imagine the President giving a speech this deep or nuanced.
Well worth the read on Guy Fawkes day.
Via the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
[Update: As Nicko suggested in comments, I read too much into this, and in the Queen’s Speech, Brown made no clear mention of ID cards or DNA databases.]