The abuse of emergency legislation: here we go again

A video of Brian Eno’s historic warning against emergency legislation that takes away liberty.

Brian Eno
1 August 2014

DRIP, the British Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act, was rushed through parliament as an ‘emergency’ measure last month, just before the Commons disbanded for the summer. A constitutional outrage against what remains of the UK’s democracy, the method is drearily familiar. Here is Brian Eno in 2009 reflecting on the method and danger of DRIP's implementation five years ago, in a very short black and white medley made for the Convention on Modern Liberty.  

As Eno says, "One of the ways in which civil liberties become curtailed is that governments introduce legislation theoretically to deal with emergency situations and then they suddenly start using it for all sorts of different things, so that a law that is meant to really deal with an extreme and dangerous situation is suddenly used to mop up any inconvenient activity at all." 

Who's getting rich from COVID-19?

Boris Johnson's government stands accused of 'COVID cronyism', after handing out staggering sums of money to controversial private firms to fight COVID-19. Often the terms of these deals are kept secret, with no value-for-money checks or penalties for repeated failures which cost lives. And many major contracts have gone directly to key Tory donors and allies – without competition.

As COVID rates across the country surge, how can we hold our leaders accountable? Meet the lawyers, journalists and politicians leading the charge in our free live discussion on Thursday 1 October at 5pm UK time.

Hear from:

Dawn Butler Labour MP for Brent Central and member of the House of Commons Committee on Science and Technology

Peter Geoghegan Investigations editor, openDemocracy, and author of 'Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics'

Jolyon Maugham Barrister and founder of the Good Law Project.

Peter Smith Procurement expert and author of 'Bad Buying: How Organisations Waste Billions through Failures, Frauds and F*ck-ups'

Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief of openDemocracy

Who is bankrolling Britain's democracy? Which groups shape the stories we see in the press; which voices are silenced, and why? Sign up here to find out.

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