Wednesday, April 04, 2007
I have used this Tom Stoppard quote before, never mind, here it is again. 'Credibility is an expanding field... Sheer disbelief hardly registers on the face before the head is nodding with all the wisdom of instant hindsight.' Ten or twenty years ago, the idea that government would watch every move we made on CCTV cameras would have been greeted with rank disbelief. A generation that had read Orwell's 1984 would know exactly where that would lead. Now, of course, our heads nodding with instant hindsight, we have largely accepted this state of affairs. There have been debates about personal freedom, of course, but I stopped registering them some time ago. 1984, I reasoned, was a novel and it was read by an excitable generation. Reality was different. Today, however, I was awoken from my dogmatic slumbers by the news that a talking CCTV camera scheme, piloted in Middlesborough, is to be expanding, meaning, I assume, it will soon be everywhere. TV reporters, on the whole a witless breed, have been demonstrating the system by dropping litter and being shouted at by a voice emanating from the top of a pole. And, of course, John Reid has been appearing, with his executioner's smile, assuring us that it was a wonderful idea. This is grotesque, vile, a move to infantilise yet further an already infantile electorate and yet another gimmicky evasion of serious policy choices. A town centre filled with the sound of booming, reprimanding voices is, indeed, an Orwellian vision. Who knows what new crimes will be invented to justify and empower the new breed of barking bureaucrats?
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:48 am