Friday, 19 October 2007

Let's not forget - or lose - what's good about Britain

Life in modern Britain is irritating in many ways, often thanks to greed and incompetence. So sometimes it is helpful to be reminded how good we have it compared to many other places. I've just been reading a report on Minivan News, a Maldivian anti-government news site, about Abdulla Mahir. Mahir is a torture victim, now granted asylum in the UK, and was recently arrested in the UK for throwing an egg at the Maldives president who, he alleges, had him tortured.

“The police treated me very nicely. One officer said to me 'I hope things work out in your favour.'”

“Another policeman was laughing throughout the interview,” Mahir added.

“It was 99% different being under British custody compared to being questioned by Maldivian police. The interview technique was different. I was allowed my lawyer to sit with me throughout the interview and the whole thing was tape recorded. At the end, my lawyer was given a copy of the tape recording. Then a doctor and a nurse came to check that [Maldivian President] Gayoom’s bodyguards hadn’t hurt me.”

It is slightly humbling to see someone so astonished by what we would consider the absolute basics of decent treatment. This is all the more reason we Britons have to be so careful about the relationship between us and the state we, in the final analysis, own. We must, more than ever, guard assiduously against sleepwalking into a state of ever-greater control, suspicion and our government assuming we are all potential criminals as their default position, because it would be a damned shame if our society changed such that the above statement lost its power.

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