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Powers of the State 29/05/2007

You are rightly concerned at the erosion of liberty under the current government (your report 28th May). This may be part of a deeper malaise at the heart of modern democracy. In "Taking Liberties", published by the Policy Institute, Dr Craig Smith, of Glasgow University, suggests democracy has invested the state with more legitimacy at the expense of the individual than at any time since the Middle Ages.

How often do we hear "the will of the people" invoked to ride roughshod over constitutional impediments? This, combined with the activism of professional politicians and the electoral incentive to bestow financial benefits on key voters at the expense of others, bodes ill for the freedoms that Benjamin Franklin and many others fought for across the centuries.

The answer must lie in fixed, binding rules that limit the power of politicians. But it is hard to envisage how this might come about in an age of interest groups and civic apathy.

I fear we may be in for many more years of encroaching state powers before people rise up against the democrats, as they did against the kings of old.
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