I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a western leader frame the security/liberty trade-off this starkly. The reference to human rights, in particular, is striking. Normally you’d expect a politician to euphemize that in this context or drop it entirely — if our laws get in the way of stopping terrorism, we’ll change them — but May goes right at it. Imagine the backlash if there were any libertarians left in the UK besides Daniel Hannan!
Why is May going full Rambo on terrorism? Because even Labour creampuff Jeremy Corbyn has been scoring points on her lately for her mixed record on security during her six years as Home Secretary.
She defended her record on security over the past seven years in the face of criticism that she had presided, as home secretary, over a fall of 18,991 in police numbers between September 2010 and 2016 and that she had accused officers of “crying wolf” over their capabilities…
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has repeated his promise to reverse the cuts and slammed the Tories, warning the government could not “protect the public on the cheap”.
Labour’s linking the cuts to police to austerity, or what passes for it in the west these days, under the Cameron/May Tory governments but spending on security actually rose steadily while May was Home Secretary. It’s hard to point to numbers when there’s blood in the streets, though, and when new stories about the authorities missing red flags from “known wolves” are trickling out seemingly on the hour. May’s obviously worried that she’s vulnerable on terror with the election two days away and has decided to go hard in the other direction. If that means explicitly subordinating human rights to security, hey.
If you missed it a few weeks ago, read Michael Brendan Dougherty on how May has cultivated a sort of British-style Trumpism without Trump’s self-sabotaging foibles. That analogy goes far beyond security issues, but the clip below may be the Trumpiest thing she’s ever said. She’ll never go so far as to insist, as Trump once did, that we should bring back waterboarding (I think) but the point is the same: She’s ready to do whatever’s necessary, however it offends the politically correct, to keep the public safe.
Exit question: May’s not really going to lose to … this guy, is she?
I’m clear: if human rights laws get in the way of tackling extremism and terrorism, we will change those laws to keep British people safe. pic.twitter.com/8EfUJYUDMK
— Theresa May (@theresa_may) June 6, 2017