Friday, July 31, 2009

Gary McKinnon: The passport as school uniform

Having a passport - and particularly a British passport - used to mean something:

Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State Requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.
It said, in other words, "Don't mess with me. I've got the British government behind me."

These days it is hard to resist the impression that governments have more in common with each other than they do with their own people. Hence the enthusiasm for extradition, whether within Europe or across the Atlantic.

A passport now fulfils the function that school uniform once did. It tells the observer which authority they should complain to if they don't like your behaviour.


Lavengro said...

It said that but it never meant anything.

And here in Spain we're actually very glad that we can finally get rid of all those British crooks who have been giving the Costa del Sol such a bad name.

There are the Russians of course, and that's harder because, unlike the Brits, they're not from an EU country.

Always supposing that the UK is an EU country, which is not obvious at first sight.

Manfarang said...

You may not even make it to the plane at the airport in Britain with the Border Agency stopping you.

Lavengro in Spain said...

Entering and leaving the UK now -- even from an EU country -- is a remarkably similar experience to entering and leaving East Berlin in the 1960s and 70s. The main difference is that the grim-faced Vopos who checked the papers at the Wall didn't have Roundhead goons standing menacingly behind them to increase the level of intimidation.