Let’s have some entitlements!

Consistent with his long-term plan of stealing the Opposition’s clothes, Gordon Brown is set to announce a new range of citizens’ “entitlements” shortly — although it seems he is thinking in terms of access guarantees to public services (which hard-pressed public servants will then be pressured to deliver), rather than any relief from the burden of government nannying and nit-picking.  The government is trailing “an end of the target culture”, though if they’re announcing entitlements (for example, and as quoted on the BBC) for minimum waiting times in doctors’ surgeries, it’s quite difficult to see how that’s different from a target.
 
But never mind.  Entitlements sound good, and I’ve been thinking about some entitlements I’d like to have.  I’d like to be entitled to go about my business without any requirement to carry, or to possess, an ID card.  I’d like an entitlement to privacy, so that no government agency aspired to have my DNA, or my medical records, on its leaky data-base.  I’d like to be entitled to express contentious opinions without the threat from the ghastly regiment of politically-correct thought police.  I’d like to be able to go for a drive in the country without constantly worrying about speed cameras — and without the proposed “black box” in my car, which would tell the government where I was, where I was going, and how fast.  I’d like to travel abroad without the proposed government controls on information about my journey.
 
I’d like to be entitled to be governed democratically by people we’ve elected to our own parliament in our own country — not by anti-democratic and unaccountable foreign institutions in Brussels, where we have no control and little influence.
 
I’d even like pub and club landlords to have an entitlement to provide well-ventilated smoking-rooms, available for their customers who choose to smoke.  Not because I want to smoke (I hate smoking) but because I feel that the pendulum has swung too far against the rights and liberties of those who do choose, however unwisely, to do so.  I’d like an entitlement to be free of advice on healthy eating and healthy drinking, and exercise and obesity.  These may be real issues, but they are the citizen’s issues, not the government’s.
 
I’d like an entitlement to spend more of my income as I choose, with less taken by the state in punitive taxation.  I’d like the entitlement to regard my home as my castle, and to deny access to the busy-body agents of bureaucracy if I choose to do so.
 
In fact I’d like a general entitlement to get the government off our backs.  But I suspect that Labour doesn’t quite have that in mind.

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