Is the UK sleepwalking into authoritarian rule?

Jeremy Cushing on how the government is attacking and undermining the institutions of democracy, Blaine Stothard on ministers’ demands for total conformity of beliefs and values, & Pat Farrington on the Tories’ cynical attempts to keep hold of power

Another verdict goes against the government (Covid contract for firm run by Cummings’ friends unlawful, finds judge, 9 June). Amid much discussion of the Good Law Project’s activities, however, one question goes unanswered: given that democracies need a lively independent scrutiny of government, what is the sanction?

The government reacts, as we have now come to expect, with lies and threats.

Jeremy Cushing

Polly Toynbee’s piece (Dido Harding to head the NHS? Her position would be untenable, 7 June) gave a worrying overview of ways in which our present government is ideologically driven and undemocratic.

Even more chilling is the reference in the same edition to Oliver Dowden telling museums and other cultural institutions that he expected their “approach to issues of contested heritage to be consistent with the government’s position” – another stride in the direction of authoritarianism and the imposition of approved history. And this from a government claiming to be concerned about protecting free speech.

Blaine Stothard

A week before Polly Toynbee wrote about “political appointments … embedding Torydom”, Nesrine Malik wrote about the importance of checks and balances in a liberal democracy to prevent the concentration and abuse of power (If nothing sticks to this government, it’s because nobody is making it stick, 31 May).

Single Party Rule?

The impunity this government has been allowed makes me wonder if we are sliding towards one-party rule. The signs are clear:

  • The Tories’ cynical plans to introduce unnecessary ID for voting
  • The squashing of dissent and positioning of Conservative “placemen” in key institutions like the BBC
  • The personality cult of Boris
  • The welcome given to the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who is quite far along the road to totalitarianism.

The Tories have always regarded themselves as the natural party to govern the country, but now they are much more willing to undermine democracy and the rule of the law to stay in power permanently. There is not enough outrage about this, but we cannot wait for Boris Johnson’s abuses of power to go on any longer, because of the permanent damage that will be done to our civil rights, democracy and national wellbeing.

Pat Farrington

Links to articles referenced are in each writer’s comments.

Full text of each author can be found at The Guardian