Peter Hitchens: The dictators have taken over – and we didn’t even notice

There was once a famous Chinese executioner so skilful with his razor-edged sword that crowds would pay to watch him behead criminals. 

One day he came to a small provincial town where the authorities had given him a large fee to do away with a notorious killer.

He entered the arena and made several elegant and delicate passes with his weapon. The condemned man sat gloomily before him, looking unimpressed with all this fuss. ‘Just get on with it!’ he growled.

The executioner bowed politely, smiled and said softly: ‘Kindly nod, please.’ The murderer did so and his head, already parted from his body by a stroke of incredible swiftness, tumbled from his shoulders.

I think we in this country are like that condemned man. A terrible thing has been done to us but we have not yet realised it.

It may even be that the British Revolution, a horror that this country has repeatedly escaped by good sense and natural conservatism, has actually taken place.

In a lecture of astonishing power and force last week, the former Supreme Court judge, Lord Sumption, revealed in sad detail what has happened to our country in the name of Covid. I have placed a copy of it and a recording on the Peter Hitchens blog and I strongly advise you to read and watch it.

It says that Parliament has been elbowed aside by Ministers who rule by decree.

Now, Jonathan Sumption is not just a brilliant lawyer. He is also a distinguished historian. Last year he gave the BBC’s Reith Lectures, and they were the best for many years. If he has any politics I have no idea what they are, but he uses language with immense care.

If he says this ‘has been the most significant interference with personal freedom in the history of our country. We have never sought to do such a thing before, even in wartime and even when faced with health crises far more serious than this one’, then you may be sure that this is so.

When he says ‘Ministers are accountable to no one, except once in five years at General Elections’, you may be sure that this is true. This a complete breach with centuries of law and tradition, and who can say where it might end?

Read more: Peter Hitchens: The dictators have taken over – and we didn’t even notice

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