I have a passport again, having lost my old one somewhere between Cambridge, Leicester and Corby on a trip last month. The old one has been cancelled, so nobody pretending to be me will be leaving the country on it – and I suspect that it’s actually somewhere completely unexpected in the house and will turn up in a year or two.
But it meant I spent nearly a month without papers, or rather without the means to leave the country, and I hadn’t realised how much it disturbed me until the new documentation arrived.
Watching the continued erosion of our freedoms in the name of a misguided and misnamed ‘War on Terror’, watching Gordon Brown betray the hopes of those who thought that he might be more sensible, less authoritarian and somehow more on our side than Blair, and considering a world in which my right to leave the UK will be contingent on providing access to complete information about my travel plans and personal history, I just wanted to get off this island and not come back – and I knew that I couldn’t.
The much-revered John Naughton refuses to travel to the United States while it is under the current political dispensation, a position I have growing sympathy with – I just hope that Hillary Clinton doesn’t disappoint us when she becomes president. However my immediate problem is not the US but the situation here at home. I fear that I may have to become a ‘data exile’ from the UK if things don’t improve, as I am as unwilling to hand over my personal information to the state as Lewis Hamilton is to hand over his money.
I read Henry Porter’s acid commentary on the loss of freedom, and wonder if it is too late for the fight back to be successful, wonder too how we will begin.