I'm not usually one for the hyperbole and overstatement that takes up space in so many political blogs. Right-wing bloggers castigate anyone who puts forward the scientically proven fact of climate change as a conspirator. Left-wing bloggers refer to the Labour Party as 'ZaNuLieBore' and so on. All a bit tiresome, really.
However - I really, honestly, think that the phrase 'thought police' is not an overreaction to this latest piece of genius from the Immigration Minister, Phil Woolas.
A few choice extracts:
New migrants who demonstrate an "active disregard for UK values", possibly including protesting at homecoming parades of troops from Afghanistan, could find their applications for a British passport blocked under new citizenship proposals published today.
But migrants who contribute to the "democratic life of the country" by canvassing for political parties could find the application process speeded up so that it takes one year instead of three.
The Home Office consultation paper proposes a new category of "probationary citizen" whose application for a British passport can be speeded up or slowed down depending on the points system.
What, exactly is a contribution to the "democratic life" of the country, Mr Woolas? Is it, in your mind, strangely similar to whatever you happen to agree with? Is it, perhaps, determined by whoever is in government at the time? Is this, in fact, a pitiful attempt to pick on the more vulnerable elements of our society, in order to get them to step into line and stop speaking their conscience?
Of course, it's worth saying that while the most ridiculous elements of what the Minister had to say have been rightly picked apart today, even more worrying is the underlying reasoning behind the entire proposal. A points system for immigrants, reducing people and human circumstance to their qualifications, education and wealth, should be abhorrent in any sensible society. People should not, must not, be measured simply by the opportunities they have had in life or the pound sterling contribution they might make to our national GDP. They should, instead, be viewed as human beings - people who may have made a thousand contributions to our society that cannot be measured by economics or the crude yardstick of the state.
For the record, if we were forced to have a points system, I'd view having the courage and committment to stand up and protest about what you believe in to be a positive attribute. It's no surprise that Mr Woolas, a time server of the lowest order, takes the opposite view.
This is just one extract from the interview itself. Has the Government decided to derogate from the UN Declaration on Human Rights, and not told anyone?
Interviewer: Are you effectively saying to people who want to have a British passport, you can have one and when you've got one, you can demonstrate as much as you like, but until then, don't?
Woolas: In essence, yes. In essence, we are saying that the test that applies to the citizen should be broader than the test that applies to the person who wants to be a citizen. I think that that's a fair point of view, that if you want to come to our country and settle, that you should show that adherence. And incidently, I think part of the mistake in this debate, in the public comment, is the assumption that the migrant doesn't accept that point of view. The vast majority, in my experience, do want to show that they are aspiring to intergrate and to support our way of life.
It appears Mr Woolas doesn't understand that the freedom to protest is part of 'our way of life'. Maybe he should leave the country.