Since the early years of the the 21st Century, bloggers and journalists had been ever more frequently referring to Britain as 'Orwellian'. Given some of the restrictions placed on civil liberties, it was easy to see why.
But the fact is, it wasn't like 1984 at all. We weren't At War With Another Nation State, nor were we part of a larger conglomerate of nations. The Crash and the Nationalisation had seen to that, with our expulsion from the EU, and our subsequent marginalisation in the UN had ensured it.
We weren't monitored 24/7 by telescreens or by the Thought Police. We still (technically) had freedom of speech. We still (technically) had free elections and opposition parties. There were no labour camps, no death sentences, no Ministry of Love, no Newspeak.
We weren't slaving under the yoke of a totalitarian oppressor. Everything - every single indignity we suffered - was, paradoxically, done to us in the Name Of Fairness And Social Justice.
LEGISLATING FOR FAIRNESS
The Labour Party were swept to power in 1997, and immediately set about their goal of making Britain more fair. This meant, first of all, they wanted to set right all the iniquities they believed were in the system, all the elements of discrimination.
But for every new act of fairness introduced, they found another. And another. Pressure group followed lobbyist followed activist, each with their own agenda, each claiming discrimination against their interest group was unfair. And each one had a new law put in place. Race, religion, creed, sexuality, height, weight, hair colour - one by one, a new law was implemented to create a truly non-discriminatory society.
Intellect was the next target. It was unfair, they thought, that some people were more 'advantaged' than others by the quality of the education received, or their intellect. So the education system was revamped, root and branch, in the relentless pursuit of fairness. The papers of the day called it 'dumbing down'. The result, of course, was intellectual mediocrity.
The pursuit of fairness in education also led to our withdrawal from the Olympics. With winning and losing deemed discriminatory and thus unfair, children were not taught competitive sport in schools. Sports clubs lost their funding as they were promoting unfairness, and those that did retain their funding folded under the weight of child safety legislation.
Safety legislation and fairness also led to the death of the Internet and personal computers in the UK. The 'Information Gap', between those who had access to the Web and those who didn't, was believed to be widening and thus Unfair. Taxation was therefore introduced, first on internet connections and subsequently on computer hardware, smartphones and any device which could connect to the Internet, and in an attempt to control the Information Gap the tax rose steadily to punitive levels. Even if you were able to afford the hardware and the connection, Child Safety Legislation meant so many controls, and so much monitoring, the Web had slowed to a largely-unusable crawl.
The criminal justice system couldn't cope either. With Enforcement Officers issuing fines, penalties and prosecutions for so many new offences, they were so inundated with paperwork that serious crime went uninvestigated, as it took too long and wasn't targeted by Fairness legislation - and anyway, prison was largely a thing of the past as it had been deemed that imprisonment was a violation of Human Rights and thus unfair.
It was obvious as a result of this that the electoral process would suffer. While no political party was outlawed, and there were still Opposition candidates, they struggled to make their voices heard, much less win seats. The retention of a 'First Past the Post' system which historically gave advantage to the sitting Government, allied with boundary revisions in the 2010 elections, meant that the party in power could maintain a majority with less than 5% of the vote. This was combined with the BBC, as a Public Sector employer, being staffed purely by Labour Party members and thus, for the sake of their jobs, denying opposition candidates airtime. All this had led to a complete sense of electoral apathy. Turnout had fallen to less than 20%, the vast majority of these being Party activists. Government succession was, therefore, almost completely secure with no need to rig elections or impose totalitarianism.
The second plank of the Labour Party's Fairness Plan was investment. They invested,invested, and invested, spending far above their means even during the good times. Of course, when the inevitable cyclical came, we were ill-prepared for it, our economy already teetering on a precipice of debt.
The Government paid and paid more, trying to get a fairer health service. Consultants and targets, surveys and minutae. Layer upon layer of management, testing and targeting and generating reports on how fair the system was. Medical staff were drawn further and further from patient care and into paperwork. Of course, this led to the surprise conclusion that the system was, indeed, becoming fair - everyone who went into hospital had an equally high chance of dying.
By the time the Crash came, the tax burden was already too high. Printing money just made the debt problem worse. The additional money in circulation led to rampant inflation, and the only option remaining to the Government was to raise more tax. As the tax cost to both people and companies spiralled out of control, more and more companies folded or went offshore, raising unemployment and increasing the drain on the welfare system while further reducing the tax take.
The benefits system provided the financial coup de grace to a nation already on the brink. In their relentless pursuit of social justice, it was deemed unfair that benefits should leave claimants with less than a comfortable living wage. It was unfair, the activists screamed, that benefits claimants couldn't have the same luxuries as those who worked. So, inevitably, benefits were increased in the name of fairness. They increased until it became, for many people, more worthwhile to sit at home watching their Government-funded television and eating their government-funded food than go to work.
Of course, as the number of businesses folded, the number of claimants increased as the tax take fell. Like a runaway train, the imbalance between income and expenditure accelerated to its inevitable conclusion. The Crash.
By the time the Crash was fully understood in late 2012, there were very few Private Sector companies remaining, and they were struggling. This was, of course, unfair, so to give those companies remaining parity with the Public Sector, the Government nationalised all those still standing. There became only two types of Briton - those who were unemployed, and those who worked in the Public Sector. Job security meant that everyone who could work wanted a job in the Public Sector, and demand was such that the Government restricted applications in the only way they had left - by opening vacancies only to Labour Party members. It was deemed the fairest way.
By 2010, there were only two strands of security remaining - Terrorism and Child Safety.
The attack on the US in 2001, the London bombings of 2005 and the failed attempts in 2007 had left the Government in terror of terrorism. It would be unfair, they felt, to allow a single British citizen to die at the hand of terrorists. This single approach to security led to some of the most drastic diminutions in Civil Liberties the country had ever seen. This included ID cards, a national DNA database, and a nationwide network of CCTV cameras, all to prevent terrorism.
The second strand was the protection of children. In the name of child protection, the UK had seen the introduction of licensing for breeding (subject to CRB checks), and CRB checks for anyone who ever came into contact with children in any manner, at any time. This included everyone from teachers to lollipop ladies to grandparents. Smoking had finally been outlawed completely in homes that had children, and the same law was applied to alcohol in 2016. Children were routinely taught their rights from primary school age, and in the interests of fairness new evidentiary standards had been introduced for children making complaints of any kind against adults. Even shouting at your own child was a criminal offence, and the Naughty Step had been added to the False Imprisonment statute.
The Pursuit of Fairness, from 1997 to 2019, had resulted in the complete breakdown of the British system of Government, and in its place was a system that monitored and restricted its people not harshly, but totally. Everything and everyone was regulated and homogenised in the name of social justice.
The system was not Orwellian. It did not seek power for the sake of power. Rather, it started with laudable intent and, in its increasing desperation to be fair and inclusive for all, created something horrendous, dictatorial and destructive.
It was simply a logical progression of the pursuit of fairness.