Last night's Moral Maze on the subject of the surveillance society was predictably inconclusive - in my experience, the importance of defending privacy against the state's insatiable will to knowledge is something you either get or you don't. But there were a couple of highlights. An American professor described Britain as a "privacy dystopia" that was a terrible warning to the rest of the world. And in an exchange with state-loving journalist David Aaronovitch the former Tory defence secretary Michael Portillo came out with this killer quote:
I having been been in government have every reason for believing that the government routinely abuses the powers it has. It's not a matter of the last resort, it's the first resort. It isn't something that happens exceptionally, it happens all the time.
As the years pass, it becomes more and more obvious that Portillo's defeat in Enfield in the 1997 election was one of the great political tragedies of recent history.