In the Economist there is a nice reflection on the British tradition for civil liberties and the adoption of strangers into society. This in the context of Mr. Blair's blustering about measures against potential terrorists. It is fortunate that long traditions of civil liberty are so embedded in law and international treaties that it will take more than a quick PATRIOT Act to undo them.
Britain has a long tradition of sheltering firebrands, which is reflected in the law. Victorian London was an excellent place for foreign radicals to set up shop—whether they were scholarly types like Karl Marx, who plotted the overthrow of capitalism from the reading room of the British Museum, or militants like Johann Most, a German anarchist who was allowed to wander the streets despite penning a guide called “The Science of Revolutionary Warfare”. Ancient laws on free speech, a light touch from the censor and a lack of legal distinctions between citizens and non-citizens have appealed to African National Congress supporters and Islamist radicals alike. If the government really wanted to overturn this tradition, it would need extensive legislation.