There seems to be an authoritarian wind blowing through the country at the moment.

Momentum has been provided by the lockdown response caused by the pandemic.

Unprecedented curbs on individual freedoms and liberties have been justified on the basis of keeping people safe.

Only time will tell how effective these measures have been in curbing Covid-19. It will also be interesting to see how many of the measures have had little to do with stopping Covid but a lot to do with just controlling people.

There has been a collective sigh of relief over recent weeks, as some measures have been relaxed, with the easing of lockdown.

Yet, at the same time as some restrictions go, it seems others are coming into effect, such as the idea of a vaccine passport. Many see this as the introduction of ID cards by the back door, a concept long rejected in this country as a fundamental restriction on liberty.

In the case of the vaccine passport the argument in favour concerns providing safety, so opening up the likes of large sporting events to big numbers, but how about the discrimination and basic denial of liberties that come as well.

Then, there is the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which will restrict the right to protest.

Ironically, this has brought people out during these Covid times to protest against legislation that will halt the right to protest.

In the universities, there have been strange Orwellian moves from government in the name of free speech, effectively deciding who can and cannot be heard.

These authoritarian moves are dangerous for everyone.

Dissatisfaction at whatever level should be able to be registered and respected not outlawed.

This is a democratic country and the right to free speech, protest and assembly is very much part of that terrain.

Policing is by consent. Squeezing out the space to protest, putting the police in direct conflict with large dissenting parts of the population, threatens the breakdown of that settlement.

It has been said before that the call for the sacrifice of liberties in exchange for security has been the cry of dictators down the ages.

There has been a clear call for just such a sacrifice from government during the months of the pandemic, something people have been prepared to abide by for a short period for the common good.

That time is now passing, so all restrictions need to be lifted. There also needs to be a wider sea change away from the inward looking restrictive authoritarian state that has been developing in the shadows. The time has come to cry freedom and reclaim our liberties.