Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Around the Lib Dem blogs

A few highlights from the past couple of days...

John Hemming points out that Labour's identity card bill appears to make it an offence to shave off your beard without informing the government. The maximum penalty is a fine of £1,000.

As John says:

it is very clear that the legislation has been written for the convenience of the government and not the private individuals. Furthermore it will not be criminals who will first register for these cards hence it will be an expensive and unnecessary burden on private individuals whilst not making any difference to those breaking the law.
And if the government has no intention of enforcing this provision, why is it including it in the legislation?

Yesterday Peter Black declared a Be Nice to Lembit Öpik Day. I am sorry to have missed it, but perhaps we could celebrate it on 28 June every year.

Peter quotes with approval an article of Lembit's from the Western Mail. In it, the MP for Montgomery talks about the difficulties that someone with an unusual name might face if it were incorrectly entered on the national identity database.

He is right, of course. However, I would say that every time I have mentioned Lembit in print I have been careful to add those little dots over the Ö in his surname - which is more than the Western Mail's website is able to do.

Yet when my name was added to the list of those supporting Lembit when he stood for President of the Lib Dems, Jonathan was misspelt.

Finally, welcome back to Simon Titley, who writes about smoking bans on Liberal Dissenter. I share his unease about them, but what really fascinates me is what they reveal about the Liberal Democrat caste of mind.

If we Lib Dems are asked what we believe in - and what differentiates us from Labour in particular - we say that we stand for individual liberty. Yet whenever an issue like this emerges, the vast majority of Lib Dems seem unhesitatingly to take the side of those who want to ban from people doing things of which they disapprove.

I suppose the conclusion is that the Lib Dems do not believe in freedom as much as they like to think. This is a shame and has worrying implications for the coherence of the party's policies and philosophy.

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