Sunday, April 01, 2012

Why we should believe Nick Clegg when he promises to restore liberties stolen by Labour

That was the headline on an interview that Henry Porter conducted with Nick for the Observer in February 2011.

I don't know how well founded the BBC News story is that:
The government will be able to monitor the calls, emails, texts and website visits of everyone in the UK under new legislation set to be announced soon
but this is a good rime to recall why many of us were pleased to see Labour leave government and the Coalition enter it.

Here are a few quotation from Henry Porter's interview:
The page on liberty and rights has been turned, he says. Although the [Protection of Freedoms] bill doesn't achieve everything that he, or indeed campaigners, wanted, it is a good start and alters the tone of government by asserting – by implication – respect for the public's privacy and rights.
He hasn't changed his views since we met five years ago when he was home affairs spokesman for his party and I was beginning to get to grips with the attack on liberty and privacy by the Blair government. We were both astonished then at the range, depth and stealth of the campaign and the surprising truth that few people seemed to notice or care about Blair's authoritarian project, which did so much to reduce the citizen's standing in relation to the state
Negotiation over the bill has been long and intense, especially with the Home Office and police over the deletion of innocent people's DNA from the national database, which accounted for the three-month delay in publication. "I am amazed how far we pushed the whole security establishment and the Home Office in a liberal direction," he says. "They are in such a different place to where they were a few months ago."
Clegg says the restoration of liberty is ongoing, and urges campaigners to "hold the government's feet to the fire".
In good times, the weirdly phlegmatic British public took little notice of the loss of liberty and, I suspect, in rougher times, when people are pressed, they will be equally unresponsive about this bill. It's worth remembering, however, that the people out on the streets in Cairo last week, in Tunisia last month and in Iran 18 months ago, would be astonished by our complacency. For them liberty is everything.
I hope the BBC report is an exaggeration or a misunderstanding or a kite in the wind, but if we wait too long before making a fuss we have far less chance of opposing the proposal if the report proves to be well founded.

And here is a younger Henry Porter in a Jonathan Meades programme.

1 comment:

David Hutchinson said...

If true and the parliamentary party supports this legislation it really does mean that my lifetime of support for the party and decade as a county councillor will have been based on a lie.
I am utterly disappointed and disillusioned with how the party has dealt with office.
It shows that the levers of power corrupts anyone who touches them. Where are true libertarians to go now?