Thursday, January 24, 2013

Welcoming a law change that will increase freedom of speech

Ask Liberal Democrat activists what they believe in and they will tell you that it is, above all, individual liberty.

Yet it can be difficult to discover just what it is that we would be free to do under a Liberal Democrat government that we cannot do now. We are often to be found on the side of the argument that favours restrictions on liberty for the sake of desirable outcomes like better public health.

So I was pleased to see Jeremy Browne's article on Lib Dem Voice celebrating the fact that the government is to remove the words “insulting words or behaviour” from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.

However, we shall have to see more gains like this if we are to justify his words:
Civil liberties are not often cause célèbre. It has been too easy, for too long, for governments to eat away at our freedom without most people noticing. Now, in government, Liberal Democrats are steadily reversing that tide.
In particular, our ministers are going to have to resist the new Communications Data Bill which Theresa May and other Conservatives are determined to bring in.

And the commenter on Lib Dem Voice, though he grievously overstates his case, has a point when he says this may feel less like a government that is increasing individual freedom if you are a benefit claimant - especially a disabled claimant.

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