Monday 27 May 2013
No to the snoopers' charter
I have just returned from a week's walking holiday in the Isle of Anglesey (well worth a visit) so was too busy yesterday trying to tidy my garden to take much notice of the news. However, my friend John Cole caught an interview with Ming Campbell which prompted him to write the following letter.
Dear Sir Ming,
I have just heard you being interviewed on the "World at One" Sunday 26th May. The topic was the possible responses to the murder of the Drummer in Woolwich and whether "the snoopers' charter" should be pulled from the long grass and enacted.
I e-mail in order to offer my congratulations and thanks that you took a considered, proportionate and liberal line in response to some fairly robust questioning.
You will recall that the interview included a conversation with Michael Howard, who was fully supportive of extending surveillance.
The interviewer further made the point that Labour luminaries such as John Reid and Alan Johnson had lined themselves up in favour of an extension of surveillance - and hence were on the same page as Michael Howard - as is Lord Carlisle. From this it was implied that it is only Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats who are holding up the show. (I thought your comments in relation to Lord Carlisle's contribution were beautifully measured)
If, prior to today, a Liberal (or Liberal Democrat) party did not exist, then it would have been necessary to invent it. Someone - or some party - needs to stand up in the defence of our freedoms and human rights. Henry Porter in today's "Observer" makes the liberal case very eloquently.
So, to repeat John's comments, if the Liberal Democrat Party didn't exist we'd have to invent us. The Labour and Conservative spokespersons seem to be going out of the way to emphasises that, but for the Liberal Democrats, the "snoopers' charter" would be implemented and the media seem to relish emphasising this.
This will doubtless do us electoral harm, as the numbers who give the preservation of civil liberties a high priority are probably quite small. But that is often the price for being right. As the adage attributed to Pastor Niemoller puts it:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me