Who will stand up for our civil liberties?
The government, in its less than infinite wisdom, wants access to all our social media and email communication. Obviously both Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg have no sense of irony, a key criticism they made of Labour in office was that it was overly authoritarian and in fact it’s, admittedly appalling, record on civil liberties was craftily weaved into the Conservatives and now the Coalition’s anti-state rhetoric. This government, we were told, would be “strong in defence of freedom” and would restore the rights of individuals in the face of “encroaching state power”.
It isn’t possible to overstate how hollow those words are now exposed as being; not only are these proposals unnecessary, they are practically unenforceable. In Germany, where similar proposals were passed, the legislation collapsed under the weight of the number of complaints received against it and the Supreme Court eventually struck it down. This is another example of how being both unnecessary and unworkable seem to be key criteria government policy must fulfil nowadays. What next? Sand castles on the moon?
Sadly, I don’t hold out much hope that Labour will show its learnt a valuable lesson and steadfastly oppose these proposals. It was, after-all a Labour Home Secretary that first made them, though those who opposed them then are now pushing for their implementation. Civil liberties is another of those issues where all the three major parties are conniving to disenfranchise a large and important section of the electorate. The Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour consensus is that we must prosecute the farcical ‘war on terror’ by any means necessary, even if that means the destruction of the liberty they are supposed to be defending. It’s hard not to agree with Isabella Sankey, director of policy at Liberty;
Whoever is in government, the grand snooping ambitions of security agencies don’t change.
They remain and our elected representatives do nothing to challenge them. However, there are brave souls in all the parties and across the ideological spectrum who do agree on the fundamental need to challenge the excesses of creeping state power in this area. Maybe it is time for them to come together to put pressure on our respective Party leaderships. Certainly, Labour’s left needs to be vocal in distancing itself and campaigning against the leadership if they endorse these proposals. One of the points of terrorism is to encourage states to become more repressive (and therefore alienate a broader layer of the population and draw it into opposition to the state) and therefore these proposals are a victory for the terrorists they are supposed to be pursuing. We cannot allow that to happen and we cannot allow our liberties and freedoms to be trampled underfoot by this or any government. Labour must show it has learnt from the past and start standing-up for our civil liberties.