Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Taking Liberties

A while back I was asked to be in a film about the erosion of civil liberties in the UK that has happened since 1997. Civil liberties in the aftermath of terrorism is a subject close to my heart, and one I regularly bang on and on about in this blog, so I said, yes, of course I'd be honoured to help.

Last night I saw the film Taking Liberties on the big screen for the first time, ( it was the cast and crew screening) and it was excellent. Funny, moving, infuritating, and best of all, it gives people things to do at the end of it. The film , which is released on June 8th, tells the stories of dozens of ordinary people. Grandmothers, teenagers, war veterans, writers, chefs, comedians, protesters, ordinary people from across the political spectrum - all caught up in the storm. There are contributions from Tony Benn, Henry Porter, Boris Johnson, Shami Chakrabarti, Walter Wolfgang, and many more.
Many of the featured stories leave you shaking your head in disbelief. But it's all frighteningly true, and the point is that these people's stories could be anyone's stories. Taking Liberties makes it clear how desperately important this issue of balancing our freedom with managing our fear is, for all of us. The right not to be detained without trial, the right to peaceful protest, the right to privacy, to trial by jury, the right not to be tortured, and many other crucial rights that we have all taken for granted for years are being whittled away, and if we don't protest, and stop it, it will soon be too late. And we will wake up to find we have set the apparatus in place for a very different Britain under a very different type of leader.
And we will have betrayed our country, ourselves, and our grandchildren.
The film is an indictment of the outgoing great showman Blair, and his disastrous adventures with the neo-con US administration. It shows the damage done to the fabric of what we still idly boast of as our free and fair society, by the juggernaut of the stupidly-conceived War on Terror.
But it is also a terrible indictment of us, the people who let all this happen under their noses, that we have been content to live so selfishly, so heedlessly, letting our own elected Government take away the rights which our grandparents' generation died for, without a whisper, without a word.
Film's out June 8th. Please, put the date in your diaries now, because if enough people go and see it on the opening weekend, then it will get further bookings all over the country, and it is important that people know about this film and have a chance to see it. If you liked Bowling for Columbine, or Farenheit 9/11, or An Inconvenient Truth, then you should see this movie.
Look, please, go see it, and bring a mate. I'll be going again on the opening weekend (and will let you know where/when if anyone fancies it, and the pub afterwards, if you email me.)
Cinema listings are here with more listings being added all the time.
You can also buy the book, Taking Liberties, which is out now, and which is very good indeed.
UPDATE: Telegraph, and bloggers
More soon. Have to go and write a speech for the POLIS public media forum at the LSE tonight, sign off book cover and as it is now past 3pm, eat some lunch.

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Anonymous John Lettice said...

I caught a press screening earlier this week, and would just like to add that you were very good, as you're far too modest to say. (-:

May 23, 2007 3:21 pm  
Blogger Tina - omme i London said...

Rachel, I look forward to catching you on the big screen. I know my husband won't take much convincing to come along as this is right up our street. Well done you!

May 23, 2007 11:06 pm  
Anonymous reet peteet said...

I'll be there! and have sent you an email about going together as a blogposse . Pickled politics and urban 75 are pushing it too.

May 24, 2007 12:36 am  
Blogger Jo said...

Hi Rachel,

I was there too (I was filmed for the segment on freedom of speech but our bit was dropped due to lack of space - a relief on a personal level but a bit terrifying in the wider context of there being so much material on the loss of the freedom to express yourself without fear) - I agree, it was bloody marvellous.

Londonist write-up will be done tonight and the mass bloggers' trip to the cinema to see it sounds like an excellent plan ... reet peteet, email me! londonist at gmail dot com, FAO Jo. :)

May 24, 2007 1:45 pm  
Anonymous Mike Rouse said...


I am just about to finish reading the book "Taking Liberties" and have found it incredibly harrowing how much our liberties have been eroded under New Labour in particular. It certainly left me motivated to do something and I will certainly see the film when it opens at Warwick Arts Centre in Warwick University in Coventry.

Your contributions in the book were very sharp and I particularly liked some of your quotes throughout - there were a fair few!

Welcome back to blogging and congratulations on getting married, albeit with a break in your honeymoon to deal with a small thing to do with liberty and justice.

See you next time you're on 18DS.

Mike Rouse

May 25, 2007 1:26 pm  

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