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.