Thursday, July 10, 2008

Campaigning about liberty with David Davis and friends

Yesterday I went up to Yorkshire on the eve of the by-election to support the civil liberties debate opened by David Davis. I spoke with the irrepressible Shami Chakrabarti and Bob Marshall Andrews QC and afterwards there was a Q&A in a packed room of constituents followed by a round of interviews. We were boosted by two great pieces of news, firstly, a new poll showing that two thirds of the public were not behind 42 days, and secondly, by ex-Security Services Director Dame Eliza Manningham Buller's maiden speech on Tuesday in the House of Lords, where she savaged 42 days. (Dame Eliza was DG of M15 during the 7/7 attacks.)

The turn-out for the by-election is expected to be badly hit by 5000 students in the area being home for the holidays and the Yorkshire County Agricultural Show being on and drawing huge crowds, but I am crossing my fingers and I am delighted that the debate has stayed in the news for over three weeks - this can only be good for the state of democracy and politics to have people all over the UK discussing our civil liberties. It remains a disgrace that New Labour did not field a candidate - where is the courage of their convictions? As they are so fond of telling us, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. Ho hum.

UPDATE: The local paper reports, OpenDemocracy was there, and so were some young people from the UK Youth Parliament who I had the pleasure of talking to. The Green party candidate was being pretty rude, and I see that she is now trying to make out that she was excluded from the meeting. The plain fact is that it was a meeting for 100 constituents, including local councillors businesspeople, and youth councillors, and it was clearly advertised as such, and she does not live in the area so she is not a constituent. She was making mischief.

The previous day there had been an open meeting which she had attended along with all the other candidates. Two candidates who were constituents attended the meeting and asked long questions, got long replies and had the opportunity to say who they were and why they were standing as part of their question.

Shami and Bob and I had great fun travelling up and back together and talking all the way, though we missed the train back and had to wait in a hostelry allegedly frequented by Dick Turpin and eat crisps for an hour. When I eventually got back to London I rushed off and did Newsnight, where I had been asked to come in and comment on a film Shiraz Maher had made about jihadis in Saudi Arabia being rehabilitated through a regime of kindness.

Not one of my better performances as I was knackered after talking all day. There was a funny moment where straight after the studio discussion, I was then fleetingly spotted in the next item, a package about the Davis by-election, which must have confused the viewers.

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Blogger Cookiemouse said...

Good luck with the campaign. I do hope that you managed to recharge your batteries in Spain and France.

July 10, 2008 12:09 pm  
Blogger jailhouselawyer said...

I am disappointed that you visited my neck of the woods and didn't pop into to see me...

July 10, 2008 12:49 pm  
Blogger Pete Kavanagh said...

I Thought you did perfectly well, and it's always good to see you fighting the good fight (on many fronts). I hope you complimented Jeremy on his splendid tie!
Bravo, ma'am.

July 10, 2008 3:59 pm  
Blogger Louise Mills said...

He's campaigning as an independent...isn't he?

July 11, 2008 12:12 pm  

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