Sunday, March 01, 2009

Yesterday at the convention and conference

Arrived late, after getting lost walking out of Russell Square station and found halls heaving with people, stalls with literature, cartons of orange juice piled high, and shambolic, good natured queues to register, and speakers I wanted to hear going on all over the place across 8 floors. Got approached on the stairs by two '9/11 Truthers' who tried to press a DVD upon me, which combined with the headache I woke up with to make me feel very irritable - why do these people expend all this pointless energy on propagating a load of old rubbish? And why do they always make a beeline for me, when they know I am opposed to them and everything they stand for?

Bumped into Sunny from Liberal Conspiracy and squeezed into a lift together, hoping to get to the 8th floor to hear the Tories talk (Sunny was keen to heckle them), but the lift's progress was slow, we stopped at every floor ( 'it's like are you being served', I said, 'sixth floor, Xenophobia, democracy and unions - going up!') and we arrived too late to get in. I went off to hear a panel talk about faith and freedom instead. Then grabbed a sandwich and went to the Bloggers' summit, where some people I greatly admire were speaking - Phil Booth - from No2ID, Heather Brooke - Your Right To Know, Ben Goldacre - Bad Science, and Sam Smith - My Society.

The headache still wouldn't go away, so I decided to watch the afternoon screenings of sessions in the hall, rather than sit in small stuffy rooms. I was both fascinated and scared by Vince Cable, explaining the impact of the coming depression on freedom and politics. The hundreds of thousands of students, unable to find jobs, the public sector workers soon to be hit by public sector cuts, the journalists from local newspapers forced to close, the middle classes who find bailiffs smashing their way in, and using force to seize property - as they are now allowed to do - all these well-educated, and politically aware people might well find themselves at the heart of a new kind of political activism, a serious political force in opposition to the government. The anti- terror laws could be - no, will be - used to try to contain and control and punish unrest, dissidence and protest. Anger would rise and so could right-wing groups. On the positive side, things that were once thought unthinkable might be tried, things more socially just and fiscally responsible, like capping fatcat pensions and tax evasion.

I wish Vince Cable was running the UK.

Then I rushed over to 8 Billion Ways, and after getting stuck in traffic because the narcissitic loudmouth Anjem Choudary and about fifty of his moonbat followers were marching about Bethnal Green Road and demonstrating outside, claiming that Muslims taking an interest in social justice, the environment and civil liberties with kuffars were un-Islamic. Only ten people noticed him because everyone in the studenty, mostly under 40 crowd inside was too busy watching speeches and films and having debates inside. There was a delicious smell of spices: I was dying to get a plateful of the curry on sale but there wasn't time. On the panel with me were Moazzam Begg, of CagePrisoners, who talked movingly of what it was like for him and the other men in Guantanamo, and Gareth Pierce, who was devastating on the war on our freedoms, and John Pandit from Asian Dub Foundation and a man from Statewatch, who's name I didn't catch, replacing Dr Ben Hayes.

Afterwards I had a chat with some of the audience, hung out with my friend Dr Usama Hassan, who was one of the event organisers, then decided to head home. I was meant to go and have a drink at the Convention and catch up with some mates but the stupid wretched headache still wouldn't shift so I went home instead and made chicken soup for me and J, and watched a completely pointless film which Liam Neeson should be ashamed to have been involved in.

Looking at the coverage today, I am so pleased the events went well and inspired that so many came - the Liberty Convention could have sold out three times over, even though tickets were 35 quid.

I wish I'd seen this live: Lighting a Candle for Liberty; it is the highlight of the Convention and essential listening. Lord Bingham ,take it away.

Anyway, well done everyone. Goodliveblogging from Fabulous Blue Porcupine

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Blogger DAVE BONES said...

Sunny has a different take on the liberty convention to yours, all interesting reading. I missed out, also on the 6 billion ways thing which a few of my friends went to. Strangely enough I ended up at Mr Choudhary's posse's Kalifah thing instead though I missed the march.

March 02, 2009 11:21 pm  
Blogger DAVE BONES said...

I'm going to check out some of these blogs you mention. I can never find anything worth reading from the UK.

March 02, 2009 11:22 pm  

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