Saturday, March 04, 2006

Give me liberty...

Three years ago, Robin Cook resigned, having delivered the most electrifying speech I have ever heard. He finished; there was a uncharacteristic silence. Then applause, then a standing ovation, a cross-party ovation. Some things are more important than party politics.

Such as these: liberty, freedom, accountability, democracy. Protecting them is more important than protecting your job or your power base.

I am bitterly disappointed and angered by my government. They have let me down very badly.

My government, led by Mr. Blair does not protect my liberties.
It does not cherish freedom.
It disdains accountability and fears transparency.
It does not really believe in or want real democracy: it wants power.

It wants to hold onto its power and to have more and more of it. It is maddened by power. My government is filled with people who are tawdrily seduced and unhealthily excited by proximity to it. My government looks to the hyper-power U.S and wants to be close to it, even though the U.S neo-con administration is utterly alien to a Labour ideaology. It will gushingly promise to follow wherever the U.S leads, shoulder to shoulder, even unto the end, even into the hell of post-invasion Iraq, into the stupid 'war on terror', into places the majority of the electorate do not want it to go.

My government doesn't care. It has contempt for the ordinary people. My government tells us of a new 'respect agenda' yet it shows us no such respect, even when we turn out protesting in the streets in our millions. It orders dissenting voices a kilometre away from Parliament. Since New Labour came to power, the number of people voting has gone down to the lowest levels ever; meanwhile we have seen the largest public protests ever in this country. People have such cynicism about politics; about 'spin' - which means 'untruthfulness'. And yet there is enormous passion about issues that are political. Education, the environment, crime, bomb attacks, the war in Iraq...

This Government calls itself the people's government, the government of 'hard-working families'. It is no such thing. It distances itself from the people and their elected representatives; it is on a relentless legislative power-grab for the executive, with one man grabbing the power and a court fawning and jostling round him.

My government tries to protect itself from being held accountable: in June 2005 it rushed through laws that meant that it could protect itself from the embarrassment of public enquiries by having ministers decide on the terms and scope of the enquiry. ''There is no scope for victims to be involved in or even consulted about the process." ( British & Irish Rights Watch).

This is not the government whom I voted for, this is not what I was promised.

Blair says 'The question is not one of individual liberty vs the state but of which approach best guarantees most liberty for the largest number of people.'
My government now says the most important freedom is the freedom not to be blown up on the way to work. No it isn't. What a stupid, contemptible thing to say.

Hell's bells. Can't you see? Do I, a person who was blown up on the way to work, have to spell it out to you?

You need to protect liberty itself, not the liberties of those you favour, those whose votes you want. Liberty is not a pie to be sliced up: it is the oxygen of society, it belongs to us all and must be cherished by us all.

You torture and bomb illegally, you lock people up without charge, here and in a foreign war, then they will bring their rage to the streets of London. You cannot lecture Iran on nuclear weapons whilst busily buying more of your own. You need to be against ALL abhorrent behaviour to have the moral high ground and you need to protect the liberties of ALL people; as Chris Huhne said ' remember that all of us are minorities at one time or another. All of us could be wrongly accused. All of us could express views or do things the government does not like. We all of us sometimes do unpopular things. We all of us need the protection that the rule of law gives us.' The laws we already have are sufficient to protect us all.

Sometimes, people will come together, united by an issue more important than party politics, recognising important truths are being voiced.

Liberty Central is a new website/movement where you will find people of all political persuasions coming together to debate and defend liberty. This is more important than party politics, this is the most important political debate of the last twenty years.

It is the debate about freedom and fear.

Giving up freedom does not make us safe from terror. None of Blair's frightening anti-terror measures would have stopped the bomb exploding feet away on my train. Listening to Robin Cook three years ago as he warned of 'the strong sense of injustice throughout the Muslim world at what it sees as one rule for the allies of the US and another rule for the rest' might have done.

Iraq is invaded now, anger rises, the 'war on terror' is doing what it was predicted to do; inflame and recruit more extremists. I now live in a world where I expect extremists, terrorists, murderers to attack my freedoms. I do not expect my government, my democratically-elected government to do the same.

Enough. Enough I say, time to stand up to the people in this government; tell them liberty has your vote and the party who delivers it will get it.

Liberty Central is here, where you can read and join the debate about liberties and fear-mongering and power versus accountability. Debate from people from all parts of the political spectrum. It's just got going, it would like you to join in. And you can write to your MP and tell them what you think by going here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow - have a standing ovation yourself

March 04, 2006 10:57 am  
Blogger Mike said...

What breaks my heart is that so many good people feel so passionately and so let down on a personal level.

I'm a cynical old bugger and all I feel is the resigned sadness of being proved right again.

Taking the long view - the tragedy of democracy is whoever wins the election 'a government' always gets in.

Keep up the fight though - don't let us cynics win eh..

March 04, 2006 11:51 am  
Blogger airliebird58 said...

Congratulations on a marvellous piece. There are many of us that dont have the words to express how we feel about things, so we need people like you to do it for us.
I have always been a Labour voter, but have never voted for the party while Blair has been leader. Illogical I know, but sometimes you just get feelings dont you? Not that it did any good in the end.
I do have faith in my country though, sometimes very slow to react, but when we do......

March 04, 2006 3:10 pm  
Blogger Tom Paine said...

Well said!

March 04, 2006 5:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eloquent as ever, and spot-on accurate. What can I add but I wholeheartedly agree?

The question is, though, why? Perhaps I may be allowed to quote myself:
"A number of random thoughts… who was it said politics was ’showbusiness for ugly people’? There’s a certain cruel truth in that. In particular the constant need politicians seem to have to be in the public eye, rather than actually doing the job they are paid for (you know, scrutinising legislation, managing departments of state).

I wonder if a lot of this is the consequence of a combination of a more pervasive mass media and essentially weak characters - such that the semblance of activity becomes more important than the effectiveness of the action. Thus we have a constant stream of new legislation, and little attention paid to the enforcement of the laws that already exist - if it’s just the plods doing their job, then it looks like the ministers aren’t doing anything. Of course if our politicians weren’t such feeble wretches, it wouldn’t matter so much, since they wouldn’t feel driven to do something, anything, to give the impression of activity. And was there ever a nation ruled over by such a set of political and intellectual pygmies?"

March 04, 2006 8:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said.

March 05, 2006 12:12 pm  
Blogger The Pedant-General said...


Top stuff.

Couldn't make the link to Robin Cook's resignation speech work. Try this instead.

Toodle Pip!

March 06, 2006 10:37 am  
Blogger steve said...

Very well said! *applause*

March 06, 2006 10:49 pm  
Blogger Charlie said...

Sadly, I suspect the war was entered into knowing full well that the net effect would be more terrorism. Fear can keep the wheels greased, the taxes up and the polulation under control, whilst providing a perfect mechanism for diverting attention from any real issues should they arrise.

Fear of terror is powerful political weapon, as the US has so ably demonstrated of late.

March 08, 2006 1:04 am  

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