Liberty is brought back home…

Individual freedom has always been a the center of British political tradition. Indeed many of our forbears laid down their lives to fight oppression, and arbitrary rule, to bequeath to us the fundamental freedoms and liberties we now posses.

In 1215, the barons entered London and forced King John to sign to Magna Carta to insure basic freedoms;  Habeas corpus was created to protect the innocent from unlawful arrest and imprisonment; and people of England went into revolt, and revolution, and beheaded King James to protect themselves from absolutist and arbitrary rule. The Bill of Rights was enacted to protect our freedoms in the new constitutional system. Great Parliamentary battles have been fought to protect, or gain basic rights: we were one of the earlier nations the outlaw the slave trade and give woman’s suffrage.
Britain is a nation with a truly liberal history, and British people have traditionally been greatly attached to the freedoms and liberties.

However over the last few years, we have slowly allowed the state to question that legacy our forefathers handed down to us, through their toils, sweat and blood. In the name of security, anti-terrorism, prevention of crime, we have allowed governments to take away those freedoms, and more closer to a surveillance state.

Just to name a few projects, and ‘achievements’ of government:

-Identity cards
-Attempted extension of the 28 day limit on holding terror suspects without charge,     by Jacqui Smith to 42 days.
-Attempted extension of the 28 say limit on holding terror suspects without charge by Tony Blair to 90 days.
-The DNA database, which holds profiles of people who have been acquitted, and have done no wrongdoing, even in the face of the European Court of Human Rights declaring this unlawful.
-Projects to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain.

Not only was this tendency a betrayal of our liberal ideals, and the legacy we have been given, t was also a dangerous path allowing the state ever more control of our lives, and access to our data. Data which they were not even competent to protect as evidences with officials leaving data on trains, getting lost in the post etc, etc, etc…

It would seem that this dangerous and pervasive extension of state control has met its doomsday and nemesis with the coalition agreement. Many parts of this document may be subjects of disappointment for both sides of the partnership; but this part is something this coalition can be proud of. A clear, unambiguous manifesto to shatter the chains that Labour have created, and to reenact our British liberal values. In no ways will this document equal in anyway those forged before our time like the Magna Carter, but it is at least one which those who fought for those rights would, I think it would be safe to say be proud of. Liberty is back on the agenda!

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4 thoughts on “Liberty is brought back home…

  1. Pingback: The New Coalition reasserts British liberal tradition...

  2. You do realise that with a national DNA database, someone like peter Sutcliffe could be stopped within hours?

  3. I do however, there are principles as well as efficiency. Equality before the law is a fundamental principle this nations fought for. Holding DNA of people who have been merely arrested and found innocent along with the DNA of convicted criminals is outrageous. If you really support a DNA database, it should be of all residents, not just those the police have arrested by mistake.I would also put to you that having people chipped and followable via GPS would make committing serious crime without consequence would almost be impossible since the authorities would know at all times who was where.
    However there becomes a point where the cost to civil liberties and freedom is too high to justify the extra security that the infringement imposes.
    Hypothetical example we take our democratic government for granted today, but historically even the most stable regimes have not lasted for ever, when, and if, a government was to come into power with less than moral intentions, imagine the consequences of the surveillance state in a despotic government’s hands!
    Moreover the government has shown itself inept at protecting our personal data as it is with data with thousands of bank details being left on trains etc…
    That is without even entering the ethical debate about violating people’s identity and privacy.
    The cost, or potential cost is not worth the extra security

  4. I would support a national DNA database of everyone in this country so the point about equality can be disgarded.

    You talk about the possibility of a more sinister government but refer to a surveillance state. No one’s suggesting a surveillance state. If a despotic government were to come to power they would have control of the army, navy, air force, police and civil services. A DNA database would make little difference. seriously what difference would a DNA database make?

    with regard to loss of data. A DNA database would not need to be as widely available to the authorities as the data used by the DWP for example. It could be held centrally and even if it did leak out would be almost completely incomprehensible to anyone who found it. DNA data is actually very impersonal. The data held by your doctor or bank is far more sensitive. Strange that you’re happy to have so much personal information held on you by a business in China but not by your own government.

    The point about GPS is a simply a diversion to hide the absence of any coherent arguments against a DNA database.

    “That is without even entering the ethical debate about violating people’s identity and privacy.”

    That’s just any empty platitude. How does it seriously violate privacy? If I where to show you a selection of individuals DNA data, you wouldn’t be able to pick yours out in a million years. Getting hold of your bank statements however would be relatively easy.

    On this entire issue, the anti-DNA database side rarely if ever actually use arguments but instead fall back on:

    1. empty phrases like ‘invasion of privacy’ without articulating how it is remotely as invasive as having bank statements or medical records.

    2. The ‘slippery slope’ argument

    3. ‘Straw man’ arguments about a ‘surveillance state’. And no; a DNA database is hardly a form of surveillance. Most likely it would never ever be used.

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