9:46 am - January 13th 2009
Are you concerned about the increasing threat to our civil liberties from this government? Do you fear that our culture is becoming too accommodating of authoritarian sentiments? Do you worry about how much power the police are being given every day?
Do you want to fight for your liberties? Do you want to meet with others and get organised? Well, the time has come for that.
On 28th of February a group of people and organisations from across the political spectrum are holding the Convention On Modern Liberty across Britain.
This isn’t just about the triumvirate of big issues such as ID cards, CCTV and the DNA database (42 days is thankfully out of the picture now but still in the background). It also incorporates other issues such as collecting information on football fans, increasing police powers not just to snoop on us, but also on terrorism related legislation.
The mainstream liberal-left has become far too accommodating of encroaching state power in recent years, justifying it simply because a supposedly left-wing government was in power.
For me, the left should always be suspicious of state power because it is usually biased towards powerful vested interests against the rights of the common woman or man.
The main organisers: openDemocracy and Liberty, have also brought in partners including NO2ID, Amnesty UK, Unlock Democracy, the Guardian and more. There are even organisations on the right such as the Countryside Alliance and some Tories. I think its time we accepted that in order to win the battle on civil liberties, we have to involve everyone, not just the left.
So, what does this mean for you?
openDemocracy have been kind enough to offer a special panel discussion for bloggers, which will be organised by Liberal Conspiracy. I would like to give an activist feel, not just a space for a calm talking-heads discussion with people coming out more frustrated than they went in.
Over the coming weeks, we need to ask:
– how we should look at privacy differently;
– how different powers affect our liberties, uniting football fans, clubbers, Muslims and even technologists.
– what can be done about it.
Ideally, I’d like to see a situation where, by the time we get to the event, we are looking to get organised and move forward, not just reiterate the issues that could have been discussed online anyway.
It is in the small stories that you see society changing. In a different context, innocence was no protection for a couple in Poole whose local council used anti-terror laws to watch them after they had applied to a new school for their child; or the policeman in Wales who was suffering from depression and went off sick only to become the subject of a £100,000 surveillance operation by his colleagues; or the football fans who were issued with Form 27 under the Violent Crime Reduction Act and prevented from attending matches, or, finally, the care worker who was stopped from getting a job – even in a supermarket – because of unproven allegations kept on police files.
We need your ideas and thoughts. What can be done? What should be done? How can we get organised? Who would you like to help, and how? Is everything being blown out of proportion?
You can get some buttons for your blog or website from here.
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
· Other posts by Sunny Hundal
Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Events ,Our democracy
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Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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