Henry Porter issues call to arms


1:42 am - January 18th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    


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In his article for the Observer today, Henry Porter issues a call to arms, asking people to join him at the Convention On Modern Liberty to take back the country. I like it. The new website has also now gone live.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Events

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Reader comments


I’m just gutted I can’t go to this. What is the future on this front, obviously it’s a little early but assuming that the convention (and it’s associated events) are a success…do the organisers have an idea of where they want to go with it after this?

Well, that’s what I want to discuss here. I think its important that we on the liberal left take this further online, and discuss ways in which we can do that.

At the event, which I’m still developing, one of the aims is to have a look at how other civil liberties campaigners have developed and used online tools to spread their campaigns and build grass-roots campaigns.

But we need to talk about how this can be taken further, but the convention is hopefully where we can have this discussion face to face…

Sure, and the online thing is important…but as Henry Porter’s article suggests, there is still plenty on this matter that needs to be done in the real world. If there was ever a case for the need to link online and offline movements together then this would be it. But I’m too tired to think right now and am getting far too idealistic as a result! I hope others will have thoughts on this too…

4. douglas clark

Sunny,

Could you take a look at this article and the thread beneath it? There seems to be a consensus, of a sort, that this sort of thing is wrong. And a direct affront to Liberty.

http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2009/01/16/police-state-economy-claims-its-first-victim/

I think this should be an action point for the Convention on Modern Liberty.

What do you think?

If there was ever a case for the need to link online and offline movements together

That’s our job Lee, that’s what this site is for… we’ll be working closely with OurKingdom on this issue on an ongoing basis.

I think this should be an action point for the Convention on Modern Liberty.

Sure, I think its an issue Henry has listed. The question is, what can we do about it for now, other than raise awareness that this is going on?

It’s important to keep the issue alive in the real world: online activity all too easily becomes a safety valve for blowing off steam before voting the same government in again, albeit a little guiltily – a bit like alternative comedy in the 80’s.

I so agree with Douglas Clark about deaf by bailiff. Great point.

How do we connect the Convention with the real world? As Sunny says, that’s what it’s all about. A number of points:
1. As Phil Booth of NO2ID always says, the arguments about the threats of the ‘database state’ are not self-evident.
2. We need to show the connections that link RIPA and 696 (You see! I’ve already lost 90% of the population!)
3. What I esp like about LC is the way that it and Sunny have got the point that civil society organisations and campaigns add up to much less than the sum of their parts. We need ways of working together that respect independence and differences but make a joint impact. This is one way on-line debate becomes real world influence

v

Also on real world: One way of moving from on-line and talking to each other to make the change is to get the word out to the public. This is very hard (and very expensive – see Obama!). We decided to make a start with building the Convention site around videos setting out the case in its many forms and people. The first two are up on the new site. Sunny will follow as will lots of others. You can suggest names or make your own for the YouTube page. Hope you think this is a step forward from the usual.

10. douglas clark

Anthony and Sunny,

Thanks for the comments.

I’d have thought that this sort of story has a huge human interest impact, but I’m no journalist.

I’d be surprised if this site is not read by newspaper and mainstream media people. Perhaps they would care to identify themselves and tell us whether I am right or not.

Indeed, without wanting to sound fawning, I’d have thought that the likes of your good selves, Conor and no doubt others I’ve missed have very good contacts with both the Observer / Guardian and the BBC. I’d have thought Henry Porter would be ‘on side’. And, where is Liberty on something like this? This is a wide enough ranging issue to upset the usually disinterested.

So, not to put too fine a point on it, if you were all to agree that this was an issue worth fighting over, you guys are quite capable of getting it into mainstream media all on your own. By broadcasting on it, by writing for the mainstream about it, and referencing your comments / articles back to either the Convention on Modern Liberty or here, you would potentially attract a huge swathe of Middle England. The next stage, is to grow a Face Book group or the like and arrange protests, or probably preferably a candlelit vigil.

Do politicians know about this case? I’d have thought Nick Clegg and David Davies would have thought this is as bad as it gets. Briefing them, and Lynn Featherstone who seems to be a friend of this site, would at least give them ammunition and backing.

The objective should be to get the culture reversed, not just this law. I have a lot more faith in individuals, both politicians and the rest of us, than this government seems to.

Is that a reasonable way to proceed?

“That’s our job Lee, that’s what this site is for… we’ll be working closely with OurKingdom on this issue on an ongoing basis.”

I don’t know that I used the right terms here :$ I meant to say linking this kind of movement with changing the perceptions of those that aren’t going to interact with us normally…either through conventions or this online forum. It’s all well and good talking about it a lot but we need to start changing the state of play with the general public (as Douglas says)

In order to reduce the power of the state more thought needs to be given as to what should be the responsibilities of adults. The push for ID Cards, CCTV, DNA databases, recording electronic communications and sharing government databases is based on Labour’s wish to reduce crime. Therefore what responsibilities and risks should adults be prepared to make in order to reduce crime. If adults are not prepared to help those being attacked by thugs or provide evidence to the Police because of fear , than can we only expect a more intrusive state? Roosevelt said “we only had fear itself to fear “; Churchill said “we will fight on the beaches”. Modern day Britain walks on by ; refuses to hear and see those being attacked ; come to their rescue and provide evidence to the Police. How often do people ignore those who put their feet up on seats on trains? The greatest threat to the State’s apparatus for surveillance and control is a crime free, peaceful and orderly society.

If people do not take responsibility for eating and exercising sensibly, reducing their alcohol consumption to within guidelines and reducing or stopping smoking then surely we are allowing the State to become an over powerful and over intrusive nanny.

If we want greater freedom , then we must accept more responsibility for our lives.

I always ask people to take their feet off the seats.
I always ask people to turn off loud music.

But then I have cropped hair and can look quite “tough” – even though the opposite is the truth!

I think a very important thing that no-one (including me) seems to be doing is relating civil liberties to the ordinary, honest and law-abiding individual – why should normal people care?

It is all very well us banging on about the separation of powers, the rule of law, due process and so on but – let’s be honest – the majority of people don’t spare a moment to think about such things. So from now on I will try to find examples of how Convention rights and other important liberties intersect with the lives of ordinary people (i.e. not criminals, terrorists, or illegal immigrants) and I welcome contributions.

(I think the easiest one is abuse of personal data.)

“How often do people ignore those who put their feet up on seats on trains? ”

This is certainly the biggest threat to our social fabric that I can think of.

“If we want greater freedom , then we must accept more responsibility for our lives.”

If we want greater freedom then it doesn’t matter if we take responsibility or not, because we are free to make that choice.

I agree that the way these issues relate to everyday life is very important. Thanks for these post! Historically, the call for liberty was linked to the call for the right to vote – to be represented. Today we feel that ‘our represenatives’ are pretty useless and if anything part of the problem and not even part of government while the expansion of market freedom and choices (and these are not unreal) have dissolved links between us. But in the UK, there is also a powerful, political class tradition of legalising and abstracting the principles of government, rather than politicising and democratising them. In different ways in the US, France and Germany, the Scandanavian countries, Canada etc, individuals have a FEEL for being citizens and have a personal sense of their political rights. The absence of this here in Britain does not stem from any actual remoteness of the principles of liberty from peoples’ everyday lives, but from the entrenched resistance to permitting this by the powers-that-be

15. Lee Griffin. I do not think putting feet up on the seets is a threat to our fabric of life. But what it often does do is often make people feel uncomfortable and that if they ask politely they will be met by a torrent of abuse. As a consequence security guards with quasi Police uniforms and powers are placed on trains . Many people accept the increase in state powers and the use of private security personnel operating in public areas because they are scared. People have been kicked or punched to death for objecting to thugs vandalising their property. If the vast majority of people are to be supportive of reducing the powers of the state , then when they they stand up to thugs they need to know they will be supported by a free people.

“At the event, which I’m still developing, one of the aims is to have a look at how other civil liberties campaigners have developed and used online tools to spread their campaigns and build grass-roots campaigns.”

Porn merchants will take it over,

no doubt about it, the NCCL spent more time kissing pedophiles than thinking about ordinary people Librety are even worse, Amnesty are a porn show in the USA and a ( hoped for) riot in Riga.

Liberty and Amnesty are mostly about porn or prostitution these days,

Definitely opposed in other words

“15. Lee Griffin. I do not think putting feet up on the seets is a threat to our fabric of life. But what it often does do is often make people feel uncomfortable and that if they ask politely they will be met by a torrent of abuse.”

So the problem is actually that society has been indoctrinated to believe that confrontation, however polite and meaningful, will be returned with abuse. Right?

“People have been kicked or punched to death for objecting to thugs vandalising their property.”

A statistically insignificant, if not tragic, number of people…yes. “People” have molested and raped over 50 children over 10 years before being caught, that doesn’t mean that there is actually any significant danger of it happening.

“If the vast majority of people are to be supportive of reducing the powers of the state , then when they they stand up to thugs they need to know they will be supported by a free people.”

The first step would be to recognise that someone with their feet up on the seats in a train isn’t necessarily a thug, and won’t necessarily respond with violence.

Liberty and Amnesty are mostly about porn or prostitution these days,

#

Google pornography site:www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk 28 hits
Google “identity card” site:www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk 51 hits

Frappola @ 18 = FAIL


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