Defending Civil Liberties

I was greatly shocked and saddened by the recent acts of terrorism in France. There can be no doubt that they were abhorrent attacks on the basic foundations of a free democratic society. That said, the Conservative Party’s response of wanting to introduce a “Snoopers’ Charter” is clearly a step too far in tackling terrorism.

The charter would require internet companies to keep a record of all websites visited by every single member of the public and I believe that such a measure would have a damaging effect on the relationship between the state and individual. Join me in saying NO to a Snoopers’ Charter by signing my petition.

I fully endorse comments made by my Lib Dem colleague and Justice Minister Simon Hughes:

“It is vital that the police and intelligence agencies are able to investigate and prosecute terrorists, including surveillance of communications. The Liberal Democrats have moved quickly in government to plug the gaps in existing legislation to bolster these abilities.

“Future security measures must be proportionate, justified and necessary - and not trample on our civil liberties. The so-called Snoopers’ Charter, which would see the internet browsing of every single citizen stored for a year, fails these very reasonable precautions.

“The idea that you protect free speech by spying on every law-abiding person in this country is a contradiction in terms. You can’t have an open society if you are constantly worried that the state is prying into your daily life.”

A suspicion of state power and a desire to see it controlled in order to protect individual liberty is a golden thread running through Liberal history, right back to the 17th century.  Whigs, Radicals, Liberals and now Liberal Democrats have consistently offered opposition to Tory and Labour governments that have sought to trample over our freedoms.

In my first term as Bristol West’s MP I voted against Labour’s plans for ID cards (disobeying doctor’s orders and travelling to London to do so.  I had chicken pox, not much fun at age 38!) and the extensions to the time allowed for detention without charge.  Tony Blair had wanted 90 days and eventually had to settle for 28.  Since 2010, Lib Dems in government have dismantled the ID database and repealed the 28 days law. We blocked the Snoopers’ Charter before and we will do so again.

Civil liberties are the foundation of a free society in which you are able to fulfil your potential.

Liberal Democrats in government are protecting your rights and restoring hard-won freedoms. That’s why we have:

tick.jpgScrapped the expensive and unnecessary ID cards system proposed by Labour

tick.jpgEnded the permanent storing DNA of innocent people

tick.jpgStopped children being fingerprinted in schools without parental consent

tick.jpgRestored the right to protest outside Parliament

tick.jpgReformed the bureaucratic criminal record checks for ordinary people who want to volunteer

tick.jpgBanned wheel-clamping on private land

tick.jpgStopped the Conservatives from getting rid of the Human Rights Act

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