18 April 2010

Civil liberties

A while ago, when it seemed the election would be the usual two-horse race, I quoted a sneering remark about civil liberties by Home Secretary Alan Johnson as a powerful argument to hold your nose and vote for the Tories.

Until last week's presidential debate presentations by prospective prime ministers, I had no reason to consider the Lib Dems as a viable alternative. Now, in the light of the increased likelihood of a hung parliament with the Lib Dems holding the balance of power, I have belatedly had a look at their record.

The minuses are that they are almost uncritically pro-EU, and totally convinced by the man-made global warming scam. On the plus side, they are sound on the Trident boondoggle and the pathetic pretension to 'sitting at the high table' that lies behind it.  

But above all they have a very strong record on civil liberties, as illustrated in this useful site. MPs are ranked by how they voted on ten crucial issues:
  • ID Cards (2005); 
  • Renewal (2009) of the Control Orders provision of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005; 
  • the attempt to conceal details of MPs' expenses (2007); 
  • the unilateral Extradition Act of 2003; 
  • Retention of the DNA of the innocent by the state (2010; 
  • 90 day detention without charges, essentially the abolition of Habeas Corpus (2005); 
  • Abolition of the right to trial by jury (2007); 
  • Religious and Racial Hatred Bill, a drastic curtailment of freedom of speech (2005); 
  • Government power to suspend coroners' investigations and inquests (2009).
The Labour pukes unsurprisingly monopolize the authoritarian end of the table, but on the principle of deeds, not words, the solid Lib Dem vote against all of the above makes them the party to vote for if you give a damn about civil liberties. 

Hey, maybe I've been unduly gloomy about these elections. If the Lib Dems do hold the balance of power, and if they do make electoral reform the sine qua non of joining either of the other factions, thereby consolidating their power, it may do more for the recovery of historic liberties than any other possible outcome.  

Big 'ifs', I know. They've been made fools of by Labour before, but this time they may attract voters from both the other parties, which would give them a very strong hand. Let's see how they cope with the shit-storm that is about to break over their head now that it's been poked it above the parapet.

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