But to what, exactly, is the party committed? Clearly there is a strong libertarian thread, a belief that the big brother state needs to be shaken off, and this explains the hostility to identity cards, CCTV cameras and the retention of DNA samples. Another theme is a romantic dedication to the past, with promises to "protect historic freedoms" through a return to jury trial, to "restore rights to non-violent protest" and to act to prevent "the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences".
If carried forward in an unambiguous manner, these policies will have big implications in terms of criminal law enforcement, the safety of the general public and the administration of justice. Nick Clegg's website consultation on which laws should be abolished, Your Freedom, gives a taste of the marauding jungle of free individuals in which it would seem many libertarians of this sort believe we should live – Hobbesians, but without a belief in any need for Leviathan.From which we conclude that Gearty: a) Does not understand the first thing about moral philosophy, and; b) has never read Hobbes's Leviathan.
Gearty then has a paragraph of reductio ad absurdum (actually the law of excluded middle) about what will happen when all CCTV and DNA collection and databases are abolished, but then he won't have read Aristotle either, so that's understandable. Then finally he drops his loaded drawers:
In truth, in civil liberties as in tax and welfare and everything else, there is always a large gulf between what the Lib Dems say and what they do. Sunk in opposition for decades, they have found words easy and cheap applause so seductive that they have become inured to both. This is not the best training to resist a Conservative party that believes the Thatcherite era to have been a golden age, and which will need police power to deal with the unrest and union activism that its attacks on the poor and the workers are bound to produce.OK - let's see. The Lib Dems are laughable because they do not recognize the need for an all-powerful state; but they are also laughable because they are part of a government that, Gearty confidently predicts, will use the powers of the state to attack the poor and the workers.
That's the trouble with these lefty pukes - they clamour for an ever-larger and more powerful state, then scream when it falls into the hands of people who do not share their world-view. It is not the Lib Dems, but those self-defined as "socialists" who need to get their ideas sorted out.