The voice of young liberal democrats

The Assault on Liberty by georgeinwashington
June 1, 2007, 7:57 pm
Filed under: Law and Order

In the United States a fascinating new book has just been Published by the former vice president Al  Gore called “The Assault on Reason”. In it Gore asks the simple question, how was the US persuaded to go to war and that Saddam was responsible for the 9/11 attacks when any reasonable person looking at the facts would have concluded otherwise.

His answer is of course specific to the US, for those interested he blames the fact that political discourse has largely migrated to thirty second campaign ads that do not allow the viewer to enter into any dialogue with the facts.

In Britain of course we do not have the obscene amount of money floating around the political system that they do in the US and campaign adverts are strictly regulated, however I think on a general point Gore has some insights that are useful for Britain, because here too we are seeing a similar phenomenon.

There was of course cooked books on intelligence in the UK also, but I would like to ask a different question, how, in the UK, a country that in many ways defines itself by the adherence to individual liberty, did we allow ourselves to rescind many of our rights with barley any debate. After all the right to trial by jury and habeas corpus, two things that terror legislation is eating away at were once called “the rights of Englishmen”. They were indeed the vary things that set us apart from the rest of the world.

Here Gore’s wider point about the way we communicate in the political sphere is revealing because despite the lack of 30 second campaign commercials, the TV news and media is moving away from facts to soundbite reporting. The thought occurred to me when listening to the news covering the terror legislation where Blair has repeatedly said that he sees the need to ballance increased police powers with a protection of civil liberties. Whilst giving the impression that civil liberties are being looked after we are never actually told what this means, what concrete steps are being taken to stop repeats of the many abuses of the law that we have seen, such as when a man in his 80’s was held under the prevention of terrorism act for heckling Straw at the Labour Party conference. The impression given is enough to reassure the public that something is being done whilst we sleepwalk into a police state.

Gore sees the Internet as a potential saviour of modern democracy as it is a medium where people can actually engage and question the facts in order to come to reasoned conclusions and take action. 

This is already happening in the Blogosphere. In a recent interview with the LA times the founder of TPM memo, a popular centre left blog in the States said that the advantage of blogs like his is that they can engage and draw on the resources of the citizenry in a way that traditional media can not. His blog in fact broke the biggest political story in the US at the moment when he noticed his local federal attorney had been fired without any reason. He posted this on the blog asking if anyone else had had the same thing happen in their area, the response from the public revealed a programmatic campaign by the Department of Justice to fire attorneys who might have been pushing too hard on certain cases involving corrupt republicans. The story is currently engulfing the Whitehouse in shame.

And in the spirit of this I would like to start an experiment here, I would like anyone here reading this who has had an experience with new anti terror legislation being badly applied or a personal experience of their civil liberties being taken away in the UK to email their experience to and pass this around to as many people as you can. We can then document the erosion of civil liberties in our country and seek to hold those in government to account.


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[…] The Assault on Liberty is the focus of a call to arms by the Young, British and Liberal George […]

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Damn right! What I find just as worrying is that the majority of the British public don’t seem to realise whats is going on and refuse to speak up about it

Comment by James

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