I was invited to blog at Western Standard’s “Shotgun Blog” which has a lot of libertarian content. This is today’s post.
U.K.’s David Davis: Assault on Freedoms "Must be Stopped"
In the last few days, there were several events that made me feel very positive about the freedom movement.
There was the settling effect of Ron Paul’s Phase II (http://westernstandard.blogs.com/shotgun/2008/06/ron-paul-calls.html).
There was the amazing Irish NO vote yesterday against the European Union’s Lisbon reform treaty.
And there was another politician taking a stand for freedom this week – in Britain – David Davis. And because it is so rare for politicians to give a damn about liberties, this event reminds me of the powerful film Amazing Grace about the British statesman and anti-slavery hero William Wilberforce.
David Davis, the Conservative Party’s Deputy Leader and Shadow Home Secretary could not stomach the June 11th passing of New Labour’s 42 day detention-without-trial law. Therefore he resigned from parliament, forcing a by-election on that issue along with a mass of British government attacks on civil liberties and privacy rights, which he comprehensively condemned:
"This Sunday is the anniversary of Magna Carta – the document that guarantees that most fundamental of British freedoms – habeas corpus – the right not to be imprisoned by the state without charge or reason.
"Yesterday this house decided to allow the state to lock up potentially innocent British citizens for up to six weeks without charge…
"… 42 days is just one – perhaps the most salient example – of the insidious, surreptitious and relentless erosion of fundamental British freedoms.
"And we will have shortly, the most intrusive identity card system in the world. A CCTV camera for every 14 citizens, a DNA database bigger than any dictatorship has, with 1000s of innocent children and a million innocent citizens on it.
"We have witnessed an assault on jury trials – that bulwark against bad law and its arbitrary use by the state. Short cuts with our justice system that make our system neither firm not fair.
"And the creation of a database state opening up our private lives to the prying eyes of official snoopers and exposing our personal data to careless civil servants and criminal hackers.
"The state has security powers to clamp down on peaceful protest and so-called hate laws that stifle legitimate debate – while those who incite violence get off scot free.
"This cannot go on, it must be stopped. And for that reason, I feel that today it’s incumbent on me to take a stand."
The UK Libertarian Party’s Leader, Patrick Vessey, expressed his support (http://lpuk.org/pages/posts/libertarians-support-davis14.php):
"Should Mr. Davis find that the party of which he is currently a member does not share his grave and quite justified concerns about the continuing erosion of our precious civil liberties, he would be welcome to join the only British political party for which these issues are a matter of core principle, rather than purely the stuff of sound-bites."
The British Libertarian Alliance gave Davis its unconditional support, calling him a "brave and decent man". Libertarian Alliance Director, Dr Sean Gabb, expressed his contempt for the Labour government:
"We have been repeatedly told that suspects will only be detained for six weeks without trial in the gravest cases affecting national security. This is a lie. We were promised that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 would only be used in cases of national security. Instead, it is used by just about every local authority in the country to spy on ordinary people.
"The effect – and almost certainly the purpose – of this law will be to create a new weapon of administrative detention. It may be used against the occasional terrorist suspect. Much more often, though, dissidents and other ‘trouble-makers’ will be told to shut up or face arrest on suspicion of terrorist offences. They will be held without charge for six weeks, then released without charge. In the meantime, they will have lost their jobs and reputations; their lives will be in ruins. All this – and without the shadow of due process."
June 14th, 2008