Your Freedoms, our opportunity…

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg today launched “Your Freedom”, to help collate ideas for the Coalition’s “Great Repeal Bill”.

Clear proof that this Government is serious about undoing the tangle of authoritarian, civil-liberty hating agenda from the previous Labour administration, this goes another step to disprove the hysterics surrounding the new Government: the Conservative Party are talking with a liberal accent, and long may it continue.

Some of my suggestions, with appropriate links where I could find them (hey, Government websites are not very good STILL, so much for new politics etc).

Freedom to take photographs

There are two popular links to this proposal – by “manwood” and “eafo

It is almost too surreal for words to consider that the police can confiscate a camera – or even arrest the photographer – as a potential ‘terrorist threat’ Even train spotters have been dragged under this paranoid legislation, as though operatives are busying themselves at the end of Platform 4 admiring a Class 150/2 en route to Blackburn. The freedom to take photographs of public spaces is too fundamental to trap under so-called anti-terrorist law. It’s a measure of Labour’s evil streak that they considered it sensible in the first place.

Freedom to live without suspicion

With reference to this from “nothing2hide”

RIPA [Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act] is another watchword for absurd paranoia under Labour, legislation gone feral. You may remember councils checking up on parents during the school run, or people being clocked putting cardboard into glass-can recycle bins, that sort of thing. RIPA is a snooper’s charter, totally at odds with the right to exist without fear of unnecessary surveillance. Its repeal is required as urgently as possible to return some sense of liberty to our daily lives. There are other ways to monitor potential threats without the legislation being misused by bored Town Hall clerks.

Freedom to learn without prayer

From “lousiealmond” comes a popular proposal to free schools from collective prayers and assemblies.

This is not an agenda against Nativity Plays. It simply asks that non-faith schools, especially primary schools, are freed from the necessity to ask children as young as 4 to say “amen” to opinions they may not understand or believe. Parents are able to decide how much religion their children learn at home; they are allowed to opt-out of certain lessons (such as sex education). They should be confident about schools not giving children too much religious teachings if this is against their wishes.

Freedom to smoke cannabis

As seen – perhaps inevitably – by plenty of submissions, with some taken at random being from “pillarofsoc“, and “mikeoldroyd

This is an oldie, but a goodie. By decriminalising and regulating the sale of cannabis, the Government would have a substantial income stream while being able to ensure the quantity and strength of that on sale. It would decrease the “Morrisions car park” branches of NHS Direct to barely a trickle, improve the ability of the police to focus on serious crime prevention, including harder drugs and money laundering. Cannabis has been found to have serious medical consequences, but its use has not fallen by a substantial degree; Government regulation would be the “compromise” between full banning and total legalisation.

Freedom to respect, and be respected by, the police

With reference to suggestions by “getcartnernow” and “sladen”

The powers to stop and search are an important part of police work and crime prevention. Under Labour, and their tag-team Home Secretaries, “Section 44” stop and searches enabled the police to ask anyone, without prejudice, many questions without the need to have a given excuse. Black, Asian, and younger people were targeted like the proverbial pot of jam. “Section 44” is now a watchword for authoritarianism. It cannot be defended if this country wants to be considered an open, liberal society. The paranoid amongst Labour supporters say “If our way of life changes, the terrorists have won”. Clearly they did not look at the legislative history of their own party…

Freedom to enjoy legal highs

As recommended by your good Doktor

We know, now as fact, that the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs was pretty much ignored by Alan Johnson during the ‘drone controversy. Wanting a quick headline on the back of tabloid hysteria, legal highs such as methedrone were banned. Websites selling the substance reported their highest ever takings; they vanished from the web within hours of the ban taking place. Drone was found to be directly responsible for one death – regrettable as one death is, it is nothing compared to the deaths linked to excessive drinking, smoking, or even deaths on the road. The Advisory Council must now return to this issue, allowing users who already “self regulate” and “self police” far more than people realise to use their drug of choice free from State control unless it is proven utterly unsafe to do so.

I have been distracted by other very good ideas – repeal the extreme pornography laws, allow voting across a weekend, set up an English parliament. Now all I hope for – all we all hope, perhaps – is that the Coalition are able to take these suggestions through the House of Commons before 2015. This is our best opportunity for many years to influence the tone of Government. Labour liked to tuck us all up and tell us ghost stories.

May the Coalition bring some light into the room…


A new dawn has broken…has it not?

The country has got what it voted for, Labour defeated and LibDem policies at the heart of Government. Nick Clegg, Deputy PM? Vince “Fibre Optic” Cable in charge of banking reform? Is this the real life, or just a fantasy?

It is, of course, the result of the historic Conservative/LibDem coalition, replacing Labour’s 13 years of peaks-and-troughs (sorry, boom-and-bust). The final legacy of Gordon Brown – a surge in unemployment – just indicates the challenge ahead.

Labour’s final record really is abysmal. Record government borrowing, massive public debt into which millions must be poured immediately to avoid a Greece-style meltdown.

Of course things are going to be tough, I am not hiding from the facts. Sadly, I guess VAT is going to have to rise, and local government funding will be cut in such a way that some sacred cows will have to see the action end of many knives. Something must be done to steady the ship; we as a nation cannot continue to overspend. While billions of tax payers money shores up the banks, the companies make mammoth profits and dish out mega-bonuses. This cannot continue. Let me borrow a phrase from our new Prime Minister; we cannot go on like this.

I have no doubt that Nick Clegg’s fairness agenda has a place in the centre of this new coalition. Look at some of the agreed policy decisions; the phasing in of the £10,000 income allowance, scrapping ID cards, scrapping the planned NI increase, reviewing the DNA database, enhancing freedom of information, scrapping the planned inheritance tax changes, promising a fully elected House of Lords…

I remain a loyal Liberal Democrat, and a liberal from top-to-toe. There is no point in being stuck in the past, using the Conservative Party’s previous lives as some kind of stick with which to beat the present. Using “Thatcher!” as a warning from history is no more useful in 2010 as my use of “Winter of Discontent!”. I am frustrated that this new administration is not being given a chance. The problems put upon this country by Labour’s 13 years cannot be covered up by the catch-all phrase “Global Recession”. It’s like the Family Guy episode where Lois whips up a crowd with the words “Nine Eleven”.

This new Government already shows great promise. The challenges are going to be tough, of course they are, and when errors are made there is no doubt I will comment on them. But this country could well plunge into deeper trouble if the exhausted, bankrupt Labour Party are given half a chance to return too soon.