We must defend civil liberties at this election

Over the last two parliaments the British state has grown ever more authoritarian. Personal liberty has been sacrificed on the altar of public opinion for political ends. The false dichotomy of privacy versus security has been used repeatedly to justify robbing us of the former while failing to deliver the latter. Billions of pounds have been wasted on security theatre yet we are no more secure. Meanwhile the Government claims we are as threatened today – if not more so – than it claimed nine years ago.

British civil liberties have been dismantled systematically since 2001. The National Identity Register, biometric passports, the NHS spine, Contactpoint and the Vetting and Barring Scheme are just a few of the most egregious privacy invasions we have suffered.

Our every move is watched with suspicion by the authorities. ANPR systems record every journey we make. Video and audio Surveillance Systems (SS) watch us in every public space and many private ones too. Thousands of public bodies abuse their RIP Act powers to spy on us for trivial reasons. The police can stop us and search us arbitrarily, and they keep “pre-crime” databases on the innocent. Our private communications are monitored, analysed and recorded both by the Government and private companies.

Yet often MPs want one rule for us and another for them. The children of MPs can be “shielded” on ContactPoint to protect their privacy – but ours can’t. Very few MPs have an ID card even though ministers have been doing everything in their power to coerce the public into “volunteering” for them. Many MPs voted to exempt themselves from the Freedom of Information Act, to protect their “privacy”, whilst passing laws that erode ours.

When it comes to liberty in Britain today, all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. This hypocrisy has to end and the systematic assault on our civil liberties must be reversed.

The Power2010 campaign is conducting a letter writing campaign asking Prospective Parliamentary Candidates to:

…commit that, if you are elected, you will vote to repeal the Identity Cards Act 2006 and will defend our privacy as fiercely as you would defend your own and that of your family.

The above reproduces what I sent to Sheffield Central PPCs. You can take part in the campaign here.

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