Thursday, 12 February 2009

Conventional wisdom

There are ads all over the place for this Convention on Modern Liberty thing. Anything that seeks to defend 'our fundamental rights and freedoms' is OK by me, and I've been as critical as anyone of some of the illiberal tendencies of the current government. However, I notice that posters for the event highlight the threats to liberty from 'counter-terrorism, financial breakdown and the database state'. Now, counter-terrorism and the database state I can understand (NO2ID is one of the main sponsors of the event). But 'financial breakdown' ? That seems a bit weak and speculative, and looks like it's been thrown in to pad out the list and broaden the appeal. 

And if you were listing the main threats to our fundamental rights and freedoms right now, wouldn't you want to include a couple of other things, before you mentioned the credit crunch?How about the attacks on freedom of speech by religious militants who threaten authors, publishers and programme-makers who offend them? And what about the threat to our freedom from terrorism itself? It looks like the organisers of the convention have been selective in their cataloguing of threats to liberty, and can only see danger from one direction - the British state.

Among the many issues to be debated at the main London event on 28th February, I couldn't find anything about freedom of expression. There's a session on press freedom, but that's not quite the same thing. A vast array of the liberal-left great and good are slated to appear, and it was reassuring to see Nick Cohen's name there (in the press freedom slot). But why invite the Muslim Safety Forum to lead the session on 'xenophobia'? I'm all in favour of a big tent approach, but what is a convention on liberty doing providing a platform to a group that acts as an umbrella for organisations hostile to many of the 'fundamental rights and freedoms' that the event is seeking to defend?

1 comment:

Pissed-off single issue campaigner said...

Do bear in mind among the organisers are the daft leftie usual suspects. They will have at the back of their dim and conventional minds that this is all part of a "crisis of late capitalism" and that "economic collapse causes fascism". Having joined the bandwagon of the present government as a threat to liberty a number of years after Liberty and NO2ID and the rest, they now want to throw all their other pseudo-ideas and the kitchen sink on to it in the name of 'inclusiveness'. After all it is not as if there is nearly enough to talk about if we have to keep on the topic of 12 years of administrative and legislative vandalism, is it?