Saturday's Convention on Modern Liberty seems to have been a success, judging by the number of attendees, both in London (over a thousand) and at the web streaming video linked satellite events held in Glasgow, Belfast. Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol and Cambridge.
There were lots of influential or famous people to meet and talk to. Spy Blog got to exchange a few words with Henry Porter and Antony Barnett, the co-directors, and with David Davis MP (Conservative), Chris Huhne MP (Liberal Democrat), Kate Hoey MP (Labour).
It is always a bit curious to see "people off of the telly" walking around like normal people or actually on speakers panels e.g. pop stars like Neil Tennant, Brian Eno, Billy Bragg, and Feargal Sharkey, politicians like Lord Goldsmith, activist campaigners like Peter Tatchell and Tony Bunyan and Cory Doctorow etc.
Spy Blog made face to face contact with some journalists, e.g. from BBC Radio and The Guardian, with whom we have been in electronic correspondence with,
We met many of our friends and activists in organisations like the NO2ID Campaign, the Open Rights Group, from ARCH - Action on Rights for Children and the Foundation for Information Policy Research FIPR, as well as formidable individual campaigners and investigative journalists and bloggers like Heather Brooke , David Mery, Duncan Campbell, Sunny Hundal and Bill Thompson
Hopefully all of these organisations will have attracted new members, some more financial donations and the chance to extend their spheres of influence.
The best speeches were probably those of Lord Bingham, the retired Lord Chief Justice, Philip Pullman, the best selling children's author (whose excellent piece Malevolent voices that despise our freedoms in The Times has now magically re-appeared on their website after it had mysteriously been removed) and by David Davis MP at the end of the day.
The most politically significant speech, was probably that of the Conservative Shadow Justice spokesman Dominic Grieve MP QC, who again stated in public, the Conservative party's commitment to scrapping the Identity Card scheme and to repealing (an as yet unclear) list of repressive Labour legislation, almost immediately, if and when the Conservatives form the next Government.
Presumably there should be a lot of common ground with the Liberal Democrats, who also want to repeal lots of repressive legislation as well, - see our previous blog posting on Liberal Democrats Freedom Bill 2009
There are transcripts and videos of many of these speeches (with some more to come) , already available on the Convention on Modern Liberty website.
The NO2ID Campaign was instrumental in organising or helping to organise these satellite events, as well as providing many of the stewards at the London event.
So now that the Convention is over, what exactly are you going to do to save your own liberty and that of your family and friends, which is indivisible from that of any other humans caught up in the Kafkaesque bureaucracy of the Police / Nanny / Surveillance / Database State which the current Labour government has been inflicting on us all ?
Phil Booth, the National Coordinator of the NO2ID Campaign made this plea to the to everyone in the country via The Guardian, and directly to the audience of over a thousand people in London:
A clause in the new coroners and justice bill will allow the sharing of your personal information. Write to your MP now
* Phil Booth
* guardian.co.uk, Saturday 28 February 2009 13.58 GMT
This morning at the Convention on Modern Liberty, I launched NO2ID's request that everyone at the convention - and around the UK - tells their MP *right now* that they refuse their consent to having their information shared under any "information sharing order", a power currently being slipped onto the statute books in clause 152 of the coroners and justice bill .
Please tell yours too. It's important, and urgent - and something that only YOU can do. If you never have before, now's the time to write to your MP - in a letter, or via www.WriteToThem.com.
Jack Straw has been making noises that could signal a U-turn, but the only acceptable action is to remove clause 152 entirely from the bill. It is not linked to any other clause, despite being sandwiched between other powers and so-called safeguards offered to the information commissioner. It cannot be improved, and Straw can't be allowed to merely "dilute" it. Clause 152 just has to go.
It's imperative that in coming days every MP hears from his or her constituents. Please tell them you refuse consent to having your information, taken for one purpose, arbitrarily used for any other purpose. And ask them to vote clause 152 off the bill.
Those of you who exchanged contact details face to face at the Convention, should make a special effort to keep in contact via email, mobile phone text message or in person.
Given the political threat which a thousand or more well educated, relatively prosperous (for now) active opponents may pose to the Labour government, and to the vested interests who profit from it financially, you would be well advised to make use of any of our relevant Spy Blog Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers: Technical Hints and Tips for protecting the anonymity of sources for Whistleblowers, Investigative Journalists, Campaign Activists and Political Bloggers etc. -
The fact that a couple of people protesting / ranting / expressing their opinions freely outside of the Convention on Modern Liberty were stopped and searched without reasonable cause, under the Terrorism Act section 44, should be a reminder of the current extent of the Police State, let alone our justified fears about how it is being rapidly expanded.
David Davis MP, reminded people that by the time the technical and legal infrastructure of a Police State is fully in place, it is then far too late to peacefully protest about it - we need to get rid of the current Labour politicians who are in power, and to ensure that their replacements (from whatever political party) actually deliver their promises about proper freedom and liberty and proportionate national security and crime fighting measures.