Over at the Guardian's liberty central Henry Porter and Natalie Hanman have put together a handy postcard-sized list of ten questions to put to parliamentary candidates to test how strong their commitment is to civil liberties.
This is vitally important. As Porter writes:
"This list of 10 questions, drawn from contributions to liberty central is intended to take back some of the agenda from the party campaign managers and focus on the key issues of liberty and the state's power, both of which received very little attention in the last three elections. Great changes have been wrought since 1997 and it is generally accepted that the power of the state has increased at the expense of individual liberties. In a very real way this election may be our last chance to review and perhaps reverse these trends."
If we don't put liberty firmly on the agenda at this election the next government, of whichever stripe, will take this as permission to continue the hi-tech centralisation of state power New Labour is trying to railroad us into. Important decisions will be taken over the next four or five years that will determine the kind of society we become. As Ken MacDonald writes below, "We are in danger of sleepwalking into a surveillance society without thinking about how it will feel to live there. There is a very real risk that we will create something for our children that they cannot bear."
We need MPs in Parliament who take rights seriously and won't capitulate to the executive the next time it comes knocking for more powers. We need MPs who will be active in Parliament to challenge and reverse the last 13 years of draconian legislation, which is why I'm pleased my question about a "freedom bill" made it into the final cut, in a slightly different form, at number ten.
Liberty central has provided a useful tool for us to audit our candidates with. It would be even better if they were to provide a space where responses can be recorded and made accessible so that if our candidates respond we can share the information and benefit from the work already done by others.
You can download and print the questions for candidates here: