Speak Easy launches Wednesday night at the Oxford Union

Over at Next Left, Stuart White is promoting what looks like an excellent initiative bringing Compass, the Lib Dems and Oxford Libertarians together to see what common ground can be reached on topics of interest to liberals.
Guy Aitchison
2 February 2010

Over at Next Left, Stuart White is promoting what looks like an excellent initiative bringing Compass, the Lib Dems and Oxford Libertarians together to see what common ground can be reached on topics of interest to liberals.

The discussion is open to all and takes place Wednesday February 3rd 7.30pm at the Oxford Union. Unfortunately, OK's man in Oxford, Tom Ash, is otherwise engaged but if you're in the area why not head down - it looks set to be a fascinating discussion. The first event will discuss drugs policy in light of the sacking of Professor Nutt.

The full details, posted by Stuart, are as follows:

What do members of Compass, the Liberal Democrats and philosophical libertarians have in common?

A new initiative in Oxford looks set to find out.

This coming Wednesday, February 3, will see the next meeting of a new political discussion group in Oxford, The Speak Easy.

The Speak Easy is open to anyone and everyone, but it is hosted by three groups: Compass Oxford, the Oxford University Liberal Democrats, and the Oxford Libertarian Society. The aim is to share a discussion 'of topics of interest to liberals of all kinds'.

Wednesday's meeting, which appropriately for a pan-liberal gathering is in the Gladstone Room at the Oxford Union, and which starts at 7.30 pm, is on the legalization of drugs. The event is free. Snacks will be provided. (And you don't have to be a member of the Oxford Union to attend: which is just as well for me, as I have never joined and never will.)

As the flyer puts it:

'The controversial sacking of Professor David Nutt, the government's chief drugs adviser, begs the question of where pharmacology ends and politics begins in the debate on the legal status of drugs. This discussion will consider the state of drugs policy in the UK and elsewhere, and ask how far the legalisation of drugs should be extended. Should 'soft' drugs be decriminalised? If so, what about hard drugs? And if such substances are to be permitted, should that be in the name of public health or individual liberty?'

The Speak Easy strikes me as a fascinating and very welcome development. Next Left has raised a number of concerns about the Labour government's record on civil liberties. The renewal of the left requires a much stronger, principled commitment to civil liberties.

Initiatives like The Speak Easy promise to help build a stronger cross-party culture of liberalism which, in turn, might help to resensitise the left - and hopefully Labour in particular - to the importance of civil liberties.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

Who is bankrolling Britain's democracy? Which groups shape the stories we see in the press; which voices are silenced, and why? Sign up here to find out.


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData