Vote for Liberty! Britain's parties contrasted and compared (in so far as they can be)

As a general election is called in the UK, what do the political parties have to say on the subject of liberty and the database state?
Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
6 April 2010

Biteback publishing, which Iain Dale helped launch, have a neat series of six manifestos on Why Vote: Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Green and Conservative. It's the kind of public interest publishing that Penguins used to do when there were bookshops in every town. I hope it makes Biteback money - the series should be in every supermarket. With this in mind I looked at them to see how we could contrast and compare what is on offer.

Naturally I wanted to get past the waffle to issues where there might be clear disagreements so I started to read what they had to say about liberty and ID cards. Here is the result if you want to vote for liberty. The Tory one has a short chapter on Civil Liberties, the Lib Dem is by different authors and has a section by Ken Macdonald (who used to be the Director of Public Prosecution), its called 'Freedom's place in the fight against Terrorism'. The Green's by Shahrar Ali has chapters on State Terror and State Police.

All well and predictable perhaps. Why Vote Labour has nothing on liberty, ID cards or human rights. It has a brief call to restore trust in politics, as if ignoring such issues will make us all the more trusting. I suppose that is predictable too: when it comes to principled argument in this area Labour supporters all too often duck and run. But I was surprised to find that Why Vote SNP also has nothing at all to say about such matters. Finally I turned with anticipation to Plaid's manifesto written by Adam Price. He has been one of my favourite MPs after supporting the Bill to make lying by politicians illegal. He's leaving Westminster for a sabbatical but people are tagging him as the Welsh Nationalists next leader. Alas, his call to arms also leaves out all questions of liberty.
Then it struck me that Plaid is in coalition with Labour in Wales and is a party in power. The authors from all the three governing parties simply blanked talking about civil liberties. Of course, these are not the official manifestos. But I have a feeling they are all the more revealing because of this. Based on them, if your freedom and basic rights matter to you, only the Tories, the Lib Dems and the Greens address them. So what OurKingdom is doing in line with our non-partisan approach to power and liberty in Britain is publishing (with permission) ALL the relevant sections you can find them here: Green, Tory, and Liberal Democrat. If the other party authors have anything to add we'll publish that too.

(Final thought: what if when any party gets to power it drinks the same elixir of control? Should If we end up with a Tory minority government supported by the Lib Dems will the relevant sections in their two pamphlets rapidly fade into oblivion?)

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