The real civil libertarian candidate stands up

Rupert Read
26 June 2008

Rupert Read (Norwich, The Green Party): The powers that be at Our Kingdom are welcoming the way Davis has called this highly-unusual byelection. I can understand that; I can understand the desire to applaud and welcome what he has done and what he is making possible. I said as much myself, in my earlier post on this on OK.

But I think what we also need to be very clear about is that no way is David Davis any kind of poster boy for civil liberties. Much of what he believes in and much of his record is extremely antithetical to what many on OK take for granted. I fear that this fact has not fully emerged in most of what has been written on OK about this byelection campaign.

Well, it is about to emerge – here, and far beyond. Because there is one political Party which has decided to fight David Davis, primarily on this set of issues. The Green Party has just decided that it will field a candidate against Davis. It is time for real civil libertarians now to stand up and be counted.

Here are some key reasons why readers should consider backing the Green Party against the Tory Party in this unique byelection where we are now the main challengers to Davis:

1) Davis's stance is arbitrary and not radical enough: why draw the line at 28 days? 28 days is already way more than most civilised societies allow. True habeas corpus requires that we role back the number to about 3-7 – which are the numbers normal around the rest of Europe (see on this the Green Party’s Jean Lambert MEP).

(2) Davis and the Conservatives are poor on various other key civil liberties issues, think of all the laws passed against dissent in the 80s and 90s; as well as gay rights (on section 28 Davis has taken the homophobic line), capital punishment (Davis is for it, the Green Party against), etc

(3) One needs to go beyond mere 'formal' liberties in this debate. Anyone is 'free' to own a newspaper -- the press is 'free' -- provided that you are extremely rich... ; anyone is 'free' to sue for libel -- provided that they are extremely rich... Take the topical example of the planning system which I wrote about recently on my blog. The rich and powerful can get their way all too often, and then ordinary people lose out. Developers have automatic rights of appeal; ordinary people effectively do not unless they have enough money to go to the High Court. To put the point more generally: We need a society which makes political and civil freedom something which all can have access to ('equality of liberty'), and not merely a preserve of the rich and powerful. The Green Party stands for this; David Davis does not.

(4) This ought to be an argument about freedom in a true, broad sense of that word. True freedom is not mere libertarian anarchy; true freedom is enabled and enabling. People are freer when they are free from fear of old age or ill-health; people are freer when they are well-educated.

We Greens are freedom’s true friends. What Davis purveys is only a narrow shadow of real freedom. Shan Oakes, our candidate in Haltemprice and Howden, is the REAL civil liberties candidate. For real progress on freedom, the voters of Haltemprice and Howden ought in a fortnight’s time to vote Green, not blue…

OK will be continuing this debate in a vigorous fashion over the coming weeks.



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