Nick Clegg launches “Your Freedom”


Video also available on YouTube here.

This morning Nick Clegg made a speech, launched a website, and invited everybody’s views on how the Government should redress the balance between the citizen and the state:

This morning I want to talk about freedom.

For too long new laws and regulations have taken away people’s freedoms, interfered in everyday life, and made it difficult for businesses to get by.
The state has crept further and further into people’s homes, the places they work, their private lives.
That intrusion is wrong; it’s illiberal; it’s disempowering and it’s going to change.

This government is putting freedom under the spotlight in a way the previous government never did.
We want the British people have their say on where the state should step in, and where it should butt out.
We are asking people for ideas on restoring hard won liberties that have been lost…
On repealing unnecessary laws that have no place on the statute book…
And on stripping away the excessive regulation that stops businesses from innovating.

Your views will shape directly the steps we take.

It is a radically different approach.
Because this Coalition trusts people to get on with their lives…
It’s probably the thing Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have most in common.
We don’t think every problem can be fixed by passing a new law.
We understand that Whitehall doesn’t have all of the answers, and doesn’t have a monopoly on the best ideas.
So gone are the days of know-it-all, do-it-all government.
Because a liberal society, a prosperous society, is one where citizens and businesses have the space and power to thrive.
Today I am asking the people of Britain to help us to begin building that society.
Protecting civil liberties, repealing unnecessary laws, and cutting restrictive red tape.

He went on to outline three main areas for improvement: restoring civil liberties, repealing unnecessary laws and cutting business and third sector regulations. You can read the full speech here.

Error message on Your Freedom websiteThe website http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk/ has had its problems today, with heavy traffic often rendering it slow or unavailable. People have already submitted ideas on a wide range of topics, from steeple tax to the smoking ban, with the Digital Economy Act appearing under a number of headings. The ideas are free-form and crowdsourced, with the promise that they’ll all be read.

The process does not have a definite end date – “We’ll assess its popularity and success in collecting ideas at regular intervals” but if it proves popular, “this could become a common way of the Government working more openly, and responding more regularly to public feedback.”

Here’s what Lib Dem bloggers have had to say today:

Katie Sutton says Repeal the Digital Economy Act;
Linda Jack shares her idea of freedom;
Neue Politik calls for marriage equality while Christopher Wilson notes that not all the suggestions are entirely serious.
Mark Thompson reckons he’d repeal the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and Steph Ashley sets her readers a smoking ban-related quiz.

Iain blogged back in May that repealing “daft” laws won’t be so easy, so although grey squirrels may have to stay on their guard a little longer yet, the Your Freedom initiative is a clear signal from the new Government that it views citizens – and their freedom – differently.

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23 Comments

  • Barry George 1st Jul '10 - 7:53pm

    This one could come back to bite us. From watching the site all day, the Daily Mail and Sun readers are out in force trying to repeal the Human Rights Act.

    It would be funny if they weren’t so serious. It reminds me of Turkey’s voting for Christmas. Nick asked on the ‘Your Freedom’ site for the peoples suggestions and the first thing the people ask is “Please Nick, take away my Human Rights!’

    Are we still a party that will defend the Human Rights Act at any cost ?

    Our position was clear before the election but due to the back flipping nature of our coalition, I am not so sure anymore.

    My loyalty will certainly be gone if we back flip on Human Rights.

    Those rights give me…

    •the right to life
    •freedom from torture and degrading treatment
    •freedom from slavery and forced labour
    •the right to liberty
    •the right to a fair trial
    •the right not to be punished for something that wasn’t a crime when you did it
    •the right to respect for private and family life
    •freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom to express your beliefs
    •freedom of expression
    •freedom of assembly and association
    •the right to marry and to start a family
    •the right not to be discriminated against in respect of these rights and freedoms
    •the right to peaceful enjoyment of your property
    •the right to an education
    •the right to participate in free elections
    •the right not to be subjected to the death penalty

    And it appears that the rabid right no longer wish us to have the written legal right to free speech and free elections anymore.. Apparently we can trust the Government to ensure our rights are protected.

    I don’t even trust this Conservative led coalition to protect my Human Rights, never mind future Governments.

  • Really, what is this sort of self-selecting internet poll supposed to achieve? Are we really expected to believe that the coalition haven’t already decided on which bits of legislation could viably be repealled and which couldn’t?

    What a load of patronising drivel. And since the site’s a ~.gov.uk, a disgusting waste of public money too.

  • Plus, what both sides of the HRA debate don’t seem to fully understand is that even if the Human Right Act were repealed, they would still have the force of law – it would just be more expensive for the government to defend cases as they would have to be heard by the ECHR rather than by a UK court.

    As much as all this will just show how backward many of the people are who contribute, I think this is a worthwhile exercise. There may just be one or two suggestions which, on inspection, turn out to be worthwhile and save money as well as enhancing liberty and the mere act of opening up government to hear directly from the citizens can only be a good thing. Maybe if people’s opinions start to matter and be listened to (even if not directly acted upon) by government, they’ll take a bit more care in forming them!

  • Barry George 1st Jul '10 - 8:26pm

    Of course there is also the concern that this process will be selectively used to justify the policies they already had in mind.

    See it’s not The Governments fault, its not even ideoligical as many suspect.
    It’s not the LibDem’s fault, regardless of making an ineffective 307 seat Conservative party able to legislate.
    Its YOUR fault , Because you asked for it on the ‘Your Freedom’ web site

  • I love it, purely because it gives Guru Meditation errors when it goes wrong.
    I’m easily pleased perhaps.

    More seriously it does show clearly why the old No 10 Petitions site didn’t allow comments, or user created “skywizard” tags.

  • david goodall 1st Jul '10 - 8:52pm

    I would like to comment on the use of speed cameras . The need to control drivers speed in appropriate areas has my full backing ,however a more practical approach would appease the average law abiding motorist . I travel to work every day [ seven days a week ] setting off at 05.00 am to travel just 9 miles to my place of work . More often than not i encounter no pedestrians and those that i do are usually it would appear to me to be retired people exercising their pets .
    I go through two speed cameras along the main road [A60] one near a school again which has my complete support ,and one near a multi junction . You no doubt can forsee my next comments . Im sure speed cameras could be programmed to activate on a timed basis i.e an hour before the first lesson to half an hour after . Half an hour either side of the dinner time period and finaly half an hour either side of the school closing time . This COMMOM SENSE approach would much endear the political powers to the average motorist .Unless they are an unjust way of raising extra revenue , then an honest addmition would also endear the motorist to the politician .

    My other frustration are obviously traffic lights on the same journey i pass through 12 sets of lights [one way] the countless times i have to stop at 05.00 hours for nothing is annoying to say the least .The lights go to red ,i stop ,no cars ,i sit and pour fumes into the air ,watch all the lights change in sequence until its my turn to move off to repeat more often than not the exact sequence is repeated .Again im all for fraffic control but again i thought there seemed to be an issue with GLOBAL WARMING yet my journey is made quite uneconomical in both fuel and pollution due to unnessary stoppages .
    THESE ISSUES WHEN MULTIPLIED BY MILLIONS OF MOTORISTS OVER AN ANNUAL PERIOD WOULD NO DOUBT SAVE MILLION OF TONNES IN IMMISSIONS .
    THIS CAN ALL BE MANAGED SO MUCH MORE EFFECIENTLY FOR EVERYONES SAKE ,YOU NOW HAVE BEEN EMPOWERED TO GOVERN ,ITS TIME TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE .

  • Hah, I just had a look through the site. It’s both grim and amusing in a Daily Mail/ Guardian/ Youtube comments sort of a way, like an online snapshot of a whole nation’s impotent rage.

  • Site kept crashing when I was trying to access it yesterday – perhaps a little more traffic than they expected!

    I think that this is brilliant – some comments I’ve read have actually complained about the idea of asking the public for their ideas, frankly a stance I simply cannot fathom! Having said that it is so open to abuse that I fear for it’s usefulness in the long run.

    I also think it’s a shame that they didn’t add a section specifically for laws you’d like to see protected. There are plenty of posts for repealing the smoking ban, but no option for not repealing the voting ban. Having noticed any fox hunting yet – but they’ll be along too, perhaps with a few repeal the cock fighting laws…. bear bating….. you name it really.

  • oops – formatting went a bit wonky there didn’t it, sorry!

  • Lorna Wakefield 2nd Jul '10 - 6:08pm

    Amend inheritance tax, raise limit to £750,000 current limit hits to many poorer people. Or in cases of people inheriting there home not an extra property, no tax payable, I have lived here with my mum all my life, 48 yrs, born in house, because of personal circs unable to have any property signed over to me. I could therefore lose my home due to tax bill if mum dies, but its my home, surely thats not fair, law needs to address this sort of grey area. Please it is a great worry to me.

  • Suggestions where the government can save money have been requested, mine is not just generally public employment areas but specifically the Planning Depts of local government. Having over a period of years been trying via two different architects have plans passed for an ordinary extension to my house almost exactly the same as two of my immediate neighbors and many others on my estate rejected, concluded these planners have far to much power, waste to much of other peoples time and money and are totally unaccountable. I have taken plans in for discussion and guidance and replicated their comments in new plans only to find them rejected and later found they denied they gave the guidance. In this way they create work for themselves and argue therefore they are necessary. I hear this same story from lots of people, these unimaginative individuals mostly with no architectural or artistic background cost the applying public a lot of money and absorb an awful lot more in taxes. Surely planning law can be made less convoluted and simplified and scope for decision making broaden, not down to some arcane council policy or some planners whim justifying on such policy.

  • repeal the act of EU accession with immediate effect that would save several billion £’s a year. Repeal the act of daily worship in schools and no teaching of any faith, faiths should fund their own teaching and schools, not the tax payer in a secular society, another saving. Amend the national curriculum and stop all compulsory teaching of a foreign language more savings. Repeal any faith laws that give them rights more than any citizen. Stop all state functions being taken over by any faith. Just a couple of repeals to be going on with I’m sure after some thought there’ll be lots more

  • lesley hutley 6th Jul '10 - 10:30pm

    Please do something to restore motorists faith in the governing body of this country…. at the moment we all feel like cash cows. If we’re not being ripped off ‘legally’ with the many different fines that local authorities and government agencies issue….. there is the BIG problem of cars being clamped on ‘private’ land (shop forecourts etc.,) this is where there is no limit to the fine being issued to the unsuspecting motorists by a bunch of illiterate heavy handed thugs. I thought this was going to be dealt with years ago.
    Also why do we have to be on camera so much nowadays…. if it ever did act as a deterrent its not doing that any longer. Its like burglar alarms – when they first came out everyone responded to them – who listens now !!!

  • Joint Enterprise….. should be changed so that its fair, there should be 3 laws i.e. law 1, a high sentence for the main gang members who do the attack or murder… law 2, smaller sentence for the gang members that carry weapons and are involved…. law 3. a small sentence for those who are present but take no part in the attack or crime….. this way its fair trial but those who do not do the crime are fairly treated, (we all have a choice but some peer pressure can make some gang members have no choice but to be their, or they will be the next victim.) but at the time of the offence if they make the right choice not to fight, attack or get involved they should not be so highly sentenced we should show them they did right, and then more gang members might choose to make the same choice and push weapons away …..

  • Joint enterprise law should be abolished, why should innocent bystanders get a sentence for a crime they didn’t know was going to happen and further more did not play a part in it, it’s disgusting the unjustice system is sending innocent youths to jail for basically nothing, some of them are even proven innocent during trial but that is still not enough. Abolish Joint Enterprise and stop jailing our innocent kids.

  • Licencing laws.
    I live in Newquay, and worked for Whitbread Brewerys as free trade manager up to 1985. The labour government has since made lots of changes which I believe were all mistakes.
    Firstly they introduced door to door licences and took all powers away from the Police.The police were the main obstacle to obtaining a licence, you used to have to prove there was a real need in the area for a licence to be granted. A free trade licence in those days was often thought of as a ticket to wealth.
    Now, particulaly in Newquay, we are over run with clubs and licenced bars where there used to be shops.These outlets are often owned by the same person. Wealth means power and influence and a claim that they’ve created many jobs. That of course is not true as the jobs were there before when they were shops.
    Now what this has done is that town centres have completely changed and yes, created a night time economy that quite frankly, the majority never wanted or wants.This in turn, particularly in Newquay, has overwhelmed the town so much it’s not only just driven shop keepers away it’s driven the family tourist away which was the life blood of the area.
    Now we are told that without this night time econony Newquay would have no trade and it would be a disaster. The few control the majority. I know Newquay is perhaps an extreme case but this is pretty much happening all over the uk.
    This is my second point which needs urgent thought. Twenty Four hour drinking has been a huge mistake in our society. Our culture will never change to that of the French overnight, if ever.
    I believe twenty four hour drinking should be reduced to twelve hours ie between eleven am and eleven pm and, as before, you have to apply to the Police for any extensions.This would give residents a say in what affects them directly and give the police control.
    Now its obvious to me Policing costs would hugely be reduced ,drunk and disorderly behaviour would be reduced and the crime figures would come down and residents would slowly regain their towns as the economy would eventually be redressed.
    Let me give you an example,I have four children now young adults. As I did they want to be out with their mates, males looking for potential girlfriends and girls boyfriends. So how do they go about that now?
    Well they go to the supermarket and get as much cheap booze as they can afford, invite all there friends round to mine,. drink until twelve and then go clubbing at a cost of ten pounds entrance fee and maybe over the next four hours a couple of expensive drinks.
    Leave the clubs at four am pissed and shouting with the rest of them. Some will sprall onto the town beach and shout and scream for an hour and then eventually back through the streets to bed GREAT>
    So what’s the outcome? Well for me and the wife, sleep depravation and for the youngsters hung over and little sleep This is avalable seven days a week in a tourist area.
    However it also means that these young adults go to work having had little sleep and hungover. HARDLY fair on the employer who will clearly not get a fair days work.
    Trust me this is a fact-I have to regularly work alongside these youngsters.Often they just don’t come to work with the excuse they were ill.
    So twenty four hour drinking is not healthy or productive but meanwhile the few get even more wealthy. Why do licences not pay an extra tax for both policing and the following days cleanup? Why should the council tax payer fund their lifestyles?
    My next point -supermarkets providing cheap alcohol are a huge factor to the drink culture we have to endure. Yet again a small minority controlling the majority
    Look at America,you have to be twenty one before you drink. Therefore raise the age to twenty one before you can buy alchol from off licences. In Australia you are not allowed to have alcohol on the streets. It’s an on the spot fine of around thirty dollars. What a good idea. Please, please let’s have our lives back and eventually our towns.
    Good Luck

  • It is time that DEFRA & the RPA are totally reorganised. It is a chaos of ever changing rules.
    The Lisbon treaty should be repealed .
    A sensible alternative to the Human Rights act should be found.

  • Need to abolish the ”At the Chief officers discretion Police Act 1997 Section 113 A & B” which plays havoc on many enhanced CRB checks for jobs such as care workers, nurses, doctors and volunteers with children etc.

    If you have even been arrested for something and not done it, proven you didn’t do it and was released free without charge or further action as it stands NOW the whole incident is written in all its glory on the back page of the enhanced CRB.

    This is wrong and not British justice at all! Its against human rights but the law have been allowed to do this by Labour for several years now. The CRB has just enhanced its affects. The chief constable has his/her choice to include such information, but 9/10 times they will include it for the sake of including it.

    If a chief constable doesn’t include it, they can and often contact the persons employer to inform them either via phone or mail about the information. The employer however must NOT let this slip to the employee who is being checked. Now if this is right than the law in this land has gone to the dogs. Chief police officers sneaking about like snakes in the grass about piddly bits of information on someone that hasn’t even done anything, was innocent and no action even taken.

    Another thing is with these stupid enhanced CRB’s is on many occasions if someone is for example 50+ years old and they did a crime when they were a minor, say 13 years of age and was warned or cautioned for it .. this STILL comes back on the enhanced forms, the back page even though the caution has long since ran its course. Think its 5 years or something like that for a cuation.

    My career has been halted severely because of a crime I did not commit and was released scott free as-well with no action taken. Please coalition government and especially Deputy Prime Minister Mr Nick Clegg sort this out … its not just the VBS that needs reviewing, bit the whole CRB process and what is included on the forms.

  • Florence Farrar 11th Sep '10 - 12:03am

    Yes I am yet another voice against JOINT ENTERPRISE . Its too big an umbrela therefore its being missused and abused by the whole legal system, we must not forget that in this country we are innocent untill PROVEN guilty but as you can see by this law many are assumed guilty, therefore they must be, therefore they are. These are peoples lives we are talking about.Also is prison realy the answer for most people, surely there must be a better way to reabilitate affenders,rather than take from them, make them give something back.

  • joint enterprise is policing on the cheap,it must be ammended as it will never be changed.most people think joint enterprise is used for gangs think on. i believe before a trial starts the judge, cps and the police all get together and decide what outcome they want is this fair and just. joint enterprise is to complicated for jury s to understand.at one trial the jury asked the judge to define serious harm as they didnt understand he said “thats for you to decide “so the outcome was that someone got a 30 year tarrif because they didnt understand .great british justice .

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