Clegg’s big shake-up gets the media excited

The media is getting excited about the coalition government’s plans to reform our politics and laws, and  they’re mostly seeing it as Nick Clegg’s plan. Nick’s making a speech on the subject later today – here’s how its being trailed.

BBC

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg will pledge the “biggest shake-up of our democracy” in 178 years later as he expands on plans for political reform.

The Independent headline is “Clegg makes his bid for a place in history” and say that Nick will go for a big bang, rather than a piecemeal approach:

* scrapping the identity card scheme and second generation biometric passports;
* removing limits on the rights to peaceful protest;
* a bonfire of unnecessary laws;
* a block on pointless new criminal offences;
* internet and email records not to be held without reason;
* closed-circuit television to be properly regulated;
* new controls over the DNA database, such as on the storage of innocent people’s DNA;
* axeing the ContactPoint children’s database;
* schools will not take children’s fingerprints without asking for parental consent;
* reviewing the libel laws to protect freedom of speech.

“Nick Clegg: tell us the laws that you want scrapped” says the Telegraph

The public will be asked what laws they want ripped up, in far-reaching reforms designed to put back “faith in politics”, the Deputy Prime Minister will say.

The reordering of power will sweep away Labour legislation and new criminal offences deemed to have eroded personal freedom.

If Clegg really does manage to push these changes through, it will surely be a massive achievement both for the Lib Dems and the coalition government as a whole.

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38 Comments

  • Andrew Suffield 19th May '10 - 10:18am

    Why do people who are so fundamentally terrified by civil liberty even come here?

  • What they appear to give with one hand they take away with the other:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/may/19/police-power-to-charge-restored

    Do we need anymore proof that this is a coalition of two faces and two minds?

    It is a peculiarly British notion that an Identity Card is somehow an affront to civil liberties, a view not shared in many other democracies around the world.

    It is likely that without the second generation biometric passports travel to certain countries could be made harder and/or restricted; so again I’m not sure that is in the interests of civil liberties either.

    Some changes regarding the right to protest, CCTV regulation and the DNA database sound reasonable at face value; I will wait to see the actual proposals.

    It will be interesting to see what this ‘bonfire of the vanities’ should include. The true test of any measures proposed will be if they are really in the interest of civil liberties; or an attempt to roll back the state and/or reduce spending.

  • Any chance of repealing the “Laws” against photographing certain buildings & employees ?

  • @Kehaar

    The removal of the powers of the police to decide on prosecution was done precisely because it was not always exercised responsibly. Many prosecutions were brought by the police regardless of any legal basis for doing so. I’m not saying they were acting in bad faith, rather that they were not best placed to make a decision on the merits of prosecution. It is also understandable that after their investigative work to ‘solve’ a case they would have a vested interest in prosecution; regardless of whether there is a legal basis for it.

    I think many lawyers see themselves as hierophants of civil liberties.

    The decision to remove police power of prosecution was imho one of the few enhancements to civil liberties introduced by Labour.

  • Steve – The police should have the power to charge suspects and not have to refer to the CPS all of the time. Unfortunately the CPS is inherrently more political and you see many cases where the decision to prosecute or not is politically driven. wha is happening in schools is a priime example, there is a case going on in court at the moment were a teacher with 30 years exemplary service is charged with ABH over a prit stick catching a pupils thumb, do you think that would have ended up in court if the decision to prosecute was down to the police, no, common sense would have prevailed. Another side to this is that some parents are actively pushing for the teachers to be prosecuted, not to protect their children but because they see the possiblity of compensation if the teacher/local authority is found guilty. Common sense must prevail to end these politically motivated prosecutions that are not in the public interests, can be dealt with out of court and prevent draining of precious money and resources and will stop feeding the compensation culture that benefits no one but the abulance chasing lawyers.

  • I want the smoking ban in public places repealed. A huge infringement of civil liberties. Wonder how the health fascists would repond to that?

  • @Geoff

    I don’t know if you have a vested interest in this case or not. However the press reports I have read suggest there may be a case for the teacher to answer. It is certainly not as clear cut as your comment suggests.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1279114/Teacher-Lynda-May-charged-Pritt-Stick-assault-pupil.html

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/7733336/Art-teacher-assaulted-badly-behaved-pupil-with-tube-of-Pritt-stick.html

    In any event this case relates to an alleged criminal offence, not “the compensation culture that benefits no one but the ambulance chasing lawyers.”

    Regarding your comment

    “do you think that would have ended up in court if the decision to prosecute was down to the police, no, common sense would have prevailed.”

    Well, the police had to make a charging decision and in the first instance would have followed procedure in referring to the CPS.

    http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=3&ved=0CCUQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hampshire.police.uk%2FNR%2Frdonlyres%2FC16DC2C8-8477-4B2C-81CD-4D9825C58B3A%2F0%2F09425.pdf&rct=j&q=referral+to+the+cps&ei=LMHzS8GTJN-hsQba2pCADA&usg=AFQjCNEvIz_e4NViYULe9VBhlbYSNFBsIA

    It is possible they could have made a decision not to charge, is it not?

  • Kehaar – We do have the odd one or two that need to o to court (the dumbell one springs to mind) but the overwhelming majority are thrown out or found not guilty, why is always presumed that the teacher was about to fall off the edge and commit mass murder with a prit stick.

  • Steve – I can quite categorically state that I do not have a vested interest in the case, I just brought this one up as an example, I am not a teacher but I do not understand why things like this cannot be handled in a better way, disciplinary, suspension, sacking, counselling, retraining. Why end up in court on criminal charges. It is my opinion that many cases are politically motivated and not based on interests of the puvblic.

  • Less CCTV, fewer police powers?: Going to look forward to Lib Dems trying to sell that in urban areas.

  • Terry Gilbert 19th May '10 - 2:05pm

    If successful, the plan to abolish the unelected Lords, and replace them with a New Chamber elected by STV, will in my view be up there with the Great Reform Act of 1832. It will mean that no party interest can ever again dominate Parliament on a minority of the vote. I wish Clegg and his friends luck against the forces of reaction within the new Government, and on their (Tory) backbenches.

  • The Lords definitely needs reforming but how will they abolish it, especially when they they are going to appoint about another 150 of them, they will fight it all the way.
    What would the new house be called, the Senate? – no thanks. the upper house? – then the members would be MUP’s (Member of Upper Parliament)

  • Andrea Gill 19th May '10 - 2:26pm

    Geoff – Clegg did say at the speech today he wants to reform the House of Lords, not stuff it.

  • It is a shame that still no one dares mention the real (albeit superficial) cherry on the reform cake. That of the abolition of those born into places of constitutional supremacy.

    It will be quite something if it happens, that we may have a reformed and functional political architecture, presided over by a relic of the pre-history of democracy.

  • “I want the smoking ban in public places repealed. A huge infringement of civil liberties.”

    I agree with Mack.

  • RCM I certainly believe you should have the right to not have the NHS pay for the treatment of your smoking-related diseases.

  • Very good point Kehaar. Deny civil liberties to those engaged in lawful activity, i.e. smokers, but defend the civil liberties of those engaged in illegal activities, i.e terrorists. A paradigm of why repeal of unpopular laws by Cleggiscite would be to open a huge can of worms.

  • Andrew Suffield 19th May '10 - 4:13pm

    I want the smoking ban in public places repealed. A huge infringement of civil liberties. Wonder how the health fascists would repond to that?

    I would be happy to see the blanket smoking ban repealed if it came along with the criminalisation of causing harm by subjecting others to your smoke emissions (same as with all other forms of air pollution – there’s no reason why smokers should get a free pass here, nobody else does – if you were standing around spraying asbestos into a bus stop then you’d be looking at hefty fines and jail time). So effectively, smoking in public places would be okay unless it harms others, which it usually does if others are present.

    (Also add in routine littering prosecution for smokers who drop their cigarette butts on the ground)

    While you’re at it, I’d also like to see the classification of drugs, including tobacco, realigned on the basis of actual harm caused. That means either legalising quite a lot of controlled substances, or jailing people for tobacco possession – pick one.

    I am a British citizen who, for good or bad, will be affected by the decisions your Party takes.

    And instead of talking to your MP or to any decision-making bodies within the party, you troll discussion boards frequented by their supporters who aren’t actually making the decisions. It’s sad that you’re so filled with hate that you can’t even do anything productive, but just lash out this way. It also means nobody’s going to pay much attention.

    (Guys, quit feeding the troll, eh? When somebody comes here proclaiming that everything you’ve been campaigning against is a good thing, he’s just trying to start an argument)

    Any chance of repealing the “Laws” against photographing certain buildings & employees ?

    Not really, because those laws don’t exist. It’s just a handful of police officers making stuff up to bully people with, despite clear instructions from the government and their own superiors to cut it out.

    If you ever have the misfortune of encountering one, insist on going to the police station and filing a complaint, right then, and don’t let them talk you out of it. They only reason they are still police officers is because people comply quietly instead of filing complaints. The existing systems are quite effective at dealing with these people (disobeying direct instructions plus abuse of power to bully the public equals fired), but the public aren’t very good at doing their part of telling anybody that it happened, so they get away with it. There’s not much more the government can do here.

  • Colin W, what did I say that made you think that I smoke?

    By the way, I know smokers who would be perfectly happy to either pay a tax on their smoking supplies in order to pay for healthcare services that might be required as a consequence, enough to cover more than just their own needs, or choose an opt out of NHS healthcare for certain conditions that they may develop. In either scenario their civil liberties are covered, which is good enough for me, but I think the first option is more helpful to more people.

  • Andrew Suffield,

    “So effectively, smoking in public places would be okay unless it harms others, which it usually does if others are present.”

    Oh I did not mean to imply that anybody should be forced into a room with smokers against their will, that would be very rude. It was the blanket smoking ban as it is that I was objecting to, especially when it is a private business premises, for example.

    “(Also add in routine littering prosecution for smokers who drop their cigarette butts on the ground)”

    Yes, that is fine, especially if it is a fine and used to pay for healthcare.

    “While you’re at it, I’d also like to see the classification of drugs, including tobacco, realigned on the basis of actual harm caused. That means either legalising quite a lot of controlled substances, or jailing people for tobacco possession – pick one.”

    I pick the former, and take a tax for those to pay for healthcare or education too. I think there would be a lot of difficulty getting an accurate and objective assessment of the harm caused though.

  • We are all victims of our lifestyle and consequently develop the attendant diseases, including those killjoys who want to ban everything. I am perfectly happy that my contributions to the Health Service indiscriminately provide humane care and treatment to those who fall victim to their dangerous lifestyles such as drinkers, motorcyclists, motorists, people who have unsafe sex, rock climbers, potholers, smokers and many others. That’s what the NHS is for. Banning healthcare to everybody who needs it would, I’m sure, be a radical way of diminishing the country’s deficit but not one that would receive universal approval. Smokers contribute huge amounts to the Treasury: all they ask is for some consideration. What happened to the British reputation for compromise? Why can’t publicans, restauranteurs etc. have the option to designate themselves as smoking only premises? Or why can’t rooms with adequate ventilation be set aside for smokers in their premises? Non smokers would not then be affected. Pubs are closing at an alarming rate because smokers would rather stay at home than have to stand outside during the winter in rain, snow and freezing conditions just because they want a smoke with their drink. Most of the smokers I know, by the way, are not litter louts, they use ashtrays. Unlike spraying asbestos at a bus stop, smoking is legal. Persecuting people for a legal activity is fascism. If Clegg is truly serious about civil liberties he will repeal this intolerant ban or make smoking illegal and forfeit the gain to the exchequer. Then at least the law would be consistent.

  • “What happened to the British reputation for compromise?”

    I think it just took over the Government, Mack. (Smile).

  • Paul McKeown 20th May '10 - 12:43pm

    Here we were, talking about reforms to increase the franchise (notably allowing the people to elect the Lords) and some trolls hijack the discussion, so that it disappears down some rathole about smoking, never to resurface. Ridiculous.

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