LibLink: Nick Thornsby – The Justice and Security Bill is the Liberal Democrats’ biggest challenge yet

Our Nick Thornsby has been writing about the Justice and Security Bill over at the Guardian’s Comment is Free site.

First of all, he gives his view about why this Bill is bad news for anyone who is committed to civil liberties:

It is difficult to comprehend just how fundamental a departure from centuries-old principles this would be. The right to see and hear the evidence of the other side, and subsequently to challenge the veracity or utility of that evidence, forms the basis of our entire civil justice system. The prospect, too, of claimants being told that they have lost their case but not being given any reasons why should send a chill through any believers in fair, open justice.

He goes on to describe the strength of opposition within the Liberal Democrats and the consequences should Liberal Democrats push this Bill through against the strongly expressed wishes of the membership:

…the party is unanimously, vociferously pro-civil liberties. Liberal Democrats see a commitment not just to protecting our current freedoms but also to extending them as a key part of their political identity, and therefore crucial to the party’s beliefs.

This means two things. First, that room for compromise is limited: a bill that threatens long-standing freedoms is a bad bill, no matter the degree. And second, it means any acceptance by the parliamentary party of a bill opposed by members will be met with a backlash the likes of which the current leadership has not yet experienced. The party’s democratic structure places an awful lot of power in the hands of a united, well-organised party membership.

You can read the rest of the article in full here. I’m sure Nick wouldn’t mind if I also added in a link to the Liberal Democrats against Secret Courts website. If you agree with the points he has made, there is a petition already backed by almost 600 party members which you can sign here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Cllr Colin Strong 22nd Nov '12 - 5:36pm

    I have made up my mind that unless Nick Clegg and the MPs vote against Secret Courts I shall leave the party.

    There can be no compromise over this central core issue of civil liberties. If a liberal party can compromise on this issue they can clearly compromise on any issue.

    Until that vote I shall be seeking ways to ask Nick Clegg to pull back from the brink.

  • John Broggio 22nd Nov '12 - 7:34pm

    After the grandstanding & collapses over tuition fees & privatising the NHS, I fear I know exactly what the LD parliamentary party will do after Cameron speaks sternly to them about losing ministerial cars.

  • Andrew Suffield 22nd Nov '12 - 11:09pm

    after Cameron speaks sternly to them about losing ministerial cars.

    What would he say? That he’s upset about how LD pressure forced him to scrap ministerial cars at the start of this government?

  • David Evans 23rd Nov '12 - 4:04am

    Cllr Colin Strong – Don’t get mad. Stay and get even.

  • @David I do follow the get mad stay and get even philosophy, but when you see that a subject which used to be at the heart and soul of members has garnered all of four comments after a day one has to wonder whether there are many people left to join in with you..

  • Andrew Suffield 23rd Nov '12 - 8:05am

    but when you see that a subject which used to be at the heart and soul of members has garnered all of four comments after a day

    There have been three articles on this topic in that time, and this is the least interesting of them.

  • Andrew

    I find your attitude on this bill difficult to fathom. On another thread you questioned the need to take an “aggressive” stand against the bill, because “If the bill just quietly never shows up in the Commons, or it does show up with part 2 mysteriously absent, then we’ve won and the conference motion has been followed to the letter.”

    Well, now it’s clear that the bill is going to show up in the Commons, and that secret courts are still going to be part of it, as Lib Dem peers voted by a large majority to retain them. Do you think now that some action is called for? Or do you actually support secret courts (I have asked you that twice, and both times you’ve avoided answering).

  • Martin Pierce 23rd Nov '12 - 3:57pm

    I’m one of the 172 LDs who put their name to the Times letter earlier this week – but I’m struggling to work out why we’re having to have this debate at all. Why is it not the case that Nick and the Parliamentary Party have just said ‘NO’ to Cameron et al on this one. Without the LD votes there isn’t a majority (unless Labour care to support it) and so that would be that – wouldn’t it? And indeed it wouldn’t even come to a vote as knowing that the there wouldn’t be a majority, it wouldn’t even get tabled. So why is it already in the Lords – presumably that means our 57 MPs have trooped through in favour?

  • “So why is it already in the Lords – presumably that means our 57 MPs have trooped through in favour?”

    I made the same assumption, but unusually this bill started in the Lords.

  • Here’s a link to an article attacking the proposals for secret courts by Donald Campbell, a former Lib Dem press officer:

  • Here’s a leader in today’s Times, concluding that the government should not proceed with the bill, courtesy of the ‘Liberal Democrats against Secret Courts’ website:

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