Nick’s privacy pledge: only the Lib Dems will “bring an end to the endless snooping on innocent people”

Nick Clegg will be speaking tonight at the 20th annivesary celebrations of human rights group, Privacy International, and will stress the importance of this coming general election as an opportunity to win back privacy.

Here are some extracts from his speech:

Labour has spent 13 years trampling over people’s privacy. From allowing children’s fingerprints to be taken at school without their parents’ consent; to making us a world leader in CCTV; to wasting vast sums of taxpayers’ money on giant databases that hoard our personal details. And now we hear that ministers want pensioners to swap their bus passes for ID cards.

“The Government’s staggering record on losing private data – leaving it in pub car parks and on commuter trains – just makes matters worse.

“And there’s an even bigger issue at stake: Labour’s flagrant disregard for our privacy flies in the face of hard won British liberty. It betrays a deep distrust of the British people, as well as an obsession with controlling every aspect of everyday life from Whitehall.

“Those same reflexes underpin this Government’s obsession with law-making. Since 1997 they have flooded the statute books with nearly 4,300 new ways of making us criminals. Some of them are completely bizarre, like ‘disturbing a pack of eggs when directed not to by an authorised officer’, and ‘causing a nuclear explosion’, as if we needed a new law for that. 

“And where do all these new laws get us? Only one in a hundred crimes ends in a conviction in court.

“The Conservatives talk a good game on privacy, but scratch beneath the surface and it’s clear they can’t be trusted to roll back Labour’s surveillance state. Just look at their plans to make it even easier for the police to watch and record people getting on with their daily lives, all in the name of cutting red tape.

“Only the Liberal Democrats will bring an end to the endless snooping on innocent people.”

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  • Anthony Aloysius St 18th Mar '10 - 8:19pm

    It’s good that Nick Clegg is saying this.

    The only snag is that if you Google
    you’ll see about as many pages pro CCTV as anti.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 18th Mar '10 - 9:23pm


    “The argument that all CCTV is bad and infringes on our privacy is a pretty weak one.”

    Well, Nick Clegg is the one accusing the government of “making us a world leader in CCTV”. I don’t suppose he intends that as a compliment!

  • Anthony Aloysius St 18th Mar '10 - 9:58pm

    So presumably you think Clegg _did_ mean it as a compliment to the government? Or did he just choose his words spectacularly badly?

  • CCTV works if it’s used correctly. Putting it on tube stations, for example, is perfectly reasonable. But the fact that it’s used so extensively and just installed wherever, whenever for no peculiar reason negates its positives.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 19th Mar '10 - 7:48am

    So having made Britain “a world leader in CCTV” wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing?

  • Foregone Conclusion 19th Mar '10 - 11:47am

    I think you’re being rather obtuse here, Anthony. Clegg is not opposing security cameras per se, but rather our (over)extensive use of them, and our general lack of caution when we put them up. Our default setting for a public space seems to be to put up CCTV – I think his argument is that we shouldn’t think that way.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 19th Mar '10 - 12:11pm

    “I think you’re being rather obtuse here, Anthony.”

    Name-calling already? Well, I suppose it’s par for the course.

    As for understanding what’s going on, I understand it perfectly well. No doubt Nick Clegg is aware that this is a complex issue, and does see the merits of particular CCTV schemes. But when it comes to fashioning a sound-bite, as so often, subtlety goes out of the window and we end up with a cheap bit of knocking copy that makes the party look thoroughly hypocritical and/or its leader look like a bit of an idiot.

  • Foregone Conclusion 19th Mar '10 - 12:47pm

    Sorry, I meant to say: deliberately obtuse. I see now that’s not the case: you choose to see Clegg as saying in his soundbite that he absolutely opposes, I see a little more nuance. It would be nice if we could find the text of the rest of the speech online to settle it, but unfortunately it’s not available in more detPerhaps ail. you could give Nick the benefit of the doubt?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 19th Mar '10 - 2:31pm

    I’m saying, basically, that it’s wrong and misleading to write a speech in such a way that it makes it look as though the party thinks that CCTV is a bad thing, when it has demonstrably supported CCTV on many occasions.

    If that’s what people round here think of as a “nuance”, I shudder to think of the enormities that are going to be perpetrated in the next few weeks.

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