Good news on civil liberties from the Daily Mail

Wednesday’s front page:

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  • The Times tomorrow – – says “Ministers forced into secrecy climbdown: U-turns on trials and internet surveillance”

  • Adam Bernard 3rd Apr '12 - 11:13pm

    These things have a horrible way of returning from the dead. This one needs to be staked through the heart and buried at a crossroads.

  • Paul McKeown 3rd Apr '12 - 11:52pm

    “This one needs to be staked through the heart and buried at a crossroads.”

    It’s the Home Office. The monster will be filed away in an underground crypt until the next government comes in, then the lid will slide across, noisily disturbing the night and snapping great strands of cobweb, wolves will howl again, the foul and the undead will walk once more amongst the living…

  • Adam Bernard 4th Apr '12 - 12:11am

    I fear you’re right. But at least we can try for “not on our watch”.

  • James Sandbach 4th Apr '12 - 1:07am

    It simply amazes me that as a civil liberties party we scarcely give a thought to what goes on in our civil courts and tribunals system every day, and how bullied people are within the justice system – eg employment and social security tribunals, as well as debt procedings for the county courts, and worst of all the dreadfull bullying in the family courts where judges decide whether mummy or daddy is a better parent. Yet our Party, and our Justice Minister has just taken a Bill though Parliament which abolishes all legal aid and assistance in all these cases. The same Bill creates all sorts of new criminal offences such as squatting. We cannot claim to be a party of civil liberties any longer.

  • Goodness me, in their editorial ( the Daily Mail actually praises Nick Clegg… and praises him for being liberal.

  • Not A Lawyer 4th Apr '12 - 6:11am

    James – you keep banging that drum, and I know you have a professional interest but most ordinary Liberals won’t see funding wasteful legal aid for family courts or, worse, supporting “squatters’ rights” as fundamental to the civil liberties agenda.

  • Christian De Feo 4th Apr '12 - 6:40am

    Thank goodness. Had this been allowed to stand, it would have been time to at least hang up the “Liberal” portion of the party’s monicker.

  • Keith Browning 4th Apr '12 - 9:08am

    This attempt by the people of the ‘dark arts’ to turn Britain into an old style Communist regime seems incredible. What is going on?

    Perhaps they are the ‘love children’ of this woman who still has no regrets what she did to half of Germany.

    Margot Honecker – complaining about her miserly persion.

  • Ken clarkes just been on bbc news and he seems certain that this will go ahead and the Internet snoopers charter from Teresa may,civil liberties is the last principle the LD’s haven’t sold out on and I hope they make a stand on this and not cave in to the tories,the last 2 years though don’t give me much confidence

  • I have far more faith in Tory backbenchers (led by David Davis) than Clegg. Three days ago Davis made his public stand; I note Nick kept quiet(apart from promising vague ‘safeguards’) until the bandwagon was rollin.g

  • Jayne Mansfield 4th Apr '12 - 12:42pm

    @ Jason – Sadly, you are not the only one to note and mention that.

  • Tom Papworth 4th Apr '12 - 12:47pm

    I don’t know what is weirder: Daily Mail being sound on civil liberties or Daily Mail being nice to Clegg.

    @Adam Bernard: Funny and true. You know that this one was dug up by the mandarins as soon as the New Labour dust had settled (and I think I know which mandarin!).

    @James Sandbach: To suggest that we have ignored “the dreadfull bullying in the family courts” is a little unfair on John Hemming, who really led the charge on this.

    @Jason: Talking of being a little unfair, the comparison between Clegg and Davis misses a crucial point. Backbenchers are supposed to speak out; Cabinet Ministers are supposed to speak “in”, discussing with colleagues and trying to shift the government in the right direction without publicly exposing a rift. If the government “U-turns”, however, you can bet your bottom dollar it will be because of what Clegg said around the Cabinet table and not what Davis said to The Sun.

    Having said that, it will be a shame if the gap between this breaking and it being reversed is too short for us to benefit from taking a stand.

  • James Sandbach 4th Apr '12 - 1:09pm

    @notalawyer – I think there are few more fundemantal issues than when the state can deny you access to your children, or when the state treats a homeless person as criminal for seeking shelter in an empty building, or when when the police bang you up in a cell – possibly on false charges- and your access to advice on your rights is subjected to a civil servant’s “interests of justice’ test, or when the odds in civil courts and tribunals are stacked so far against you – and the legal balance of power and arms between you and the state in procedings so lopsided – that just outcomes are impossible (and this is the problem with the proposed non-disclosure evidence rules & closed procedures) ….

    The point is that civil liberties are indivisable, so Liberals need to be eternally vigilant about protecting all of them; it’s about a whole lot more than your’s or my right to surf and communicate online without risk of state interference. Once any set of established and often hard fought for liberties, or the rights protections for any particular group (especially the poorest and most vulnerable or marginalised) are de-prioritised as somehow less fundamental or important, you are already on a slippery slope to all civil liberties being put at risk. As Liberals we used to all sing from the same song sheet on civil liberties – now in coalition we prefer to cherry-pick!

  • Keith Browning 4th Apr '12 - 3:24pm

    I think there is a solution that would keep everyone happy.

    Before the first of several divorce acts in the 1850s, every divorce could only be granted by an individual Act of Parliament. The law was then gradually changed over the next 150 years to be what it is today.

    We could treat these high profile security cases in the same way as the pre 1850 Divorce laws. We could pass a law that gave parliament the chance to vote on each individual case, and hold a secret court, but they could only be authorised where there was a majority vote by MPs. Therefore, each of these four or five exceptional cases that are frequently mentioned by Cameron and his MI5 chums would be subject to individual scrutiny. Seems simple, seems obvious. What is the problem?

  • Not A Lawyer 4th Apr '12 - 8:09pm

    James Sandbach – so the answer is obviously to give more money to lawyers 🙄

  • Tom PapworthApr 04 – 12:47 pm…………[email protected]: Talking of being a little unfair, the comparison between Clegg and Davis misses a crucial point. Backbenchers are supposed to speak out; Cabinet Ministers are supposed to speak “in”, discussing with colleagues and trying to shift the government in the right direction without publicly exposing a rift. If the government “U-turns”, however, you can bet your bottom dollar it will be because of what Clegg said around the Cabinet table and not what Davis said to The Sun……….

    That argument has, as my mother might have said, “Whiskers on it”. Clegg seemed to have no problem ‘going public’ on Cameron’s EU spat! .
    As for this proposal, Davis’s ‘Spotlight’ will have caused far more angst than any ‘insider’ conversations. Such proposals wither when publicity shines a light into them.

  • James Sandbach 4th Apr '12 - 11:01pm

    @notalwayer – re ‘more money for lawers’ – that isn’t actually what I said (and incidently I’m not a practicing lawyer at the moment and I have never been paid a penny myself from legal aid, though I am a campaigner on these issues) but yes those organisations working on behalf of the poorest people caught up in the wrong side of the justice system do need the resources to do the job, unless we’re expecting libdem councillors to do this level of work for free as part of their ordinary casework, which I think would be unfair on them.. a very large proportion of the legal aid cuts cuts fall on ‘social welfare law’ – that’s services not provided by lawyers at all but rather by caseworkers in CABx etc; the non-profit advice sector will loose 77% of it’s legal aid income (check the Government Impact Assesments)

    My complaint about the legal aid cuts is not that they are hapenning, but rather that they have not been fairly or evenly distributed across the legal aid sector – it will still be quite possible after the reforms for a top QC to earn over £1 million from high cost criminal defence work – but social welfare law services which are high volume but low cost (under £200 per case) won’t exist as they are being taken out of the legal aid system altogether

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