Friday, July 02, 2010

Your Freedom and Nick Clegg - and my admission to a criminal past

"Be demanding about your liberty. Be insistent about your rights. This is your chance to have your say."

So says Nick Clegg in the video launching the Government's Your Freedom website in which citizens are asked for their ideas to increase their freedom and reduce state intervention. Ahead of the Freedom Bill (or Great Repeal Bill if you're a Tory), they are looking for laws to get rid of. Here's what Nick said.

Just to be contrary, my suggestion was actually a law to retain. I suspect that tobacco companies and smokers' organisations will be getting as many of their supporters as possible to call for an end to the smoking ban. In my view, this is one of the most liberating laws ever passed. I am so glad I am not forced to breathe in other people's toxic fumes any more. To me, the balance of smokers' and others' liberties is best maintained by keeping this Bill. So if you agree with me, please comment and rate my suggestion here. I just felt it was important to have a positive call to retain it to balance the inevitable calls for its repeal. I spoke in favour of the ban at the Scottish Conference where it was adopted as Scottish Liberal Democrat policy. At the time, I said that if this was about banning smoking, then I'd be the first to take it up again as a form of protest. It's not just about smokers, though. Mill's Harm Principle applies and so in my view the maintenance of the ban is essential.

The other obvious things are in there - repeal of the deeply illiberal Digital Economy Act and its replacement with something better, getting rid of the obscenity laws, libel reform. Others have suggested that we can't really be free until there is one form of marriage applicable to everyone - and I quite agree. JaeKay's propoosal got 5 stars from me.

Given Labour's attitude of opposing absolutely everything the Government does, even if it was in their own manifesto, I fully expect to see them mount a campaign to keep the law that says you have to report it if you see a grey squirrel in your garden which Nick highlighted yesterday on the BBC. This is a law, I have to confess, I have breached many, many times. Maybe I shouldn't have written that without finding out what the penalty is.............

Seriously, though, Nick's campaign is there to redress the balance in the relationship between the citizen and the State. If you want to read his whole speech from yesterday, you can do so here. I'm sure that there will be some excellent ideas put forward. I like this consulting of real people about things, which he's also doing to ask public service workers to suggest ways savings can be made.

I also suspect Dr Pack will be annoyed that the search engine optimisation on this site isn't that great - it took me a while to find it.

And finally, can I suggest that all you Lib Dem campaigners put a Your Freedom box on Focus leaflets this Summer. Not everyone has access to the internet and they shouldn't be denied the chance to participate in this.

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