Skip to main content

Trust and Distrust


"Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear" William Ewart Gladstone

The Liberal Democrats on principle oppose secret courts. Our party conference has repeatedly pointed out that no government can be above the law. It is an article of faith that we must oppose any executive authority that seeks to place itself outside the normal rule of law. Nor is this a purely theoretical issue: the information coming out of Libya after the fall of Gadaffi suggests prima facie evidence that agents of the British government sanctioned criminal activity- including torture and even murder- of those the government deemed arbitrarily and often without evidence to be guilty of enmity against the British state. 

The executive can not even give a number for how many such secret trials might take place under the proposed legislation, still less give any assurance as to the integrity of the judicial process without public scrutiny. Even senior members of the security services have expressed scepticism as to the need for secret trials. 

It is not merely Liberal Democrat policy - duly voted for at the last conference- to oppose the establishment of secret courts, it is a basic foundation of Liberal principles, Liberal ideology and Liberal faith.

So why in God's name did only seven Liberal Democrat MPs vote against the establishment of such secret courts last night?

Our Federal Spring conference begins shortly. Some, notably Liberal Democrats against Secret courts, will presumably be asking serious questions of our Parliamentary party. I am not able to attend this year. I will, however, be watching closely. I will not be alone, as the Guardian pointed out in December, this really is a litmus test of Liberal principles.

What is the point of working so hard to get Mike Thornton elected as MP for Eastleigh, if- the very next week- the Liberal Democrats are prepared to abandon a core principle of Liberalism?

I believe in the fundamental value of Liberalism as a political ideology. It is a pretty poor look out when David Davis turns out to be a more genuine liberal, not just than Ken Clarke, but than Nick Clegg, and the bulk of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary party.

It is a very bleak day for liberals of all stripes when those we trust to represent liberal values renege on that trust in the name of political expediency. The Parliamentary party owes the long suffering Liberal Democrat membership at least an explanation and probably an apology.

A Democracy can not compromise its fundamental principles without weakening the very fabric of democracy itself and essentially giving in to its enemies- whether the criminal terrorists we most fear, or the criminal state tyrannies like Putin's Russia. We are better than our enemies only for so long as we maintain our better nature and adhere undaunted to the political, indeed the moral, principles of a liberal democratic state. 

Last night was a vote to weaken those principles and it is a vote that must not go unchallenged.  

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The American National nightmare becomes a global nightmare

It is a basic contention of this blog that Donald J Trump is not fit for office.

A crooked real estate developer with a dubious past and highly questionable finances. he has systematically lied his way into financial or other advantage. His personal qualities include vulgarity, sexual assault allegations and fraudulent statements on almost every subject. 

He lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes.

He has, of course, been under criminal investigation practically since before he took the oath of office. The indictment of some of closest advisers is just the beginning. His track record suggests that in due course there is no action he will not take, whether illegal or unconstitutional in order to derail his own inevitable impeachment and the indictments that must surely follow the successful investigation of Robert Mueller into his connections with Russia.

However, all of that is a matter for the American people. 

It is also a matter for the American people that Trump is cheating…

Cicero ReDux

By Special Request of Baroness Scott and Mark Valladares... Cicero's Songs returns: bigger, longer and uncut.
October 1st marked the half way point of the Estonian Presidency of the European Union.  Perhaps for many people such an anniversary is of passing interest at best.  Yet the conduct of the Estonian Presidency is reinforcing just how forward looking and innovative the most northerly of the Baltic States has become.
Estonia is a country that wants to live in the future, and with its openness and innovation, that future seems a lot closer than almost anywhere else in Europe
It is not that Estonia does not “do” the past: the picturesque cobbled streets of old Tallinn have tourist crowds a-plenty enjoying the mediaeval architecture in an Indian summer of sunshine and blue skies.  The real point is that Estonia refuses to be a prisoner of its past. Lennart Meri, Estonia’s President in the 1990s- who spent years of his childhood in Siberia- once told me that the country had to conc…

Trump and Brexit are the Pearl Harbor and the Fall of Singapore in Russia's Hybrid war against the West.

In December 1941, Imperial Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor. After the subsequent declaration of war, within three days, the Japanese had sunk the British warships, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, and the rapid Japanese attack led to the surrender of Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941 and the fall of Singapore only two months after Pearl Harbor. These were the opening blows in the long war of the Pacific that cost over 30,000,000 lives and was only ended with the detonations above Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"History doesn't often repeat itself, but it rhymes" is an aphorism attributed to Mark Twain, and in a way it seems quite appropriate when we survey the current scene. 

In 1941, Imperial Japan, knowing its own weakness, chose a non-conventional form of war, the surprise attack. Since the end of his first Presidential term, Vladimir Putin, knowing Russia's weakness, has also chosen non-conventional ways to promote his domestic powe…