The UK Election and the Liberal Democrats Freedom Bill

The UK general election is only a month or so away. If you are from the UK or keeping up with our news you will know that in recent polls conducted it seems that we may be on course for a hung parliament - with no party in overall control.

I am pretty sure that the reason poll after poll shows the country undecided on who they want to win the next election is that, like me, they are totally fed up with the current batch of elected officials and the whole system in general. It seems to makes little difference who actually sits to the right of the Speaker in the House of Commons, as beneath their political colours they are basically all the same, scrapping over well fought centre ground.

Will I vote to keep Labour in power for a fourth term? No. Labour has badly let the country down over the last decade, and although they have invested billions in public services most of that money has been wasted on bureaucracy - and as a country we are basically bankrupt. Added to our current economic woes is the sad fact that they have brought our country into a living version of George Orwell's 1984.

It's not even a joke when I tell people we are already living in a high tech surveillance society, with increased police powers, decreased rights to protest and a massive reduction of legal rights - such as the removal of the right to remain silent, and a DNA database holding millions of innocent peoples' data.

So will I vote for the main opposition party, the Conservative Party? Nope. I could never bring myself to vote Tory, purely out of principle - and it will take a long time before memories of the nasty party, back to basics, Maggie Thatcher, Poll Tax riots, Anti Rave laws and all the posh school boy sleazy antics have been eroded from my memory. Even if they did have the right policies I am sure my stomach would turn and prevent me from ever reaching the polling booth to place a cross for David Cameron.

I have little time for the Conservative party, but if I woke up on the day after the election and heard that they had beaten Labour, would I be happy? Well no, I wouldn't. They wouldn't do anything that differently from Labour. Maybe they would spend a little less and cut services a bit more, but they would definitely keep eroding our civil liberties and spending billions on unnecessary wars, and I don't think I will ever see the day that a British PM dares to tell the USA no in public. Oh what a day of national celebration that would be!

So I guess I am like most of the voters polled recently - very reluctant to vote for either of the main two parties. Whereas over the last few years it had been pretty certain that the Tories would win their lead, in recent opinion polls that lead has dropped dramatically and there are only a few points between them and Gordon Brown's Labour party.

This recent drop in the polls for the Tories has also coincided with recent news reports regarding the financial markets - particularly the currency exchange markets and a recent drop in Sterling. Apparently the City and international markets in general are very concerned over the prospect of a hung parliament. It would seem from certain well placed stories that the markets would prefer a strong government to run the country, with a clear mandate from the people, as this inspires the necessary confidence that we as a country are committed to reducing our massive national deficit.

Why the UK government is a such a special case in this regard I don't know, as most European countries regularly have coalition governments who manage to run their economies with success, including Germany. However, it has been suggested that the Tories are using their buddies in the City to spin this line, to try to drum up support and scare the electorate out of our half-heartedness, in the hope that we might vote Conservative. Hopefully this ploy will have no effect, as if anyone should be trying to decide our country's future it shouldn't be the banksters and wide boy merchants that helped get us in this mess in the first place.

Whether the recent fall in Sterling is actually linked to this fear of a coalition government or not I don't know, but a hung parliament may not be all that bad for the British people. When one looks at the party that would probably hold the balance of power in such a situation - i.e the Liberal Democrats - there seems to be an upside to a hung parliament after all.

The Liberal Democrats are an offshoot of the old Liberal party, which held power regularly eons ago, but which spent the majority of the 20th century on the opposition benches. They have been out of government for a very long time, and until recent times have struggled to pick up the votes that fell between the working class - who naturally voted Labour - and those with money, who voted Tory.

They have regularly received on average around 20% of the national vote in the last few general elections, which means they don't have enough support to win an overall majority. But if (as the polls suggest) a hung parliament is on the cards then they are the most likely beneficiaries of any power sharing coalition, as they would have enough support to make a government, whether it be with Labour or the Tories.

So this could be the one recent election in which they might be able to make a difference - and a vote for the Lib Dems might pack more punch than usual. I have just watched Nick Clegg's speech at their spring conference, and wanted to inform those people that may be undecided about the next election about one of the proposals that the Lib Dem's would introduce if elected, which is a Freedom Bill.

Now, if you haven't heard about this already, the Lib Dem's have promised to introduce a wonderful bill that would repeal all the laws introduced by successive Conservative and Labour governments that have removed many of our ancient and hard won rights and civil liberties, and have combined to make the UK one of most anti-liberal states around. You can read the full text of the freedom bill here but it would do the following:

  • Restore the right to trial by jury and the right to remain silent.
  • Reform the unbalanced extradition treaty with the USA that allows UK citizens to be extradited without prima facie evidence to America, but not the other way round!
  • Amend the RIPA act that allows a multitude of government bodies to use investigatory powers to snoop, bug and spy on us without a warrant.
  • Stop the National Identity Card scheme from being implemented.
  • Repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, which has given the Police stupid amounts of power to stop, search and arrest people suspected of being terrorists - such as tourists photographing historic monuments or people trying to film police committing acts of brutality.
  • Repeal of numerous offences that have been introduced to prevent people from protesting or assembling peacefully.
  • And much much more.

It's only a start, and there are many more laws that need looking at, and much more work to be done in terms of the Internet and the freedom to communicate privately without fear of being logged without your knowledge and without a warrant - however, it's more than any other UK party is doing in terms of civil liberties.

I advise everyone who cares about the high tech police state we are becoming here in the UK read this bill and sign the petition here. Also think about what is likely to change in terms of civil liberties if you vote Labour or Tory at the next election.

The Liberal Democrats may not win the next election outright, but if we are on course for a hung parliament then they could hold the balance of power, and I would hope and urge them to utilise this power to the advantage of all freedom loving people. If they do take part in any coalition government, whether it be with the Labour or Conservative party, then I hope they ensure that as one of the conditions of becoming a partner they get this bill onto the statute books as soon as possible.

Obviously I am living in hope here, and I only have a small portion of faith left that this could happen, as it's very easy to stand on principled positions when you have no chance of ever implementing them. I do hope that the Lib Dems wouldn't throw all their principles away just because they have a real chance of joining the government; however, its the best option we have.

If, like me, you are struggling to decide on who to vote for or whether to vote at all, then I would urge you to read this Freedom Bill and see it as a rare chance to actually grant more power back to the people. Hopefully this election won't be another wasted opportunity to enact some real change in this country.

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Re: The UK Election and the Liberal Democrats Freedom Bill
Posted by johnqpublican (88.96.xx.xx) on Wed 17 Mar 2010 at 14:24 [ Send Message ]

Good analysis!

Speaking as one who has been watching the LibDems of late, there is a good deal of strength to the view that the party would do best with a minority government, rather than a coalition.

The upside of coalition is, basically, Vince in the Treasury. If they don't get that they might as well go home. But to do so, they will have to bargain away 5 years worth of issues power without knowing what things will look like the week the issues arrive; they will become part of a government, and thus harmed by a no confidence vote.

If they do not enter a coalition, and force one of the other parties to form a minority government, then that government must bargain for LibDem votes on every issue, probably on every bill. Each thing they want to do, has to be in a shape the LibDems like, and the process will happen on the floor of the house rather than in the cabinet room. The LibDems lose nothing if a minority government loses a no-confidence vote, because they're still in opposition either way. That's a very strong negotiating position; if we're lucky, it's a very serious power shift towards the yellow wing.

This is why Clegg has been so insistent about saying the party are not interested in coalition, as far as I can tell; it's not an attempt to conceal who he wants to win the election, it's a genuine political strategy which says Britain gets more liberal across the board if the LibDems stick to their guns. Can't argue.

My personal view is that they're the best available option, I like the party on average and I like Clegg&Cable a lot, I'll probably vote for them, but I won't (any time soon) be joining them. I have recently come to the realisation that this is because they are not enough Liberal and too much Democrat for my politics.

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Re: The UK Election and the Liberal Democrats Freedom Bill
Posted by Anonymous (82.24.xx.xx) on Sun 21 Mar 2010 at 14:45
Thanks for saying it. I wholeheartedly agree, and you hit what I'm feeling completely. It's the best for now, and it's nice to have some hope.

I'll be showing that Bill to everyone I know who will be swayed by it.
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