Freedom, liberty and justice. They roll off the tongue so easily, yet they are often taken for granted in this day and age and, for the majority, they are not even noticed. Yet as Ronald Reagan once said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same”.
So when I saw the Conservative government’s ‘watered down’ plans for the Investigatory Powers Bill or more aptly the ‘Snooper’s Charter’, I became immediately concerned. Watered down or not, these plans are a clear infringement of personal liberty. Previous generations have fought for the right to be left alone by the government, so what right does she or anyone have to to hack into and bug computers and phones? None. It’s worrying when many of the MPs in Parliament will acquiesce so easily, so lazily, and end up voting for it.
I entered politics because I wanted to fight and campaign against the ongoing suppression of our nation’s freedoms from the European Union, yet today we see the vital freedom of privacy from the state’s prying eyes is being undermined and disregarded by our own UK government.
No longer should any Parliamentarian who believes in personal freedom and liberty stand by on this disgraceful bill. No longer should the electorate of the UK accept that the government can hack into what we’re doing at any time. No longer should people be suspected guilt before hacking proves our innocence.
I am not alone in being concerned. Apple CEO, Tim Cook came out and said, these plans could have “very dire consequences”. I wholeheartedly support him. We all want a safer country and to crack down on terrorism, but as Benjamin Franklin said: “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
Never have truer words been spoken. Now is not the time to surrender our freedom, as this is what separates us from the likes Isis and co. We believe in freedom.
The arguments for freedom will always have opponents who use language to discredit it. Like Richard Graham MP, who was addressing the House of Commons on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, when he said that “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”. Those were the exact words of former German propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels.
Now I am not suggesting that Mr Graham is anyway to be likened to the former propaganda minister at all, but it is worrying when he is uttering the same words in defence of a UK Act of Parliament of a man that hated freedom. Clearly those that use the nothing to hide phrase either do not recall the basis of the statement or havent cared to research it.
I say, if you’ve got nothing to hide then why does the state need to see? There is no need. In the year we are celebrating several great historical events including the Magna Carta and the battle of Britain, should we be handing away our freedoms to become a surveillance state? I think not. These events first laid down the principles we live by today, now is not the time to waiver from these principles.
Now is the time to stand tall against the statist plans of Theresa May. The one thing I will credit Nick Clegg on (there isn’t much) is his refusal to budge on this dangerous idea of state surveillance. The worry is now that with no counterbalance we could actually see this come into force.
I do hold a glimmer of hope that we can maybe see some principled MPs stand up and vote down this awful idea.
It becomes a very slippery slope once something like this comes in. That’s not a slope I want to go down any time soon. I shall be watching this debate intensely as it goes through the Commons as time goes on. I do call on every MP to really read and consider what they’d be voting for before they vote on this
This article was first published in Huffpost Blog in 2015