Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Liberty Fringe 2010: A New Direction for Labour and Liberty

Liberty was one of the issues that stood high in the expectations of the people of Britain as ‘new’ Labour took power in 1997. Unfortunately, the events of September 11 2001 smeared the direction of Labour.

Diane Abbott MP
While Labour was achieving great feats in the Human Rights sphere, it was also at the same time, fighting a huge war on the other side trampling on the liberty of the people. And this was no less evidenced than in the case of accused terrorists. It was this particular same issue that was to stain the reputation of ‘new’ Labour.

That was not the hole in the wall, the other spilt milk was the way young black men were treated by the police; the suspicions, the unreasonable harassment and endless  series of search and near pro-rogueing. These aspects planted a very rigid and elusive relationship between communities, individuals and for the first time since modern civil liberties, ethnic minority people of Great Britain felt like being denied renting homes jobs, services again due to their colour. But this time, it was a different sort of fight. It was worse than the signage of the 1960s  ‘Room for rent – Not for blacks or Coloured people’ because it was subtle and
indirect.

So at Labour conference, Liberty is here to discuss these issues again. Is Labour ready to confront this ghostly skeleton or would Labour run forever from it? 

Diane Abbott, the great public speaker, Member of Parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, the awesome campaigner of civil liberties is here to respond. Diane just announced this morning that she will stand for the shadow cabinet and it gives hope that being part of the shadow cabinet gives the opportunity for her to take this course further into the boardroom.

Compared to Ed Miliband’s speech earlier this afternoon, Diane argues that Labour has to identify with the core people it is supposed to represent: the weak, the oppressed of the society, the poor ordinary people. 

Going back to Diane’s speech in the House of Commons on the issue of 42 days detention has became a resurrection of the live of British liberty. It revived the hope and sense of responsibility that MPs and parliament has, hence they stood up and voted against detention bill. What was so sincere in that speech, is not that Diane upheld our civil liberties, but that she was not swayed by promised compensation nor was she overtaken by party loyalty or a Prime Minister in difficulty [at the time].

Shami Chakrabarti - Director, Liberty
Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty stresses that “this will be a testing time for the Labour party as a protest movement… The Labour party has a massive responsibility now more than ever not just here in Britain but also out there in Europe and the wider world” to make an impact.

Issues spread from immigration, asylum and refugee, security (DNA & CCTV), equality and taxation. And for Ms. Chakrabarti of Liberty, Labour has to show its real sense of support now in upholding these issues which is Labour’s core mission.

Will Labour do this? Time shall tell.

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