National and Local politics from a Liberal Democrat from Gillingham, Kent
Friday, 3 June 2011
When did the Liberals become illiberal - LD conference 2011
Yesterday the story broke about the issues of security clearance required for people who wish to attend the Lib Dem Conference in Birmingham this autumn.
At first the questions are pretty standard; name, address, phone number, party number etc...
Also a request for a fresh passport photo for a security pass which is all fairly straight forward.
Then it takes a turn for the worse. They also want to know your address for the last five years, where you were born, nationality, driving licence number, passport number, National insurance number - If you don't have any of these documents then if you talk to the Greater Manchester Police they'll come to some sort of agreement with you - They also want to know the exact date you joined the party. I cannot recall, it was two and a half years ago and I cannot remember surely that's something they would know.
So what's all the fuss? I hear you cry! Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Afterall Government ministers will be present and there could be a terrorist strike!
This is true, and there is a strong argument to support this move and I kind of agree except for that its total Boo-hockey.
The party has ALWAYS stood for personal freedoms, especially against state intrusion into our personal lives. Its about freedom to act and live our lives as free individuals as we learnt from Mills. The State should have NO reason to delve into our private lives for many reasons. There is also the added question as to how the information is stored and who has access to it. Is the system secure or could it be hacked and someone could walk away with our complete identity? Call me paranoid but I wouldn't want even want that chance to be available.
There are occaisions where CRB checks are necessary, i.e. working with Children and the vulnerable or in a secure/government location and I have no qualms with handing information over when it is needed and have done to get my current job. This is not one of those occaisions.
Yes there is a security risk but then there is one for those of us who commute and work in London, at any time someone could blow themselves or an object up taking me along with it and no one on the streets or railways are security cleared. We have fought long and hard against the ID data base and now we have to hand over the same sort of information.
It begs the question "Do they trust the membership?"
I mean, there will always be detractors and protestors within the party as well as outside but they don't require these sort of draconian security measures. Also It is how the party functions, debate and disagreement which leads to a better policy being decided on.
A simple bag check at the door and if you were feeling doubly security conscious maybe a magnetic sweep as people went in to the hall to see if anyone is carrying a bomb/weapon. True that shows distrust but it is not as invaisive as answering the many questions the Party and Police want and the vast majority of the membership would understand this as a reasonable measure to protect members and Politicians from harm.
I understand a petition went around Twitter yesterday of outraged members.
The link can be found here http://bit.ly/ig7YoK
IF we stand for this then the party has definitely lost it's way. One of the cornerstones of our very existance, even the name LIBERTY, if we don't draw a line now then it can only get worse.