There's a fair bit of chat online about David Ed Miliband's Labour Party Conference speech. Relevant for us:
"I won't let the Tories or the Liberals take ownership of the British tradition of liberty. I want our party to reclaim that tradition."
Which sounds good. After all they did to trash liberty whilst in government, that's welcome news. And what does he have in mind?
Miliband mentioned as examples Tony Blair's plans for 90 days' detention without crime – which were blocked by Parliament – and the "broad use" of anti-terrorism laws.
Agreed. That was terrible. We should all welcome Miliband abandoning those serious violations of long-held British liberties. But he went on to say:
"They just undermined the important things we did like CCTV and DNA testing."
Ed Miliband should take a good long look at his party's record on privacy and freedom whilst in Government. The past 12 years were characterised by a massive overreaction to terrorism, trashing long-held freedoms in return for no real improvement in security.
Although it is heartening to see that many in the Labour Party – including its new leader – now accept that the last Government's record of authoritarianism and snooping was unpopular, admitting fault while defending the twin evils of mass CCTV surveillance and keeping innocent people on the DNA database suggests that we are unlikely to see much of a change in Labour Party policy. I sincerely hope that that is not the case.
By Alex Deane