By Dark Politricks
The Lib Dem’s published their much vaunted “Protection of Freedoms Bill” last week which you might not have heard about during all the news regarding Egypt.
This bill was supposedly going to restore all those freedoms that Labour had removed during their decade of power and which many people had decried and saw as the creation of a high tech surveillence state within the UK.
You can read the full bill here: www.publications.parliament.uk
But an overview taken from the libdemvoice.org is:
- an end to the routine monitoring of 9.3 million people under the radically reformed vetting and barring scheme
- millions of householders protected from town hall snoopers checking their bins or school catchment area
- the scrapping of Section 44 powers, which have been used to stop and search hundreds of thousands of innocent people
- the permanent reduction of the maximum period of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects to 14 days
- DNA samples and fingerprints of hundreds of thousands of innocent people deleted from police databases
- thousands of gay men able to clear their name with the removal of out-of-date convictions for consensual acts
- thousands of motorists protected from rogue wheel clamping firms
- an end to the fingerprinting of children in schools without parental consent
- the introduction of a code of practice for CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems (overseen by a new Surveillance Camera Commissioner) to make them more proportionate and effective
- restrictions on the powers of government departments, local authorities and other public bodies to enter private homes and other premises for investigations and a requirement for all to examine and slim down remaining powers
- the repeal of powers to hold serious and complex fraud trials without a jury
- the extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act and strengthening the public rights to data
All good things and long overdue but it’s not exactly the bill we were promised is it?
You can read the original Lib Dem bill here: darkpolitricks.com/the-freedom-bill.
This is a copy of the original bill that was posted on http://freedom.libdems.org.uk/ which seems to be unavailable at the moment and returning a 403 (Forbidden) status code. Maybe the owners of the site were so embarrassed that they took it down once they realised the massive discrepancies between the published bill and the one they wanted to publish?
A few of the most important freedoms that seem to be missing from this bill are:
- The restoration of the right to remain silent when being questioned by the police. This was removed in the evil Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which was brought in by the last Tory government and also banned outdoor raves and gatherings of more than a few people listening to music with a repetitive beat! If you want to know why the right to silence and a “no comment interview” is so important read this: darkpolitricks.com/a-guide-to-no-comment-police-interviews/
- The restoration of all the rights to protest that have been removed including in Parliament square without first obtaining permission and the extension to the number of people constituting a public assembly which is used to determine whether the police come storming in dressed up like storm troopers or not.
- Restoration of the public interest defence for whistleblowers.
- Repeal of provisions which allow evidence of a defendant’s bad character to be brought up in court.
- Repeal of provisions which allow bailiffs to use force when they break into your house to steal your TV and DVD player because you can’t afford to pay the extortionate high interest on all those loans those banksters were throwing about during the good years.
And what about the change to the extradition treaty which has been signed with the USA that allows UK citizens to be sent off to the USA on the say so of a foreign entity without any prima facia evidence having to be shown in court.
This was supposed to be one of the main parts of the bill and was supposed to protect people like Gary McKinnon from being sent off in an orange jump suit on the say so of a US attorney. This unfair treaty has been brought into law over here but not in the USA and affords many more protections to US citizens being sought by our courts than to ours being sought by theirs. This treaty is a national disgrace and needs a fast remedy which the Freedom Bill was supposedly going to fix.
In the recently published bill I seem to have missed all these important freedoms that were supposedly going to be restored. Maybe I have just misread the bill and these important acts were in such small print that I just missed them and if that is the case then please can someone point them out to me so I edit this article and restructure my complaint.
So as you can see whilst the Protection of Freedoms Bill is a good step in the right direction it is proof that fine words and talk of good deeds in opposition often fall by the wayside once power has been gained and other political pressures are brought to bear.
I don’t know whether the Tories fought hard against some of these dropped measures or whether they might be brought forward in bills of their own at a later date but it’s a big shame that some of the key parts of the bill that many people were looking forward to being introduced have been dropped from the first draft.
We will have to wait and see what form the final bill takes but if it doesn’t restore all our lost freedoms then the word should really be dropped from the title and it should be renamed “Restoration of those rights that we don’t mind that you plebs have back” bill.