The Inquiries Act 2005 is (according to Liberty Central) a draconian piece of legislation that erodes our civil liberties. It threatens the independence of inquiries and leaves the power to have them solely at the discretion of the government.
It was supported by the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Labour party in it's passage through parliament.
Where was the opposition on grounds of civil liberties? Where also, was the vocal opposition to the Civil Contingencies Act (that gives emergency powers at short notice) and the new bill before parliament, the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (that bypasses parliament for legislating offences with penalties less than 2 years)?
So the first thing to acknowledge is that, if new Labour are authoritarian, so too are the opposition parties.
Voting against Labour because of their civil liberties record, would be like voting for the Tories (who support the Iraq War even more) to register disapproval of the War.
But then you have to ask; why were the opposition in support of the government on these bills?
There are three possible answers, which of these the opposition parties are, I leave up to you to judge;
1. They don't actually think the laws are authoritarian, because they think they protect the liberties of the majority from terrorism.
Or, 2. They think they are authoritarian, but are necessary in the new age of terrorism.
Or, 3. They don't care whether they are authoritarian or not and therefore couldn't be bothered to oppose the bills.
The PM's position is;
"If the nature of the threat changes, so should our policies. That is not destroying our liberties, but protecting them."
and he also outlines where he has devolved power;
"This government has introduced the Human Rights Act, so that, for the first time, a citizen can challenge the power of the state solely on the basis of an infringement of human rights, and the Freedom of Information Act, the most open thing any British government has done since the Reform Acts of the 1830s. We have devolved more power than any government since the 1707 Act of Union introduced transparency into political funding and restricted the Prime Minister's right to nominate to the House of Lords. In other words, I have given away more prime ministerial power than any predecessor for more than 100 years."
One of the main arguments used against this government by the obsessive absolutist libertarians who run Liberty Central, is that, it is not that this government is necessarily going to abuse these new powers, but that some future government might. The major flaw in this argument is of course that, if such a government did get power, the last thing we would have to worry about would be what was currently on the statute book, but what they would add to it. This highlights the true problem with our present system, that we need a written constitution to make it harder to erode civil liberties and we need an electoral system that doesn't allow a party to win absolute power on just 19% of the eligible electorate's support.
The biggest disappointment I have with this government (and there are plenty), is that they didn't honour their pledge on a referendum for electoral reform of the Westminster elections. But saying that, there has been progress, both constitutionally and in addressing poverty and public service underfunding. This is progress that the only realistic opposition - the Tories, never would have provided.
Under first past the post, I have a choice of two and a half parties, and realistically two possible governments, Labour or Tory. Under that system, if you want a more egalitarian society with our liberties protected, there is only one choice, a Labour government. Voting Lib Dem in most seats only helps elect a reactionary Tory and as a consequence a Tory government. Hoping for a coalition government under first past the post, is like playing russian roulette with the country's future.
Under proportional representation, we are all free to vote for the party closest to the policies we truly want and know that our vote will elect representatives of those parties. Until that time we have to vote Labour and campaign for change of the Labour party both from within and through outside pressure groups. If Liberty Central is a pressure group that just campaigns for civil liberties they need to make crystal clear that they see fault in ALL the main parties and not just Labour. If they do that, I wish them luck. However, first impressions are that the impact of their campaign will be little more than anti-Labour propaganda, and that won't help our civil liberties one bit.