UK Liberty

Thought for the day

Posted in politicians on liberty by ukliberty on October 3, 2008

The point of a representative democracy is to have informed representatives make considered, reasoned, and fair decisions on our behalf, in the interests of us as individuals and as a nation.

Our representatives should not be slaves to the whims of their constituents or the electorate at large – although of course they should take our thoughts into account.  In a sense the electorate can’t be trusted with certain decisions – we have neither the competence nor the time nor the information to make the best decisions, so we delegate them to our representatives.

Since Gordon Brown attacked David Cameron for his lack of experience, I’ve been thinking about the experience and responsibilities of politicians, particularly Cabinet Ministers – even more so since Brown’s Cabinet reshuffle (ongoing at the time of writing). What are their responsibilities, what qualifications are needed / desired, and so on?

In the sense of, what makes a former lecturer and current affairs editor a suitable candidate for the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer?

What makes a former head of economics and GNVQ coordinator a suitable candidate for the post of Home Secretary?

What makes someone who left school at 15, eventually becoming a union official and then MP, a suitable candidate for the posts of Minister at the Department of Trade and Industry, Minister for Higher Education, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Secretary of State for Productivity, Energy and Industry, Secretary of State for Education and Skills, or  Secretary of State for Health?

Perhaps it doesn’t matter that they don’t seem to have the relevant qualifications and experience for the fields in which they end up.  Perhaps all that matters is their ability to effectively lead any department that they are made responsible for and that they have a sufficient number of competent advisors to help them make the best decisions.

I wonder…


Chris Dillow:

Healey’s implication that individual savers are not intelligent or well-informed is, therefore, not based in the evidence.

It is, however, based in the ideology that underpins not just New Labour, but our entire political and boss class – the presumption that ordinary individuals are hapless saps who need rules and orders from well-informed experts to protect them from their own folly.

But one lesson of the financial crisis is that this is plain false. What ordinary individuals need protecting from is not their own folly, but the reckless stupidity of spurious experts, be it in town halls or bank boardrooms.

Look out for Sleepwalk

Posted in detention without charge by ukliberty on October 3, 2008

Steve from Amnesty wrote,

On Monday 13 October we’re launching ‘Sleepwalk’, the latest in our series of online films, to drive this next phase of the campaign against 42 days. It’s from the same directors that made ‘Stuff of Life’, the film about the US waterboarding torture technique. It should look pretty amazing, with a new soundtrack by The Orb. We’re warning that people are sleepwalking into an assault on their human rights – you can probably guess where it’s going. Hope you’ll want to feature it on the site.

We’ll be launching the film at a big event in Leeds on 13 October, with hundreds of people on a ‘mass sleepwalk’ through the city streets.

Amnesty petition against 42 days

Posted in detention without charge by ukliberty on October 3, 2008

Steve of Amnesty wrote,

Amnesty has just launched a new online petition at, calling on MPs to vote against 42 days when it return to the Commons this autumn. It sees to have really caught people’s attention: over 2,300 people have already signed since it launched it on Tuesday.

The petition focuses on MPs who voted in favour of 42 days pre-charge detention, but previously had not supported proposals for 90 days. New functionality sorts the signatures by postcode so each MP will receive a petition signed only by their own constituents; a national petition including all the signatures will be presented to parliament ahead of the vote.

Amnesty’s activists are going to be out on the streets in the coming weeks, asking people to sign the petition.

Regular readers will know my thoughts on detention without charge proposals. Amnesty have produced a handy and succinct list of ten good reasons why extending pre-charge detention is a bad idea.

Met gaffer resigns

Posted in politicians on liberty by ukliberty on October 3, 2008

Sir Ian Blair is seeking new employment – detailed article in the Times.

Incoherent BBC article on “A row has begun over whether Met Police chief Sir Ian Blair was forced to resign by London’s Conservative mayor Boris Johnson for political motives.” This BBC article is better.

Blair’s statement.