The Register made it along to the more tech-focused Cambridge event:
If the panel sessions were largely about people agreeing strenuously with one another, the afternoon debate (in Cambridge), between Government Minister Bill Rammell, MP and David Howarth, MP summarised in one short exchange what the real issue is. Both speakers agreed that the other side “just don’t get it”.
At the end of the day, did all the sound and fury signify anything much? From the Lib Dems, it elicited a commitment to a wide-ranging repeal Bill: it helped bind the Tories into what is a growing backlash against ten years of New Labour, increasing the likelihood that they, too, may end up repealing large chunks of what Labour have enacted.
But for the government, it probably made very little difference. After all, these were just white middle-class people speaking a language they no longer understand.
Daily Mail columnist Suzanne Moore has an interesting take on the increasing awareness of liberty:
It’s the little things, always the little things, that get you in the end. For me, it was having to be police checked to take my child on a school trip to our local High Street. Sure, I realise that for quite some time the usual suspects have been banging away about erosion of our civil liberties, but it’s easy to turn a blind eye when you are not being actually arrested.
This weekend, all over the country, The Convention on Modern Liberty organised a series of events to discuss these issues. Have we left it too late? I think not. Now is the right time to put our feet down. Why, for instance, must I be made to think of myself as a potential paedophile, rather than a parent?
Liberty does not belong to any particular party. The Convention on Modern Liberty brings together Left and Right in a powerful coalition. Something that has been fairly abstract in people’s minds is being made real. And part of that is surely connected to the economic downturn.
Every day it becomes more clear that where this Government, and indeed the one before it, should have regulated our monstrous financial institutions, they didn’t.
They gave them freedom. The free market, remember, would save our souls and supposedly our public services. Now it all looks crazy because instead they over-regulated everywhere else. We cannot know the data kept on our own children. Surveillance is hard-wired into every aspect of our lives.
All this is done because we need protecting, not only from terrorists and criminals, but from ourselves. The truth is, though, no one feels more secure, they just feel their liberties shut down bit by bit. As Joni Mitchell sang all those years ago: ‘Don’t it always seem to go / That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.’