… principled people have quit over the LibDems’ support of the “justice and security bill,” which establishes a system of secret courts in Britain in which people who sue the government over torture and kidnapping will not be able to see the government evidence offered against them. The LibDem leadership supported this law, whipped their MPs to vote for it, and all but seven of the sitting LibDem MPs did, despite the enormous public outcry against it, including a condemnation from Lord Neuberger, the country’s most senior judge.
The Lords — a chamber full of senior lawyers and judges — has rejected this legislation and sent it back, calling for a system of safeguards to be put in place before upsetting the principle of open justice going back to the Magna Carta. Parliament has ripped up the Lords’ amendments, refusing even the most basic of safeguards in this legislation.
We voted for the LibDems to be the “party of liberty,” but they’ve been anything but. With this latest betrayal of party principles, the leadership has scuttled any credibility it had left. There is simply no case for this measure. The proponents of the law act as though there is a flood of baseless claims of torture and kidnapping that the government has had to settle in order to avoid revealing the secrets of Britain’s spies. The truth is that the government has had to apologise for lying about its role in illegal torture and kidnapping, and that most of its victims are unable to get justice even today. Indeed, we don’t know for sure that the practice has stopped, and we can’t, because we’ve had more than a decade of “war on terror” nonsense that says that the public must be spied upon at all times, but that politicians and police must be able to operate in unaccountable secrecy.
Cory also points to Philippe Sands’s letter of resignation in today’s Guardian.
If I had been a British voter in the ’80s I likely would have been a Liberal, then a LibDem in the ’90s and ’00s, and modulo some defense issues in the ’80s, mostly felt pretty good about it. Not today. Today British voters have nothing to make them happy: their electoral choices are I think even worse than ours. That the British ostensibly have three major parties to pick among only reminds me of a story:
It is said that when Kwame Nkrumah made Ghana officially into a one-party state in 1964, a reporter from the Associated Press asked Nkrumah how he, supposedly a proponent of democracy, could do such a thing, giving voters only one party to choose among.
“Oh you Americans,” Nkrumah is supposed to have airily replied, “you also have only one party, but with typical American excess you have two of them.”