After Guy posted the news that the TUC and the Countryside Alliance are supporting the Convention, he got an email from Kevin, clearly uncomfortable about the Countryside Alliance claiming any part of the mantle of liberty. You can read it and Guy’s response HERE.
Before expressing his anxiety Kevin says:
I realise that in a project like this you want everyone on board and that the whole point is that everyone is entitled to opinions, which is why I’m not objecting to the inclusion of the Countryside Alliance in your organization, as I would hope other members might not object to other political organisation such as the TUC simply because they do not share its views.
A couple of points. We don’t see what we are doing as creating a new “organisation”. The Convention on Modern Liberty is just that, a Convention. It is not a rally or an organisation. It’s aim is to bring together all who are concerned about threats to our fundamental rights and freedoms, even if they are concerned in different ways. We are determined to prevent “grandstanding” as a Guardian editor put it, so we are not having speakers who just give a party or organisational line. Within an open framework of shared concern we want genuine debates. The aim is to explore, and hopefully, resolve ways of protecting our liberties in the face of the current challenges – now transformed by modern technology and developments such as terrorism and the State’s response to it.
Another reason we are mounting the Convention is that the public is fed up with obsessive partisanship that prevents Parliament from conducting debates in a way they can follow and identify with.
At the same time we are not simply having an open debate with everyone. We don’t see the point of our putting a lot of effort into hosting a discussion with those who think there isn’t a problem, or fluent cynics who patronise our arguments and serve the status quo with their silky wit.
Perhaps the problem in terms of our political culture is that what we are doing cuts across party lines, and these go deep for those who are affiliated. The big difference is between those in all the main parties who think that the current system of power and patronage is OK and can best be improved by them having more of it, and those who feel there is something more fundamentally wrong and want to see the people act like citizens rather than accept a State which believes that it is in charge and should define how the people are to behave.
My co-director Henry Porter has put it better in a magnificent Christmas Day overview just published in the Guardian’s Comment Is Free. Please read it and buy your ticket for London or join the Convention at one of its regional and national meetings.