Brief report sent to Convention participants

The following brief report on the Convention was sent out to partipants today. Please email us your responses or leave a comment at the end of this post.

Dear participant,

This is a brief report on the Convention on Modern Liberty and a request to hear back from you.

Volunteers are publishing videos and transcripts of the 22 sessions and the plenaries as well as reports from the parallel Conventions. It’s a slow business and nearly two-thirds done. Soon you will be able to watch all the sessions you missed and perhaps see yourself in action too! Here, for example, are the fine short speeches of Lord Bingham and Philip Pullman, and we look forward to a film edited by Robin Lough in May. Once again a huge thank you to everyone who helped.

Lots have asked “how can we turn the energy into activity?” Anthony Barnett has suggested “taking the Convention to the country” with a Great Repeal Bill as a focus for public debate and hustings across the UK in November. It borrows from the Lib Dem Freedom Bill but the idea is for an educational campaign that engages with politicians from all parties and inspires people to get involved with a clear deadline. Already there is a vigorous, sceptical debate about it on Liberal Conspiracy with alternative suggestions.

We are in a pre-election period when the political system is more open. We think the Convention exists for this moment, when a non-party-political sounding of the alarm can help people grasp the chance to safeguard fundamental rights, freedoms and civil liberties. Not only does this call for wide popular education, it now links to how we should respond to the economic crisis. What do you think? Let us know by email or by posting a comment here.

One sign of success is to be attacked, and some vigorous exchanges are taking place, you can follow them here. The Convention’s success had many sources, from the Guardian’s sponsorship to the inventiveness of our volunteers, to bringing organisations together. Of these the campaigning ones especially must be able to update everyone on their independent activities. Here are a few links to those whose work is essential and played a big role making the Convention happen: Please support them!

Democratic Audit
Unlock Democracy
British Institute of Human Rights
Open Rights Group

Finally, one of our partners, the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, has just published a tremendously good, authoritative reckoning of the Database State, which puts the whole discussion about it on a new level of knowledge and seriousness. Click here to get to a summary and the full report, we strongly recommend it.

Looking forward very much to hearing from you with your views,

Guy Aitchison (Deputy Director) and Clare Coatman (Participation Manager)

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