The past few years have been characterized by shoddy political debate, especially on questions of civil liberties. Many of the arguments put forward by our politicians suggest they are totally unaware of the most basic philosophical arguments regarding liberty and freedom of speech: as if Paine, Voltaire and Mill had never existed. And the fact that these politicians are often lawyers suggests to me that their arguments are not naïve, but truly disingenuous.
The arguments are also patronising, born of the idea that The Great British Public cannot comprehend discussions of abstract concepts such as Liberty. There is a presumption that, given the choice, we would gladly surrender our freedoms in exchange for a little more safety.
The Convention provides a place to counter the false arguments, and to challenge the presumptions upon which they are made. Moreover, it is a place to show defiance in the face of terrorism. It must be an event where we can give our politicians a new kind of confidence, based on the premise that, actually, We Are Not Afraid.