CML Doc 18: Extracts from minutes of Sponsor Meetings showing tension between event / movement

CML Doc 18: Extracts from minutes of Sponsor Meetings showing tension between event / movement

18 September 2008

AB: Said not trying to create another organisation. The aim is to show the links and raise the whole level of discussion across the country. We want to show politicians that they can engage with the public on this issue. Want a shift in political culture. The videos and webcast are vital in spreading the debate.

2 December 2008

Impact of the Convention and what happens afterwards

  1. General agreement that the energy and resources created by the Convention should be built on.  There was a sense that it could catch a new Zeitgeist. SC proposed SF to contact partner organisations involved in the Convention as a first stage to see what can be announced at the Convention in terms of petitions, messages and other collaborative actions which might contribute to building a movement.
  2. The Convention aims only to inspire a movement. There will not be a ‘Modern Liberty’ organisation. CML website to continue after 28 Feb as an archive of the day and a link to those organisations involved and common activities.
  3. SP emphasised the need to think deeply beyond the Liberty initiative on how to hot up the Zeitgeist if it proves to be such, and to think constructively and robustly about sustaining its momentum and the spirit around it, bringing people together and strengthening the organisations participating in it. SW said that it was important to build common ground on issues and principles, as this was what would animate and energise people.
  4. It was agreed to hold a “deliberative discussion” in the week or so after the 28 February in order to assess what happened and brainstorm on how best to take a movement forward.

21 January 2009

  • There was discussion of the role of the website after the 28th. The two points of view were that it should be a historical archive and reference, or that it could be an on-going focal point for organisations and the people CML had touched and motivated, and for collaboration between the partners. If the Convention is very successful, people may look to the site for what to do next.
  • There was also concern about the need to create a space for people who do not wish to join an organisation to contribute
  • SF expressed concern about ensuring the Convention is a one day event. Everyone was in agreement that there was no intention of starting a new membership organisation and that the mandate was to strengthen existing orgs and start a movement. Some argued that there would hopefully be a need to create a jointly managed continuing process as distinct from a new organisation.
  • AB reminded meeting that the agreement in December was no competing organisation but to try and catch the zeitgeist and encourage a wider movement if possible
  • Based on this, the question ‘when does CML cease to exist?’ was asked, and the consensus was that it must be responsive to the public and we can’t know definitively until after the 28th when the follow up committee meeting will be held.
  • HP emphasised that we’re here for a cause, there is a crisis and that we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that this is a unique moment: any disagreements we may have are ultimately less important than fighting the attack on our civil liberties

25 March 2009


  • Tony Curzon Price: the situation with the databases is that the emails and info collected are held under the umbrella of openDemocracy’s data protection act filing with a clause stating that the data is ring-fenced for the Convention including from openDemocracy. The terms under which the data was collected stipulates that data is given for the use of the Convention only and can’t be shared with partner organisations. OpenDemocracy is a trustee of this and will not use the data itself. Rowntrees could step into the role of openDemocracy and take charge of the data. Do we have to get the agreement of the people who provided data to move them? I will look into this.
  • Phil Booth: It should not be a problem. I thought there would be a temporary body. If the Convention ceases to exist in a month there is no issue – it is only if it continues that we need stewardship for the data.
  • William Sieghart: You have to capture the energy. It would be heartbreaking if bickering makes this crumble. The sum is greater than the parts – it’s crucial that we rise above resource allocation and don’t destroy the energy.
  • Shami Chakrabarti: we already had this discussion and partner organisations gave their time, resources and support under the agreement reached.

◦        I agree with Henry about what was positive and negative and want to thank everyone who was involved and gave time. It was heartening to see people coming together and discussing these issues.

◦        However, from Liberty’s point of view there were some negative experiences many of which Henry brought under control in the week before the Convention. There was a lot of briefing against me personally and the organisation, and briefing against the Human Rights Act. This all went on behind Liberty’s back. It was politically embarrassing for us. I think this was a press strategy to court controversy.

◦        There were also statements in the programme against the Human Rights Act. Had we known this was part of the agenda we would not have been involved.

◦        Attacks on the Human Rights Act are as embarrassing to the Liberal Democrats as they are to Liberty.

◦        As we confirmed in emails, the Convention was a very exciting day and that is what we signed up to. If there are any attempts to move forward with this brand or do ongoing organisational work or campaign work, we (Liberty) will at the least have to publicly distance ourselves from the Convention due to attacks on the Human Rights Act.

  • HP: can I refer you to my blog this morning where I address this issue
  • SC: I have not spoken personally about this and I tried to take the heat out of the complaints. This was due to respect for Henry.
  • WS: You have to find a common ground. If you fracture, all the money and energy that has gone into this is wasted.
  • SC: As long as no-one breaths more life into ‘the Convention on Modern Liberty’ we don’t have a problem. There was consensus that no-one was seeking to start another organisation
  • PB: NO2ID went into this thinking this could strengthen other organisations. NO2ID cannot join an umbrella campaign because we are a single-issue group.
  • WS: It would be madness to throw away the energy created (general agreement from others present)
  • PB: Let each debate form and push the argument forward.

◦        No2ID has not changed stance throughout the whole process.

  • WS: I’m not saying you are all one organisation or campaign but you have created something special.
  • HP: I am interested in our forming an opposition to the government and the Conservatives. I want us to form a political movement, raise awareness and raise the issues up the agenda. Neither of you (Liberty and No2ID) have formed a movement.
  • John Jackson: I am both dismayed and understanding. What happened on Saturday was quite remarkable and everyone involved deserves great credit. We didn’t create something – we allowed something already there to come out. In a sense we are all in the position of trustees as it doesn’t belong to any of us. But it would be a great social crime if nothing is made out of it. We need to be very careful when talking about forming new organisations.

◦        Suggestion – those organisations involved are encouraged to come together maintaining their areas of interest and sovereignty to see on what points they can find common ground so as not to lose the energy. For example, everyone can agree on Clause 152. Also, there is a green paper coming out at the end of the month and a vigorous and co-ordinated response to that is something where they can come together.

  • WS: we need another meeting
  • Stuart Weir: I am struck by the degree of paranoia, the distrust and the anger. It’s not going to be an organisation but there is loads of space for moving forward. Someone had to summon this into form even if it was there before.
  • SC: Liberty will publicly distance themselves from any continuing brand and say why.
  • Stephen Pittam: the Human Rights Act is enormously important for us too. We ought to be able to build something and it would be a terrible failure if we don’t. Jubilee 2000 had to destroy its database because of the infighting.
  • Mark Ross: in principle Rowntrees can steward the database but we probably don’t have the capacity to look after the website.
  • SC: as we agreed – it is an archive
  • SP: it will damage everyone if we can’t find agreement. Criticism of the Human Rights Act is not helpful.
  • HP: I’m happy to concede that my position on the Human Rights Act may be flawed. HP and SC agreed they placed a different emphasis on the effectiveness of the Human Rights Act. HP: But it’s so much more important to defend ourselves against the attack on freedom – can’t we all agree on that? I propose Rowntrees chair a seminar on this issue.
  • PB: I’m not bickering. I’m trying to find a practical way forward.
  • Georgina Henry: the Guardian is also behind the Human Rights Act. 80% of people at the Convention were behind the HRA and I don’t think the Convention is against the HRA.
  • PB: Peter Facey asked to be included in this meeting.
  • Anthony Barnett: I’m afraid we are over time and have to end, thank you everyone.