CML Doc 2: 18 Aug 2008 – First development of proposal

CML Doc 2: 18 Aug 2008 – First development of proposal

The Rowntree/Guardian/OurKingdom Teach-In

Modern Liberty

Freedom and Rights in the Era of Counter-Terrorism and the Database State


Liberty/No2ID/Liberal Conspiracy/Democratic Audit/Policy Exchange*/Unlock Democracy/ openDemocracy/Amnesty UK*/CPS*/ ORG*/PEN*/Institute of Ideas*/ Demos*/ ippr*/Compass*/Fabians*/Young Foundation*/Runnymede Trust*/Ekklesia*/Spectator*/Total Politics* and more

(*=not yet asked)

25 October 2008

London & by webcast:

Bristol, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cambridge Exeter,

Modern Liberty

Practical overview

Suggested  Day, Numbers, Partnerships, Webcasting, Organisation

Saturday 25 October

9 – 10                         registration  & coffee

10 – 11                         1st Plenary

11 – 11.30                    coffee

11.30 – 12.30            2nd plenary

12.30 – 1.30              lunch

1.30 – 2.45                 First breakouts

2.45 – 3.15                 Tea

3.15 – 4.30                 Second breakouts

4.30 – 4.45                water

4. 45 – 6.00               Closing Plenary


The proposed venue is the Institute for Civil Engineers. This can take 650. Plenary sessions will be in a grand main room and a linked modern theatre. It has spacious facilities for tea and coffee and some stalls. The venue has space eight parallel sessions: four large (100+) and four smaller (approx 50).

Tickets and prices

At least a third of the 650 tickets will be for students. We are estimating ticket prices of £35 for full and £20 for students including sandwich lunch and 3 coffees.


Each of the 16 break-out sessions will be sponsored by partners who will organise their speakers representing a wide range of views. There will be no all male platforms. Liberty has already agreed to be a partner.

Webcasting and national meetings

No2ID will provide the stewards and run the day. They will also organise about six events across the country that will project a webcast of the plenary sessions and have their own discussions. We there will be an open invite to others to do the same. on the day or in the week that follows. We are seeking a webcast partner.


There will be a conference website. Tickets will only be buyable from the website. The website will also provide links to teach-in videos. It will link to on and off-line media coverage and blogs. It will host feed-back and reports from associated meetings. We are seeking a partnership to host the website.


We are partnering with Sunny Hundal’s blog nation started by Liberal Conspiracy and are seeking a conservative blog partner.


We are seeking a partner who could facilitate a dozen short (4 minute) videos by key speakers direct to camera setting out the main issues as they see them. Shami Chakrabati (who will be in New York on the 25th) has agreed to do one. There may also be longer interview format videos with partner organisations.


We will plan with the Guardian editorial content through October in the run-up to the Teach-In with advertising for it to go up as soon as the web-site is ready. We will work with the Guardian to attract broadcast media to cover the Teach-In.


A small executive committee will be formed and a larger ad hoc steering group to ensure that sponsors are informed of any proposed changes in advance and can input ideas and suggestions.


This is a draft document – the event has NOT yet been funded.

CML Doc 2 (Cont)

Draft programme

Modern Liberty

The Teach-In, Institute for Civil Engineers, London, 25 Oct 2008


NB: This is a draft. The suggested speakers have not been invited. The plenary themes are not fixed. The parallel sessions that follow are also only drafts for action. The aim here is to paint a sketch of what the day could be like, it is suggestive and more ideas and names are needed. Lots are proposed, the critical thing is to get a surprising mix in each panel and session, ideally with no more than five people per panel. As soon as we get go ahead, the partner organisations with expertise in their areas will take over the parallel sessions.

Plenary Sessions:

The immediate situation

Chair: Georgina Henry

Henry Porter

John le Carré

Diane Abbott

Dominic Grieve

Ed Miliband/Jacqui Smith

Andrew Dismore

Does the public care?

Chair: Iain Dale

David Davis

Helena Kennedy

David Lammy

Chris Huhne

Philip Pullman

Nick Sparrow

Claire Fox

The next ten years

Chair Sunny Hundal

Michael Gove

Chuka Umunna

Fraser Nelson

Plus, plus :Gove (41) will be the oldest member of this panel


What is the ‘database state’ & transformational Government?

Possibly two sessions. The UK government is embarking on a massive electronic unification of all the departments of state in a programme that will ‘transform,’ in it’s own words, the relationship between the state, the citizen and private enterprise. This programme has never been debated in the House of Commons or in a select committee. It goes much further than the national information register, which lies at the heart of the ID card programme, and includes local government surveillance . What are the implications if it works – and if it doesn’t? “You have zero privacy anyway, get over it.” Said Scott McNealy CEO of Sun Microsystems as Business gets Personal

Becky Hogge (ORG)

Phil Booth (No2ID)

Prof Ross Anderson, Cambridge

Simon Davies (Privacy International)

Jill Kirby (CPS)

Dizzy Thinks

Sir David Varney

Tony Curzon Price

Marlene Winfield  (NHS patients)

Catherine Fieschi (Demos)

Richard Thomas (Information Commissioner)

Is ‘Human Security’ better than ‘War on Terror’?

Rights and freedoms are under pressure from the threat of terrorism and counter-terrorism. How big and how dangerous are the terrorist networks that are driven by fundamentalism in Britain? How dangerous are they relative to other issues of human security, such as, climate change; pandemics; global mafia?

Duncan Campbell (the Scottish one)

Sir David Omand

Rachel North (blogger and 7/7 victim)

Lord West

Clive Stafford Smith

Lord Lloyd

Prof Mary Kaldor (LSE)

Peter Neumann (KCL)

Paddy Ashdown

Philip Bobbitt

Is the media part of the problem?

The media now play an un        questionably important role in politics, arguably undermining the role of mass political parties. But is the media part of an ‘overarching political class’? What is the future of traditional rights such as freedom of expression if a ‘media-political class’ stifle pluralist influence? What role does it play in creating a climate of fear that undermines freedom? Can the principles of human rights be secured without media support?

Peter Oborne

Alan Rusbridger

David Elstein

Polly Toynbee

Jeremy Paxman

Yvonne Roberts

Robert Harris

Matt d’Ancona

Human Rights and the ‘War on Terror’; the International Picture.

From the beginning, concern over Human Rights, as expressed by NGO’s like Amnesty have been expressed in international terms. Part of the argument over 42 days was whether the UK was proposing to breach international standards and set an example that dictatorships might emulate. At the same time, human rights and laws protecting civilians are being developed in terms of international law, legal institutions and NGO’s. Now the UN has just reported that UK anti-terror legislation and libel laws threatens free speech. What is the international picture? And how does the UK fit in?

Gara LaMarch

Mary Robinson

Geoffry Robinson

Aryeh Neier

Tim Garton Ash

Now that the freeborn Englishman is female and black, how does the Magna Carta relate to Human Rights?

What is the real history of liberty in the United Kingdom? Is it freedom from the state or is it based on a political equality that calls for collective action?

Paul Gilroy

Francesca Klug

Hari Kunzru

What is public opinion on these issues?

Opinion polls both suggested strong public backing for the extension of pre-charge detention to 42 days and then only minority support. Polls on the place of Muslims in British society and their commitment to this country are contradictory and often confused.  How reliable are the polls as indicators of public opinion?

Stuart Weir

Prof. Helen Margetts (Oxford Internet Institute)

Tufyal Choudhury

Stephen Shakespeare (You gov)

Politicians and the Judges. Who best to decide on the National interest?

A series of landmark cases have seen the Judiciary clash with the executive over the powers of detention posing fundamental but little discussed questions.

Chair: John Jackson

Lord Bingham

Peter Goldsmith

Keith Ewing

Is Parliament a Busted Flush?

Bob Marshall-Andrews

Tony Benn

Shirley Williams

David Marquand

Robert Hazell

David Goodhart

Is liberty in the UK also a national question?

It is arguably the case that that while the Commons supported 42 Days none of the country’s nations would do so. In the Commons itself English MPs voted against 42 days by a majority of 19. Equally, the move towards an ID card, can be seen as an attempt to bind the devolved nations into a British Union database.  This is the kind of issue which many would prefer was not raised but which also arouses intense interest.

Gareth Young

Mark Perryman

Alex Salmond

Bethan Jenkins

(Doc 2 cont)

Modern Liberty

Freedom and Rights in the Era of Counter-Terrorism and the Database State

Why this teach-in

In July 2007 Gordon Brown opened his premiership with a Green Paper on the Governance of Britain. Its theme was the restoration of public trust in Parliament; the establishment of a public culture of rights founded on the United Kingdom’s historic tradition of liberty; re-balancing power between the executive, MPs and local government; and an opening to new forms of participation – all motivated by an acknowledgement of a malaise in the country’s institutions and a growing divide between political authority and the people.

In May 2008, overriding widespread opposition in his own party and a united opposition, the Prime Minister forced ‘42 days’ through the Commons by a mere seven-vote majority obtained by swinging Northern Ireland’s DUP MPs. Then, to general astonishment, David Davis MP, the shadow Home Secretary, walked out of Parliament and forced a by-election. He did so saying that the Commons has been suborned; that Habeas Corpus is in jeopardy; that the ‘database state’ threatens our freedom; and that uncontrolled surveillance is an authoritarian menace.

These serious developments are not being reversed, he claimed, because politicians and the media believe the public is complacent and uninterested in such issues – and this has to be contested. The Modern Liberty teach-in takes up the David Davis challenge. It asks three questions:

  • Are our freedoms and rights threatened by an over-powerful state and if so how do we defend ourselves from this?
  • How large are the dangers to our security from terrorism and other threats, from climate change to pandemics, and how are they best combated?
  • Can sustained public interest be aroused without alarmism or populism?

We are making Modern Liberty a teach-in, not a conference, as these issues do not have settled answers. They cut across party lines. They are international as well as intensely national. They are compounded by the revolutions of ‘globalisation’ in IT, travel, biology and the environment…  and explosives. They pose issues of public fear and the media as well as traditional government. They demand democratic self-confidence, often strikingly lacking in the UK. In 1647 Rainsborough claimed that ‘the poorest he has a life to live as the greatest he’. He asserted none is bound to a government that ‘he has not had a voice to put himself under’. This was arguable the start of modern democracy. We are indeed the inheritors of an inspiring tradition of liberty. But this does not resolve the issues we face today. What are the prospects now, for liberty in the modern world?