CML Doc 1: 28 June 2008 – Proposal to Rowntree Reform Trust

CML Doc 1: 28 June 2008  - Proposal to Rowntree Reform Trust


The Teach-in on Liberty, the modern state and public opinion

This is an application from the CAOS team [CAOS stands for 'Combining All Our Strengths' the working name of the Rowntree backed seminar series],for an enabling grant of £5,000 to explore the option for a large teach-in in the early autumn. Its aim will be to:

1.    Widen the alliance of those concerned to prevent 42 days from becoming law

2. Greatly extend public understanding of the larger issues raised by the database state

3. Create an event that will help build a campaign to persuade the Lords to repudiate 42 days

4. Challenge the view that the public support populist measures

5. Help recruit the younger generation to a democratic approach to politics

A rough draft proposal is attached. The thinking behind this is that the David Davis by-election is a big opportunity to popularize a range of issues that have been locked away by the politics of the Labour and Conservative parties and the Westminster system. What we need to do is make sure that it is seen as much wider than the man, that the critique of the state is not limited to just right-wing libertarianism, and above all in a lively and non-sectarian way to take the issues to the public if we can.

A large and exciting event, with cross-party contributions, that has media sponsorship from, for example, the Telegraph as well as the Guardian (The Editor of the Guardian has written to Henry Porter saying he supports the idea) could do provide a focus for this in the run-up to the House of Lords debate.

A second objective will be to get all the organisations involved working with each other in a co-branded alliance. We’d aim to get striking web-video, clarified arguments, sharp debates, publications, and bring in a new generation in a way they find attractive.

To achieve this we need:

  • to recruit a conference committee that represents a full range of views and connections to bring in the various networks to the Teach-In.
  • to identify the best date and location in the Autumn
  • to identify the best conference organisers
  • to start to invite speakers to pencil in the date
  • to draw up a full budget
  • to raise whatever funds are needed

We would employ Claire Preston to be the initial administrator

Anthony Barnett, Stuart Weir

26 June 2008

CML Doc 1 (cont)



The Teach-in on Liberty, the modern state and public opinion

This will be a national teach-in on liberty, the modern state and public opinion. It would combine big-name plenary panels with audience question times with two sets of 90-minute specialist sessions with chaired panels in smaller rooms. There would be live blogging, summaries posted on the web. It would get national media sponsorship and we hope broadcasting coverage. Ideal venue would be Institute of Education/LSE/Kings College in London with a large conference room and small seminar rooms and somewhere for catering. These are expensive. There are other possible venues. It is very short notice to find anywhere.

The aim would be to air and identify the key issues raised by – but not limited to -the ‘42 day debate’, from the database state to the liberty of the citizen, to international comparisons and historical lessons to the nature of public opinion on these issues. We’d look at the roles of the media, the nature of democracy and parliament in Britain, the threat to liberty – myths and realities – and the strength of terrorism and how to police it and contain it, the impact of counter terrorism laws on minorities and majority opinion, what happens in court, and alternatives to the present strategy.

It would not be a rally for David Davis. It would be an all-party educational conference that would take forward the issues he has raised by his exceptional action. It would then seek to subject them to real debate. We should have wide multi-sponsored support. The ideal would combine the Guardian/Observer or Independent with the Daily Mail or the Telegraph group. The Editor of the Guardian has already stated his support for the idea in writing to Henry Porter.

The plenary and panel sessions should have surprising combinations of speakers and aim to spark genuine debate and disagreement. Different organisations and publications will be encouraged to sponsor and organize panels.


The outline which follows is very partial and incomplete. There are almost no MPs and these need to figure much more as well as peers. It is just a taster of the kind of range of interest that could be gathered, produced very fast. It is to be taken only as an idea of visualizing what it will be. These things need a small group to spark ideas and draw people in.

Potential plenary speakers (still unbalanced)

David Davis

Charles Clark MP

Helena Kennedy

Claire Fox

Tim Garton Ash

Shami Chakrabati

Henry Porter

Anthony Barnett

Chris Huhne

Mattew d’Ancona

Tim Montgomery


Is the media part of a political class?

Peter Oborne

Alan Rusbridger

David Elstein

Polly Toynbee

Jeremy Paxman

Yvonne Roberts

Michael White

Iain Dale

What is the database state?

Becky Hogge

Phil Booth

Prof Ross Anderson, Cambridge

Simon Davies (Privacy International)

Jill Kirby (CPS)

Dizzy Thinks

What is the nature of the terrorist threat?

Duncan Campbell (the Scottish one)

Sir David Omand

Rachel North (blogger and 7/7 victim)

An alternative Human Security strategy

Prof Mary Kaldor (LSE)

Peter Neumann (KCL)

Paddy Ashdown

How will the House of Lords vote and why?

Peers from all quarters

Is liberty in the UK also a national question (English MPs voted against 42 days by a majority of 19)

Gareth Young

Mark Perryman

Alex Salmond (First  Minister)

Bathan Jenkins

How faiths view state power

Simon Barrow (Ekklesia)

Rev Giles Foley (Vicar of Putney)

What is public opinion on these issues?

Stuart Weir

Prof. Helen Margetts (Oxford Internet Institute)

Tufyal Choudhury

Stephen Shakespeare (You gov)

Can we rely on the judges?

Keith Ewing

Surveillance and local government

Gus Hosein (Privacy International)

Politics after the 42 day showdown

Sunny Hundal (Britain’s best blogger)

Michael White

Lots of people!!

The culture of the police

How will minorities respond to 42 days