Second Plenary ‘How Do we Secure Modern Liberty?’

Hear, watch or read the speeches and Q & A from the second plenary….


How do we secure modern liberty?



Read the transcript of the plenary here


Or read a report on the plenary written by a member of the UCL Student Human Rights Programme, and feel free to share your thoughts…

Session Info

Government policies that threaten our liberty are taking place in a wider context. The most ominous and fast moving is the economic crisis. With a further million people likely to lose their jobs in the UK in the coming year alone, amid resentment at the seemingly shameless aid and succour afforded to bankers from the public purse, we face a toxic combination of fear, anxiety, anger and helplessness. A classic background for even greater authoritarian measures and police repression than happened in response to the “new” threats of terrorism and organised crime.

Security-driven curtailment of our liberties is being turbo-charged by new technology. Through the depression of the 1930s scientific and consumer advances stimulated manufacturing production and employment. Today, the scientific transformation of our species and its corporate organisation seems far more disturbing and intrusive. As Brian Eno asks in his Convention video, who will own the future – what civil rights will we need over our bodies, our privacy and our ideas? How can new technology be used to liberate and emancipate, rather than control and survey?

We want to secure our fundamental rights and freedoms in modern times. But it seems clear that it isn’t going to be sufficient simply to defend what we have and recuperate what we have lost. How, then, is liberty to be secured?



Anthony Barnett (founder, openDemocracy)


Brian Eno (musician and campaigner)
Afua Hirsch (barrister and Guardian legal correspondent)
Chris Huhne MP (LibDem spokesman, Home Affairs)
Will Hutton (Chief Executive, The Work Foundation
Chuka Umunna (Labour Party candidate, Streatham)