Paella with Porter
Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 24th October, 2007
Over the past decade, the Labour government has encroached upon individual liberties in this country, while parliament and much of the public have seemingly been asleep. That was the stark message from the ‘Observer’ columnist and novelist Henry Porter, who was the guest speaker at the Westminster LibDems’ Paella and Politics in Bayswater last night. For month after month, Henry has quite rightly been banging on about issues such as the surveillance society and the government’s attempts to curb our rights to peaceful protest and to extend the period for which people can be held without trial. As anyone in a Focus Team knows, one has to repeat a message many times before it sinks in.
Interestingly, Henry has just written a new novel, called Brandenburg, which looks at life in Germany as the Berlin Wall came down. It was only then that many people in the former DDR realised just how many others were spying on them for the Stasi, sometimes including members of their own family. These days, of course, governments don’t need vast rooms full of neat box files; the data storage is done electronically. And it is truly alarming just how much data is being stored about us all in Britain, and how many public agencies of various kinds can have access to it. Henry Porter is not a party political animal, but he champions ideas which I am pleased to note both declared LibDem leadership candidates espouse — and which I hope will be at the forefront of the party’s policies, whover wins that forthcoming contest.