John Kampfner’s Freedoms
Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 26th November, 2012
Perhaps it was being born and growing up in Singapore that gave John Kampfner insight into the dangers inherent in a social compact that gives citizens economic prosperity (and cleanliness!) at the sacrifice of some significant civil liberties. But certainly concerns about the nature and protection of freedom have been at the heart of much of his subsequent activity as a journalist, editor and former head of Index on Censorship. This evening, at a Pizza and Politics held immediately after the AGM of Holborn & St Pancras Liberal Democrats, he highlighted some of his concerns about some of the measures being considered by the Coalition government — not just the so-called Secret Courts but also proposals for greater surveillance of our emails and other communication traffic. As a convert from Labour to the Liberal Democrats (for which he has received much stick from earstwhile colleagues) John stressed how important it is for the Party to stick to its civil liberties beliefs. The records of both Conservative and Labour governments have been pretty dire in this regard, so the implication is that if LibDems don’t make a stand on freedoms then we risk losing our political soul. Nonetheless, we should take the findings of Lord Leveson seriously when they are published on Thursday. A totally unfettered Press can wreak havoc, as I would argue Fox News in the United States is doing. As always it is a matter of balancing freedom with responsibility, but for me that is very much what Liberalism is all about.