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.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Fox News, Holborn & St Pancras Liberal Democrats, Index on Censorship, John Kampfner, Leveson Inquiry, Liberal Democrats, Singapore | Leave a Comment »
Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 12th April, 2010
The young lawyer Jo Shaw was formally adopted as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Holborn and St Pancras in North London this evening at a packed event addressed by former New Statesman editor, John Kampfner. Mr Kampfner — who is now CEO of Index on Censorship — came out as a Liberal Democrat at a press conference with Nick Clegg recently, having finally given up all hope of New Labour abandoning its authoritarianism (though he had already voted LibDem in the 2005 general election, because of the Iraq War). His verdict on the Labour Party today was that it is ‘tribal, brutish and ideologically bankrupt’, which Jo Shaw said reminded of her of a particular Camden Labour councillor, who had better remain nameless. The LibDems have high hopes of taking outright control of Camden Council on 6 May (currently running it in an arrangement with the much smaller Conservative group), and although Hampstead & Kilburn is a top target seat for the party (with a notional Labour majority of only 474, based on redrawn constituency boundaries), a shock result in Holborn & St Pancras can’t be ruled out. As the 2005 general election candidate, Cllr Jill Fraser, reminded people, the swing that catapulted her into second place on that occasion was so large that the TV thought there must have been a computer error.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: Camden Council, Hampstead and Kilburn, Holborn and St Pancras, Index on Censorhip, Jill Fraser, Jo Shaw, John Kampfner, Liberal Democrats, New Statesman, Nick Clegg | 4 Comments »