If you are reading this blog then you can probably tweet it, you can probably like it on your facebook page, you can probably email your friends to say you have read it and you can probably text your friends to let them know about it. Right now you can do that without the Government being able to check who those friends are, who they might be passing the word on to and whether they respond to you.
If you are reading this blog then you are a member of the largest single interest group in the United Kingdom, the Net-Surfers. There are more Net-Surfers in the UK than there are in the combined faith groups, or in the combined political parties, or in the trades unions; indeed more than the membership of the RSPB, RSPCA and NSPCC combined.
Tomorrow, thanks to the combined efforts of Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert and Manchester Lib Dem Councillor Lev Eakins, supported by a lot of us in the party grass roots, you will still be able to tweet it, like it on your facebook page, email your friends to say you have read it and text your friends to let them know about it without the Government being able to check who those friends are, who they might be passing the word on to and whether they respond to you.
Today it is clear that the Liberal Democrats are on your side.
For generations it has been assumed that politicians get elected to Westminster and then do what the hell they want, regardless of the promises their parties make in their manifestos. Today however it is clear that in the Liberal Democrats, when the issue is one of freedom, of liberty and of social justice we have a political party in government that continues to be answerable to the democratic will of its members.
We always knew that the big test for the Liberal Democrats was never going to be on the economy or tuition fees or employment. These are issues where the Lib Dems will alwasy find the most workable compromise between the needs of the people, the needs of the nation and the politics of the people they are working with.
For the Liberal Democrats the big test was always going to come on the question of balancing the principles of freedom, liberty and democracy. That is the very reason for the party’s being. They have been challenged and they have met that challenge. The Snooper’s License was for the Liberal Democrats their Clause 4 moment, and the significant thing about it is that whereas in other parties the leadership have stamped their principles on their party, in the Lib Dems the membership have stamped their principles on the Leadership.
Readers of this blog will see that and will respond favourably.
I have been told so many times by people that ‘I feel sorry for you, your leaders have let you down!’, let me tell you that when it came to the crunch, when it came to balancing the fundemental principles of liberty, justice and democracy my leaders did not let me down. They came through magnificently, and I now know that as long as there are Liberal Democrats in government our freedom is guaranteed.
At Lib Dem conference every year, out of the eyes of the public, we gather and sing the old campaigning songs. Songs of how Liberals fought against the Corn Laws, and the Truck Laws, of how we legalised trades unions and supported universal suffrage, and opposed the nuclear deterrent and march for liberty, justice and democracy. The song we rally to most is one we call the Land, which is written sung to the tune of ‘Marching Through Georgia’. The final verse reads:
“Clear the way for liberty, the land must all be free
Liberals will not falter from the fight though stern it be
Until the flag we love so dear shall fly from sea to sea
O’er a Land that is free for the people.”
This week, we showed our true colours and let nobody doubt that when it comes to fighing for liberty, justice and democracy, we will always be here at the front, swords to hand and the enemy firmly fixed in our sights.