Oh boy. Nothing like a bit of something not that important that us crazy liberal’s don’t like for our fingers to go crazy on the keyboards. Twitter has been awash with criticism of the new ‘draconian’ and ‘illiberal’ measures that people will have to submit to if they want to go to the Liberal Deference Conference in September. There have been several good blog posts on this so I won’t go into the in’s and out’s and the con’s as they are widely available at Caron’s Musings, Zadok Day (Zadok need to get a catchier title dude) or in the Liberal Ramblings from Petersfield.
So if I’m not going to follow up with all the con’s then what am I going to write about? Sod it I’m going with the con’s. I don’t trust any computer system not only because they can be hijacked but also there are bent people in every job who can be bought off or blackmailed into giving data over. No computer system is either infallible either from the outside or the inside. What damage can someone do with stolen National Insurance Numbers or Passport Numbers? Quite a damned lot.
To those that always say that ‘if you have nothing to hide then why do you care?’ I reply that I might not have anything to hide but the more information stored on us then the easier it is for that information to be used against us for any means. We didn’t need these checks in the past so why are they needed now? Clearly it is because the police have upgraded their level of concern for both members of the cabinet, MPs and individual party members. The Lib Dem Conference will be seen as a higher terrorist threat and if that is not the case then the uproar should be insane.
However I point this out. This isn’t a compulsory system. We are not forced to go through these checks and go to the conference. We can choose to opt-out and not go. That is something that needs to be said and isn’t being said loudly enough.
The fact that the police seemingly can turn out accreditation for any member is what you call ‘worrying’. They can influence political gatherings which is not only wrong but deeply troublesome for democracy. With the bag checks and metal detectors then is there any need for extensive background checks on applications? Also the fact that from what I can gather anyone who is turned down will not be informed as to why they have been denied access is to me a concern.
So plenty of concerns and if you are a conspiracy theorist who doesn’t trust the state as far as you could proverbially throw them then the Lib Dem Conference is not for you. It would be nice if the police and/or the party came out to say why they need these extensive background checks but the chances of that happening are as likely as Sir Ian Botham turning down a nice glass of wine.
The changes to policy are a concern but the important thing we need to find out is why these changes have been made. Until the decision is justified (or at least someone attempts to do so) then the majority of the grass roots will be deeply disturbed.
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