I think I can say, with perfect confidence, that Liberty, the organisation, is rubbish
As most readers will know, the CWU is affiliated to an organisation called Liberty. This is a long established campaign group that champions and protects our civil liberties. These are not remote, far away or unimportant things. "Civil Liberties" in a very real sense is about basic freedoms - of thought, of action, of assembly. These are things that we almost take for granted, but they are under threat in a variety of ways.
The civil liberties and younger people is a key area of concern, with rights to assemble and protest often under most pressure especially in times of economic crisis. That's why it has been good to see Liberty working with the TUC (https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/news/press-releases/liberty-publishes-report-policing-tuc-march-alternativeand https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/tags/tuc ) and the National Union of Students (https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/sites/default/files/liberty-rights-document-a5-20pp.pdf) both on campaigns and at large-scale demonstrations.
A young solicitor, Peter Jackson has written a great piece on why Liberty matters in the Britain of today. This was shortlisted for a competition the organisation ran to celebrate its 80th birthday, the other shortlisted entries can be seen at:
I think I can say, with perfect confidence, that Liberty, the organisation, is rubbish. I can, I can say that. I can also say that the Prime Minister is rubbish, and the rest of the government. And the Queen. And Rushcliffe Borough Council, if it comes to that. Them and their parking tickets.
I can say all that out loud, I can walk down the street shouting it. I could even make myself a big cardboard banner, nail it to a post and walk around outside the council offices giving my views forcefully through a megaphone.
Which is nice. It wouldn't be that nice for the people who'd have to hear it, probably, nor for the people about whom I'd be talking. In fact, not nice for me either, (I don't like to make a scene,) but it's nice to know that I can do these things. It's nice to know the option's there.
But that's the thing about Britain, isn't it? It's free. We can all do what we like. Freedom of speech, fair trials... er... something about Magnus Carter, whoever he is... we're a bit hazy on the details.
Yes, it's free, is Britain, intrinsically so. We've got a kind of freedom magic, an inherent fairness and liberty in our DNA. Like cricket. It's always been there, always will be. No need to worry about that.
Well, okay, maybe it wasn't always there, not all of it. There was once a time when homosexuality was not quite as widely accepted as we see today, that acceptance took a little light pamphleting. And okay, now I think of it, women couldn't always vote, and maybe there was a bit of argy-bargy about that at one point. Roman Catholics, too, used to be executed in numbers that would now be considered de trop, and Papist executions have largely cleared up. Serfdom, or even chattel slavery, are not quite the common states as once they were, so maybe things have moved on a little there too.
So, okay, maybe our freedoms didn't just happen. Maybe they didn't just arise gracefully from the greens of this other Eden, demi-paradise. Maybe there was a little elbow grease along the way.
But it's all sorted now, right? Battle won? All done?
Well, I checked in on the Liberty website, and after a little pleasant browsing around their luxury fashion and beauty offerings, I realised that I had the wrong Liberty. I then realised that I don't particularly want to live in a country that renders its nationals stateless. Or want people reading my private messages without good reason. Or a country where justice is open to everyone, as the old joke goes, just like the Ritz.
So maybe we do need to keep an eye on it, every once in a while. Maybe we do need to worry about things, just a little bit. Maybe we do need to be a little bit careful.
Now, where did I put that megaphone?
With thanks to Peter and Liberty for allowing us to post his work on http://www.cwuyouth.org/
We hope you like Peter's piece and want to find out more. You can do this at http://www.joinusbeheard.org/.