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Brown's Speech on Liberty - The Transcript

PM to defend civil liberties record - Scotsman.com News

Prime Minister Gordon Brown will seek to address critics of his record on civil liberties with a high-profile speech about the need to balance the demands of security and liberty.

I suppose it will be a rerun of his Speech on Liberty (25 Oct 07) - a fine speech:

I want to talk today about liberty - what it means for Britain, for our British identity and in particular what it means in the 21st century for the relationship between the private individual and the public realm.

I want to explore how together we can write a new chapter in our country's story of liberty - and do so in a world where, as in each generation, traditional questions about the freedoms and responsibilities of the individual re-emerge but also where new issues of terrorism and security, the internet and modern technology are opening new frontiers in both our lives and our liberties.

Addressing these issues is a challenge for all who believe in liberty, regardless of political party. Men and women are Conservative or Labour, Liberal Democrat or of some other party - or of no political allegiance. But we are first of all citizens of our country with a shared history and a common destiny.

And I believe that together we can chart a better way forward. In particular, I believe that by applying our enduring ideals to new challenges we can start immediately to make changes in our constitution and laws to safeguard and extend the liberties of our citizens:....

And my starting point is that from the time of Magna Carta, to the civil wars and revolutions of the 17th century, through to the liberalism of Victorian Britain and the widening and deepening of democracy and fundamental rights throughout the last century, there has been a British tradition of liberty - what one writer has called our 'gift to the world'.....

Now is the time to reaffirm our distinctive British story of liberty - to show it is as rich, powerful and relevant to the life of the nation today as ever; to apply its lessons to the new tests of our time.

So instead of invoking the unique nature of the threats we face today as a reason for relinquishing our historical attachment to British liberty, we meet these tests not by abandoning principles of liberty but by giving them new life. ...

we must never forget that the state and the people are not equivalent. The state is always the servant of the people.

We must remember that liberty belongs to the people and not governments.

It is the challenge and the opportunity for our generation to write the next chapter of British liberty in a way that honours the progress of the past - and promises a wider and more secure freedom to our children.

Hurrah! He'll be voting for David Davis next. But actions speak stronger than words, and however much he trumpets British Freedom and Liberty he has presided over the most illiberal and authoritarian crackdown on them since the Luftwaffe were flying overhead.


From first to last, through the courts at Westminster, the common law has resisted the introduction of the civil law into the jurisprudence of England . At the very time that the Tudors and the Stuarts were grasping at high prerogative the common law was maturing its vigor in the courts. Coke, one of their judges, did more to develop and organize it for protecting the individual against arbitrary power than any man who has appeared in the progress of English society. In him the professional instinct of the common law judge reached its sublimest sense of human right. He saw that the English constitution draws its whole life from the common law, and is but the framework of its living spirit. By the common law "every man's house is called his castle”. Why? Because it is surrounded by a moat or defended by a wall? NO! It may be a straw-built hut the wind may whistle through it, the rain may enter, but the king cannot.

In all the various revolutions, with their dark and dreary scenes of violence and bloodshed, through which England has passed, the people have clung to their ancient laws with a devotion almost superstitious. When our forefathers established governments in America they laid their foundations on the common law. And when difficulties grew up between them and the mother country, they acted as their English ancestors had always acted in their political troubles – interposed the common law as the shield against arbitrary power. When the United Colonies met in Congress, in 1774, they claimed the common law of England as a branch of those "indubitable rights and liberties to which the respective colonies are entitled." And the common law, like a silent providence is still the preserver of our liberties.


What a scam, what an absolute scam. Labour have destroyed more civil liberties than any government in living memory, and he has the nerve to defend it.

Readers may be interested to know that there's a petition on the No 10 website - it's name says it all


Mr E. Castle, I hope you don't mind me using one of your 'Comments' to publicise the petition? Many thanks, Ruth

What a steaming pile of horse-shit. Actually I think I'd rather have the horse-shit, at least I can put that around the peach trees.

The speech he actually gave today to the IPPR was so wonderfully full of contradictions it was a masterpiece. There has never been such a serenely beautiful construction upon the foundations of doublethink:


It moreorless declares, as you may very well expect, that the best way to prevent the tyranny of chaos is to pre-empt it with the tyranny of the state.

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