Sunday, January 13, 2013

Secret Courts: an open letter to Nick Clegg

Dear Nick,

I've been following the progress of the "Secret Courts Bill" with rather more interest than usual, as justice issues are not exactly my area of expertise - I'm a bureaucrat, not a lawyer - but given my wife's multiple votes against the proposals at the Report Stage, I do feel that I have an obligation to take an interest.

I'm proud of my Party's traditionally strong stance on civil liberties, opposing ID cards, ninety day detention and so on, representing as it does the support for individuals against an over mighty State.

And, I must admit, I do have my doubts about the logic of allowing a situation whereby an individual can potentially be denied information that might restrict their ability to defend themselves.. There may be a credible argument to support the contention implied by the need for such legislation, but it hasn't convinced a good many people whose judgement I respect.

Under such circumstances, it strikes me that there is scope for a conversation on the subject, an opportunity for both sides to make their case, an opportunity that you have rejected, as I understand it.

Given that you are asking our Parliamentarians to act in a manner contrary to what is stated as Party policy, I can't help but feel that you have an obligation to reach out to your opponents on this, especially as these are the very people that you call upon to make the case for the Liberal Democrats on the ground and in the media.

I accept that, as the leader of a political party in government, you cannot just do as our conference tells you - being in a coalition means that some compromises are inevitable - but you do have a duty to explain what those compromises are and why they are necessary.

The concession of holding a meeting with the campaigners against this Bill would earn you some respect and, more importantly, goodwill with the wider Party. Is it too much to ask?

Yours sincerely,


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