Jack Straw has written about the Labour Party’s excellent civil liberties record since 1997.
Those who cast myself and my colleagues as Orwellian drones engaged in some awful conspiracy planned in Whitehall basements not only overlook all this government’s achievements, they cheapen the important debate about getting the balance right so that a very important freedom, that to live without fear in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, is nurtured and protected.
And there is of course an ultimate check on executive power – democracy. Talk of Britain sliding into a police state is daft scaremongering, but even were it true there is a mechanism to prevent it – democratic elections. People have the power to vote out administrations which they believe are heavyhanded.
When people come to assess the choices available at the next election, I will stand proudly on Labour’s record, from the Lawrence inquiry, which reported 10 years ago this week, progressive legislation on race and gender, to devolution, the Human Rights Act, Freedom of Information and much more, and be ready to be judged on it. I hope that in the final reckoning even some of our harshest critics will concede that this Labour government has done more than any before it to extend liberties and to constrain government.
The comments are entirely predictable, and indistinguishable from those you might expect at the Daily Mail or The Telegraph. They are perhaps summed up by this concise comment:
In the words of the legendary Charlton Heston, your totalitarian Zanu-Labour Government will have to take my freedom from my cold, dead hands !