Friday, April 22, 2005

The 1952 Committee

I believe Richard has some interesting results from his survey of the 1952 Committee. But I won't steal his thunder on that. What I do want to do is respond to the email that he sent out to all members of the committee, including myself.

Asks Richard:
I was wondering if you are still intending to boycott the Tories over this issue at the next election, and if you'll be posting on your blog to encourage others not to vote for Michael Howard, based on this issue?

I think my position on ID cards is fairly unequivocal. There are no circumstances that I can think of - and certainly none which I can see being applicable in the near future in Britain - which can remotely justify this full frontal assault on our fundamental civil liberties. That was my position when I joined the 1952 Committee, and it is my position now. I was pleased to see that the Tories prevented the Bill passing Parliament before its dissolution; however, in the absence of any statement from the Tories attaching their opposition to such a measure, they have no chance of winning back my support.

I would like to say here, however, that I think the vehemence of Richard's attack on conservative bloggers comes from his recent anger at the Howard campaign of the last week. I share this anger, and think that allusions to the Bradford race riots are exactly the sort of comments which stoke up racial tension, and racial hatred, and to which Trevor Philips referred to in a recent interview with the Times. This should not direct itself towards anger at the 1952 Committee over ID cards.

In many ways, I suppose I have a confession to make. ID cards are not the only issue that have made me drift away from the Tories. Perhaps it would have been better for me to have joined the committee as an honourable member. Why didn't I? Because by and large, that group comprised Eurosceptics, and I did not want my views on Europe to be conflated with theirs.

That said, my lack of support for Michael Howard and the Tory party remains. I have said it before, and I will say it again - the Tories are not interested in small government or civil liberties. If they were, then they would consider the freedom not to carry an ID Card far more important than the freedom to smoke or the freedom to fox-hunt. My vote for the general election is still undecided. Yet if Richard feels better with such an assurance, it will not be in the box marked "Conservative".