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In our Taking Liberties blog, not only will we keep you uptodate on the progress of the film, we'll also post news about the ongoing civil liberties movements we're related to.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Hay Festival

Was a great success. The screening sold out completely - I know this as I was accosted by Hugh Hudson moments before it started who told me that he couldn't get tickets for love nor money. Great response from the audience (though admittedly preaching to the choir somewhat), and a lively Q&A afterwards. Then they had to cancel the book signing as they had already sold out of books. We have yet to find out exactly how many they had in stock before we get too carried away...

City Screen Panel Event at Clapham Picturehouse Tuesday!

Also sold out. So they moved it to a bigger screen - and that's sold out as well.

However there are still tickets left at the Ritzy Brixton and the Greenwich Picturehouse.

Nice review at myfilmsblog

Gordon Talks Tougher than Tony

Anyone who thinks that as soon as Mr Brown walks through the door of Downing Street, he will immediately start handing civil liberties back to the masses, should have a look at his latest macho proclamations at the leadership "Hustings". Before we examine his liberty busting proposals in any detail, it's worth looking at the use of the word "hustings" in this context. This word is normally used to describe the process by which all the candidates for forthcoming elections make their case before the electorate ahead of a forthcoming election. It seems a bit of a pointless exercise when New Labour have essentially exorcised democracy from the leadership contest, and made sure that Gordon stands for the top job unopposed. Is it technically a husting if their is only one person to hust? Discuss...

But more to the point, when Gordon was husting with himself, he announced a series of measures that signal that he is deftly taking up Blair's authoritarian baton. The most draconian element is the plan to extend the pre-cahrge detention of terror suspects to 90 days.

This proposal is of course not a new one - Blair tried it on immediately after the July 7th bombings, but for once Parliament actually did it's job and voted the measure down - completely humiliating Blair in the process. The New Labour argument fell apart when it appeared that there was no evidence whatsoever that the extension would in any way help the fight against terrorism, and would only serve to alienate the Muslim Community even further. The only people pushing for these powers were the politically motivated members of the British Police who's careers are steered by the Government. In the Taking Liberties Book, we go through the polices argument in detail, and show it to be a collection of falsehoods, exaggerations and downright lies. The most absurd part of the police's argument for extending pre charge detention, was the use of the Ricin trial as an example of how the existing powers weren't enough.


And breathe...

Anyway, when Blair tried to turn the country into a Police state in November 2005 - by effectively giving the police the power to hand out 3 month prison sentences without charge - he was roundly defeated. Gordon now sees this as a way of stamping his authority on what remains of the left of the Labour party, and wants to build on his image of being harder than David Cameron.

But as in the previous attempt to remove Habeas Corpus the Government, Police and Security Services have produced no viable evidence that increasing the pre-charge period will in any way help fight terrorism. There is of course substantial evidence that it will have exactly the opposite effect. When similar laws were introduced in Northern Ireland, it backfired completely, as the apparent injustice of people being detained without charge acted as a recruiting Sergent for the very terrorist cause that the government was trying to eradicate.

There is also irrefutable evidence that the longer someone is held without charge, the more likely they are to confess to something they haven't done. Evidence and confessions obtained from people who have been held without charge becomes more unreliable the longer they have been held. Some experts call being held without charge for long periods tantamount to psychological torture.

The British Authorities are also extremely good at smearing suspects in the media while holding them for long periods without charge. During the Forest Gate Farce, the Bottle bombings (that never happened), and the recent terror raids in Birmingham, senior police officers briefed the Murdoch press and planted stories about the men they were holding. In most cases the briefings turned out to be nothing more than a fabrication that was designed to have the suspects declared guilty by media. The most extreme example of this was when senior police officers briefed against a dead man, and Charles de Menezes was declared a terrorist even before his body was cold.

At the current limit of 28 Days, Britain has the longest pre-charge detention period of any western democracy. But even though we are statistically more likely to win the lottery than to be involved in a terrorist attack, Gordon Brown is hell bent on chipping away at our liberties yet further, just to make sure that world believes that he is "tough on terror".

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