Liberals are committed to advancing the rights and opportunities of the individual and we therefore support proposals for a Bill of Rights. It is a sad state of affairs when people have to appeal to Europe for redress not available in Britain.
Every citizen should be alarmed at the erosion of civil liberties during the last seventeen years of Conservative rule. The recent Criminal Justice Act (which sadly the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties are not committed to repeal) removes the right to silence and restricts many kinds of peaceful protest. These measures have done almost nothing to combat crime but have removed long established individual rights. The right to protest, inconvenient though it often is for those with power, is a vital feature of democracy.
Liberals are strongly against the proposed introduction of identity cards. We are not impressed by the argument that the innocent have nothing to fear; the history of this century shows that there is everything to fear from governments that want to monitor and control the lives of citizens.
People should not have to prove their innocence in order to go about their business and that is an important point of principle.
It is a widely accepted Liberal principle that everyone should be allowed to exercise their freedom up to the point where it conflicts with the freedom of others. This means that even though the majority may disapprove of the actions of a minority they are not entitled to ban those actions unless they do actual harm to others. The Liberal Party campaigns with minorities who we believe to be unfairly restricted.
British law discriminates against non-heterosexuals, for example in the unequal ages of consent and by preventing local authorities from giving grants to education or art which presents homosexuality in a positive light. Liberals are campaigning for the repeal of such legislation.
The gypsy and travelling community is another case in point. When proper planning for both local authority and private sites is made gypsies and travellers are able to contribute and their children are assured an education. It should be possible to accommodate a nomadic lifestyle, as has existed in these islands for many centuries. A sensible legal framework would also require attitudes of responsible citizenship from the travellers themselves.