This year we have seen much pomp and ceremony in honour of the 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta. Speeches, events and grand unveilings, attended by the powerful and connected, have reflected on the principles of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
During Report stage consideration of the Immigration Bill yesterday, the Commons debated issues which go to the heart of our national conscience. How do we treat those in desperate need, including children? What is the minimum of dignity and respect that our country should afford to everyone within our borders? How do we uphold fair play, compassion and the British sense of justice?
It goes without saying: the rights of servicemen and women are just as deserving of protection as those of civilians. But – until our flawed military justice system is reformed – we will continue to deny our troops some of those vital protections.
In the UK, an Armed Forces Act must be passed every five years – and the latest Bill is on its way through Parliament as we speak.
So on Monday we told you it was sleight of hand and today we can confirm - there has definitely been no Government climbdown on surveillance. The draft Investigatory Powers Bill, announced today, constitutes an astonishing assault on all of our internet security.
Last week, our very own James and Jane Bonds opened their doors to the Times newspaper and on Sunday we had the denouement: the Great Government Climbdown. “We’ve listened” they told us and – although they know that extensive powers are desperately needed – they understood that we, the people, need reassurance that they would be used in a “necessary, proportionate and accountable way”.
This was the week we learnt that James Bond’s latest incarnation is “sexily pro-Snowden”. As always, 007’s timing is impeccable – because this was also the week that saw the spectre of the Snoopers’ Charter return with a vengeance.
Liberty’s inaugural fringe event at the SNP Conference took place on Friday in Aberdeen. Chaired by the Guardian’s Scotland correspondent Libby Brooks, a packed audience questioned MSPs Alex Neil and Humza Yousef, MP Joanna Cherry, and Liberty’s Director Shami on a range of issues covering Scotland, the UK, and international affairs.