Tue, 22 Sep 2009
Nick Clegg has outlined why only the Liberal Democrats will stand up to protect the civil liberties of British citizens.
Speaking in conversation with Shami Chakrabarti, the director of civil rights group Liberty, Mr Clegg criticised Labour's authoritarian measures and said that the Conservatives were flip-floppers.
He said that his family background - his mother was imprisoned in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp while his grandmother fled Russian pogroms to seek asylum in Britain - and his natural instinct to always question authority influenced his passion to protect civil liberties.
Mr Clegg said that Labour had brought in illiberal measures such as control orders, where people can be incarcerated without facing trial or even being told of the charges against them, because the party believed that any threat to collective safety justified targeting individuals' liberty.
The Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, believe that infringing the rights of individuals through control orders is a slippery slope to further huge erosions of personal freedom, he said.
Mr Clegg contrasted the Liberal Democrats' principled stand on control orders with Conservative "flip flopping".
"In February 2007 as Tony Blair was trying to introduce control orders I said that they are wrong and we would vote against it," he said.
"The Tory spokesman said he agreed with everything I said, they were wrong, and if it carried on the Tories would vote against it next year.
"In 2008 they did not fulfil that promise. That tells you all you need to know about the differences the two biggest opposition parties."
View Shami Chakrabarti's response to her interview with Nick Clegg here.