The government’s Your Freedom site has attracted a fair amount of interest since its launch yesterday, and is the second high-profile public consultation since the formation of the coalition government. It’s an interesting concept, but despite the initial public interest, I suspect it will be as low impact as the consultation on cuts. Much as the spending cuts consultation framed the debate so that cuts were portrayed as inevitable, Your Freedom posits that scrapping legislation is the only way to secure civil liberties. This is patently not true in all cases: repealing the Human Rights Act, as a case in point. But essentially, that’s besides the point. The government have decided which laws to repeal or modify: they are using this exercise as a savvy way to give the impression of public inclusion in law-making. One contributer on the site described himself as a:
Long time voter; first time legislator.
depicting the manner in which the public are intended to view their role in this exercise. But contributing doesn’t make you a legislator: you’re not in government. Most of you probably didn’t vote for them either. The site is tokenistic, poorly designed and serves only as an exercise to make the government seem liberal and concerned with civil liberties whilst they refuse to intervene in the forced eviction of Democracy Village protesters that can be seen from MPs’ windows.
As much credibility could be gained, surely from looking at laws that garnered particularly intense backlash in the media and through protests, such as the extension of detention for terror suspects, certain SOCPA powers (especially regarding photography), the Digital Economy Bill and, I don’t know, the fact that several thousand people stood outside the coalition negotiations telling Nick Clegg not to give up on the prospect of electoral reform for a little power.
The site isn’t all bad though. Two people have called for the repeal of Sod’s Law and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The government may be stronger than we suspect if they can pull that off.
Photograph by Lewishamdreamer used under Creative Commons Licence.