Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts

by Stephen Tall on December 23, 2012

Over at LibDemVoice today, we’ve published an article by Jo Shaw who’s led a quite brilliant grassroots campaign against the Government’s plans to extend secret courts.

In September, the party conference passed overwhelmingly a motion rejecting the controversial Part II of the Justice and Security Bill in its entirety — despite a bevvy of high-profile parliamentarians appealing to Lib Dem members to let them try and reform it instead. Since then there has been, with a few honourable exceptions, little sign the party leadership wants to implement the party’s policy in full and ditch secret courts.

Jo is now looking for signatories to up the ante. And, believe me, the ante is being upped. Here’s the incendiary line in the motion that Jo and Martin Tod are proposing to the party’s spring conference in Brighton:

Conference calls for:
- In the event that Part II of the Justice and Security Bill is not withdrawn in accordance with the above, the agenda of the next Federal Conference shall include a debate to consider sanctions or other measures in accordance with the Constitution

The constitution of the Lib Dems is not my specialist subject. The most relevant paragraph I could find by skimming it today reads:

6.11 The Conference may resolve to conduct a ballot of all members of the Party on any fundamental question where, in its judgement, the values and objectives of the Party are in issue or it is otherwise in the essential interests of the Party, and shall at the same time as considering the related resolution consider also a statement from the Federal Executive as to the financial and administrative implications of such a ballot.

But whatever the wording, the meaning is clear: if the Lib Dem leadership continues to ignore the stated will of the party conference, then consequences will follow. What is particularly toxic for the party leadership is that opposition to secret courts unites activists across the party’s ideological spectrum, whether Social Liberal Forum or Liberal Reform (unlike, say, the NHS Bill, where there was significant minority support for the reforms).

To many outside the party, the issue of secret courts may seem a little obscure, certainly not something which could threaten Nick Clegg’s leadership. That is to under-estimate the potency of civil liberties for Lib Dem members: for most, natural justice and due process are the very cornerstones of the liberal credo. Secret courts strike at the heart of both, as I argued here. A Lib Dem leader who ignores that fact is skating on thin ice.

32 comments

New from me > Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts http://t.co/C0xThVT0

by Stephen Tall on December 23, 2012 at 10:21 am. Reply #

New from me > Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts http://t.co/C0xThVT0

by Lon Won on December 23, 2012 at 11:11 am. Reply #

New from me > Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts http://t.co/C0xThVT0

by John Russell on December 23, 2012 at 11:18 am. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/nTLaLl0I via @stephentall – THIS

by Mark Thompson on December 23, 2012 at 12:13 pm. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/nTLaLl0I via @stephentall – THIS

by Kirsten Bayes on December 23, 2012 at 12:16 pm. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/nTLaLl0I via @stephentall – THIS

by Jonathan Calder on December 23, 2012 at 12:19 pm. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/nTLaLl0I via @stephentall – THIS

by Hayden on December 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm. Reply #

New from me > Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts http://t.co/C0xThVT0

by Louise Shaw on December 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/nTLaLl0I via @stephentall – THIS

by Jezzifer on December 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/nTLaLl0I via @stephentall – THIS

by John Alchin on December 23, 2012 at 12:30 pm. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/nTLaLl0I via @stephentall – THIS

by BBC Propaganda on December 23, 2012 at 12:30 pm. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/nTLaLl0I via @stephentall – THIS

by Sydney Homeless on December 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/nTLaLl0I via @stephentall – THIS

by Not Tamworth Labour on December 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/nTLaLl0I via @stephentall – THIS

by Sarah Brown on December 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm. Reply #

New from me > Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts http://t.co/0IlbeM5z

by Stephen Tall on December 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/nTLaLl0I via @stephentall – THIS

by Douglas McLellan on December 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm. Reply #

New from me > Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts http://t.co/0IlbeM5z

by Jo Shaw on December 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm. Reply #

New from me > Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts http://t.co/0IlbeM5z

by John Doran on December 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/nTLaLl0I via @stephentall – THIS

by Ben Hutchings on December 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm. Reply #

New from me > Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts http://t.co/6uD4UsS3

by Stephen Tall on December 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm. Reply #

Opposition across the party's ideological spectrum. QT @MarkReckons serious threat to LD leadership over secret courts http://t.co/zYsZzmfa

by Michael Berridge on December 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm. Reply #

It's both nice and weird to be able to completely agree with @stephentall for once http://t.co/WGCvjuOr

by George Potter on December 26, 2012 at 11:02 pm. Reply #

It's both nice and weird to be able to completely agree with @stephentall for once http://t.co/WGCvjuOr

by A C McGregor on December 26, 2012 at 11:04 pm. Reply #

RT @stephentall: Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts http://t.co/fLBdIkNV

by Allan Heron on December 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/7uDpJeTM via @stephentall

by Duncan Stott on December 27, 2012 at 1:47 am. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/7uDpJeTM via @stephentall

by Kat Dadswell on December 27, 2012 at 2:24 am. Reply #

[...] Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts by Stephen Tall on Stephen Tall. …”for Lib Dem members: for most, natural justice and [...]

by Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #306 on December 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/mQ5vqm9f

by Chris Richards on December 31, 2012 at 9:04 am. Reply #

Clegg skating on thin ice: serious threat to party leadership over secret courts | Stephen Tall http://t.co/RxutmjT4 via @stephentall

by Matt Lake on January 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm. Reply #

[...] the civil liberties agenda, well it makes the political reform section look action-packed. Oh, and secret courts don’t, so far as I can see, receive a mention; though that’s more likely to be [...]

by Reviewing the Mid-Term Review. It’s hit and miss. But the biggest miss are the wasted opportunities on January 7, 2013 at 9:02 pm. Reply #

[...] The ‘proper balance’ referenced there is to an unequal form of justice that no liberal government could ever sign up to; yet this one has, with all the risks that poses for the Lib Dem leadership. [...]

by The Mid-Term Review: 3 further points on January 8, 2013 at 8:29 am. Reply #

[...] the civil liberties agenda, well it makes the political reform section look action-packed. Oh, andsecret courts don’t, so far as I can see, receive a mention; though that’s more likely to be omission, I [...]

by Reviewing the Mid-Term Review. It’s hit and miss. But the biggest miss are the wasted opportunities on January 9, 2013 at 7:45 am. Reply #

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