Dear Mr. Cameron,
A few days before my move, you wrote to me — “personally”, if you don’t mind my quoting you — regarding the upcoming election. Your letter was meant to outline the reasons I
should not vote for Labour should vote for your party. Part of said letter spoke of the erosion of rights that had occurred under Labour. I claimed that things would be different if you were Prime Minister.
And I believe you, to a certain extent. I believe that you intend to put an end to Stop-and-Search of photographers, who are people with a hobby you can understand.
But less than 48 hours after receiving your letter, there was a vote on the Digital Economy bill. With Parliament set to be dissolved, it was a perfect opportunity for a party that claims to stand up for citizens rights to make sure the bill was thoroughly scrutinized. In fact, you could have ensured that it was not passed before the dissolution of parliament. Then, with a (presumably) Tory government, you could have ensured that the bill respected the rights of the individual upon taking power.
Now that would be putting money where your mouth was.
Instead, the bill was pushed through. Ben Bradshaw said during debate that “if the Bill gets on to the statute book, it will be with the co-operation of the main Opposition party.” He goes on to say that without “a good level of cross-party support”, the bill would be doomed.
The implication is that the Conservative party could have elected to have this bill scrutinized, debated and voten upon after the election, rather than before. But you did not.
We have several rational conclusions.
The first is that you are not familiar with the content of the bill. This, to me would suggest that you ought to have given yourself and your party more time to scrutinize and debate the bill prior to a vote — so this option seems unlikely.
A second option is that you do not have much of a grip on how dependent people are on online services. Many companies charge for paper bills — and paperless is not an option if your internet is cut off. Companies also interact with their customers online, sometimes exclusively and sometimes for free (while phone interactions/service costs money).
Because of these things, cutting people off from the internet is not a mild penalty, akin to denying a family a form of entertainment. Instead, it cuts people off from information and services that are vital to their day-to-day lives. If you were considering the suspension of internet to be a light penalty, Mr. Cameron, you are showing yourself as incapable of grasping the average citizen’s daily interaction with today’s technology.
Third, you could think that a process in which the accused are assumed guilty and must prove themselves innocent is not an erosion of rights. You might think that those who have the most to gain from making accusations, because they have been waging a war in the press to make their customers afraid to share content online for over a decade, might be those best suited to enforce copyright. You may think that penalizing entire families and households for the deeds of one family member is reasonable.
Or, finally, you do not care about the erosion of rights, and your stated position on the subject does not reflect the way that you intend to govern.
I find none of the options above to be warming. Perhaps there is another reason why you have collaborated with Labour to push this bill through — if so, please share it.
No matter how I vote in the upcoming election, I know that those I vote for — should they win — will pass some bills that I will disagree with and dislike. My dislike for the Digital Economy bill is not at issue here. What is at issue is that your words and deeds do not match.
Why should I vote for you, if the day after you “personally” let me know that you will work to defend my rights you help to push through a bill that erodes them?