Heaven knows, Bob Geldof is a bore these days. But one of the splendid, indeed agreeable, elements of David Davis's civil liberties campaign is that it forces one to question some of one's own prejudices. It compels us to think again and remember that allies can be found in unlikely places. Thus it was that Geldof went to Haltemprice and Howden today to campaign for Davis and deliver a speech in which he said:
So what great existential threat does this country now face that did not face our forefathers of the past 1000 years. What is so grave the emergency now that neither civil war nor world war nor various terrorisms were considered so dangerous to our security that our oldest statutes -and few have lasted the 400 years relevance of habeas corpus - could be upended for such a ha’pnworth of momentary contemporary panic. If authority is to be respected it must be just. When it is not, then the greatest threat to that authority is its own instinct to authoritarianism.
These new security measures, these new limitations on our liberties are not the thin end of the wedge We’re way past that now. This is now, already, the bulkier mid way point of that authoritarian block. For we have in the past few years so mauled our ancient defended rights, rights for which bloody battles were fought and heroes lived and died for, as to seriously consider whether the constitution is today much more than a cartoon of its essential meaning. And what moral authority resides any longer in a lawmaking body that acts against the liberties of its own people? Is it not true that the willingness to use intolerable means to achieve impossible ends shows the political mind at its most deluded?
Meanwhile our supine press gulled by political complicity, lull the population to apathy by banging on with their trivial irrelevancies while the constitution is quietly turned aside. Shame on them. Alas they are shameless...
Let us be clear then. This is not security we are being offered, this is government demanding freedom from the constraints that have developed over many centuries to curb the exercise of power. This is a type of illiberal democracy where elections take place against a background of diminished freedom. Ben Franklin said that “they who can give up liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”.
I was told that David Davis was out on a limb on this one. Shamefully that is true. But it is the right limb to be out on. And it is a limb I am proud to join him on. It is also the limb that William Wilberforce climbed out and perched himself upon in this very town. When I think of this area therefore I think of this man's and this area's struggle against injustice, the rights of the unlawfully chained and those denied their liberty. This is not the grotesquerie of slavery and it would be wrong to conflate the two. But it is about justice, it is about liberty, it is about your rights. It is about Magna Carta, and what Britain is, was and must continue to be. It is against the whole flabby, conforming, brainwashed, gullible, witless crap of it all.
This is the only place that uniquely in this election has been given the chance and honour to speak out again for all of us. To speak out on behalf of justice versus intolerance. To whistleblow. To firewatch against unthinking power .To speak about an idea of right and liberty under the law. To vote for an idea of life itself. THE idea of Britain. Tory, Lib Dem, Labour who cares - clamber out on this limb with us, for its where we all belong. Turn out hugely and thank God that you are in a country that is still free to do so.
Ladies and Gentlemen. Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have.
Hats off to the speechwriter. Whole thing here.