...please don't be waiting for me!
Strewth... I hadn't realised that I had been off the blog for such a long time. Don't worry, I've got plenty of stuff stacked up.
I blame it on my first holiday for 4 years - I don't count party conferences as holiday! It was nice to have a drink with a fan of @matildathecat and visit the scene of the crime for the first time in 18 years :-D
Speaking of party conferences, I got my accreditation email last week:
Just to confirm, we have received information from Greater Manchester Police that you have been successfully accredited for the upcoming Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference 2011
At the time of application I didn't even have a valid passport but it was quite painless if you followed the simple instructions. That hasn't stopped a stream of disaffected members queuing up to complain about marching into a police state or some other half-baked excuse to moan.
What did they expect? We have the Deputy Prime Minister and other ministers of the realm attending. Did they really think it would be an open house, expect the party to uphold an individual's right to bear blue paint or require a police officer to doff his cap and hold the door open for them at the utterance of "Don't you know who I am?"
In fact at the heart of many complaints seems to be the idea that some Lib Dem's are more equal than others and shouldn't be subject to the same security checks as lowly members. The days of casual attendance and relaxed entrance procedures may be a regrettable consequence of being in Government but I would rather have the opportunity to debate Lib Dem policy with those in power and meet Ministers than tilt at windmills.
Some of the questions being moaned about are in the Lib Dem data part of the registration process not the police section and the registration web site is also quite specific in stating that the data collected by the police will be handled under conditions required under the Data Protection Act and will not used for purposes other than for which it was collected:
The information supplied by you will be provided to the relevant Constabulary for storage on a computer system in connection with the policing arrangements for the Party Conference. The information will be retained and/or passed to other police forces in the future to assist with the accreditation of subsequent political conferences only. Details of the data stored may be obtained in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act.
It's one thing to be paranoid enough to not trust this categorical assertion but if anyone has evidence that this is not the case then they should report a criminal act to the Information Commissioner.
Wrapping it up as some bogus civil liberties issue does disservice to real civil liberties issues like the disgraceful treatment of Gary McKinnon and when there is so much to do to ensure that the Tories don't run away with the coalition agenda by keeping our eye on the political ball, this is the equivalent of contemplating fluff accumulating in the navel whilst being attacked by a man with a machete.
This is not a civil liberties issue, it is an inconvenience.