Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jenkins Final Plea On Liberty

Journalist and author, Simon Jenkins, was one of the first voices of reason to question the unwinnable war in Afghanistan. Many of his views have been welcomed by the Orange Party. Now he's standing down from the Sunday Times. He'll be sorely missed. 

Recently Jenkins delivered a call to trim the fat off the London 2012 Olympics - though that was in the Guardian to which he's been closely associated for a number of years. 

Now apparently he's leaving for pastures new and the National Trust but not before delivering a final plea on liberty. 

The Sunday Times has had a New Labour makeover. It is now all style and no substance. Hard edged news reporting has been sacrificed for articles more suited to a magazine than a newspaper. 

Time and again the "Insight" page, of which Jenkins was one-time editor, is back-referenced in a nostalgic throwback to the halcyon days. 

Maybe Jenkins didn't fit in with that New Look? But who will replace him? Alistair Campbell is back at Downing Street and making a big splash in today's Sunday Times Review. Now that would be too much.

Jenkin's final missive is a brilliant piece condemning both the surveillance society and Big Brother tactics of a decade of New Labour, in which he makes a farewell pleas to MPs - defend liberty

Home secretary, Jacqui Smith, is firmly in his sights as the article catalogues recent GCHQ moves to tap into all mobile phone conversations, through ID cards, NHS computer records and 42 days detention.

The closing remarks of Jenkins are worth recording in full. He states they are a lesson for MPs. The Orange Party would contend they are a lesson for us all. 

"The war on terror has been a wretched blind alley in British political history. It has revealed all that is worst in British government – its authoritarianism, its sloppiness and its unaccountability. Yet restoring the status quo ante will be phenomenally hard.
"In all my years of writing this column, from which I am standing down, I have been amazed at the spinelessness of Britain’s elected representatives in defending liberty and protesting against state arrogance. They appear as parties to the conspiracy of power. There have been outspoken judges, outspoken peers, even outspoken journalists. There have been few outspoken MPs. Those supposedly defending freedom are whipped into obedience. I find this ominous."

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