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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 April 2005, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
UK voters' panel: Philippa Bartlett

MEET THE PANEL
Philippa Bartlett
Name: Philippa Bartlett
Age: 30
Lives: Rothwell, Northants
Works: Helpdesk manager for software company
Current voting intention: Liberal Democrat
In 10 words or less:
"Laid back Liberal, passionate about life, hates ignorance and prejudice"

I hope to see clear policies on education, health and taxation in the Liberal Democrat manifesto.

What I'll be looking most closely for, however, is a firm commitment from them that they'll stop the erosion of civil liberties that has been happening in this country.

While I don't deny the need for security, detaining people without charge or trial sends a message to the rest of the world that, when it comes to justice, Britain doesn't always practice what it preaches.

When you think back to the injustices against the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four, it makes it even more important for the Liberal Democrats to stand up against these unfair practices now.

VOTERS' PANEL
The Liberal Democrats have so far been the voice of civil liberties in both the Commons and the Lords.

I hope their manifesto clearly defines how they will go about maintaining them in the future.


Your comments:

I certainly agree with Philippa about the erosion of our civil liberties. Terrorists could harm thousands of people at the most, but once our liberties have gone we will all suffer. Terrorist powers have already been used against protesters, and Tony Blair didn't rule out using them against G8 protesters this summer. Meanwhile we have not had a terrorist attack here and there is no evidence that such laws could stop one. All the warnings are obviously psych-ops hype to scare people into submission, which worked well for Hitler and others.
Martin, Reading

The Lib Dems have a good balance all round and Philippa is absolutely right. Anyone who wants to support these terror laws is destroying freedom, and from where I stand that's cowardice. Lets go on living as a democratic free society and defy those that would try to destroy it - including Blair and Howard.
Mike, Chester

So far, the Lib Dems have set out their stall more clearly than the larger parties. Apart from civil liberties, personal freedoms and personal accountability, the Lib Dems are leading the way on government transparency and accountability. I wish all these virtues could be put to the test.
Vince, Newport Pagnell

I lived for years in an area controlled for years by a Lib Dem council. The Lib Dems may spout good ideas but they do not deliver to pensioners and carers, the services and discounts/exemptions that are recommended in the council tax guidelines by the ODPM. So a vote for the Lib Dems will not improve the situation of carers and pensioners.
Allan Ledwith, Colchester

I think Philippa forgets that Britain is a major terrorist target and as a result it must detain certain people. After all, in most cases everyone receives a fair trial. It is only the ones who are a genuine threat, who we know about due to our impressive intelligence agencies, that are held. If it is keeping me safe, long may it continue. With regards to civil liberties, the Lib Dems would try and follow the EU laws, as they are so pro Europe, and would take such important matters out of our hands. If the Lib Dems actually had some good ideas of their own, they would not rely on Europe so much.
Chris, Surrey

Unfortunately for Philippa, all the Lib Dems can do is make speeches. They can't actually change anything. The one thing we know is that the Lib Dems won't be forming a Government on 6 May. It'll be Labour or the Tories. I would suggest she needs to look at the policies and, crucially, record of both main parties - then look at what is likely to happen in her own constituency - and vote accordingly, if she really want to make a difference. If her seat is a Labour-held marginal and her Lib Dem vote helps the Tory candidate win, well, one thing we can be sure of is that a Tory Government won't be very sympathetic to the civil liberties issue. Michael Howard has already said he will look at scrapping the Human Rights Act, passed by Labour.
Richard Burningham, Plymouth

Only the Liberal Democrats can stand for civil liberties. Labour and the Tories just compete on how "tough" their policies are on potential innocents.
Jeffrey Lake, London, UK

I agree with Philippa. Health, education, taxation and civil liberties are important. I have voted Labour all my life but will vote Liberal Democrat in the coming election. I also want to see the Lib Dems leading the argument against religious intolerance. As an atheist, I and many of my friends from all over the world are isolated or condemned by religions. People should be free to choose whatever religion they want, or choose a naturalistic world view that does not include religious beliefs.
Roger Hart, Kent, UK

Philippa's words are too true with regard to civil liberties, and why I will also be voting Lib Dem. Also, it is due to the fact that they are the only party even remotely likely to get rid of Labour in my constituency.
Nathan James, Liverpool





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