I think Britain was the pioneer of liberty for the modern world. I think in later years America took it upon itself to claim that it was the leading country in promoting liberty. I think Britain. But our view of liberty is different from the American view of liberty. Our view of liberty is not the 'leave me alone' liberty that we characterise with some of the American constitution. Our view of liberty is liberty in the context of social responsibility.Now, to an extent, he's right. This country does have a long and proud tradition of liberty - the notion of the "free-born Englishman" is not merely apocryphal. Equally, I think that genuine social responsibility is important, although I don't really know what Brown means when he talks of "liberty in the context of social responsibility".
What is more, I suspect that if Brown did make his sentiments more explicit, I would not be greatly enamoured of what he had to say. Because Brown's praise for "liberty" rings somewhat hollow when you consider what the Labour government has done over the past ten years. This is, after all, the government which has:
Restricted free speech, with its laws against "inciting religious hatred";And still on the cards we have:
Banned smoking in pubs;
Presided over the creation by the police of the world's largest DNA database;
Passed laws compelling adoption agencies to place children with homosexual couples (a move which also undermines social responsibility, since it looks set to drive Catholic adoption agencies out of business);
The further restriction of free speech, with laws prohibiting the "incitement of hatred" against homosexuals and the disabled;I do not pretend that the above lists come anywhere close to being definitive.
The introduction of compulsory ID cards, which that buffoon Liam Byrne says will become "a great British institution".
And then there are Gordon Brown's own words, in the aftermath of the acquittals of Nick Griffin and Mark Collett on charges of "inciting racial hatred":
Any preaching of religious or racial hatred will offend mainstream opinion in this country. We have got to do whatever we can to root it out from whatever quarter it comes. And if that means we have got to look at the laws again, we will have to do so.So, in the first place, Brown appears to believe that simply because something "will offend mainstream opinion" (by which he means, Gordon Brown's opinion), it should automatically be illegal. Secondly, he advocates a reactive approach to law-making, under which the government waits to see what behaviour members of the public engage in, and then decides whether to criminalise that, rather than setting down the law as a guide to conduct. I fail to see how anyone who thinks in these terms can have the temerity to even mention Britain's tradition of liberty.