Hey everyone This afternoon the Scottish Parliament debated draft Scottish Government proposals for the introduction of shared super database. Whilst I have no doubt that the intentions behind this idea are entirely honourable I have to say I have some serious misgivings about it.
I say this not as a member of the party who are leading the opposition the Liberal Democrats, nor I am a member of those two sets of glory hunters who will seek to use the debate as a points scoring exercise in which they can fire some cheap shots at the Scottish Government also known as the Conservative and Unionist Party or alternatively the Loyal British Labour and Unionist Party. You see these two have no room whatsoever to talk on this issue. It was the Labour Party who attempted under the narcissistic leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to introduce identity cards in the UK. Then not to be outdone the Tories tried to introduce the obnoxious snooper’s charter. Having opposed these attacks on the democratic rights and freedoms we call our civil liberties, then consistency demanded that I oppose the creation of this super database even though it is the SNP of which I am proud to be a member who are considering this course of action.
You see, unlike Jim Murphy who has a chameleon like ability to change his opinions more often than the Scottish weather I believe that consistency is important in politics and that is why I have no problems in putting aside other political differences I may have with the Liberal Democrats to support them on this issue.
As a transsexual woman I have grave reservations about this idea as it could impinge on my privacy, and the right to a private life is something I value very highly. I am therefore very concerned that 120 companies could have access to my personal information without my consent. This point was raised by Conservative MSP Liz Smith and who raised the issue of individual consent. This is something I refuse to grant. It is my opinion that this kind of potential intrusion is and always will be completely unacceptable as my records like everyone else’s contain highly sensitive information on a whole range of issues relating to my health conditions. The idea of such a database is riven with pitfalls and could be used to discriminate against me in any number of ways. This discrimination would be based value judgement of others due to negative perceptions on what I may or may not be able to achieve. These assumptions will be made by people who have never met me and have no idea as to my capabilities.
No doubt supporters of this database will argue their case on the grounds of making Scotland safer but I don’t believe it will. To me this is a civil liberties issue and this smacks just too much of big brother. Someone needs to tell all parties that 1984 has come and gone and so has the cold war and cruelty of Thatcherism which was the driving force in pushing me away from the federalism of the Liberal Democrats or the more cynical devolution offered by the Labour Party as a bribe to keep Scotland sweet in the their own electoral interests, in to supporting the SNP which I have done ever since.
However, I am not, nor can I ever be an uncritical or unthinking nationalist. Anyone who has an active interest in politics,but particularly those of us who are party members no matter of what party who agree with everything their party of choice say just for the sake of doing so are doing themselves or their party no favours. If democracy is about anything it is about a system of checks and balances to make sure our government governs in the interests of our people rather than themselves and a small elite group of friends and contacts. This to me is what representative democracy is all about. It is for this reason I had no hesitation in signing the Liberal Democrats petition on this database. It genuinely saddens me that my party which has done and will continue to do so much for Scotland in what will soon be 8 years in office including taking us to the brink of our destiny and almost regaining our national independence has taken such an unfortunate stance on this issue and I suspect I am not alone within the party when I express what I believe are legitimate concerns.
I find it strange that a party in which the vast majority of the membership come from what I would term a liberal left perspective would support such a socially and culturally conservative move and this is not the first time we have made mistakes in the area of data collective There were some voices raised at the creation of a single police force in Scotland but I wasn’t among them and there was a reason for that.
The reason is that crime is a different ball game from ordinary data collection and when it comes to catching criminals information should be shared as widely as possible. This is especially true when the crime committed involves any form of violence. Yes I know that this may upset some civil liberties groups, but as far as I’m concerned when it comes to violent crime you give up your civil liberties on the day of your conviction. This however does not apply to decent ordinary members of our society and it should never be allowed to do so.
Today Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said of the government’s proposals that it was an attempt to introduce an identity card by the back door. I sincerely hope he is wrong but as I’ve said I have my concerns. In his address to parliament Mr Rennie said ‘we all know the problems with putting all your eggs in one basket or all your savings in one bank or business we should be cautious when the government wants us to do the same now’. Despite our other political differences this is one area where Willie Rennie and I can agree we should proceed with caution on. This is a topic which needs to be treated with sensitivity and the government, my government needs to listen to the genuine concerns of our people.
Maybe it’s because I’m a transsexual woman, maybe I have hidden impairments and identify as a disabled person, maybe it’s because I worked in equalities, maybe it’s because we should just live and let live or maybe it’s because I am and always will be a fighter for a better fairer more inclusive Scotland that I say carpets are for decorating the rooms in our homes, they are not for sweeping our civil liberties under. This cannot be allowed to happen not today, not tomorrow, not at any price. The fact that so many people could potentially gain access to what are essentially confidential records means that there is an increased potential for crime. This is something which needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency before any scheme of this nature goes ahead. After all to paraphrase the old saying If too many cooks end up scotching the broth with too much information it could be a recipe for chaos.
Love And Best Wishes