In newsprint, thankfully. I doubt any physical assailant could maintain his resolve when confronted with her poise and dignity.
Seriously though, Tim Luckhurst launched his attack on “the closest thing this country possesses to an intellectual pin-up girl” in yesterday’s Times, claiming that “Her defence of individual rights against collective needs takes the demos out of democracy and leaves her organisation marooned on the extra-parliamentary left of politics.”
Frankly, I find this all rather ludicrous. I have seem Ms. Chakrabarti a number of times both live and on television. She is always sensible, measured and reasoned, putting forward strong and logical arguments. She sticks firmly to her liberal principles without ever drifting into dogmatism. In fact, of all the single-issue groups whose spokespeople appear regularly on the media, she is among the most reasonable and most balanced. Most importantly, she puts forward the case that we do not champion liberty at the expense of security, but rather enjoy a safe and prosperous society because it rests on a firm foundation of individual freedom.
Mr. Luckhurst is correct in one respect, however: she has acquired rapid celebrity over the past few years. Yet I doubt that this is simply the result of shameless self-promotion. Sadly, her rise to prominence is a feature of our times; when civil liberties are under attack as never before, one would expect to hear protests from libertarians.
The Labour Government is attempting to abrogate ancient freedoms that date back at least eight hundred years, from trial by jury to habeas corpus, while requiring citizens to carry ID cards and banning them from legitimate protest. That Mr. Luckhurst can trivialise Liberty’s objections as “see[ing] the good in every terrorist suspect and a heart of unalloyed evil in each successive Home Secretary” is absurd.
I hope that one day Shami Chakrabarti will be silenced. However, unlike Mr. Luckhurst, I hope that this will be because the freedom of the individual from both tyranny and terrorism is assured. Sadly, I suspect that is a utopian fantasy. In the meantime, I trust Liberty will remain a thorn in the side of authoritarians.