Looking Forward to 2022: Why Liberty’s Work Matters More Than Ever
Posted by Martha Spurrier on 20 Dec 2021
As 2021 draws to a close and I take the helm at Liberty once more, it’s a fitting time to pay tribute to the fantastic work of Liberty’s staff team, allies and members during what has been another extraordinary year.
Often while feeding a wakeful newborn in the small hours of the morning, I would find myself scrolling through Liberty’s Twitter feed feeling proud and impressed by the work being done in these challenging and hostile times. Whether it was campaigning for a rights-respecting response to the pandemic, resisting dangerous plans to outlaw protest or advocating for life-affirming healthcare for trans people, Liberty has been constant in holding the powerful to account and standing in solidarity with marginalised groups.
I took up my post as Liberty Director in 2016. The last five years have been turbulent; the Brexit referendum, two general elections, a global pandemic. We have seen attacks on human rights and attempts by powerful people to shut down dissent and shield themselves from accountability.
But we have also been part of a movement for change that is getting stronger by the day. Liberty now has a record number of members and a bigger and more talented staff team than ever before. We have spent the last five years building deep, meaningful relationships and powerful coalitions, critically analysing the way we work and how we can have greater impact. We are committed to living our values and building an organisation where people flourish.
And we’re ready for the fights to come. Last week the Justice Secretary published his plans to scrap the Human Rights Act. The proposals amount to a drastic weakening of rights protections for all of us; they include stripping away the right to a family and private life, hollowing out obligations on the police, the army and other state bodies to respect rights, putting insurmountable obstacles in the way of getting justice for rights violations and putting the Government above the law.
These proposals must be seen in the broader context of the Government’s agenda of stymying accountability and making it impossible for people to stand up to power. As well as attacking the Human Rights Act, the Government is legislating to criminalise protest, remove whistleblower protections, hand more coercive power to the police, overturn judicial rulings they don’t like, create an even more racist and dangerous immigration system, and undermine access to the ballot box by introducing voter ID. In court, in Parliament and on the streets, this Government is dismantling the tools we have to hold it to account.
But resistance to this divisive, opportunistic politics is growing stronger every day. Across the country people are coming together to demand something different – a society in which people are treated with dignity and where coercive, punitive state power is replaced with support, investment and education. As we look forward to 2022 we know we have our work cut out for us. We will be running flagship campaigns to save the Human Rights Act and put an end to police powers that make social issues worse, not better. We will protect access to justice, stand up for free speech and demand an end to rights-abusing tech. Using all the tools at our disposal – investigative journalism, policy making, strategic litigation, campaigning, mobilisation and coalition building – we will work tirelessly to build something better. We will win some fights and lose others. But even when we lose we are building something together, honing our skills, deepening our relationships and our resolve, finessing our strategies for change.
For now though Liberty will close its doors for a few days over the winter break so we can take stock, rest and recharge. We’ll be back in January, ready for anything.
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