Martha Spurrier and Gracie Bradley on a challenging but exciting few months ahead
Posted on 02 Nov 2020
This month Gracie Bradley takes over as Liberty Director while Martha Spurrier is on parent leave. Here’s a short note from each of them on the work Liberty has been doing and on the challenging but exciting months ahead
Liberty has been standing up to power since 1934. Through wartime, peacetime, recession and pandemic, Liberty has been a force for justice, equality and dignity. Right now, our work is more important than ever.
Covid-19 has laid bare the deep inequalities in our society. The Government has a worrying agenda to swerve accountability and co-opt the powerful tools of the digital age to expand its power and entrench policies of surveillance, coercion and control. From threats to tear up our Human Rights Act to promises to block judicial scrutiny of Government decisions, from racist policing to restrictions on protest, the infrastructure of human rights and civil liberties is under threat.
But while the threats are grave and the scale of the challenge can feel unprecedented, there is real opportunity for change and resistance. Now is the time for a new narrative – one that puts rights, protection and freedom at the heart of our society and rejects oppression, punishment and discrimination.
Liberty and its members play a vital role in shaping this future. In the courts, in Parliament, in the media and on the streets, we stand shoulder to shoulder with and strive to empower all communities building towards progress and liberation.
At times like these running Liberty is a great privilege and a big responsibility. As I head off on parent leave and hand over the reins to Gracie Bradley for the next nine months, I know that Liberty – its legacy, its potential and everyone it exists to serve – are in expert hands. I’ll be cheering Liberty on from the side-lines, and I’m already excited about coming back to carry on our important work next summer.
I’m thrilled to be appointed Liberty’s Director in what is promising to be a challenging year for civil liberties and human rights.
I joined Liberty as a Policy and Campaigns Officer in 2017 and have since spent two years co-leading the Policy and Campaigns team.
I’ve had the joy of being part of many Liberty successes: forcing NHS Digital to stop sharing migrants’ data with the Home Office, securing greater protections for people stopped under terrorism laws, holding the police to account for racially disproportionate use of their powers and scrutinising the rollout of invasive surveillance tech.
The year ahead will not be easy with the current Government intent on undermining the tools that people like you and I use to hold it to account – judicial review, the Human Rights Act, protest, and scrutiny of its decisions by our MPs.
At the same time, a climate of hostility in parts of wider society continues to build: the far-right mobilising to terrorise people seeking asylum, coordinated attempts to de-legitimise work to educate children about LGBT+ issues and the Government-led denial of the material reality of racism.
Liberty faces these threats by standing up to power together. We have a strong and active membership, a dedicated Board and staff team and an innovative and multi-faceted way of working. I’m inspired by Liberty’s decades-long history of success, and from our friends’ and allies’ commitment to uphold civil liberties and equality.
Over the next year Liberty will do more than simply hold the line. We want the UK to make progress on equality and human rights.
We’ll continue pressing Government to centre human rights in its response to the pandemic, rather than coercion and criminalisation.
We’ll protect the ways ordinary people to hold power to account and we’ll honour the #BlackLivesMatter movement by reimagining what ‘community safety’ could mean. I’m excited to take up the reins – I look forward to welcoming Martha back and bringing her up to speed on what she has missed.
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