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Taking Liberties - Review

Taking Liberties

Review by Richard Goodwin

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

Blair-baiting documentary about the quiet erosion of civil liberties in Britain since New Labour came into power in 1997.

Since 1997 and the New Labour government came into power this documentary sets out to show the ways in which our civil liberties have been compromised – even taken away – by the ever grinning one and his cronies.

Freedom of speech, the right to protest, innocent until proven guilty and the right to privacy are all covered. It shows how the War on Terror has been the catalyst behind this rather unsettling development.

This documentary sets out its stall right from the off showing a bus load of protesters being stopped by police and ‘escorted’ back to London to prevent them attending an anti-war protest.

It’s then a succession of clips of people being thrown out of conferences, arrested for protesting near Parliament (it’s now illegal to protest within a kilometre of Parliament without a permit), and clips of people like Boris Johnson and Mark Thomas expressing their displeasure at it all.

The right to privacy is covered, aided by scary facts like there are now 4 million camera’s in Britain today (I’m assuming we’re talking CCTV and that we haven’t been invaded by Japanese tourists!) and the dangers of identity cards.

Then we’re onto the detention of terrorist suspects without charge and Guantanamo Bay, and of course the War in Iraq.

Although admirable in its convictions, and there are undoubtedly a lot of valid points raised here, this film falls flat due to its appalling presentation.

There’s no debate here and nothing is put into any kind of context leaving the film so one sided as to become horribly unbalanced. At times it’s presented in such a dramatic and histrionic manner (check out the use of mournful strings whenever anyone is talking about an unjust act) that it borders on propaganda.

This is suitably highlighted at the very beginning where, after the protestors have been stopped by the police and sent back to London, a sudden montage about Hitler and the Nazi party pops up no less!

The film spends most of its time showing how fear is used to justify new laws that undermine civil liberties, all while using the exact same fear tactic to scare the bejesus out of us to try and shock us into action against such developments.

In fact, by the end it comes across like an elaborate advert to recruit protestors!

The greatest flaw, however, is that there is simply nothing new here. Anyone who has kept an eye on current affairs programs over the last 10 years is already aware of all that is covered.

As for all the clips of Tony saying this and that – yes Tony Blair is [considered by many to be] an idiot but is there anyone in the country who didn’t already know that? The whole project feels like it’s a few years too late.

In the end, what could have been an enlightening and informative documentary on what is a very important subject is undermined by its heavy-handed approach. Worth a watch maybe for some interesting facts and stories but beware its manipulative charms.

Certificate: 15
Written and directed by Chris Atkins