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Taking Liberties audio index...

Curator talks on their favourite items from the exhibition; voices of history; recordings of Taking Liberties events; and more


Taking Liberties Study Day

"Protest is the lifeblood of democracy. It is the absolute fundamental element of a democratic society. Without protest democracy would wither."
Peter Tatchell on the value of protest

"I advocated the human rights act 30 years before we got it. It took a very long time because successive governments, ministers, civil servants didnít like the idea of any limitation on their powers, especially limitations in a code like the European Human Rights Convention..."
Lord Lester on the need for a British Bill of Rights

Also featuring Professor Miles Taylor, Professor Barbara Taylor, Dr Catherine Hall and Salil Tripathi (recorded 20 Feb 2009)
More info, 6x MP3s


Is Liberty British ?

"We had a succession of repressions in this country which when you look at them seem terribly surprising and they feel out of character. Alas they're not... you only need one vote more than the opposition in the House of Commons and you can do what you like with any of our laws and freedoms and liberties... and that's exactly what's been happening in recent years"
Professor AC Grayling puts British 'liberty' in context and talks constitutional conundrums with Professor Linda Colley (recorded 28 Jan 2009)
More info, MP3


Equality and Human Rights in modern Britain

"We haven't really made a powerful enough advocate's case for Human Rights in British terms. It still feels when we're talking about Human Rights as though we're talking about a non-grounded set of ideas that really belong to people who go to international conferences... "
Trevor Phillips believes we're losing the PR battle on Human Rights, but he knows how we can start to win it back (recorded 27 Jan 2009)
More info, MP3


Can we be green without losing our freedoms?

"Only ten per cent of homes in this city are propertly insulated. You look in your loft, there's about that much. What you need is THAT much. Well, you just go in and put the damn stuff in. It impinges someone's freedom because there'll be some mad person saying 'I don't want it in my loft'. You need a mechanism that says everyone's got to have it, actually... "
Ken Livingstone in this unmissable panel debate puts a ceiling on fundamental freedoms in a world of climate change (recorded 14 Jan 2009)
More info, MP3


Minutes of the Committee for Abolition of the Slave Trade

"This can be claimed to be the formal start of the systematic anti-slavery campaign in Britain... the start of the first mass human rights movement in Britain... The working classes sympathised with the plight of the Africans, and many refused to produce items that were to be traded in Africa for the enslaved... creating a real economic impact on slave owners."
Nigel Sadler on what this iconic document tells us about the defeat of the slave trade – and what it doesn't (recorded 27 Nov 2008)
Transcript, MP3


Debate: Women's rights - what now?

"Things are much better than they were in the 19th century... but I wouldn't say we're in a golden age for women. Yet. But some inequalities still exist... only 30 per cent of women of pensionable age have the full pension compared to 95 per cent of men... 30,000 women a year are sacked, made redundant or leave their jobs due to pregnancy discrimination... "
Polly Toynbee chairs a wide-ranging debate on women's rights in the 21st century (recorded 4 Dec 2008)
More info, MP3


The Human Rights Act 1998

"The act is ground-breaking and significant in a number of ways. First, it represents the principle that these rights are universal. They are not dependent on being a citizen of the UK. Neither are they contingent on any duties or obligations. These are rights that apply to all people regardless of who they are or what they have or have not done..."
Curator Ian Cooke on the controversial Act that never seems to be out of the news (recorded 24 Oct 2008)
Transcript, MP3


Magna Carta lecture

"What strikes historians when people talk about Magna Carta is the degree of mythology with which they invest it - the misunderstanding of it, not the understanding of it.... the willingness even of people who should know better... to believe for example that it guarantees rights like habeas corpus. Habeas corpus wasn't invented until the 17th century..."
Professor Nicholas Vincent explodes a few myths, reveals a few surprises, and gives an excellent overview of the iconic document's life, times and legacy (recorded 14 Nov 2008)
More info, MP3


Shami Chakrabarti interview

"By the end of my time in the Home Office in the middle of 2001, I was sending faxes in the middle of the night to the office of the Parliamentary Council saying, 'As the Prime Minister announced on the Frost Programme...' - and that was the process [for making new legislation]"
Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty on how quick-fix legislation has created 3,000 new offences since 1997, with disastrous consequences (recorded 31 Oct 2008)
More info, MP3


The Wolfenden Report

"The report was, in effect, set aside, because it was far too radical. But ... it was in fact a best-seller; it had to be reprinted, which is very unusual for a government report. It had to be reprinted several times, and sold out."
Curator Kristian Jensen on the radical 1957 report that said what 'consenting adults in private' choose to do is not the law's business (recorded 4 Nov 2008)
Transcript, MP3


Paine's Rights of Man

"It's perhaps the most famous and important radical text from the 18th century and arguably shaped the way generations have thought about politics, about democracy, and about our rights."
Curator Matthew Shaw on the remarkable 1791 and 1792 books that advocated social policies over a a century ahead of their time (recorded 18 Sep 2008)
Transcript, MP3


Introduction to the Taking Liberties exhibition

"The opportunity to see iconic historic documents, many rarely seen out of Parliamentary Archives, and certainly never seen in one place..."
Matthew Shaw's four-minute guide to this remarkable event (recorded 18 Sep 2008)

Hear it in full now:

Or play in your default media player (MP3, 4min, 1.6MB)


...and audio from other sections of the British Library website

Sound archive material relevant to the Taking Liberties exhibtion


Voices of History: Stanley Baldwin

"And what is her secret? Freedom, ordered freedom, within the law, with force in the background and not in the foreground; a society in which authority and freedom are blended in due proportion, in which state and citizen are both ends and means..."
Stanley Baldwin defines Britishness (recorded 1937)
Transcript, MP3


Voices of History: David Lloyd George

"Out of the money raised by taking superfluity, funds will be established to secure honourable sustenance for the deserving old and to assist our great benefit societies in making adequate provision for sickness and infirmity..."
David Lloyd George gives his 'People's Budget' (recorded 1909)
Transcript, MP3


Voices of History: Christabel Pankhurst

"The militant methods of the women of today are clearly thought out and vigorously pursued... imprisonment will not deter women."
Christabel Pankhurst shortly after her release from prison (recorded 1908)
Transcript, MP3

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