Julian Huppert: freedom fighter, top bloke
Julian Huppert is the Chosen One, argues REECE EDMENDS in part one of the Tab’s new series: ‘Who to vote for in Cambridge and why you should give a shit’
I’ve been asked to make this personal.
I won’t be parroting the partisan polemic we put on the leaflets. I won’t talk about how Julian Huppert voted against tuition fees, or how he saved the Disabled Student Allowance, or successfully pushed for better post-grad loans.
I won’t mention how even the National Union of Students – a union usually so anti-Lib Dem that they pay for billboards screaming ‘Liar Liar’ in the seats of certain MPs – endorsed him this week as ‘a great friend to the student movement’, whereas Labour’s Daniel Zeichner admitted on Cam FM that he welcomed a tuition fee increase in 2010. No, nothing like this at all.
I once was, rather atypically for Cantabs I’m sure, a geeky thirteen-year old reading Nineteen Eighty-Four and being rather pretentious about it. Sometimes I looked up from my book at the news, and I remember being a little confused about which was which. For this was the era of New Labour at its most despotic.
Blair and Brown wanted to lock people away for ninety days without trial. They wanted to hold the DNA records of millions of innocent people.
They flew people to other countries to be tortured.
They, lest we forget, joined forces with George W. Bush to launch an illegal and immoral war in the Middle East. They wanted to bring in compulsory identity cards; Nick Clegg said he would rather go to jail than carry one. I joined the Liberal Democrats soon after. I did not have to ask which side I was on.
I was a big fan of Huppert, actually, before I met him at Cambridge. He was one of a tiny handful of MPs of any party who had the chutzpah to vote against the Government when they brought in Dreyfus Affair style secret trials, and he sits on the Home Affairs Select Committee fighting Theresa May every step of the way.
But I was never more proud of Julian than when I heard the Labour candidate in Cambridge attacking him for being soft on terrorism. If it’s ‘soft’ to want the end of control orders (i.e. house arrest without trial), then I plead guilty.
Perhaps you think that defending eight hundred years of British freedom is, as my CULC friends say, a middle-class fetish. Something for the literary salons of Bloomsbury, maybe, not the tanning salons of Burnley.
You’re wrong, of course, because it is rarely the privileged who suffer most under repressive legislation, but those with foreign names and accents. But that doesn’t matter.
I genuinely don’t think Julian wonders if he will win a single extra voter by doing what’s right. I’m also not sure this article can swing anyone’s vote.
But it’s why, speaking only for myself, I will strain every sinew this week to make sure this country elects liberal and not authoritarian MPs.
And I will bust a gut to put Julian Huppert at the front of that queue.