Kennedy to attack Blair over power of the state

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The Independent Online
TONY BLAIR cannot be trusted to protect civil liberties and has "tipped the balance too far" towards authoritarianism, Charles Kennedy will warn today.

In a hard-hitting attack on the Prime Minister's "increasingly unaccountable and presidential style", the Liberal Democrat leader will demand that the Government makes it easier to see legal advice under the Freedom of Information Act. He will make the comments in a speech at Liberal Democrat headquarters in London as the party publishes a manifesto aimed at safeguarding personal freedoms in Britain from the tyranny of the state. A five-point plan will propose the abolition of the royal prerogative, which gives the Prime Minister powers to go to war, sign treaties and appoint peers without a vote in Parliament.

The party will also call for the Freedom of Information Act to be amended to stop ministers blocking public requests. Mr Kennedy will say it is wrong for the Government to "block disclosure" of legal advice in all circumstances, such as that given to the Government on the invasion of Iraq. Urgent steps must be taken to curb Tony Blair's presidential instincts, including giving Parliament more powers to scrutinise proposed laws, Mr Kennedy will say.