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Five Ideas to Fight For

How Our Freedom is Under Threat and Why it Matters

Anthony Lester

― Human Rights
― Equality
― Free Speech
― Privacy
― The Rule of Law

These five ideas are vitally important to the way of life we enjoy today. The battle to establish them in law was long and difficult, and Anthony Lester was at the heart of the thirty-year campaign that resulted in the Human Rights Act, as well as the struggle for race and gender equality that culminated in the Equality Act of 2010.

Today, however, our society is at risk of becoming less equal. From Snowden’s revelations about the power and reach of our own intelligence agencies to the treatment of British Muslims, our civil liberties are under threat as never before. The internet leaves our privacy in jeopardy in myriad ways, our efforts to combat extremism curtail free speech, and cuts to legal aid and interference with access to justice endanger the rule of law. A fierce argument for why we must act now to ensure the survival of the ideals that enable us to live freely, Five Ideas to Fight For is a revealing account of what we need to protect our hard-won rights and freedoms.

  • Publication date: March 2, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781786070883
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 256
  • Publication date: May 5, 2016
  • ISBN: 9781780747613
  • RRP: £16.99
  • Pages: 256
  • Publication date: May 5, 2016
  • ISBN: 9781780747620
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 256


‘Illuminating and accessible…[Lester] speaks with enormous authority…Five Ideas to Fight For summarises what we have gained, and the dangers we still face from political hostility, ignorance and apathy.’

David Pannick QC, The Times

‘Lester has dedicated his life to these causes. His personal anecdotes...are often frank admissions of how hard his work has been…This is what gives his book its special quality: few other lawyers would be able to do the subject matter justice.’


‘Passionate, and personal…nobody could finish Five Ideas To Fight For doubting that Anthony Lester has been an immense force for good.’

Craig Purshouse, Times Literary Supplement

‘A powerful rallying cry for the creation of a civilised world made by the founding father of modern human rights in the UK – a hero of our times.’

Helena Kennedy QC

Tells the story of an unparalleled life and work shaping the law. Anthony Lester inspires us to defend our Human Rights Act in difficult times.’

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty

‘Anthony Lester has long been one of our foremost champions of human rights and free speech. How wonderful that he has now gathered his years of experience into a book that tells us why these values matter.

Gillian Slovo

‘All the forces that, for decades, abused the human rights of the thalidomide children, are on the rise again in an ugly xenophobic populism: those who have the loudest voices have the smallest vision. They must be repulsed and there is no better person to summon us to the ramparts than the author of this exciting book.’

Sir Harold Evans, editor-at-large for Thomson Reuters and former editor of The Sunday Times

‘His five principles are of immense importance to everyone in this country. They go to the heart of British values… His spirited defence of the “Five Ideas” and why and how they must be defended, deserves to reach the largest possible audience.’

Lord Woolf of Barnes, former Lord Chief Justice

‘Anthony Lester has throughout his life – and often far in advance of his times – been an eloquent fighter for freedom of speech, equality under the law, protection from official arbitrariness and much else besides. His views and actions – as lawyer, legislator and citizen – have often irked those in power but have conduced to justice, human dignity and a sense of reasonableness and decency in the world around him. In this book he combines legal and political argument with telling personal anecdote – and he does so with a most engaging combination of practicality and passion.’

Vikram Seth, author of A Suitable Boy

‘In this stirring call to action, Britain's greatest human rights lawyer issues a challenging, and compelling, agenda for change.’

Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School and former Legal Adviser to the US Department of State under President Obama

‘A finely written and scrupulously accurate account of how human rights stand in Britain today and a clarion call for further struggle fully to achieve them... eloquent, liberal and street-wise, Lord Lester makes a compelling case against complacency... a book that should be required reading for MPs, newspaper editors and civil servants, so many of whom fail to understand the importance to our nation of protecting and enhancing civil liberties.’

Geoffrey Robertson QC

‘This is not just another book on human rights. Anthony Lester's “Five Ideas” are those which have made the United Kingdom a free country. He himself has fought to maintain them, both in the courts and in Parliament, often with signal success. His account is practical and realistic – and a very good read.’

Sir Sydney Kentridge QC

Anthony Lester

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