It is particularly welcome if you read the briefing activists were given on this bill a year ago. I find I said at the time that:
My first impression was that it had been produced by a child who had been allowed too much Sunny D. Random phrases are underlined or rendered in bold and some get both treatments.There does seem to be a pattern here of progress being made only after Lib Dem activists have risen against their leadership.
Think of libel reform, where only 10 days ago a "Liberal Democrat spokesman" was blithely telling the Independent:
"Unfortunately we are in a Coalition and this was one of those areas where we could not get our Conservative colleagues to agree with us."After that poor Tim Farron was monstered on Twitter, Julian Huppert went to work and substantial reform of the libel law was secured - though I never quite grasped why we didn't simply vote for the full reform package in the Commons to begin with.
And this patter predates Nick Clegg's leadership. Donnachadh McCarthy has an article in the current Liberator recalling how Charles Kennedy was effectively bounced into opposing the invasion of Iraq.
The wisest comment on today's events I have seen is this tweet:
Important thing about #snooperscharter is that it isn't a Tory bill, just as its predecessor wasn't Labour bill. It's a Home Office bill.And that means that the danger has not gone away. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and all that.
— Heresiarch (@Heresy_Corner) April 25, 2013
At least it is encouraging to read the comments below the Conservative Home article by Michael Ellis, the Tory MP for Northampton North. He relies on much the same arguments as the original Lib Dem briefing and they are little better received by that blog's readers.