Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lib Dem snooper's charter victory is great, but we must be vigilant

The news that Nick Clegg has vetoed the Communications Data Bill - or snooper's charter - as currently drafted is hugely welcome, and together with this week's reform of the libel law, has done much to restore my faith in the Liberal Democats as a liberal party.

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:
And that means that the danger has not gone away. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and all that.

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.


Anonymous said...

Is 'to monster' a verb?

Jonathan Calder said...

That use is well established. Wiktionary has examples going back to Robert Lowell in 1965.