Oh dear. The leak that the Queen’s Speech will contain legislation on the interception of communication appears to be correct.
I know many Liberal Democrats are fighting and fighting hard to stop it, but the silence on this issue is just what we don’t need. Someone very senior, preferably Nick Clegg, needs to stand up and articulate a liberal criticism of the proposals and tell us that if they don’t follow party policy they will not happen.
The alleged briefing note, which is very believable in style and tone, is simply pathetic. It is the sort of document that Liberal Democrat parliamentarians would rip to shred with ridicule if it was from a party of government. A quick skim of the document has thrown up several problems. Better analysis will no doubt follow from others.
Key omissions include
- the key failure to demonstrate need.
- the failure to talk about what would be being recorded concerning web access.
- the failure to engage with the scale of what is being proposed and the technical issues, beyond a simple “no central database”
- the failure to explain how people who operate outside the law would be stopped
Moving on to the contradictions:
Where there is no business case for Communication Service Providers to gather this data, the government will provide financial and technical assistance to allow it to be collected on companies’ local systems.
Compare with the Conference condition d a few paragraphs lower:
ensuring that service providers are not mandated by law to collect third-party communications data for non-business purposes by any method;
Sarcasm on: So thats clearly being followed. Sarcasm off.
This is another avoidable problem and it already has the hallmarks of the previous ones. Lack of clear communication on the key issues, lack of regard for Conference mandated policy, lack of clear support in Coalition Agreement, allowing others to take the lead on criticising the issue, us defending Tory (or establishment) policy. The difference is that this one is a civil liberty fight. We’re meant to be on our own territory with those.
At the moment the BBC website has our leader defending these proposals against attacks from the Tories.
The discontent in my circle is huge. There is already a movement to look into an emergency conference if this isn’t sorted.
What is going wrong?