It’s not fanciful to argue that the formation of a Liberal-Conservative coalition government last May was helped by the fact that Lib Dem and Tory parliamentarians had worked closely together in the previous Parliament to thwart or temper some of the Labour administration’s more aggressive assaults on civil liberties.
The two parties – then in opposition, now in government – seemed to find common ground in defending the rights of the individual against the increasingly shrill demands of the agencies charged with upholding our safety and security. Whether it was the introduction of national identity cards, and the gargantuan accompanying database, or three months detention without trial for terror suspects, Cameron’s and Clegg’s parliamentary troops seemed conjoined in civil libertarianism.
But has entering government changed them? We have seen in the past how politicians can change in government. Back in 1994, Michael Howard, then Home Secretary, proclaimed the merits of ID cards. Labour railed against the plans. But seven years later – in the wake of the 9/11 outrage – senior Labour figures, by then in government, found merit in the proposals.
Read the rest of the article on the Spectator Coffee House blog.