It seems David Cameron's found a neat way of needling his coalition partners over their resistance to the so-called 'snooper's charter'. Last week, Nick Clegg insisted on proper pre-legislative scrutiny before any expansion of surveillance powers goes ahead, while a group of Lib Dem MPs wrote a letter in the Guardian declaring that:
'It continues to be essential that our civil liberties are safeguarded, and that the state is not given the powers to snoop on its citizens at will.'
So now Cameron's pushing back. His explicit argument is that liberals have nothing to worry about, but he's also managed to work in the implicit attack that Clegg was all for it before the pile-on from the press, the campaign groups and his backbenchers. The PM told reporters this morning:
'You've got to remember that this was a National Security Council where, sitting round the table, was Chris Huhne, Nick Clegg, Ken Clarke — people from impeccable civil libertarian backgrounds.'
UPDATE: And Clegg has pushed back in return, as PoliticsHome reports:
‘A spokesman for the Deputy Prime Minister said today that at the time Mr Clegg agreed to look at the proposals, he “made clear that they could only proceed if they took into account and protected civil liberties… The Liberal Democrats will continue to put the protection of civil liberties at the top of the political agenda as the Coalition Agreement makes clear.”‘