Peter Hoskin

Trouble averted or trouble ahead?

Trouble averted or trouble ahead?
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"The biggest shake up of our democracy since 1832."  That's how Nick Clegg is describing the legislative package that he's announcing today.  And, even if that's pure bravado, there's certainly plenty of encouraging stuff in it.  Scrapping ID cards; restricting the storage of innocent people's DNA; and the government is even set to ask the public which laws they'd like to see repealed.  Sign me up.

But it's one omission which is really ruffling Tory feathers today.  There will not, it seems, be an immediate move to supplant or even dilute the European Convention on Human Rights with a British Bill of Rights.  Speaking on Radio 4 this morning, Theresa May stressed that this is still a matter for negotiation within the coalition.  But all signs are that an independent commission will be established to look into the possibilities for moving forward.  So, back to the drawing board.

The idea is clearly to placate those Tory backbenchers who are eager to tear up the ECHR.  "That's still a possiblity – it's just under review," is the quiet implication.  But there are rumblings that those same backbenchers feel there's more than a hint of the long grass about this, and fear that their party is about to make its biggest concession to the Lib Dems so far.  So whether this has averted a row, or merely just triggered one, remains to be seen.