Monday, April 02, 2012

If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear. That's right, Nick, isn't it?

As reports emerge that there are those within the government pressing for new powers to snoop on all electronic communication, my heart sinks. Coalition does not come easy, I accept. Yes, there is compromise, yes, there are things that, as part of that Coalition, we accept in exchange for those things that we promised that we would prioritise in coalition.

However, there comes a point where you say, "Hang on a moment, we surely can't accept that, can we?". And this might well be that point.

On issues such as welfare reform and healthcare, there are legitimate arguments - cost, viability and effectiveness. And indeed, there are, beneath the overblown rhetoric, genuine concerns as to the possible outcomes. But, at the end of the day, people who have earned the right to my trust have assured me that things will be better over the medium and long term. Time will tell, I presume.

However, many of the justifications for those policies disappear when it comes to a basic tenet of our civil liberties. There are no cost savings - quite the reverse - and there is no emergent threat to our security, that justifies giving a government agency the right to monitor what I, or any law-abiding citizen, does online, nor to store that data. Innocent, until proven guilty, is a basic tenet of English law, is it not?

So, I'd rather like some reassurance, Mr Clegg. As our Party Leader, would you be so kind as to rubbish this proposal and make it abundantly clear that Liberal Democrat Parliamentarians will not support such an attack on our civil liberties? After all, if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear. Have you, Nick?...