The Coalition parties are gearing up for a week of minding the gaps. Tomorrow, David Cameron plans to tell MPs about measures that he feels are necessary for plugging the gaps in Britain’s armoury. They’re gaps highlighted to him by the intelligence and security services, and where the Tories once said they would be very sceptical about gaps, whether they existed, and whether it was right to plug them, the Prime Minister seems pretty keen to listen to the spooks.
But the Lib Dems are still cross about the gaps, and possibly cross about another change of heart from the Conservatives. That’s why Sir Menzies Campbell told the World this Weekend that he didn’t have particularly high hopes for tomorrow’s statement on security, and it’s why Lord Ashdown took to the pages of The Observer to criticise David Cameron’s rhetoric. Campbell said:
‘What is the existing legislation, is it being properly enforced? Then you have to say if we impose new legislation, will that be effective? And then of course you have to go on and say what impact does this have on the new balance between privacy and security? Now these are pretty profound questions which I don’t believe are going to be able to be answered tomorrow in the House of Commons.’
That senior Liberal Democrats are sounding off this weekend suggests that either the party is going to be vocally unhappy with what the Prime Minister does announce tomorrow, or that last-minute horsetrading is still taking place over those gaps in Britain’s armoury, and what, if anything, will plug them.