Guido was wrong to worry that the demise of Andy Burnham’s leadership bid would mean an end to our stories about his textbook u-turns. Fear not.
This is what Andy had to say about Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers Bill just last week:
“We support the Government in their attempt to update the law in this important and sensitive area. We share the Government’s goal of creating a world-class framework… neither a snooper’s charter, nor a plan for mass surveillance… In conclusion, the issues the proposed legislation seeks to tackle go way beyond party politics. Any Government will face a difficult task in balancing the security of the nation with the privacy and liberties of individual citizens. As someone who was in the Home Office on 7/7, I know that that challenge has got harder in recent years. We will examine carefully the detail of the draft Bill and seek to improve the safeguards to build trust. Having listened carefully to what the Home Secretary has said today, I believe that she has responded to legitimate concerns and broadly got that difficult balance right.”
Fast forward five days, and it turns out Burnham has decided he doesn’t support the government after all:
“I have now had the opportunity to study your proposals in detail and have taken advice from the Shadow Justice Secretary. This has given rise to concerns that the safeguards you are proposing are not as strong as it appeared when they were presented to the Commons… On closer inspection of the wording of the Bill, it would seem that it does not deliver the strong safeguard that you appeared to be accepting…”
If Burnham hadn’t read the Bill last week, why did he say May had “broadly got that difficult balance right”? Does he still think it is “neither a snooper’s charter, nor a plan for mass surveillance”? Still, even a stopped clock…