Labour have put out a statement boldly claiming they have “consistently” raised doubts about Theresa May’s Investigatory Powers bill. According to Sir Keir Starmer:
“Labour has consistently argued that the extension of surveillance powers can only be justified if accompanied by much improved transparency and ever-more robust oversight and scrutiny.”
Have they really “consistently argued” this?
This is what Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham said about the bill in November. He gushingly gave Labour’s full support.
“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…
From what the Home Secretary has said today, it is clear to me that she and the Government have listened carefully to the concerns that were expressed about the draft Bill that was presented in the last Parliament. She has brought forward much stronger safeguards, particularly in the crucial area of judicial authorisation. It would help the future conduct of this important public debate if the House sent out the unified message today that this is 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… 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.”
So Labour hasn’t “consistently argued” that the bill was only justified if accompanied by other amendments. They previously gave it their full, unequivocal support.
Days later, of course, Burnham flip-flopped and decided he didn’t support the government after all. As if he would ever be “consistent” about anything.