Surely it’s time for the Liberal Democrats to part company with Alex Carlile

alex carlile - house of lords
After much provocation over the years, I have finally reached the end of my patience with Alex Carlile. The sooner he and the Liberal Democrats part company the better.

It was embarrassing enough to watch him give the green light to so many of Labour’s illiberal anti-terror laws, but when he supports something which threatens to scupper a key concession won by the Liberal Democrats, it is time for us to actively campaign for him to go.

Theresa May’s Counter-Terrorism to-do list is a very scary thing indeed. She can’t wait to get the chance to snoop on all of our emails, even though only a tiny number of people will ever have anything to do with terrorism. However, Nick Clegg, after a slightly shaky start, listened first to the party then to a joint committee of Parliament whose conclusions were based on evidence from experts,  and vetoed her plans. If he hadn’t, then she would have brought in this capability in 2012.

Nick has had to put up with her telling the Tory conference that Liberal Democrats were putting children at risk. Julian Huppert put her right on that one, though.

May and the Tories wanted to bring the Snoopers’ Charter back into the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill and, again, Nick Clegg said “No.” He has spent 3 years steadfastly fighting this nonsense. We might like him to pick more battles sometimes, but when he does pick them he tends to win them.

While I might have my issues with the new Bill, I have to give credit to Clegg for holding firm on this and many more aspects. I actually heard that the Tories wanted to bring in 44 separate measures in this new measure and the Liberal Democrats have knocked most of them back.

So, along comes a group of peers, including Alex Carlile, with a swathe of amendments, up for debate in the Lords tomorrow, which would insert what would effectively be the Snoopers’ Charter into the Bill. The dangers are clear. If the Lords let them through, then it would be a very easy thing for the Tories and Labour to stitch up a vote in favour when the Bill comes back to the Commons. Our options to withdraw support for the Bill would be gone because all the Commons can do is consider the Lords amendments as they have already passed the rest of the Bill. Labour say that they’ll oppose the amendments tomorrow, but I wouldn’t put it past them,to do some deal with the Tories if they get through the Lords.

Alex Carlile has been speaking up for the amendments, telling the Guardian:

We have taken the view that if the head of the security service and the current Metropolitan police commissioner argue that these powers are needed urgently to retain communications data due to changes in technology, then we needed to act now rather than wait for reports that we do not know when they will be completed. We have got to give parliament an opportunity to provide these powers without delay and before the general election.

We have made a deliberate effort to remove the aspects of the draft communications bill that people found unacceptable, such as giving powers to local authorities, Revenue and Customs or water companies. The powers are confined to the police and intelligence agencies.

He is wrong. Innocent people should not have their internet and social media data retained. It’s a very important matter of principle. To add to that, it is irresponsible and unacceptable to introduce such a fundamental change to a Bill in its final stages. Laws made in haste are normally bad laws.

Alex Carlile has become an embarrassment to our party and no longer shares the values we hold dear. Now, Nick Clegg can’t throw him  out of the Lords group and that’s probably quite a good thing. You can’t give leaders untrammelled power to exact retribution on people. The Lords group could throw him out, but it tends not to be the way they do things. However, I can’t imagine that there would be many Liberal Democrats who would weep too many tears if his resignation happened to land on Jim Wallace’s desk.

Carlile has outstayed his welcome in the party and I think he and we would find it more appropriate if he were sitting on the cross benches, not on ours. While I’d be very surprised if the Lords passed his amendments, the fact he has championed illiberal measures which affect every single one of us makes his continued presence in our party unacceptable.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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100 Comments

  • You are totally correct Caron. Carlisle is simply not a Liberal in that when considering the balance between state control and the right for an individual to their own private space, he consistently favours the state.

    Carlisle would “open windows into men’s souls”, Liberals (and Elizabeth I) would not. The way the internet is used and how it works makes it very close to our private thoughts. In the past you might browse a book, go to a library and what your brain had registered would be totally private. Governments will want to encroach upon and restrict this private space. Why? – because they think they can.

  • Andrew Suffield 25th Jan '15 - 3:37pm

    It’s been a persistent annoyance to me that we need Lords reform in order to be able to keep our own peers in line with the party’s positions.

  • Andy Hinton 25th Jan '15 - 3:38pm

    Agree completely Caron, except perhaps for the bit about “that tends not to be the way they do things”. Officially you are right, but there is sufficient precedent (IMO) of LD peers who have walked the plank “of their own accord” to suggest that there are ways and means.

  • Harry Hayfield 25th Jan '15 - 3:42pm

    I lived in Montgomeryshire constituency twice from 1982 – 1989 and from 1993 – 1998 in the towns of Machynlleth and Welshpool. On the second of those stays I always went along to the Parliament House in Machynlleth and asked if there was anything I could do to help Mr. Carlile with his surgery and by the time he stood down in 1996, I was greeting the constituents who came to see him and telling him who the next person was to see him. During all those years, everyone treated him with respect. Now things have changed some twenty years later.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th Jan '15 - 4:01pm

    @Harry What is disrespectful about suggesting that someone whose values are so out of kilter with the party’s should step down from one of its parliamentary groups?

  • I’ve long wanted Alex Carlile to pipe down on security issues; he speaks for the Lib Dems on this issue in the same way that David Ward speaks for us on Palestine, David Steel on Lords Reform, and Lembit Opik speaks for us on pretty much anything.

    But I’m uncomfortable with elevating any issue to be a “purity test” for us. It’s no secret I’ve opposed gay marriage – Should I and the 4 MPs who voted against be thrown out of the party? What about those who have spoken against party policy on Trident? Or who favour a slower pace of deficit reduction?

    As soon as we start calling for anyone to leave the party over a single policy issue they disagree with, we find ourselves on shaky ground, and can be sure it will be us isolated sooner or later.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th Jan '15 - 4:29pm

    @tpfkar If people were drummed out for disagreeing on policy, I’d have been out a long time ago – and so would all of us. I’d be more suspicious of someone who said they agreed with every policy we had. That’s not the point though. There comes a point where someone’s values are just so incompatible with the party’s that both would be better off severing the association. We’ve reached that point with Carlile, after many years. If he feels so strongly on this, then he would be better off out of a party that has such strong liberal traditions against authoritarian surveillance. He stands for something that changes the relationship between citizen and state to something much more subservient than it should be. For that reason, I think it’s time for him to go.

  • Liberal Neil 25th Jan '15 - 4:41pm

    It seems bizarre to me that anyone who calls themselves a liberal would argue that the security services should be given powers ‘ because they say they want them’.

    Security services always want more powers. That’s why we need liberalism!

  • George Lund 25th Jan '15 - 4:49pm

    Have thought this for a while. Few issues are as fundamental to being a Liberal Democrat as this. Thank you Caron.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Jan '15 - 4:56pm

    If Carlile goes then others have to go too. I don’t want to go naming people, so I’ll just say that if one goes due to being far away from the party’s current position then others have to as well.

    Regards

  • If people want to stop Alex Carlile’s attempt to introduce the Snoopers’ Charter, links for easy lobbying of peers etc are at http://www.markpack.org.uk/122309/urgent-action-needed-today-stop-snoopers-charter/

  • Bill le Breton 25th Jan '15 - 5:08pm

    As I understand it , Mark, for whom I have a great deal of respect, wants to stop some proposal being voted on by the House of Commons. Is that right?

  • Iain Sharpe 25th Jan '15 - 5:34pm

    I’m with Liberal Neil that it is a very bad formula to say that because the police and security services want more powers they should have them. The whole point of democracy is to question and challenge the views of experts and ensure that decisions are taken by those who have been elected by the people not by unaccountable bureaucrats.

    But I am even more uncomfortable with the suggestion of hounding Alex Carlile out of the party. There are legitimate differences of opinion within Liberalism about how to strike the balance between democratic societies defending themselves and protecting their citizens versus the danger of undermining their own values in the process.

    Whatever his faults, Alex Carlile has clearly thought seriously about such issues and been willing to take on controversial roles – whether as independent reviewer of terrorist legislation or as President of the Howard League. While I disagree with him on this point, it is no bad thing to have a voice within the party challenging our cosy certainties.

    And it would be politically daft when we are under fire for being ‘soft on terrorism’ to expel a prominent figure who argues for a different approach.

  • I tend to agree with Iain Sharpe on this. I don’t agree with Alex on anything in this particular area. However political parties are broad churches and he has been a good liberal over many, many years. I am very worried about an increasing authoritarianism among elements of the party overall but parties are a mixture of views and we all need to argue our case. The House of Lords issue is a problem but is he actually advocating this on behalf of the party or as a backbench peer who is entitled to raise his concerns regardless of party? Hounding people out of the party feels a little uncomfortable to me as a liberal,

  • Can I please calm things down. When you are involved in security type matters it is not always easy to be Liberal as you put it. Contradications occur that professionally may fly in the face of a political belief.and individuals have to compromise etc. It happens with party members who may be in the Police, the Prison Service etc. Rather than appear intolerant might I suggest a little more understanding and pragmatism, qualities that in themselves display the best qualities of being a Liberal. Life is never easy and sometimes high minded very worthy beliefs have to be strongly tempered. After all I guess Liberals in the wartime cabinet supported the bombing campaign in the war, including Dresden. I hope he stays in the party, after all we are getting small enough as it is!!!!

  • Elizabeth Patterson 25th Jan '15 - 6:53pm

    Could’t agree more Caron; I cringe when the Today programme insists on reminding listeners when introduces him as a Liberal Democrat.
    Really he should have left the party when he became tethered to Labour in the last government.

  • I am with Iain Sharpe and Ashley on this one. I disagree with Lord Carlile on extending the powers of the state to spy on citizens, but that is insufficient justification for booting him out of the party, in my view.

    Why is that my view?

    (1) Members must never feel afraid to speak their minds freely. If we live in fear of our membership cards being taken away from us, are we going to say what we really think?

    (2) We have and have had people in the party with views that are far more illiberal than anything uttered by Alex Carlile. For instance, Cyril Smith was in favour of capital and corporal punishment (including flogging school-children), but he was never thrown out of the party for holding those views. Similarly, we currently have members who are in favour of forcing people to join the army, and others who defend the actions of certain overseas governments. As much as I find their views deeply abhorrent, I uphold their right to express them within the party. Force of argument is the way to isolate them, not expulsion.

    I would add that Lembit Opik brings the party into disrepute almost every time he opens his mouth. On top of that, he was seen on television giving assistance to a candidate standing against an official Liberal Democrat candidate at the recent Clacton byelection. Should Lembit be next on the chucking out list?

  • Roger Roberts 25th Jan '15 - 7:37pm

    ARMS SALES CONCERN
    Commons committees last month said more than 3,000 export licences for weapons worth £12bn were approved for 28 destinations described by the Foreign Office as “countries of human rights concern”.
    “High on the list is Saudi Arabia, the recipient of more British weapons than any other country. It is the biggest foreign customer, after the US, of BAE Systems, Britain’s largest arms company and biggest manufacturing employer. Export licenses worth £3.8bn have been approved for British arms companies’ sales to Saudi Arabia under David Cameron’s premiership, according to CAAT.
    Last year alone, the government approved the export of £1.6bn of arms to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is vital to BAE, which this year signed a deal a deal worth well over £4bn for 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jets. The company is hoping for a further £1bn-plus contract from the Saudis to upgrade the Typhoons”
    N ow flags are flown at half mast on the death of the King of Saudi Arabia. What should we do – stop selling arms to Saudi because of their humanitarian record or safeguard thousands of jobs and billions of arms sales cash ? There is no easy answer – any decision will be anathema to many !
    Don’t let us hound people out of our party ! I’ll probably be in a different voting lobby from Alex but we are liberals and tolerate differences. An Alf Garnett approach – swift and half thought out (if that ) undermines the very freedom that we try to safeguard. We are faced with dilemmas and no easy answers.

  • I agree with Iain too. I don’t happen to agree with Carlile in this area but I do agree with him (and he is in line with party policy) in the majority of other areas.

    Caron’s response seems to be based around the fact that this is a top issue for her – and no doubt it is for a great many other Liberals too – but that doesn’t mean that his holding divergent views in this one narrow area of party policy means he isn’t a good Liberal.

    I disagree fundamentally with party policy on Mansion Tax, and in a number of areas of our education policy. Is Caron going to ask me to resign my membership too? And who’s next? A little more toleration would be in order …

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Jan '15 - 7:52pm

    Caron Lindsay 25th Jan ’15 – 4:01pm
    “What is disrespectful about suggesting that someone whose values are so out of kilter with the party’s should step down from one of its parliamentary groups?”

    Nothing Caron … and I am thinking about those whose economic values are ‘so out of kilter’ with those of the party as I type!

  • Helen Dudden 25th Jan '15 - 7:54pm

    I like Alex Carlile, he stood for trafficked children, a great man in the law system.

    Never mind Alex, they can read my emails anytime, nothing to cover up.

    Can I wish you well, I left but then I was not even on the radar. Too many comments on things that mattered to me.

    Politics is not all its made out to be.

    If you go, best wishes for the future.

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Jan '15 - 7:56pm

    Sesenco 25th Jan ’15 – 7:03pm
    “I am with Iain Sharpe and Ashley on this one. I disagree with Lord Carlile on extending the powers of the state to spy on citizens, but that is insufficient justification for booting him out of the party, in my view.”

    Sesenco and others. I do actually agree with you. My previous point carried just a little satire.

  • I agree with Peter Black.

  • There is something distinctly illiberal and worrying about people demanding that others leave the party because they dont agree with a particular Liberal policy. I actually disagree with Carlile on this issue but I also respect the way he has put across liberal views on so many other occasions. I am sure if someone no longer feels the party is the party for them – they will leave. It is certainly not up to us to kick him out. There are a number of liberals who disagree with Gay marriage – or being in Europe – some who advocate more CCTV – should we kick them all out?
    Rather depressing post.

  • Did Caron really mean that Carlisle should leave the Party? I took her to mean to leave the Parliamentary group in the Lords and for it to be clear that he does not represent the Liberal Democrats when he speaks out on this issue. Clearly there should be no problem with Carlisle being a Party member, the problem is with him being a Party representative.

  • ermm… yes she did Martin – ” the sooner he and the Lib Dems part company the better” suggests he should not be a member of the party.

  • Iain Sharpe 25th Jan '15 - 9:36pm

    Such issues have troubled Liberals for longer than we might think. Gladstone’s governments enacted legislation, including suspension of habeas corpus, to defeat the sometimes violent agitation in the land campaigns in Ireland. A Liberal government in 1911 enacted the Official Secrets Act, which was later the bane of civil libertarians. And Liberals participated in the second world war that interned Oswald Mosley and other fascists without trial (in my view quite rightly).

    When contemplating special security legislation, democratic politicians (including Liberal ones) have to weigh up such matters as the scale of the threat, the level of confidence that measures proposed will be effective, safeguards and timescale limitations to ensure they are not abused, and the extent to which they compromise basic liberties. Much is relative, little is absolute, Alex Carlile merely wears a slightly different shade of grey from the rest of us.

  • Sorry, david, are you saying that no-one should be kicked out of the party??? For any reason? One of the really difficult issues so far for us, is the inability to do this unless there has been a clear case of “bringing the party into disrepute”.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th Jan '15 - 10:11pm

    Roger Roberts, are you comparing me to Alf Garnett or have I misunderstood?

    Having read all your comments, I still remain very uncomfortable with him being part of our group in the Lords. He is clearly not going to change his mind on these issues, but I don’t think it’s right that any Liberal Democrat should be so keen just to take the word of the security services when they demand more powers. No politician ideally should do so.

    I guess what I really want is Carlile on the cross benches. Whether he’s a member of the party or not is up to him, but I don’t want him speaking for us on matters of civil liberties because he’s so opposed to what the party actually believes.

    Commenters have been generally quite split over whether he should be part of the Lords group, but the overwhelming majority in various places disagree with his views.

    @ Paul Walter: I will never throw up any white flag where our civil liberties are threatened. Let’s just hope that his amendment does not get passed tomorrow.

  • Andrew Suffield 26th Jan '15 - 1:53am

    Before we get bogged down in debating whether or not this proposal is an illberal monstrosity, please keep in mind that this is procedural abuse. If Carlile really believes in this idea then he should introduce it as a bill. What is happening here is that a bill which has already been voted on by the Commons and is mostly complete is having a large, complex, highly controversial and already-rejected-by-this-government proposal stapled into it at the last moment possible, to prevent the Commons from debating the issue.

  • What Andrew Suffield said.

  • Roger Roberts 26th Jan '15 - 8:17am

    Not at all ! Just that Alf sees everything in black and white whilst so many policies etc are in shades of grey ! The difficulty often is where we draw the line. In politics we must make difficult decisions – the choices we have to make. Very often it causes heartache. If everything was simply black or white life would be easy .

  • Blimey Caron – wrong terminology on my part – surely you don’t imagine I would ever imagine you putting up a white flag? What I meant is that by questioning his membership you’re misdirecting the debate in my view – you are introducing a red herring and a diversion of the debate. The debate should be squarely challenging the words from the police and security services which Carlile is going along with – supinely in my view. I have no doubt that a charge against Alex Carlile under:
    “3.7 a) material disagreement, evidenced by conduct, with the fundamental values and
    objectives of the Party;”
    wouldn’t last five minutes. He has a vast hinterland and history of standing up for liberal causes and for the party. So why are we diverting energy talking about it? Yes, it is annoying and inconvenient that he was appointed by the Labour party to be the reviewer of security laws but we should rely on the strength of our arguments, not go ad hominem on Carlile. And I speak as someone who shouts at the radio whenever he comes on! We must have disagreements in our party but Alex Carlile is fundamentally a liberal/Liberal Democrat.

  • Tsar Nicolas 26th Jan '15 - 9:49am

    Top posts from many – but especially from Paul Walter and Matthew Harris.

    I suspect that Alex’s real crime was defending he-who-can’t-be-named.

  • Denis Loretto 26th Jan '15 - 10:08am

    I think all that is required is for it to be made clear that Lord Carlile does not speak for the party on these issues and to ensure that the party view is put forward as strongly as possible and with cogent reasons by the appropriate party spokespersons. I am deeply opposed to what I regard as the gradual removal of the rights and freedoms that the “Western democracies” claim to be defending against others (often with great hypocrisy – read the typically eloquent article by Gary Younge in this morning’s Guardian) but I am also very uncomfortable about calls for members to be either totally or partially expelled from the party on policy grounds.

  • Caron Lindsay 25th Jan ’15 – 4:01pm
    @Harry What is disrespectful about suggesting that someone whose values are so out of kilter with the party’s should step down from one of its parliamentary groups?

    If we were to apply this standard to Nick Clegg ?
    For example Clegg said he wanted to “break up the NHS” .
    When the Lansley proposals for top down reorganisation came along a couple of weeks after the Coalition Agreement was signed off by the party what does Clegg do in his position as Deputy Prime Minister?
    He writes a note to officials WELCOMING the top down reorganisation which our manifesto AND the Coalition Agreement said would definitely not happen.
    Now in 2015 Clegg pledges an extra £8 BILLION for the NHS but when asked by Andrew Marr cannot answer the question and says Danny Alexander will answer it in a few weeks.
    Clegg makes a lot of noise about NHS Mental Health services. He ignores the year on year cuts by the Coalition in the funding of NHS mental health services. When asked if he will put soe money where his mouth is on NHS mental health services we hit that same wall of silence — because Clegg is a bit broad-brush when it comes to funding and government finance. He hopes a big noise about mental health will distract the media and party members from awkward details aout where the money will come from.

    So why is LDV picking on poor old Alex Carlile? Or is this just revenge because soe people did not like his robust defence of another Lib Dem Lord that soe people wanted thrown out of the party?

    Double standards?
    I will not hold my breath waiting for the LDV article calling on Clegg to join the Conservative Party.

  • Michael Hall 26th Jan ’15 – 9:31am
    “…….Where does it say in the preamble to our party constitution that the security services must fight to protect us from terrorists with one arm tied behind their backs? ”

    I can guarantee that at the moment it does not say that. Are you preparing an amendment ? There may be some people whom would support this sort of constraint on the security services. You may want to expand on it – why restrict just one arm? Although steam open letters Wolfe more difficult with just one arm so there sold be a rational case to be made.

    My main worry about the security services in the UK is that there are so many of them. What on earth do they al do?
    We are told that the country is facing the worst crisis since 1939 and Jihadi Zealots are wandering the land armed to the teeth with the purpose of ending civilisation as we know it.

    Then we are told by the BBC that the number of arrests made in this connection in the last year was less than 200.

    The security services need to up their game if they are to come anywhere near the thousands of unnecessary and completely pointless arrests made under the Prevention of Terrorism legislation of the 1970s.
    Can anyone remind me how many thousands of people were detained and/or arrested amd then released without charge under that legislation usually for the crime of sounding a bit Irish ?

  • John Tilley

    In the 80’s when I was in the armed forces I was involved in a operation against Irish terrorists planning to plant a bomb. The target was a public square which would have been packed – mainly with servicemen and school children – at the time of the intended explosion. Before the armed forces were called in all the planning and surveillance work was carried out by the non-uniform security services. I don’t know how many were involved in planning the operation or the telephone surveillance work, but I met the group that had been doing the leg work following these terrorists around for many weeks and there were at least thirty of them. Thankfully the operation was a success and the terrorist were caught. However, my point is that there are hundreds of people under surveillance 24 hours a day. This takes manpower and yes there are thousands of people doing this, but it’s very labour intensive work.

  • I sincerely hope Caron you have had second thoughts . This party needs to be more inclusive, not exclusive. Some of us disagree intently with you but would not want you to go. Nick Clegg as leader well!!

  • Can’t help feeling that the current announcement of prank phone calls to the Director of GCHQ’s and the PM’s unsecured mobile phones, is intentional and isn’t simply happen-stance.

  • Stephen Donnelly 26th Jan '15 - 12:53pm

    This article makes me despair. Alex Carlile is a lifelong liberal, with whom I happen to disagree on this, and quite a number of others points, but that does not mean he should be hounded out of the party.

    According to Wikepedia he was the first Member of Parliament to campaign for the rights of transsexual people, and is president of the Howard League for penal reform. Exactly the kind of person who should be in our party.

    There has always been a tendency by a few to believe that they have sole custodianship of liberal values. A liberal party should be a broad church with tolerance for a wide range views. A political party must be that in order to be successful.

    I am very uncomfortable with calls for life long members to forced leave the party, just before Christmas Jeremy Brown was in the firing line with two editorial pieces aimed at him.

    Is this what the party needs right now?

  • Gwyn Williams 26th Jan '15 - 1:07pm

    Alex is a formidable debater and advocate. He never slavishly adopts the Party position. His opinion is listened to because he uses his talents to make the case. I disagree with his view on the Snooper’s Charter but I am prepared to listen to his views. Our Party is stronger because it has people like Alex in it.

  • malc 26th Jan ’15 – 11:10am

    malc, you make a number of valid points. In my comment I tried to make some comparison between what was done in response to the IRA in those days and what is happening today.

    We are now told that the Secret Poice/ Special Branch etc need more and more resources and more and more staff. We are told this by Lord Carlile, the head of The Met, the top Spooks and quite a lot of other people with a vested interest in boosting their own role and workforce.

    What we are not told is what all these people are actually doing to save us from Jihadis under the Bed. What we can work out for ourselves is that this must be costing £ BILLIONS and all we have to show for it is fewer than 200 arrests in twelve months.

    From those fewer than 200 arrests how many ended in court and with convictions for terrorism?
    If nobody can answer that question we might assume that the figure is 10% or a couple of dozen individuals sent to prison.

    Cameron, Clegg and Carlile are telling us that this is the greatest threat to the UK since 1939
    Does that indicate that they have forgotten the IRA, that they are not being entirely truthful or something else entirely?

  • To answer my own question — this Home Office Report indicates that in the previous year 
    only 23 people we convicted, not all of them for crimes related to terrorism.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/operation-of-police-powers-under-the-terrorism-act-2000-2012-to-2013/operation-of-police-powers-under-the-terrorism-act-2000-and-subsequent-legislation-arrests-outcomes-and-stop-and-searches-great-britain-2012-to-20

    1.1Arrests and outcomes
    There were 249 persons arrested for terrorism-related offences in 2012/13, up from 206 in 2011/12.

    Forty-two per cent of terrorism arrests in 2012/13 resulted in a charge, up 2 percentage points on 2011/12.

    Of the charges brought, 35% were terrorism-related.

    At the time of publication, 23 of the 37 persons charged with terrorism-related offences had been convicted of an offence, with 13 defendants awaiting trial and 1 not proceeded against.

  • Denis Mollison 26th Jan '15 - 3:02pm

    Could we step back and ask what is Lord Carlile’s role in the security/terror/snooping issue of concern?

    His main specific role relevant to the present issue is (from Wikipedia) “Lord Carlile acted from 2005 to 2011 as the independent reviewer of British anti-terrorist laws”. This is presumably why he has often appeared on TV as an expert on the subject. On such occasions he is often described as a Liberal Democrat peer. That’s true, but I’ve always felt uncomfortable with it because the views he expresses do not represent our party’s.

    I think it would be extreme to throw him out of the party for disagreeing with the majority (as I think he does) on one issue. But the party could do more (a) to make it clear that, however expert, Lord Carlile is NOT an official Lib Dem spokesperson on an terrorist legislation, and (b) to make clear what our party’s views on the issue really are; I hope that the latter would include the majority of Lib Dem peers vigorously opposing Lord C’s amendments to the current bill.

  • Denis Mollison 26th Jan '15 - 3:04pm

    PS : for “an terrorist” read “anti-terrorism”
    [I must find out how to disable the predictive text feature on commenting here!]

  • matt (Bristol) 26th Jan '15 - 5:19pm

    I understand party suspicion that Lrd C is being used as an outflanking exercise by the Tories to present an image of crossparty agreement that does not exist.

    But to argue for his expulsion is to argue for the exuplsion of Winston Churchill from the Conservative Party for his views over India (or even rearmanent) when he followed his own lead and wnet against his party’s official policy, or for the expulsion of Ken Clarke for his views over Europe, or…

    I am in favour of movements against greated surveillance and holding back the instincts of the security forces for ever greater powers. I am in favour of a democratic second chamber in which peers (as they are now called) face the scrutiny of voters. I am against people highjacking legislation to short-cicuit the democratic process.

    But I am not at all for the invention of processes to ensure parliamentarians MUST always vote to order from Party HQ, whatever their views. That’s how we got into such a mess over the Bedroom tax and the tuition fees changes.

  • Helen Tedcastle 26th Jan '15 - 7:06pm

    If Lord Carlile is hounded out of the party, then there is not much hope for the rest of us. I don’t think it’s the sign of a healthy party to do so.

  • Lee_Thacker 26th Jan '15 - 8:08pm

    Can I ask the editorial team two questions:.

    Who took the decision to commission or write this article? Has Lord Carlile or someone else been given a right of reply?

    I seem to recall that Emma Nicholson and Paddy Ashdown were in favour of the invasion of Iraq, but no one called for them to expelled from the party over that.

  • Alex Carlile 26th Jan '15 - 8:40pm

    I have read all the above with interest. On terrorism I speak as an individual: I have always made that clear, and have never been held out as a Lib Dem spokesman. I have always understood that serious Liberals can disagree about serious things. Terrorism is really serious, and my views are my honest and sincere conculsions based on evidence. I do not claim always to be right, but I do claim to be able to express my opinions without being threatened within the Party I have supported all my adult life. I am shocked by the grisly intolerance of Caron Lindsay’s article, in my view more Soviet in style than Liberal.

  • stuart moran 26th Jan '15 - 8:53pm

    Lord Carlile

    Nice to see you join in the debate and engage with the discussion

    I have not posted on this article, and I must say I disagree with your views on this particular subject but that is a personal opinion and, as you say, these things are serious and there can be room for disagreement – at least no-one can say they do not know what your views are!

    It can be only too easy to compromise on principals for either an easy life or for ‘political’ reasons – it is refreshing to see someone stand by what they believe, even when it is not popular with your party

  • stuart moran 26th Jan '15 - 8:53pm

    Excuse my typing – for ‘principals’ please read ‘principles’

  • Alex – in which case why were these amendments not tabled at an earlier stage so they could get the in-depth scrutiny they need and deserve? Julian Huppert has described this as an abuse of process and Baroness Warsi today raised concerns about the time being allowed to discuss this.

  • “have never been held out as a Lib Dem spokesman” – except on every occasion the media hold you out as one?

    Somewhat ironic that the man who wants to put us under the yoke of a surveillance state accuses Caron of “grisly Soviet intolerance”, too. Because of course Caron is the one with the power here, not the person who sits in the house of Lords trying to insert utterly illiberal claptrap into the law of the land… Oh well. If I had any doubts as to which position was correct in this debate, that’s blown them all away, so I suppose I ought to thank y’lordship for that.

    *tugs forelock*

  • And a further point Alex, in your speech today which I ‘ve just read you said:
    “Your Lordships will recall that as a result of the Paris incident, it was revealed, as the newspapers rather naively put it, that the wives of the two brothers involved had communicated about 50 times with one another on their mobile phones. I doubt very much that it was the wives who had been communicating, although certainly their mobile phones had been used for the purpose of communication. I venture to suggest that if that information, given the history of those two brothers, had come to the attention of the Security Service here and had been acted upon…. it is just the sort of information that could have prevented an attack in the United Kingdom. However, there is a gap and it needs to be filled.”

    But as I understand it it is just the data of who was communiciating to whom that is the subject of your proposals. Certainly that is what Lord King said:
    “As soon as we start talking about access to communications data, people think—I am certain some very distinguished noble Lords think—somebody is going to listen to telephone calls. However, it is nothing to do with the content. It is to do with who, where and when certain contacts and certain patterns of contact are established.”

    Would the fact that two brothers (or their wives) communicated with each other 50 times really have been such an obvious red flag. It is hardly unknown for brothers, or even their wives to keep in touch!

  • Tsar Nicolas 26th Jan '15 - 9:49pm

    Je suis Alex Carlile.

  • Stephen Donnelly 26th Jan '15 - 10:09pm

    This site is becoming intolerant of anyone who departs from the editorial line. Who moderates the moderators?

  • Silly comment Tsar Nicholas (I wonder if you share any characteristics with your namesake, described on Wikipedia as, “best known as a political conservative whose reign was marked by geographical expansion, repression of dissent, economic stagnation, poor administrative policies, a corrupt bureaucracy, and frequent wars that culminated in Russia’s disastrous defeat”) 🙂

    No-one is stoping Alex saying anything. Just questioning whether those views are consistent with being a Liberal Democrat

  • Without wishing to intrude on a private argument, might I just say how much I agree with Matthew Harris’s comment, in particular, about the role of parliamentarians and attitudes to those who dissent from the party line.

    That goes for Alex Carlile (who I disagree with over the Snoopers’ Charter) as much as Jeremy Browne (who I usually agree with) and similar cases in the other parties.

    I don’t deny the need for political parties to come to agreed policy positions; indeed I have sometimes criticised the ad-hoc and fundamentally frivolous approach to policy-making of some of the minor parties, and the tendency of all parties not to recognise their often conflicting objectives. At the end of the day we have a party system and we can’t have 650-odd MPs and whatever ludicrous number of peers there now are producing personal manifestos. I also realise that the Snoopers’ Charter is a touchstone issue for liberals, not a minor detail.

    That said, I’m not at all sure that the iron rule of the party whips has been healthy for our democracy and the quality of our law-making. The situation is not helped by the juvenile reaction of rival parties and indeed the media to any MP or peer who occasionally strays from the party line or received wisdom on any subject (‘splits’/’rebels’/even ‘gaffes’) or makes a clumsily expressed remark (a ‘gaffe’, obviously, but often ‘outrage’/’disgrace’); and indeed to governments that change their policies in the light of the evidence (the cardinal sin of the U-turn).

    It all combines to create a climate that is inimical to reasoned debate, nuance and informed policy-making. All parties would do well to have a long think about how they do a better job of reconciling party discipline with independent thought, in my view. At the end of the day in our system members of parliament are representatives (trustees) not delegates.

    Thus, as Edmund Burke put it: “Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interest each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation.”

    I think it’s fair to say that our current political debate falls some way short of that lofty objective…

  • I’m glad that Caron Lindsay, at least, still has a notion of what liberalism involves.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 26th Jan '15 - 10:45pm

    Yes, Stephen, nobody ever gets to disagree with us, do they?

  • I very much disagree with much of what Alex Carlile says on such matters, but I will defend his position within the party.

    How many of us have been, by fellow party members and commentators, been called illiberal on here? I’m sure few of us haven’t been called something close to that – I was called as much when I responded angrily to some LibDem MPs not voting for gay marriage. I just couldn’t see how a Liberal couldn’t vote for it, regardless of their faith. I still think they were very wrong and, at times, questioned how we could be in the same party – our response to the issue was so very different. It was, for me, a matter of abolsute liberal principle.

    But given that they, for their own reasons, signed up to the same party as I and fight for it as I do, I’d rather have that debate within the same party and try and convince them of their error. Perhaps that is too grand a notion, but goodness – it took decades for many in our history to expect Votes for women. The argument was won.

    On a much smaller level, I’d like to think that Alex Carlile may – one day – come over to a different view than he does currently on counter-terrorism. As long as we both look at Mill, the Oxford Manifesto etc. and both believe that this is the party for us, then let the debate about what constitutes Liberalism continue. Many want Jeremy Browne to be thrown out, but if we stop debating differing views in our own movement how on earth can we try to convert voters?

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 26th Jan '15 - 10:48pm

    David-1,

    Liberalism is more than just the line, it’s about how you deal with dissent. In that sense, I am uncomfortable with Caron’s approach, even as I defend her right to take it.

    Perhaps a look at Lord Carlile’s voting record across the piece might provide a better perspective, and I tend to think, based on my understanding of the data, that he has been pretty faithful to the Party whip when he has voted.

  • James Sandbach 26th Jan '15 - 11:02pm

    The thing about Alex is that he makes up his own mind on absolutely everything, judging independently on the basis of evidence – he was like that as an MP also. I think he’s completely wrong on surveillance and counter terrorism measures, but there’s a whole lot more that he’s been absolutely right about including legal aid, the courts, penal policy, judicial review and other areas where legal rights have been compromised and where frankly the Party has been downright weak and at its compromising worst!

  • I have to say the original article WAS Soviet and grisly. Toe the party line or you are out was the gist of it.

    Trotsky famously said in the early days of the struggle for the succession when told his views were heresy: “My party right or wrong.”

    Is the good Lord Carlile also supposed to recant his beliefs publicly or be forced to “part company” from the party???

    You Lib Dems amaze me sometimes in your lack of liberalism.

  • Why no calls from Caron for Nick Clegg’s resignation for supporting secret courts? Surely that is also at odds with every thing the LibDems stand for.

  • Caron 9:41pm – well said

  • Suddenly this issue has all become much clearer.
    The man who does not have the stomach for the fight the General Election as a Liberal Democrat in Taunton attacks Caron for expressing her views about who should or should not be in the party in future.

    This is no doubt another Twittery intervention from the soon to be ex-MP for Taunton which is designed to be as “helpful” as possible to the party.

    Meanwhile I am guessing that Alex Carlle c annot believe his bad luck — just as opinion seemed to be going his way he gets the support of possibly one of the most unpopular people in the parliamentary party. It could not have been worse if Mr Putin had tweeted support for him.

  • James Baker 27th Jan '15 - 9:00am

    It is my view that Carlilie has brought the party into disrepute by tabling a set if amendments so profoundly illiberal that they contradict the core principles and values of the party.

    The party has made it clear this is a red line and 100 days or so out of a general election this unelected member is using their position of power as a peer to undermine the democratic will of party policy.

    Expressing a view opposed to party policy and our values is one thing but seeking to amend legislation to that effect is quite another.

  • Julian Tisi 27th Jan '15 - 9:20am

    I’m sorry, James Baker but I completely disagree. While I disagree fundamentally with Alex Carlisle and hope our leadership make it publicly clear that on this issue he does not speak for the party, I don’t see how he brings the party into disrepute by disagreeing openly with one of our core policies.

    There’s something worrying me about the sheer intollerance of some in the party for anyone who goes against the party line – even for fundamentally well held reasons. We saw the same over gay marriage and it was ugly and nasty. All of us choose our political affiliations for our own reasons and almost never will we find ourself agreeing with everything that party says. Alex Carlisle, agree with him or not – and by the way, well done to him for coming onto this forum and responding – has chosen to be a Liberal Democrat and we should respect that.

  • James Baker

    The real logic of your comment is to get rid of the HofL. Why pick on this particular unelected member when there are around 800 of them ?

    I prefer any member of the HofL who actually does something more than turn up to take the £300 and enjoy the many bars and dining facilities in the Palace of Westminster.

    A lot of these “Lords” are presumeably just there to be a member of the classiest Old People’s Home in London as they never take part in debates, draft amendments or even vote.
    Worse still some of them seem to be there only to do their own private business such as entertaining clients against the backdrop of a famous Victorian landmark or trading on their membership by schmoozing with Lobbyists.

    A quick check of the published information shows that Liberal Democrat peers have a much better than average rate of participation in the real work of the place.

  • Eddie Sammon 27th Jan '15 - 10:56am

    James Baker, if people tried to kick Alex Carlile out over this it would bring the party into disrepute much more than extending security services from phone data to email data collection through some Lords’s mechanisms.

    I understand trying to purge trouble makers, so I want to defend people taking that view a little bit, but if Alex Carlile had to leave over this then I think the precedent being set would get rid of too many people, including probably myself when I hope to rejoin.

  • I don’t agree with Lord Carlile on this issue, but it’s an opinion that I think he has a right to and it’s no less liberal than many views Caron has expressed here. The party will have hardly anything left after the general election, to dig away at the remaining representatives seems extremely counterintuitive.

    As we collectively drive over this cliff we would do well to consider who was driving, who was back-seat driving and who the passengers were.

  • Whoruleswhere 27th Jan '15 - 1:04pm

    If we are going to start throwing people out of the Lib Dems for being illiberal can we start with Alan Beith, Gordon Birtwistle, John Pugh and Sarah Teather who voted against gay marriage?

  • Matt (Bristol) 27th Jan '15 - 1:22pm

    This is not the debate that a party has that is having a good election campaign and knows where it is going for the longterm future. This is the debate of a party that is fearful of all outcomes, unsure about whats its cores values are, fearful of misinterpretation, unsure about who its audience is and how to communicate what its strengths are. A party of confident liberalism would laugh Lord Carlile away and crush him with a resounding vote by those who oppose him, then welcome him back with a wry smile in future.

  • Brenda Lana Smith 27th Jan '15 - 1:53pm

    JE SUIS ALEX CARLILE…

    Britain – Lord Carlile a champion of legal underdogs from the terminally ill to the transsexual… [2006-06-26 NY Times Magazine]

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/25/magazine/25london.html

  • Tony Greaves 27th Jan '15 - 1:56pm

    The comment by someone calling themselves “Caracatus” about Lord Rennard are offensive and illiberal – and why does LDV allow people to hide behind cowardly anonymity when they are attacking other people? – Lord Rennard was investigated by the police and by the party itself at great length and found to have no case to answer.

    Bill le Breton – the Lords cannot prevent the Cons voting on anything. They are in charge of their own agenda (or at least they could be if they exerted themselves over the Executive).

    Tony Greaves

  • Whilst I highly respect Caron for her previous work and lively writing style, I happen to unfortunately disagree with Caron, on two (actually three) grounds.

    1) From this article, it appears that she is concerned about “snooping” into personal correspondence. As some of the previous commentators have already pointed out, the actual piece of legislation (which concerns Data Communications, and it is a rather different kettle of fish to the idea that the word “snooping” evokes), is about personal internet use being analysed in terms of patterns, etc. for anything suspicious, by the police/security. So no, it is not about some gleeful high-school-style “snooper” eavesdropping on your little rant about the Secret Santa event at the office last Xmas and then using it to blackmail you or whatever. It is ridiculous to think seriously that a random data analyst sifting the communications for any threatening content would actually bother about what you said about your personal goings-about – they are more likely to have much more serious matters to think of.
    b) In terms of sheer proportion (and bringing to mind another principle which seems to have fallen by the wayside in this discussion, that as a Liberal, one is supposed to value the sanctity of other people’s life and safety), would I personally “risk” a slim chance that somebody (quite unknown to me), somewhere, may read my private rant about something trivial, but so that there is a possibility that if this practice continues, a horrific event like 07/07 bombings or Charlie Hebdo attack would be prevented, and many human lives would be spared? Or would you perhaps prefer to leave this to chance, cross your fingers, and just hope it won’t occur, but you would be safe in the knowledge that nobody knows about your secret wanderings on the Internet which involve Dr Who fanfiction, etc.? I think I know which option I would choose myself… To contemplate putting into danger (however slim the chance) the lives of innocent citizens, especially with the present security situation as it stands, just so that nobody in the world knows about you visiting the Ann Summers website that one time, smacks a tad of Victorian hypocrisy, not of open liberalism born out of concern for one’s fellow humans. I wonder what Caron thinks about having to go through security scanners at the airport – would she condemn this just because an airport worker might catch a glimpse of her suitcase contents?
    3) Finally, as someone who has long held respect for Lord Alex Carlile for both his support of under-represented groups and for his genuine expertise on security matters, I believe it is somewhat petulant to clamour for sacking of a clearly competent and knowledgeable personality over what seems a very individual disagreement. I would like to finish by asking, if Caron has the same degree of expertise, experience and understanding of the present-moment security situation in the British Isles, so she can make such broad assumptions that also concern the well-being of her fellow citizens.

  • Persephone (great name by the way!)

    Leaving aside the Stalinist quashing of internal party dissent , this subject demonstrates quite how far this party has parted company from the political mainstream and why they (you?) are going to get decimated at the election.

    They care more about their precious principles (in the pejorative sense of the word precious) than they they do about keeping us all safe from harm.

    That is why they aren’t fit to govern us and the people will that out to them that in a hundred days or so…

  • Tony Greaves – if he hasn’t any case to answer why is he not being allowed anywhere near the election campaign?

  • cllr Nick Cotter 28th Jan '15 - 12:01am

    ” THEY protest too much ” some of the Anti- Alex Carlile comments on here appear overly personal and indeed rather “holier than though”.
    As a woolley wishy-washy Liberal inclined (though no longer a Lib Dem) criminal defence lawyer I will make up my mind on this ONCE I have heard the arguments !!
    Some pretty spiteful and ill-thought out comments on here !!
    Very Unbefitting of a Liberal Website.

  • Alex Sabine 28th Jan '15 - 3:14am

    Simon: Much as it pains me to take issue with you after your recent kind words, I do strongly disagree with you on this one (not the handling of dissent but the substance of the issue, aka the ‘Snoopers’ Charter’). Keeping us all safe from harm is of course a core duty of government. But in a free society this cannot mean giving carte blanche to the security services, blanket state surveillance, or anything like it.

    In my view any proposed legislation should pass (at least) the following tests:

    1. It should address clearly defined gaps in current capabilities in ways that are likely to be effective and proportionate.

    2. The collection, retention and use of data should be limited to cases where there are grounds for suspicion about specific individuals, not whole categories of citizens or the entire population.

    3. Any measures should compromise privacy as little as possible and minimise the risk of ‘mission creep’ and fishing expeditions: the proposed ‘filter’ mechanism is unlikely to have adequate safeguards.

    4. There should be a requirement for judicial warrants or at least some independent authorisation.

    5. It should be reasonable value for money. The Home Office should not get a free pass on this just by playing the ‘security’ card – particularly given that in the current fiscal climate expensive new surveillance powers are bound to mean lower budgets for other crime-fighting activities.

    It seems to me that the Snoopers’ Charter fails pretty much all of these tests. Most perniciously, it subverts the relationship between the individual and the state by implicitly turning us all into suspects.

    It is striking that the parliamentary joint committee that scrutinised the draft Bill was pretty scathing about it. It criticised the Home Office’s lack of consultation, their imprecise definition of the problem and the inadequate justification for their proposed solution. It found that the draft Bill paid “insufficient attention to the duty to respect the right to privacy, and goes further than it need or should”.

    The Intelligence and Security Committee (whose members included such fainthearts as Hazel Blears and Dr Julian Lewis) also criticised the lack of consultation, detail and safeguards.

    I fully accept that this is a complex area and that the fight against terrorism and cyber-crime requires well-resourced intelligence services (as indeed they have been). Clearly this involves some level of surveillance, but it should be targeted and subject to proper oversight.

  • Alex Sabine 28th Jan '15 - 3:48am

    In any case, I’m not at all convinced that simply increasing the state’s power to snoop on us would necessarily make us safer. As Benjamin Franklin said, “those who are willing to trade essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both” (or words to that effect). The evidence of the need for extensive new powers, as opposed to better use of existing powers, seems to me to be rather flimsy.

    However, given the obvious and inescapable fact that we know much less about the extent and nature of the terrorist threat than the security services (economists would call this an ‘information asymmetry’), we must concede the possibility that they are right: that giving them the powers they are seeking would make us safer. It does not follow that we should grant those powers. If it did then each subsequent call for new powers would be irresistible. There is ample evidence of this ratchet effect already in respect of the time limits on detention without trial and plenty of other legislation that the Home Office spewed out under Tony Blair’s premiership especially.

    If liberty is intrinsically valuable, we must guard it jealously and be prepared to draw certain lines in the sand. Security cannot be the sole, or even the main, criterion by which we judge the case for new powers. But if the case is so compelling that we decide some restriction of civil liberties is justified, we should be clear about the implications of the trade-off we are making. I’ve heard complaints that ‘Snooper’s Charter’ is a loaded term, because it unfairly characterises the spooks as nosey parkers who can’t wait to pry on our harmless domestic habits. Well, maybe. But to call it a ‘Freedom Charter’ instead, as Lord West suggests it should be known, is Orwellian Newspeak.

    As we fight terrorism we need to remember the values that we are defending. Ultimately we may have to accept that keeping the security services on a tight leash makes us less safe, that privacy and freedom come at a price. It easy to be brave from a safe distance, of course – which is why we should take seriously the views of people as well-informed on this subject as Alex Carlile. But in the end it is not only an empirical question, a question of expertise and of weighing up information and evidence, but a normative one about the priority we attach to different values.

    Isaiah Berlin called this ‘value pluralism’ and concluded that “where ultimate values are irreconcilable, clear-cut solutions cannot, in principle, be found. To decide rationally in such situations is to decide in the light of general ideals, the overall pattern of life pursued by a man or a group or a society.”

    And: “If, as I believe, the ends of men are many, and not all of them are in principle compatible with each other, then the possibility of conflict – and of tragedy – can never wholly be eliminated from human life, either personal or social. The necessity of choosing between absolute claims is then an inescapable characteristic of the human condition. This gives its value to freedom as Acton conceived of it – as an end in itself, and not as a temporary need, arising out of our confused notions and irrational and disordered lives, a predicament which a panacea could one day put right.”

    While I have my disagreements with the Lib Dems on plenty of fronts, I think their relatively consistent stance on civil liberties is creditable (bearing in mind that, as you allude to by saying they will get an electoral comeuppance, it doesn’t particularly chime with public opinion). It is also an important check on the tendency of the two main parties to let the accretion of power to the police and security services proceed almost by default. At the very least they raise the hurdle for extra powers, and quite right too, because in an open society there should always be a presumption in favour of individual freedom. As Caron rightly said, the state is the servant of the people, not the other way round. I thought that was a marching tune you Kippers liked to follow…?!

  • Helen Dudden 28th Jan '15 - 11:38am

    Alex Carlile would be of little use as a judge or a lawyer if he listened to the comments of others, and acted simply on that.

    We do need security as a country, no longer a member of your Party, but sometimes there is a need put another view.

    Actually, I would trust the comments of Alex Carlille, I am he is more than capable of making decisions that make our country safer.

  • Michael Hall it is not really surprising that things have got a little heated when Jeremy Browne has accused Caron and Lord Bonkers (!) of driving people out of the party. Caron has done no such thing. Her comments were perfectly fair and for her to be called “soviet” is preposterous.

  • Michael Hall 28th Jan ’15 – 10:15am
    “….Why is your casual character assassination of a Libdem MP thought appropriate by the moderators of this website?”

    I am unable to answer your question. Why don’t you ask them?
    Perhaps they thought it was a perfectly fair comment in the context of the discussion and in the context of the Tweet from Mr Browne.

    You suggest that –
    ” Jeremy Browne’s reasons for not restanding for Parliament have been reported …”
    As you point out in your own comment – media reports are not always 100% accurate. I certainly agree with you on the accuracy of the media, but where Mr Browne has “tweeted” himself then it is perhaps a reliable record of what he actually said.

  • Gareth Morgan 28th Jan '15 - 8:37pm

    My wife and I live in Montgomeryshire. Alex Carlile was our MP from 1983 to 1997. He won the seat back from the Tories in 1983 with a majority of barely 700 votes. When he stepped down in 1997 he bequeathed a majority of nearer 7000 votes to his successor. These facts speak for themselves. Surely he is allowed to exercise his discretion on some policy matters. It is surely the prerogative of a Liberal Democrat worth his salt

  • Helen Dudden 29th Jan '15 - 8:19am

    The Lib Dems have lost their way, as I said things changed.

    Should you discuss something like the security of the country on a general basis? Hardly.

    As David Cameron gets a grip on antisemitism, I can only be grateful and feel a lot more comfortable.

  • Gary Bellamy 29th Jan '15 - 2:05pm

    Absolute tosh. Alex Carlile is one of our most distinguished and respected Peers both inside and outside Parliament. His professional and political experience is clearly what informs his views here. As Liberals we must face reality and that is that in the modern digital age, we need solutions to protect us, from both the snoopers AND the terrorists and Carlile’s suggestion seems to strike that balance.

    The suggestion that he should leave the Party is as preposterous as it is insulting. We need more principled politicians like Carlile in our Party. The suggestion is even more perverse when one considers that we continue to allow the likes of David Ward to sully the Lib Dem brand with his nonsense and insults on the Israel/Palestine issue.

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