Is the government about to start digitally invading every single aspect of our lives? In this week’s cover feature, Nick Cohen questions exactly what and how the government is trying to achieve with the upcoming snooping bill. Discussing the matter future on our View from 22 podcast, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group Nick Pickles warns that a heavy handed bill would not only ‘slam the breaks’ on the economy but the beneficiaries may not be who you would expect:
‘We’ve had some quite hysterical editorials saying this is about terrorists and pedophiles but the bill itself says the biggest beneficiary is actually Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs. We’ve asked the government what proportion of the supposed benefits go to HMRC but we’ve been told we can’t have that information for “national security reasons”.
‘That sums up how disingenuous the proposed bill has been. It lets the government off the hook for essentially pushing something that both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats proposed when they are on the other side of the house.’
James Forsyth discusses why this autumn is important not just for David Cameron to prove he can find growth but also for Ed Miliband and Labour to find some policies
‘I suspect the Labour conference will be more about values than policy, and more about Ed Miliband the man. Ed Miliband the individual, and his story as the son of refugee rather than detailed policy proposals.
‘The interesting thing to look at is the polls testing out other party leaders. If you put Vince Cable as leader of the Liberal Democrats, they do better purely at the expense of Labour, taking four points off their rating. That is testament to what Vince gives back to the Liberal Democrats, but it is also another demonstration that this quite considerable Labour poll lead is actually rather soft.’
Fraser Nelson also offers his prediction on Ed Balls’ spending strategy in the run up to the next election:
‘I predict that when George Osborne comes out with his next five-year spending plan, which he will present to Parliament next year pointing past the election, Ed Balls will say: we are going to match it, we won’t spend more than you. That will close down the entire deficit denying argument. People on the left will hate Balls for it but who else are they going to vote for?’
And who are the Spectator editor’s favourite government ministers? Listen with the embedded player below which old and new faces help him sleep at night. You can also have the latest podcast delivered straight to your machine by subscribing through iTunes. As ever, we’d love to hear what you think, good or bad.
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.