Coffee House

Nick Clegg: No agreement on TPIM measures is not an argument

2 September 2014

8:53 AM

2 September 2014

8:53 AM

Nick Clegg had a stab at being René Magritte on the Today programme this morning, telling us that a disagreement between the two coalition parties over anti-terror measures that were sort-of announced yesterday was ‘not some argument between two political parties’. It was clear from the way the Deputy Prime Minister described the additional measures for TPIMs that the Lib Dems accepted David Anderson’s demand that the government do more, but that only the first option, the expansion of exclusion zones, is something that will wash. Relocation powers, the key power removed from control orders when the Coalition scrapped them, would prove far more controversial, even though the Tories are clearly happy to keep an open mind on introducing these if necessary. Clegg said:

‘Moving people against their will from one part of the country to another when you cant prosecute in court is of course a big step. And that’s why we’re looking within government to see whether you can maximise and build upon existing powers in TPIMs which is all about excluding people from particular areas, but there’s no debate or dispute about the central observation that David Anderson has made, which is that TPIMs, to be effective, we need in one way or another, to do more to disrupt the patterns of association that people subject to TPIMs have with other individuals.’

Elsewhere the two parties are both trying to work out what they could do that is legal to stop people returning. ‘At the moment it is not obvious what we can do that is consistent with our legal obligations,’ Clegg said.


So the overall impression of David Cameron’s big statement yesterday, which he built up by holding that Downing Street press conference, was that the government either can’t agree on or isn’t sure what it can do to really clamp down on terrorists returning from abroad. That isn’t quite fair, given he did announce powers on seeing passports at the border temporarily so police could investigate someone, draft legislation that can be deployed if an ongoing legal challenge against current royal prerogative powers succeeds, and an ultimatum to airlines to hand over details of passengers or be banned from landing.

But there is still significant detail to be fleshed out, and the argument that isn’t an argument between the two parties may well rear its head and become a real, undeniable row if it turns out that relocation powers are absolutely necessary for TPIMs and the Lib Dems continue to dig their heels in.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • ButcombeMan

    “SEIZING” passports Isabel, you have a typo.


    On the issue, Cameron is quite content, tactically, to let voters gain the impression that the LibDems are being careless with our security.

    The details of what eventually gets done will slip the public’s mind, the impression of the LibDems as being, well, Limp, will remain

  • Andrew Morton

    Why not deal with the murderers fighting for ISIS quietly?
    Keep calm and do what is necessary.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      There’s no political mileage to be gained from that approach. The Camerluvvies are dying. They are desperate for this pantomime to change their fortunes somehow.

  • Colonel Mustard

    It is a very slippery slope indeed to exercise state power over any individual without due process of law, not for something that they have done but because of what they might do. There is no doubt that the thin anti-terrorism end of that particular wedge would be gleefully widened by the hordes of bureaucrats who seek to rule over us.

    It already is. Look at the proposals to give executive power over our private affairs to HMRC and the gradual shift in presumptions of innocence and of evidence. Look at the effectively unlawful killings in the name of the Crown for which no individuals have been put on trial.

    People might like the notion and sign up to it with the image of the bearded jihadi nutjob in mind but be sure it won’t end there. The project is an authoritarian post-democratic regime where the individual is wholly subordinate to the officials of the state, whose assets and even children are subject to their interference and control, who has no right of privacy to speak of and who is regulated and surveilled in almost every aspect of his or her life. Life is encumbered but meanwhile the real terrorists and criminals will have a horde of human rights lawyers and agents of influence agitating for them anyway.

    No thanks. Repression never works. I’ll take the risks from terrorist attacks any day.

  • jesseventura2

    Should we not be encouraging these uncivilized vermin to leave and paying their airfares then halting their return?

    • evad666

      Do keep up we musn’t infringe their uman rights by making them stateless.

  • starfish

    So let me get this straight
    A UK citizen who publicly states he is going abroad to murder people (and it is murder, he is not a soldier) cannot be stopped?
    A UK citizen who, from abroad, publicly incites other UK citizens to follow him and commit murder also cannot be stopped?
    We already know that UK citizens (or foreigners for that matter) who publicly incite violence can get away with it as long as they are from a certain section of society
    And Dave wonders why his party is falling apart

    • Span Ows

      Yeah but, no but, hey, no worries, at least parents (together, no possibility of thinking one had ‘robbed’ the child from another against their will) can’t take their own children for better treatment, oh no, we’ll get them stopped right away!

      • John Harper

        Thats because it’s much easier and cost effective. The plodding along force are able to plod along without having to get their hands dirty!

    • HookesLaw

      The Americans are busy bombing these UK citizens with our support.
      Since when have UK citizens walked through Heathrow shouting out they are off to murder people?
      The government are bringing in constraints on where people can go and also powers for police to seize passports of Britons suspected of travelling to
      join terrorist groups and are forcing airlines to hand over passenger lists to help identify jihadists. Thats the point of the announcements

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …no, the point of the announcements is for the Camerluvvies to distract from all their domestic failures.

      • starfish

        Since yhey announced their intent to friends family and you tube

    • evad666

      Musn’t despoil their uman rites mate, they are all gods chillun. Even when they are drug crazed ex cons from Eest London ,pumped up on cordite fumes.
      The next riot in Lunun should be amusing!!

  • chouenlai

    It was ever thus with the Lib Dems, they are quite the silliest people on the planet.

  • Last Man Standing

    We don’t want people’s passports temporarily ceased. We wish Muslims who have been fighting in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere to be stripped of their British citizenship and denied entry.

    In the DM there is a report of a moderate Muslim girl who has gone to fight and kill in Syria. She told her Muslim friends.They did nothing. They are complicit. They should all lose citizenship rights.

  • Span Ows

    Why is Clegg still being interviewed at all?

    • monty61

      Agreed. He’s an utter irrelevance.

    • Holly

      So he can tell us all to forget Rotherham, and terrorists, because the Lib Dems are giving kids free school meals.

      Oh I forgot…

      • MrsDBliss

        “So he can tell us all to forget Rotherham, and terrorists, because the Lib Dems [ can take our money to give all children! including the wealthy] school meals.”
        Sorry Holly, great point but I just wanted to correct that part ;).
        Nick Clegg, thinks he’s Robin Hood, really he’s king john.

    • dado_trunking

      Some punters have still not come to terms with the fact that this is not a Tory government but that Britain is now effectively a five party state with a *coalition government*. They will spend the rest of the year and next hoping for Ukip to enter Parliament, hoping they win the same number of seats that the current coalition partner has won when in fact we all know that Ukip will not even win a third of those seats. Will that be enough to form another *coalition government* in which, again, the bigoted right will be held back by those with a brain?

      • Span Ows

        Don’t worry, we are all only to well aware this is a Coalition government.

        btw, there is far more to fear from the bigoted left.

        • dado_trunking

          Perhaps you are right, but I have a plan to deflect all criticism from those with a grand and humane plan: let’s withhold passports anyway and just call it ‘tackling the free movement of labour’. Problem solved. Next.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …well, alright, just so long as the goat can travel freely, lad.

    • The Masked Marvel

      Because this was a trial balloon and not a serious new policy, and you don’t send your best man out with it. That’s partly why Justin Webb eventually told him straight out Clegg wasn’t going to let it happen. The other reason Webb went there is because the dissembling and stammering had become tiresome. Also, Clegg probably went on because some idiot thought it would be nice to remind the public that the LibDems are the good guys there to balance out the Nasty Party. Whoever thought Clegg was going to perform well here ought to be sacked. Whoever prepared him with talking points should be following swiftly behind.

      It is very ugly business when the debate is about how to rig something up to bodily move people around the country when they can’t even be brought into a court for anything. As always the fools in government have got this completely the wrong way round. When Justin Webb can so easily make mincemeat out of not just the dopey Clegg but Cast Iron Dave’s latest lead trial balloon, it’s a sign of a lost plot at No. 10.

      The BBC also apparently had a list of issues on which they wanted to attack the Government. Moving on to military action over ISIS, the best Clegg could do is to stand firm in his conviction that Parliament should decide. How very brave and original. School meals? Some Today producer thought they had a nice angle to attack spending in general. Surely they could have come up with a better target issue? The only thing that was accomplished was Clegg stating his talking points, and Webb stating his in response. Lazy attack mode, and very tedious. Presumably No. 10 had a list of the questions and decided it wasn’t worth sending anyone useful.

      However, one cannot emphasise enough how refreshing it was to hear a BBC presenter say it was wrong to add more to the national debt. Only when it’s not Labour in charge, of course.

    • Suzy61

      Quite. Only two people listen to him now – and one is too young to vote.