Conservative Diary

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Two in five Tory members back the Communications Data Bill - and a third oppose it

May Theresa Home Office
By Paul Goodman

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It would be an exaggeration to write that every Conservative born into the world alive is either a Little Authoritarian or a Little Libertarian.  But how much of one?  The result of our last monthly survey question about the Communications Data Bill (a.k.a the Snooper's Charter) may point towards an answer.

  • 43 per cent of respondents agreed that "the Tory leadership should do all it can to enact the Communications Data Bill, even against the wishes of the Liberal Democrats".
  • 34 per cent took the view that "the Communications Data Bill is an invasion of privacy and should not be made law."
  • And 22 per cent believed that the Conservative leadership "should compromise with the Liberal Democrats to produce a version of the Bill that both sides can broadly agree with".

That last fifth of Tory respondents is quite a big slice of the whole, and is a reminder that all Conservatives don't come down on one side of the fence or the other.  Since compromise with our Coalition partner isn't always a popular option with party members, the figure indicates that a significant percentage of them find it hard to make their minds up about the bill.

However, the remaining three-quarters or so seem to have made their minds up.  And I think the results point towards a general truth - namely, that regardless of whether one agrees with them or not, libertarians make a lot of noise in proportion to their number.

Perhaps the Woolwich horror has had an impact on the figures.  However, the proportions certainly wouldn't justify any claim that Conservative members are lined up to support the bill: compromise is perhaps where the Home Office is heading in any event.  Over 700 Tory members responded to the survey - as did over 1400 readers in total.


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