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Failure to pass the snooper's charter would be a "resignation issue"

Alan Johnson throws his support behind Therasa May, in a potentially unwelcome way.

New Statesman

Theresa May is pressing forward with attempts to use the events of last Wednesday in Woolwich to revive the ill-fated "snooper's charter", if her appearance on this morning's Andrew Marr show is anything to go by.

The policy – officially called the Communications Data Bill – was left dead in the water last month after Nick Clegg withdrew his support for it, but the changed atmosphere could provide May with a chance to bring it back to life. She told guest presenter Nick Robinson that "Intelligence agencies need access to communications data. It is essential to do their job."

The bill would force internet providers to keep much more information about phone calls and online communications, and for greater periods of time, than is currently the case.

Later, on the show, former Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson supported May, although it was a double-edged sword. Johnson, who garnered the displeasure of many civil-liberties groups during his own time in cabinet, said that "We need to get this on the statute book before the next general election, and I think it’s absolutely crucial". But he added "Indeed, I think it’s a resignation issue for a Home Secretary if the Cabinet do not support her," a statement of "support" which May might wish had been left unsaid.

That's because even in the changed climate, the Cabinet is by no means united about the necessity of the Snooper's Charter as a response to the Woolwich attack. The Guardian's Alan Travis reports:

None of the measures in the "snooper's charter" bill would have prevented the savage murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, has said.

The cabinet minister, who attended an emergency Cobra meeting on Thursday, defended the role of the security services, saying they had been "very successful at stopping a number of similar plots".

If May does stake her role on the bill, the fight could get nasty indeed.