05 November 2013

Conservative MPs defend Edward Snowden, attack security establishment

No, not Canadian Conservative MPs—British Conservative MPs. Former shadow home secretary and Conservative Party leadership candidate David Davis has come out strongly in support of American whistleblower Edward Snowden. "The only protection for us all in this sort of area is actually whistleblowers," said Davis, "It's the only thing that makes these sorts of organizations behave properly." He has also wisely observed that, "It is inevitable that any big bureaucracy—government departments or agencies—will at some point misuse the powers it has and the data it holds."

Davis is not alone in his concerns about the security establishment. Another Conservative backbencher, Rory Stewart, has suggested that Parliament's intelligence and security committee should always be chaired by a member of the opposition to ensure its independence. He has also proposed it be freely elected by MPs. "You are never going to have a government backbencher chairing a committee that is going to criticize the government properly," he states by way of explanation.

Strong stuff. At a time when the British Prime Minister is threatening The Guardian newspaper for publishing Snowden's revelations, it is gratifying to see backbenchers expressing contrary views. It gives democracy a good name.

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