I'm not particularly interested in this civil liberties stuff when it comes to these people's emails and mobile phone conversations. If they are a threat to our society then I want them properly listened to.
I've always found the fuss made over Boris Johnson to be somewhat mystifying. I'm sure that he is highly intelligent, but then I expect that of people holding high office. But he has a tendency to act the fool, to contradict himself and to be vague on detail, and despite this, a surprising number of Conservatives appear to believe that he is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It is, perhaps, the triumph of celebrity over competence, although he has often been fortunate in his choice of opponents.
But what worries me most is that I can't really tell what he really believes in, apart from being on top. Is he in favour of civil liberties or not, for example, although on the basis of the quote above, the answer is yes, for nice people, but not for people we don't trust. Does that mean that he disagrees with the Government for, as the Tory/Lib Dem Programme for Government declared:
The [Coalition] believes that the British state has become too authoritarian, and that over the past decade it has abused and eroded fundamental human freedoms and historic civil liberties.
Personally, I suspect that Boris is playing to a very specific audience - right-wing Conservative MPs who distrust David Cameron. It is, after all, one of sufficient size to be worth pursuing, and one which is unlikely to want to back a husky-hugging, socially liberal leader any time soon. If Boris does want to be leader, he's going to have to win their support or, at the very least, have them onside.
From a liberal perspective, one could argue that the security forces are barely capable of managing the data they already have, and have been proven to have a relaxed attitude towards current legislation, in that they are willing to stretch it as far as it will go, and will always seek to have more powers.
And, ultimately, politicians like Boris Johnson, who are more interested in outcomes, and care far less about due process, are probably as big a threat to our civil liberties as terrorists are to our safety. Whilst they might not wilfully give up our freedom, they might do it by neglect or as a bargaining ploy. But the next time I hear Boris talk about liberty, I'll remember that he is, first and foremost, a bit of a fraud...