It’s not fanciful to argue that the formation of a Liberal-Conservative coalition government last May was helped by the fact that Lib Dem and Tory parliamentarians had worked closely together in the previous Parliament to thwart or temper some of the Labour administration’s more aggressive assaults on civil liberties.

The two parties – then in opposition, now in government – seemed to find common ground in defending the rights of the individual against the increasingly shrill demands of the agencies charged with upholding our safety and security. Whether it was the introduction of national identity cards, and the gargantuan accompanying database, or three months detention without trial for terror suspects, Cameron’s and Clegg’s parliamentary troops seemed conjoined in civil libertarianism.

But has entering government changed them? We have seen in the past how politicians can change in government. Back in 1994, Michael Howard, then Home Secretary, proclaimed the merits of ID cards. Labour railed against the plans. But seven years later – in the wake of the 9/11 outrage – senior Labour figures, by then in government, found merit in the proposals.

Read the rest of the article on the Spectator Coffee House blog.

Mark Littlewood

Director General, IEA

Mark Littlewood is the Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs and the IEA’s Ralph Harris Fellow. Under his leadership, the IEA has continued to communicate the benefits of free markets to an even wider audience around the world. In 2014, Mark was ranked 38th on The Times’ ‘Right-wing Power List’, and in 2011 was named ‘Liberal Voice of the Year’ by the Liberal Democrat Voice. Mark frequently comments on political and economic issues on television and radio including BBC Question Time, Any Questions, Newsnight, Channel 4 News, Sky News, Radio 4's Today Programme and LBC. Prior to the IEA, Mark was Head of Media for the Liberal Democrats before going on to found Progressive Vision, a classical liberal think tank. Mark was educated at Balliol College, Oxford.