When David Laws was forced to resign last month, we asked if the Tory right wing was trying to destabilise the Lib-Con coalition. With the announcement that Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Chris Huhne is leaving his wife in the wake of gutter press exposure of his relationship with economic advisor Carina Trimingham, the cracks are widening.
Like the former Treasury Chief Secretary, Huhne is a heavyweight inside the Liberal Democrats. Already there is speculation about whether Cameron should ask for his resignation which would seriously weaken the government just as the Budget is due to be announced. The campaign against Huhne, must therefore be seen in a bigger picture.
Apart from the cardinal sin of being a Liberal Democrat in the first place, Huhne has opposed expanding nuclear power and is in favour of carbon capture technology. Last week the Coalition announced that the £80 million loan needed to make the castings for nuclear reactors was to be cut, which has enraged the pro-nuclear lobby.
As with Laws, the allegations of sexual or marital “impropriety” are simply a smokescreen for far more serious and sinister matters.
The real issue is: what forces are guiding the snooping hacks of the News of the World, whose stories were immediately picked up by the Daily Mail and the Sunday Telegraph? Who tipped them off to tail Trimingham to Huhne’s constituency home in Eastleigh and follow the couple on the train all the way back to Waterloo, tracking their movements and phone calls? Last year Huhne demanded an inquiry into the News of the World phone-hacking saying: "It strikes at the heart of the privacy any individual can expect in a civilised society."
Is it payback time, or is it possible that they are being helped by operatives in one of the intelligence agencies, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ? Richard Aldrich, the author of a new book about the GCHQ spy centre in Cheltenham, which absorbs the largest chunk of the £2.4bn budget, says that GCHQ holds “enormous surveillance powers”. The frightening truth, he says, is "no one is in control" of these powers.
As Cameron’s coalition comes under strain, he is singing the praises of the military. The Prime Minister wrote yesterday that it was the whole nation’s “social responsibility to put servicemen and women “at the front and centre of our national life”, adding “I want to see an explosion of red, white and blue all over the country”.
As the 300th soldier is killed and when the majority of citizens are opposed to the hopeless war in Afghanistan, the pressure is on to re-legitimise the armed forces. The ruling class need to put down a marker in the wake of the Saville Report which proved beyond question that British troops deliberately fired on innocent civilians. This explains why even General Sir Richard Dannatt has backed Cameron in saying that the Bloody Sunday shootings in Derry 38 years ago were “unjustified and unjustifiable”. That event must be firmly put in the past so that the troops can now be seen as self-less heroes who need “our” unstinting moral and financial support.
On the eve of what will is likely to be the most ferocious budget in history there are serious fears of civil unrest as the whirlwind of cuts hits jobs, services, pensions and pay.
No wonder that the media drums are beating to get support for the Armed Forces Day this Saturday. It’s time to join the campaign to build People’s Assemblies as the democratic alternative to these increasingly authoritarian state forces.
A World to Win secretary