Tories ‘plotting to silence critics’ – Lord Kerslake

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron  © Francois Lenoir
Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative-led government is plotting to silence critics by diminishing trade unions and limiting journalists from scrutinizing its practices, the former civil service chief has claimed.

Lord Kerslake has accused Cameron of taking an “authoritarian approach” and trying to weaken anyone with “the temerity to take a different view.”

In an interview with the Financial Times, he said: “Being a bit arrogant goes with the territory for a government, especially if you have won a mandate for a second term.”

However, there are “worrying signs” of an authoritarian approach to government, he added.

Individually these issues stand on their own terms, but if you add it all up you wonder if this is a government that wants to weaken people who have the temerity to take a different view.

His comments come weeks after the PM and Chancellor George Osborne announced initiatives to potentially weaken opposition parties.

In November, Osborne revealed plans for a 19 percent cut in the “short money” that goes to all opposition parties.

The move, which would rob the Labour Party of nearly £1 million (US$1.47 million) per year from its existing £6 million worth of taxpayer support, has been branded “undemocratic” by critics.

Katie Ghose, Electoral Reform Society chief executive, said the plan is “bad news for democracy.”

Meanwhile, Labour claims the government’s trade union reforms will cause the party to lose more than £6 million.

The PM also intends to weaken the House of Lords and review the Freedom of Information Act, which allows the press to scrutinize the working of the government.

Commenting on Kerslake’s claims, a spokesperson for Cameron said all of the government’s measures have been justified.

This is just cobbling issues together to say it is authoritarian. I struggle to see how any of this is authoritarian,” they told the Financial Times.

The PM’s spokesperson insisted “no decisions have been taken” on reforming Freedom of Information.