I’ve not said much about the 42 days debate. Suffice to say that the reasons given for extending the already inordinate 28 days don’t stack up. Indeed, this has the aura of desperation about it; of Gordon Brown determined to show that he is in charge and to hell with liberty, the rule of law and due process. What matters here is browbeating the rebels into line with the prospect of a catastrophic defeat at the polls being held before them. The government must show unity and liberty is the be the bloodied martyr, slain at the alter of the prime minister’s conceit.
John Major writes an eloquent argument in today’s Times, outlining just why this is such a bad idea. This is a man who, as with his predecessor, personally faced terror attacks. Something the present cabinet have been spared.
The Government’s legislation to permit 42 days pre-charge detention brings to the fore the wider question of civil liberties. In their response to the security threat ministers have dragged us ever closer to a society in which ancient rights are seriously damaged. I doubt this is the Government’s intention, but it is the effect.
He is being generous to a fault. They have been made aware to the point where they cannot reasonably deny it. That they continue to press ahead suggests that liberty is something they treat with contempt. There is no other conclusion to draw from their actions.
I don’t believe that sacrifice of due process can be justified. If we are seen to defend our own values in a manner that does violence to them, then we run the risk of losing those values. Even worse, if our own standards fall, it will serve to recruit terrorists more effectively than their own propaganda could ever hope to.
This encapsulates the point in its entirety; when we give up our liberty, when we alter our way of life in order to defend ourselves against the threat of terror – and, remember, there has been very little evidence of significant terrorist activity on the UK mainland, merely hyperbole and hysteria from government ministers along with mumblings about plots; plots that all too often turn out to be nothing at all – then we give those who would destroy us a victory without them having to do anything. If the 42 days detention gets the nod in parliament, the jihadists won’t need body belts made of semtex, they will die laughing.
The Government has introduced measures to protect against terrorism. These go beyond anything contemplated when Britain faced far more regular – and no less violent – assaults from the IRA. The justification of these has sometimes come close to scaremongering.
Quite so. Those who scream, shout and stamp their feet seem to forget the IRA campaign that was waged with rather more competence and ferocity than the current threat. We withstood it without giving up our freedoms. We are more than capable of doing so again. We do not need to be protected by the government. It is not their place to protect us by stealing our liberties. Much better to face the risks of the jungle than to be constrained safely in a gilded cage. Risk is a part of living. So too is dying. I would rather die free than live forever enslaved.
There is no justification whatsoever for this raid on our liberties. And, how long before the right to detain is filtered down to the local council jobsworths in the same way that Ripa was? It couldn’t happen? Really? Sure about that, are we?
Of course, John Major’s comments haven’t gone down well with Brown and his numpties.
Home Office Minister Tony McNulty urged MPs to trust the police on the issue rather than Sir John who has been “out of the loop” for the past decade.
What a stupid statement to make – but, then, this is McNulty, so what should we expect? Major may have been out of power for a decade, but that does not mean that he is not aware of the issues and that his comments don’t have validity – indeed, they do have validity. They are spot on.
But Mr McNulty, speaking on BBC Two’s The Daily Politics, rejected Sir John’s argument, saying MPs should trust the judgement of experts such as former Met Police anti-terror chief Peter Clark.
Clark has a vested interest, he is a high ranking police officer and will paint a picture to cabinet that secures his force with more powers – it’s human nature and McNulty is a fool if he doesn’t realise this. But, then, having read the drivel he came out with in defence of identity cards, I realise that McNulty is a malignant and dangerous man – he may also be a fool, but worse, he is a nasty authoritarian control freak. The sooner he is removed from his parliamentary seat, the better.
I would ask people simply to listen to and trust the Peter Clarks of this world rather than someone like John Major who has been out of the loop for about 10 years
Really? I never voted for Major’s Conservatives. I didn’t have a great deal of time for him or them. But, by God, I’ll place a damn sight more trust in his judgement on this issue than I do in the current cabinet or Peter Clark. That is because he is right and they are wrong.