Following on from yesterday’s piece on the vote for 42-day detention without charge, a follow-up piece seemed in order.
The media is in an absolute frenzy following the narrowness of the Government’s victory over 42 days. Many are describing it as a pyrrhic victory, that Brown has given so much away in order to win, he’d have been better off not trying.
During his monthly press conference, Brown sought to ridicule those who opposed the Anti-Terror bill as not understanding the threat faced by the country, the complexity of the evidence that needed to be processed and the determination of those who would do us harm.
I don’t claim to be an expert in International Terrorism and I am not privy to the intelligence gathered by the security services. I do however think that it’s ludicrous to try and beat this enemy we face by dismantling the legal protections that allow us our liberty. I find it repugnant that Government ministers claimed to be all knowing entities over the Conservatives, several of whom have faced the far more menacing spectre of Irish Terrorism back in the day. A point rammed home by David Cameron yesterday:
Increasingly in this country, we’re told that we face the very real threat from an enemy out to destroy our very way of life, an enemy who hate us for the freedoms we enjoy and the way in which we live our lives. Surely by extending detention without trial and allowing coroner’s inquests to be made secret on national security grounds (a rule which could have been applied in the de Menezes case) does the work of the terrorists for them? The country I fear is a lot further down the slippery slope and is sliding further down with each passing day. We learnt during The Troubles that we beat terrorists by not letting them get to us. We carry on, we taunt them by showing we’re not going to change our way of life to suit them.
David Davis (the Conservative standard bearer on the 42 day detention issue) resigned today in order to fight a by-election on the issue of 42 days. He intends to make a stand against the erosion of the liberties many have fought for over the years.
I had always viewed membership of this house as a noble endeavour, not least because we and our forebears have for centuries fiercely defended the fundamental freedoms of our citizens. Or we did, up until yesterday.
He went on to say:
And because the generic security arguments relied upon are ones that will never go away, this government will be tempted again in the future to try for 56 days, 70 days, 90 days.
But in truth 42 days is just one albeit perhaps the most salient example of the insidious, surreptitious and relentless erosion of fundamental British freedoms under this Government.
I admire the stand he’s taking on this issue, but I fear that it may backfire. The Lords still haven’t voted on it and Davis was a formidable opponent to a whole raft of useless Home Secretaries. I fear that by resigning, he’s giving Labour the opportunity to paint a picture of discord within the Opposition. So rather than being able to focus their attention on getting the Lords to put this heinous bit of legislation down, the Conservatives will be fighting a rear-guard action, denying rumours of splits in the party line.
A dark day.