Wednesday, November 9

90 day defeat

The defeat of the Prime Minister in the House of Commons this afternoon by 31 votes on the '90 day detention bill' is a massive political blow to the Government.

It is indeed more than a political catastrophe for Blair, it is a welcome (albeit late) sign that the majority of MPs understand that public opinion does not have confidence or indeed trust in either the Executive, or indeed the Police, to fairly or correctly administer the extended time allowed to detain terrorist suspects to 90 days.
The embarrassment today of 41 Labour backbencher MPs voting against the Government on the 90 day extension is a reflection that much of 'old Labour' has a greater core belief than their 'New Labour' colleagues, that the principles of justice are precious.

We all want to protect Britain from terrorist attacks but it is vital that ill considered erosions of freedom are not blown up by political over reaction. To resist further powers being granted to the state is not disrespect for the 52 innocent people killed or the 127 seriously injured individuals on 7 July, nor does it restrict the effectiveness of the Police. The Police and the security services need better public co-operation and consequently reliable intelligence information. A fundamental re-examination of police/public relations, by senior Police Officers, would be a good starting point.

Clearly the revised extension time to which a terrorist suspect can be held without charge from the present 14 days will now be extended to only 28 days and with proper judicial safeguards by High Court Judges, not as Blair and the Police originally wanted, 90 days with vague review during that period. This is good for our democracy (under difficult circumstances) if not for Tony Blair's continuing tenure in Downing Street.

The Terrorism Bill has been difficult for the Government since it was first introduced. The first contentious part Bill was put to the vote last week. The clause on incitement to terrorism was passed in the House by only one vote, the closest that Tony Blair had come until today to defeat in the Commons.

Amazingly on Monday, Tony Blair suggested at his monthly press conference at number 10 that those that opposed him risked compromising national security. That is the sort of knee-jerk jingoism that Blair would have poured scorn upon when he was in opposition.

Laws against inciting terrorism already exist in the UK, eroding freedoms and increasing the state's power of detention do nothing to prevent further acts of horror. The perpetrators of 7/7 were 'known' to the authorities but were not considered to be a risk. It was a failure of intelligence which, additional powers of detention, had they been available, would not have prevented the murderous deeds from occuring.

The Police, by their very nature are going to want to have as many powers as possible in order to make their jobs as easy as possible. The resignation of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair following the murder of an innocent man boarding a tube train in London, by undercover Police officers (made worse by the misinformation from Sir Ian and Scotland Yard in the days after the crime) would be a start. Perhaps the other Blair may wish to follow shortly after.
HMP Belmarsh, where those detained under anti-terrorist legislation are held.


Mrs C.Spence, Dudley said...

ha ha. Its win win for Gordon brown - called back from tel Aviv, where he had landed an hour earlier, to vote and hassle others into voting - if Blair had won, brown could say he swung it, as he lost, its one step closer to being PM himself - bet he's loving it!!
All that AND double duty free!!

World Weary Detective said...

Please don't believe that all police officers support the political lobbying of our Commissioner. Have a look at my blog for an insight into what those who actually do the work think.

Peter Troy said...

Thank you for your comment -you have an excellent blog PC WW.

My comments regarding 'the police' were aimed at the management of the police.