Sunny Hundal (London, Liberal Conspiracy): I have a strong feeling that the government’s plans to extend pre-charge detention to 42 days, which we’ve been running a campaign against, is dead in the water.
There are two reasons for my optimism.
The 42 days vote is the next big vote for the government. Having gotten a bloody nose over the 10p tax, I doubt Brown will risk another one given all the speculation around his leadership. Labour backbench ministers are looking to give Brown a bloody nose anyway and his weakened authority now makes it easier for them.
There is also a chance that New Labour will now look to appeal to its core liberal-left constituency, which has been increasingly disheartened by the party’s authoritarian tendencies of late. It has no one else to appeal to, it certainly isn’t going to appeal to Telegraph voters - why not at least the Guardian ones?
In a short blog for OurKingdom I said this recently:
"In the end, the vote will most likely come down to an issue of political positioning, rather than an accurate assessment of whether this legislation is needed. Jacqui Smith’s team has already pointed out that a defeat for the Prime Minister would further damage Labour morale and make victory at the next General Election more difficult. And with embarassment looming at the Local Elections and the possiblity of Ken Livingstone losing in London to further compound Labour’s troubles, Labour MPs may re-think rebelling on this legislation purely to save their own electoral skin. We should hope for the sake of our democracy they don’t."
Clearly, I didn’t envisage Labour’s fortunes to fall so greatly. But they have and I bet morale is so low now that trying to push this through would only damage it further.
Brown would be suicidal to carry through with this. I know I’m going out on a limb here, but I think 42 days is dead. Victory is near, comrades!
Cross-posted from Liberal Conspiracy.