42 Days - the vote closes in plus first reactions

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
11 June 2008


Anthony Barnett (London, OK): Well it seems that Ben Brogan will have called it right and with a wide variety of bribes and sweeteners Brown will get his 42 days. I hope he will regret it. Brogan suggests:

"So what happens next? The Lords will overturn it, the Government in turn will use the Parliament Act to get 42 days through. The fear among opponents is that this will turn out to be the high-water mark of the resistance".

We'll see about that.The argument of both principle and practicality has been won by the opposition to any extension of detention without charge. Prime Ministers Questions was very striking in this regard. You can see it over at PoliticsHome whose neat aggregation comes into its own. Iain Dale thought it was a high level draw. Yes, and no. In parliamentary terms perhaps, Brown was ready with his replies, but they were all derivative, drawn from the flawed authority of others, not least some police. On an issue like this political leaders should make the case for themselves, presenting their own assesment of the evidence and their own judgement of the issues. Cameron did this, it seemed to me. A high point was Brown quoting Tim Montgomery (I presume) at ConservativeHome which joined the Spectator and what we can now call the neo-d'ancons. Strike one for the blogosphere I suppose. As for public opinion - has anyone asked the public if they think innocent people should be held for 42 days without charge? The public think it is a matter of holding terrorist suspects BEFORE they are charged, not innocent members of the public themselves.

Over at the BBC Nick Robinson with his nose for a great story picked up on Shami's charge that the police are "sexing up" the case. I have no doubt that they are. But again, the problem with this argument is that it brings the focus onto the people being held who are then charged (the case is that they were held for 27 days and then charged with evidence known on days 4 and 12). Meanwhile, people are being held who are not guilty at all - and it is these cases that are counter-productive. I feel I have set out the case but a good argument is always worth repeating. All the stuff about amounts of evidence, complexity etc, which ConservativeHome have now bought and is part of the whole panic our civilisation is under threat watch the skys con trick, is - polite word - nonsense. It is not a matter of building a case for the prosecution which may well take a year. It is having enough prima facia evidence to present a charge.
Iain was appalled at ConHome playing the Blair/Brown game. Another figure lurking in that camp is Michael Gove, now self-proclaimed as a "Runnymede refusenik". Or is he? His so subtle as to be incomprehensible coded column in this week's Times which concludes with covert irony that the subversive view is to be on the side of the "authority" aka the well-read Gordon Brown. If he is not careful, by voting one way (I assume) while speaking out of the side of his mouth in another, Gove will become the Tory Party's Jack Straw.

PS: Over at Compass a row is breaking out over whether Jon Trickett and Jon Cruddas will vote for 42 Days or not. It may have very damaging consequences for the nascent alternative to New Labour in the Labour Party and its fresh thinking if they do. PSS: Neal Lawson of Compass has tried to stop the rot, saying his is not an organisation operating democratic centralism (right on!) but on this if they have voted for 42 it will hurt.

MORE LINKS Chicken Yogurt very cross about the deals! Linked to by Sunny in a useful Pickeled Politics roundup followed up by good round of quotes by him in Liberal Conspiracy, you seek him here, you seek him there, where CAN'T you find Sunny? Well, not in the Spectator's Coffee House now serving distinctly watered down brew of its least impressive instant caf ("Men of Goodwill disagreed today" - so it's Goodwill Gordon is it?) as it realises that neo-d'anconism relys on the DUP - how 21st century is that! And the DUP get the focus of Iain Dale's contempt. I'm going to bed. But this is a big one, the Prime Minister may even rue the day that he 'won'.



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