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Rebels make their move on 42 days

Guy Aitchison
16 May 2008

Guy Aitchison (London, OK): Reports this morning suggested that Brown was ready to make concessions on the 42 days, legislating for greater parliamentary and judicial scrutiny in return for the support of potential rebels. He apparently said he would “rather be right, and lose” but now recognizes that a defeat would be disastrous, possibly even fatal, for his leadership. His concessions have not done enough to convince Labour MP David Winnick, however, who went ahead and tabled an amendment to the Counter-Terrorism Bill to stop the extension of pre-charge detention. Winnick is the MP who tabled the amendment allowing 28 days detention in 2006, defeating Blair’s plans for 90 day. What is promising for opponents of the Bill (pretty much everyone outside the Home Office, including the Director of Public Prosecutions) is that Winnick claims to have support of MPs who supported the 90 days but have since decided that 28 days is sufficient. He thinks this may just be enough to bring about a government defeat.

I hope he’s right. As Stuart Weir and other supporters of OK and LC's “Not a Day Longer" campaign have endlessly pointed out on OK and elsewhere there has been no new evidence produced to justify 42 days detention; the judicial and parliamentary safeguards are inadequate; and the law risks alienating precisely those communities whose support is needed to defeat terrorism.

Brown’s determination to go for 42 days in the face of massive opposition from the legal establishment, human rights groups and countless experts on counter-terrorism was a cynical and calculating move designed to make him look tougher than the Tories and appeal to the Murdoch press. There is now every chance that, just like the strategy with the 10p tax, it will backfire spectacularly.

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