Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pantomine Time

The first PMQs of the new session of parliament were held today and Blair is as loathsome as ever. Questioning the desirability of the 90 day internment proposal, Charles Kennedy asked the PM to explain the views of the Attorney General to the House of Commons. As has been reported, the Attorney General is unconvinced. The short summary of Blair's answer:
No, I will not.
Oooh, get you!

As is so often the case Blair refused to answer the question. Then, just to rub salt in the wound, he launches into some inane guff about the need for a debate and his desire to reach a consensus. Hmm, I think most people would probably agree than when grown-ups debate they are usually willing to at least acknowledge contesting opinions. In fact, in a decent debate, contesting opinions are welcomed as a means to judge the strength of a given position. Perhaps an adult debate might even contain rational arguments which seek to address these contesting views. That is, as I understand it anyway, rather the point of debate.

Blair understands it differently though. For him, a debate is something he has to be seen to be having before he gets what he's decided he wants. Contesting opinions are neither welcome nor desirable. They just slow everything down and that's most aggravating to the PM, especially with the clock ticking as it is.

The fact that Lord Goldsmith felt the need to go public with his concerns says a great deal about his views on these proposals, perhaps more than the comments themselves. Everything we know about the Attorney General seems to point to the fact that he's not a man who is forward at coming forward. No, he's more of an anti-Blunkett, a man who desperately avoids the limelight at every opportunity. That he's made his views public almost certainly means that he feels a great deal more strongly about this than his public statement would suggest. Of course this is just speculation. I'd rather have been able to provide more facts but as I said, Blair didn't answer the question so what can you do?

As a contrast to his refusal to discuss the Attorney General's concerns, it might be interesting to count how many times Blair refered to the opinion of the "police officer responsible for fighting terrorism in this country"* during PMQs. No hesitation on that front; quite the opposite in fact. Of course Blair isn't going to mention that any PM asking any police force at any time in modern history would get the same answer.
PM: What else do you need to do your jobs properly?
Police types: More power and more money please.
I'm completely and utterly devoid of even the slightest hint of a feeling of surprise. What else would they say? "Less powers please, we've just shot an innocent man and we are clearly not to be trusted"? Er, no, I don't see it. And, at the risk of sounding extraordinarily patronising, that in a nutshell is why politicians makes laws and policemen do not. Because the Police Force always want more powers. Of course they do, they're civil servants.**

What really annoys me is that Blair is almost certainly intelligent enough to understand all of the above and I tend to think that he actually does. I just don't think he gives a toss. The end justifies the means...

Here's the BBC summary of the question and answer. I may replace this with a transcript when one becomes available online.
Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy sent his sympathy to the earthquake victims. He then turned to ask about the plan to allow police to detain terror suspects for up to 90 days without charge, asking in particular what the attorney general's views were on it.
Mr Blair said he found the police request for the power "compelling" and that although he wanted consensus the need to protect the public's civil liberty to life was paramount.
* I presume he's refering to his namesake Sir Iain what I actually said was "I AM THE LAW" Blair. I'm not 100% sure of that, but I suppose it would be understandable if the actual name of the Chief of the Met has become another unmentionable.

**This sentence was specifically created to appeal to Daily Mail readers. It is absolutely true though.

No comments: