Thursday, January 12, 2006

Back Door Government

Sometimes this government still has the ability to shock even the most cynical of people. It happened today.

A couple of months back, Tony Blair was defeated when he tried to force the 90 day detention without charge proposal through the House of Commons. The House took the view that such an extension would be unacceptable and voted instead for a doubling of the period allowed from 14 to 28 days. That is still a massive change to the law and it means that the UK now has one of the longest detention without charge periods of any democratic country.

Is Tony Blair prepared to accept defeat gracefully?

The World at One had an interview with Labour peer Baroness Ramsey today (27 mins in). In it she discusses the reaction of Labour Lords to the 28 day detention period agreed by the House of Commons. They are putting forward to an ammendment aimed at getting the limit extended to 60 days. She argues that the House should have listened to the advice of the "experts".
When you get advice like that on such an important issue of national security, you must have overwhelming reasons not to accept that advice.
Unbelievable really. Sigh. Here's the way a free and democratic parliament ought to look at such advice.
When you get advice that suggests an enormous errosion in the rights of our citizens, you must have overwhelming reasons to accept that advice.
None came. It was rejected. This is democracy in action, a rarity in British politics these days. The burden of proof in these cases is not on the objectors to the proposals but on the "experts" who suggest them. They failed to make their case because their evidence bordered on the non-existent. The "experts" don't make these decisions for very good reason. Unless we'd like to live in a police state, that should remain the case.

Via Google News, it looks like the only newspaper to have covered this story so far is the Independent. Wake up people, sneakiness ahoy.

Here's the kicker though. Asked if the government had encouraged the Labour Lords to put this forward, Baroness Ramsey said:
This is absolutely nothing to do with the government.
Mwa ha ha ha ha ha... Dear oh dear. And they want to lecture us about respect? It's enough to make a grown man weep.

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