Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I haven’t written much about the political goings on in this country of ours for some time – it’s just too depressing. But today, Our Glorious Leader is forcing Parliament to vote on a plan which allows the police to hold terror suspects for 42 days, rather than the current level of 28. You can argue until the cows come home about which branch of maths leads Those in Charge to decide on the number 42 – my own theory is that Gordon has read one too many Douglas Adams books.

But that’s completely beside the point.

The issue is whether we need an extension to what is already a draconian power available to this Government. We have existed since time immemorial as a nation on the basis that we all, as individuals, enjoy as much freedom as possible. Now, people will argue that that statement is the moral equivalent to the perceived length of a short piece of string – it means different things to different people. But, if you want to see what it actually means in real life, there are enough countries around the world where you can see what the alternatives are, and where most of us would very much NOT like to live. And I for one simply don’t want it here.

Sitting listening to the birds singing away this morning in sunny Shropshire, it seems so clear that the case for such an arbitrary extension is simply not there – it’s just someone’s whim. Someone whose political life is currently in freefall. Having published the draft legislation he finds himself faced with a backlash from all sides in Parliament, so what do we see? The gradual watering down of a proposed piece of legislation, with sops of modifications, obfuscations, ifs and buts, which all but destroy the principle he was setting out to achieve in the first place.

We get David Blunkett, whose stint as Home Secretary shone out as a textbook study in bullying incompetence, writing in “The Times” yesterday to support his boss, and justify the magic number of 42. His reason to increase the current position by 50% is that “in three cases, we have come close to needing every one of the 28 days currently permitted for pre-charge detention….. “. What kind of logic is that? It’s spin gone mad.

As one short letter in today’s newspaper replies, what Blunkett really meant was “.. a) in no case have the police needed to hold a suspect for the full 28 days; b) in only 3 cases did they come close to 28 days; c) in all other cases they needed nowhere near 28 days.”. If that’s the basis on which our fundamental individual rights get irrevocably removed, then it’s not just the State of Denmark where there’s something wrong.

We have here a government hell bent on removing another of our rights, based on a totally flawed logic, cravenly seeking political support by then watering the principle down just far enough to get a majority of 1, and then using second rate ex-politicians to try and justify the unjustifiable.

This “Try this for size, and if you don’t like it, I’ll change it” government style is quite odious. If they have principles, then let them fight for them. That’s what Government is about. It’s not meant to be liked. My dictionary defines it as “to rule with authority”, not “What do you think of this idea?”

We’ve seen it with the "10p in the Pound" Tax change recently, where, just because a piece of (one assumes) well thought out legislation did not find favour with the electorate just as it was about to be introduced, they borrowed another £2.7 Billion to get round it and dig themselves out of a totally self created political hole. To Hell with the Economy, it's my seat in Parliament that's really important.

I’m not sure you can have a moral cess-pit, but if you can, I know where to find one.



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