Tony Blair, when arguing in favour of the authorities being allowed to lock terrorist suspects for three months without charge, made the case, over and over that the move was vital for “security”. Three months was a bit much, even for Labour and this was eventually knocked down to 42 days pre-charge detention.
The police demanded it, he said, and the police are all-knowing. They never fit up the local suspicious dusky-looking odd-ball for high profile murders, and would never, ever use flawed intelligence to allow them to lock up, or even better, shoot the local suspicious, heavily bearded religion enthusiast. Intelligence, especially in the hands of those tireless and incorruptible public servants is always faultless, and the police cannot therefore be denied any power they ask for. It’s for the public’s own good, and of course, if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear. Despite the Government’s watertight case, Parliament in one of its occasional fits of contrariness, disagreed. The “compromise” was for suspicious-looking dusky types to be banged up on the police’s whim for a mere 28 days without being told why, if a nod from a judge could be obtained. 28 days is of course many, many times longer than in any other free democracy.
This was of course, never about “security”. Indeed the powers were never used. The plan was transparent. To create such an outrage against civil liberties that the Tories would be compelled to oppose it, thereby allowing Labour to campaign against them as “soft on terror”, because in Labour’s white working-class heartlands, “terrorist” means, “dusky, bearded religion enthusiast” and definitely not “us” or “people like us”. This case would be handy in a fight against the BNP, as the subtle difference between being locked up and being locked up WITHOUT CHARGE is lost on the majority of Britain’s spectacularly stupid electorate.
Now, in opposition, Labour need back their wet-arsed, mewling, pinko former supporters who hated the Labour government’s outrageous and savage assault on civil liberties. When in opposition, there are no “difficult decisions” just voters to placate, and lefties, who are so brainwashed into believing that Tory=Evil, and Labour=Righteous that they have forgotten, and forgiven Labour in a mere 6 months, whilst not seeing any irony in still blaming Thatcher & the Tories for everything else wrong with the country. At best, this is naive, at worst dumb, lumpen tribalist stupidity. Labour has admitted its mistakes, and the thuggish Ed Balls has said he MIGHT support a move to drop the detention without charge to the still-outrageous 14 days, which is still much longer than in any equivalent free democracy.
Labour, having run for 13 years one of the most savagely authoritarian regimes in the free world in which they systematically and comprehensively demolished most of the safeguards protecting the people from the misuse of executive power, cannot be taken seriously when they say “whoops, sorry! Our Bad!”. I would need to see a lot more evidence of a change of heart before I forgive the party. I suspect Labour’s U-turn is as transparently political as the policy when they were in Government. Their U-turn is welcome, but I don’t trust them nor should anyone who claims to have any love of freedom, until they expunge anyone who voted in favour of 42-day pre-charge detention.
Yes, that means you, Mr Balls. I make much of Labour’s catastrophic economic mismanagement, but it is the profound destruction of freedoms that will be the legacy of the Blair & Brown years long after we’ve paid the financial bill.