Monday, October 13, 2008

42 Days Later, The Fudge?

The Lords have flexed their muscles and come down on the side of civil liberties, throwing out the government's much derided 42 day detention bill. Does Brown stick to his guns and risk the wrath of back-benchers, throw in the towel or fudge the whole issue? 

Brown got his way with the 42 day bill with some neat footwork and hefty bribes. It scrapped through the commons by just nine DUP votes in June, with 36 Labour MPs rebelling. This time round he won't be so lucky. 

The government can use the Parliament Act to steam-roll through the legislation. But Brown and the government's position is too precarious to play ping-pong. When the dust settles and the spin of the obscene bank bail-outs are seen as for what they are, there's nowhere left to hide. 

Few but government ministers want this draconian law. Brown staked his political reputation on getting the bill through the commons, sacrificing civil liberties for political power.

Whatever way ministers tried to spin it, this was 42 Days Detention Without Charge or Trial. The most serious threat to our traditions of civil liberties since before the signing of the Magna Carta.

The proposal had been criticised by not only Conservatives, LibDems and backbench Labour MPs, but also the director of public prosecutions, the former attorney general and the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner. It didn't stand a chance of getting through the Lords. 

Times have changed and so has the mood of the country. Most of the alleged terrorists have either been rounded up or gone into hiding. 

Brown cannot risk a suicide note, unless ministers have become so smug and arrogant they think they can ride rough shod over people's basic rights once again. But he cannot risk what will be seen as a climb-down and leave him open to attack. 

Brown's answer maybe to do what he has always done in these circumstances. Hide in the bunker and hope it all goes away. 

42 days could be just put on the back-burner or more likely spun away with an almighty fudge. Unless of course, the government ministers are so buoyed up with a false sense of security after the bail-outs, they think they can get now away with anything.

1 comment:

the orange party said...

UPDATE: In a bizarre move, home secretary, Jacqui Smith, said this evening that plans to extend detention to 42 days will be dropped from the current bill and introduced in a new bill, to be brought to parliament if needed.
So it looks as if Brown fudge won the day.