42 Days

Anyone who pays attention to the UK news can’t have failed to notice the recent debate in Parliament concerning new legislation regarding how long a suspect being investigated for terrorist offences can be held without charge. The new government directive is for the time to be increased to 42 days.

42 days. It seems innocuous enough at first glance. Besides, it helps the police build their case against terrorists before they can flee to some militant training camp in the middle of nowhere. The thing is, MI5 haven’t asked for it. Yes, our own intelligence service doesn’t think we need that long to hold a suspect without charge. And that’s the crux of the matter. It’s imprisonment without the prisoner even having to be told why he’s being locked up. We didn’t need these kind of measures during a twenty-five year campaign of concerted, regular bombing by the IRA, so why do the infrequent attacks by al Qaeda require this special treatment?

I believe that they don’t. If the experts on national security in MI5 don’t believe that an increased time for holding without charge is necessary, why should the government be pushing for it? It seems that the current Labour legislators are trying to use the tactics that the American government use to get people on-side with bad policy. They’re trying to use our fear of terror to make us submit to erosions of our civil liberties. Take the introduction of ID cards as an example. It requires the government to keep extra information on any given individual in a national database. Worse still, the idea of the scheme is to make not having one on your person at all times an arrestable offence. And they won’t even have to formally charge you for a month…

Allegedly, these ID cards will prevent terrorist attacks. Obviously the government has forgotten that most of these attacks have been carried out by fully integrated UK citizens. Furthermore, the government has proved itself inadequate in maintaining data security time and again. And this kind of high-security legislation in the name of terror-prevention is open to abuse. Local councils have already abused new surveillance laws to spy on their constituents. The new 42-day time limit for detention without charge is just another abusable police power. The courts can already grant extensions on the current time limits, so the police don’t need an extension they can’t be held accountable for.

And this is why I support David Davis’ resignation. The government is not doing its job if it is acting contrary to the will of the people who elected it, so by fighting a by-election on civil liberties issues, Davis is asking the members of his constituency to say whether they support the 42-days legislation or not. The joke is, Labour look unlikely to field a candidate – even they don’t believe in what they’re doing. In fact, so far, Davis’ opposition looks to be a former Sun editor and the Monster Raving Looney Party


~ by Scary Rob on 19 June, 2008.

2 Responses to “42 Days”

  1. While I don’t agree with 42 days detention, I have to say I don’t understand why David Davis resigned. It’s a farce, a political stunt, and I think he has another agenda, the leadership of his party.

  2. Boso – I disagree. Where it weakens the Tory leadership is with Cameron’s decision not to back Davis up. As far as I can tell, the decision was partly prompted by Cameron not making any promises to revoke this legislation when he inevitably comes to power. The biggest problem with the current Labour government is that they have been secure in their position for so long that they no longer feel accountable to the public. One MP can’t force a referendum and public apathy will mean a petition won’t make much headway, but by pulling this stunt, he can demonstrate the tide of public opinion with a simple set of numbers. His majority vote at the last election was just over 5,000. If it increases significantly, Davis’ point is well made and the government can no longer make any claiming to be acting in the public interest.

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