In a welcome shift, Ed Balls, the shadow home secretary, has abandoned support for Labour’s policy of detaining terror suspects for up to forty two days without trial:
A major policy shift on the length of time terror suspects can be held without charge was signalled by Labour today, after the shadow home secretary said he could support cutting the limit to 14 days.
Ed Balls said that the party was ready to abandon backing for the current 28-day limit, which was introduced by the Labour government in 2006, and added that previous plans to raise this to 42 days had been “a step too far”.
Some credit for this shift should also go the Coalition. During Labour’s time in power, there was a drive to appear ‘tougher’ than the opposition: harsh measures were in part enacted for populist reasons so as to play to the tabloid gallery, with the other parties at risk of looking elitist and soft if they ‘sacrificed the safety of the British people’ for the legal rights of terrorists by opposing new laws. Since the Coalition government came to power (thanks mainly the the Liberal Democrats), this posturing has ceased, and civil liberties have come to the fore again. This meant Labour have had to shift their policies to avoid looking too extreme.
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Filed in: Civil liberties,Party politics