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    More thoughts on the terrorism vote


    by Sunny
    12th June, 2008 at 8:31 am    

    1) Anyone naive enough to believe the 42 days vote was actually about dealing with terrorism, and not about Brown trying to look “hard on terrorism”, where Labour’s rating are low, should stop writing about politics.

    2) Word on the street is Keith Vaz MP, chair of the home affairs select committee, was bought off with the promise of a title. This was the man until recently one of the bill’s strongest critics. I’m really glad Diane Abbott gave him a smackdown during the debate because it confirms Keith Vaz will do absolutely anything shamelesslyto further his political career.

    3) To add insult to injury, Gordon Brown apparently promised the Irish MPs, who were crucial in scraping through, that he would not extend Britain’s abortion laws to Ireland. How could New Labour get any worse? I think this was part of Gordon Brown’s master plan to ensure the party alienated the last of its core supporters.

    4) There were only a few people in the media who supported 42 days. ConservativeHome editors, Matthew D’ancona (editor of the Spectator) and Melanie Phillips. That is the company Gordon Brown was in: right-wing nutjobs. The same Melanie Phillips who is currently trying her best to point how Barack Obama is apparently still a Muslim. Just read that last line again. My benchmark view, that the sensible option is always opposite to what Mad Mel advocates, still stands.

    5) I think it is wrong of John McDonnell to boycott the Compass conference (this weekend, I’m attending) because Jon Cruddas and Jon Tricketts votes with the govt. This is what is called factionalism on the left. Obviously I don’t agree with what the two Jons did, but the bloody Labour left need to work together, not fight even more over moral purity!

    6) Unrelated, but some racist fool has posted this xenophpobic drivel on the ConservativeHome site (surprise surprise) which I will respond to later. Its the equivalent of someone posting “a question for my Jewish friends” and then asking when they stopped beating their wives. But hey, its Muslims, and they’re just asking “brave, politically incorrect” questions!


                  Post to del.icio.us


    Filed in: Civil liberties,Terrorism






    19 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs


    1. Letters From A Tory — on 12th June, 2008 at 10:08 am  

      I noticed that a lot of left-of-centre blogs were vigorously fighting for civil liberties (hat tip to all of them) while the government sought the company of right-wing commentators. The trade unions are going to make Brown pay for this, just watch.

      http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

    2. Leon — on 12th June, 2008 at 10:44 am  

      I’m inclined to agree with LFAT about the unions on this, but you know their bark can be worse than their bite so I wouldn’t expect major problems.

    3. cjcjc — on 12th June, 2008 at 11:20 am  

      Will you be telling the Compass conference that “it’s time to vote this rotten lot out” as you say on LC?

      Hope so!

    4. sonia — on 12th June, 2008 at 11:26 am  

      again this is sheer corruption, promising people things in return for a vote - how can this be acceptable? there is even someone whose job it is to egg on this sort of corruption!

      this is one of the most public failures of the party system and that is what is going on. Yes it doesn’t matter whatever the PM is going to want to pass, to “look good” (that’s what Politicians do)he or she will want their party to follow them on it. And this is what we call Governance!

      “psst you dont make me look bad this time and ill give you this”

      Brown is trying to look hard and is looking like a maniac. And what have to look forward to? The tories, who will do exactly the same thing on some issue of their choice.

      They are using OUR issue and OUR reality to play “political” football and make careers for themselves. And they call it representation and Governance - that is what is truly disgusting.

      Can we lock Gordon in prison now for 42 days? Serve him right. I say we lock Tony in too.

    5. Gege — on 12th June, 2008 at 11:46 am  

      In relation to your point 6.

      I do not believe that the writer is a racist/ xenophobe. He was trying to expore issues relating to islam but it was a poor attempt.

    6. justforfun — on 12th June, 2008 at 12:09 pm  

      sonia @ 4 ” £”$^^%*% &^&^(%$£$))&^ ”

      Do need some of my medication ?

      justforfun

    7. ashik — on 12th June, 2008 at 3:47 pm  

      Apparently the 42 day amendment to the Counter Terrorism enjoys majority support amongst voters. A rare occasion where New Labour is actually listening to people, while politicians out of sync with popular opinion are bitterly opposed. The sandal wearing Guardianistas really need some perspective.

      Everything should be done to help investigative authorities do their job of protecting the public – you and me. It’s is a proportionate response to the terror threat facing this country. Unlike internment during the troubles, the 28 and now 42 day pre-charge detention only accounts for a small minority of suspects in complex cases. The provision of regular political and judicial oversight (not to mention monetary compensation) ought to allay the (legitimate) fears about civil liberty. Parliament will have to re-approve the law every 30 days after the Home Secretary chooses to implement it. I can imagine there would be much controversy each time such powers would be used, thus staying the govt’s hands and bringing abuses to light.

    8. MaidMarian — on 12th June, 2008 at 7:07 pm  

      I will stick my head above the parapet.

      ‘Anyone naive enough to believe the 42 days vote was actually about dealing with terrorism, and not about Brown trying to look “hard on terrorism”, where Labour’s rating are low, should stop writing about politics.’

      Sunny, of course it is about that, and of course it is about a cheap headline in the Sun. As an aside, do you honestly think that the Mail cares more about kicking Labour or civil liberties?

      Sunny, we live in an age when, ‘something must be done.’ Or worse, ‘something should have been done.’ Cowadrice, a refusal to stand up to the bully pulpit? Yes it is but the government are not alone in that.

      The stark reality, uncomfortable for many, is that tough on terror is the politics of rationality. I don’t like it, believe me I don’t, but I am yet to see anything from the pro-civil liberties side here that would stand up next to a fire and brimstone Sun editorial. Yes, the pro-civil liberties side may have a good point but it deflates the moment a terror attack takes place.

      Think about the coverage of the Glasgow bombings, anyone would think that Brown had driven the bombs himself the way some went on. The measures called for were repressive.

      Ashik makes a valid point, but more than that the civil liberties groups are making a feeble and indeed timid effort. No - it is not the government you need to lobby, it is the ‘something must be done,’ crowd. The arguments are not instinctive and, again the reality is that many will see them as soft on terror. Is there just the faintest possibility that this is not an evil government plot? That politicians have listened to the arguments and (yes) weighed up the politics and decided on 42 days?

      This is starting to take on all the hallmarks of the internet crowd all sitting around reinforcing each other’s prejudices and kicking at the Government blithely oblivious to views other than their own. Indeed, I actually worry that all this hot-air may become counter-productive. The pro-civil liberties groups may find themselves looking rather hysterical if the sky does not fall in over this issue.

      Take the arguments to the Great British Public and look beyond the political class to make the tough case for you Sunny. You may well find that many think 42 years would be acceptable!

      Sorry.

    9. digitalcntrl — on 13th June, 2008 at 1:24 am  

      Little confused here. I am surprised the right-wing party, the Conservatives, are opposing a bill which would allegedly improve national security. Or do opposition partis always vote against the party in power on all votes?

    10. BenSix — on 13th June, 2008 at 1:55 am  

      ashik,

      “A rare occasion where New Labour is actually listening to people, while politicians out of sync with popular opinion are bitterly opposed. The sandal wearing Guardianistas really need some perspective.”

      You assume that the ‘popular opinion’ has been a natural reaction whereas in fact the government has, in many ways, fostered it. I shall substantiate this in my comments to Marian.

      “The provision of regular political and judicial oversight (not to mention monetary compensation) ought to allay the (legitimate) fears about civil liberty. Parliament will have to re-approve the law every 30 days after the Home Secretary chooses to implement it. I can imagine there would be much controversy each time such powers would be used, thus staying the govt’s hands and bringing abuses to light.”

      If there is such difference of opinion regarding the establishment of such legislation then why do you believe it has been implemented at this time?

      Marian

      “Think about the coverage of the Glasgow bombings, anyone would think that Brown had driven the bombs himself the way some went on.”

      The current government, ably - though, in most cases, unwittingly - supported by the media has an ignoble history of manufacturing hysteria. Consider the ‘risin factory’, which was described and reported as endangering the lives of hundreds of thousands but was in reality little more than a bedsit. The panic of such incidents leaves a prolonged anxiety.

      “This is starting to take on all the hallmarks of the internet crowd all sitting around reinforcing each other’s prejudices and kicking at the Government blithely oblivious to views other than their own.”

      This argument would have greater validity if the subject in question was purely theoretical. As it is, we are debating the merits of an ultimate decision, and therefore cannot relativise.

      Respectfully,

      Ben

    11. BenSix — on 13th June, 2008 at 2:01 am  

      digitalcntrl,

      Conservativism normally encourages the preservation of existing conditions, which would theoretically lead its followers towards supporting civil liberties.

      Of course, it could still be naive to imagine that its practitioners act from anything but ignoble motives.

      Respectfully,

      Ben

    12. MaidMarian — on 13th June, 2008 at 8:40 am  

      Ben Six (10) - Thank you for your reply.

      Yes - what is popular should not per se dictate policy. What I was getting at though is that the popular can not be dismissed. All of the articles and comment on Pickled Politics and CiF are great, and probably right. But all that they are doing is preaching to the converted. It is not to the Guardian that the civil liberties groups need to take their argument. It is the ‘something must be done crowd.’ I get a vague sense that the civil liberties groups actually want government to go out there and make the case to the hostile crowd on thier behalf.

      Maybe the public at large should be less ‘panicky’ and certainly the media need to get more of a grip. But again, the arguments are less than instinctive.

      Perhaps put this another way - what would you say to the ‘something must be done’ or ‘you’re soft on terror’ crowds? I honestly have no real idea.

    13. BenSix — on 13th June, 2008 at 12:32 pm  

      Marian

      “Thank you for your reply.”

      Thank you for replying to it.

      “I get a vague sense that the civil liberties groups actually want government to go out there and make the case to the hostile crowd on thier behalf.”

      As we have only minor platforms, it is only natural that we target two of the major contributors to the mindset of the ‘something must be done’ crowd: the government and the media. Besides, they have greater scope for influence.

      “Perhaps put this another way - what would you say to the ’something must be done’ or ‘you’re soft on terror’ crowds? I honestly have no real idea.”

      Well, in conversation with others I propose that the terrorist threat, though real, is more minimal than they may believe, referencing cases such as that I mentioned above. I then argue that if one is attempting to protect a liberal democracy one should not be quick to compromise the values of it.

    14. MaidMarian — on 13th June, 2008 at 1:26 pm  

      Ben Six (13) - I don’t disagree, but I suspect that the argument, ‘if one is attempting to protect a liberal democracy one should not be quick to compromise the values of it,’ holds up in the public mind right up to the point where there is another attack. I hate to say it, but Kelvin McKenzie and the Sun would eat that alive.

      I also have a suspicion (perhaps wrongly) that what the, ‘something must be done,’ crowd want to protect is not liberal democracy first and foremost. This is why the argument you suggest, though surely right, is very vulnerable to being seen as so grand and abstract it is not relevant day-to-day.

      I think it is stretching the point a bit to suggest that the media were in favour of 42 days, the vast majority of newspapers seemed anti to me. Certainly journalists seem to want it both ways - attack politicians/pander to the ‘something must be done’-ers and at the same time attack any proposals. I certainly recognise that most newspapers care more about a line of attack than about civil liberties.

      Lobbying the media and government is not the same thing as making a public case. I am not saying I agree with 42 days as a principle (though I think that some are getting overly worked up and that the sky is not about to fall) but to dismiss ‘tough on terror’ as a political approach seems to me to skate close to denying the real pressures that politicians face, self-inflicted or not.

    15. Vikrant — on 13th June, 2008 at 5:27 pm  

      @digitalcntrl :

      Err no Tories are opposing the bill per se. only some of their MPs..

    16. Vikrant — on 13th June, 2008 at 5:28 pm  

      i meant arent opposing**

    17. digitalcntrl — on 13th June, 2008 at 6:02 pm  

      “again this is sheer corruption, promising people things in return for a vote - how can this be acceptable? there is even someone whose job it is to egg on this sort of corruption!”

      Poltical backsratching is the lifeblood of politics… not only is it acceptable but it has a very long history.

    18. BenSix — on 14th June, 2008 at 12:18 am  

      Maid Marian,

      “I hate to say it, but Kelvin McKenzie and the Sun would eat that alive.”

      On what grounds, do you believe?

      “to dismiss ‘tough on terror’ as a political approach seems to me to skate close to denying the real pressures that politicians face, self-inflicted or not.”

      The pressure to do what? The 42 Day Detention is an invalid addressing of a - partially - invalid fear.

    19. MaidMarian — on 14th June, 2008 at 5:56 pm  

      Ben Six (18) - whether the fear is valid or not does not make it any the less real, and it does not diminish the pressures on politicians that that fear creates. I quite agree that 42 days is very unlikely to make any great difference, and it is policy-making at the poor level of:

      something must be done - this is something - therefore this must be done.

      Put another way, I realise that you disagree, but were I a politician right now I would absolutely see the sense in 42 days. That does not mean I like it, but when you ask, ‘the pressure to do what?’ the answer surely is, ‘something.’

      I want, really really want a politician to stand up and say, ‘look, calm down everyone, we as government try hard, very hard to protect - but we can not and should not attempt to guard against the actions of every madman, nor should you expect 100% guarantees. Sorry’

      The stark reality though is that any politician saying that would be flayed alive by both the media and public opinion as soft on terror. When you ask, ‘the pressure to do what,’ the answer is not, ‘nothing.’

      Which brings us to Kelvin. My grounds are nothing more than gut-instinct. McKenzie did not build up a readership the size he did by being out of touch. McKenzie does not care for liberal democracy, he cares for populism over and above the abstraction that is democracy. McKenzie will frame it in terms of rights for those who want to kill hard-working-brit families. He will probably throw in some dog-whistle islamophobia and racism for good measure. Cheap though that is I can’t deny that it will resonate, though not amongst the talkboard crowd.

      sonia (4) - ‘again this is sheer corruption, promising people things in return for a vote - how can this be acceptable?’ You confuse ‘government’ and ‘politics.’ Government is the business of compromise, balancing and getting what you feel is best. Government by definition includes the compromises you suggest. Turn it around. Would you argue that someone agreeing to vote against 42 days in return for things was corrupt? Politics is the art of the possible, the belief. Changing beliefs for money or promises would be corruption as the belief would be corrupted.

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