Pickled Politics




Site Meter

Govt loses Commons vote on 90 days terror detention

by Sunny on 9th November, 2005 at 5:05 pm    

News just in: Labour has just faced a humilating defeat over the government’s plans to lock up people for 90 days without having to provide sufficient evidence. It is significant also because it is Tony Blair’s first Commons defeat since coming to power in 1997. He survived ID cards, he survived top-up fees, but he lost the 90 days vote.

Tony Blair tried the hard line and the moral blackmail, but he still failed by 19 31 votes. 49 Labour MPs rebelled. What does he do now? What is an acceptable time period? 14 days, 30, 60 days?

MPs rejected the proposals by 322 votes to 291. They are now voting on whether to accept a compromise detention limit. The defeat came despite Mr Blair saying MPs had a “duty” to give police the powers they needed to tackle terrorism.

The BBC has more on this breaking news.

Update 1: MPs have voted instead to extend the time limit to 28 days. But this will weaken Blair’s authority. Talk Politics has more coverage.
Update 2: Lenin quotes figures from Gary Younge, which I had also been looking for:

More than 700 people have been arrested under the Terrorism Act since September 11, but half have been released without charge and only 17 convicted. Only three of the convictions relate to allegations of extremism related to militant Islamic groups.

One can argue that locking up 3 terrorists is a price worth paying, but there is no evidence at all to suggest they were planning anything. To defeat terrorists, we need better intelligence, not a scattergun approach in locking everyone up.
Spyblog shows how the poll taken to show the public’s support was biased.

  |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Digg this   |   Filed under: Party politics, Current affairs


  1. a — on 9th November, 2005 at 5:35 pm  

    Too many people miss the political significance of this. Blair hasn’t been weakened one iota. The people who have been weakened have been Davis and Cameron. As far as the public are concerned Blair wanted to do the right thing and Davis and Cameron didn’t.

    Yes, Blair will have a hard time in the next few days but politics is the long game and Blair (and Brown) will be able to say for the rest of his time in office that he voted to take the hard line on terrorism and the Tories didn’t.

  2. Al-Hack — on 9th November, 2005 at 5:44 pm  

    He is weakened coz despite Blair trying the whip and consistently trying to strong-arm his cronies into voting with him - they lost. Remember Labour still has a big enough majority. It means Labour activists may be more inclined to vote against him in the future.

    Conservatives haven’t lost because Micheal Howard has been the front man so far in putting their case, not the two hopefuls. So I doubt the tory faithful will punish them.

    I, for one, am gonna pop open the bubbly!

  3. Siddharth — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:07 pm  

    This is significant, first vote he’s lost thanks to those usually invertebrate back benchers. The writing is on the wall, as they say. Woohoo! Time to roll up a celebratory fatty!

  4. Rohin — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:28 pm  

    “Time to roll up a celebratory fatty!”

    No no, you have to wait till Cameron is PM to do that.

  5. leon — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:34 pm  

    The fact that they’ve voted for 28 days shows this “loss” for what it is. The police now will have the right to detain anyone they suspect without charge for a whole month…

  6. Robert — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:35 pm  

    What is an acceptable time period? 14 days, 30, 60 days?

    How about 45 minutes?

    Only now does Tony begin to see how the trust he lost, due to certain WMD claims, has affected his ability to run the country properly. We don’t trust him, the oppostion doesn’t trust him, and neither, it seems, do his own back-benchers. He will fall.

  7. Sunny — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:36 pm  

    Not all good news I’m afraid.

    The new 28 days amendment means that now the police can hold people for 28 days straight before asking for an extension. Previously the police had to go to the courts every 7 days to ask for an extension, and with good reason.


  8. leon — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:36 pm  

    “He will fall.”

    And be replaced by Gordon Brown co-architect of the Neo Labour project…

  9. Sunny — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:38 pm  

    Doh! Leon already said what I was going to say. I’m also interested in seeing how the Asian MPs voted on this. Sadiq Khan and Mahmood Khalid voted with the govt, and they have a right to. What about the rest?

    Robert - heh, good point. 45 minutes indeed.

  10. leon — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:38 pm  

    Yep agree Sunny. This is being hailed as a victory over Blair, the notion is a joke. This country just took another step along the way to a full blooded, no holds barred police state if you as me.

  11. raz — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:40 pm  

    Sunny, I may be wrong about this, I’m sure I heard it mentioned that the 28 day detention will be reviewed by a judge every week?

  12. Robert — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:42 pm  

    Sadiq Khan and Mahmood Khalid voted with the govt, and they have a right to.

    What do you mean by this, Sunny?

  13. leon — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:47 pm  

    Howard the opportunist: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4422558.stm

  14. Sunny — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:48 pm  

    Robert - Well, the assumption would be that the Muslim MPs would vote against the govt on this because the vast majority of the British Muslim community know this is going to affect them.

    I’m not saying everyone opposes the legislation (because many want terrorists or inciters of violence locked up too), but they know who it will affect.

    So in that sense, it is likely the MCB and their ilk lobbied the MPs (specially Muslim MPs) to vote against the govt.

    It is good in one sense that the Muslim MPs resisted the urge to follow the community leaders and vote based on their religion. On the other hand it is unfortunate that they think 90 days is acceptable because they should know that such draconian legislation will only get people more angry, not less.

  15. Al-Hack — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:50 pm  

    Howard takes opportunism to a new level. There should be a planet named after Michael and John Howard because they never seem to spend any time on earth.

  16. Eric — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:51 pm  

    On the other hand it is unfortunate that they think 90 days is acceptable because they should know that such draconian legislation will only get people more angry, not less.

    I don’t care if Islamists get angry. They are always angry.

    I am extremely concerned about the effect of another successful bombing attempt in this country and what it will mean for the Muslim Community in this country - the majority of whom do not support the people this legislation targets.

  17. Sunny — on 9th November, 2005 at 6:54 pm  

    I don’t care if Islamists get angry. They are always angry.

    Eric - that is assuming everyone they arrest will be an Islamist - that is the problem. While the intelligence services have been good at catching people after they’ve shown themselves to be a problem, their record on arresting people (just look at the stats for people being arrested under terror legislation) is truly awful.

  18. ContraryMary — on 9th November, 2005 at 7:31 pm  

    It’s hardly the most resounding rejection of TB, but we got to take what we get.

    with any luck it will signal the beginning of Blair’s dead man walking phase of his time in office and the quicker he’s gone the better - bring on Gordon Brown, he might be new labour too but at least he isn’t blair and will have hopefully realised that lying and taking this country to war on false pretences is just not on. mind you being the lesser of two evils is hardly a ringing endorsement

  19. leon — on 9th November, 2005 at 8:09 pm  

    The Labour MPs that voted against: http://politics.guardian.co.uk/terrorism/story/0,15935,1638661,00.html

  20. Sunny — on 9th November, 2005 at 8:12 pm  

    Huh? Sadiq Khan rebelled? I’m sure on Asian Network they were saying he was one of the govt’s biggest supporters of this bill? According to that Guardian page though, he seems to be the only Asian MP to rebel. Now I’m confused.

  21. The Don — on 9th November, 2005 at 8:14 pm  

    Good result all round, really. Blair loses a vote, hopefully the back bench will feel the rush and push harder on other issues. It would be silly to start tolling the knell for Tony, he’ll go when he chooses because there’s no-one up to the job of taking him down. But if it brings it just a few months closer, it’s something.

    The Tories now look, to Joe Sun reader, as though they had played party politics with security and will be made to pay. Largely unfair, of course, but who want’s to be fair to the Tories?

    And, some quibbles aside, habeus corpus lives to ride again.

  22. leon — on 9th November, 2005 at 8:16 pm  

    Yeah I caught that too, looking around I can’t find anything that suggests this is wrong though (although if it is it wouldn’t be the first time the Gruniad has made mistakes!).

  23. Bikhair — on 9th November, 2005 at 8:19 pm  

    I say lock them up and if the Muslims get pissed they only have the hizbis and takfiris to blame. See what kinds of fitna these people cause. Let this situation be a lesson for all those who think that thier call to “jihad” is a correct one or a sympathetic one. Jihad fisabililah according to the Quran and the Sunnah brings success. Thier call brings shame, fitna, death, and disobedience.

    This will be goof for some Muslims to earn rewards from Allah (azawajal) because he test the ones he loves. They should use this oppurtunity to have sabr and rely upon Him. wa Allahu alim.

  24. Soultrain — on 9th November, 2005 at 8:47 pm  

    I think I’m one of very few lone voices here who doesn’t see the significance of this defeat as a personal “humiliation” for Tony Blair. Nor do I see this marking an accelerated end to his prime minister-ship.

    Why is it that we just can’t accept that any government of any persuasion, will not always win every single bill it proposes, and it will lose some battle every now and then. After all, that is what is called a democracy. Its symptomatic of our political reactionary and sensationalist culture that the first defeat for the government translates into prophecies of doom and the end for the leader. The flipside is that when a government does win every bill it proposes, they’re labelled a dictatorship for “rail roading” bills. It’s a no win situation.

    OK Tony Blair has been defeated in his plans, but any sensible manager knows things don’t always go their way and must deal with it.

    For the bill itself, I think the Tories were playing political opportunism, coz I can so easily see their leaders supporting these 90 day detention plans, especially if the police have recommended it, and would have played the same slurs as Tony Blair has about compromising with national security. Opposition for opposition’s sake.

    The proposals itself, it’s a massive jump from 14 days to 90 days. I suggest that it could have made logic except for the fact that it appears to have been rushed in directly as a knee jerk response to the London bomb attacks, and hence the motive behind that seemed rushed, resulting in the flawed argument and ensuing defeat – knee jerk from the police. And if you’re TB, you’re not going to exactly ignore that request straight out. Its the classic case of you will form your opinions if you’re somehow directly affected. If you or your family have suffered internment, this is civil rights abuse. If you’ve suffered a terrorist attack, this seems a plausible measure, as has been made the case from various victims of the London bomb attacks. And there’s no comprimise between the two.

  25. Indigo Jo Blogs — on 9th November, 2005 at 9:32 pm  

    Bliar defeated

    Good news today, which certainly justifies an update: Tory Bliar’s proposal to lock suspected terrorists up for up to 90 days got defeated in the Commons, with 322 against and 291 in favour. 49 Labour MPs voted against the government…

  26. Sunny — on 10th November, 2005 at 12:16 am  

    Actually the more I think about it, I think you’re right Soultrain. Either way Blair wins. He will get an extension probably closer to what he was hoping for anyway. At the same time he’s managed to bring public opinion with him, using the Murdoch press of course, while at the same time painting the Tories as losers.

    I saw today’s Sun headline and realised that actually, Blair hasn’t really lost. Grrr.

  27. Siddharth — on 10th November, 2005 at 1:22 am  

    Sunny: you yourself linked to the Spyblog story about the questionable nature of the “public opinion” figures.

    In any case, the Harry’s Placers will push the retarded line that this is wholely a security issue to protect us from ‘Islamist’ Terrorists. Laban Tall is far more clued up about the nature of this bill.

  28. jamal — on 10th November, 2005 at 1:31 am  

    The bid failed as Blair wanted it, but he’s still managed to double the time suspects can be held without charge from 14 to 28 days. Even though its been billed as a defeat, I’ve got a feeling Blairs actually happy with this, as he’s still managed to extend the period and further infringe our Human Rights.

  29. Nyrone — on 10th November, 2005 at 1:34 am  

    Agreed Soultrain.
    I personally feel that this was something of a scam from any and every concievable angle. It’s like the retailer that sells a product valued at £40 by having a ’sale’ propping it up to £80 and then plastering the fact that it’s a bargain for having been reduced to half price.
    28 Days is an achievement in his eyes, it’s probably what he wants, and it helps him appear truly ‘protective’ of ‘our’ society, in his interview with Sky he kept referring to 9/11 and 7/7 as if to elicit sympathy for something still very much in the public’s mind.

    I just cannot wait for THAT cringing moment when there is inevitably another attack over here, and ol Tony is gonna turn around faster than a flash of lightning and say “I told you so” like an upper class schoolboy. Hopes of him resigning fade each day, as we all begin to understand the measures he is taking to block everyone out of politics that disagrees with him, and begins to act more and more like a conviction-filled president.

  30. Sunny — on 10th November, 2005 at 4:35 am  

    Lmao! You gottas love the bullshit the Sun comes out with sometimes. Today’s edition tries its best to make out as if TB’s defeat yesterday is a victory for Al-Qaeda. Not only that, they rang up that goat Omar Bakri for a quote! And guess what he said:

    TERROR-LOVING Omar Bakri is on his way back to Britain — waved in by craven Labour MPs.

    The cleric pounced on Tony Blair’s “bloody nose defeat” as an invitation to return from exile and resume his campaign of hatred.

    He jeered from his bolthole in Lebanon: “I’m going to organise my bags and book my ticket so I can come back home.

    “Why can’t I come back? I have a wife, children and supporters in Britain.

    “My children are asking where their father is. Britain is more of a home to me now than Lebanon.”

    Bakri, 46, fled to the Middle East from his housing association home in Edmonton, North London, in August — when plans for the terror crackdown were announced.

    Continuing his rant, the hate-filled preacher said: “Tony Blair has been given a bloody nose. This is a sign that he should wake up and stop dreaming or he will see an uprising like that in France.”

    The outburst by the Muslim fundamentalist increased police alarm that the Commons revolt will be seen as a white flag to extremists.


  31. Kulvinder — on 10th November, 2005 at 5:59 am  

    Never thought the tories had it in them, it was a stupid measure that hadn’t been shown to prevent any of the terrorist attacks that have occurred previously. The police always want something more they can act with, it is not the job of the commons to blindly listen to the PM and follow the recommendations of every institution in this country.

    The very same newspapers so vociferously calling for this measure would be the first to howl when those same laws are used to unfairly arrest people, or blindly used to temporarily disrupt demonstrations. There is no terrorist group that can destroy this country, whatever they do is repaired within a matter of months. Giving the state more power over the individual is far more harmful in the long term. I happily agree to take the additional risk of my possible death at the hands of terrorists if it means stopping the government having more power over me.

  32. Kulvinder — on 10th November, 2005 at 6:03 am  

    Its symptomatic of our political reactionary and sensationalist culture that the first defeat for the government translates into prophecies of doom and the end for the leader.

    Taking into account the impecable Commons history of this leader, the effect that such losses have had on past governments and the fact that he won’t be standing at the next general election. It isn’t really grasping at straws to say this might be the begining of the end. He’s a lame duck.

  33. Fe'reeha — on 10th November, 2005 at 8:42 am  

    What a remarkable news story in Sun.

    Anyway, just one clarification.
    Sadiq Khan voted against 90 days with Muhammed Sarwar, Khaled Mehmood and Shahid Malik voting in affirmation.
    Later all four voted “for” 28 days .
    So, all in all, all Muslim MP’s in Labour party are with their government in supporting the so called tougher measures on potential terrorists.
    Not surprising at all as most of them like to point out again and again that they are representatives of non-Muslims and Muslims alike.
    But I am not sure supporting almost inhuman laws which everyone knows are going to target innocent people is such a wise step, provided who they are going to affect.

    Also, the earlier vote is an indication of Blair’s diminishing hold over his party.

    While I doubt Labour party will be losing its voters to Tories, Blair losing votes to Brown is believable and probably true!

    We all know Gordon Brown will be succeeding Mr Blair as the party leader, but there is a strong rumour that this will happen “sooner” than we expected, maybe earlier next year.

    The fact that Tony Blair had to organise “personal meetings” with party members, invited two of his cabinet members back from abroad (Gordon Brown and Jack Straw), is a strong indication how desperate this vote was for Mr Blair.

    While I cannot term the first bill as Labour’s defeat, I would certainly mark it as a major downfall in Mr Blair’s book.

  34. rizwand — on 10th November, 2005 at 12:55 pm  

    Here is my post..can you put in on for me? Cheers dude.

    I trade fx and saw the pound getting whipped around all over the place as a result of yesterday’s events. First the pound moved sharply lower from the shock of Blair’s first defeat. But, if the mkts are anything to go by, the subsequent increase in price suggests yesterday’s events were largely shrugged off as having any long lasting and meaningful impact on politics and policy. As many have commented, despite failing on the motion, he is portraying the whole thing as a fight for the public…a very clever power strategy.

    I wonder if the bombings in Jordan will give Blair more support as the public is provided with a fresh reminder of the terrorist threat?

    Personally, I think 90 days with no charge is excessive. In the opening section of the FT Weekend magazine, Carole Morin - journalist and screenwriter - describes how she was unjustly arrested for harassment and imprisoned for just over a day. Let us not forget how humiliating a prison cell is. The holding cell is a bare cell with a toilet in the corner where people can watch you go, if they so choose. Even for people with a strong constitution 90 days of this kind of humiliation is going to have a long lasting impact. However long it ends up being (28 days, 90 days, whatever) these people haven’t been charged with anything. Surely they would deserve better living conditions until a charge is pressed? I don’t know much about this issue so maybe the police have thought about this already…but I doubt they have.

  35. Sunny — on 10th November, 2005 at 4:40 pm  

    While I doubt Labour party will be losing its voters to Tories, Blair losing votes to Brown is believable and probably true!

    Fe-reeha I think you’re right, it does mean that Blair’s support amongst the other MPs has diminished. And 49 rebellions is still a lot despite what anyone says. I think his personal standing with the population probably improved, but thats not going to help as he has to leave as leader soon anyway.

    The very same newspapers so vociferously calling for this measure would be the first to howl when those same laws are used to unfairly arrest people,
    Kulvinder - I doubt the Sun cares very much about people being arrested or detained.

    But, if the mkts are anything to go by, the subsequent increase in price suggests yesterday’s events were largely shrugged off as having any long lasting and meaningful impact on politics and policy.

    Hmmm Riz - so does that mean the markets don’t think that within the Labour party itself it means anything? I find that surprising.

    There was also a long piece in the Guardian a few weeks ago about a journo being harassed and arrested for nothing and detained though they couldn’t find anything. He was arrested just for looking suspiciously down a stairs… and on top of that he was white! What hope is there for us? :S

    With regards to how the MPs voted, I got this Muslim News today:

    Human right lawyer Sadiq Khan was the only Muslim MP prepared to defy Government whips and vote against the British Government’s attempt on Wednesday to extend the pre-charge detention of terrorist suspects from two weeks to three months.

    The MP for Totting, south London, also helped to limit the extension to 28 days, by being the only Muslim member of the House of Commons to vote for the subsequent amendment.

    The other three Muslim Labour MPs, Mohammed Sarwar, Khalid Mahmood and Shahid Malik, cast their votes in favour of the Government’s failed attempt for 90 days and against limiting the extension.

    The Muslim community has hailed the position taken by those MPs who voted against the 90 days. Labour Muslim MP, Sadiq Khan, who was elected in May, has been especially praised for defying the Whip.

    Spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, Sher Khan, told The Muslim News: “The MPs that stood their ground against the Government showed the fact that they were in tune with the grass root opinion, both of the Muslim and wider communities and we commend them for their principled stand. The popularity and credibility of Sadiq Khan will increase in the Muslim community for having voted against the Government on matter of principle.”

    Central President of Islamic Forum Europe, Musleh Faradhi, said, ‘Members of Parliament made the right decision by rejecting the 90-day pre-charge detention
    proposal. We applaud in particular the courage of the 49 Labour MPs, who included ex-cabinet members as well as newly appointed members of Parliament such as Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting.’

    ‘It is a great shame that three Muslim Labour MPs failed to acknowledge the concerns of not only Muslim but also civil rights organisations
    regarding the 90-day detention without trial and sided with Tony Blair. Mohammad Sarwar, Khalid Mahmood and Shahid Malik have a lot to answer
    for; they have let down and lost the confidence of not just the Muslim community but all freedom-loving people in Britain,’ stressed Faradhi.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2006. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
With the help of PHP and Wordpress.