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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Blair defeated

As you are all probably well aware by now, Tony Blair suffered his first defeat in the Commons yesterday. Other votes have come close but this was the first time that the Labour rebels have scored a hit on the PM.

I am glad that the 90 day detention plan was defeated. I agree that our police force needs more time to deal with potential terrorist detainees but the 90 days suggested by Blair was ridiculous. For starters it is a number that was apparently plucked by Blair and the police from out of their arses. As far as I am aware (I could be wrong) there was no in-depth study of the actual time necessary to detain to complete an investigation, or even to get enough information to warrant a legal extension. The measure was badly thought out and badly presented.

Put it into context. Ninety days is a long time for someone without a conviction to be detained. That is about three months or a quarter of a year. A big chunk of life whichever way you slice it.

I think that Blair is guilty of hubris; I don't think he can envisage a time when his party is not in control and following the ideals he himself sees as self-evident. This is dangerous in a leader. Massively so. Any introduction of a law with the potential for draconian abuse must be considered long and hard by any democracy. We might not see any harm now, since we know that 'we' would never abuse that law. But what about a government in 10 years time, or twenty years time? It's a dangerous step.

Anyway I am hardly confident that powers would not be abused now. Lets face it, if a pensionable aged heckler at the Labour party conference can be detained under terrorism laws... well, it doesn't bear thinking about does it?

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