Thursday, November 10, 2005

Unexpected - at least for me

So Blair has suffered his first Parliamentary defeat. Regardless of what it means for him now, one really has to wonder what on earth he was playing at with his excuse that the 'police asked for these powers'.

If teachers ask to scrap the curriculum, or doctors recommend fewer people in their surgeries the Government is going to stand by them?

Of course not. So why should the police be any different? The justification is that these people are at the front line of the 'war on terror'.

Yet did the police (and its cheerleaders in the Government) ever consider what might be the consequences of locking someone up for 3 months? Would it make particular sections of the society (OK, ethnic minorities) feel particularly pre-disposed to such action? I doubt it; in fact it might be more likely to stoke up a 'them-against-us' mentality.

As for the claim that the police need it to stop future terrorist atrocities, aren't we always being told about how many they've foiled - without needing 3 months? And if it were to happen again after they received what they wanted would we then have to accept a future argument that 3 months wasn't enough and they really need 6?

Then there's the question of resources. If the jails are full of people inside for 3 months where on earth are we going to put other criminals - especially given the Government's keenness to clamp down on law and order and the breaking capacity of British prisons.

Finally, how many anti-terror bills have we had in the last few years? And just because the police keep getting all these powers, do they use it responsibly? Is it only just a couple of months since a police force detained a pensioner who heckled Jack Straw at the Labour conferece under anti-terror legislation?

I could go on, but for once I feel cheered by events down the road in Westminster. And that's not something I can say I feel very often.

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