November 10, 2005

New Labour, Facsists

I haven't done much on the 90 Days Internment For No Reason Bill that blair recently tried to push through. He only managed 28 days, still four times longer than any other Common Law country in the world, and that does mark a small defeat for New Labour and in these dark days anything is better than nothing.

Here are few notes made by better bloggers on this issue.

First the Spy Blog which notes:
Charles Clarke claimed that somehow he would probably have been convicted in the "ricin plot" if he had been held for 90 days. Merguerba has been supposedly jailed for 10 years in Algeria. We use the word "supposedly" because no UK Police etc have been allowed to interview him by the military dictatorship.
However, Labour backbencher Chris Mullins pointed out that this man had been released without charge by the Police, not after 14 days, but after only 2 days
which shows that quite clearly the Police is not even using the 14 days that they already have, a measure also brought in by New Labour "last January 2004". Another of the claimed reasons for needing more time is that if the terrorist suspects are using strong encryption it will take time to break the cyphers. However they seem to have forgotten that they already put laws in place to deal with this way back in 2000. Perhaps due to the simple volume of new legislation they have forgotten the provisions of the RIP Act of 2000 that make it an offense, with a punishment of up to 2 years imprisonment, to have encrypted data on your hard disk and then not hand over the keys when asked any anyone of a, very large, list of possible snoopers. Reversing the burden of proof in the process since it is up to the accused to prove that they cannot. However like much New Labour legislation
the laws governing surveillance of the net [RIPA] were unenforceable because they had been so badly bungled.
So instead of correcting the abuses they have already perpetrated to actually get something out of them the new Labour approach is to use their own ineptitude as an excuse to attack a whole new area of civil liberties.

So New Labour needs more time because of the threat of terrorism despite during the whole period of the IRA's violence, a period where bombings where a monthly occurrence as opposed to now, the limit was only 7 days. So the police need these powers despite there being much less terrorism around now, as Politicalog says quoting The Guardian:
Conventional wisdom - informed by a steady stream of political rhetoric - says that this is a response to the increasing risk posed by global terrorism since the attack on the twin towers. Indeed, the British government's recent leaflet advising citizens what to do in the event of an attack - together with a succession of warnings from the US government - imply the risk has reached unprecedented levels. And yet what is strikingly absent from both public discussion or news coverage is that there is little concrete evidence to support this view.

The US government's own figures on international terrorism - which it defines as the targeting of non-combatants or property by non-state agents and includes the actions of groups like the IRA, the UDF and Eta - suggests that the most active period of international terrorist activity was the mid-80s. With occasional blips - such as 1991 and 1999 to 2001 - the annual number of terrorist attacks has been in general decline since then.
Which kind of indicates that the whole war on terror is just a smoke screen for the New Labour war on civil liberties, since there is currently much less terrorism around than in the past (despite the best efforts of the Islamist nutters).

Chicken Yoghurt is a bit more sympathetic than me about the motivations of New Labour saying:
I fervently try not to believe that this Government is truly evil but instead cling to the hope that the Prime Minister and his crew are in fact just emotionally-retarded inadequates desperately trying to compensate for being bullied as children. But it's so difficult some times.
He also notices how much the detention period has been going up, even if you discount the house arrest without trial orders that New Labour have already brought in. To Chicken Yoghurt
It [New Labour] seems to have been forgotten that the current detention period is about to be doubled to a lengthy 28 days and getting legislation renewed after the lapsing of a sunset clause never troubled any government. It's the old boiling frog again. This is the second doubling of the detention period in three years. If New Labour are prepared to wait it out, they'll get their 90 days within six years if they play it clever (just ask for wildly inordinate periods every couple of years and then meet the opposition halfway). But no. They want it now. NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW, NOW!

It's like watching the spoilt kid who throws a strop when he doesn't win pass-the-parcel at his own birthday party: nobody knows quite where to look and pointing at the huge pile of presents stacked up in the corner (this is, after all, only Blair's only defeat in eight years) counts for nowt.


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