April 14, 2008

42 days

There are many reasons to hate the Labour government, but it is their attitude to civil liberties that make me want to take the higher echelons of the party one by one and feed them feet first through a wood chipper. The Prevention of Terrorism Acts (two of which where passed by Labour governments, and all of which weren't voted against by Labour) where draconian and unprecedented in peacetime, but they where absolutely nothing compared to what this Labour government has done.

The government claims, of course, that these are only temporary measures because of our uniquely dangerous predicament.


Temporary measures have a habit of becoming permenant. Income tax was originally a temporary measure brought in to pay for the wars against Napoleon. The Prevention of Terrorism Acts that extended the period that people could be held without charge to 48 hours was a temporary measure brought in to deal with the IRA at the hight of The Troubles. Both turned out to be less than temporary. Income Tax was briefly ditched but then brought back because the state had become addicted to the extra revenue that it brought. The Prevention of Terrorism Acts where waved through every year when they came up for renewal.

We are not in a uniquely dangerous time for terrorism, if anything there is currently very little terrorism at the moment. We do not have an organised and relentless bombing campaign going on. We do not have assassination attempts against the government (unfortunately). There are not militant groups trying to dictate government policy through harassment and riots. There are a few Muslim fanatics trying to find a quick route to paradise but they are not in the same league as the IRA. It is also a little strange that this terrifying terrorist menace that we all should to fear never actually gets named as who they are, Muslims.

Given the fact that there is still two years left before Labour are thrown out I would not only expect that if enacted this bill will have no problems with being renewed, but that the period of detention will probably be extended as well. It was a maximum of two days that people could be held without charge when Labour gained power in 1997, it is now 28 days and will soon be 42 days.

They also claim that everything will be all right because if anybody is held for more than 28 days then parliament will get to debate it. However they get to debate it at some time within the next 30 days, by which time the suspect will either have been charged or released anyway. Do they really think people are that stupid? Possibly, they did get into power in the first place.


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