Let’s look at it another way. Yes, we saw Tony Blair defeated for the first time. But they’ve managed to push through a doubling of the time that a suspect can be held without charge. That’s still pretty disgusting. Are there any “democratic” countries with a longer period?
If I was feeling paranoid, I might imagine a conversation taking place along these lines a few months ago…
Ian Blair: We think we might want to increase the amount of time we can hold them without charging them.
Tony Blair: What do you want it to be?
Ian Blair: 28 days.
Tony Blair: 28 days! Bloody hell, that’s doubling it. The civil liberties crowd will never go for that.
Ian Blair: So we can’t have it?
Tony Blair: I didn’t say that. But we’d need to be a bit sneaky. What if we said we were trying to increase it to a completely unreasonable length of time that no sane person would support – and then presented 28 days as a compromise.
Ian Blair: How long would you ask for first.
Tony Blair: Well it would need to be completely over the top, maybe 90 days.
Ian Blair: 90 days! That’s ridiculous. No-one would ever go for that.
Tony Blair: Precisely.