42 Days is Dead

It’s a strange world when you have to rely on the House of Lords to throw out ridiculous legislation from a Labour government. But that’s exactly what happened yesterday as the Lords voted against the government’s proposals for 42-day detention of suspected terrorists. Pretty much everyone in the country now agrees that the proposals were draconian and unnecessary. Well, with a couple of notable exceptions. Firstly the Home Secretary has drawn up a single clause Bill which she will present to Parliament should the opportunity ever arise.

And secondly, the Sun is pretty angry about it this morning. I picked up a discarded copy on the tube this morning (discarded by a BBC employee getting off at White City) and was able to enjoy the full force of Rebekah Wade’s ire in today’s The Sun Says. For those of you who can’t bring yourself to visit their web site, I reproduce it in full below.

A GOLDEN opportunity to make Britain safer from terrorists has been shamefully

The House of Lords has scuppered a Bill that might have saved many lives.

How al-Qaeda must be revelling in the knowledge that Britain is more concerned
about possible infringements of civil liberties than of taking the war on
terror to them.

Holding terrorism suspects for 42 days would be a vital tool for the security
services as they unravel criminal conspiracies of unprecedented complexity.

Its opponents argue that the country’s against it. Nonsense. More than 100,000
Sun readers voiced their support in 2005 — when Tony Blair wanted 90
, not just 42.

David Cameron’s Tory MPs, against their natural instincts, fought any
detention beyond 28 days simply for opposition’s sake. There were plenty in
their ranks who secretly backed 42 days.

Tory Lord Tebbit, himself a victim of terrorists, rightly asked yesterday what
his party will do if they win power and find they need 42 days. How will
they possibly argue for it?

As he also pointed out, the injustice of holding an innocent person for six
weeks can be rectified. The injustice meted out to an innocent person
murdered by terrorists cannot.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will now have to force through emergency 42-day
legislation the next time a major suspect is held.

And the Tories will have to back her – they cannot risk sabotaging a case
for political advantage.

Anything that makes the Sun as angry as that has just got to be a good thing.

One comment

  1. This is more of a shameless plug than a ‘comment’, but it’s in a good cause: Liberty has created a website called http://www.42writers.com, which is a powerful collection of essays, poems, and stories by 42 contemporary writers, including Ian Rankin, Philip Pullman and Ali Smith.We are relieved that the House of Lords have struck down the proposal to hold people without charge for 42 days, but the Home Secretary has made it clear that the Government may try to bring back this dangerous and unnecessary measure.Including new and published works, 42 Writers is a moving and thought-provoking anthology, and its themes of voicelessness, captivity and persecution will resonate with readers even after the political storm has passed. We’d be very grateful if you would take a look at the website and consider linking to it.

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