Detention without charge or trial – an outrageous assault on our liberty

As someone who opposed the 28 day period of detention without trial I am implaccably against an extension of this.

The government has run into huge difficulty trying to persuade enough people to support the extension they crave. They have rumoured they plan to increase it substantially, floating various lengths of time. Today we learn that they are now thinking such an extension should only take place if Parliament approves it when needed.

Why then take action now about it? Parliament can always vote for emergency powers in extreme circumstances. There is no need for such action today. The government still has to produce a single case where they think they could have stopped a terrorist incident or obtained a conviction if they had been able to detain someone for longer without charge or trial.

Guantanamo Bay has been a blot on Western democracy. Internment in Northern Ireland did not stop the violence during the troubles. Why is this government so blind to the need to protect our liberties? Why does it wish to make endless extensions to state power? Why can’t it see how unpopular it is, even if it can’t see how wrong it is?


  1. Stuart Fairney
    December 6, 2007

    Well said indeed. People need to realise that when the government takes powers like these, it takes them over ALL citizens, and frankly, I'm not at all comfortable that Jacqui Smith and the JIC could decide on the basis of unknown and unseen evidence that I am some kind of threat and can therefore be locked away.

  2. Tim Bull
    December 6, 2007

    JR: "Why is this government so blind to the need to protect our liberties? Why does it wish to make endless extensions to state power? Why can't it see how unpopular it is, even if it can't see how wrong it is?"

    John – as a long experienced parliamentarian, we look to you to offer possible answers, rather than just pose these crucial questions.

    How is it that a government formed by a party that might claim a long history of fighting for the 'rights and freedoms of the common man', can now be so dismissive of our liberties ? Why are they repeately pushing for legislation that is demanded by no other body (except the outrageously politicized police)? Are they perhaps trying to impose a 'fascist dictatorship', or is that just fanciful conspiracy theorising ?

    Frankly I beleive that they are making such a complete hash of governing this once great country, that they fear the death of the labour party, imprisonment of many key players and major civilian unrest, unless they do exert police-state control.

    Can you see any reasons why such extreme views can be dismissed ?
    Reply: I don't think they go that far in their thiking. I believe they are scared about the threat of terrorism, and then lash out foolishly in every direction in the name of anti terror measures. They need to stand back, and realise that an open society will always have some enemies, and has to preserve what makes it special under provocation. When we were in offcie we faced terrorist threats which were very real, but we did not remove so much liberty in Britain to combat it.

  3. Simon_C
    December 6, 2007

    28 days is a travesty, we should be looking to reduce this back down to 7 or 14, not increase it.

    Introduce the concept of investigation after charging, or holding charges or something like that.

    If we have to have anything beyond 7 days, there should be statutory compensation in the order of

  4. Tim Bull
    December 6, 2007

    Thanks for your considered reply JR. I do get a bit manic in my thinking at times – I put it down to the sheer frustration caused by this incompetent government.

    As you say, the previous government faced terrorist threats but dealt with the problem without excessive attacks on civil liberties. And, I would suggest, the relatively more successful terror actions in that period demonstrats that the threat was far greater, due to a better organised and resourced enemy.

    The panic response to the current threat proves the low competence of this government.

  5. Brian Tomkinson
    December 6, 2007

    Mr Bean – sorry, I mean Mr Brown – is obsessed with what he considers will give him, his shambolic government and party political advantage over the Conservatives. All his decisions have this as their main motivation. This particular move is purely motivated by the need to make him look strong and the Conservatives look weak. The timing is arranged to take stories of Labour sleaze off the front pages. It is as simple as that and until he is replaced there will be much more of the same.

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