Lock them all up

Today a Labour led Parliament will approve the second reading of a Bill to allow detention without trial for 42 days.
Labour in office have turned out to be the new authoritarians, keen to overturn English liberties established over the long centuries of our forefathers’ struggle for freedom.
I can understand they may have no sense of history and dislike traditions, but you would have thought a so-callled progressive party would have some sensitivity towards human rights, beyond revelling in political correctness.

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  1. Letters From A Tory
    Posted April 1, 2008 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Well, they are making progress towards losing the next election – does that count as 'progressive'?

  2. Stuart Fairney
    Posted April 1, 2008 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    If I'm reading this correctly, it means we will now be subject to the equivalent of a three month jail sentence, without ever being found guilty of anything.

    And if anybody tells you this will only apply to terrorists, remember that very old and clearly not dangerous man, Mr Walter Wolfgang at Labour's conference some years ago who heckled Jack Straw and was arrested under the same anti-terror law that we were assured would only apply to really dangerous people…

  3. Rose
    Posted April 1, 2008 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    On the contrary, as the late Maurice Cowling used to say: "Scratch a liberal and you find a fascist".

  4. tim holden
    Posted April 1, 2008 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    The authoritarianism bears more resemblance to the needs of the schoolyard than to any form of responsible government, and so reveals a secret yearning for the education they so plainly lack.

    It is remarkable that eleven years of government has led to so little experience. So the verdict would have to be: ineducable despite those yearnings.

  5. Freeborn John
    Posted April 1, 2008 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    The Home Office seem to be engaged in as relentless a campaign to increase police powers as the EU Commission is engaged in to increase its own powers. I find it profoundly depressing that politicians of all parties when in government feel it necessary to increase the power of the state on the most spurious of grounds. If such powers were not necessary during the long IRA terror campaign why are they now? The time it takes to complete any activity invariably depends on the deadline. If the police are given more time to produce a case they will simply take more time to do what they do now.

    I somehow doubt though that Conservatives would not be doing the same thing if they were in office. While Michael Howard was a pretty good leader of the Conservative party he was an extremely authoritarian home secretary. What are the chances of a Conservative manifesto commitment to repeal this 42-day limit?

  6. Donitz
    Posted April 1, 2008 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    If the Authorities want to lock people away without trial and rough them up a bit, I'm all for it.

    As long as it's not me.

  7. Bazman
    Posted April 1, 2008 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    If anyone puts forward any sort of curfew on teenagers or the locking away for the weekend of drunks and vandals, the human rights argument is wheeled out, often by some busybody father who's violin playing son can't walk home from the orchestra after 21.00. Usually goes to school by large 4 wheel drive.
    Now the government are proposing the average and not so average Joe can find himself in chokey for nearly a month and a half without charge, from what I can see no reason other than to allow PC Plod to plod.
    Could and would be used by the police as a threat. and you can be sure it will not be against someone who would do us all a favour by being out of society for 42 days.

  8. Stuart Fairney
    Posted April 1, 2008 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Donitz said "As long as it’s not me"

    I am reminded of the famous line about 'when they came for the Jews, I did not complain because I was not Jewish etc.. by the time they came for me there was no-one left'

    Also, the effectiveness of torture is doubtful. I'm fairly certain that with a series of power tools I could make the (ED MORE OR LESS ANYONE) confess to setting the Chicago fire, but it wouldn't mean he actually did it.

    It would however, alienate anyone who knows him, and in the same way, anyone we detain for any length of time without trial would surely serve as a recruiting agent for the terrorists, not as an effective way of countering them

    (By the way, I saw David Davies on Parliament TV tonight, and I thought his performance was masterful.)

  9. Iain
    Posted April 1, 2008 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Is this any surprise, for though Labour Governments are known for wrecking an economy, the left are also known for wrecking constitutions and destroying freedoms, after all from Nkrumah to Mugabe the biggest disaster to befall Africa has been left wing Governments, who all meddled with the constitution, meddled with the electoral systems, meddled with the courts and all achieved despotic Governments, a somewhat similar course this Labour Government are charting.

  10. Adrian Windisch
    Posted April 1, 2008 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    Dont we already have the longest period of detention withought trial in the western world? What happened to the government making a case for this, or just lets not bother. Are we trying to compete with Zimbabwe?

    Please say this is an April Fools Joke!

  11. Rose
    Posted April 2, 2008 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Stuart Fairney reminds us of Mr Walter Wolfgang at the Labour Party Conference, but no-one ever mentions the well-dressed, well-behaved young man who was given the same treatment for standing peacefully outside with a petition on the EU. So I don't even know his name. But his case was even more frightening than that of the famous Mr Wolfgang's, because there was no public outcry.

  12. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 2, 2008 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I am currently on holiday in Bangkok. There are polite, respectful officials in uniform everywhere and you feel safe – we walked home last night with two young children through the very centre. No drunks, no beggars, nothing.
    While here, I have read a masterful study of the Weimar Republic. The problems there were that, by 1933, they had no parliament worth speaking of, armies on the streets fighting each other, a small. unelected gang of politicians in the Cabinet and economic disaster staring them in the face.
    (Sentence left out – ed) Nobody (including me) could realise at the time that Idi Amin and the others would take such a little time to overthrow an elected, democratic, law abiding, Christian society as Uganda. Ever heard of Jacob Zuma?
    The tree of liberty needs tending regularly if it is to survive.
    (IT NEEDS TO BE CONSTANTLY TENDED HERE AT HOME TOO – ED in place of sentence left out)

  13. Ian B
    Posted April 3, 2008 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    I think it's worth mentioning here that that progressivism is by its nature profoundly authoritarian so there is no inconsistency in Labour's behaviour. The left are very successful at claiming they believe in rights while working constantly to undermine them. For instance they like to claim to believe in free speech, while working to impose speech codes and penalties which restrict it.

    The simple problem is that progressives don't believe in the concept of the individual; they see those of us who do believe in individual rights as dangerous social defectors. They see the world entirely in terms of the collective and when faced with a civil liberties or rights argument they really can't understand it- they sort of end up thiking "does not compute, does not compute". It's beyond their worldview.

    We give progressivism too easy a ride. It's a philosophy of self-interested, pompous elitists who are convinced they are singularly gifted to rule over an inferior mob of untermenschen who are unable to so much as tie their shoelaces without governmental advice.

    Every ruinous thing New Labour has done has been consistent with this progressive mindset. They are dictators of a particularly absolutist kind. In a "traditional" dictatorship, people would be persecuted for shouting "Down with el presidente!" but otherwise largely left to get on with their lives. In the progressive dictatorship, you may criticise (though usually in a place nobody can hear you) but the government will control everything else. This is how they're getting away with it. This is a tyranny that looks quite different to those which have gone before.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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