This morning we hear that the Prime Minister is offering more of our money to try to appease his backbenchers who disagree with him over extended detention without trial. Apparently people locked up for weeks who turn out to be innocent will be offered Â£3000 a day, as if that were sufficient compensation for the ignominy and frustration of being locked up for a month and a half, cut off from your job, your friends and your family. If you run your own business you would be bankrupt by the time the state had decided it had made a mistake. It shows how desperate the PM is to try to win over his own side. It illustrates that they do at last realise that innocent people will be treated in this disgusting way by the government. It also shows a wider point â€“ that Mr Brown now squanders and throws money at any problem, in the mistaken belief that money can buy him popularity.
Many of us who will vote against 42-day detention without charge or trial do so out of principle. We believe in Habeas Corpus. We were proud to be born in a country which had developed strong liberties for the subject over centuries, and can scarce believe that this Labour government is so careless of them. We have hated the incoming tide of European regulation and Napoleonic law, debauching and overwhelming important parts of our law codes. We have loathed the ever more intrusive state, sending us form after form, demanding tax after tax, and expecting us to drop everything when the inspector calls or the government statistician wishes to record us in yet another data bank. We are spied on continuously, watched over by 4.2 million government spy cameras, and may now even have the contents of our rubbish bins analysed by over-zealous councils. There is no sum of money you could offer as compensation to the badly treated to persuade us that the state should have yet more power to boss people around and take its time with its investigations.
This government does not know the meaning of the word FREEDOM. Its ignorance of history means it fails to grasp the skilful English settlement based on the presumption that someone is innocent until proven guilty, and we all have the right to know who accuses us of what if we are dragged into the criminal justice system. It also means that the government does not understand the peaceful but doughty resilience of many English people to overmighty government. The opinion polls and the Sun may think the further erosion of Habeas Corpus to be a good idea, but I know of no true born Englishman or woman who thinks he or his neighbour should be locked away for 42 days on the whim of authority with no good cause shown and no case brought before a magistrates court.