Why I’ll vote for 42 days

Someone recently asked me why I supported government plans to introduce a new upper limit of 42 days detention without charge. “Because we couldn’t get 90 days through,” I replied.



Filed under Parliament, Politics

12 responses to “Why I’ll vote for 42 days

  1. And therein lies the problem.

    I’m a committed Labour member, and I am disappointed, not just because 28 days was introduced over a lot of internal opposition, but now because within a matter of months we are talking about 42 days (with the ‘ideal’ of 90).

    Why the rush to draconian policies, ones that appear to be more strict than during the IRA threat?

  2. Caroline

    I’m afraid I cannot agree with you on this and neither can thousands of other party members. Policies like 42/90 days are exactly why we’re losing voters.

  3. Because, simply put, the threat from islamist terrorism is significantly more dangerous and threatening to our way of life than that posed by the IRA. The attacks of 7/7 killed more innocent people than any single attack perpetrated by the IRA over 30 years.

  4. Indeed it did, but we greet terrorism with measures far more extreme than those we would ever consider using to prevent, say, industrial accidents; far more of which happen than terrorism related deaths, within any given timeframe.

    I cannot agree with the internment of innocent people.

    I recently did a dissertation however on how the government could come do a reasonable compromise, much of which has been met.

    I think our overriding priority has to be to establish guilt, and there is a lot we could do to make court procedures fairer and more accurate in their outcomes than we do at the moment.

    Secondly we must prioritise the freedom of the innocent, which in my view includes all of those against whom their is not evidence beyond reasonable doubt that they are terrorists.

    We are failing on this front already, without ramping up internment.

    Third priority must be proportionality. Which we have already been found in open, fair and considered hearings to have failed repeatedly.

    This is not about whether we are being soft or hard on terrorists. This is about whether or not we actually establish fairly and accurately the terrorists from the non-terrorists; and how much the state will make non-terrorists suffer for the sake of this process (as well as how many of them are or aren’t actually terrorists).

    Those attacks which cannot be prevented cannot be prevented; governments can only stop what they can stop, and are not invincible.

    But governments have absolute power to avoid the jailing without trial of the innocent, and in my view, the first duty of the state is to ensure that this basic freedom of citizens is protected. This is why we have the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ test in the first place. the argument against it in a terrorist context could be used for, say, murder. But in the interests of the innocent, it is not.

    There are these arguments to deal with before we get to jailing ANC supporters and legitimate protesters… these arguments, usually to safeguard the poor and vulnerable, have as much to do with socialism and social democracy as they do any caricatured ‘wet liberalism’.

    I know.

    I hate liberals.

    The only reason to vote for this is collective responsibility, which in so many cases means an abrogation of ones personal responsibility to do the right thing.

    The measure, which I must concede is largely improved, is still well beyond the boundaries democratic states should consider. This is not World War Two; and in any event, it is freedom we are meant to be protecting, not throwing away.

  5. A thoughtful post, Miller 2.o, but I take issue with at least two of your comments: there is no plan to reintroduce internment, and to describe it as such is needlessly emotive; and the first duty of a state is to protect the lives of its citizens.

  6. So, 42 to 90 days’ detention without charge is not internment how?

    The first duty of the state is to protect citizens, yes, but one of the things that we need to be protected from is the state.

  7. Internment without trial was just that – no charge, no trial. There are no plans by the government to detain anyone indefinitely without trial or charge or – crucially – judicial oversight. All of these measures were absent from the disastrous policy of internment when it was introduced in Northern Ireland. And why on earth would this – or any – government want to detain people for no reason?

  8. Caroline

    “And why on earth would this – or any – government want to detain people for no reason?”

    It’s happened to enough people I know. Try being Black or Asian and you’ll soon find out.

  9. Except it hasn’t happened at all. Amnesty International put the total number of people detained for the maximum 28 days at seven (of course, maybe you know all seven personally, Caroline, in which case I apologise). Please don’t perpetuate the myth that the police are fascists who want to lock up everyone whose skin color is different from theirs. This debate is too important to waste time on tired nonsense like that.

  10. Tom, with all due respect, the call is for 42 days (or up to 90 in your case) of being held _without charge_. If no charge is made, there’ll be no trial. They could indeed be released, but of course they can be picked up again and the clock re-starts.

    However, if we are indeed facing a threat that makes this so necessary, how come only seven people have been held for 28 days without charge?

  11. So let me get this straight – you’re against extending the time because you fear that power will be abused, and the fact that it hasn’t been abused means there’s no threat?

  12. No. There is a threat, but it’s being overstated, and there are alternatives to simply extending the time people can be held without charge.

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