Monday, June 02, 2008

Sticking by His Principles is he? What Principles?

Today's opinion piece in the Times by Gordon Brown regarding the upcoming 42 detention without trail debate, and possible defeat he is facing, ends with the following:

That is why I will stick to the principles I have set out and do the right thing: protecting the security of all and the liberties of each; and safeguarding the British people by a careful and proportionate strengthening of powers in response to the radically new terrorist threats we now face.

Oh dear having Gordon Brown talk about principles at the moment is probably not the best think. We all knew what standing by his principles to lift our poorest people out of poverty and encourage them to work hard led to. Yes the U-Turn when he realised his principled stand over abolishing the long term goal of the 1997 Government to have a 10p tax band led to swift backtracking during a by election campaign.

Speaking of principles on this matter didn't Gordon once support 56 days in the original debate which got voted down to a mere 28. So he has already had to accept a compromise once on this 'principled' stance of his. At present as Gordon reminds us Judicial review is required to detain beyond the 14 days. Doesn't that tell us something? That the interest of the individual still needs to be enshrined. That the decision is not taken by the politicians or the police. It is taken out of their hands after 2 weeks, and substantive progress needs to be made in that time scale to convince the judge that detention should continue. Why therefore after a further 2 weeks should a further 2 weeks be required again?

Of course this being a piece by Gordon he opens with a ream of statistics. "Today in Britain there are at least 2,000 terrorist suspects, 200 networks or cells and 30 active plots." Hang on a second here Gordon, now I realise that the police cannot start to piece together the actual evidence until they have issued warrants to seize the stuff. But surely some of this complexity of things must already be on record with the police, like the picture on the front of a jigsaw puzzle, they just are required to find the pieces. That is of course unless the statistics are nicely made up by Gordon at his PC at 4 a.m. at the end of his working day.

Gordon does try and address the issue of civil liberties in his piece. Blink and you may miss it:

So I say to those with legitimate concerns about civil liberties: look at these practical safeguards against arbitrary treatment. With these protections in place, I believe Parliament should take the right decision for national security.

Oh dear Gordon to use the word arbitrary when you're trying to defend your principles is hardly a good combination in English. You should have scoured the thesaurus for alternative. After all arbitrary suggests choices and actions which are considered to be done not by means of any underlying principle or logic, but by whim or some decidedly illogical formula.

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