Thursday, June 12, 2008

When Irish Ayes Saved Gordon's Bacon

Gordon's Majority for 42 Days detention without trial

So last night by a majority of 9 (see above) Gordon Brown managed to squeeze the victory that was so important to him. We know have the right to hold suspects without charge for 5 days more than China, 4 times as long as in Australia and 24 times as long as in the USA. Although as Tony Benn said afterwards in so doing he had handed over "Osama Bin Laden's greatest victory" as "fear always leads to the worse possible policy". We have eroded our freedoms and sense of justice and liberty at the behest of terrorists.

It was a shallow victory for Gordon Brown, without the votes of nine DUP members, one Ulster Unionist and the Conservative vote of Anne Widdecombe he would have been defeated. Even some of Labour's potential rebels turned backers of the bill, including Austen Mitchell, said they only voted for the government to "save Gordon for the nation". So even the majority of 9 with a count of 36 rebels, wasn't even a true reflection of the mindset within his own party on the issue, merely an offsetting of the day he will face defeat.

David Davis the Conservative Shadow Home Secretary emphasised this outside the House when he said the Bill had "almost no parliamentary authority" and had not been won on the argument but on a excellent whip operation. Indeed others said that the argument on it being needed for security, that it didn't take away our liberties had actually been lost by debate in the chamber as no solid reasoning was given to support either strand of the necessity for the extension by these arguments.

The Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, said it had been a victory for pork barrel politics, we're just waiting to see what is in the barrel. Labour rebel Bob Marshall-Andrews said the changes and concessions that had been made to bill made it meaningless, including trying to turn Parliament into some kind of court. Indeed what will happen should the need for Parliament to vote on an extension arise in a summer recess, Parliament unlike the courts in our land do not sit all year round to enable such judgements to be made conveniently.

Now the Lords will have their say on this. Doubtless they will return it to the commons with major changes. This bill may yet turn out to be a noose around Gordon's neck for some time to come.

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