Friday, November 26, 2004

The JimBot speaks again

Once upon a time I thought that the Progressives might be worth voting for as a "wing party" to help pull Labour further to the left. Then Jim Anderton started talking about company tax cuts and recasting the party as the party of "small business with a social conscience". Now, he's suggesting that we should expand police powers to search suspected drug dealers.

The problem here is that this is a fundamental abuse of civil liberties. The Bill of Rights Act affirms the right to be secure from uneasonable search and seizure. "Unreasonable" generally means "without a warrant", but we already have an exception under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 allowing police to search on "reasonable belief" (suspicion) of posession. This power is widely abused and needs to be limited - not expanded.

Until now, the Progressives have had an excellent record on civil liberties. Their other MP, Matt Robson, has been a strong and reliable voice on civil liberties issues and sensible (as opposed to vindictive) sentencing. Hopefully he will challenge this policy and ensure that there is proper oversight of these provisions, rather than expanding powers which are already being abused.