Thursday, June 12, 2008

£1.2 billion

That's officially the price of freedom in the UK, after Gordon brown scraped to the narrowest of victories on the issue of 42-days detention by buying the votes of the DUP. For that £1.2 billion, Northern Ireland will get to sell assets and retain water charges (oh, and won't be subject to UK abortion law either - the DUP is after all the party of Ian Paisley). The UK meanwhile will move even further towards a police state, with police allowed to detain random Muslims suspected "terrorists" for 6 weeks before having to charge them. Under existing law they're already allowed to do that for 28 days - the longest terror-detention limit of any democracy - and it turns out that half of those they detain are released without charge. That's unacceptable as it is, and they want to make it worse?

The good news is that the victory is pyrrhic, with the Lords seeming set to reprise their role as the last defenders of British liberty (ironic given that they're a pack of unelected aristocrats). If by some miracle (or another £1.2 billion and some tawdry pandering to the unelected Bishops on abortion and gay rights) it ever gets out of there and passes into law, it is almost certain to be overturned by the courts as grossly inconsistent with the ECHR. So, despite the posturing, Brown won't get what he wants. It will however be a messy ride.

Meanwhile, the worst reason for voting for the bill has to go to Austin Mitchell (yes, that one), who said he had done it

to save Gordon [Brown] for the nation.
But leaders who suppress fundamental rights in order to appear "tough" on terrorism don't deserve to be saved. They deserve to be overthrown. And the sooner it happens, the better.