Wednesday, June 11, 2008

42 days

Tomorrow (NZ time) the UK Parliament will vote on yet more anti-terror legislation, this time extending the time a suspected terrorist may be detained without charge for "questioning" to 42 days. It's a completely unnecessary move - while the time limit was extended to 28 days last year, no suspect has been held for more than 14 - and is facing widespread opposition from backbench MPs who remember that once upon a time, their party stood for civil liberties rather than a jackboot on a human face forever.

The government is desperate to get this through, to the extent that they've reportedly put £200 million on the table for Northern Ireland to buy the votes of the Democratic Unionist Party. And now they're offering a pitiful "compensation" scheme for those ultimately not charged (which will of course create an incentive for police to charge, regardless of the evidence). This, for something described by one of its victims as psychological torture.

The most ironic comment on the issue has to come from Labour MP Keith Vaz, who wrote to Labour MPs urging them to support the bill:

As a nation we need to stand together united and strong, giving no quarter to those who wish to destroy our way of life.
Indeed. It's just that the people who want to destroy the British way of life are in Westminster and Downing Street and Thames House...

The vote will likely be early tomorrow morning, and I'll be waiting to see which way it goes - whether the UK remains a free society, or slips even further towards a tyrannical police state.