Listening to Jacqui Smith on the Today program yesterday, I was struck by the weakness of her argument in relation to why the Labour Government want 56 days detention without trial. The best she could offer was the 'just in case' argument, which really doesn't wash. The current 28 days is already the longest such period in the Western world, and there is no evidence whatsoever that any extension is needed. While our protection by the state is needed, so too is our protection from the state.
With that in mind, the speech by David Davis in Parliament yesterday was salutary in the extreme. The disarray of the current Government is highlighted by the astonishing mess the cabinet finds itself in, where Geoff Hoon is considered a safe pair of hands, where the Foreign Secretary gurns his way
through the Queen's Speech debate, and where the Lord Chancellor is neither a member of the House of Lords nor a practising lawyer. This bizarre arrangement is why the Minister for Justice (gah) opened the debate, which is normally the prerogative of the Home Secretary.
In any event, Davis absolutely skewered the Labour front bench, finishing off with what is so rarely seen in the House - heart-felt anger.
Ms Smith, he noted, had never explained why she wanted to go beyond the current 28-day period. Indeed, she had told the Home Affairs Committee: “There has not been a circumstance in which it has been necessary up to this point to go beyond 28 days.” Ms Smith, on the front bench, muttered: “Thank goodness.”
This inflamed DD, who turned on her, teeth bared, like a dog with the hair standing up on the back of his neck. “She seems to have managed to pick this number out of the air!” he cried, referring to 28 days. “The highest number in the free world! The highest length of time for people to be held without charge in the free world! Hardly a matter of pride for her to pick on! So we’ll come back to her in a minute!”
“I look around the chamber and almost everybody here is wearing a poppy,” he noted. At this, MPs looked down at their poppies. The few without them looked alarmed.
“Those poppies symbolise an enormous sacrifice,” said DD. “Our freedom was bought at a very high price. We on this side will not give those freedoms away without very good reason.”
Labels: Labour, politics, Tories