The cry went up around the country on local election night as a bespectacled red head blinked in the glimmer of the BBC TV lights – sitting in front of a screen, blogging for the delectation of a grateful public.
The nulab blogger was one Luke AKehurst, whose blog obtained a degree of promotion on election night. Some people, apparently, even stayed on afterwards reading the thing. Until yesterday. For Mr Akehurst has come up with an idea on how the Labour party should respond to the David Davis resignation yesterday. Following Swift (but sans satire) his modest proposal is modestly titled,
So, what is the modest proposal?
“Maybe instead of Labour fielding a candidate in Haltemprice & Howden we should find a Martin Bell type candidate – preferably a recently retired senior police officer, or a survivor or relative of a victim of a terrorist attack, to run under the following 5 word candidate description: “Independent – for detaining terrorism suspects”.”
Before dwelling on the magnitude of the proposal – lest we think Mr Akehurst is alone, he has his supporters on this, for example here . Anyway, to return to the idea: A retired senior police officer? Why not have a serving one? Sir Ian Blair – as he’s one of those in favour of locking people up without charge for one a half months.
Or a survivor or relative of a victim of a terrorist attack? I’ll ask my granny, whose neighbouring houses were damaged during the Lockerbie bombing – lest we forget Mr Akehurst the biggest terrorist atrocity in the UK – or should I ask my sister, provided her PTSD stands up to the pressure? Or perhaps I could do it myself? I could run vivid descriptions of the stuff I saw, of the stuff my relatives saw? Perhaps a few photos – limbs hanging from trees, bodies in windows, that sort of thing. If you want brief highlights Mr Akehurst have a look at my post on this. Would my family suit your plan?
Well, regrettably, for Mr Akehurst I and my relatives won’t be doing that. Because we think the 28 day detention period without charge stinks, never mind the extension to 42 days. We don’t like the weaselly deals with the Democratic Unionists where Gordon has made a deal because Shaun (or his butler) was running from the PM’s Office to the DUP office relaying messages. And we don’t like the application of the hereditary principle to buy off your Glasgow MP who wants to give his son a free run in his seat, despite his principled objections to legislation which discriminates against Muslims.
And we don’t like what your government has done on civil liberties: from the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (which, in case Mr Akehurst has forgotten involves deporting people on grounds of national security but subject to a couple of peculiar procedures for a formal legal process – first, they don’t know why they’re being deported (for national security reasons); second, they don’t know the case against them and consequently cannot find out the reasons for the request for deportation (for national security reasons); third, they are represented by someone they didn’t appoint, who has been vetted by the security services and cannot reveal anything from points one or two to the prospective deportee or his solicitor; oh, and fourth, they can’t find out the full reasons for any decision (for national security reasons), meaning that intelligence officers can give contradictory evidence in secret and it’s only chance if they’re picked up on it) downwards.
So, we won’t be standing.
And, as a Lib Dem sympathiser Mr Akehurst having expressed some sympathy for David Davis’s speech yesterday I’d have left it at that. But after your post, and your replies to various comments including
“Personally I think it’s “vile” that this man didn’t do his duty as Shadow Home Secretary, which on issues of counter-terrorism is to ensure they remain above party politics by supporting the Government. “
[which is really beyond comment - so no-one should be standing up for civil liberties and we should all get behind the government]
I wrote to the David Davis constituency office offering to make a financial donation to his campaign. GIving my money to a Tory candidate is a direct response to the offensive nonsense you spouted Mr Akehurst. Well done.
Anyway, on the 42 day issue perhaps some things might focus the mind.
“It’s a pretty fundamental principle of a free Parliamentary Democracy that police powers should be severely limited, and one of parliament’s principal functions is to PREVENT the extension of police powers, NOT facilitate them!!
“It is in the nature of police officers to want to lock up more and more people, to bug more and more phone lines, to search more and more persons and properties. The police are always hungry for more powers. We must be vigilant to ensure that they don’t ever get more than the barest minimum.”
That seems a reasonable thing to seek, and that philosophy has underpinned Scots law certainly for centuries (and I assume the brave young Hungarian girl who appears to have died in vain, offered similar protections down south). For example, the father of Scottish criminal law was Baron Hume, who wrote,
“As indeed it is obvious, that, by its very constitution, every court of criminal justice must have the power of correcting the greatest and most dangerous of all abuses of the forms of law, – that of the protracted imprisonment of the accused, untried, perhaps not intended ever to be tried, nay, it may be, not informed of the nature of the charge against him, or the name of the accuser.”
This view was endorsed by the Law Lords in the Belmarsh case where Lord Hope said,
“These were not idle words. When Hume published the first edition of his Commentaries in 1797 grave abuses of the kind he described were within living memory. He knew the dangers that might lie in store for democracy itself if the courts were to allow individuals to be deprived of their right to liberty indefinitely and without charge on grounds of public interest by the executive. The risks are as great now in our time of heightened tension as they were then.”
And as Lord Hoffman noted in that case,
“This is a nation which has been tested in adversity, which has survived physical destruction and catastrophic loss of life. I do not underestimate the ability of fanatical groups of terrorists to kill and destroy, but they do not threaten the life of the nation. Whether we would survive Hitler hung in the balance, but there is no doubt that we shall survive Al-Qaeda. The Spanish people have not said that what happened in Madrid, hideous crime as it was, threatened the life of their nation. Their legendary pride would not allow it. Terrorist violence, serious as it is, does not threaten our institutions of government or our existence as a civil community. “
Anyway, Akehurst’s offensive and abominable argument is taken apart in lots of other places. Try Justin
“Really, it’s really just an extension of New Labour philosophy – we all have a role to play. We all have our rights and responsibilities. Terror victims, now is your moment. Ask not what the government can do for your pain, ask what your pain can do for the government. Maybe New Labour could find a nicely disfigured one to front up. Not too disfigured mind, a photogenically disfigured one. One that Gordon Brown can put his arm around without looking too disturbed.”
“As a ‘victim of a terrorist attack’, I spit at your repellent idea. And if I was standing on a political platform I’d be standing right behind Davis. I’ve met him, I back him, even though he is a Tory. He stands up for freedom against fearmongering. That’s my own personal opinion, because, guess what, getting blown up on the way to work on 7.7 didn’t affect my ability to think rationally,have opinions and care about freedom and democracy. If anything, it mademe even keener on preserving the freedoms that lunatics seem keen to destroy. As to the other passengers on my train, and their families, they have their own opinions about politics, much as the passengers on any train do. Al Qaida do explosions, not mass personality transplants and terrorist ‘victims’ are actually just people like anyone else you know. *rolls eyes* Sheesh, you patronising muppet.” which led the odious mr Akehurst to reply
“I think Rachel’s position just goes to show that experiencing something first hand doesn’t necessarily lead you to come to the right conclusions about how to deal with it.”