You are home secretary. How do you deal with the donkeys on the back benches that have taken fright at the handling of the economy and worry about the loss of their seats? How do you ensure your donkeys vote for an extension of the period of time in which people can be detained without charge, when no case has got near requiring an extension to the 28 day period and no-one from former attorney general to the Home Affairs select committee can see any justification for it (oh, aside from the police – funnily enough the police want an extension to their powers – and your boss – who’s looking for some distraction from the bad economic news from the credit crunch, and the penalising of the poorest through abolition of the 10% income tax rate)?
Well first, you get the stick. Scare people. First, ensure that your business office has the vote coincide with a terrorism trial – and somehow make sure that martyrdom videos which form evidence in the trial are released to news agencies (is this normal practice – we don’t usually see this sort of thing while a trial is still going one do we?). Then, somehow manage to sprinkle the press with stories of the growing terror threat. Speak to the News of the Screws and petrify the voters. Tell them there are 30 plots, thousands of terrorists, hundreds of terror cells.
Then, get a carrot. Some donkeys don’t like sticks. INdicate that you have a holistic approach to the problem of the disaffected. Tell them that to deal with these matters you’ll employ – mmm, think about it, how about 300 new staff (police and civilians). Why that’s more than the relevant number of terror cells. And what can you tell the donkeys that they’ll do – mmm, well, how about using them to dissuade people from becoming terrorists… Thus, using the power of reasoned argument – against a background of extending detention periods without charge to 42 days, and an unpopular foreign policy, and an approach in the past where you’ve indicated that you can’t negotiate with these people – you will address the difficulty. After all, you know that you “can [not] arrest [your] way out of the problems [you] face” (guess that’s why you’re detaining people without charge – arrest would require evidence to satisfy the appropriate authorities, so perhaps detaining them will do it).
The vote on the extension of the 42 days period is coming soon – read Sunny’s posts at Liberal Conspiracy and have a wander over to the petition against the extension .