I just do not think that a case has been made out for extending the 28 day limit any further, particularly as the other proposals in the Bill allow for questioning to continue after charge.
There it is. A brief sample from an honest and convincing email sent to me by a politician I respect who nevertheless voted for 42 pre-charge detention yesterday in the meat market of the House of Commons. Why do politicians in power find it so difficult to carry out their private beliefs in public actions?
A few months ago I attended a Labour party morale-boosting conference for the faithful in Edinburgh. In a church hall with almost heavenly light streaming through arched windows I heard a former minister speak with what seemed genuine passion about the divisive effects of poverty and disparity. At the tea break I asked her why she didn’t talk like that in public.
Her answer was telling. “I knew I was among friends,” she said – or words to that effect (I didn’t whip out my notebook and write them down). Significantly she had in front of her a speech, written by someone else, laced with statistics about how much Labour has achieved. But it was when she put the paper down and started to speak from the heart that the hall really began to listen.
I think much the same must have happened in yesterday’s debate. Diane Abbott seems to have been one of the few who spoke from the heart about the dangers of playing politics for short-term gains in the polls.
Now, once again, I teeter on the brink of resigning from the Labour party. I have hung on despite Iraq because of genuine opposition to the war from many Labour politicians, including the one whose email I quote above. Iraq is the deep, unwashable stain on this government and (as a fire-side psycho-analyst) I feel that projected guilt drives much of the new Labour authoritarian policy on home security. As one cabinet minister memorably put it at a fund-raising event I attended a couple of years ago, “When it comes to Iraq, we’re all fucked”.
I found that candour oddly endearing (at least he wasn’t fooling himself) and wonder if the likes of David Milliband will soon be saying that about 42 days in the sympathetic surroundings of their constituency parties. Candour may be the luxury of opposition politics but that at least is a luxury Labour will almost certainly soon be able to enjoy.