November 8, 2005


Tories leave Blair on a knife edge: The Government faces humiliation if it fails to win vote over terror suspects (Philip Webster and Stewart Tendler, 11/09/05, Times of London)

TONY BLAIR is facing a cliffhanger vote today over the 90-day detention of terrorist suspects after the Conservative leadership stuck to its opposition to the plan.

A meeting of the Shadow Cabinet decided to hold firm to its line that 28 days should be the maximum period of detention under the Terrorism Bill, in spite of concerns among Conservative MPs that they should not be going against the wishes of the police.

The Tory whips were claiming last night that they had hardened the resolve of doubtful MPs by emphasising that giving way would allow Tony Blair a decisive political victory.

Anyone still care to argue that the Tories are to Tony Blair's Right?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 8, 2005 11:58 PM

What is instrinsically conservative about letting the police decide how long they get to suspend habeus corpus for?

Posted by: Peter B at November 9, 2005 4:23 AM

Peter is right. This might, unfortunately, be a necessary measure. But there's nothing inherently 'Churchillian' about it.

Posted by: Brit at November 9, 2005 7:00 AM

It certainly is a Churchillian bill. Look at what Winston did or advocated in both world wars regarding treatment of enemies. To think he would hesitate about a 2 month period like this is silly.

The Tories are going back to an older form of conservatism, I think it is called Chamberlainism.

Posted by: Bob at November 9, 2005 10:04 AM

I've noticed that with Americans, everything related to British politics has to be either "Churchill-like" (good) or "Chamberlain-like" (bad).

That dichotomy is one hell of a powerful meme. Almost Churchillian in its power, you might say.

Posted by: Brit at November 9, 2005 11:10 AM


Some of them, with flushed face and quickening pulse, are also partial to "Thatcherite".

Posted by: Peter B at November 9, 2005 12:25 PM

The refusal to conserve your own country in the face of terror is certainly not conservative. Note that Kim Beazely in Australia made Labour join John Howard, but he's grasped the inevitability of the Third Way long before the Tories or Democrats have.

Posted by: oj at November 9, 2005 1:46 PM


Agreed that national security comes first and that "rights" are subject to that imperative. That is indeed a conservative viewpoint. My problem is more narrow. Why accord default credibility on the trade-offs to the police?

Posted by: Peter B at November 9, 2005 5:15 PM

The effect of a speedy trail rule in a system of criminal procedureis to compel the government, the people who are here to help us, to do their jobs in a timely manner. If they do not do in promptly, the rules say, they may not do it at all. If they are not doing their job, the politcal process provides for their removal.

In the absence of a speedy trial rule, the organs of state coercion will concentrate of grabbing up suspects--clearing cases--for this is what the public demands ahead of disposing of the cases of those already grabbed up.

Insisting on prompt disposition of pending cases is a proper function of the legislature, and if the legislature is corruopted by the public preference of arrest over disposition, of the judiciary.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 10, 2005 11:01 AM