Tony Blair, yesterday evening:
“I think it was a wrong decision – I just hope in a longer time we don’t rue it.”
That one line I think sums up the overweening, self-aggrandising arrogance of Tony Blair. In spite of the fact that he was warned this would happen, and that the arguments he’d put forward for the 90 day limit were flawed at best (and at worst outright foolhardy), Mr Blair ploughed on. Now he cannot understand why the entire world didn’t agree with him. This is a man with such uncontrolled monomania that he simply cannot countenance the fact that he was, quite simply, wrong.
The reason this measure fell was simply that there was no need for such fundamental rights to be taken away from people who, let’s not forget, would only be terrorist suspects. The lack of irritations like evidence would be no obstacle to holding someone for three months without charge or recourse to due legal process. The right wing press may bray hysterically about this, but this is a fundamental civil right that must be held sacred. As it is, 28 days is still fairly uncomfortable for me, but a level that I think is the least worst option of all those on offer.
One of the stated reasons that the PM wanted this to go through was supposedly for the legal services to be given more time to analyse computer material and comms trials. This is, frankly, not a winning argument. The principal issue here is that legal agencies have neither the co-ordinated funding nor skill to be able to do this work well. There is a serious lack of good information professionals working in the area. This is because the approach has been to try and train poor old plod to do it. Then when they’re pushed on methodology in court, they just can’t hack it. The emphasis is all wrong: we need more IT professionals being seconded or employed by the law enforcement authorities to do this work, and specialist national units to control it. The NHTCU is a start, but not, in the current climate sufficient, I’m afraid.
Perhaps now is time for the Government to go away, lick its wounds and actually think longer term about solutions, instead of crippling themselves by introducing unsustainable quick fixes that would actually make the problem even worse, alienating and radicalising groups who are having a fairly hard time comprehending the invidious positions in which they now find themselves.