What a farce

10:14 pm - June 11th 2008

by Sunny Hundal    

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Well, that was the end of any little enthusiasm and support I could muster up for this New Labour government then. Who’s up for an election so we can see this sorry lot get voted out of power?

Jim D at Shiraz Socialist:

The support of the DUP (plus Anne Widdecombe and some UKIP nonentity) is not that surprising, though even New Labour might be expected to feel just a little embarrassed about relying on their support. But what about the capitulation of those heroic tribunes of the ‘left’,  the Jons Cruddas and Trickett – and what will their Compass fan club have to say about it?

Justin at Chicken Yoghurt:

Everyone’s principles have a price, or at least that’s the government’s thinking. I suppose they jettisoned theirs so long ago and so cheaply they think everyone else is just like them. Unfortunately, it turns out they might be right.

Still, it’s useful to know just what price some MPs put on a thousand years of British liberty and common law. Could come in useful later down the line – maybe we could club together and buy an MP of our own.

Matt Wardman: The day our freedoms died

As strong as it may sound, our freedoms have died today. Because now we can be held for 42 days without charge if “terrorism” is mentioned as a reason. And we get £42,000 compensation if then released without charge. Scant compensation for such a breach of our human rights.

ConservativeHome has never been more wrong than when it supported this bill.

Amused cynicism: Gordon Brown is an arsehole:

When Labour won the election in 1997, I thought, “they may not be perfect, but at least they won’t be as bad as the Tories”. And I was right, they weren’t as bad as the Tories.

They were worse.

Diane Abbott on CIF:

Government whips know better than to bribe or bully me and I have been spared the arm-twisting. But my view on this issue has never varied. I came into politics in the 1980s in the era of the Brixton riots when young black men were the “enemy within” in much the same way young Muslim men are today.

Freethinkeruk’s Weblog: Another defeat for liberty:

Gordon Brown narrowly got his way when the Commons voted through 42 days under arrest and without charge. Yet another huge slice taken out of the rights and freedom enjoyed by the citizens of this nation since the signing of The Magna Carta. Much as I despise the unelected second chamber (more on that another time) I live in hope that they will expose this Bill for the piece of megalomania that is.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Labour party ,Westminster

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Reader comments

Surely the Labour left must feel the same way now? It’s clearer than ever that they’ve none of the possible influence they claim is keeping them in the party. The frontbench are now more willing to deal with a conservative nationalist party than their own socialists…

Yep, it’s definitely time for them to go. What a sorry day this is for British politics. Shameful.

My comment remains the same as it was on the other thread:


Really pathetic behaviour from the Compass MPs. As I have written over at my place though, I think this is only slightly less humiliating than actually losing, having to rely on the Bible-bashers and gay-haters in the DUP in order to win. If this isn’t the beginning of Brown’s downfall, then it really should be.

Two points:

* It was The Thunderdragon not me who wrote that article. The author is marked “from the desk of …” under the title.

* I only heard a little of her speech, but I thought Diane Abbott was excellent.

She essentially demolished the arguments for 42 Days. And provided a wonderfully blunt critique of Vaz’s position while sitting just behind him, culinating in: “Bollocks. That’s complete bollocks and you know it.”

Joan Ruddock lost my vote today.

Mine too.

I don’t want to lessen what happened today, but I think we should also remind ourselves of what we were able to achieve. The original plan was 56 days as the standard limit, i.e. a permanent state of emergency (at least by the emergency criteria of the CCA). We knocked that down and got a trigger put on it. The ‘safeguards’ are meaningless as guarantors of liberty but may well dis-incentivise action by their sheer complexity and openness to legal challenge. The compensation may come to nothing, but the idea has been officially floated, which I think opens some doors to the courts setting precedent if it is ever brought before them. The Government have constructed such an elaborate mechanism that they are far more likely to use control orders or the CCA than jump through the series of meaningless hoops they have set up for themselves. Indeed, the whole edifice of the Home Secretary announcing the extension before Parliament and the accompanying votes will send out the same mood of ‘Government declares State of Emergency’ as the CCA

Any poll boost for Gordon Brown will be short-lived. The reality is that the kind of people who respond well to macho posturing by the Government are far more concerned with illegal immigrants and the like to really feel that this ‘reserve’ measure is any great achievement for their security. Knee-jerk reactionaries are not concerned with facts. They will bank this one and continue to despise both Brown and Labour. This is not a bounce-back.

Finally, the Lords are going to come down hard on this. As spineless as it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the thinking of many previously rebellious Labour backbenchers. Why put your neck on the line, with all the consequences that would entail, when the Other Place will send it back anyway? In one sense, it is impressive that so many stuck to their guns. They deserve our thanks. I just wish one of them was my MP.

As usual, the real culprit is the system. To my great surprise, the Tories have acted very honourably, not only in their eventual votes, but in the tone and character of their arguments. The Government, by contrast, have repeatedly misled both Parliament and the public on important facts. But I don’t think we should delude ourselves too much. Sticking to principle was a luxury in this case, bolstered by the fact that the case against was so obvious and cross-Party as to be a no-brainer. It will be a different Tory party in power with the Whips breathing down MP necks.

The long-term strategy is the same as it has always been. Concentrate on building the social movements as the primary goal and, when it comes to elections, hope for a hung Parliament.

They should hang their heads in shame. It just goes to show that the Labour Party is dead as a vehicle for progressive political change.

10. Steve B, UK

Absolutely indefensible. Every justification for it was shot down in seconds, the government now looks as bad as it possibly could. Jacqui Smith should be tarred and feathered.


The 10p tax furore wasn’t about people paying a new starting rate for income tax; the 42-day pre-charge detention is not about the extension of government powers to hold terrorist suspects without charge. These are synthetic controveries spun from virtual issues. They represent the shadow cast by power in an age of consensus politics. An adversarial political system must have conflict; the heat generated by partisan political conflict has to find a site for its release. And so, like the United States and the Soviet Union in 1970’s and 1980’s, we get proxy wars – conflicts purporting to be about one thing (social justice; the liberty of the individual) which ultimately are about something else altogether.

Read my blog, just who the hell are we?, at:

I’m so sorry to see that first, 42 days won and second, Sunny and the LC lost a campaign.

I’m up for an election. Lets all Vote Liberal Democrats!

(Sunny did you get my email? There’s a possible guest post in it for you on something totally different… but please reply ASAP!)

There’s not much to say, is there? It’s not as though there are any coherent arguments in favour of 42 days, for us to knock down.

This is the point where I give up on hoping Labour win the next election, as the lesser of two evils.

Hey Labour,

That was pretty much it!

Me. You. Finished.

Thank you for the good times.

*scratches head*

Aaron @14: You know what? Seeing the scales fall from your eyes over the travesty the modern PLP has become? THAT was worth the whole horrible farce!

* smooch *

Come to the Lib Dem side. We have cookies! They’re fairtrade ones!

Damnit Jennie, now you’ve just reminded me that I forgot to bring Cookies in to work. I have to take these small pleasures now that I’m desperately ashamed to be living in this country!

“Gah” is about all I’ve got to say on the matter. The sad thing is that the likes of Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn will probably suffer as much from an anti-Labour swing at the next election as the pro-42 days lobby.

*Lazy git alert* Has anyone done an analysis of which Labour MPs would lose their seats if the Tories poll 40%+ in the next GE? Given the parachuting of Balls & Co to safe seats like Normanton, I worry that the Labour party MPs in the next Parliament might be even more right-wing on average than the current shower…


Lib Dems?

Hmmmm. Not sure about that.

I do like cookies, though.

I’d be a lot more tempted by the LibDems if they had Huhne rather than Clegg in charge (there’s something rather Cameroonesque about Clegg that I can’t quite pin down).

I’ve got the luxury of pitting two sitting MPs against each other in my constituency, thanks to boundary changes, and while I’m not impressed with Sarah Teather’s voting on the Fertility & Embryology bill last month, she’s looking a better bet than Dawn (pro-Iraq war, pro-42 days, etc) Butler…

Be careful of what you wish for.

Certainly, this government is a complete shower, slipping from one crisis to another farce.

But what is the current alternative. The abortion vote a couple of weeks ago revealed the nastiness and dangers that are very real in the Tory Party

“The abortion vote a couple of weeks ago revealed the nastiness and dangers that are very real in the Tory Party”

…and the unsavoury types that they are willing to get into bed with. Legislation hand-crafted by fundamentalists, anyone?

The trouble is Joel that it has gone past the point where the evils of the Tories is a valid argument against voting for them in favour of Labour. Yes the Tories are against abortion, and they’ll probably reign in benefits and social policy. They threaten to repeal the Human Rights Act but I don’t see that happening any time soon. But by contrast Labour demonize our children, they make it more and more illegal to do anything as a child and punish parents regardless for their mistakes, they detain people illiberally, they tax the shit out of things rather than invest in the positive alternatives, and they sure as shit don’t keep any of their promises any more than the Tories would.

Whether tories get in or not, how evil they are doesn’t matter because both parties are utter bollocks. So when it comes down to it, the result has to go in favour of the tories because at least they’re a different evil that, as a government, might be less repulsive with their awfullness.

David Davis is giving you what you want- a referendum on liberty.

I assume you will get behind him? Or is this too much of a partisan site?

I’ll be behind the most liberal candidate that stands, but off the back of his performance yesterday and his general competence you can do much worse than have David Davies in parliament.

Oh, and check out the casting the net today to see just how “partisan” we are.

Good question – I just can’t imagine voting Tory or Labour (unless it was a Labour candidate on a genuinely left-wing ticket) – I’m with Davis on 42 days but I’m not a fan of resigning the seat unless there’s a clear motive for giving the electorate a chance to vote on the incumbent’s record/general stance.* I’ve never advocated this before but with the LibDems not standing, I’d probably spoil my ballot (or alternatively, vote Green, perhaps).

PS Presumably David needs to obtain permission fromthe Chancellor to get the Chiltern Hundreds and thus resign from the Commons – any likelihood of Darling refusing this?

*To clarify, I don’t think a single-issue police is a suitable cause for resigning and standing again – suitable occasions for this would be changing party allegiance since the election or in the wake of a significant scandal. I admire Davis’ cojones on this but I wouldn’t like to see 20-30 safe seat resignations on this sort of single-issue annually.

I suppose the Chancellor could refuse, but the rule is that holding an office of profit under the Crown requires re-election (the Chiltern Hundreds and the Manor of Northstead are used for this), so he could go the Queen directly, and ask her to appoint him to something, like giving him a couple of quid to mow the lawn or something.


I assume you will get behind him? Or is this too much of a partisan site?

Dude. That’s pretty lame.

Some of the members are very partisan, others not at all. I don’t see the problem either way. Try ConHome if you want partisanship. We’re who we are. Love us or loathe us.

We may – individually or collectively – support Davis’ campaign, but don’t expect us to do it with much gusto. After all, he’s still a horrid little Tory…

One particularly intriguing fallacy disseminated by the Press is the hypotheses that Brown instigated the campaign purely so as to appeal to voters. This assumes that citizens currently have a natural desire for ‘enhanced security’, which is false.

The government has exacerbated fears of terrorism with deliberation. Who remembers, for example, the ‘ricin factory’, which, the declarations warned, would endanger “hundreds of thousands of people” but was eventually revealed to be little more than a bedsit. From such panic springs prolonged anxiety.

The state is no longer a nanny. It is a patriarch.

David Davis has a rather ignoble history with regards to civil rights.*


Don’t leave the Labour party. Fight from within.

It’s all very well and good looking at his views on homosexuality alone, but if you look at the rest of his history then he is quite liberal when it comes to civil rights. No-one is perfect are they?

Maria: It’s time to accept that the Labour party is no longer the Labour party.

In all honesty I think that the best thing that could happen right now is for a vast swathe of the MPs under Labour to set up a new party (lets call it iLabour for comedy effect). iLabour would be the more traditional Labour, it would get the money from the trade unions, it will retain a whole load of its expertise and values with only the loss of quite a few bad eggs.

Meanwhile New Labour will sufficate without the funding it needs and die as it is necessary to. iLabour’s existence will mean also that there is no point to argue between voting New Labour or Tory as they are both the same. iLabour would also have to accept that some policies of the Blair regime, in fact a whole load of them, were good and thus realise it can’t just slide carelessly back to the hard left.

But of course this won’t happen, despite how easy in relative terms it would be to do and remove the gammy leg from their party, one can wish though.

“It seems that Labour MPs had voted to curtail our freedoms even further in order to save their political skins. We shouldn’t be surprised as most of them had either no backbone or been very unprincipled. They backed Gordon Brown without a contest…. now they must prepare to face the ultimate public backlash….”


Lee @34: “It’s time to accept that the Labour party is no longer the Labour party.”

Nah, mate, that was approaching ten years ago, if not more 😉

* has doughnuts as well as cookies *

“No-one is perfect are they?”

I can certainly demand that they try to be.


iLabour? Could you explain.


Matt, I hadn’t thought that far, I was just inserting some social commentary on everything new and shiny has to have the little “i” infront of their name 😉

Jennie: Yes Labour definitely changed to get in to power 10 years or so ago, but lets not be harsh. For all of the main reasons Blair is hated the Labour party *have* done a lot to push worker rights, minimum wage, etc. I know Aaron doesn’t agree but I do feel they are positive socialist examples of the old Labour shining through. *everything* that has been bad through the Labour years under Blair, aside from 90 days (when Blair had gone insane) and the war (when Blair had been stupid) has had Browns hand in it.

I don’t deny of course things were changing for the worse…but it is yesterday that once and for all that old Labour died. It really is time for it to split away from the carcass that is New Labour and take all of its financial support with it.

Lee, you can’t count. 😛 I said ten years, not 11 and a half. I agree with the human rights act (in fact, think it should have gone further) and the minimum wage.

The problem being, a lot of the stuff they promised, they promised because they thought they were going to have to go into coalition with the Lib Dems. When they won the landslide and shafted Paddy Pantsdown, they had to stick to a FEW Liberal and fair manifesto commitments, but their true colours started showing through.

I think the moralistic authoritarian bollocks is ALL Blair, and Brown is just aping him because he’s been promoted beyond his capabilities and thinks that “if it worked for Tony, it;s got to work for ME, surely?”

>I think the moralistic authoritarian bollocks is ALL Blair

I think it’s Blair and all the people formed under his tutelage, or who have turned their coats in order to curry favour. I suggest (regardless of whether that is what the polls say) that this whole spectrum of legislation it is the defining question for the tone of our country, because the impact is on the basic political process rather than just policy.

Ministers in the Govt take joint responsibility in my view.

One reason I’m not particularly respectful of Lord Falconers change of mind on 42 days is that he only rediscovered his principles when it was no longer going to cost him anything.

Jennie>The problem being, a lot of the stuff they promised, they promised because they thought they were going to have to go into coalition with the Lib Dems.

I think that that puts too much weight on the value of a coalition, but I’m not getting into a fist fight about it…

“One reason I’m not particularly respectful of Lord Falconers change of mind on 42 days is that he only rediscovered his principles when it was no longer going to cost him anything.”

Oh, absolutely.

As for the coalition thing, well, we’ll never know for sure. But there were a hell of a lot of Lib Dem policies in that first manifesto that magically disappeared for the next two. Including the idea of looking into PR.

>As for the coalition thing, well, we’ll never know for sure. But there were a hell of a lot of Lib Dem policies in that first manifesto that magically disappeared for the next two. Including the idea of looking into PR.

Fair enough – perhaps the policies were all “extraordinary renditioned” ;-?

I just assumed you meant from the beginning, sorry Jennie! 😛

Meh, no worries, co-Netcaster 😉

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