The next step for fighting 42 days

11:58 am - June 25th 2008

by Lee Griffin    

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It’s time to stop the bullshit, we’ve now been sitting around for about a week and a half doing little more than bicker about the integrity of a single person while standing around gawking.

The question now should be: what can we do, and can we do it, in a way that can unite those that support and loathe David Davis’ stance?

I’ll be heading on the journey over to London today for the Liberal Conspiracy gathering and hope that this subject can be explored in more depth by those that attend.

The way I see it is that this Haltemprice and Howden by-election has the potential to be a feather in the cap for a liberal campaign. It has been scheduled perfectly to coincide with the house of Lords debate on this subject, and while we could just hold our hands up and say that this process will be all for nothing it seems to abandon all common sense to not at least try, no? So the first thing is to start here.

Canvassing for support of the issues can be done with or without a “champion” present to put your name to. By doing no more than going around trying to gain support for the anti-42 day movement surely we can start to make some headway with public perception in the area as well as opening up an opportunity with the media. Encouraging people to vote doesn’t even need to be specifically for David Davis, it could be as simple to say that if people agree with our views then they should show the government they care by going to the ballot boxes, even if it means spoiling their paper because they couldn’t vote for Davis.

Beyond this it is important to take the H&H by-election and try to make it more national. There are two aspects of this that need to be tackled, the first is to debunk the idea of public support for 42 days as a solution to our terror problem, and the second is to put pressure on vulnerable MPs to have this legislation quashed. On this second point there is perhaps the most scope for initiative.

Could we get ourselves in to a situation where we have protests in other constituencies around the country, preferably in those held by a Labour MP that voted against 90 days but for 42 days, to highlight that just because we’re not in Haltemprice and Howden it doesn’t mean our voices don’t matter? I’m not going to lie, a lot of the “support” that could be gained on this could easily just be gained from an anti-Labour feeling of the moment.

I’ve already stated elsewhere that there is a need for a more practical and objective poll that questions the public on their desire specifically for 42 days detention without charge, as opposed to a desire for simply more terror legislation. I don’t think there’s enough information around about what specifically the public support, but also why they support it. Is it because they are actually afraid of terrorism happening, or is it born of a darker reasoning? But what do we, or can we, do to get such a thing in to existence without having it tainted by poor or leading questioning?

Changing the MPs’ minds
I’ve already mentioned that there are MPs that have taken a very hypocritical stance on the whole issue, and no doubt there are many more such as John Cruddas who have voted based on a party confidence issue rather than on the principles they supposedly have held. It is highly likely the legislation will come back around to the commons and assuming the Tories and Lib Dems can hold their votes it would only take a shift of 4 or 5 MPs to turn this Bill out. Some have said that coming around a second time Labour MPs will be more likely to vote for the government. In that case we have several things we need to do, such as needing to push those hypocrite MPs and persuade them to change their vote and remind Labour MPs that loyalty doesn’t pay and hasn’t gained them any popularity with the public as a party.

Keep it in the media
The final, and obvious, thing is of course to keep on blogging. It’s not going to affect views on the ground but it does have the potential to keep the narrative alive amongst the media as well as helping to keep MPs aware of the amount of opposition that won’t dissipate any time soon. We may need to find new ways of framing the argument and getting key MPs on board with a wider reboot of our blogging campaign, preferably cross party, could give the debate some impetus if and when it comes back around to the commons

I’ll reiterate what I said at the top of this post…I’m not here claiming I know the solution, the magic bullet, the above are just suggestions gathered from the more productive periods of discussion in the last week or so. I think together we can come up with something that has a strong chance of being positive to the campaign.

How can the above be improved upon, how can they be put in to practice? I hope to see some of you later today, and hope the whole event will provide the right atmosphere to advance at least so that our hands are no longer keeping our buttocks company.

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About the author
Lee is a 20 something web developer from Cornwall now residing in Bristol since completing his degree at the lesser university. He has strange dreams, a big appetite, a small flat, and when not forcing his views on the world he is probably eating a cookie. Lee blogs independently from party colours at Program your own mind.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Campaigns ,Civil liberties ,Detention (28 days) ,Media ,Realpolitik

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Reader comments

People dont have to spoil their ballot in H&H if they dont want to vote for Davis, they can vote Green. I agree that you dont necessarily need a ‘champion’ but in the localised context of H&H there is the practical question of the by-election itself and people cant cast an anti-42day vote, they have to cast a vote for a specific candidate. I think your proposal has merit when it comes to talking about a wider nationalising of the debate but in the local context its slightly more tricky because invariably people will turn round and say ‘which candidate do we vote for then.’ to which we will have to say either’or

As your piece goes on I find myself more in agreement as to the ways this can be creatively used… addition to protests i would suggest targeted letter writing campaigns to the local media of the MP’s you suggest…

As I see it, the one thing H&H will do is give an opportunity to keep the debate on the agenda for some extra time – regardless of views on DD.

Also, there seem to be a number of other stories at the moment keeping Civil Liberties to the fore – Zimbabwe (showing Civil Liberties in a differen context), data privacy (reports today rebuking the govt), MPs possibly caving in on transparency, blogger code (freedom of expression) and local autorities being slapped down on misuse of RIPA powers.

And don’t forget the continuing Libel Law and websites stuff (Usmanov was back in the news last weekend but I – for one – haven’t blogged it yet).

Parallel to the things you suggest, I would like to begin seeing pressure applied to get specific promises as to what is going in General Election manifestos, and which laws will be repealed.

4. douglas clark


Parallel to the things you suggest, I would like to begin seeing pressure applied to get specific promises as to what is going in General Election manifestos, and which laws will be repealed.

Excellent point.

And I hope that party people will be fighting these battles inside the parties – especially at this stage, perhaps, the Tories.

“I agree that you dont necessarily need a ‘champion’ but in the localised context of H&H there is the practical question of the by-election itself and people cant cast an anti-42day vote, they have to cast a vote for a specific candidate”

I wrote the article before the news of Shan standing broke, so that’s obviously an option now. That said, if someone doesn’t want to vote either than there is a smaller victory to be had of simply getting them to vote. One way or another a higher turnout is a benefit and a victory for the campaign, as long as someone standing on an anti-42 platform wins, if this means getting people to simply turn up and spoil ballots then we can direct the narrative from an early stage that spoiled ballots = anti-labour protest votes. There are many facets of what we can do.

I didn’t get as much out of yesterday as I’d hoped, but I’m going to have some more thoughts about how we can pressure these other MPs, if anyone has any experience of getting people from other constituencies involved in letter writing to their MP, or how to get the message out to them, I’d love to hear more.

As you can see this turnout issue is already being peddled by Labour supporters. I mean this guy is a complete knob by suggesting that only a 70%+ turnout will be a success, he’s laying the groundwork for an almost certainty of calling Davis a loser. Others will be trying to spin similar lines.

It seems DD has 25 opponents. This is great, hopefully they will all put time and effort to the campaign in equal measure and really push up the turn out!

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