So Tony Blair has just lost his first vote in the commons. It was on the complicated subject of the ammount of time that police should be able to hold a terrorist suspect before charging them. The government wanted the time changed to 90 days. And all the other sides wanted to use this to score points.
Now by that do not infer that I side one way or the other. But I do think that much more of the reason that he lost was because of politics rather than the personal beliefs of those who were voting. Because you’re not telling me the Tories wouldn’t have minded locking people up for ever without trial if they’d have half the chance especially if it was Tony Blair.
I personally don’t think the 90 days argument stacks up because of this reason as cited in Private Eye.
Al-Qaeda death toll: 88
Period terrorism suspects can be detained without trial: 24 hours.
Al-Qaeda death toll: 191
Period terrorism suspects can be detained without trial: 5 days.
Al-Qaeda death toll: 3,000
Period terrorism suspects can be detained without trial: 7 days.
Al-Qaeda death toll: 52
Period terrorism suspects would be able to be detained without trial: 90 days.
It’s just so far out of whack with what is happening in other countries that I think I would prefer to see a slightly better debate of the issues than people just plucking numbers out of the air.
But I do think the reason that Blair lost the vote was due to political positioning rather than a logical answer to a free debate. If the vote were a free one more Tories would have voted in favour of it than did. But similarly fewer Labour MPs would have. So perhaps it made no differnce that it wasn’t free. Or perhaps the reason Tony lost was simply that he hadn’t changed the wallpaper on his teeth in a while.