Labour's terrorism plans

The Terror Bill marched on through the Committee Stage in Parliament today – but without the fever of the previous day when the Government nearly suffered a defeat – a close encounter which made Charles Clarke back down on the 90 days detention plans.

Today’s most serious debating issue was around the definition of ‘terrorism’. This is at the heart of the difficulty we are all having with the proposals. We all know what we mean by ‘terrorist’ in terms of suicide bombers in London. But when you try and legislate – particularly around vaguer legal concepts like ‘glorification of terrorism’ or ‘incitement to terrorism’ – then you are into real trouble.

To encapsulate – we (our nation) may well believe (and does I hope) that Robert Mugabe is an evil bastard oppressing his people and worse. We might incline to praising and encouraging those who stand up against Mugabe and fight this oppression and evil dictator. If we did so – we would be guilty of both of the above charges. Clearly ludicrous. And yet – as brilliant argument upon argument rained down on the Government’s front bench – they seemed incapable of dealing with the need to find a new definition.

A proposed amendment by a Labour member put forward a reasonable amendment that would have gone a long way to deal with the problems – but even when it’s as plain as the nose on their face this Labour government does not budge until it faces defeat on the floor of the House. So we will see what they come back with next week in terms of movement on the key issues – including their promised revision to the 90 days detention proposal.

I rush back to Haringey after the close of play to our Liberal Democrat AGM where I rally our troops to get out there to win the Haringey Council elections looming in May. There is a good turnout and much enthusiasm for the road ahead. A few new faces volunteer and stand for various positions – which is encouraging as the old hands need to be out there pounding the pavements not administrating. At the end they presented me with a montage of photos from the night we won our first ward and got our first three Lib Dem councillors (all women) on Haringey Council right through to now. Being female, what struck me most was my changing hairstyles, lengths and colours over the intervening years!

Then rushed home to catch the Cameron-Davis Question Time. I thought Cameron was exposed as almost completely style over substance – and that Davis did far better in terms of demonstrating that he was the seasoned hand, the one who could handle the pressure etc. So – I guess – as Lib Dems we are in a win-win position!