90 day detention without trial: what the polls really say

I’d been puzzled by the (numerous!) comments by Labour about how popular their plans to lock people up without trial for 90 days were. My post bag has been pretty 50-50 on the issue – and this is even despite me having gone forth with all sorts of media coverage standing in for our Shadow Home Secretary Mark Oaten – who’s been ill.

I know – you need to take with a pinch of salt what your postbag (real or virtual) tells you as it’s a self-selecting sample. But normally people are much happier to tell you they disagree with you than they agree!

Enlightenment comes with Saturday’s Guardian and a proper poll by a proper company. Not one of The Sun’s phone in polls – but a full opinion poll by ICM.

And the verdict? 18% think 28 days detention without trial is too long; another 28% think 28 days is about right. That makes 46% supporting 28 days or less. So much for overwhelming support for 90 days! It’s only a thin majority in favour of Labour’s position.

So – that makes my post bag make a bit more sense after all! For me, it is a very important point of principle which I’d have stood by and argued my ground on regardless of the polls – but I will admit it’s nice to see evidence that there are rather more people with me and other than Blair and The Sun would have you believe…

(There’s a great piece taking apart The Sun’s claims on Tim Ireland’s blog. And if you’re wondering about the YouGov poll sometimes quoted – well, that presented as fact the police’s claims that they need 3 months to investigate people before charging them. But the whole debate has been about whether or not this is true!)