So – Gordon Brown flows over many column inches in The Times today defending his insistence on introducing 42 days detention without charge.
He holds forth in fulsome manner over the ‘compromises’, the judicial oversight, the need to come to Parliament for a vote if time beyond 28 days is necessary etc. There’s much to disagree with on the grounds which he chooses to argue – such as how meaningful will Parliamentary oversight really be if we’re all asked to vote suddenly after a new terror horror or scare? Those are just the circumstances in which you get rushed judgements, faulty information (think how often the initial media reports get major things wrong when there is a terrorist incident) and bad or blind decision making.
But what’s really striking is what’s missing from his piece. All those column inches today and not one single example of an instance where more than 28 days was needed. Not one example of where something went wrong because the 28 day limit was reached. Not one example of where something nearly went wrong until a a lucky break just before the 28 day limit was reached. Just not one example to back up his case. That gives it all away.
Instead, he tries to scare us with stories – about the thousands of hours of work now needed to sort through many aliases, many computers, many countries. And yet – no word about employing more people or more computers instead to speed up investigations
When you’re proposing to curtail our liberties – to say it’s OK for innocent people (because yes, many people arrested do turn out to be innocent) to be locked up for long periods – you really do need to make a careful case, with evidence and examples and explaining why the alternatives aren’t sufficient. Do that – and I’m all ears. Failed to do that – and no, I’m not persuaded.