Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Great Eliza.

I've just watched Dame Eliza Manningham-Butler on News at Ten. She was demolishing Gordon Brown's appalling plans to allow 42 days to pass before a suspected terrorist is charged. We've seen many others make the same argument, most notably David Davis, who has potentially sacrificed his political career to raise the profile of this shocking assault on civil liberty. But this Dame is special. She was Director-General of MI5. And she was supported by Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, Lord Faulkener and Lord Goldsmith. They all tell us that its not needed. It looks as if the Prime Minister's opportunistic appeal to populism has been sunk. The wonders of a bicameral system of Government.


Anonymous said...

glyn, 28 days, views? isn't the days just an arbitary figure
where were the conservatives resigning when internment was practised in northern ireland???

Frank H Little said...

Note that she voted against because she thought that 42-day detention was "unworkable". She doesn't seem to object to the principle.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - it is an arbitrary figure. What else could it be. Don't understand your point. I don't know all the background to 'internment' but I suspect that I wouldn't have agreed with that either. This issue is beyond politics for me.

Frank - Sorry but you are wrong about this. I distinctly heard her say that she opposed extending the period of detention without charge both in principle and on practical grounds. She was adamant and clear.

Anonymous said...

have you seen the new opinion poll out today about pre charge detention Glyn, worth checking out

Anonymous said...

... Glyn> it amazes me that folks are so forgetful. During the Northern Ireland 'troubles', internment was the policy of both Labour and the Conservative Parties. I can assure you that you were around when this was happening, so you were either death to it or supported it.

There were the Diplock Courts (trial without a jury), the arrest of anyone who an British Army officer decided presented a terrorist threat or might be a member of the IRA - these folks were interned without trial for a period a LOT longer than 42 days.

Don't you recall the hunger strikes? The so called "dirty protest"?

Then there was the interrogation techniques that caused nerve and psycological damage: 'suspects' arrested by the British Army were forced for hours on end to stand with their arms and legs outstretched against a wall and white noise head phones placed over their ears.

I often refer to these practices when I hear complaints about current American practices - my fellow Brits then cite 'selective memory' as you are doing.

It's a strange world, 'sometimes'.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - Have not seen this poll.

anon 2 - I just wasn't particularly interested in politics or current affairs until mid 90s. I had a big interest in issues concerning the economy of rural Wales and countryside issues. Apart from that my life was about running mybusiness, sport and family. My first venture into wider politics was when I went to university in 1995, and party politics in 1996. Been playing catch-up ever since!

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

"anon 2" here; I don't mean to blame you for anything Glyn. As you say you were not into politics then ... but "all the same" - the Conservatives promoted and used Internment as a policy to deal with suspected members of the IRA.

I don't accept that you did not know what was going on. I find it hard to accept that the Conservatives are using the 42 day as a political football today when they promoted internment, used dreadful torture/interrogation techniques against British citizens in Northern Ireland. These British Citizens were not "picked up on a battle field", but from their own houses, businesses, work places in Northern Ireland. There was even the rule that somebody could be denied entry to the 'mainland', i.e., British citizens in Northern Ireland could be barred from England, Scotland and Wales.

The practice of trial without jury was common place during 'the troubles'. Sorry, but this is a sensitive subject for me perhaps because my own family were scared of such practices because of Jewish ancestry. According to my mother we either left the UK for Canada or we went 'native', no one knew in Bedwas that my grandfather was a Jew because his mother was a Jew. It was kept quiet in case the Nazis did win the war. It’s kind of funny, because a lot of my relatives fought for the UK, but that would likely not have saved them if Hitler had invaded.

There are Germans who lived near Concentration Camps who use 'selective memory' and all sorts of excuses to pass off their lack of knowledge of 'the goings on' in the Concentration Camps. I didn't buy their fob off stories, and I don't buy your story that you were not aware of the practices of the Conservative Party (and the opposition parties) during the troubles, which is why I don’t understand the new found “people’s constitutional rights” campaign being fought against Gordon Brown – yes, I support it, but it is clearly party-politic – given that Margaret Thatcher was behind Internment of British Citizens in Northern Ireland, promoted trial without Jury of British Citizens in NI, argued that use of white-noise and forcing British Citizens to stand hands and arms outstretched for hours on end, defecating and urinating where they stood once they lost bodily control, and arrest of British Citizens in NI on the say so of an Army Officer, and now the Conservative Party is hot against extending the police detention to 42 days. Wow is all I can say.

I'm no IRA man, I hate that organization, and argued against what they were doing – argued with any of my friends in a London school who supported the IRA – I was working around the corner from where a bomb went off and killed an army disposal guy, so I am very against the use of bombs, but I was for a re-united Ireland if the people wanted it (but the majority in NI didn’t want it and that satisfied me). I hate the IRA. But what the Conservative Party did then in response (along with Labour cooperation, and the Liberals at the time did not make much of fuss) was plain wrong.

And now the Conservative Party is arguing against the 42 day detention period without charge when the Conservative Party locked people up without trial - with no charges being brought at all, and when charges were brought there was trial without jury.

Sorry, but I sense this is all about stringing Gordon Brown up by his what’s it, not that I am against 'any means legal' to get him out of office. But maybe because I have a memory like an elephant and can recall the tactics used against British Citizens that I can see that the Conservative Party are playing party-politic when their natural inclination during troubles was to lock up British Citizens without trial or if there was a trial, without a jury.

Don't you recall the Court of Human Rights in Europe finding against the Conservative government? The use of the SAS to illegally kill IRA suspects? You don’t remember? Now the Conservative Party is all about Labour going too far (yes Labour is going too far), but frankly, I find this ‘new concern’ somewhat disingenuous.

I find it hard to believe you don't remember. You lived through the troubles; you must have watched the News or read a newspaper. Sorry, I don't play dumb - I remember it like it was yesterday, I'm sure you remember it too.

I agree that 42 day detention without charges is too long, but find it hard to stomach hearing it from the current leader of the Conservative Party that it is too long when his own Party was party to Internment of British Citizens, trial of British Citizens without a jury, arrest of a British Citizen on the say so of an Army Officer, interrogation techniques which were found to be an abuse of human rights (wherein those subjected to this horrendous abuse by the British Army won considerable compensation) ... you excuse yourself (but not your party) because you were not involved in politics at that time.

Sorry, weak excuse.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Sorry Glyn ... I am probably using language that is overly strong, if not overly strong inappropriate. So I apoligize.

It is clear that the 42 day detention of suspect terrorists without charge has become a political football (if not a fiasco) with Brown attempting to take (as Brown visualizes it) the public side against the what the majority of Joe public sees as the elitist position of arguing against the 42 detention period. If the 42 period is really needed the security services would be shouting from the rooftops and it is clear that the security services are not shouting from the roof tops. It just seems to me that this whole 42 day argument is a manufacture of Gordon Brown to make him (as he sees it) look good for once. There is plenty of blame to go round for this fiasco/political-football/party politic 42 day issue.

Didn’t Brown not long ago ask members of the British public to identify “British Interests” – I thought then he was out to do two things, undermine some of the public identified “British Interests” and use some of the identified “British Interests” to raise spurious arguments to boost Gordon Brown’s public image so long as the “British Interest” in question did not mean a cutback in taxation. So there’s Brown pushing for more stealth taxes while arguing the toss over something that does not involve taxes but which the majority of the British public relate to – “locking up terrorist suspects and throwing away the key”.

I'm a bit surprised that David Davis hasn't seen through Gordon Brown's machinations. I think Gordon Brown is trying to fool us all, GB no more (in his heart of hearts) wants to extend the detention time without charge to 42 days for terrorist suspects than a turkey looks forward to Thanksgiving or a mouse believes Father Christmas is a member of the cat species. GB wants the media focused on issues that do no real harm to GB while GB slips through more taxes. It’s not working though – the huge increases in road taxes is likely to cause a serious back-lash among the predicted 9 million who will be hit with the new “green” taxes.

Gordon Brown is a multi-layered complex beast who doesn't care about squandering UK resources in attempts to save his hide and remain leader of the Labour Party. He believes we are unable to fathom or see his scheming. He is so “up his own what’s it” that he thinks we are so stupid that we won’t see his schemes for what they are, a big con on the British public. GB is putting his ego and power mad complex ahead of the national interest. Imho, the man is a maggot (apologies to maggots).

Glyn Davies said...

Christopher - Long comments for others to read. I'm surprised that you (and perhaps others should think that I'm trying to excuse myself in some way). If I'd been supportive of internment at the time, I wouldn't want to deny it now. I'd left education when I was sixteen, and my obsessive personality meant that my life was focussed on other things, to the exclusion of much that has become my obsessive life now.

Can you not accept that people like me just were not that interested in current affairs. I don't think it was unusual. I wonder what proportion of people in Britain have an understanding of say the backgropund to the Arab/Israeli conflict today - or of the background to what is happening in Zimbabwe.

Your strictures will no doubt encourage me to read some on the interment arguments now. As it happens, I would probably have become intersted in these issues if I'd not lost my seat on the National Assembly last year - because I had just been appointed to the British Irish Parliamentary body (Council I think).

Anonymous said...

Can you not accept that people like me just were not that interested in current affairs. I don't think it was unusual.

Well said Glyn.
Why are some people so up themselves about these issues.Some were too young to remeber the events too.
Now is now, we have moved on and views and situations ar very different.
Good on "Eliza" and if you read around the subject and views from people with experience not just rhetoric the consensus is just as she said it.

Glyn Davies said...

VM - I might post tonight on this. I don't think it at all odd that people should launch themselves in complete changes of direction in their lives, including what they are interested in. And this will lead to the development of opinion where none existed before. In fact I cannot imagine how I could have lived in any different way.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Glyn> you yourself raised this issue (re: extension of the 42 period by Gordon Brown). I agree with you that it is unnecessary. But you have said several times on this blog that you want to hear opinions that challenge you. I am questioning you in a challenging way – you are on your back legs here – but to the good, I believe you are a very honourable man and should go far in Parliament. Would I be a friend if I failed to point out the hypocrisy that surrounds this 42 day issue? Would I be fair if I did not warn you and your Conservative friends that they risk opening a can of worms the size of Texas?

Glyn Davies said...

Cgristopher - If a can of worms must be opened, so be it.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

I'm just being a devil's advocate here - I agree that the contention that the detention period should be extended to 42 days is not based on sound reasoning.

But the contention that somehow the Conservative Party has the moral high ground here is false given the recent history of the Conservative Party in supporting internment without trial, trials without juries, torture, shoot to kill, etc.

The argument that "that was then" and "this is now" only works if the Conservative Party fesses up to being on the wrong side of justice when they supported these policies for over a decade.

The argument that "I was too young" is a fob off. Glyn is over a decade older than I am - when he left school at 16 I had yet to start at Cefn Onn Infant School in Llanishen. Leaving school at 16 is nothing special, one of my brothers did that and my father left school before he was 16 (I think he said 14), and on the assumption that he was telling me the truth he got onto a merchant ship sometime thereafter while still under age for going on a merchant ship and risked life and limb eventually ending up in Australia.

Be a man, admit the Conservative Party was on the wrong side of human rights/justice as evidenced by the pay-outs made to those subjected to hooded torture and forced to stand up against walls for hours on end by their finger tips with white noise pumped into their ears to disorientate them; and the findings of the European Court of Justice, etc.

I am not saying that the Conservative Party were alone in being on the wrong side of human rights, Labour were too. I don't remember the Liberal Party kicking up a fuss, but willing to be corrected on that score.