Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The Answer to Life, The Universe, and Gordon Brown

Government wins by 9 votes to extend detention without charge to 42 days.

Now let me nail my flag to the mast from the start; I am a dyed-in-the-wool socialist. I grew up in the Margaret "how does it feel to be the mother of a thousand dead" Thatcher decade of dog-eat-dog and endured the grey Major years with a sad despondency. My belief is if we all pull together and give a helping hand to those who fall by the wayside then we can create a caring, supportive society not driven by dog-eat-dog profit and the focus on the bottom line.

When Labour came to power in 1997 you would have needed a crowbar to prise the grin from my face.

But chip after chip away at my hero Blair's pedestal (or clay feet), ending in his toppling with the Iraq war as dramatic as the iconic Sadam Hussein statue photo in Baghdad, has reinforced my belief in the anarchist graffiti that 'whoever you vote for, the Government get in'.

Maybe, I thought in my Pollyannaism, Labour under Gordon Brown might be a departure from spin-doctored smoke and mirrors socialism to something more like the real thing.

The final embers of hope have today died out.

The right to knowing what you are charged with when you are detained by the ruling power is a given standard outside of a Police or dictator state. I was appalled when this was extended to 28 days, I am sickened to the core now that it has been voted by our elected MP's, the vast majority Labour, to extend suspension of habeas corpus to 42 days.

Let's compare that with a few other Western or Western-influenced, modern, democratic states:
Australia – 12 days maximum
Ireland – 7 days maximum
France – 6 days maximum
Spain – 5 days maximum
Russia – 5 days maximum
Italy – 4 days maximum
Germany – 2 days maximum
United States – 2 days maximum (Guantanamo aside)
New Zealand – 2 days maximum
Canada – 1 day maximum
And let's not forget the irony that many of these countries look to the liberties of the English legal system, founded in the magna carta, for influencing their own systems.

Hopefully our House of Lords will stifle the bill. Which is itself an archaic unelected bunch of bishops, chinless descendents of illegitimate offspring of courtesans, and politicians kicked upstairs to keep them quiet in their dotage.

Will I be sad to leave these Isles? Well yes, the scenery, the people, my friends and family, but the cradle of Parliament? Forget it; Ich bin ein Europäer!

Edit: Actually, with this obstinate Labour obsession with the number 42, and over 70 dolphins trying to flee something last week near Falmouth resulting in 26 of them dying (BBC News item here), is it going to be long before a Vogon Constructor Fleet arrives in our skies?

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