In the wake of Parliament’s passing of the bill allowing forty-two days detention without charge for terrorist suspects, David Davis, the Conservative Shadow Home Secretary, has resigned as an MP to fight a by-election on the issue of whether or not it is right to curtail our civil liberties in this way.
Good for him I say.
The only reason the public thinks (at least according to the polls it does) that these kinds of illiberal measures are acceptable is that the government of our country has been conning us. The theoretical threat from Islamist terrorism and in particular Al Qaeda—and it remains primarily a theoretical threat, unlike for instance the IRA during the late 70s and 80s—has been used to justify large numbers of illiberal and frankly unpleasant measures which we are promised are “to combat terrorism” and which are then promptly misused to keep pensioners out of the Labour Party conference, to spy on people sending their children to school, to prevent law abiding people from attending legitimate peaceful protests and all kinds of other similar things which have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.
The steady creep of authoritarianism into the British state has continued unabated under this Labour government and the problem is that because our civil liberties have been chipped away one piece at a time it has been difficult for the public to notice the impact it is having.
David Davis, it seems, intends to bring all of this to the fore in his constituency and it will hopefully make his constituents—not to mention the rest of the population—realise that something is seriously amiss.