Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Small Earthquake

Writing in the immediate aftermath of the Government's decisive defeat on 90 days detention without charge, I would say it is a small to medium earthquake on the political Richter scale. Only time will tell whether history regards it as a much larger earthquake that hastened Blair's departure from office.
Ignore those politicians and commentators who are trying to play this down. It's the first defeat since Labour came to power in 1997 and the first defeat of a governing party for ten years. Like many others, I thought that the Government would scrape through by a handful of votes. A defeat by 31 votes is astonishing.

This vote is a vindication of those of us who defected from Labour to the Liberal Democrats at the last election. This was precisely why we did so: to reduce Blair's majority in the hope that his own party would put a brake on his more extreme policies.
We were told that we were being irresponsible and might allow the Tories into office. Indeed, Polly Toynbee sent me an email saying I wouldn't be so pleased when Michael Howard walked into Downing Street. But that was never likely to happen.
The person who is making a future Tory victory more likely is Tony Blair and today we saw one of his biggest misjudgements.

There is worse to come for Blair. As Diane Abbott pointed out last Thursday, legislation to cut benefits and changes to the health and education systems have a much more direct and personal effect on Labour MPs' constituents than anti-terror legislation. And today those MPs were actually going against the views of many of their constituents, if opinion polls are accurate. If backbenchers were prepared to face down Blair today, what chance does he have of pushing through deeply unpopular legislation on other issues?

Today was a good day for the rule of law, a good day for Parliament and a good day for the Labour Party.


At 9:50 PM, Blogger cello said...

I'll drink to that. 28 days is still too long but let's be thankful.

If you really did get rounded up and put in detention, Willie, your fans would undoubtedly hatch a cunning plan to spring you from Belmarsh and you could then give triumphant interviews to the papers. In fact, some people might begin to suspect it of being a Max Clifford stunt to publicise the blog.

At 9:51 PM, Anonymous Graham said...

I think the night of the Long
Knives is not far off,the left are baying for blood regarding the Benefit Changes Tony wants to bring in.The US lecture circut must be looking tempting after all he's got a mortgage to pay.

At 11:35 PM, Blogger zaphod said...

I have to say that it was the police who reccomended 90 days.
They gave good reasons ( so the man on the telly said)

At 7:30 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

cello: I was recently mentioned in the public prints without the aid of Max Clifford. Unless that advertising bird was some kind of stool pigeon. But I don't think Max usually plants stories in Media Guardian.

graham: we can but hope.

Mr Zaphod: the police would have asked for a year if they thought they could get it.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger patroclus said...

The police's "reasons" were that suspected terrorists might have strongly encrypted data on their computers, which might take 90 days to decrypt. But that's blinding us with science - with strong encryption, either you can crack it straightaway, or (which is more likely) you can't crack it at all. A 90-day period doesn't come into it.

At 4:59 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

patroclus: the police would like us to think that decryption is done by pipe-smoking chaps who are good at crosswords in the manner of Bletchley Park in the last war.
I'm sure what you say is true. If encryption is strong enough it can take years or even hundreds of years to crack.

At 6:51 PM, Blogger patroclus said...

Yes, we have to wait for computers to become fast and powerful enough to be able to crack it. Which could take quite a while. Perhaps that's what Tony had in mind.

Don't get me started on Bletchley Park, I get enough stick from ny colleagues about my Alan Turing magic mug as it is. It's hard work being a complete saddo, but I suppose someone has to do it.


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