In the Evening Standard last night a 'leading QC' Geoffrey Robertson presented his argument against many of the government' s proposals for the provision of stronger anti terror laws. My initial reaction was to raise my eyebrows and switch off. Lofty lawlords and the like often indicate that 'minor' acts of terrorism etc are only a matter for them. Their purpose, they claim is to protect us little people from being shoveled up by the government and oversee the rule of law. Anyway i read his argument.
He sets out the case by reminding us that we already have highly developed legislation introduced after the famous attempt on home soil by Britain's first terrorist, Guy Fawkes. As a country we have faced grave danger to our democracy many times before and have learned lessons we applied to laws still in force today. But Guy Fawkes didnt march in on average Joes off to work one morning, attached to
a barrel load of explosives . He chose to leave a barrel load of explosives under Parliament the old fashioned way. His attack was on the government -not on its people, BY its people. Perhaps we have the history to help us but I would like to think that we could adapt our laws a little more frequently than every several hundred years. As moonbatlike as Fawkes appeared to me as a kid, he looks like your basic clown next to the latest lot.
He goes on to argue that the police dont need more than the already 'exceptionally long' 14 days detention to determine someones involvement in terrorism. It is 'unlikely to yeald more information' and 'will anger minority communities'. And regards glorifying acts of terror, broadly speaking, he is against. We have existing incitement to commit murder laws which have been seriously under utilised by the police in past years he argues. Well then if so someone from your pompous lot clearly forgot to tell the police this. Or there is another more sinister reason for not wanting them to use it. Or possibly it was too convoluted a law to allow them to use it easily. Frankly im not worried about what our minority communities think. Im more concerned with being allowed to freely exercise my right to get to work on the tube - without being blown to bits bys omeone with a grudge. And this nauseating reference to our 'minority' 'communities'. Arent we all one big community called the British?
With such new horrors facing us and the police - apparently to keep someone suspected of murderous carnage OFF the streets is not something this QC views as particularly important in comparison to ruffling a few muslim feathers. It is assumed that the police will be detaining people for the hell of it as usual. Recycling the perpetual myth that a modern day police force after all the lessons learned with the IRA - suspects quickly arrested, tried, convicted, imprisoned and then released - learned absolutely nothing and would commit similar errors again. If you start by suggesting we have learned much with Guy Fawkes then did we learn nothing with the onset of Irish terrorism?
He attacks the introduction of a criminal law to protect us from those stirring up religious hatred as out of proportion with the situation we face and likely to be monitored by media busybodies for the express purpose of banging up comedians . I am not particularly worried about comedians. The present climate isnt funny. Hoping the bearded one with a rucksack on the tube isnt about self detonante certainly isnt funny. And besides, jokes about religion went out with the ark and are unlikely to be resurrected in PC crazy modern Britain. If this is expressly designed to stop jihadist rantings then how is this a bad thing. The nice irony is that it had already been suggested by Labour to lure in muslim voters keen to have Salman Rushdi strung up. I might allow one or two smug religious remarks about the latter but im prepared to forgo the humour to underline the point.
His only thoughtful argument is to suggest that we need to dispense with the current practise of not allowing phone tap evidence. We are one of the few advanced nations that does not permit phone tap and other electronic e-evidence in court. I wasnt aware that we were in the minority on this score and im irritated by this. This seems to me to be the single most obvious assistance to MI5 and intelligence in the current danger and im concerned the government has omitted this. Without question unravelling silly provisos in our laws that impede vital evidence from making its way into courts needs urgent attention.
Ultimately I dont know how long the police actually need to determine possible guilt. But I have enough confidence in them to believe they make a valid and just case. The police are facing an unprecedented new twist in how terrorism is played out. The IRA experience taught them much about how to respond after an incident (which they did and do incredibly well) and certainly how to search the mentalists out as demonstrated (and forgotten) when they apprehended the July 21 copycats. But the current threat is wholly new. They'll come horribly unstuck as they try to grapple with this new threat and how to manage it, fatally proven at Stockwell . So it would be refreshing and reassuring to hear from our precious law makers that their single determination is not to protect a few comedians and some miserable muslims from feeling uncomfortable, but to work WITH government and police instead of dismissing both. To protect the put upon (expendable) modern day working classes known as commuters. Instead of waxing lyrical about hard fought precious rights for what amounts to the precious few.
Anyway as we approach November Im wondering if I can add a few modern day effagies onto the bonfire....
Click for more on the same - see excellent post on October 10 and the follow up comments:-Rottweiler Puppy