Stotty on Sunday: Same Tired Blairytales
Byline: Richard Stott
The problem isn't Blunkett, it's Tony Blair. The Prime Minister insists the war on terror requires tough new measures. There can be no compromise with those who would slaughter without a second thought. The case for decisive action is unanswerable and we reject it at our peril.
A compelling argument, certainly. The difficulty is we have heard it before. We were told much the same thing when it was explained why it was essential to invade Iraq.
Blair doesn't do half-measures. He believes everything passionately and without reservation. Schools reform, NHS reform, pension reform, disability payments reform, the respect agenda, open all hours drinking or banning drinking on trains and buses, waging the war on terror whether it be in Iraq, Iran or the London Underground.
He is also a man in a hurry, on a self-imposed short lease. Reforms must come quick and fast if his legacy is to be anything more than an ill-starred invasion and a remarkable ability to win elections. His place in history hangs in the balance. David Blunkett is a side show, quickly forgotten.
The draconian plans to detain terror suspects for 90 days without trial are rooted in a harsh reality. Breaking computer codes, unscrambling complex internet technology as terror cells spread throughout the world take time. No prime minister can ignore that. Any more than he can turn his back on the chilling warning of ex-MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove that we must expect biological, chemical or even nuclear attack by these fanatics.
Yet it isn't that simple. Of course police want 90 days to question suspects, they would go for longer if they could get it. But we know from experience that if government and police are given swingeing powers they use them indiscriminately and to the full.
Detention without trial, evidence obtained under torture acceptable in court as long as the thumb screws weren't applied here - a whole raft of new laws designed to make it easy to bang up the guilty and innocent with no questions asked. …