If there were any lingering doubts that we are now living in a surrealist film, here comes the news from Great Britain that the Labor government’s proposal to suspend habeas corpus and hold ‘terrorist’ suspects for 42 days without charges is now dust because the House of Lords kaboshed it by a vote of 309 to 118.
Gordon Brown, head of the Labor Party I remind you, was holding out for the measure after failing to resuscitate the remains of King John and getting him to annul the Magna Carta.
The Guardian points out that the rejection of the government’s play for more Star Chamber powers was crushing:
“The scale of the rebellion will be seen as a huge victory for civil liberties campaigners and will have made [Home Secretary Jacqui] Smith wary of trying to force the measure through the Commons again.”
The government already has the power to detain suspects for 28 days. This was a ‘compromise’ solution after Tony Blair failed to convince his Labor-heavy Parliament of the need for a 90-day detention period. So the steady dismantling of civil liberties has not ceased, only slowed down a bit.
It’s nice to think that the fox-hunting and sherry set are not swayed by their browbeaters screaming that imminent terrorist attacks can only be avoided by imitating the Soviet Union (which did indeed avoid them). And this in a country that had its capital city’s subway system blown up and 50 people killed. We should be so lucky as to have a sector of the ruling elite as jealous of personal liberties and not shy about defending them.