Forget about the DUP: the 42 days vote is Labour’s ‘pork barrel’ shame

by Stephen Tall on June 11, 2008

That Labour scraped home by just 9 votes in today’s 42 days detention without trial vote is thanks to the votes of the Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP leader Peter Robinson claims their stance was about principle, and nothing to do with any deals they may have been offered by the Government.

Well, maybe… though they’ve not convinced the Lib Dems’ Chris Huhne: “I think it is very much a hollow victory for the government – and at what cost, it sounds like lots of promises have been made – it is pork-barrel politics of the worst kind. I think it is very sad when it comes down to an MPs vote being cast in relation to the spending of public money.”

Whatever you think of the DUP’s decision, and the reasons for it, their decision should not be allowed to blind us to two obvious facts. First, if a ‘pork barrel’ deal over 42 days was accepted by the DUP, it was offered by Labour.

More importantly, while 9 DUP MPs backed the Government’s measure, over 300 Labour MPs did so. This measure would not have passed into law if more Labour MPs had had the backbone to stick up for the liberties of ordinary people. Over at The Independent’s Open House blog, Parliamentary rebellion expert Philip Cowley makes the following telling point:

… it’s worth noting that back in November 2005 [when Tony Blair tried to push through 90 days] the DUP didn’t have the same sort of influence. Then, the Labour rebellion was so large that even if the DUP had voted with Labour, the Government would still have gone down to defeat. So, if the government do emerge victorious tonight, it will also be because, over the last few months, and in private meeting after private meeting, they have managed to persuade just enough Labour MPs that these proposals differ from the defeated proposals in more than just the number of days involved.

Sitting on the backbenches at the moment, there are 49 Labour MPs who voted against their whips in November 2005. Of these, I’d estimate about 30 as being unmoveable. The other 19 or so, however, are open to persuasion. We had yet another concession this morning – and I’d not be surprised to see yet another later during the debate. Last minute concessions can be enough for the waverers. In 2004, when the Commons voted on top-up fees, the Government began the day more than 20 votes behind, only to end up five ahead by end-of-play.

So, once again, we witness the traditional spectacle of Labour MPs changing their views not on the basis of principle but to extract the maximum leverage for their own pet schemes. The DUP’s alleged ‘pork barrel’ dealings may grab the headlines: but this was a Labour proposal, voted for by the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs, with a Labour government offering all sorts of inducements to its own MPs to avoid political embarrassment.

Enjoy reading this? Please like and share:

No comments

Fair propaganda, but wrong take.

The Government machine and Whips did their jobs; and delivered a vote. As did the Opposition. “Exchanging views” with potential waverers is no more corrupt than wringing arms (which is the only currency available to the Opposition Whips).

Let it be remembered that, a twelve month or so ago, there were Members on the Opposition benches, and not exclusively Tories, supporting 90 days, who today voted against 42. That’s perverse.

Anyway, any Red Top vitriol won’t be going the Government’s way, at least not on this one, now or in the event of an atrocity. That’s called the art of modern governance (not an art greatly studied by their Lordships, of course).

by Malcolm Redfellow on June 11, 2008 at 9:08 pm. Reply #

Well I agree but to be frank Labour MP’s probably did consider the fact that defeat might precipitate even more woe for the government and might even fatally wound it….the DUP has no such excuse as it is not bound to care two hoots about what happens to Gordon Brown so I would lie greater shame at their door on this one…

by Darrell on June 11, 2008 at 9:27 pm. Reply #

I think Stephen has hit the nail on the head on this one. According to Nick Robinson’s report on the BBC’s 10 O’Clock News, one potential rebel was offered more support for a miners’ welfare scheme, while another was told that economic sanctions against Cuba would be eased. It’s astonishing to me that some people are clearly prepared to barter away hard-won freedoms, for the sake of a few extra quid for miners and for the Communist regime in Cuba. There is a word for such practices: corruption.

by Bernard Salmon on June 11, 2008 at 11:03 pm. Reply #

“It’s astonishing to me that some people are clearly prepared to barter away hard-won freedoms, for the sake of a few extra quid for miners and for the Communist regime in Cuba. There is a word for such practices: corruption.”

Sounds more astute than dropping our opposition to 28 days in return for … absolutely nothing.

There’s a word for that, too …

by Anonymous on June 11, 2008 at 11:11 pm. Reply #

whatever the machinations, that Labour relied on the DUP and Anne Widdecombe for its majority says it all. a squalid day for Labour.

by johninpenarth on June 11, 2008 at 11:32 pm. Reply #

“Dropping our opposition to 28 days” – you mean recognising that it was the lesser of two evils and we could get a parliamentary majority to back it? There’s certainly a word for that, Anonymous, yes.

by Grammar Police on June 11, 2008 at 11:51 pm. Reply #

“Dropping our opposition to 28 days” – you mean recognising that it was the lesser of two evils and we could get a parliamentary majority to back it?”

No issues with recognising the Parliamentary realities – today the choice was 28 days or 42. However did we at any point in the bill’s earlier progress articulate the case for a reduction from 28 days.

by Hywel Morgan on June 12, 2008 at 12:00 am. Reply #

Grammar Police:
“you mean recognising that it was the lesser of two evils and we could get a parliamentary majority to back it?”

No, I mean declaring in Parliament that 28 days is “justifiable”.

I’ve already pointed this out to you on another thread. If you’re going to ask questions, you should read the answers to them, if only to alleviate your own ignorance!

by Anonymous on June 12, 2008 at 12:32 am. Reply #

Anon, maybe if you weren’t so anon, people might realise it was you posting in more than one place.

by Ryan Cullen on June 12, 2008 at 7:30 am. Reply #

I’m not asking questions Anon. It was rhetorical. So I read your answer on the previous thread but saw that it was irrelevant.

I’ll leave you with your own advice:

“If you’re going to ask questions, you should read the answers to them, if only to alleviate your own ignorance!”

by Grammar Police on June 12, 2008 at 8:17 am. Reply #

Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward said: “There was no deal. There is no deal. The DUP decided on principle. They made up their own minds.”

I’m sure Shaun Woodward knows all about standing up for his prinicples, except his record shows his principles are based entirely on the furtherment of his own career!

Additionally, he is indulging in deception to be so definitive whilst failing to acknowledge the role any conversations played – was nothing offered? Was nothing else taken into consideration? Was this a free vote?

by Oranjepan on June 12, 2008 at 8:20 am. Reply #

Grammar Police

So just to clarify – you’re going round trying to give people the impression we _haven’t_ dropped our opposition to 28 days, when you know very well we have?

by Anonymous on June 12, 2008 at 9:23 am. Reply #

Ryan Cullen

If there’s something wrong with posting in more than one place, no one told me.

by Anonymous on June 12, 2008 at 9:27 am. Reply #

Anonymous – “If there’s something wrong with posting in more than one place, no one told me.”

I think his point is if you are going to post under different names in different places it is quite hard for people to follow both your threads.

by Ross on June 12, 2008 at 9:38 am. Reply #

Oh, and we’ve not dropped our opposition to 28 days. The vote in the Commons yesterday was for 28 days or 42 days, there was no third option.

by Ross on June 12, 2008 at 9:40 am. Reply #

Ross

The point is not whether things are posted anonymously. It’s just that people don’t read what others have written.

Talking of which, I’ll point out for the third time (second on this thread) that Chris Huhne described 28 days as “justifiable” in Parliament.

by Anonymous on June 12, 2008 at 9:53 am. Reply #

I read what you’ve written Anon. I just don’t think the point you’re making is particularly relevent. But you just don’t seem to be able to read what I’ve written.

Please point me to the Lib Dem policy document 28 days is what we actually want.

You could perhaps start by looking at http://www.libdems.org.uk/justice/issues/noto42days.html

Ignoring the fact that in the Liberal Democrats policy is not made up on the hoof by our party spokesmen (unlike some other parties I could mention), Chris said at the 2nd reading of the bill:

“The hon. Gentleman well knows that, sadly, my party is not yet in a position to carry the House on its own. We look forward to that day, but the reality was that his party was the one that wanted to compromise on 28 days. That is precisely why, to avert the greater harm, we fell in with that proposal. However, I think we should discuss whether it might be desirable to consider regularly, perhaps annually, as we have for other elements of terrorism legislation, whether it is necessary to extend up to the 28 days. My current judgment is that such an extension is justifiable.

It is already possible for someone to be held for four weeks without their knowing what they are charged with or being able to prepare any defence. To extend that to six weeks—a 50 per cent. increase—is deeply intrusive into hard-won civil liberties. Anyone present could, as a result of mistaken identity—there are many such cases on record—be held for six weeks in such a way. Any innocent citizen going about their normal life could be subject to a police and security services mistake.”

I’ve read this, and it’s clear to me that a Liberal Democrat Government would not have felt the need to extend the period to 28 days. The “consensus” (such as it is) around this length is a pragmatic approach to what the party could realistically achieve.

As to whether I know anything “very well” or not, just to clarify – I’m going round trying to give people the impression that the Liberal Democrats would not have brought in 28 days because I believe that to be true.

And for all this “we” business; there’s no need to pretend – if you support another party, fair enough, but just be brave enough to say it.

by Grammar Police on June 12, 2008 at 10:46 am. Reply #

Oh, and you might find
http://www.libdems.org.uk/justice/huhne-governments-counter-terrorism-bill-runs-risk-of-being-counterproductive.6978.html
interesting. Specifically the section about Canada.

by Grammar Police on June 12, 2008 at 10:49 am. Reply #

Grammar Police

It’s there in black and white in Huhne’s speech:
“My current judgment is that such an extension [to 28 days] is justifiable.”

So obviously Chris Huhne, the Lib Dem “Shadow Home Secretary”, has dropped his opposition to 28 days.

If official party policy is still against 28 days, that’s good, but if so someone needs to get Huhne back into line!

by Anonymous on June 12, 2008 at 11:08 am. Reply #

Take your own advice (as you say – “if only to alleviate your own ignorance!”).

Read what he says and all of it, rather than choosing one line. Take a look at the links. Make up your own mind based on that about the Party’s position and about his.

by Grammar Police on June 12, 2008 at 11:13 am. Reply #

Grammar Police

You’re trying to tell me that when Chris Huhne said “My current judgment is that such an extension is justifiable”, what he actually meant was that he opposed such an extension?

This kind of drivel is just an insult to the intelligence.

by Anonymous on June 12, 2008 at 11:21 am. Reply #

I’m telling you to make up you’re own mind from all the evidence rather than focusing on one part of a much longer speech. You claim the party has abandoned it’s opposition to 28 days. You have no evidence of this; you have one line in a speech by a party spokesman. All I’m suggesting is that you should actually look at that speech as a whole. I don’t think that’s particularly insulting.

“. . . it might be desirable to consider regularly, perhaps annually, as we have for other elements of terrorism legislation, whether it is necessary to extend up to the 28 days. My current judgment is that such an extension is justifiable.”

If I was being pedantic I might point out that “justifiable” means “capable of being justified” – doesn’t mean he necessarily supports it just that he could be convinced to. He’s also calling for an annual debate in parliament, my interpretation being that he feels that it might/would be possible to justify 28 days in such a debate rather than he feels it’s justified (a subtle difference).

For example, in the same debate Chris Huhne also says several things that suggest he doesn’t support 28 days:

“Curiously, even though other countries are faced with similar threats, none of those whose system of law is most directly comparable with ours has chosen to extend the period of detention to anything like the current 28 days, let alone 42. It is true that Canada alone clings to the traditional habeas corpus, with a period of detention without charge of just one day – due, no doubt, to the influence of our sister party over many years.”

“Are all these countries that are so comparable to our own country in their legal traditions all so wrong? Are the threats that we face so unique that they require us to abandon our historical safeguards against the abuse of state power? The Liberal Democrats are not persuaded.

“Moreover, there is a real risk that these provisions will prove to be wholly counter-productive in the prosecution of terror. Effective policing always requires the co-operation of the policed, without which intelligence is almost impossible to glean. Where will the willing informers be if the British state is seen to have declared war on a minority community? Prosecution requires witnesses to give evidence, but will the witnesses be forthcoming if their families and friends feel that they are aiding and abetting a state that is using disproportionate and discriminatory powers?”

Why don’t you email your drivel to Chris Huhne himself and see what he has to say. You can come back and crow about it when you have an answer. Hell, email the Libdemvoice team, I’m sure they’d let you write an opinion piece.

by Grammar Police on June 12, 2008 at 11:41 am. Reply #

Grammar Police

This just gets better and better!

You’re now suggesting that when Huhne said “My current judgment is that such an extension is justifiable”, he didn’t mean he himself felt it was justified – just that it was possible someone else might be able to provide a justification?

Are you trying to win an award for doublespeak?

by Anonymous on June 12, 2008 at 12:04 pm. Reply #

“Why don’t you email your drivel to Chris Huhne himself and see what he has to say. You can come back and crow about it when you have an answer.”

I did (though I prefer “well reasoned question” to drivel :-). I’m still awaiting an answer several weeks later despite a chasing email. That contrasts with during the leadership election when I had a reply within 48 hours. That as much as anything is why my opinion of Chris has plunged since the leadership election.

by Hywel Morgan on June 12, 2008 at 12:14 pm. Reply #

Anon,
I felt it was a reasonable interpretation of what he said *given the rest of his speech* which I think is quite anti-28 days (_which you’re still ignoring_).

Although, on it’s own I agree with what you’re saying and would have jumped to the same conclusion. I think it’s entirely possible he’s saying he could be convinced of the current need for 28 days but isn’t necessarily at the moment.

Hywel, with the “drivel”, I was responding to the vague hostility of Anonymous – I’m sure your question was entirely well-reasoned! ;o)

by Grammar Police on June 12, 2008 at 1:08 pm. Reply #

Anyway, let’s get back to Anon’s original point:

“you’re going round trying to give people the impression [the Lib Dems] _haven’t_ dropped our opposition to 28 days, when you know very well [the Lib Dems] have?”

So Anon, where is this policy document again?

by Grammar Police on June 12, 2008 at 1:14 pm. Reply #

Grammar Police

What on earth are you talking about?

by Anonymous on June 12, 2008 at 1:18 pm. Reply #

Yeah, whatever.

In your 9.23am post, you claimed the Lib Dems had dropped their opposition to 28 days detention without charge (and also that I knew about it but was deliberately trying to mislead!!).

I asked you where you’re evidence on this was.

by Grammar Police on June 12, 2008 at 1:24 pm. Reply #

Ooops “your”!

by Grammar Police on June 12, 2008 at 1:25 pm. Reply #

Grammar Police

You know perfectly well what the evidence is. I’ve quoted it. You’ve quoted it yourself. You’ve spent half the morning arguing that it doesn’t mean what it says, for heaven’s sake!

Kindly grow up and stop wasting everybody’s time.

by Anonymous on June 12, 2008 at 1:34 pm. Reply #

“Kindly grow up and stop wasting everybody’s time.”

Good advice.

I’ve pointed out that (a) our spokesmen don’t decide policy and (b) if you look at *his whole speech* it’s quite anti-28 days, so it’s not quite as clear cut as quoting that one line on it’s own.

by Grammar Police on June 12, 2008 at 1:39 pm. Reply #

Slightly mischievous I know – but apparently if I am locked up wrongly for 42 days, I can claim £42,000 in compensation. Since I don’t know of any honest way of earning that much money in six weeks, does anyone know how I can get myself falsely imprisoned for six weeks under the new legislation?

by Steve Guy on June 12, 2008 at 1:47 pm. Reply #

Huhne said:
“My current judgment is that such an extension is justifiable”

If you really think that’s unclear there’s not much I or anyone else can do to help you.

And no doubt Huhne doesn’t have the power to reverse party policy unilaterally. The problem is that nobody seems to have told him that!

by Anonymous on June 12, 2008 at 1:52 pm. Reply #

And if you look at *his whole speech* it’s quite anti-28 days.

I’ve quoted various bits above, which you obviously can’t/would rather not explain.

Your original claim was that the Lib Dems’ policy had been reversed. Glad to see that you’ve backtracked on this. Anyway, I’m taking your advice. No more from me – please also take your advice too.

But also, please do ask Chris directly. And do write an opinion piece for LDV with his response. I’ll happily eat my words should it prove necessary!

by Grammar Police on June 12, 2008 at 2:06 pm. Reply #

Grammar Police

All you’ve quoted is Huhne saying that other countries allow detention for less than 28 days.

The only comment he makes about whether or not he supports 28 days is the one I’ve quoted about a dozen times now:
“My current judgment is that such an extension is justifiable”

It really couldn’t be clearer.

by Anonymous on June 12, 2008 at 2:14 pm. Reply #

The introduction of 42-day detention without charge is the last of a long series of mistakes by the New Labour administration, which has succeeded in alienating not only the increasingly dystopic British Muslim youth, but also the so-called first Muslim generation.

My fieldwork suggests that the level of frustration among Muslims in the UK with this government has reached a concerning level. The issue is not only unpopular decisions, such as terrorist legislations and operations which have achieved very little but have had a relevant impact on the lives of many Muslims of this country.
I find interesting, and intriguing, to notice that the less we face a real threat from ‘Islamic terrorism’, the more we are arguing for special legislations and conduct mistaken police operations. One of the reasons is that the security agencies, the police and the government are receiving less intelligence. They would not admit this openly, but the Muslim communities in this country have lost trust in this administration.

I have written a post about this in my blog

Gabriele

by Gabriele on June 12, 2008 at 10:27 pm. Reply #

Leave your comment

Required.

Required. Not published.

If you have one.