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November 9, 2005 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Blair loses in the Commons for the first time since his election in 1997. MPs refused to pass laws allowing terrorist suspects to be jailed without trial for 90 days, and Blair's parliamentary majority of 66 turned into a minority of 31. The government has been holding back on the vote for months in an attempt to persuade their party to back the Prime Minister - they failed.
posted by Pretty_Generic (38 comments total)

 
Has Labour finally realized that they should not follow the GOP party line?

Looks to me like Tony should now step aside and let Gordon handle things.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:25 AM on November 9, 2005


Parliament is supposed to prevent the country's civil liberties being eroded, and at last it's doing it's job. Not before time.
posted by cleardawn at 9:26 AM on November 9, 2005


Hear, hear!
posted by grobstein at 9:26 AM on November 9, 2005


And by 31 votes, too, with 41 Labour MPs going against their own party. Which is an absolute kicking, in Parliamentary terms.

*raises a glass; hopes this means MPs might start doing their job a little more often*
posted by Len at 9:30 AM on November 9, 2005


Yaay! Whether it is a lack of faith in Blair or a moral argument against internment is only known by the MPs themselves.

Let's hope the same happens in Australia where the government is trying to extend the term of detention without charge from 7 to 14 days. 14 days is the current limit in the UK.

I had some trouble with the link in Firefox, you can get there via the front page: http://www.amnesty.org.au
posted by asok at 9:35 AM on November 9, 2005


Of course I mean "without charge" rather than "without trial".
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:43 AM on November 9, 2005


Freeman?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:51 AM on November 9, 2005


How long can an American in America be held without charge? It used to be something like 24hrs, I think, but I wonder if, these war on terror days, it has changed.
posted by donfactor at 9:57 AM on November 9, 2005


Thank God.

I figured this would sail right through.
posted by bshort at 9:59 AM on November 9, 2005


I was of this impression that the 90 day nonsense was always going to fail and was just there to detract attention from the rest of it. We've had our little victory and our civil liberties are eroded anyway while we're not looking
posted by devon at 10:13 AM on November 9, 2005


Huzzah!
posted by gsb at 10:16 AM on November 9, 2005


Wow, this is good and impressive to see. Perhaps Labour can get some things turned around and Blair out before he messes anything else up, now.
posted by blacklite at 10:17 AM on November 9, 2005


How long can an American in America be held without charge? It used to be something like 24hrs, I think, but I wonder if, these war on terror days, it has changed.

48 hours, which is absurdly short by international standards. Unless you're a 'terrorist', in which case they'll just detain you indefinitely without telling anyone, it's illegal, of course, but who's going to prosecute you when you're in charge of enforcing the laws?

Still, it's nice if you're non-terrorists.
posted by delmoi at 10:19 AM on November 9, 2005


Fantastic!
posted by veedubya at 10:20 AM on November 9, 2005


donfactor, if they don't like you, forever. Without trial.
posted by Malor at 10:24 AM on November 9, 2005


Why was Blair trying to push for this in the first place? Sounds like a pretty draconian proposal and Blair is a reasonably liberal guy (I'm genuinely interested, I haven't been following this).
posted by snoktruix at 10:25 AM on November 9, 2005


Thank the FSM that there is still some small bastion of sanity left.
posted by longbaugh at 10:32 AM on November 9, 2005


Blair is a reasonably liberal guy

A lot of people thought that in 1997, including me. However, since then we've had many opportunities to regret that we didn't make a more detailed examination of his record.

Blair seems to have a kind of bizarre schoolmistress morality, in which disobedience to the powerful automatically deserves to be punished, in international affairs and in parliament as if in the classroom. He can't understand why anyone would have an issue with that.

This cheerfully mindless obedience to power, combined with strong soundbite skills and an easy and confident ability to lie through his smirking teeth, has enabled him to worm his way into the leadership of the Labour Party, which is, in general, and with many exceptions, a relatively decent group of people - though many of the more decent have left the party in recent years, for obvious reasons.

While his lying rhetoric is, indeed, reasonably liberal, his actual policies are even further to the right than Thatcher's in many ways. His sycophantic (and treasonous) support for Bush is the most obvious example, but there are many others.

One reason he hasn't resigned yet might be because he's terrified of being indicted for his war crimes in Iraq, since the UK is a signatory to the International Criminal Court. The Court won't act while he's still Prime Minister, but once he's out, he'll be in the same position as Pinochet, at the mercy of lawyers in every country he visits. I almost feel sorry for him. Not quite.
posted by cleardawn at 10:58 AM on November 9, 2005


Indulge your schadenfreude to the max, with a karaoke sing-a-long to New Labour's 1997 campaign anthem, while enjoying the prospect of Mr Tony being sick as a parrot with bird flu.

(warning link opens midi)

Things can only get better!
posted by Flitcraft at 11:29 AM on November 9, 2005


Frederick Forsyth weighed in before the vote.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:35 AM on November 9, 2005


devon writes "I was of this impression that the 90 day nonsense was always going to fail and was just there to detract attention from the rest of it. We've had our little victory and our civil liberties are eroded anyway while we're not looking"

Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way but what you said looks right to me. According to the article:

Following the defeat MPs backed by 323 to 290 votes a Labour backbench MP's proposal to extend the detention time limit to 28 days, from the current 14 days.

From what I understand this still has to go through the House of Lords, could even the 28 day extension still be defeated?
posted by Edame at 11:37 AM on November 9, 2005


It could indeed still be defeated in the Lords - and probably will, particularly given the presence of the law lords. I don't think it is something on which they would attempt to invoke the Parliament Act.

The impression I get - particularly given that the initial plan by Charles Clarke was to concede on the 90 day limit, which was swiftly followed by a U-turn - is that No 10 thought they could just about win this and tried to make it an issue to bludgeon some of backbenchers into obedience over. I suspect they probably managed to get enough on board, but didn't count on Tories flocking to vote against the amendment. I have a feeling the Tory whips have been strongarming even their most militantly autocratic MPs into trying to force a defeat - I would like to have been a fly on the wall in the lobby.
posted by greycap at 11:47 AM on November 9, 2005



posted by matteo at 12:42 PM on November 9, 2005



posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:12 PM on November 9, 2005


matteo – and don't take this the wrong way, or as snark – but why the Union flag? If it's a statement of solidarity with Britain for voting against this bill, then I get what you mean, but few of the people who would agree with you politically (and I'd probably include myself in that) would be waving said flag; for me, and anyone else who sees themselves as left wing, the Union flag comes with baggage so heavy that most airlines would charge you at least double to carry its full weight ...
posted by Len at 3:04 PM on November 9, 2005


Good. although the hardened realist cynic in me suspects the whole 90-day thing was a ruse to allow the also-heinous 28-day thing to pass.

Still, we must be grateful for small mercies, I suppose. And it's damned good to see that oily piece of shit Bliar take a richly-deserved kicking. It's been perfectly obvious to me since I first laid eyes and ears on that war criminal that he was about as Labour as the average Daily Mail reader and as hypocritical and slimy as the average Daily Mail writer. I had to hold my nose to vote Labour in 1997 because... well, it was essential, then. But in 2001 and 2005 it was Lib Dem with no doubts whatsoever. It will continue to be so for a long while yet. I can't readily forgive what the Labour government has done by allowing that.... that... unutterable megalomaniac to get away with as much as he has for so long.
posted by Decani at 3:07 PM on November 9, 2005


Good. although the hardened realist cynic in me suspects the whole 90-day thing was a ruse to allow the also-heinous 28-day thing to pass.

I really don't buy that suspicion. Blair seemed really intent to give the police what they asked for, so intent that it almost seemed obvious to him that if the police ask for this power then they should be given it. That tells you a lot about the man.

The 28 day detention without charge seemed to have widespread support in the House and from what I've seen it would have got through as a compromise option even if the government had junked the 90 day amendment yesteday as promised.

Which all begs the question; what the hell was Blair doing? Everyone was saying he'd lose and yet he went ahead. To lose on terrorism is the gravest defeat of all for a government. This is the biggest issue for any government.

Thank goodness the Labour flunkies finally decided to stand up for something.
posted by Ugandan Discussions at 4:03 PM on November 9, 2005


Which all begs the question

NO! NO! NO!!!!!!!!111!!!ELEVEN!!!

It – and repeat this after me, please – does not "beg the question". It raises the question. To "beg the question" is to assume the vaildity of a circular argument.



(Sorry, but I'm a logic fascist, and the corruption of begging the question – which has a particularly specific meaning – drives me up the wall.)
posted by Len at 4:42 PM on November 9, 2005


Len: You're absolutely right in terms of its traditional usage in logic. To the clink with me for up to 90 days, professional logicians should be allowed to have judicial oversight of my detention but only in a secretive court with a limited disclosure regime.

Bye for now.
posted by Ugandan Discussions at 4:54 PM on November 9, 2005


Well, I'm not sure that 90 days is quite enough. Maybe 180 would sort things out ;)

Seriously, though: I'm in agreement with you; why would Blair bother if he knew he could ease through the 28-day law without much fuss? Was it just hubris that made him think otherwise?
posted by Len at 6:04 PM on November 9, 2005


Maybe he knows there will be a Terrorist Attack on British soil soon, and it would have been foiled if the Police had not released the suspect(s), who carried out this future catastrophic event, after 28 days. Then, he'll come back to Parliament and say, "see... I told you there's WMD in Iraq."
posted by gsb at 10:54 PM on November 9, 2005


thank god this has been blocked.

The gutter press have been stirring up popular sentiment in support of 90 days, with apparently as many as 70 per cent of the electorate supporting 90 days. They obviously remember how successful internment was
posted by johnny novak at 1:21 AM on November 10, 2005


I'm glad they got defeated on it. I'm not glad that, living in Northern Ireland, I can't vote Lib Dem. I should be allowed to. After all, the London Parliament is mine too.
posted by paperpete at 2:50 AM on November 10, 2005


paperpete: sure you can, wait for the next election then go and register yourself as a libdem candidate and vote away.
posted by biffa at 3:30 AM on November 10, 2005


One reason he hasn't resigned yet might be because he's terrified of being indicted for his war crimes

cleardawn: It might be, but it probably isn't.

He's won three elections in a row and could probably win the next, why should he resign? He obviously doesn't feel guilty about Iraq, although I hope we'll never let him forget it.

However, he'll step down shortly before the next election, unless Gordon goes the way of John Smith.
posted by Blip at 4:39 AM on November 10, 2005


One reason he hasn't resigned yet might be because he's terrified of being indicted for his war crimes

cleardawn: It might be, but it probably isn't.

He's won three elections in a row and could probably win the next, why should he resign? He obviously doesn't feel guilty about Iraq, although I hope we'll never let him forget it.

However, he'll step down shortly before the next election, unless Gordon goes the way of John Smith.
posted by Blip at 4:40 AM on November 10, 2005


Even the Daily Mail was doubtful about the 90-day proposal. "It cannot conceivably be right in a democracy that our citizens could be locked up for three months without ever being convicted or even charged with a crime." What strange times we are living in, when a Labour Prime Minister can propose control measures that put him to the right of the Daily Mail.
posted by verstegan at 12:21 PM on November 10, 2005


asok Let's hope the same happens in Australia where the government is trying to extend the term of detention without charge from 7 to 14 days.

41 (or equivalent) Australian MPs crossing the floor? There's hope, and then there's la-la fantasy land.
posted by pompomtom at 3:09 PM on November 10, 2005


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