Lord Denning once gave the wise counsel that, "Two reasonable persons could perfectly reasonably come to opposite conclusions on the same set of facts without forfeiting their right to be regarded as reasonable." Some of the hotter heads in the debate on 42 days detention with out charge would do well to reflect on Lord Denning's words today.
However one of the most disgraceful things that has been implied is that somehow in opposition to 42 days and in support of existing liberty the Conservative Party is somehow soft on terrorism. David Cameron made the point in PMQs that it was Conservative politicians who were the target of IRA terrorism. And I can say that among the subjects that Lady Thatcher still talks about with gripping detail is the Brighton bomb and its aftermath. My own experience of terrorism is obviously more limited but I can say that when you are woken in the middle of the night, at the age of 5, by a knock on the door from a person in uniform and your parents are frantic with worry not knowing if it is THE Army or another 'Army' instructing you onto the cold Belfast streets due to a bomb scare the experience stays with you.
Yet what set us apart from and, yes, above the terrorist was our willingness to fight them without surrender of the liberty they sought to extinguish. That should be the case again today.
Many people like me were inspired into politics by the example of Margaret Thatcher. We admired her vision and determination. We admired the way she stuck to policies she believed were right even when the opinion polls protested for change from the public. We admired that, in Ronnie Miller's phrase, she "was not for turning." Ask the question what would have happened if Margaret Thatcher had set her course by the opinion polls of the time?
Margaret Thatcher did what she thought was right and invited the electorate to pass judgement. That is why the line 'the public want it according to the polls' is so depressing. Yet essentially that was Gordon Brown's killer argument this afternoon. I suppose it was slightly better than the enfeebled line (and yes he did actually say this) "it cannot be both draconian and absolutely useless at dealing with the problem."
David Cameron was clearly authentically angry and he departed from script and shouted at Brown, "If the Prime Minster is saying that it is popular to announce you are going to bang up terrorist suspects for longer without charging them then yes - he is right - it is popular but the point is that we are meant to do what is right in this House."
It was obvious he meant it. It was authentic. It was passionate. It was Cameron at the best I've seen yet and he was speaking to the deepest instincts of our Party. Of course the politics say we should back it and principle says we should not. Cameron has chosen the principle. I think his performance this lunch time was his 'Maggie moment.' Whatever happens with the vote we have won the arguement and the people see we have a leader who will do what he judges is right.