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It is one of the last remaining issues - including ID cards - on which Labour appears closer to the public mood.
I thought the public had turned against ID cards?

I've noted in this kind of survey before that there isn't even an *option* to be in favour of requiring the police to charge people in some period less than 14 days. This in itself is an astonishing reflection of how far our society has come. Fifteen or twenty years ago the support for anything above seven days would, I guess (though I've never seen any hard data), have been vanishingly small, with most people favouring 24 or 48 hours...

"It is one of the last remaining issues - including ID cards - on which Labour appears closer to the public mood."

I really think you need to explain this editor. If you believe this is remotely the public mood then I think you are seriously out of touch.

Ineffective authoritarianism is exactly what Labour is offering and although the percieved wisdom in the village is you need to sound tough on terror, I think people are sick of big stupid solutions that end up being counterproductive(i.e encourage more terrorism), don't even achieve what they set out to achieve (what exactly are ID cards good for?, why have more than 28 days if the main argument for having more is basically breaking encryption? and there is already a 2 year prison sentence for not decrypting data if requested), and not to mention the fact that these measures fundamentally change the relationship between the state and the individual.

voreas06: I would point you to a survey in The Guardian from January which showed that 'the fight against terrorism' was the issue where Labour enjoyed its largest lead.

Another (older survey) showed Brown ahead of Cameron on the issue.

Since those polls there has, of course, been a deterioration in Brown's and Labour's standing but I suspect that, at least, the relative Labour advantage on this position has been maintained.

The danger is that the issue will become more potent and the Labour advantage more electorally significant if voters start putting the issue of homeland security higher up on their list of priorities.

I hope this clarifies why I wrote what I did.

I think "ineffective authoritarianism" is one of the best soundbites we've got and I hope David Davis keeps on using it at every opportunity -- you know, till we're all sick of it! And normal people connect it with Labour.

"why have more than 28 days if the main argument for having more is basically breaking encryption"

Indeed if breaking encryption is the justification we'd need to lock people up for rather a lot longer. With 128 bit encryption, which is pretty standard and easy to get hold of nowadays, it would take 1,000 years to brute force the code, and that is assuming that you'd first covered the world's surface in computers...

If there are a series of major terrorist attacks in Britain the public won't care how long people are detained if the police say that it's necessary. I am not saying that the public are right but Labour will be close to the public mood on these questions and Cameron and Davis (remember Dumb and Dumber?) will come under savage attack from The Sun again.

Apparently on tax cuts and Europe we should make the case in face of public disinterest but we shouldn't bother to be the party of liberty because Rebekkah Wade might attack us in an editorial.

David Davis, as Cameron has said on more than one occasion, is well up to defending our Party position as his public and opersonal persona is that of a tough guy who will take tough decisions.

The Labour Government over the last couple of weeks as regards the Iranian hostages have done more to assist the cause of radical extremists than can be undone with unnecccessary, expensive and ineffectual publicity stunts like 90 day detention.

Can any of the proponents of those advocating a 90-day detention without charge point to a single example where a suspect has been released without charge after 28 days' detention with the police dissatisfied and still seeking more evidence? Shamin Uddin, one of the masterminds behind the transatlantic bomb plot last year, was charged after 19 days. Habib Ahmed, another would-be terrorist, was charged after 28 days.

On the issue of ID cards, nearly every IT and/or security expert believes that their impact on the war on terror will be essentially nil. Most terrorists and terror suspects are now, sadly, "home grown". At the very highest, they may make some marginal impact in reducing benefit fraud (and in any event, the savings will be miniscule compared to the cost of the scheme, independently estimated at up to £18 billion). For an authoritative dismantling of the ID card scheme, the LSE report is probably the most comprehensive: http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/pressAndInformationOffice/newsAndEvents/archives/2005/IDCard_FinalReport.htm

On the issue of "who is closer to the public", it is incorrect to simply state that because Labour is ostensibly seen as better at dealing with terror that the public buy into their policies (even if one accepts that our policies on terrorism should be determined by reference to opinion polls). It is far more likely that members of the public responded well to Tony Blair's admittedly magisterial reaction to the 7/7 bombings. The public are against ID cards and the national ID database: http://www.icmresearch.co.uk/reviews/2006/No2ID%20July/ID%20Card%20Survey.asp. There is no survey quoted that suggests that the public would prefer a 90-day detention limit over a 28-day one.

Winning the public trust on security should never involve a race to authoritarianism and totalitarianism.

Everyone on this thread sounds like LibDems. Very depressing. Whatever happened to the party that sponsored the Protection of Terrorism Act throughout the '80s?

Jennifer, you're behind the times.

"voreas06: I would point you to a survey in The Guardian from January which showed that 'the fight against terrorism' was the issue where Labour enjoyed its largest lead... I hope this clarifies why I wrote what I did."

A survey which doesn't back up the assertion you made (an assertion which curiously reflects your own personal bias in favour of British Citizens having to carry identity papers to justify their existence to authority)? No, Editor, it doesn't make your point about ID cards at all!

Tell me how ID cards would help the Long War on Terrorism (which I support). How would it have prevented Madrid, 9/11 or 7/7?


Have you considered perhaps joining the modern equivalent of the NSDAP?

Might be more your platform, by the sounds of it.

Jennifer - the "Protection" :-) of Terrorism Act was very different in that it was annually renewable after parliamentary debate and as such temporary in the same manner as the Diplock courts.

The trouble with the swathe of Labour "war on terror" legislation is that it is permanent (albeit subject to repeal). In addition, much of it applies to all of us indiscriminately in the form of ID proposals and restrictions on the right to demonstrate.

Brian Haw's installation was a shabby eyesore but it is a disgrace that Labour reacted in the way that it did. The Chartists and the WSPU would not be allowed to state their case in the environs of parliament today.

Is that the best you can do, Machiavelli's Understudy? People who throw charges of Nazism about are usually haven't got any grown up arguments.

Reagan Fan, I could have worded my post better. I do think the polls I referred to back up my contention that the public believe that Labour's authoritarianism will protect them. The polls I refer to do not substantiate my subsidiary point about ID cards.

These charts on UK Polling Report record the public's divided views on ID cards. Unfortunately there do not appear to have been any recent surveys.

For the record I do not support the Government's ID cards scheme.

I am open to a longer period of dention without trial if the security services make a persuasive case that it is necessary to protect the public.

Even if Labour are perceived to be in the right by the Public and indeed (far more likely) the Murdoch press the fact is both ID cards and 90 days aren't going to help in any way with dealing with terrorism so supporting them would be irrational and would just come back to bite us later on. I think border police etc makes much more sense.

The real issue is what can be done to deal with the internal terrorist threat. This undoubtedly requires intelligence from within the moslem community and that will require a host of measures (liason between police and community, investigation and infiltration by security services, cyber counter espionage etc etc) but not one or two big solutions which are both counter-productive and ineffective.

"why have more than 28 days if the main argument for having more is basically breaking encryption"

I doubt encryption is the problem; I think translation is the problem.

The BBC at Cavenham and GCHQ reduced their Arabic-speaking requirement by outsourcing stuff to North Africa where it was cheaper, believe it or not.

The biggest problem they have is finding security-cleared Urdu, Arabic, and speakers and dialect speakers such as Sylheti, Gujerati, etc.

They need to translate documents in order to produce charges for the CPS and to have a holding charge. If the Govt changed the law to permit further questionning after charging a suspect - as in other jurisdictions - the criticality of having all the evidence before charging would not be quite so bad.

The French and Spaniards can hold people in detention without charge because their system is different from English Law; the problems lie in our legal practice rather than the wily encryption methods used by terrorist suspects who have used very crude devices and whom we make out to be masterminds of encryption and IT sophistication.

Somehow I don't think these Jihadi terrorists are Fu Manchu or any great masterminds.

You might find this of interest though

Bin Laden's Eurofighters
By Yassin Musharbash

You don't need to have any technical knowledge at all to use encryption - the near unbreakable versions have been accessible to the layman for at least a decade now.

A socialists first reaction to a problem is draconian. I am living in (very) Socialist Norway just now and its a bloody police state. Without the massive oil revenue this place would be the poor-man of Europe. Even with it, they have a shrinking population with those with any aspirations needing to leave the country of their birth to realise them, and those staying compounding the problem. Sometimes good luck can really be bad luck you know.

I'm all for hanging, flogging and locking up but when it comes to civil liberties I'm very much for the preservation of our traditional freedoms. Only when someone has had a fair trial after a fair procedure and been found guilty should they be exposed to harsh punishment.

"Ineffective authoritarianism is exactly what Labour is offering"
You raised some good points in your post Voreas06 and that was a great soundbite, in fact I think that you have singled out Labour's biggest problem.
2/3 years ago Labour was winning against the opposition parties in the fight to see who was toughest with it's headlines grabbing draconian measures on detention and ID cards.
But I think that the mood has changed dramatically over the last 18 months as the Home Office has imploded, and we have seen just how incompetent this government has been at implementing and managing these policies.
There is no point being the toughest talking party in Westminster if the public have no confidence in your ability to run a whelk store efficiently, never mind one of the largest ministerial departments.

I would have thought that defending our ancient liberties and our justice system was natural tory territory.

Has the difference between right-wing authoritarianism and left-wing authoritarianism something to do with this? I would define right-wing authoritarian as being tough on criminals and thugs with punishments that deter, with police freed to get out and patrol the streets. Left-wing authoritarianism, on the other hand, is tough on the law-abiding and those who do what is right, examples being ID cards and attempts to restrict free speech and conscience.

If Labour is still more in touch with the public mood on crime and security, we have some work to do to convince voters that we will be touigh on crime and terrorism, and to alert them to the dangers of Labour’s brand of authoritarianism, if we are to avoid sleepwalking further into a repressive stalinist state.

As for holding terrorist suspects for longer without trial, my instincts tend to be to support the police in what they think is needed to protect us from the terrorist threat. It is sinister things like ID cards (and road pricing that involves technology that can track where we have been) that must be opposed. As ID cards would impact the law-abiding while not deterring terrorism (am I correct that ID Cards are compulsory in Spain? They failed to prevent the Madrid bombings), one can ask the question why the Big State must hold all the personal information on us that ID cards would entail.

"Ineffective authoritarianism" is a good soundbite in that it means that the authoritarianism is ineffective in tackling the perceived issue it is addressing. But often such supposed issues are just smokescreens for people who want to control and monitor because it is in their political DNA.

In reality however, there is only one thing worse than authoritarianism that is ineffective - and that is authoritarianism that is effective. If it is the latter, it means that all the information they have about you is connected up, so that, for instance, when you get the tough interview with the Inland Revenue because they think you might have an offshore bank account (perfectly fair thing for the State to try to find out and track), they suggest you admit everything because you wouldn't want your wife to see those CCTV pictures of you going into that gay sauna would you? (Information only monitored in the interests of public health, natch; and, after all, surely the State imperative of stamping out tax evasion is purely for the benefit of other taxpayers isn't it?)

I found it rather chilling when Sir I Blair (remember him, never hear from him now do we?) a year or two ago complained that the police didn't even know who was in London at any one time. i.e. they'd try to know if they could, and it's only their ineffectiveness which prevents it. Woe betide the Sussex man who tells his girlfriend he is going shooting for the day when he is really visiting his mistress in London - if the girlfriend happened to have a chum in the police with access to a really effective CCTV and Oyster card movement monitoring system. But of course he is being duplicitous, so he would deserve what came to him, wouldn't he? Thank God for ineffectiveness, but if they have the means, the more effective technology may not be as far behind as we hope.

Frankly, what public opinion polls may or may not currently say on those issues is irrelevant - it's much too important to be bothered about that. But I would observe that my student son says that upholding civil liberties is the one issue on which his generation of students are totally united - so clear blue water on this issue might incidentally motivate some of these people, who are probably very difficult to find in telephone opinion polls, to vote for the first time.

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