In yesterday’s Times piece David seems not to like Shami Chakrabarti.
Which, once again, infuriated Shami Chakrabarti, of Liberty. “If Friday was intended as Mr Blair’s ‘fight them on the beaches’ moment,” she wrote yesterday, “I am afraid that he blew it.” Great wartime leaders, she implied, don’t mess about with cherished liberties.
Except, of course, that that is exactly what they do do. As David Blunkett likes to point out, Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in September 1862 and in 1940 Winston banged up over a thousand Mosleyites under the famous Defence Regulation 18b, their only right of appeal being to an advisory committee, which would rule on the basis of an intelligence assessment that the detainees never saw.
I like the “once again” there. You cannot accuse David’s snide of lacking subtlety. He knows he’s fighting a rearguard battle (against those Islingtonians and, well, anyone who didn’t use to be a self-satisfied police state supporting Trot, provided it was his lot’s police state of course) and boldness is not his friend here.
Here’s right-wing blogger, political insider, and copper-bottomed cynic Guido Fawkes:
Liberty is reputedly laden with Hampstead liberals, but increasingly right-wing libertarians recognise the value of an organisation which was once monitored by MI5 as subversive (in the days when Patricia Hewitt was involved). Liberty is not really a twenty wonk strong think-tank, its more a human rights organisation. Something worth supporting whatever your party allegiance.
The Yank equivalent of Liberty is the ACLU. It’s suddenly popular among bloggers on the far side of the pond: hilzoy of Obsidian Wings; The Poor Man; and Radley Balko.
David is certainly right when he says, “Libertarian slogans won’t cut it” no they won’t; only action will. I hate blogging: now I have to add myself to Liberty‘s members.
One more thing. David can still write nonsense paragraphs with the best of them, and the Thunderer doesn’t even try to stop him. Try this for size.
He [Tony Blair] knows, because this is what he is good at, that people wonder why the French can take action when we apparently can’t, and yet no one suggests that Paris is at the heart of an authoritarian state. Or that the German interior minister, Otto Schily, can demand whether it is “really unthinkable that they (rogue preachers) should be isolated for a period of time” without being denounced as a born-again totalitarian.
How does our David know what Tony Blair knows? And what is the PM “good at”? — knowing things? How does Mr Blair know that other people wonder things? Is there a secret room in Number 10 where the PM dons a telepathic helmet and reads the thoughts of the people? (It’s a frightening thought, for him I mean. I wouldn’t do it.) Or does he just read the letters to the Daily Mail? People were suggesting all sorts of things about the French, until about two months ago: Nazi collaborators, spineless cheese eaters, etc; and, as it happens, I do find aspects of French law unliberal and authoritarian. Again, I don’t know how our favourite comment writer knows what’s said in every bierkeller, but let’s suppose that he’s right. Herr Schily hasn’t been “denounced as a born-again totalitarian.” And, if you take this Biblical worldview test, you should know that the wording “separation of church and state” is not found in the U.S. Constitution.
Of course, I’m sure people do wonder exactly what David suggests, just as I’m sure “people” wonder why noone listened to Enoch Powell, and “people” wonder why noone believes them when they say Bush and Blair are dirty great blood-drinking lizards.
Meanwhile Britain has still failed, after a decade, to extradite Rachid Ramda to France on charges of having financed the group behind the 1995 Paris Métro bombing campaign. Imagine how we would feel if the situation were reversed.
Imagining this isn’t hard. Remember the IRA? And have we extraditied one Bostonian sponsor? Our Allies against terror are a little selective it seems.