Davis attacks coalition on civil liberties -- Labour should join him

The next Labour leader should oppose the 28-day detention limit and remake Labour as the party of li

David Davis is fast becoming the top Tory rebel. He led the opposition to the coalition's 55 per cent rule and was one of those who forced George Osborne to minimise the increase in capital gains tax.

Today he's back on his favourite civil libertarian beat, criticising the Home Secretary Theresa May's decision to renew the 28-day detention limit.

Here is his statement:

Whilst it is welcome that she is having this review of Labour's heavy-handed legislation, and whilst it is at least welcome that this is a six-month rather than one-year review, it is wholly unnecessary to extend further.

There have been no cases in the last four years where it has been necessary to go beyond 21 days. Even in the Heathrow plot, where innocent people were held for 28 days, it has now been proven that those that were charged after this lengthy period could have been charged in less than 14 days.

This extension is therefore unnecessary and regrettable. It is to be hoped that after the six-month review we will see an end not just to this unnecessarily authoritarian law, but also to control orders and their regime of house arrest, internal exile and secret courts, all of which are an anathema of British standards of justice.

Davis has a good case. The 28-day limit is by far the longest pre-charge detention of any comparable democracy, and it remains an affront to basic human rights.

One wonders what Labour's position will be going forward. After the authoritarianism of the Blair/Brown years, the next leader has a chance to remake Labour as the party of liberty and equality. And if they hope to undermine the coalition from the start, an alliance of convenience with Davis might look very attractive indeed.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Gordon Brown contemplated making Alastair Campbell a minister

The move is revealed in Ed Balls' new book.

Gordon Brown contemplated making Alastair Campbell, a sports minister. Campbell had served as Tony Blair’s press chief from 1994 to 2003, Ed Balls has revealed.

Although the move fell through, Campbell would have been one of a number of high-profile ministerial appointments, usually through the Lords, made by Brown during his tenure at 10 Downing Street.

Other unusual appointments included the so-called “Goats” appointed in 2007, part of what Brown dubbed “the government of all the talents”, in which Ara Darzi, a respected surgeon, Mark Malloch-Brown, formerly a United Nations diplomat,  Alan West, a former admiral, Paul Myners, a  successful businessman, and Digby Jones, former director-general of the CBI, took ministerial posts and seats in the Lords. While Darzi, West and Myners were seen as successes on Whitehall, Jones quit the government after a year and became a vocal critic of both Brown’s successors as Labour leader, Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn.

The story is revealed in Ed Balls’ new book, Speaking Out, a record of his time as a backroom adviser and later Cabinet and shadow cabinet minister until the loss of his seat in May 2015. It is published 6 September.