Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
24 June 2010

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

By George Eaton

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.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

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.

Special subscription offer: Get 12 issues for £12 plus a free copy of Andy Beckett’s “When the Lights Went Out”.