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.