Sunday, June 22, 2008

David Davis' Principled Stand On Civil Liberties

Many people have asked about my thoughts on David Davis’ resignation from the Shadow Cabinet and the calling of the by-election here in Haltemprice and Howden.

I am not in favour of the proposed detention of 'terrorist suspects' for 42 days or even 28 days for that matter, but I am in favour of detaining 'terrorists' for 42 days, 42 years or even 142 years. The issue being someone suspected of being a terrorist without charge is very much different to someone being convicted of terrorism.

To put a man in jail for 6 weeks without him knowing why he is being held or what he’s been accused of is difficult to comprehend. Then he is released without charge (exactly what has happened to half of those who have been held for 28 days) imagine what would have happened to his reputation, his job and his family. I would not want this to happen to me - or anyone I know because of say ‘mistaken identity’.

Many associate terrorism with Islam and Muslim communities, strange then that a retired non-Muslim was accused of an act of terrorism when heckling the Prime Minister at a Labour Party conference.

A good friend working within the Prison Service put this into perspective recently when he said,

“Consider a young Muslim man accused of a terrorist act and in jail without charge for six weeks, whose only crime was to have the same name as another suspect. For six weeks he is held alongside convicted terrorists, he is subjected constantly to the rantings of these extremists, his family on the outside are ‘looked after’ by sympathisers. You can imagine this man may not have been a terrorist when first incarcerated but there is a likelihood he may well be on his release”.

I am also uncomfortable with the snooping society in which we live, not the CCTV camera’s that have been proven to reduce and help solve crime and anti-social behaviour – but all those cameras that are used to monitor our privacy and store information about us as we go about our daily lives. It’s not the cameras; it’s the people who have access to the information that worries me. I don’t really want this ‘Big Brother’ Government or Local Authorities to know everything I do, whom I meet, and where I go.

This also goes for ID cards; I carry photo identification most of the time anyway so the card is not the issue, it’s the information behind the card the Government is planning to hold that is the problem. I don’t want the Government to hold all my medical records, my travel records, my phone records, my email address (so they can snoop on any website I visit or email I send or receive) or my tax and spending records. Also would anyone want to put all this information in the trust of the Government for safekeeping? With its recent record in this area - I wouldn’t!

I have known David Davis for many years and respect him as a man of conviction and principle. I can fully support his actions in raising these issues by resigning from the Shadow Cabinet and precipitating this by-election. This is about halting the erosion of our civil liberties precipitated by Governments over the years, but particularly so with this present Government, who after much dithering, don’t even have the courage to put up a Labour candidate in order to present their case.

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