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Why I voted against 90 days

November 2006

Last week I voted for this bill because I had an assurance from a cabinet minister that this week the 90 days would be dropped, probably in favour of 28 days.

That would have resulted in Labour and Tories voting for 28 days and the LibDems for 14 days this week. The result would have been 28 days or a similar period.

On Monday I had phone call from a young Muslim constituent who pointed out the unhappiness among Muslim that this law would unfairly discriminate against his community. You many well say this is the price for the fact that the terrorist atrocities were all committed by Muslims. There is no sympathy for anyone guilty of planning terrorist acts being held without charge for 90 days. But inevitably innocent people from one community will be held. That would deepen the sense of injustice that is fuelling the twisted delusions of the terrorists.

It's a repeat of internment in Northern Ireland when the Government was
persuaded to act 'tough' and lock people up without
trial. It's admitted by all that internment was responsible for
attracting recruits to the IRA cause and increasing
the number of acts of terrorism. I spoke at the
Parliamentary Labour Party on Monday and told Tony
Blair that if we go for the over-reaction of 90 days,
we are likely to increase acts of terrorism here.

Before the decision to go to war in Iraq I wrote to
Tony Blair, spoke and put down EDMs saying 'Attacking
a Muslim state before a Palestine settlement could
create the ‘living nightmare’ of a terrorist attack
here' That has been on my website since February 2003.
The same experts and Prime Minister who assured us
that there were WMD in Iraq are now telling us that we
need 90 days. 139 Labour MPs voted against the war,
another 78 wished they had followed up their
opposition and also voted against. The results of that
vote are the deaths of 97 British soldiers and the
killing of 52 people in London on 7/7.

Sensible senior people of all parties, Ken Clarke, Min
Campbell, John Denham argued that 90 days was a gross
over-reaction. It it's justified, why not apply it
child murderers and other serious offenders? Anyway, 90
days could never become law because it would have
been savaged by the House of Lords and would be in
conflict with international treaties we have signed.

It was strongly argued on Monday that our insisting on 90 days instead
of seeking a compromise would put the Tories in the
politically embarrassing position of appearing to
support terrorism and opposing public opinion. The two
Davids were attacked for this by the Sun yesterday.
This is cynical political opportunism of the worst kind.

The Chief Constable was recruited to contact me last
weekend. This is first time ever that this has
happened and I answered his e-mails. The Sun urged
their readers to ring up their MPs and we were
subjected to heavy whipping which resulted in a fist
fight in a lobby between two Labour MPs. It's been a
nightmare week. The political reasons for insisting on
90 days have not, I believe, become part of the debate
but were one of the main reasons for the row. All
Labour MPs loathe voting against our government. I am
not in the top 25 of those who have voted against.

I also told Tony Blair Monday that his three stunning
victories has earned the legacy of the greatest
servant of the Labour party in our 100 year history.

49 Labour MPs voted against 90 days, 14 abstained and
about 20 voted for very grudgingly. On the votes of the
reform of the NHS and Education service in England
those votes against will be more than a 100. The
leadership must accept the arithmetic of the new
parliament and debate with their own MPs. They do not
do so now.