One man’s internment…


When it comes to civil liberties, I am totally classist – I don’t hate capitalists as such, I just want to see transformed as a class through the magic of expropriation.

My classism informs my opinions on almost everything, come to think of it:

Conrad Black sent down? What goes around comes around. Cry me a fucking river.

Cadburys chocolate fined a million pounds for poisoning forty consumers? Drop in the bucket – they should be nationalised under workers’ control.

I could go on like this, but you get the idea.

When it comes to civil liberties (and the point of this post) I am firmly against increasing the repressive powers of the state. The “War on Terror” does not warrant the yearly increase in anti-terror law; it could be over tomorrow if the British government stopped terrorising the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is nothing comparable to the Blitz, yet the government has brought in house arrest, done away with free assembly, prohibits political expression in the vicinity of the Westminster parliament, and is to introduce ID cards (biometric this time, accompanied with a DNA database).

Now it harbours the ambition to introduce internment…

In yesterday’s News Line:

HUMAN rights groups yesterday condemned a call from UK police chiefs for indefinite detention without charge or trial.

Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) president Ken Jones, who has been supported by Met Police chief Ian Blair, claimed that police needed to be able to hold terrorist suspects without charge ‘for as long as it takes’ to complete an investigation.

This has already been discussed in meetings between prime minister Brown and a number of police chiefs.

Brown is said to be sympathetic to ACPO’s demands but wants to set an upper limit, lest he be accused of bringing Guantanamo Bay to the UK.

Liberty director Sami Chakrabarti said: ‘We elect politicians to determine legislation.

‘We expect chief constables to uphold the rule of law, not campaign for internment.’

An Amnesty International spokesperson told News Line: ‘The ACPO head’s call is alarming.

‘The right to be properly charged is the dividing line between liberty and arbitrary detention.

‘Indefinite detention as proposed violates the right to liberty and the right to be presumed innocent.

‘It is also questionable whether this proposal will lead to more convictions, because the longer a person is held in police custody, the less likely the courts are to presume any statement has been made voluntarily.’

ACPO chief Jones tried to claim later yesterday, ‘ACPO isn’t campaigning for internment or any Guantanamo-type solution to the United Kingdom.’

He added that, ‘We need to have a debate around the different checks and balances around the process of pre-charge detention.’

Jones claimed he believed ‘Parliament should be the final arbiter’.

He further claimed that, ‘I did not argue for indefinite detention’ but he admitted that earlier, ‘I did say as long as it takes, providing that’s proportionate and necessary and that would be certified by a judge.’ [Emphasis added]

And in today’s Sun, George Pascoe Watson writes:

THE number of suspected Muslim terrorists in the UK has multiplied nearly FOUR TIMES in seven months, security chiefs have been told.

A staggering 2,000 active terrorists are under watch in Britain. And there are another 2,000 sympathisers.

It is a massive rise from the 1,200 warned about by MI5’s former head seven months ago.

The chiefs of MI5, Scotland Yard and MI6 were told the figure last week.

Last night new Security Minister Lord West said: “This is a real threat to this nation and we have got to somehow confront it. The scale of this whole thing is quite dramatic.”

Lord West knows a lot about law. He sought legal advice before the Iraq war. I bet his lawyers said, “Don’t worry Alan, it’ll never reach court!” when they gave their verdict. Or maybe he got the same advice as the former Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith?

Unfortunately Lord West knows nothing about Britain: it is not a nation, it is a multinational state.

But here’s the killer:

Gordon Brown wants a law change so suspects are held indefinitely and go before a judge every seven days. He is calling for a cross-party deal to avoid Commons defeat. [Emphasis added]

Gordon Brown wants? Well, I am sure he shares his darkest desires with the Scum – the paper of billionaire media imperialist Rupert Murdoch, the renowned tax-dodger and union-buster.

There we have it, from a reliable source – Brown wants internment. He’s written a list of people he’d like to detain, but for the time being Alex Salmond is a free man.

Notice that the article starts off about the suspicions of the spooks, but slips in bit about internment. All in the interests of national security, I’m sure. If Lord West can remember which nation’s security he is tasked with defending…

The true agenda is not security, not for us anyway. Tearing up the rights to – and closing the discourse of – due process is something for all of us to be concerned about. You might be light skinned and clean shaven, that won’t insure you against detention.

“Innocent until proven guilty by a jury of one’s peers” is to become “innocent until interned and interrogated by the securocrats… until the judge stops rubber-stamping it”.

It has started with Muslims, but it won’t end there. To cling to power and to resist threats from below, the ruling class will resort to the most extreme tactics – and perhaps they have already started with a “strategy of tension”. Who knows for sure?

And there’s something unnerving about the internment debate besides its content. Look who’s talking:

Ken Jones (unelected lobbyist for police chiefs, who are also unelected)

Sir Ian Blair (who was appointed by Tony Blair)

Lord Alan West (unelected member of the Brown administration, made a Lord by Gord)

And the man himself, the strong, silent type – Gordon Brown, unelected Prime Minister, chosen by his fellow MPs. Ordinary members of the Labour Party did not vote for Gordon. The post of Prime Minister is not directly-elected (though there is a de facto presidential system). That leaves Brown’s constituents, an electorate numbering considerably less than 60 million…

Perhaps it wouldn’t matter if Brown’s policies were popular, but if they were popular with a majority of people in the UK – if they improved the living conditions of working class people, then Brown’s authoritarian streak would be magnified.

As it happens, Brown’s being a good boy. No internment for him!

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