Internment again; snap Gordon; clear blue water


The so-called “balancing act” begins again:

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has said the time has come to look again at extending the 28-day limit on holding terrorism suspects.

She told a fringe meeting at Labour’s party conference prevention of terrorism outweighed any potential damage to community relations.

But Ms Smith ruled out extending the controversial period to 90 days.

Why’s that then? Is it because it reminds people of the lobbying by police chiefs, only for the Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair to admit the figure was arbitrary? What happens if the police say that evidence suggests 90 is the number of days needed?

I predict another doubling of the time limit, but only after the election. This is Smith getting us used to the idea of more intrusive and arbitrary policing, and at the same time she’s sending out a signal to the Tories that Labour plans to fight the next election on “toughness”.

When will Brown make the call? Word is, pretty soon.

A snap election could give New Labour a victory, but only if Brown can deal with the EU consti-treaty, perhaps by caving into demands for a referendum on the issue, and he will face embarrassment in Scotland and Wales, where the Labour parties are starting to accept the realities of devolution, though their Westminster MPs can not.

New Labour’s moves against the leadership of the Welsh party are getting more blatant:

An MEP says Welsh Labour must change its strategy of putting “clear red water” between itself and the UK party.

Eluned Morgan made the call at a fringe meeting at the Labour conference while beside the policy’s architect, First Minister Rhodri Morgan.

She said the assembly election showed it was not enough to win key marginals and urged Labour to look past its core vote and appeal to the middle ground.

Morgan is staring power with Plaid Cymru is a decidedly centre-left coalition. Not to the liking of the neoliberal extremists and the “Britain, Britain, Britain” brigade of New Labour. The hostility of Welsh Labour MPs and MEPs to the coalition has been open from the start but there is a risk (for New Labour) that a snap election will push the Welsh party to be more independent-minded and compete/co-operate more with the nationalists.

My bet is that there will be a poll early next year and that this will be announced by Brown as Labour’s conference comes to an end.

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