James Forsyth

Brown and terror

Brown and terror
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Peter Riddell has a very wise column in The Times today. As he points out, what Admiral West said yesterday about 56 day detention was actually quite sensible even if it was a ‘gaffe.’ While the burden of proof should be high for extending the period of detention without charge, it would be glib to dismiss the possibility that it might be necessary at some point. (The current Tory position that it hasn’t been needed yet so is not needed is hardly an example of rigorous thinking.)

Brown’s speech yesterday on counter-terrorism showed that politicians are beginning to grasp that the problem is not just terrorist violence but the ideology of separatism that breeds it. However, listening to it one wondered how all these new initiatives would tie together. Riddell sums up the problem,

It was a classic Brown exercise, the super-swot who has read every book and report and talked to everyone. He is correct that toughness is not enough and isolating extremists is equally important. But there were at least 50 initiatives, reviews and advisory groups in his 20-minute statement yesterday. Most can be justified in their own terms. But the question, as always with Mr Brown, is whether he is trying to do too much: whether quantity may be the enemy of effectiveness.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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