Alex Massie

Former PM Offers Sanity (Obviously it ain’t ACL Blair)

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I suspect that MPs are sufficiently craven - and willing to put the government's political prospects ahead of any petty concerns about principle or, god help us, justice - that they will endorse the government's appalling proposal that terrorist suspects can be held for up to 42 days before the state need produce a charge.

In a better, more sensible world, all MPs would read John Major's article in The Times yesterday. For good measure Major, who of course survived an IRA assassination attempt himself (a mortar attack on Downing Street that blew in the windows during a cabinet meeting), decries the illiberality of the government's ID card proposals and (in England) its determination to have everyone's DNA held on a government database. His conclusion is the sort of copper-bottomed sanity one can find all over the blogosphere but that is, shall we say, rather less common amongst elected representatives and former Prime Ministers:

No one can rule out the possibility of another atrocity - but a free and open society is worth a certain amount of risk. A siege society is alien to our core instincts and - once in place - will be difficult to dismantle. It is a road down which we should not go.

Quite so. Labour, of course, snigger that Major is "out the loop". That's safer than trying to actually, you know, defend this monstrous bill.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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Topics in this articlePoliticslabour partyterrorism