12 November 2005
New Labour, the police & 90 days' detention without charge
It turns out that we were all wrong about this one. The police only lobbied to get the Commons to vote for a 90 day detention without charge because Charles Clarke asked them to do it. He knew on the 3rd November that the government was likely to lose the vote, so he asked the chief constables to help out.
This one is just going to backfire, and what is left of Labour's membership are going to be outraged. It is not all that long ago that Labour canvassers were getting harrassed in some areas by the police. The industrial wing of the movement has a whole catalogue of instances where the police have acted as an escort agency for scabs, and ordinary people will be able to chip in with tales of kids harrassed, fathers picked up on spurious charges and homes left wrecked as the police conduct their "search for evidence". The police are not the friends of the Labour Movement and we all know that. At best they are a necessary evil, but one that we want kept well away from us.
Funnily enough, the Daily Telegraph has come up with the notion of directly electing the High Sheriffs of each county, and both Tory candidates for that party's leadership support the idea. I can remember when the South Yorkshire police were turned loose on striking miners and the local police committee tried to reel them in by refusing to vote money to buy new police equipment. The then chief costable went to the courts and got an order forcing the county to give him the money. If an elected High Sheriff could put a stop to events like that, then I am all for elected High Sheriffs. Of course, middle class areas will probably do things differently, but who cares? We don't live in West Scumbagland, do we?