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Monday, November 07, 2005 

Blair continues to demand 90 days, while everyone else wants nothing to do with it.

Is Tony Blair finally losing his mind, as all prime ministers are supposed to? His stand on the draconian up to 90-day without trial detention plan is either an highly principled stand which he truly believes in, or is evidence of his psyche on the edge of cracking. Does any other politician apart from him actually believe that 90 days are necessary? Charles Clarke is just being supportive; it's obvious that he always felt 90 days was a stupidly long figure. The opposition leaders are united in saying 90 days is a length of time too far. The Labour rebels have been woke up thanks to Blair's insistence on what amounts to a six-month jail sentence for those suspected of terrorism.

Blair's monthly press conference was full of the usual hyperbolic rhetoric which he always turns to when his plans are being opposed.

"If we are forced to compromise, it will be a compromise with the nation's security."

"We do not want to compromise on the 90 days at all," he said. "It is not the right thing for the country. Be under no doubt about that at all."

So, those who are arrested now under the current legislation who can be held for 14 days are in effect threatening the nations' security if they have to be released due to the police not having enough time to acquire incriminating evidence? This is plainly nonsense. If they have some evidence of any small misdemenaour, they could charge the offender and remand them in custody to continue the investigation. It would also be stupid to imagine that anyone arrested under suspicion of terrorism but then released is not going to be monitored by MI5 - you only have to look back at the way Special Branch and MI5 operated against left-wingers right up until the beginning of the 90s to realise that they will be under close surveillance. Blair's claims that this is what the police are demanding is probably accurate - but it is not what the intelligence services are necessarily demanding, as the Scotsman has revealed. It also whispered that many chief constables around the country are by no means convinced that 90 days is necessary or would even be helpful.

I'd like to think that Blair's position can be attributed to one of the two things I started this post with. It's actually once again more likely to be posturing to a tabloid press that continues to demand blood, that covered last week's remembrance service as if it was a royal coronation and not the deeply politicised event which some relatives of the bereaved boycotted. Blair is still trying to gain capital from the attacks on the 7th of July, and if the opposition backs down, he will have succeeded not only in denying that the attacks had anything to do with Iraq, but also in trying to regain control of his party and the country through the blood-letting of commuters.

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