July 09, 2007
Sir Norman Brook
From the FT. So, who will be our Sir Norman Brooks, one for our times?
Inside a jittery Number 10, the new prime minister has come under pressure ... to pass new laws to counter such treachery. They are laws that will restrict civil liberties as they have not been restricted in peacetime for centuries. Uncertain how to face the hawks in his cabinet next day, the prime minister turns to his cabinet secretary for advice.
The civil servant replies: “You [should] challenge the critics to say whether they are prepared to ... arrest on suspicion, to detain without trial, to extract ‘confessions’ by duress, etc. Are they prepared to tear up Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights, and to abandon our traditional conceptions of justice and fair dealing? Most of us are not prepared to abandon the rights and liberties and way of life which we have fought so hard to preserve. And we have enough sense of proportion to see that an occasional jihadi is not too high a price to pay for those things.”
This may sound like some imagined exchange... But it is not... The only liberty I have taken with the account is to replace one word. The cabinet secretary did not write “jihadi”; he wrote “Maclean”
Unfortunately, we appear to have a Cabinet that would read that list and go, yes, alright then, let's do it. As Charlie the Safety Elephant did with the results of the Belmarsh case: if only locking up foreigners without trial is discrimination then let's lock up the Brits as well.
Sir Norman, wherefore art thou?
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