Home Secretary lashes out as 42 days defeated... for now

Disgraceful speech from the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith this evening, as she dropped proposals for 42 days detention without charge, yet announced a new piece of counter-terrorism legislation to contain similar proposals in response to the rout her government had earlier suffered at the hands of the Lords.

As she revealed the outline of the Counter-terrorism 'temporary provisions' Bill, she accused those who opposed 42 days detention of underestimating the terrorist threat and of taking Britain's security lightly. Opposition spokespersons were having none of it in a well-attended and stormy Commons. The SNP's Pete Wishart rightly described her performance as an act of "petulant defiance".

Her attacks on defenders of Britain's ancient civil liberties were a transparent attempt at face-saving after a 309-118 government defeat in the Lords. Not even DUP peers were able to rescue the government on this occasion and UUP peers had earlier pledged to vote against the government.

Well done to all those who rallied behind the campaigns of Amnesty and others in defeating the government's proposals. Continued vigilance for the next attempt to erode rights will be required.

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