'No-one gives a damn about civil liberties

Bob Marshall-Andrews, QC and rebel Labour MP, has joined the campaign to elect David Davis in todays Haltemprice and Howden by-election as a means of defending UK domestic human rights.

Writing in the Yorkshire Post, he takes a tilt at the 9 DUP and 1 UUP MPs who voted to back the Governments counter-terrorism bill, claiming that they didnt even attend the debate (not surprising, given that most of them were closeted in a behind closed doors meeting with the Prime Minister not doing any deal!):

The failure of the Government to carry the argument on 42 days was starkly illustrated by the lamentable means by which it achieved its majority on back of the Unionist vote. Claims by Irish MPs to have been motivated by pure principle, and not offered advantage, might have assumed minimal credence if a single one of them had attended the debate.

Given the jeers of "shame" from the Tory benches when the Commons vote was announced, it is clear that the Unionist principled vote has left many GB MPs – of all political hues – feeling pretty jaundiced with some of our local representatives

In the same article, Marshall-Andrews relates a rather chilling tale of a meeting years ago with a government chief whip…

I had been invited to her room to discuss my my persistent failure to support the Government on legislation concerning human rights. It was not an unfriendly meeting. I expressed the view that the continued and continuous erosion of individual and political freedom would prove disastrous at the ballot box.

She smiled wearily with disbelief. "People in my constituency dont give a damn about civil liberties," she said. There were three depressing things about this statement. The first is the remote possibility that it may be true. The second is that she firmly believes it is true and the third is that she obviously approves of it. In her view the collective indifference of her constituents chimes precisely and accurately with Government policy.

Lets hope the ICM poll, already blogged by Steve B, showing 60% against 42 days, can help scotch this suggestion that no-one gives a damn about civil liberties.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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