Dear Alun Michael MP,
I am writing to ask you to vote against the government’s plans to extend from 28 to 42 days the period for which suspects can be interned in the UK.
I am not afraid of terrorism and I don’t want my representatives to be afraid on my behalf. I understand that it is not possible to stop all terrorist acts. I consider the risk to be acceptable because terrorism is incredibly rare: you are more likely to be killed by your own trousers than in an act of random political violence!
Please lobby the government to adopt a security strategy that preserves liberty rather than sacrificing it. Here are two suggestions:
- Invest in the intelligence services. The alleged “liquid bomb” plot was foiled not by imprisoning people without charge or through an Orwellian database system, but by effective, co-ordinated intelligence work over many months. We need more of this. Intelligence works without having to know in advance what the next plot might be and, with proper judicial oversight, it enables us to attack the risk of terrorism in a proportionate way without sacrificing liberty.
- Invest in emergency response. Our emergency services have an excellent track record managing all kinds of incidents, from flooding to suicide bombings. Emergency response is valuable whatever the threat. It is an efficient and effective way to spend money on security that has negligible effect on liberty.
Over the coming days you will be asked by the whips whether the human rights of terrorist suspects are really more important than the stability of the Labour government. You should discard this argument: the success of the government has nothing to do with the matter at hand. Governments come and go, but our fundamental human rights must endure. As a principled and long-serving member of parliament I know you understand this important point.
Please therefore vote against any measures that would extend powers of detention without charge.
Have you written to your MP about the issue of 42 days detention? Did you get a response? Was it what you had hoped for?
If you haven’t yet, there’s still time (go here for information on what to do). Please don’t copy and paste my letter though. It is CC licensed like all the content on this blog, but spamming MPs with multiple copies of the same letter reduces the effectiveness of a campaign. Putting your own thoughts into words doesn’t take long and will make a difference.