Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Has David Davis's National Debate Been Sparked?

When David Davis resigned his seat he said he wanted to speak a national debate on 42 days and the surveillance society. Despite not having a serious opponent he has managed to get across quite a large part of the national media. If some new poll evidence is to believed, people are now starting to have decond thoughts over their previous support for 42 days, ID cards and the unresricted use of a DNA database.

A Joseph Rowntree/ ICM poll ftoday has found that that 61% of people oppose detaining terrorist suspects for longer than 28 days. Four weeks ago 69% were said to support the government view on 42 days. This adds weight to the view that the more people hear about 42 days, the less they like it.

The ICM poll shows that whilst 36% of those asked think people who may be guilty of a terrorist offence should be held in detention for up to six week, or 42 days, before they are charged or released, 32% say it should be up to four weeks, 13% up to two weeks, 10% up to one week and 6% up to four days.

On detention, significantly, when told that six weeks in custody is equivalent to the prison sentence which someone might serve if found guilty of an offence such as burglary or assault people change their minds. Of those who said terrorist suspects should be held for up to six weeks before being charged or released, more than a third (35%) changed their minds when told this and agreed it is not right to hold someone who may be innocent for so long.

Even more interestingly, in the same poll 74% of people do not support the permanent retention of DNA for innocent people and suspects who are acquitted. David Davis has made clear his view that it is ridiculous that the government has one million innocent people on its database, yet leaves off serious criminals. It seems the public agrees.

47% of people say that DNA profiles should not be kept at all by the police if someone is never charged with an offence or is acquitted, with a further 27% saying they should be kept for a limited time only.

93% believe DNA profiles should be kept permanently on a database if someone is convicted of a serious violent or sexual offence such as rape or murder. Only 33% of people believe these rules should also apply to those convicted of a lesser offence such as being drunk and disorderly. If a person is convicted of a ‘public order offence’, two-thirds of people say that their DNA records should either be kept for a limited time only (47%), or not at all (19%).

All this comes on the day after the former Head of MI5, Lady Manningham Buller said in the House of Lords that the didn't support 42 days. Neither does her predecessor Stella Rimington. Neither does the former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith. Neither does the former Justice Secretary Lord Falconer. Neither do various former Metropolitan Police Commissioners. Neither does the Director of Public Prosecutions. Need I go on?

The 42 day proposal will not get through the House of Lords and the government will be in even more of a mess than it is at the moment. I suspect that whatever national debate David Davis has sparked in the last three weeks, will be nothing compared to what is about to come.


Donal Blaney said...

Isn't that where you hat tip?


Anonymous said...

It's not really about the Government being in more of a mess than it already is (well, it shouldn't be) - it should be about the good of the country, representing the people, protecting our civil liberties.

If the Tories turn this into more political point scoring the message that 42 days is wrong will be lost amongst the party politics.

Iain Dale said...

Donal, it might be had I read your blog before I wrote mine! Just proves that great minds think alike!

Donal Blaney said...

How dare you classify me in the same class as you! I am an attack blog and you are mainstream :-P

Anonymous said...

martyn said..

shows that someone is working in the Broon Bunker!

What utter tripe he writes. In this country people are innocent until proven guilty.

Perhpas this government should look at:-
1.The Human Rights Act which allows terrorists to remain in this country!
2.Their policy which has allowed so many immigrants into this country they have no idea how many!

The Labour Government have removed our borders, allowed terrorists to live amongst us and now want to detain people without charging them for 42 days! just say that slowly 42 days = 1008 hours= 60480 minutes!!

Perhaps, martyn said, you should try just 24 hours in a small cell and see how you like it!

You do not remove all the people's rights to fight terrorism. That just tells the terrorist that they have won!

Anonymous said...

With the European Arrest Warrant we can now be carted off to Greece or somewhere on the say so of a foreign magistrate, accused of something that may not even be a crime in the UK, and held without charge for well more than 42 days.

Come on David - tell the full story.

Anonymous said...

But, Martyn, the govt line has been that Tories are soft on terrorism - isn't that playing party politics on such an important issue?

What DD and all of us should also be pointing out that macho posturing on holding without charge for 42 days is pointless, when we can't even deport known terrorists and have to pay them welfare benefits!

Anonymous said...

A good subbing rule is never put a question mark in a headline.

The answer is invariably no.

Unsworth said...


"great minds think alike!"

Or, as I sometimes observe, "Fools seldom differ".

Anonymous said...

"I don't see on a practical basis, as well as a principled one, that these proposals are in any way workable."

This is from Eliza Manningham-Buller's speech about 42 days in the Lords. Given the whole 4 minute speech,I think that you will agree that David Davis' national debate on 42 days has been concluded (neatly in time for the Haltemprice poll tomorrow).

Anonymous said...

Martyn, it is not the Tories who are indulging in political point scoring on this issue. I think you'll find that accolade belongs solely to Gordon Brown and his cronies...

Richard Nabavi said...

I am sure DD has raised the profile of these issues. Whether it will make a difference in the long term is hard to say. He has probably torpedoed the 42-days measure, but then it may well never have got on to the statute books anyway.

The poll you cite is interesting because it seems to have asked more targetted questions than some of the previous polls which have been quoted. Asking people whether they support 42-day detention of 'suspected terrorists' is a highly biased question. You'd get a different answer if you asked if they support 42-day detention of people 'caught up in investigations of terrorism but never charged with any crime'.

Anonymous said...

The 42 days proposal has already served its only purpose. It has enabled Gordon Brown to imply that the Tories are soft on terrorism. Unfortunately for him, no one is listening.

Now, typically, he finds himself in a fight on ground not of his choosing, and where the outcome is uncertain. He must be the most unskilful politician of the age; utterly blinkered by his obsession with the Tories.

(Further evidence of ineptitude: Lecturing the great British public on the need to conserve food before sitting down to a fifteen course banquet. Can you imagine that happening in Alistair Campbell's day?)

Alex Folkes said...

Simple answer - no.
A few more people are asking opinion poll questions, one more interview on the subject is held on Radio 5, DD will be re-elected without proving anything at the cost of his front bench career and hundreds of thousands of pounds. The Government still holds the same view. The Lords will still defeat the measure.
Sorry, but it's been a waste of time.

Newmania said...

Iain the whole issue is about to be given a shot in the arm by the quite astonishing plans the mis-government has to allow anonymong witnesses at the drop of a Police Helmet. You of all people know the sort of slavering sputum spouted by the anons and now it is to be introduced the country of open justice .Its all so .....f---ing typical. What does a government do faced with an epidemic of violence and terrified witnesses ?

1 Bang Up The violent and let it be know that if anyone so much as says ''knife' and they are doing serious time

2 Pretend it is not happening by devoting endless Police resources to falsifying figures

3 Make calling the Police so pointless the problem of reported crime disappears in a puff of statistics

4 Take back the Streets from the thugs so witnesses have nothing to fear

5 Write a perjurers charter for anonymous witnesses.Allow the Police to decide who is guilty or not and desecrate of our s near sacred rights enshrined in our history and coincidentally/unnecessarily against EU human rights law

1 No
2 Yes
3 Yes
4 No

This has got to be stopped . It is a more serious matter than detention without trial which is a tactical judgement .It strikes at the heart of everything we know to be justice .As Conservatives we can express our horror without any of the ambivalence that I , at least , felt about the proposed detention , couched as a matter of principle .

Please DD ..get onto this immediately we are on a ship with an insane Captain and in deadly peril.

Anonymous said...

How many people actually know that your DNA can be kept if you're a witness to crime? Or if you help out someone in distress? A man in my local area saw a female motorist being beaten up by some man. Stopped to help. Police were called, and DNA of ALL 3 were kept. This guy's father has been remonstrating with police to get his son's DNA off the database, the police aren't interested.
We've heard of tots' fingerprints being kept when they borrow school library books. One lady in my local area smacked her toddler son who was running into traffic. She and her husband got a knock on the door as she was seen on CCTV?! It was in the local paper. And they were interviewing she and her husband to see if the little one should be taken away.
I'm not sure many people know how bad things are.
Plus, you could serve the equivalent of a 3 month sentence in jail without knowing why you're there. And we're lecturing Zimbabwe!
This vote is basically a pathetic attempt by Brown to make Tories look soft on terrorism. Sadly there are too many useful idiots in this country helping out Nu Labour in its quest to make England history.

Anonymous said...

For a burglar to actually serve 42 days, he would have to be sentenced to 240 days. Non-violent offenders only serve 25% of their prison sentence and all prisoners currently have 18 days cut from their sentences to reduce overcrowding.

So, 240/4 = 60days -18days = 42days

Anonymous said...

It may indeed be that the Lords would have rejected the 42 day proposals anyway, but that just sends it back to the Commons.

On ID cards, the Commons sent the bill to the Lords 5 times before there was a capitulation by the Lords because they believed the government was going to use the Parliament Act in any case. I think we can assume that the Lords would have refused to pass this similarly horrible bill whatever DD had done.

But then it goes back to the Commons - does anyone really think that the Commons will continue to send it back again and again? Particularly as it becomes clearer and clearer that, once people understand what it means (and you need a debate for that), support for 42 days doesn't hold up.

Personally I can't help but think that if DD hadn't made his stand that we would have had a similar situation with ID Cards, lack of debate enabling the govt to claim that this is what the people and the democratically elected house wants, and that in the end the bill would have been passed. That seems massively more unlikely now. If and when this proposal is put to bed the country will have him to thank. Well done DD.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I almost became david Davis's opponent.

In the end, it was best that I didn't but part of me regrets that decision.

My stance would have been to oppose 42 days as almost all of my Labour friends(99.999%) are against it.

David Davis should target what police actually have on record for anyone 'questioned'.

There is some sort of service available whereby members of the public can gain access to this information and then maybe those whose lives are intruded may join in.

Anonymous said...

"Neither do various former Metropolitan Police Commissioners."

But last night the loyal bbc managed to find one for the PM programme. He did sound to me like he's a bit thick though.

Lola said...

Morally and financially bankrupt administrations everywhere in the world and throughout all of history tend to totalitarianism. They have nothing else.

Lola said...

Sorry, losing my persective in my previous post and ignored the headline question.

No. It hasn't. It should have but it just hasn't.

rosie said...

This poll raises another very big issue.
Just what a punk (in the meaning 10th rate) leader the Tories now have.
Don't forget that liberal Dave was less than generous or supportive of DD and will now undoubtedly jump on the bandwagon and take any kudos on offer.
DD will always carry the black stain of Maastricht but even a sinner can earn forgiveness.
How in the heck did the Tory party collectively vote in a lightweight waffler like Shameron when they could have had the substance of DD.
If ever this has been shown up its over their comparative behavior on the 42 days.

Anonymous said...

Alex is mistaken. Public opinion has been turned around, mostly by keeping the focus on the subject.

I've seen articles in This Week, The Economist, The New Statesman as well as all the other press over the last month. Its the sort of coverage you can't buy.

In addition DD has been on Question Time and Any Questions and any other list of appearances.

The Government has been forced from its initial smears and derision, to having to engage - if through proxies and hastily arranged speeches - on the issue.

Also other have been emboldened to make a stand on the issue. ( Not something you can directly measure, but highly important ).

David Davis has also captured the popular imagination - silencing the cynics in Westminster.

Gordon Brown has been shown to be a coward who lacks the courage of his convictions (running away from the election - again), but still wishes to destroy centuries old freedoms that are part of our very identity for his narrow personal political advantage.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your last point Iain - that DD's efforts at promoting a debate will be dwarfed by the debate in the Lords. The fact is, no-one is taking any notice of the by-election. That's not Labour's fault for not standing; it's DD's fault for sparking it in the first place. I admire your loyalty to him, but there is barely an MP, even of his own party, who will say privately that what he has done makes any sense at all.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @July 09, 2008 11:19 AM

I think you're confusing my words - I'm not endorsing 42 days, quite the opposite.

I think members from all parties who have any loyalty to the country which they serve should stand shoulder to shoulder and attempt to defeat it - NOT use the debate to score points. That's what I'm getting at.

I'm my mind this isssue isn't so much about how bad Gordon Brown is, it's about how we can stop more errosion of our civil liberties.

Those who support this bill think that innocent people wont get caught up in it are deluded.

This is bigger than the paries, and all (sensible) ministers should take a step back and consider the future they are creating.

p.s. I love how because I'm not singing DD's praises I'm assumed to be a Labour troll when I'm nothing of the sort.

Anonymous said...

Erm, no, Iain. It hasn't been sparked.

fairdealphil said...

Iain, you list half a dozen people against 42 days and ask:
'Need I go on?'

Er, yes please:

here's another half dozen people listed in the Sunday Telegraph who are FOR 42 days:

1. Sir Ian Blair, current Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who gave evidence to the Commons' Counter-Terrorism Bill standing committee in favour of 42 days.

2. Peter Clarke, former head of Scotland Yard counter terrorism command. He's concerned about the current 'race against time' to retrieve evidence buried in the encrypted files of dozens of computers and says: "We should legislate now, and not in panic in an emergency.

3. Lord Carlile, the Liberal Democrat peer and Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation who says "I do really appeal to people to read this legislation before rushing to judgement."

4. Sir Hugh Orde, current chief constable of Northern Ireland argues that the 42 detention plans would not be a return to internment, a term which still has highly charged connotations in the Province.

5. Graham Foulkes whos son was was killed in the July 7 London terrorist attacks.

He told the BBC's The Politics Show: "It's wrong to place a higher value on being detained for six weeks than on people's lives."

6. Ann Widdecombe, Conservative MP...

need I go on?

Anonymous said...

perhaps someone sgould tell conservative home about this survey. They haven't mentioned it up 'til now. Yet they've posted two stories proving that DD's campaign has been a complete waste of time.

Anonymous said...

Glyn Davies is standing up for sacked bloggers

Anonymous said...

Well, here's one part of the debate, David Icke in action. (Warning, over 2 hours long, and the giant lizards might get you!)

Newmania said...

there is barely an MP, even of his own party, who will say privately that what he has done makes any sense at all.

And yet the public think it does makes sense . Of course if New Labour really cared about terrorism they would not have filled the country up with hordes of people that hate us in the first place would they Tom .Incidentally if Iain Dale does get his beloved English Parliament what are you going to do ? Go inter-railing ?

Fair deal Phil …if it is so difficult to make the case in a month ( The entire resources of the Police being committed to bothering drivers and filling forms ),parliamentary oversight can only be a rubber stamp. The evidence will consist of the Police giving their interim solemn promise that the perp is a wrongun .All I can say is its lucky the Police never make a mistake . Phew… thats alright then

(PS Do they still have inter -railing , or did the lizards stop it ?))

Anonymous said...

African Mum raises an interesting point about CCTV camera, we suppose that the data they collect ought to be kept securely under lock and key, yet somehow some of it reaches YouTube. I've found some here that appears to come from "official" sources.

You just cannot be sure that the watchers are trustworthy these days.

When Davis returns to the House I think we can be assured that certain debates are going to become a lot sharper!

Anonymous said...

On the particular subject of the retention of DNA for those acquitted or never charged, why do I think that the powers that be are one step ahead of us here? What's the betting that the information has been entered in such a way that retrieving the data of the above catagories is impossible? The argument will then be that because this data set cannot be removed it would be unfair for those already on the system if the practice of harvesting similar data in the future is discontinued.
There is a sort of twisted logic there.

Roger Thornhill said...

"more than a third (35%) changed their minds when told this and agreed it is not right to hold someone who may be innocent for so long.

Had they asked me I would have said it was outrageous they only kept burglars in for 6 weeks AS WELL AS saying it was outrageous to hold people for that length.

Talk about a false dichotomy!

Anonymous said...

"It is not what a man thinks and says but when and where and to whom he thinks and says it! - A man with a flint and steel striking sparks over a wet blanket is one thing, but striking them over a tinderbox is another. " - Abraham Farland, A Matter of Life and Death 1945.

Anonymous said...

Davis would have been credit if he had stood as indy 42 day candidate

As far as I can see he oppses 42 days and CCTV and DNA data base

(yes the DNA data base they have used to solve over one hundred rapes!)

Of and David support for hanging

Yes hanging the Birmingham Six was just what we should have had

and as Home Secretary he would have signed the order

oh God save our Liberties