Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/383/4815

From The Socialist newspaper, 5 March 2005

What We Think

New Labour - guilty of destroying democratic rights

NEW LABOUR'S anti-terror Bill has scraped through the Commons by just 14 votes and is expected to get a rough ride in the Lords.

This deeply draconian legislation is being introduced under the guise of fighting terrorism. But it will not do so, any more than the equally brutal and undemocratic Diplock courts in Northern Ireland led to peace.

The government argue that they will not use their new powers lightly but it is impossible to believe them. As more facts come out it is becoming absolutely clear that the British security forces were up to their necks in the foul mire of Guantanamo Bay. The Prevention of Terrorism Act, passed rapidly in 1974 in the wake of the Birmingham pub bombing, led to many innocent Irish people, including trade unionists, being harassed and imprisoned.

Existing anti-terror legislation in Britain, introduced in the immediate aftermath of 2001, and now due for renewal, has already led to the indefinite imprisonment of people who have never stood trial or even been accused of a crime.

Yet the new Bill goes even further, giving the government enormous powers to detain anyone they choose to without trial. House arrest, electronic tagging and imprisonment will all be permissible.

As the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, was forced to admit, the vast majority of people the government considers terrorist suspects are detained via "the normal legal process".

In other words, evidence is assembled against them and they are taken to court. (Of course, this does not prevent miscarriages of justice, as the case of the Guildford Four - who Blair recently apologised to - and others so graphically demonstrates.)

Judges are entirely unelected - 84% went to public school, and 90% to Oxbridge. Time and time again they and the legal system have acted, not to defend democracy, but to defend the interests of the ruling elite. Nonetheless, up until New Labour came to power 'innocent until proven guilty' remained the letter of the law. This Bill is designed specifically to be used to lock up people without even producing any evidence against them never mind proving them guilty!

Repeal this legislation

This incredibly arrogant New Labour government has shown again and again that it holds ordinary working people in Britain in contempt. What the debate on this Bill again demonstrated, however, is that they also hold the institutions of government in contempt.

Cabinet meetings are an hour long and act to rubber-stamp decisions already taken. This Bill was pushed through parliament in just six hours, "less time than it takes for the average Virgin train to go from London to Stoke-on-Trent", as Simon Hoggart put it in The Guardian.

And for most of the debate Charles Clarke was not even present. He sent a 'note' promising to do better next time! This note was a very poor substitute for the normal process of actually amending legislation. Instead, it promised that the Bill would be amended in the Lords so that the right to imprison someone, or to detain them under house arrest, would have to be agreed by a judge. This was enough to get the Bill through the commons.

Even the Labour Lord Helena Kennedy expressed the inadequacy of this amendment:

"Sugar-coating the unpalatable by suggesting all will be well if a judge makes the order is to forget that it may not feel significantly different if it is Mr Justice Floggem or the Home Secretary who issues an order if you still don't know the nature of the allegation or the evidence on which it is based."

It is an utter condemnation of the parliamentary Labour Party that, of 408 Labour MPs, only 60 could, as one journalist put it "stir themselves from their obsequious torpor" to defy the government.

If it is passed through the Lords, even with further amendments, this Bill will severely undermine democratic rights. Without doubt, future governments will be prepared to use this legislation against protesters, trade unionists and community campaigners.

Socialists should campaign for the repeal of this legislation and previous authoritarian legislation such as the Criminal Justice Act. We also call for the democratic election of judges. However, we recognise that we live in a capitalist society where wealth and power are owned and controlled by a tiny minority.

The forces of the state - such as the police and the judiciary - fundamentally act in the interests of that tiny minority.

The struggle for genuine justice is linked inextricably to the struggle for democratic socialism - for a socialist society run to meet the needs of all instead of the profits of a few.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 5 March 2005:

United action to defend pensions

UNISON leaders vote not to ballot on NHS pensions

Let's have a decent minimum wage!

New Labour - guilty of destroying democratic rights

Can the Tories really win?

Socialist Party election campaign launched

Socialist Party national council report

Troops out of Iraq

Can George Bush's second-term offensive be defeated?

Protests force government resignation in Lebanon

Tsunami relief - the failure of capitalism

International Women's Day: Fighting the system that exploits us

United student campaign attacked in Israel

Northern Ireland: Horrific murder enrages local community


 

Home   |   The Socialist 5 March 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Democratic rights:

triangleCampaign against political repression in Hong Kong

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

triangleWho's watching who?: The fight for justice, trade union and democratic rights

triangleSolidarity with Catalonia - the people have the right to decide

triangleBrutal repression of Rohingya people sparks massive humanitarian crisis

Labour:

triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleTories torn - bin them now

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

Britain:

triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

triangleObesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

19/10/17

Refugees

Hundreds of torture victims wrongly detained

18/10/17

Brexit

Tories torn - bin them now

18/10/17

What we saw

What we saw

18/10/17

Food

Obesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

18/10/17

NHS

Tories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

18/10/17

Debt

Young people being strangled by debts

13/10/17

Labour

The end of the Tories?

11/10/17

Tories

Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

11/10/17

Black history

The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

11/10/17

Housing

Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

11/10/17

Universal Credit

Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

11/10/17

Them & Us

Them & Us

11/10/17

NHS

NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts

11/10/17

IMF

IMF helps cause inequality it slams

4/10/17

NHS

Tories wreck our NHS

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2