Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The spook that will haunt Gordon?

"On a matter of principle, I cannot support 42 days' pre-charge detention.... I don't see on a practical basis, as well as a principle one, that these proposals are in anyway workable". Thus spoke Baroness Manningham-Butler, the former Head of MI5 who stood down last year and made her maiden speech in the Lords yesterday.

Such a short, succinct point made by the spook that was in charge of MI5 during July 7th and subsequentterrorist investigation, is, to use a cliche, a 'hammer blow' to Gordon Brown. After all, she should know, right? This does pose the question, what will be the Government's response to this. They're unlikely to rubbish her as being out of touch with new realities, after all, once a spook always a spook. You may not officially work for Five anymore, but you never leave, especially when you get to that level.

There is also the question of 'sub-text' in her words. The current director of the Security Service has been careful to express that he and the service has no view on the proposals. Absolutely righht of course because he's a civil servant who doesn't want to get into the politics. However, Manningham-Butler is not a civil servant anymore, and you have to wonder if when she speaks of 'her' view she is also actually speaking of the services' view as well?

I would be surprised if her words do not come up in PMQ's today. The response will be interesting if it does. After all, I don't think Gordon is doing them given is Japanese excursion for the G8. How will Harriet Harman (assuming she does it) brush aside the view of someone that cannot be easily brushed aside?


Old BE said...

The damning of the practicalities will be hard for the government to brush aside. Tony McNulty handled the "principle" point rather well in his debate with DD, and then went on to say that the process was carefully set out so as to avoid the problems which DD raises. If the Baronesss (who is an expert at this) says that the practicalities are unworkable then people should rightly suggest that they be looked at again.

Thank the Lords that we have at least some sensible people in the legislature.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately we're not dealing with people that see sense, only political capital and votes. Twisted in their heads is the idea that continuing with this may save Labour and themselves, it seems.

Here's a list of MPs that have gone from being against extension to for it that perhaps could do with some extra persuasion on this issue in the light of todays poll putting support for 42 days specifically at 23ish%

Anonymous said...

The Director of the Security Service is a Crown Servant, not a Civil Servant. (In case you were wondering, all Civil Servants are Crown Servants, but not all Crown Servants are Civil Servants.)