You know, this is really going to do my head in if it continues: Blair’s had an email exchange with Henry Porter of the Observer, and like the leader writer I have to admire him for sticking his head above the parapet and actually discussing policy. It’s a frank and refreshing exchange, and while one might suspect Blair of being selective with his attention, there are similar lapses from Porter. However, when the PM writes passages like:
‘I would widen the police powers to seize the cash of suspected drug dealers, the cars they drive round in… I would impose restrictions on those suspected of being involved in organised crime. In fact I would generally harry, hassle and hound them until they give up or leave the country.’
…I’ll confess to being less enthusiastic. The key word there, you see, is ‘suspected.’ How, exactly, would this sort of thing work procedurally? What constitutes sufficient grounds for suspicion, how does the suspect defend themselves, and who makes the decision that yes, the police can have your car?
I’ll skip the usual discussion about the rôle of the courts, the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, and all that. Partly because Porter does that better than I could, but also because what’s really tweaking me is that, if civil liberties do become the political battleground for the next decade, and if the Tories get their act together, er… well, it’s hard to see how I’m going to end up on Blair’s side. Which would be – well, weird, basically.
Then there’s the problem of all my Conservative-leaning friends, who’ve taken the piss out of me for years for being a lilly-livered liberal. How are they supposed to adjust if they’re suddenly asked to bang the ‘due process’, and ‘personal civil rights’ drums?