Labouring under false assumptions?
Labour have been pilloried, rightly so, for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the digital economy bill and their appalling stance on civil liberties (increased CCTV, ID cards and 42 days detention) and there are those who see a Con/Dem coalition as the more liberal of the coalition options on offer.
But is that truly the case? Would the Tories have done anything differently?
They have poor form on civil liberties in some respects Howards introduction of the criminal justice and public order act for one. For those unfamiliar with the act a summary of some of the controversial bits (nicked from wiki – I make no pretence of having the time to rewrite these things whilst running the twenty-first floor) is offered below:
Changes which received great public attention included:
- Sections 34-39, which substantially changed the right to silence of an accused person, allowing for inferences to be drawn from their silence.
- Sections 54-59, which gave the police greater rights to take and retain intimate body samples.
- Section 60, which increased police powers of unsupervised “stop and search”.
The whole of Part V which covered collective trespass and nuisance on land and included sections against raves (63-67, including the “repetitive beats” definition) and further sections against disruptive trespass, squatters, and unauthorised campers – most significantly the criminalisation of previously civil offences. This affected many forms of protest including hunt sabotage and anti-road protests.
The act was seen by many commentators as the Tory government clamping down on alternative rave culture: which produced an angry reaction from the scene including the following:
There were also the Union bashing tactics of Thatcher in the 1980s: something which Cameron has vowed to repeat…
On the digital economy bill: on the third vote 9 Tories turned up 4 voted for (all front benchers) and 5 against. Most of the Tories voted for Invasion (as did most of the house) of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Only two Tories voted on the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill — Indefinite detention of suspected terrorists bill: voting no. Two voted for a derogation of the European Human rights act and three against. However they voted against an increase of detention to 90 days, for 28 but not 60 days and 97 voted for an increase to 60 days detention. On 42 days – 187 voted No and 2 for.
So they didn’t vote for increased powers of detention (barring an odd blip around the 60 day mark). They also voted against ID cards.
All of which seems to be conspiring to tell me I should reassess the initial sentiment expoused in this post and conceed that during the last 13 years the Tories were indeed better on cicil liberties than Labour: as counter intuitive as that might seem!