I initially welcomed the news that David Davis had resigned in protest at Parliament’s assent to allowing pre-charge detention to be extended to 42 days. Its a travesty of a vote – anything to keep the debate alive. Most left-leaning types I spoke with were cynical about his motives, and sank into ad hominems about the man and his other policies (such as support for the death penalty), which in their view rendered anything else he did obviously suspect. However, leaning my head against the train window late last night, watching the illuminated Palace of Westminster recede, reflected in the glass, I wondered if there wasn’t too much cynicism in the world, and that for once we should take a politician at face value.
Today, however, I’m more cynical, after reading in Hansard David Davis arguing for an increase in pre-charge detention times, from 14 to 28 days:
That is why my hon. Friends made it clear in Committee that we agree with the Government that the current 14-day limit is too brief and propose its extension to 28 days. I believe that that proposal will find widespread support among Members around the House, including on the Government Benches.
(via Jennie and Matt). True, Davis goes on to suggest that the 90 day limit was too long. Regardless, his stance in 2005 was surely no less an attack on habeus corpus. It makes no sense for Davis to be lamenting the demise of the Magna Carta now.
Indeed, yesterday he said:
Because the generic security argument relied on will never go away – technology, development complexity, and so on – we’ll next see 56 days, 70 days, then 90 days.
The problem is, many people argued this precise point as a reason to oppose the extention to 28 days! The argument then was “first 28 days, then 42 days, then 56 days” ad nauseum, ad absurdum. It is precisely because of Davis earlier capitulation to 28 days, that 42 days has become feasible. The same Bill would not have passed in 2005.
We are witnessing the boiling of the frog, David, and you were complicit in turning up the heat.
Here’s David Davis on Question Time, being asked whether he supports Habeas Corpus or not. His answer is a terrible fudge: