Warning: This post was published more than 11 years ago.
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As no-one can fail to have noticed, earlier this week, 82-year-old long-term Labour supporter and Conference-goer Walter Wolfgang was physically removed from the Conference centre by ‘heavies’ after showing the single word ‘nonsense’ during Jack Straw’s speech. The police then detained him under Anti-Terror Legislation when he later tried to re-enter the hall.
This gentleman clearly posed no terrorist threat. His only ‘crime’ was to utter a single word when the Labour bigwigs didn’t want him to. And yet he was held under the ‘crucial’ Terror Laws that we were assured would only be used in the most extreme circumstances to detain the most dangerous people.
For some time, people including myself have been arguing that
Laws [cannot be] restricted to what they were meant to be used for. Judges and the police have a nasty habit of sticking to the very letter of the law … If this government continues to make laws which are this full of gaping holes, sooner or later it’s going to turn round and bite them back.
And yet, in the face of police blatantly flouting Mr Blair’s publicly stated intentions for the laws, all he’s done is apologise to Mr Wolfgang. He’s not revisiting this legislation, and he’s not even disciplining the police force. In fact, Mr Blair wants to extend the powers available to the police. And all because He, in His infinite wisdom, has bypassed thousands of years of history and declared that protection of the common-man is now more important than the freedom of the innocent. The logical conclusion of which is surely that we just lock up – or kill – everyone who we don’t like the look of.
The terrorist threat to this country may be different to that which we have faced in the past, but it’s no so great that we should sacrifice the central tenet of our justice system and beliefs. If we change something so fundamental with so little thought and debate, then what is left to protect?