About me
Bookshop

Get new posts by email.

About me

42 Days: The answer to everything

Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.

Jacqui SmithThis Labour Government is a tenacious beast.

For some time, the Government has wanted to extend the period for which terror suspects can be detained without charge from the current 28 days to something a little bit longer. Quite how much longer doesn’t really matter.

Proposals existed for 56 days, 58 days, and 90 days. All fell flat on their face. This left Labour embarrassed.

Liberty pointed out that the law already allows for detention for 58 days if the government declare a state of emergency – and surely an emergency would be the only time in which we’d want to tear up the principal of innocence without proven guilt on which we have relied for most of modern history.

Yet even this wasn’t good enough – Labour hadn’t got its way, and so announced that declaring a state of emergency would mean that the terrorists had won. Rewriting the basic principles of criminal justice doesn’t do that, apparently.

And so, Labour’s Home Secretary du jour Jacqui Smith is trying again, proposing that detention without trial should be allowed for up to 42 days. There doesn’t seem to be any particular rational reason why 42 days rather than the defeated 56 days. I guess she’s just hoping to be lucky this time. You’d think opposing such a measure would be more a case of principle than a case of quibbling about 14 days, but maybe we’re wrong.

Labour has put forward no convincing arguments as to why we’d want to detain people for 42 days without trial – longer than any other country in the world. The CPS, Police, Security Service, and Former Attorney General have all said that 28 days is perfectly adequate. But the Labour Government doesn’t like not getting its way, so is trying again.

So why, out of all the possible numbers, would they pick 42 days? Therein lies the mystery…

Of course, perhaps Jacqui Smith is a fan of Douglas Adams. After all, 42 is the answer to the ultimate question about life, the universe, and everything. Maybe she’s Kabalistic, and sees herself as recreating the universe following God’s plan.

Or maybe – and this is the theory I prefer – it’s an allusion to the Valenzetti Equation. After all, once we’ve lost our basic sense of justice, surely the distruction of all humanity can’t be too far behind?

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

Recently published posts

Weeknotes 2022.02 / 16 January 2022

Weeknotes 2022.01 / 09 January 2022

Five links worth clicking / 07 January 2022

31 things I learned in December 2020 / 31 December 2021

What I’ve been reading this month / 27 December 2021

30 things I learned in November 2020 / 30 November 2021




Random posts from the archive

What I’ve been reading this month / 04 June 2019

Arthur’s Hill / 07 January 2019

Swing Update / 11 April 2005

Swing Update / 16 April 2005

To Lie and Lie Again / 31 March 2005

Time Magazine’s Person of the Year / 19 December 2006




Comments and responses

Comment from Jonathan Rothwell


    16.00, 07/12/2007

Maybe she’s Kabalistic, and sees herself as recreating the universe following God’s plan.

I suspect that you’ve missed out an R between the O and the D in the second to last word of that quote.


Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)


    16.55, 07/12/2007

If only I were that witty.




Compose a new comment

I'm not taking comments on my blog any more, so I'm afraid the opportunity to add to this discussion has passed.




The content of this site is copyright protected by a Creative Commons License, with some rights reserved. All trademarks, images and logos remain the property of their respective owners. The accuracy of information on this site is in no way guaranteed. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information provided by this site. Information about cookies and the handling of emails submitted for the 'new posts by email' service can be found in the privacy policy. This site uses affiliate links: if you buy something via a link on this site, I might get a small percentage in commission. Here's hoping.