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42 Days: The answer to everything


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 12 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 12 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and write about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 12 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

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 1,230th post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

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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.

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