Organisation: UK Government
Issue: Anti-Terrorist, Crime & Security Bill
In the Government's 'biggest back-bench rebellion of this Parliament'
(The Daily Telegraph, 22/11), the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, found
himself with few friends on any side as he attempted to push through his
anti-terrorism measures against a 'hail of criticism in the Commons'
(The Guardian, 23/11).
And 'this nasty blockbuster Bill' (The Mirror, 23/11) was fiercely
contested not just in Parliament.
Judges, lawyers, civil rights leaders and much of the public all helped
fuel a hostile media - only too happy to expose the unpopularity of the
'plans to detain terrorists without trial' (itv.com, 26/11).
'Draconian' was the description used time and time again by opponents of
the Anti-Terrorist, Crime & Security Bill and, with it, the opting out
from aspects of the European Convention on Human Rights that saw
Blunkett 'under fire from all sides' (BBC Online, 26/11).
It was not just the measures themselves that had the MPs up in arms but
the fact that the Bill was 'steamrollered through' (The Daily Telegraph,
23/11) in days rather than the usual weeks' long process.
Blunkett dismissed the fears over civil rights issues as the worries of
'airy-fairy liberals' (The Observer, 25/11).
He then argued that the measures of the bill were necessary to protect
the security of the country.
He also conceded a 'sunset clause' whereby the bill had time limitations
and amended the arrest policy. He appeased no-one.
A 'thumping majority' (The Daily Telegraph, 22/11) might have given the
bill a second reading, but as political editor Andrew Marr (BBC Online,
26/11) pointed out: 'The Government won the vote very easily, but did
not necessarily win the argument'.
As MPs prepared for the 'final attack on Terror Bill' (The Independent,
26/11) last Monday, the question of whether the new measures proposed in
the wake of 11 September would have prevented the atrocities was still
at the forefront of discussion.
But many agreed with The Daily Telegraph's Barbara Amiel (19,11) that it
would be 'a tragedy indeed if we compromised our freedoms without making
a dent in evil and only accentuated the 21st century's march towards
- Analysis and commentary by Echo Research. More information can be
found at: www.echoResearch.com.