WHAT THE MEDIA SAY: Blunkett gets tough ride on anti-terror bill

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.

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