Aside from having to explain her government’s policy on clothing that might be used as a disguise, Theresa May did pull it out of the bag, again, in that statement on Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed’s TPIM. Her short speech at the start wasn’t anything to write home about, simply setting out the bare bones of what was being done to find the terror suspect. But it was in her response to Yvette Cooper that the Home Secretary really got her eye in.
She took a rather disapproving tone to answer Cooper’s questions, telling her that she was wrong to suggest that TPIMs were in some way a watering down of Labour’s control orders. She said control orders were constantly being eroded by the courts, and that in TPIMs, the government had a regime supported by the courts:
‘Even if we wanted to go back to the days of control orders, we would not be able to do so. The powers available under control orders were being steadily eroded by the courts and the system was becoming unviable. Unlike control orders, TPIMs have been upheld consistently by the courts so we now have a strong and sustainable legal framework to handle terror suspects.’
She went through each of Cooper’s complaints about TPIMs and told her that she was wrong. She also pointed out that while two out of 10 of those on TPIMs have absconded, there were seven similar incidents in six years under Labour’s regime. Whether or not May was right, she made a darn good stab at presenting a polished and strong case. And she closed by attacking Labour as being wrong in its assessment of terrorism powers using the same language that her colleagues use when attacking Labour for being wrong in its predictions on the economy:
‘Wrong about powers, wrong about funding: the right honourable lady should take her responsibilities seriously and support the police and security services in the work that they are doing.’
May wanted to suggest that the Opposition were just playing politics with a serious situation and that their assessment of the situation was wrong, too. It looks as though the Home Secretary will survive yet another Home Office crisis.
More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us.