It all depends who says it, doesn’t it? I hold unfashionably robust views on the proposed extension of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects (the arguments are familiar now: see my article here). I have traded blows on air with opponents of the change and I respect most of their anxieties.
David Davis is one of the politicians I admire most, and he and I happen to disagree on this issue – which is fine. Likewise, the Government should certainly take seriously the challenge to its plan by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (chaired by the admirable Trevor Phillips). These, like Liberty’s Shami Chakrabarti, are serious people with serious reservations about an undoubtedly significant infringement of core liberties. Their arguments will rightly receive a hearing when the Counter-Terrorism Bill returns to the Commons this week.
What I can’t be doing with is a bunch of authors, clothes-makers and luvvies muscling in on the act. Look at the signatories to the letter to Gordon Brown complaining about the proposed extension to 42 days: Colin Firth, Iain Banks, Patrick Stewart, Peter Capaldi, Vivienne Westwood, and others. Since when did we go to Captain Picard for guidance on anything other than defeating the evil Borg? Or Colin Firth for advice on matters unrelated to beating up Hugh Grant? Or Dame Vivienne on matters unconnected to punk fashion and contemporary couture? Please: this is a serious business, not a Richard Curtis movie in which nice middle class creatives intervene to stop a really beastly fascist bill (Law, Actually).
Come to think of it, perhaps this will swing the vote for Brown.