"necessity, the tyrant's plea"
posted by k (again, a post taken from elsewhere)
Help! Panic now! This is DANGEROUS!!!!
Home Secretary John Reid - the one who's resigning with Tony Blair - has said he may declare a State of Emergency. This is because three non-dangerous prisoners who have never been convicted (as described here) have gone missing.
It seems a slight over-reaction. But according to the Guardian, which has recently transformed itself into a right-wing anti-libertarian newspaper (as demonstrated by some of its Comment columns), unnamed MPs fear their control orders may are turning them into "a laughing stock". And our leaders don't like being laughed at.
Besides that, John Reid has several complaints. For a start, control orders may be illegal. Of course, that would mean the government is breaking the law and not the escaped prisoners. Reid has been keeping them under house arrest regardless of a High Court ruling against him, in the hope that he can get support from the Court of Appeal or the Law Lords. Apart from control orders, MPs refused to let the Home Secretary imprison people without charge for more than 28 days. The courts and parliament are against Reid and people have started laughing at him. What is he to do?
So far as I can see, Ministers can declare a State of Emergency under the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act if there is a state of war, an environmental disaster, a major act of terrorism or a natural disaster. I wonder which of these categories includes the disagreement of parliament and the courts - not to mention the risk of public laughter.
It all sounds so unlikely. But the risks presented by this legislation have been identified. And it seems quite clear that the government wants to suspend parts of the European Human Rights convention - unless, of course, the judges do exactly as they are told.
Surely Parliament won't let this happen, Surely, if necessary, people will take to the streets and defend democracy and the rule of law. We know what happens when governments take power into their own hands and away from parliament and the courts. Don't we?