Politics | Howards Way

Politics: Labour MPs haven't developed the turkey-like characteristics to vote for Christmas

Contributed by editor on Jun 04, 2008 - 08:18 PM

Howards Way

Howard's Way.... a weekly column from the Rt. Hon. Michael Howard QC. MP. 

5 June 2008


It is some time since I offered you my thoughts about the current political scene. During that period we have seen the result of the extraordinary by-election at Crewe and Nantwich.

It is never easy to identify a turning point at the time. Sometimes things that seem crucially important lose all significance as time moves on. On other occasions it is only possible to identify the significance of an event, which may have passed virtually unnoticed, with the benefit of hindsight.

The Crew and Nantwich by-election, though, looks like a big event. It is the first by-election the Conservatives have won from Labour for 30 years. The swing was enormous and would give David Cameron a large majority in the House of Commons if it were repeated at a General Election. Moreover, it is consistent both with the national opinion polls and last month’s local elections.

Of course that swing will not be repeated at the next General Election. But, although there is obviously no room for complacency, it does now look as though the Conservatives will win it.

But when will that Election come? Alas for the country, I fear we shall have to wait another two years. The Government still has a large majority in the House of Commons and although Labour Members are increasingly rebellious they have not yet developed the turkey-like characteristics they would need in order to vote for Christmas!

So I fear the Government will lurch on from one disaster to another. The next big vote will be on whether the police should be given the power to detain terrorist suspects for 42 days without charge. This is the equivalent of a three-month prison sentence. It has been opposed by the former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, and the Director of Public Prosecutions has said it is not necessary. The Government have not been able to point to a single case where the existing 28 days have not been enough.

So I will vote against the proposal together with almost everyone else on the Opposition benches. Your liberties are at stake. I hope we prevail.