Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Government's double standards?

The UK government failed in its attempt to push through legislation that would allow people to be detained for 90 days without being charged. Tony Blair emphasised over and over again that he was being asked for this by the police, that people shouldn't second-guess what the professionals thought - and there was a kerfuffle when police forces apparently made representation of these opinions to local MP's.

In the case of the legislation to extend licencing hours which comes into force in the next day or so, the opinions of the police seem (where expressed) to have been against the changes - extended opening hours and potential round-the-clock drinking are hardly going to make a policeman's lot a more happy one.

But whereas the opinions of the police seem to have led to Tony Blair placing his credibility on the line in the case of 90 day detention without charge, the government don't seem to have given a hoot for their opinions over licencing. And the funny thing is, whilst the potential threat from terrorists is doubtless greater, nobody has been able to make a coherent case for 90 day detention reducing the threat of terrorism (although plenty have pointed out the risks to civil liberties of such detention). But plenty of people know the impact that late night drinking has in turning city centres into no-go zones, and its relationship with anti-social behaviour.

So why is Tony Blair so concerned about the opinions of the police in one case - being prepared to alienate most of his party to fulfil their wishes - and so indifferent in the other case? Might it be that there are other issues at stake? ITWSBT