Monday, 16 June 2008

Oh, I see ...

M sends a message from the heart of deepest Lanarkshire:

Q. How far away are you when you're 24 hours from Tulsa?
A. Not far enough.

Indeed, and on the subject of 42 days detention (also known as "you'll have had your habeas corpus" - it may be more accurate to lament the passing of s. 43 of the Criminal Procedure Scotland Act 1887, but it doesn't have quite the same ring to it - and it was repealed by the Criminal Procedure Scotland Act 1975 Schedule 10 which has itself now been revoked - you get the idea.)

Anyway, having wondered why Labour dithered over whether to accept the gauntlet thrown down by David Davis, particularly given that Gordon Brown's reputation was given a serious sandpapering over indecision, I have now come across an interesting debate on a Labour internet forum.

There seems to be a wee bit of concern about whether Labour's General Election candidate for Davis' seat supports the UK Government's position on 42 days detention. Removing such a candidate would give Labour as many difficulties as running away from the election and Labour strategists would be thinking that there was the chance for Davis to make a terrible mess of it all. That's assuming that the candidate is opposed to the 42 days policy - it does appear to be a matter for a little debate.
There's a wee problem in that analysis, though - it has the potential to leave Kelvin MacKenzie as the Labour candidate by proxy - assuming he stands, given Rupert Murdoch's sensitivities about always wanting to be backing the election winner in politics.

It leaves a bigger problem for Labour, though. The perception, whether accurate or not, could be that Labour is afraid of the debate, afraid that even the 13% the Labour candidate took three years ago could be beyond the party now - even without the Libdems standing.

With the Conservatives now having extended the polling lead to 22 points, Davis' Quixotic stance might be unorthodox, but it has the potential to put pressures on Labour that no-one would have expected. In addition to the dithering that's already been apparent, a bye-election is a terribly long time in politics.

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