News

Blair, Political Opponents Clash Over Anti-Terrorism Legislation

Tom Rivers

New proposed anti-terrorism legislation is causing a storm of political debate in Britain where politicians are weighing how to balance the need for safety and security on the one hand and preserving centuries old civil liberties on the other.

At the heart of the issue is the government's desire to either electronically tag or place individuals under house arrest without charge.

As Tony Blair says, this measure is required in cases where surveillance alone may not be enough and where there might not be enough evidence to formally charge people and bring them to trial.

Opposition Conservative party leader, Michael Howard says the bill is fatally flawed and he alleges that Mr. Blair will be using it as a political weapon is the upcoming election campaign.

"I have come to the conclusion, Mr. Speaker, that this Prime Minister wants this bill to fail," Mr. Howard said. "He wants to pretend that he is the one who is tough on terrorism. Is it not a dreadful measure from a desperate Prime Minister and should he not be thoroughly ashamed of himself?"

But the prime minister responded in the House of Commons that he backs the measure because security authorities say it is necessary to combat terror.

"We will have this debate here and we will have this debate in the country," the prime minister said. "And we will see where the shame lies. But in my judgment, the shame will lie with the Conservative Party faced with legislation to prevent terrorism, faced with legislation advised on us by our police and security services that are going to vote against it. If they want to vote against it, let them. We will be content ultimately to have the verdict of the country on it."

The leader of the Liberal-Democrats, Charles Kennedy, went further in attacking Prime Minister Blair's motivation.

"Is it not time that he began to put the fundamental liberties of the British people before his own political pride," he asked.

Current statutes that allow for the detention of terrorism suspects indefinitely without charge expire next Monday, and many political observers here believe the government will have no option but to back down and strike a compromise in order to secure an agreement to fill the gap.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs