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Balancing Fear: Why Counter-Terror Legislation was Blocked after the Oklahoma City and London Bombings
Unformatted Document Text:  on the 90-day limit and told the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, to seek a compromise over the detention issue, as well as over separate plans to criminalize religious hatred and outlaw the glorification of terrorism 27 . After attempts to magnify the terrorist threat once again backfired—Blair called the potential blocking of the 90-day detention, a “defeat for the security of the country” and accused Parliament of “woeful complacency”—the Prime Minister finally accepted that his bill would not pass 28 . Yet the very next day, on November 8, 2005, Blair once again tried to push through the 90-day detention limit, this time with a sunset clause. The Prime Minister stated that, “If we are forced to compromise, it will be a compromise with this nation’s security.” Blair pointed to a Times (of London) poll that found that 64% of the British public supported the 90-day rule. The head of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard countered that, “if you want to look for a precedent for 90 days, I suggest you find it in the apartheid regime in South Africa when the 90-day rule was one of the most notorious aspects of that regime” 29 . It is important to note here that Blair’s strategy for passing his terrorism legislation included repeatedly pointing to the fact that the police requested the 90-day detention limit. In essence, Blair was arguing that it was not he who desired this law, but rather heads of police that had asked for it. This strategy was ineffective as it shifted the process from one of an executive demanding legislation from the legislature to one of the executive asking the legislature, on behalf of experts, for legislation. Further, Parliament 27 Hinsliff, Gaby and Ned Temko. “Blair prepares to surrender on terror laws,” The Observer, 6 November 2005. 28 Brown, Colin. “Blair Faces Angry Rebel MPs with an offer of Terror Bill Compromise,” The Independent, 7 November 2005. 29 Wintour, Patrick and Tania Branigan. “Ministers stay firm on 90-day detention plan,” The Guardian, 8 November 2005. 13

Authors: Rubin, Gabriel.
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background image
on the 90-day limit and told the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, to seek a compromise
over the detention issue, as well as over separate plans to criminalize religious hatred and
outlaw the glorification of terrorism
After attempts to magnify the terrorist threat once again backfired—Blair called
the potential blocking of the 90-day detention, a “defeat for the security of the country”
and accused Parliament of “woeful complacency”—the Prime Minister finally accepted
that his bill would not pass
. Yet the very next day, on November 8, 2005, Blair once
again tried to push through the 90-day detention limit, this time with a sunset clause. The
Prime Minister stated that, “If we are forced to compromise, it will be a compromise with
this nation’s security.” Blair pointed to a Times (of London) poll that found that 64% of
the British public supported the 90-day rule. The head of the Conservative Party,
Michael Howard countered that, “if you want to look for a precedent for 90 days, I
suggest you find it in the apartheid regime in South Africa when the 90-day rule was one
of the most notorious aspects of that regime
It is important to note here that Blair’s strategy for passing his terrorism
legislation included repeatedly pointing to the fact that the police requested the 90-day
detention limit. In essence, Blair was arguing that it was not he who desired this law, but
rather heads of police that had asked for it. This strategy was ineffective as it shifted the
process from one of an executive demanding legislation from the legislature to one of the
executive asking the legislature, on behalf of experts, for legislation. Further, Parliament
27
Hinsliff, Gaby and Ned Temko. “Blair prepares to surrender on terror laws,” The Observer, 6 November
2005.
28
Brown, Colin. “Blair Faces Angry Rebel MPs with an offer of Terror Bill Compromise,” The
Independent, 7 November 2005.
29
Wintour, Patrick and Tania Branigan. “Ministers stay firm on 90-day detention plan,” The Guardian, 8
November 2005.
13


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