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Balancing Fear: Why Counter-Terror Legislation was Blocked after the Oklahoma City and London Bombings
Unformatted Document Text:  IV. What Happened? How did Tony Blair’s own party block his anti-terror legislation? In order to answer this question, we will now examine each variable described in the above theory chart to decipher the main cause behind Tony Blair’s counterintuitive fate. As detailed above, the independent variable in this paper’s theory is executive response and threat- shaping. Blair clearly tried to push a civil liberty-reducing response and did so by shaping the terror threat as a broad and urgent one. He continued to forward this response months after the 90-day detention period was turned down by parliament. For example, on March 21, 2006, Blair made a speech where he framed the battle between terrorists and democracies as “a clash about civilization.” He stated that, “this is not a clash between civilizations. It is a clash about civilization. It is the age-old battle between progress and reaction, … between optimism and hope on the one hand; and pessimism and fear on the other” 35 . So, Blair did push counter-terror legislation and he did frame the terror threat accordingly. Still, he faced strong legislative opposition, had to fall back on using the police as an excuse for his counterterror agenda, and finally was thwarted in his anti-terror efforts. Could the institution of parliamentary government have been the cause of Blair’s demise? As established above, this cannot be the case. Parliamentary governments actually allow prime ministers to pass law much more easily than executives can in presidential governments. Moreover, the analysis in a previous paper on the variant responses of presidential and parliamentary governments’ reactions to terror attacks 36 , showed few differences if any between the two systems’ responses to terror. Further, 35 Blair, Tony. “‘Clash about civilisations’ speech,” http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page9224.asp. 36 Rubin, Gabriel, “Freedom and Order: How Democratic Governments Abridge Civil Liberties after Terrorist Attacks—and Why Sometimes they Don’t,” MIT Dissertation, chapter 5. 15

Authors: Rubin, Gabriel.
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IV. What Happened?
How did Tony Blair’s own party block his anti-terror legislation? In order to
answer this question, we will now examine each variable described in the above theory
chart to decipher the main cause behind Tony Blair’s counterintuitive fate. As detailed
above, the independent variable in this paper’s theory is executive response and threat-
shaping. Blair clearly tried to push a civil liberty-reducing response and did so by
shaping the terror threat as a broad and urgent one. He continued to forward this
response months after the 90-day detention period was turned down by parliament. For
example, on March 21, 2006, Blair made a speech where he framed the battle between
terrorists and democracies as “a clash about civilization.” He stated that, “this is not a
clash between civilizations. It is a clash about civilization. It is the age-old battle
between progress and reaction, … between optimism and hope on the one hand; and
pessimism and fear on the other”
. So, Blair did push counter-terror legislation and he
did frame the terror threat accordingly. Still, he faced strong legislative opposition, had
to fall back on using the police as an excuse for his counterterror agenda, and finally was
thwarted in his anti-terror efforts.
Could the institution of parliamentary government have been the cause of Blair’s
demise? As established above, this cannot be the case. Parliamentary governments
actually allow prime ministers to pass law much more easily than executives can in
presidential governments. Moreover, the analysis in a previous paper on the variant
responses of presidential and parliamentary governments’ reactions to terror attacks
,
showed few differences if any between the two systems’ responses to terror. Further,
35
Blair, Tony. “‘Clash about civilisations’ speech,” http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page9224.asp.
36
Rubin, Gabriel, “Freedom and Order: How Democratic Governments Abridge Civil Liberties after
Terrorist Attacks—and Why Sometimes they Don’t,” MIT Dissertation, chapter 5.
15


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