With every fresh revelation over alleged involvement of MI5 in illegal detention and torture in Pakistan and elsewhere, the case for a proper independent inquiry grows. The Binyam Mohamed case has lifted a corner on the “war on terror”. We mustn’t allow a hurried attempt by the political establishment to cover up torture in our name.
Director, Amnesty International UK (letter to the Guardian)
… Three nations in the United Kingdom, as a result of one of this government’s rare progressive policies, now possess a representative assembly. The fourth, and largest, does not. England, the great colonising nation, has become a colony. It is governed by a Scotsman who uses foreign mercenaries – Scottish, Welsh and Irish MPs – to suppress parliamentary revolts over purely English affairs. There is still no democratic forum in which English interests can be discussed only by English representatives. The unfairness is staggering, the silence stranger still.
One of the peculiarities of UK politics is that issues supported by hardly anyone receive majority assent in parliament. In the current system, no popular support is required. University top-up fees, for example, were rejected by the Scottish and Welsh assemblies, but Scottish and Welsh MPs were frogmarched through the lobbies to impose them on England (the government won by five votes). Foundation hospitals were voted down in both Wales and Scotland, and foisted on the English by the representatives of those nations. Had Heathrow’s third runway been debated only by English MPs, the proposal would have been resoundingly defeated; it was approved by 19 votes, after 67 MPs from the other nations were induced to support the government. They can support such measures without any electoral risk, as their constituents are not directly affected. Devolution, which has had such beneficial consequences here in Wales and across the other borders, has left the English high and dry. …
Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, has warned that the fear of terrorism is being exploited by the Government to erode civil liberties and risks creating a police state.
Mr McNulty, a former police minister in the Home Office, said: “I have enormous respect for the work and experience of Dame Stella Rimington but I think on this she is totally and utterly wrong.
“Wrong to suggest that had all the things we planned been passed we’d have been a police state, and wrong to suggest we have somehow stumbled towards a police state.
“This is very, very strong language and I think, in this particular regard, abject nonsense.” …
He said the Government had got the right balance between civil liberties and security and there was a “strong tradition of civil liberties in this country and one we cherish”.
He added: “Sadly I think talk, misguided talk, by informed commentators such as Stella Rimington, talking about a police state in any regard in the UK, does the job that she is accusing us of potentially doing.
“We are nowhere near a police state and Dame Stella will know that.
“Even to use such language so loosely plays in to the hands of our enemies. Of course we should have a full and frank debate, but to use such terms does not help the debate at all.”
Between 1969 and 1990, Rimington worked in all three branches of the Security Service: counter espionage, counter subversion, and counter terrorism. … In 1990, she was promoted to one of the Service’s two Deputy Director-General positions, where she oversaw MI5′s move to Thames House. In December 1991, she made a visit to Moscow to make the first friendly contact between the British intelligence services and their old enemies, now allies, the KGB. On her return from Russia, she was told she had been promoted to Director-General.
Tony McNulty was educated at the Salvatorian College on High Street in Wealdstone and at Stanmore Sixth Form College on Elm Park in Stanmore. He obtained a BA in Political Theory and Institutions from the University of Liverpool and an MA in Political Science from Virginia Tech in the United States. Before becoming an MP he was leader of the Labour group on Harrow council and a senior lecturer in Organisational Behaviour, at the University of North London from 1983-97. [then became an MP]