UK Liberty

Fallout from a hollow victory

Posted in detention without charge, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on June 12, 2008

The Independent:

Gordon Brown won a hollow victory for his new 42-day anti-terrorism powers last night when he was forced to rely on the votes of nine Democratic Unionist Party MPs during a day of backroom deals and concessions.

Although plans to detain suspected terrorists for up to 42 days were approved by 315 votes to 306, Labour MPs described the outcome as “the worst of all worlds” and said Mr Brown’s decision to stake his reputation on the vote had backfired badly.

A bad day for Mr Brown got even worse when it emerged that highly-classified documents about the scale of the threat from al-Qa’ida were left on a train by a Whitehall official. It was the most serious in an embarrassing spate of sensitive data losses which have bedevilled the Brown Government. …

How the PM bought votes

*Democratic Unionists

DUP offered seat on Security and Intelligence committee, plus £100m in financial support.

*Ulster Unionists

Party’s sole MP invited to MI5 security briefings.


£200,000 in compensation for miners with lung disease. Plus £100,000 offered to count athritis in the knee as an industrial injury.


Commitment to try to get EU to lift sanctions against Cuba for good.


Suspects held for more than 28 days without charge to get payout. (hat-tip Dr Quite Evil):

Rebel Labour MPs in London say the DUP was given a guarantee that abortion won’t be introduced in the North in return for votes on contentious new anti-terrorist powers last night.

The Times:

Gordon Brown bought himself time after scraping a Commons majority over 42 days’ detention by just nine votes last night — thanks to the support of nine Northern Ireland MPs.

Having put his authority on the line to extend the period in which police can hold terrorist suspects without charge, his win sparked astonishing scenes of recrimination against the Democratic Unionist MPs.

Even though the Prime Minister’s huge personal and political gamble paid off in the Commons voting lobbies, it came at a price. Whips had cautioned that he would lose the vote and he used up much of his credit with Labour MPs by pleading with them personally to put their consciences aside and support him, a tactic that ministers acknowledged could be used only rarely. …

The Telegraph:

Gordon Brown will today defend himself over allegations that he offered lucrative deals to Ulster MPs in order to pass his controversial plans to detain terror suspects for up to 42 days.

He won the crucial Commons vote on Wednesday night by only nine votes and was reliant on the support of nine Democratic Unionist Party MPs to ensure victory.

If the Prime Minister had lost, his leadership would have come under intense pressure.

Downing Street maintains that no deals have been done, but Mr Brown will, at a press conference at Number 10, be forced to explain if Labour MPs also had to be bought off.

One suggestion from the Conservatives is that the DUP had been “bought off” with £1.2 billion. That would include water rate taxes staying in Northern Ireland and money raised from the sell-off of former army bases, that are now disused as a result of the peace process, not being returned to the Treasury. …

The Guardian:

A desperate Gordon Brown won his battle last night to let police hold terrorist suspects for 42 days without charge, but was forced to rely on the support of the Democratic Unionists and a string of extraordinary concessions to his backbenchers to save the vote, and possibly his premiership.

Brown was accused of trading civil liberties in a “grubby bazaar”, accepting a shopping list of demands from the Northern Ireland unionists and offering a range of promises on backbenchers’ pet projects, such as compensation for injured miners, increases in rail investment, the accountability of the intelligence services and lifting EU sanctions on Cuba.

Brown had staked his personal authority on winning the vote, but 36 of his backbenchers joined the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in the No lobby, slashing his theoretical 66-seat majority. In the end, only the support of the nine DUP members, Ukip’s Bob Spink and the Tory MP Ann Widdecombe saw the government home by nine votes. …


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