The British government has been pushing for power to hold suspected “terrorists” for up to 42 days without charging people with a crime. It was a key part of Gordon Brown’s legislative program to fight terrorism. His plan went down to a crushing defeat in the House of Lords by an overwhelming vote of 309 to 118. The defeat was among the largest for any Labor proposal in twenty years. Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith accepted the defeat and told fellow Labor MPs the proposal was dead. However, she continued insisting the plan was the correct one to fight terrorism. Liberals and Conservatives united to defeat the bill although they did receive support from some Labor peers.
The fight against terrorism is not won by tearing down constitutional guarantees. Democracy best fights terrorism by retaining the basic democratic principles that have so long endured to protect the rights of those who are accused of crimes.