Sunday, May 07, 2006

Will they listen?

The BBC reports on a letter which Tony Blair has sent Hazel Blears, issuing her with her instructions on what she is supposed to do to revitalise the flagging Labour Party. Mr e-Blair, famous for so long for not having an email address, tells her that it is time to rethink the party's website. Incredibly, for a party which seems to be being rapidly repudiated by its supporters and members, with a rapidly declining membership, he says:

"We must move from a mainly passive one where supporters interact with us, with local party members and with each other."

Now if this were actually to happen, with the Labour government reacting constructively to what many of its supporters who are deserting the party because its civil liberties agenda and the loss of the remnants of its reputation for competence are saying, that might in fact recover NuLabour's position with its core electorate. On the contrary, with John Reid promising the same old policies on getting tough with foreign prisoners as he writes in the News of the World as the new Home Secretary.

Unity is worth reading on this. Noting Reid's view that

"[UK citizens] believe that the government and their wishes are often thwarted by the courts. They want the deportation for foreign nationals to be considered early in their sentence, and are aware that this was overruled by the courts,"

Unity comments that

"There may be readers of the News of the World who also believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy as well - it still doesn’t mean they’re right.

Just to be clear on this, there may well be occasions when the government, and certainly the readership of the News of the World, have their wishes ‘thwarted by the courts’ but when it comes to deporting foreign nationals, this happens because the courts are doing their job and upholding the rule of law - and not just any old law but the Human Rights Act and Britain’s obligations under the European convention of Human Rights and the UN Convention Agaist Torture.

There is more at stake here than simply whether we deport a few foreign criminals. It’s about whether we live up to our obligations under international laws and treaties - which, it’s worth noting, were agreed and entered into by politicians, and not the courts - and even more than that it’s about whether we wish to be considered a civilised society and live up to standards, laid down in international law, which dictate that you do not deport someone into circumstances which put their life and bodily well-being at serious risk from regmies which do not espouse those standards and values.

It should be a matter of the deepest possible shame for Labour supporters that we have yet another Home Secretary out there in the Murdoch press pandering to the xenophobia of the ignorant instead of taking a stand for civilised values and the rule of law."

Indeed. I wonder if Labour will get this message through their website, and if so, whether they will act upon it. I'd bet not, because presumably they calculate that 200,000 Labour Party members are a great deal less important than 3.5 million odd News of the World readers (requires registration).


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