Conservatives and Liberties

June 13, 2008
Posted by Jay Livingston

Six years. That’s how long some prisoners have been held at Guantánamo without even having charges brought against them. Too long? Certainly not, say conservatives in the US.

The conservative wing on the Supreme Court, dissenting in yesterday’s decision on this, thought that not only was locking up people indefinitely and without charges, let alone trial and conviction, a good idea. They also saw nothing in it that violated the Constitution (“Pay no attention to that habeas corpus clause behind the curtain.”)

But why is this position “conservative”? Does it fit with some universal set of conservative principles? Apparently not.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the UK prime minister, Gordon Brown, has proposed a law allowing the government to hold terrorism suspects without charges not for six years or six months, but for six weeks. You’d think that conservatives would be shouting that 42 days is not nearly long enough. But the Conservative Party leader, David Cameron,
described the measure as “a political calculation” designed to make Mr. Brown appear as if he was being tough on security.

David condemned the plans for 42-day detention, arguing they would threaten civil liberties and could alienate sections of society.
This from the Tories’ own website. I’m not sure which supposedly conservative stance surprised me more – their opposition to detention without charges or their use of the first name in referring to the party leaders. Even on Fox, they don’t refer “George.”


Anonymous said...

It's part and parcel of the Tories new cuddly, caring image. Bush tried the whole compassionate conservative thing, but Cameron is a lot more convincing with it.

As the conservatives never cease telling us, they're for small government. Thatcher certainly said she was, as she spent millions arming the state. But in this case it seems Cameron takes this rhetoric a little more seriously. Well, we'll see.

There's more here

Naadir Jeewa said...

Yup, welcome to our new brand of celebrity politics.

OpenDemocracy has more on why this has happened.