Too many 'rights'…?

MI5 chief Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller has asked the British public to discuss which of its liberties it is prepared to sacrifice in the war against terrorism.

The BBC reports:

The central dilemma, said Dame Eliza – director general of MI5 – was how to protect citizens within the rule of law when “fragile” intelligence did not amount to clear cut evidence.

Such intelligence was often not enough to support criminal charges in the courts, she said.

“We can believe, correctly, that a terrorist atrocity is being planned but those arrested by the police have to be released as the plan is too embryonic, too vague to lead to charges and possibly convictions,” she said.

It’s dilemma the Government encountered here all too often and dealt with through different measures – internment, for example, which clearly failed. Elsewhere, the Government seems to be constantly flip-flopping over introducing legislation to allow phone tap evidence to be made admissable as evidence in court.

Control orders, ID cards (which SoS Peter Hain is a big fan of) and non-jury trials on the agenda.

So what do you want to give up? Is the nanny state getting nasty, or is it just taking some commonsense precautions?

  • peteb
  • Gonzo

    Nice one.

  • peteb

    It is the dilemma du jour 🙂

  • ainelivia

    Gosh, we are being a-s-k-e-d to discuss, wait till Blair et all hear that, you don’t ask the public what they want…

  • ben

    Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

    –William Pitt, 1783

    Now I realise how Pitt developed later in his political life regarding restricting the reporting of the press and outlawed disloyal talk, its still worthwhile valuing what is said over who has said it.

  • beano

    I’ve no problem with ID cards except paying for them! I wouldn’t even mind that so much if I believed they’d work, but I’ve read so much from ‘experts’ who believe they’ll do nothing to prevent terrorism that I’m reluctant to part with my cash.

    I believe internment (at least temporary) is a sound theory but it has been shown that the authorities can’t be trusted to do it right.

    First things first, get a police force that isn’t afraid to police.

  • aquifer

    “I’ve no problem with ID cards except paying for them”

    ditto It is plain that we live in a delusional state, where the state regards monetarist dogma as more important than even its own survival.

  • fair_deal

    The ECHR gives us about 15 rights and a number contain a qualification of “in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime”. So Dame Manningham -Buller is talkig rubbish.

  • aquifer

    We could have a problem mustering a UK response to terrorism with a cabinet infested with former student radicals. Liberals consumed with self-loathing at having become the establishment could be the last people to defend democracy against the worse alternatives, especially as their own worse GB alternative is only the Tory party to finish the job and a fat parliamentary pension.

  • Man Farang


    Who said they were liberals?

  • Mickhall


    You say the world has changed and you seem to be implying due to this we should be prepared to give up some of our hard won civil rights. Far from becoming a more dangerous place, the world is safer today in that there is no massively powerful enemy who wish’s to over throw bourgeois democracy. The power of bin Laden’s outfit has been portrayed out of all proportion. They do not control a single State and are hunted throughout the world.

    For an unelected and incompetent member of a discredited security service to suggest we should have any kind of debate is an outrage. When MI5 allows a real debate about its existence then we might be getting some where, I just cannot believe the cheek of this individual. Fear mongering that is what the game is here!

    Think about this matter instead of knee jerking, there has always what some will describe as an enemy within, nothing new there, indeed one of the Balcome Street gang grew up in Scotland and a number of other volunteers of the PIRA were born in England. So it is nothing new for revolutionaries to turn against the country of their birth.

    As to ID cards they are to control the law abiding not catch criminals. All of the Men who were responsible for the recent London bombings would have been issued with ID cards legally under the governments proposals, so they would have been no help there.

    When politicians and heads of security services ask for more power it is the duty of all rational citizens to ask why, as it is the nature of such people that they will abuse there power. After the Iraq dossier when the British security service put the interests of the government of the day over that of the British people Im surprised they have the gaul to raise their incompetent heads. Yet of course it is not a surprise, for the creeps who are now asking for more power, are the very people who got away with lying to the British people over Iraq and were promoted for so doing. Trust these people with their track record with our freedoms, are you mad?

    Can you believe these security people, they encouraged Blair to invade Iraq, thus making that country a hotbed of fundamentalist terrorists due to the chaos created by the UK/US administration of Iraq. Unbelievable!

  • peteb

    Erm.. Mick.. I didn’t say the world had changed, nor did I imply anything [although I do think that the public’s perception of the world may have changed], that was actually an extract from Dame Eliza’s speech – available at the link I posted.. be careful though.. it’s at the MI5 website 😉

  • Mickhall


    Fair do’s mate, i agree with you about the change of the publics perception, although we should not over-look this perception has been moulded by both Mr bin laden, a strong proponent of the terrorism as theatre theory which came to prominence in Germany in the 1960-70s; and by various western security agencies. The latter have managed to do this due to the difficulty after the decades of the cold war for people to get their heads around the low level warfare which is being conducted by al-Qaeda’s acolytes around the world. For example the only weaponry used on 9/11 was stanley knifes. Just as the attacks on the London transport system was carried out by individuals using household appliances.

    Thus the hammer to crack a nut tactics of the US and UK government are not only wrong but counter productive and ineffective and will end in failure. The lessons from the north of Ireland are immense if we are to see the back of Al-Qaeda. Not least State repression and physical force alone will simply not work. Conducting foreign affairs based on equality and fairness for ALL the people of the middle east will.

    It will not end islamic fundamentalism, we are going to have to learn to live with that, but what such a policy will do is offer an alternative to violence for those from our own muslim communities. Just as thousands of young Republicans today are channelling their energies into democratic political activities, instead of the armed struggle of previous generations.

    all the best

  • Young Fogey

    It’s Eliza Manningham-Butler’s job to implement government policy, not give political cover to the government of the day or to publicly campaign for changes to the law.

    She should shut up. The same goes for Met Police Commissioner Ian Blair. And his predecessor was even worse.

  • Gum

    We should be very careful before giving up ANY rights – when might we get them back? The answer is never in their current form.

    Terrorists were not able to defeat the American way of life on the 11th of Sept 2001, nor were they able to stop the British way by the London bombings. The US PATRIOT act and the anti-terror legislation that Blair and Clarke dream of will do that job for them!

  • bertie

    It’s a bit of a cop out to say that it is a question of balance, but I think that that has to feature somewhere.

    Taking ID cards, my worries are, like Beano, what will they cost (also it’s just something else for me to lose), but also its the false sence of security, that I find worrying. Who is going to have most incentive to bypass them – the bad guys. We, the poor sods who just want to get on with it will have all the disadvantages whilst all the bad guys will be more secure than ever with their fake but convincing id cards getting them into places and situations with more ease than before, and with less chance of being traced, because of over reliance on the id cards. (I know what I mean but I haven’t expressed it very well).