42 Days: the big distraction?

Top of the bill, Diane Abbott (to which might be added Hugh’s epithet on the nature of saying no): “This is pure politics. This is about polls. This is about positioning. This is about putting the Conservative Party in the wrong place. We should not play ducks and drakes with civil liberties just to get a few months’ advantage in opinion polls.” But Simon Carr in tomorrow’s Independent reads into the telling detail:

In future, a minister will be able to interrupt an inquest to kick out the jury, dismiss the coroner and declare the proceedings secret. Why? One reason might be that the soldier, say, lacked body armour, bullets or boots and the coroner was expressing naive disapproval. You can’t have a jury hearing a case like that. They might talk. It wouldn’t be in the public interest for such matters to get out. Oh no, it would damage confidence in the Government.

Oh, and if the new coroner “misbehaves”, he or she can be “revoked” as well. “Misbehaviour” isn’t defined but we can assume it would be misbehaviour to criticise ministers or the ministry or suggest the death was somehow avoidable or unnecessary or possibly even undesirable.

Quite a change, that.

It’ll all get nodded through. As Mark Durkan said in his melancholy way, how will MPs persuade doubters of the power of scrutiny when it comes to 42 days? The proposal is that the Commons will be asked to debate – maybe on day 35 of the citizen being detained without charge – whether or not to keep him in jail for another seven days. “The noddies have it“.

42 days perhaps was the sham fight?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty