42 Days

By David Mitchell

General arguments why 42 Days is bad news for liberal democracy have been put by writers and thinkers more authoritatively than I can, and from positions of greater personal experience and historical knowledge: but what alarms me in particular about the proposed bill is the tendency of legislative promises such as ‘to be applied only under exceptional circumstances’ to evaporate once the legislation is safely in the statute books. Exceptional circumstances mutate into standard practice, and come to be applied in areas other than those for which the legislation was originally drafted. A politician who guarantees ‘ringfences’ in 2008 is unable to guess what another politician in 2018 might do to those ringfences. I don’t want to live in a country where I or my children can be locked up for a month and a half without anyone telling me why. I do want to live in a country whose police force is empowered to protect the public from terrorism; but 42 Days doesn’t look like protection to me.