UK Politics

‘Liberty’, if it means anything…

Shami Chakrabarti – the doe-eyed, reclusive head of Liberty – has an article on Comments is Free, the sole purpose of which, so far as I can tell, is to have a swipe at Blair.

…Those involved in these recent plots must have been most disappointed by the new prime minister’s political response, or more accurately the lack of politics contained in it. His television statement of Saturday night was telling. Gone were the lip quivers and pregnant pauses that we had come to expect from Mr Blair. Most crucially, gone was the divisive talk of Blair’s “rules of the game” press conference in August 2005. This wasn’t even a press conference but a brief and direct address to the people.

Unsurprisingly, August 2005 came a few weeks after July 2005. In July 2005, 52 civilians of all creeds and colours were variously burned to death, decapitated, de-limbed and disemboweled whilst traveling on London’s transport system. Hundreds of others ‘escaped’ with physical and emotional injuries that will stay with them for life. A couple of weeks later, additional members of our disenchanted citizenry attempted to inflict more of the same. The context for Blair’s comments immediately following 7/7 and the press conference a few weeks later was the worst terrorist atrocity Britain has ever suffered.

I can’t be certain, but I strongly suspect that, had 80-odd night-clubbers fried in Tiger Tiger on Saturday morning, or had 100-odd holidaymakers been reduced to dust in Glasgow’s airport terminal, Brown’s statement would have sounded a little, um, different.

Playing politics at the inappropriate hour can indeed be ugly, Ms Chakrabarti. We are indeed fortunate to have a head of Liberty who rises above such things.