Post-Blair/Brown Labour hasn’t yet started to define itself coherently, and there were initial fears that new Shadow Home Secretary Ed Balls would use his new (and unlikely) position to attack the ConDems from the right on civil liberties, but he’s hinting the opposite:
Mr Balls, in his first newspaper interview since being appointed shadow home secretary, admitted Labour’s policies under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, which led to failed attempts to get Parliament to pass laws to permit suspects to be detained without charge for 90 and 42 days, had been a mistake.“Even 42 days was a step too far,” he said.“Our reputation as a party which protected liberty as well as security suffered as a result.“Our approach should always be that if the evidence shows we can go down from 28 days without impeding the police and security services from doing their jobs, then we ought to do it.”
“They are such exceptional measures that in an ideal world of course we would want to manage without them.”Labour would be prepared to consider alternative methods, such as a combination of covert surveillance and travel restrictions, he added.His comments come at a tricky time for Labour, with the party gripped by renewed in-fighting during the two-week paternity leave taken by party leader, Ed Miliband.Mr Balls said: “I’m quite clear we must always strike a balance between protecting our country from the risks of terrorist attacks on the one hand, and preserving our democratic freedoms and fundamental liberties on the other: it should never be a case of one or the other.”
Balls was also on The Andrew Marr Show this morning, where he fleshed out his position. He reaffirmed his support for a 14-day limit but warned that the coalition was “way too” liberal on CCTV and the DNA database.
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