Tony Blair and Charles Clarke have decided to respond to the journalists who have been accusing them of systematically undermining civil liberties in the UK in an attempt to appear tough on crime and terrorism. All the usual soundbites are trotted out so I won't bother to repeat them. The Independent's leader writers are not impressed either.
"The wisest counsels in history have usually pleaded for the passage of only a few laws, long in gestation. Charles Clarke and his predecessors have done the opposite, stacking hastily drafted law upon law and so progressively diminishing the impact of each of them. It is indicative of a mindset that cannot be bothered to think through any of our society's ailments but which instinctively reaches for a quick "ban" or "curb", as long as it makes the headlines. This newspaper makes no apology for having condemned this tendency. Given the feeble state of the opposition during most of the Government's lifetime, it has been a positive duty. Much harm has been inflicted on Britain's civil liberties under the guise of suppressing crime and terrorism. If it annoys Mr Clarke to draw attention to it, so be it."