Say what you like about the Labour government, they are experts at the art of splitting the difference. Even when they lose, by and large they win. For example, the existing rules on allowing terrorist suspects to be locked up for 28 days without charge was a “compromise” eked out of the last time they tried getting their 90 days proposal through.
It looks as if the Labour backbenchers are in no mood to fall for that one again and enough of them will join the Lib Dems and Tories to block the 42 days proposal. But is that the whole story? I was not, for example, previously aware that the counter-terrorism bill included scope for Home Secretaries to ban coroner juries with a stroke of a pen in the interests of “national security“. It sounds like a dreadful idea, but in the kerfuffle over 42 days, how much attention will be paid to it? And for that matter, how many other clauses in this bill are we likely to be concerned about?
Could it be that Jacqui Smith is prepared to lose “42 days” so long as the debate surrounding it succeeds in obscuring all the other bad laws she intends to get through the backdoor? Scrutiny in the Lords can only block so much.