Tony Blair pinned down

Via Tim Worstall I learn that in The Observer Tony Blair has been pinned down a little on issues of Civil Liberties:

For me, it's not comfortable reading.

You say people can only have blank placards outside Parliament and can't protest. Go and look at the placards of those camped outside Parliament - they are most certainly not blank and usually contain words not entirely favourable to your correspondent. Outside Downing Street, virtually every day there are protests of one sort or another.

He is referring here, of course, to Brian Haw. The only reason that he can protest is because he was there before the law was drafted, and the law is not retrospective. This was pointed out in Henry Porter's reply. This doesn't stop the Government trying to oust him. In the meantime, people have been arrested by standing at the cenotaph in Whitehall and reading the names of the dead in Iraq.

We enter the realm of fantasy with your and others' strictures on the Regulatory Reform Bill. This legislation is proposed for a straight-forward reason. Much regulation becomes redundant over time. It's a real problem for business. It costs money and causes hassle, often in circumstances far removed from its original purpose.

In that case, why were strict limits not placed upon the face of the bill? Why was it written in such broad terms? With the law, the intent is irrelevant, the letter is everything. Bad law can have consequences far removed from the original purpose of the law. (For more detail: see Save Parliament)

On the topic of the DNA database:

and as far as I am aware, no one is on the database for dropping litter!

As far as I am aware - a great get out clause if ever I heard it! The point is not whether anyone has been included for dropping litter, but whether this exists as a possibility under the legislation. It's all about loosely framing laws.

I am sorry to tell you: I want us to go further in all these areas.

Oh. Lovely.

And yes, I would go further. I would widen the police powers to seize the cash of suspected drug dealers, the cars they drive round in, and require them to prove they came by them, lawfully.

Suspected drug dealers? Not proven drug dealers? So, Tony Blair would like to have a system whereby anybody could have their assets seized until they could prove their own innocence?

I would impose restrictions on those suspected of being involved in organised crime. In fact, I would generally harry, hassle and hound them until they give up or leave the country.

There is that word, suspected again. If there is solid evidence, make a case. If not there is the presumption of innocence.

Of course the offender has rights; but so has the victim.

This is true. However as a non-offender I do not want a country where the state can 'harry, hassle and hound' people who are merely 'suspected'. This is more worrisome than any other considerations. This is a false dichotomy, protecting the rights of victims does not require the removal of protections from suspected people who may be innocent.

The Observer Blog also discusses this issue.

Update: qwghlm writes on this topic and refers back to the case with Tessa Jowell's Husband, remembering what our Glorious leader said then:

Asked repeatedly if the Prime Minister believed Tessa Jowell's assertion that the money had not come from Prime Minister Berlusconi, the PMOS said that answering the question would mean him getting drawn into the Italian investigation which he was obviously unable to do. He reminded journalists of the importance of keeping the two issues he had outlined earlier separate. He underlined the fact that, in this country, it was important for us to observe the same standards of justice in relation to a foreign case as we would expect in a domestic case. That meant maintaining the tradition that someone was innocent unless proven guilty.

Qwghlm says in response to this: 'You're a suspect. My mate is innocent. Remember that difference.'

An appropriate observation