Samuel Tarry - Chair, Compass Youth
I'm afraid I must object strongly to your decision, as published by the Guardian, to vote for the current bill allowing the Government to detain potentially innocent terrorism suspects for 42 days. I'm sure I don't have to list the reel of stakeholders who object to the bill; suffice it to say that, if those who favour civil rights cannot look to Compass, they have little place other than the Lib Dems to look to.
That in itself is a disgraceful situation which will marginalise and confine those who fight for the basic freedoms on which both liberal democracy and the working class movement in this country were founded on, and depend upon.
Many of the concessions offered by the government are powerful ones. Yet, as someone who myself has completed pieces of lengthy research into the interrelation of human rights and the Government's various strategies on terrorism, I must agree with David Panick QC in the assessment that this legislation is not ECHR compatible. On this ground alone, in my view, the legislation should be voted down - leaving aside the potential effects on innocent individuals, the Muslim community, and the unnecessarily wide application of the current Bill.
However, I write to you not as a constituent, but chiefly in my role as a committed and long term public supporter of Compass. This has already caused a ruckus across the left which has publicly embarrassed the organisation; we must also prepare for the onslaught from the right which will pick apart the inconsistency between our members and elected representatives at Compass, and yourselves.
Compass's time will be soon. It is more imperative than ever that this kind of situation is avoided. I am not aware as to whether any concessions have been offered by the government in return for your votes on these matters, but in any event, I am convinced that Compass
is in a position strong enough within the Labour Party to apply pressure for concessions wherever it wants them. There is no need to pursue actions along the lines to which you are currently committed.
I have tremendous respect for both of you, but must register my strong objection to your planned course of action.
I hope, given the level of opposition to the policy within the group for which both of you are public faces, that you will once again consider your votes, and at the vary least think about debating the breadth of application of the measure, in order that the resulting record in Hansard may be used in the courts as part of a Pepper v Hart approach to interpreting the legislation.
It saddens me greatly to have to look to the opportunism of the Conservatives for the protection of my civil rights.
Compass Youth Organising Committee"
"Dear Jon and Jon,
I am writing to express my dismay at your decision to vote to extend detention without charge to 42 days tomorrow. Before I explain why I am so concerned, let me underscore how much I admire and respect you both. You are part of the reason why I have stayed in the party, and have often wished there were 400 other Labour MPs just like you. That is what has made your decisions even more devastating for me.
I am sure that many others have written to you about basic moral reasons why this is simply wrong. When I read that we are even debating for how long the government can take you away from your family and your community without telling you why, I find it hardly credible. Not only is it wrong but it is wrong-headed. The police are a bureaucracy like any other and will always ask for more pay, more resources and more time. By extending the time available to remove someone's liberty without having to charge or release is likely to make them less effective not more so.
But what I can not emphasise enough is the damage that this will do to what so many of us are working for. I am just a Compass activist who works very hard. However, many of my colleagues in Compass Youth are working tirelessly to support those we consider our leaders such as you. We are drawing in all sorts of young people: Those who are Labour loyalists by nature but feel they must take a stand; Those who join the Far Left as a way of opposing radical Blairism but do not want the party stranded in 1983; And young people who are intensely political but are highly sceptical of organised parties. This is painstaking work, and every individual needs convincing and persuading to let go of their cynicism. I imagine it is the same for those working to expand the organisation in trade unions, CLPs and other areas. In one vote, you are threatening to destroy our credibility with all three groups and amputate our efforts.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not trying to put our voluntary work ahead of your profound parliamentary responsibilities. But what we are trying to do is build a base for politicians like you. We are trying to strengthen your hand, to accumulate your political capital, so you can spend it as you see fit. Your next move can now destroy what we have given so much of our free time, and even some of our work time, to create. I am begging you, please don't do it.