Labour MPs are concerned that Tony Blair’s sweeping 12-point plan for tackling the threat posed by Islamist terrorism may hinder the very goals he seeks to achieve.
A former Home Office minister, the level-headed John Denham who now chairs the home affairs select committee, has expressed dismay that the government has abandoned the cross-party approach it pursued after the London bombings.
“The government responded to the bombings initially with a very measured approach, a very serious approach, good coordination across government,” he told the BBC.
“The last few days really give this sense that the government have got into a real state of nerves about the whole thing; it is displaying a lack of confidence in its own strategy and I think they’ve got to get a grip on it very, very quickly, stop floating half-baked ideas and get back to proper cross-party consensus on the serious measures that need to be taken.”
Labour backbenchers fear that Mr Blair is responding to tabloid criticism, exacerbated by militant comments on BBC Newsnight last week, and doing what he often does for good and ill – prodding a cautious Home Office into taking what may prove unwise steps.
What they see as Mr Blair “grabbing the agenda before it grabs him”, No 10 regards as a prudent attempt to address voters’ legitimate feelings. “Why the hell can’t we do something about these people?” as one senior MP puts it.
See also Independent, 9 August 2005