Coffee House

The long-term political benefit for both Coalition parties of Abu Qatada’s deportation

8 July 2013

If you had the misfortune to miss Theresa May’s statement on the deportation of Abu Qatada this afternoon, it would hardly stretch your imagination to work out how the occasion went. It involved MPs cheering May, May making it clear that the government has done very well and then pointing out (again) that she does want reform (which the Lib Dems disagree with). MPs took care to praise the Home Secretary, mindful of all the chatter about Qatada’s departure being good for her own leadership ambitions. Even if you’re not on the TM4PM bandwagon, you might as well ingratiate yourself with her in case something unexpected happens.

All pretty formulaic stuff. David Cameron popped in for a few minutes at the start, and gave James Brokenshire a congratulatory slap on the thigh when he was praised for his efforts too. Then he trotted off for tea with Andy Murray.


The only thing worth noting is that as well as providing another happy moment for the Conservative party, Qatada’s deportation has offered the Tories and the Lib Dems another opportunity to differentiate from one another. We’ll be seeing much more of this in the coming months as party conferences approach. The Lib Dems for their part were keen to differentiate in two ways today: firstly by not sending any ministers along at all to sit on the front bench and congratulate the Home Office on its work, and secondly through an intervention from Simon Hughes, who pointed out that on human rights, the Lib Dems and the Tories ‘fundamentally’ disagree.

Human rights is one of the areas where both parties feel they benefit from talking loudly about their differences, and as I reported in May, Chris Grayling is already looking at plans for the Tories to differentiate themselves clearly and with concrete ideas on human rights. He made a few more noises to this effect yesterday on the Sunday Politics, saying ‘we will go into the next election in our manifesto with a clear plan for change that will set out exactly what we will do, when we will do it, how we will do it, what the legal basis of doing that will be’. Expect plenty of references to shopping trolleys over the next few months.

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  • Smithersjones2013

    The Lib Dems for their part were keen to differentiate in two ways today:

    It is possibly the greatest mystery of this government as to why the Libdems should so actively want to promote themselves as being so opposed to the will of the people. It’s political suicide.

  • Flitmus

    May has shown repeatedly that she can talk the talk, which above all else is what her party requires of her. God forbid that she (or Grayling who has now taken up the baton) should actually *do* anything about the ECHR. I’ll bet you a tenner. Her media-handling on immigration is always well-timed and exquisite. She really is on top of her brief. Qatada is a happy accident for her.

    • MirthaTidville

      By virtue of Buggins turn, she managed to get rid of him, but lets not forget its taken her 3 years to do it. May is still one of the worst Home Secretaries in living memory and there has been some duff `uns…As for her running for leader, what a laugh, the opposition would have a field day with her less than memorable definition of the Tory Party..That being said they did of course elect Cameron…

      • HookesLaw

        My living memory takes in the last 13 years of a Labour government.

        It also takes in Soskice Jenkings Callaghan Rees . I can also remember quite a few other Tories as well – enough to know you are talking rubbish.

        • MirthaTidville

          Criticism from you is like being savaged by a dead sheep…for the record Rees was street ahead of Miss `Nasty Party`

  • Alexsandr

    Now what do we do about Anjem Choudary? Born here but spouts the same evil bile.

    • Andy


      • Wessex Man

        shoot him!

      • Alexsandr

        treason? inciting racial hatred?

        • Andy

          I suggest you actually read the Treason Acts.

    • Radford_NG

      He has set-up a vigilante group Islam Emergency Defence (IED). He must know IED is what the army calls terrorist bombs (Improvised Explosive Device).

    • Drakken

      Hang the SOB islamaniac with a pigs foot shoved in its mouth.

  • AnotherDaveB

    Was Mr Qatada deported, or did he leave voluntarily?

    • Andy

      He basically left of his own free will. He stopped contesting the order.

      • HookesLaw

        So he was deported since that was the order.

        • Andy

          Well yes, but he could have strung it out much further. And that is the point. It is amazing that this farce has lasted so long. It shouldn’t have taken 13 years: it should have taken 13 weeks. And I fail to understand why he could not merely be deported by using the Prerogative if necessary.

          • HookesLaw

            There are a lot of people I would like to swing my prerogative at. That’s the trouble with the prerogative. I have a lot of faith in mine, not so sure about everybody else’s

  • HookesLaw

    Overall then a massive own goal from the LDs. Fawning after the guardianista vote is not going to do them much good.
    Overall pretty sad really- it shows the LDs not really fit for govt.

    Its not as if the issue is really with the ECHR – UK citizens have been able to appeal to that since we set it up in 1950 – its the way UK judges interpret our own human rights act which incorporates it into UK law.

    • MichtyMe

      Inclined to agree on the ECHR. The French seem to be able to deport the same sorts without difficulty and in great quantity.

      • Alexsandr

        its the british judiciary, making case law up as they see fit. Probably badly drafted law in the first place.

        • Border Boy

          The English courts show a strong inclination to intervene against what they regard as the Hated Home Office. They have decided on many occasions to indulge their conscience against the interests of the British public and it always leads me to ask: “Who elected them?”

          There will be those who say the judges need to be independent to be effective, but I think that only holds where they are making decisions within the law. Where they decide to make things up under the very general Human Rights law they lose my support.

          • HookesLaw

            The point is they regularly seem to ignore the wider public interest when set against clearly nit picking and downright bogus defences. The wider public interest must have some relevance.

          • Radford_NG

            They are not independent.All Judges and Magistrates have to take a brain-washing course on anti-racism/sexism and homophobia.If they are regarded as making un-pc remarks they are suspended and ordered to go and be re-brainwashed.This is stopping good local people becoming Magistrates because they wont sign up to this.

    • Smithersjones2013

      On 17 January 2012, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Abu
      Qatada could not be deported to Jordan as that would be a violation of
      his right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention on
      Human Rights. This was the first time the court has ruled that such an
      expulsion would be a violation of Article 6.[51]

      Well perhaps before 2009 that might have been true but given he appealed to the ECHR in 2009 and given their ruling in January 2012 its pretty clear that it has had everything to do with the ECHR ever since the Law Lords had ordered his deportation in 2009.

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