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'I am not a number!' David Davis, The Prisoner and the critique of surveillance

Nellis, M. (2009) 'I am not a number!' David Davis, The Prisoner and the critique of surveillance. Surveillance and Society, 6 (1). pp. 48-51. ISSN 1477-7487

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In June 2008 the British Parliament debated the Government's proposal to detain terrorist subjects for up to 42 days while the case against them was investigated. Despite al the best arguments - including some from the security services themselves - being against this, the government won a narrow victory, largely because pusillanimous Labour MPs, many of whom did not support the case for 42 days, feared that a vote against would jeopardise the position of the already weakened Prime Minister. Outraged by this cynicism - but much to the chagrin of his own party leader - David Davis, the Home Affairs spokesman for the Conservative opposition, flamboyantly resigned his safe parliamentary seat in the Haltemprice and Howden constituency. He hoped by doing such a principled thing that he would generate a much needed public debate about the government's abuse of civil liberties, and the growth of the surveillance state more generally in Britain. As it turned out, this was not perhaps the way to generate such a debate, but an alternative suggested itself…