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Politics/Current Affairs

Britain In Danger Of Becoming Like Uganda

Thursday, February 8th, 2007 at 14:27 by Sue Stewart

Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, has warned that Britain is in danger of becoming a police state. I know a few people who might query the use of the word ‘becoming’ there, but bear with me.

In an ITN interview after the ‘terrorist kidnap plot’ arrests, Dr Sentamu criticised the proposals to extend the current maximum detention period of 90 days. 

He said: “Why does [John Reid] want these [additional] days, so the police do what? Gather more evidence? To me that becomes, if you’re not very careful, very close to a police state in which they pick you up and then they say later on we’ll find evidence against you. That’s what happened in Uganda with Idi Amin.”

Bearing in mind that Sentamu fled Uganda in the 1970s, that’s a statement that carries quite a bit of clout. People too young to remember Amin himself are getting something of a history lesson, thanks to the recent movie “The Last King Of Scotland”. Even if they’ve only seen the film’s trailers, Sentamu’s is a reference that won’t be entirely lost.

So whatever you might think of the Archbishop of York, you can’t deny his flair for attention-grabbing. He famously opted for a picnic lunch rather than the traditional banquet after his inauguration (alright, the food was individual hampers from M&S so it wasn’t that cheap, but compared to a banquet, y’know?). More recently, he fasted for a week in protest at the war in Lebanon (again, pitching a tent inside York Minster doesn’t exactly put him amongst the dispossessed, but it was a symbolic squat. I get it.)

And in his interview with ITN, he also made the point, “If you are in Britain and you’re British, you should really cherish the traditions that are here… In a (democratic) country like this to then say: I am going to kidnap somebody, I’m going to kill somebody, I will blow people up - for whatever ideology that is about - it isn’t good citizenship.”

I hope this part of his message doesn’t get totally lost. I have my fears and doubts about the way every little thing is being hyped into a terror alert, but I do think we’re still a long way from Tony Blair Dada. As long as we all stay awake and keep asking awkward questions. Of everyone.

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2 Comments on “Britain In Danger Of Becoming Like Uganda”

  1. DannyMackay Says:

    Its good to see the church taking an active role in political life again these days.

    Whether its criticisng the government over iraq - or over detention laws - or for banning homophobia - it all goes to show that the C of E is in fact still there -

    cos I thought it died years ago when it lost to monty Python.

  2. theo Says:

    Read this with a cartoon stereotypical Ugandan piss-take voice with a blair like up beat seriousness . ” Dora Bloch you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet - when i’m finished with them they’ll make me Lord kut of Al Amara.. and de sheik of araby. de moral o’ de story is dat …don’ mess around with de dada blair baby - servin’ me da whisky an coke on a lilo in de Baghdad Hilton is what you get for your vote and de constitution written in iraqi blood.
    cheers me dears.

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