Respect MP George Galloway has lashed out at the government for overturning a House of Lords amendment to its Police and Crime Bill that would have blocked “fast track” extraditions of British citizens to the US.
The government won a House of Commons vote on the amendment on Tuesday night by 313 to 273, with only 14 Labour MPs rebelling by voting against the government.
“Tony Blair’s government has lost any conceivable claim to represent the people of this country after last night’s vote,” George Galloway told Socialist Worker.
“A British government - one that call itself Labour - has voted to diminish the rights of British citizens and hand them over to a foreign power that runs torture centres on occupied land, merely on the grounds of accusation rather than evidence.”
Shami Chakrabarti, director general of the Liberty civil rights organisation, also pledged to continue fighting the extradition arrangements.
“The vote is disappointing but this campaign is just beginning. Baggage can be bundled off around the globe - but people should have a little fairness first,” she said.
Under the terms of New Labour’s 2003 treaty with the US, British citizens can be extradited to the US without the right to challenge the evidence against them in court.
Babar Ahmad, a south London IT worker, has been in jail since August 2004 fighting plans to extradite him to the US on trumped up “terrorism” charges. The results of his high court appeal against extradition are expected this month.
George Galloway also noted the weakness of the backbench Labour rebellion - despite intensive lobbying of MPs by civil liberties activists.
“That only 14 Labour MPs could bring themselves to vote against this measure stands as an indictment of the Parliamentary Labour Party, and underscores how the defence of civil liberties is not going to come through that route,” he said.
Defeating the government would have required another 20 or so Labour MPs to vote against the government. The 14 who did rebel included John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn. They were joined by Clare Short, who recently resigned the Labour whip.
Full list of Labour MPs who voted against the government: Harry Cohen, Jeremy Corbyn, Frank Field, Neil Gerrard, Roger Godsiff, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, Lynne Jones, Robert Marshall-Andrews, John McDonnell, Alan Simpson, Keith Vaz, Robert Wareing, Mike Wood.