On assuming office, each PM must write a letter in his own hand instructing the commander of Britain's nuclear sub at sea what to do in the event that the UK is wiped off the map by a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Faced with this task, Major immediately cancelled his first planned weekend as PM at Chequers and went home to Huntingdon to think about it. One dares not imagine Blair's approach; a scrawled note quickly dashed off from the office sofa, perhaps, with a little Blairist quip and little circles above the 'i's, signed 'Tony'.
So when John Major wrote a piece for the Times today on 42 day detention, you can be sure he gave it the gravest consideration and has taken great care in what he says.
Whilst Brown postures vacuously about a 'Britishness' he neither understands or cares about Major pleads for MPs to remember who they are and where they came from. Hear him.
The Government has been saying, in a catchy, misleading piece of spin: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” This is a demagogue's trick. We do have something to fear - the total loss of privacy to an intrusive state with authoritarian tendencies.
This is not a United Kingdom that I recognise and Parliament should not accept it.
Nor do I believe that anyone can defend another government innovation: a national identity register containing the DNA of tens of thousands of people who have never been charged with an offence. Under present legislation, DNA can be retained permanently for even minor misdemeanours, such as being drunk. A total of more than four million samples are already on the UK database - far more than in any other country. This includes tens of thousands of children, and a disproportionate number of black men. If this is accepted, it will one day go farther. This cannot be right: for me, it is all uncomfortably authoritarian.