After first arguing for 90 days, then 56, bumping that up to the much luckier 58 days, it's anybody's guess where 42 has come from, although a source inside Jacqui Smith informs me that her bra size is a whopping 42DD**, and so she could have been involved in a bizarre mix-up with her Permanent Secretary which she has yet to correct. Or they could be using the same dartboard they use to decide sentencing policy. Or they could be courting the religious vote and miscalculated the number of days and nights those folk like to use.
I've written before about this salami slicing of our freedoms and predicted that the Government would end up with a limit "somewhere in the 40s", so it's both nice to be right for once, and disheartening to think that by first raising expectations and then coming out with a lower limit, they are attempting to project themselves as moderate. It is, however, a fairly transparent and deceitful tactic, so here's hoping British MPs see right through it (except for this one of course, who supports torture, detention without trial and extraordinary rendition).
* Much of the press coverage has used the phrase "terror suspects", but let's call them "criminals", as that is all that they are. To me, the phrase "terror suspects" pre-judges one aspect of the argument and is a useless, simplistic catch-all with negative connotations designed to browbeat opposition.
** That's an awful joke and I apologise deeply to the Home Secretary. The insinuation that there is a person living within her is both disgusting and incorrect and is certainly not backed up by any empirical evidence. A bit like Home Office policy in that respect.