Here's a link to the story as I heard it this morning on NPR (not that I could get the link to work, you understand, but you may fare better). The Reuters account of the vote may be found at this link; here is a link to coverage from the BBC.
Thirty six Labor MPs deserted their party in this vote (very unusual in British politics) including a number of former government ministers. The slim margin of the government's victory was provided by an apparently last-minute decision of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist MPs (Ian Paisley's bunch) to back the measure. Prime Minister Gordon Brown was obliged to deny any "deals" with the Irish group -- but there have been reports that extra cash was offered for projects dear to the Ulster MPs in order to obtain their assent.
Britain's Conservative Party opposed the measure, but the Shadow Home Secretary, Mr. David Davis, was apparently unimpressed with the degree of his own party's opposition. The Times of London reports that Davis chose to resign his post in the Shadow Government and his seat in Parliament in protest. From David Byers' article in the Times:
In his statement, Mr Davis said he wanted to force a by-election in which he intended to stand on a single-issue – to stop the "slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms" by the Government, including the introduction of ID cards and the extension of detention without trial for terrorist suspects.It is interesting to note that Tory opposition to the measure was not entirely unanimous. According to the BBC, one Conservative broke ranks and voted with the Government, namely, "former Home Office minister Ann Widdecombe."
"This Sunday is the anniversary of Magna Carta, a document that guarantees the fundamental element of British freedom, habeas corpus. The right not to be imprisoned by the state without charge or reason," he said. "But yesterday this house allowed the state to lock up potentially innocent citizens for up to six weeks without charge."
The BBC provides time-stamped 'highlights' of the debate and vote. It quotes Home Secretary Jacqui Smith as saying "she cannot 'wish away the threat' of those whose sole aim is to 'blow away our citizens'.... She asks MPs to 'do the right thing to protect our people'."
Under the guise of fighting "terror," a supposedly left-wing government has sought to further curtail personal liberties. Thus we see that the enemies of personal liberty are not just among the Right, as some people here in America seem to think. (I'm not sure that either the Republicans or the Democrats here are sufficiently supportive of civil liberties.) For my part, if "protection" from terrorists must be purchased at the cost of our my civil rights, I'll take my chances with bin Laden, please.