Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Thanks for those who have been commenting. Exile has been disagreeing with me. He feels I am over-reacting and, from his home in "the land of the Free" finds himself defending the Government because I am being too harsh on them.
The worry is that the last seven years have seen more erosion of civil and parliamentary liberites than any period in our history.
There will come a time when we say "How did we get here?" unless there is a moment at which we say "This now is too far".
Suppose an MP has been helping a constituant with a complaint against a police authority. Up till last week, the constituant was safe in the knowledge that as an MP any such help given on Parliamentary property was subject to safeguards which meant that the constituant could fully disclose details to the MP because there could be no police raids on the MP's office to get at that material or at the constituant's details.
And this change comes not with Parliament's debate, but with the say-so of a civil servant - according to the Home Secretary. That is unbelievable.
Something like this has never happened before. Yet a civil servant can change the nature of Parliament and nobody questions it? I mean - nobody in the line of command goes, "This is new"? Or "Do you think we should run this by someone?"
David Cameron was informed beforehand. And what if he had rung up Gordon Brown? What if the PM had been informed by the Leader of the Opposition? That's an unbelievable scenario. No-one would have left the PM in that situation.
The Home Secretary clearly knew, as did the PM. A PM who made his name through judicious leaks is now seeking to imprison those who leak against him - that is not allowed in our democracy, or ought not be.
But - even if the Exile is partially right about my over-reaction (and I don't think he is) then we come back to this: anti-terror legislation should be used for terrorist suspects and only for terrorist suspects. For revealing the government's incompetence on checking illegal workers in the Houses of Parliament, for revealing that the Home Secretary thinks that a recession will increase crime, for revealing that some labour MPs would vote against the undemocratic and unBritish increase of detention without charge to 42 days, a Tory spokesman is a TERRORIST? Needing nine anti-terror officers to arrest him?
The police yesterday accused Damian Green of "grooming" a civil servant into making leaks. Using a word loaded with sexual overtones & saying he paid the man to do it. The man's lawyer hit the airwaves faster than a speeding bullet to refute those charges. I didn't know the police did "spin" like this; perhaps they have been coached...
Are we allowed to question the government?
Ken Jones, chief constable of Kent and Sussex police said: "To meet that responsibility in a way which delivers effective law enforcement to the people of our country requires complete trust between government, law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Leaks can and do erode that trust." So we'll round up anyone who questions us, and then there will be trust.
No, Mr Jones - then there will be tyranny.
I despise the terror legislation as anti-democratic. It invited such behaviour and we were assured it would not happen - how could it in Britain? This is how.
And I don't know how things work in the country where you live, Exile, for despite my many visits & great respect for its people, I have never understood the place. But I do know how we work. And it's not like this.