Saturday 29 November 2008

Gordon Brown is distancing himself from democracy

Until the summer of 2007 the Home Office leaks and the resulting stories would have been the end of it - part of the rough and tumble of Westminster Politics - where debate and partisanship are so vigorous, vitriolic even, that they are moderated only by a shared belief in our freedoms and the sanctity of our Parliamentary Democracy.

So strong, so intrinsic to Britain is this Parliamentary Democracy that we do not even need to write down it's rules. It's rich (and sometimes gaudy) ceremonies remind us each year that ours is a unique freedom born of mutual respect and of tolerance. The People, since Magna Carta, have evolved a tradition which combines loyalty to their Sovereign nation with fiercely asserted freedoms - freedoms, note - not rights - upheld not through the executive of Government but by the House of Commons whose supremacy was established after the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Make no mistake, our system is the envy of the world. It is this fragile and sacred contract, or a close copy of it, for which opposition politicians of all colours risk their lives when they challenge Dictators. It is hope for what we have here which trumps fear in the minds of those who leave their houses to vote in the polling stations of Africa. It is our Parliamentary Democracy and the freedoms it enshrines, not a bank rescue and a few sound-bites, which are our true and enduring claim to leadership in the eyes of the world.

On Thursday, the State police force entered Parliament in a forceful act of assault. They seized an MP, and by taking documents, curtailed the freedoms of the people who they are supposed to serve. Whether by reason of accident, bureaucracy gone mad, or politics a line has been crossed and the wound cannot be left to fester, no matter how politically damaging this might be for either side. Those responsible must be brought before the house immediately, and the supremacy of Parliament must be re-asserted.

That this happens, and happens immediately, is the responsibility of each and every MP. It is the debt they owe to those that elected them, and it is a matter above all politics. No party line, no press release, no fluffed enquiry or hidden compromise is sufficient answer. The spin doctors must be sent home for a while, and every individual MP must stop to consider what it really means to sit in that place. It is only by the supremacy of Parliament, that politicians of every side enjoy the freedom to debate, to spin, to disseminate, to rule and to riot on behalf of the people who put them there. If, in years to come, their grandsons and granddaughters are to sit in the same seats as the conscience of a future generation then it will be because of the courage and tenacity of those MP's who realise the significance of the events of the past couple of days.

I read in my Times this morning something which until these last months I would never have thought possible, the chilling announcement that the leaker is being held by the Home Office at a secret address, and that Gordon Brown has "distanced the Government from the subsequent arrest of Mr Green and the raids on his home, constituency and Commons offices, insisting that this was a police decision.".

He may be trying to distance himself from a debacle, but to the eyes of many it appears that he is distancing himself from Democracy.

Gordon Brown is an intelligent man with a keen grasp of Parliamentary history. He is also, for the moment, the Chief Executive of the State which has committed this outrage. But above all else he is an elected Member of Parliament. Why is he the only major Party leader not to condemn these events? If we are to believe that he prizes our freedom as much as we do, then he must stop playing politics, come out of his bunker and stand up for the free nation which he is supposed to represent.


Anonymous said...

This analysis of the implications of the Damian Green affair is one of the best I have read so far

Good piece.

Savonarola said...


Anonymous said...


Not a sheep said...

"Gordon Brown is an intelligent man with a keen grasp of Parliamentary history." Maybe, maybe not. But I fear that above all else he's a totalitarian anti-democratic bastard who I fear will have to have the reigns of power forcibly removed from his hands at some point in 2010.