Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What A Cop Out, Mr Speaker

Brown's Queen's Speech took a back seat, as the commons speaker threw Serjeant at Arms, Jill Pay, to the wolves, blaming her for the heavy-handed Greengate police raid - it wasn't me it was her, guv.

Pay, has only been in the job a couple of months, as part of New Labour's 'modernising', and now her future seems to hang by a thread.

Many have seen through the sham. She's been made a scapegoat as the government continues to stamp out the opposition, clampdown on dissents and throw the law at the leakers, as it tries to capture the media and voters in the run-up to the general election.

The government's speaker, Michael Martin, laid the blame squarely on Pay for allowing the heavy mob to search the office of a senior opposition spokesman in the sanctity of the commons chamber, without a search warrant.

When anti-terrorist police arrested MP Damian Green, Martin expressed regret saying: "The Serjeant at Arms called me, told me the member's name and said that a search might take place of his offices in the House. I was not told the police did not have a warrant ... I must make it clear to the House that I was not asked the question of whether consent should be given or whether a warrant should be insisted upon. I did not authorise a search."

So that's all right then is it? Why didn't the man have the common's common sense to make sure there was a warrant, just to be on the safe side? Mr Speaker gets off the hook and the poor woman cops for the lot.

It was disclosed this morning that the police had failed to get a warrant but no mention was made of claims that Pay had been told the DPP approved of the raid.

The DPP deny being consulted by the police, so that begs the question did the police lie to the Serjeant at Arms?

It is hoped Pay has a chance to defend herself when senior MPs meet to investigate the scandal.

Nothing was going to get in the way of Brown's Queen's Speech debate on the government's nondescript watered-down legislative programme up to that election. So a full-scale debate on the row will now have to wait until Monday.

Former Conservative leader, Michael Howard, said MPs on all sides felt "outrage" at the arrest of the shadow immigration spokesman. 

Brown predictably used the police inquiry to get off the hook, saying that he was not going to comment on an ongoing police inquiry. His hapless home secretary, Jacqui Smith, is due to make a statement tomorrow.

In the commons, Conservative leader, David Cameron, said: "It's no good for the prime minister to hide behind 'I was only supporting the independence of the police' ... People want to know whether our democracy, our right to know and our right to expose are safe with this prime minister."

But former defence secretary, John Reid, re-ignited the party politics, echoing Brown's earlier statement warning the Tories that no MP is above the law. 

Now party politics is exactly what will happen as the government presses home its spin that the home office whistleblower at the centre of the leak to Green was a closet Tory.

The Orange Party is more than happy to let the MP at the centre of this outrage have the last word for now. 

Speaking on a point of order, Green, told the commons it would be a "bad day for democracy in this country" if MPs could not expose information that ministers preferred to keep hidden.

The MP added: "Those who have the real power in this country - ministers, senior civil servants and the police - are also not beyond the law and beyond scrutiny ... An MP endangering national security would be a disgrace. An MP exposing embarrassing facts about Home Office policy which ministers are hiding is doing a job in the public interest."

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