Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Michael Martin - 'it wisnae me!'

What a pathetic creature Speaker Michael Martin MP is! I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry this afternoon as I watched Speaker Martin make his statement to the House of Commons that he did know of the possible police raid on the House of Commons office of an MP; not only that, he knew the identity of the MP before the raid took place! We know this because Speaker Martin stated this in his statement today - and the person he heaped blamed upon for having allowed access to Damian Green MP's office, Serjeant-at-Arms Jill Jay, without a search warrant was the person who told him the day before the raid occurred that it might happen and the following morning she was the person who told him the identity of the MP concerned.

Speaker Martin says he 'regrets' that she agreed to allow access without asking for a warrant. Did he tell her during either or both of their conversations before the raid occurred to ensure that a search warrant had to be presented before granting access? Evidently not. Why not?

It seems completely bizarre to me to have a Speaker of the House of Commons who doesn't know the absolute basics of his role and its historic significance and more damningly who did not take the trouble (even when alerted the day before that a raid might occur) to ensure that he made himself aware of all the implications of what might happen in the near future? I imagine he has a staff of lawyers who could have advised him what his options were, if he had taken the trouble to ask them. His predecessor, Betty Boothroyd, may not have had much more formal education than Speaker Martin, but she did have one commodity in abundance that Michael Martin lacks - common sense, not to mention a sharp brain. Watching Speaker Martin today reading out his statement in his most ponderous voice was to be brought face to face with the reality that he is a man completely out of his depth; this is not a surprise as his mediocrity in his current role has been obvious to all since soon after he became Speaker. I have no wish to see the poor man humiliated, but a way has got to be found, and soon, to prevail upon him to resign and to let someone more capable take on the role. It would be sad if MPs were forced, reluctantly, to seek his removal through a vote of no confidence - it is clear that even most Opposition MPs have no wish to see that happen.

Finally, part of his statement included the observation that the Police had erred in not advising Serjeant-at-Arms Jill Jay that she did not have to agree to allowing them access in the absence of a search warrant and that she had the option to decline their request. Dominic Grieve MP (who is a lawyer) seemed to confirm this evening on Newsnight tonight that the Police should have told her this. It is clear that the Police knew they were on shaky ground and seem to have deliberately 'tried it on', deliberately waiting until Parliament was in recess before making their move when they hoped that the lack of a full complement of staff and MPs would allow them to gain access by default. Furthermore, the Police then proceeded to prevent their actions being filmed, apart from the first few moments until they told those in the office to stop filming because it was 'inappropriate', completely without any legal authority to do so.

This is what it means to live in a 'Police State' - it is time people recognised this and stopped calling people like me alarmist for stating a simple truth.

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