Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jacqui Smith Appears to Give Police Carter Blanche

I have just been watching Andrew Marr's interview with Jacqui Smith. At the end of the Major government, many Cabinet Ministers appeared on TV and were seen as totally out of touch with public opinion. The interviewer would say something was white and they would say it was black. Perfectly decent human beings were seen as tired and out of touch with the people they were governing. Jacqui Smith exhibited all those signs in this interview. She had a line to take and she stuck to it. She refused to apologise to Damian Green and his family for their treatment and said it would be wrong of her to make any operational comment on the Police action.

Indeed, her attitude was that the Police had carte blanche to do as they liked if it furthered an inquiry. If that isn't the sign that we live in a Police state, I don't know what is. If she can't see that things have gone too far in this case, I cannot see that she is fit to remain in office.

Jacqui Smith rightly said her Department and the Cabinet Office should investigate a series of "systematic leaks". Of course they needed to. No one denies that. But she failed to convince anyone watching about the need for an Opposition politician, who was doing his job, to be arrested.

She also refused to confirm or deny whether she had signed a warrant enabling the security services to bug Damian Green's phone. If it turns out she did, then the consequences are clear.

If she genuinely didn't know anything about the Police investigation until after Green's arrest, if she genuinely thinks she shouldn't have intervened at that point and told the Police they had overstepped their operational freedoms, one has to ask, what is the point of her being Home Secretary? If she genuinely believes the Police have the operational freedom to act as they see fit, and thinks it is perfectly reasonable for nine counter terror officers to ransack a Member of Parliament's home then we live in very worrying times indeed.

The Home Secretary is accountable to Parliament. In this case, it seems the Police are accountable to no one.

PS Carol Vorderman was brilliant in the paper review on this issue, calling the arrest "disgusting". She laid into Jacqui Smith - such a shame she didn't carry out the interview with Smith rather than Andrew Marr. Catfight!


Colin said...
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Colin said...

As I wrote in another post, this is a once in a parliamentary lifetime gift for the Tories, if they play it right.

Ex flying squad boss, John O'Connor, speaking on the radio is spot on: He said: "If the prime minister and the home secretary were unaware of this police activity - then they must be utterly incompetent.
"And if they were aware of it then that makes them really quite dangerous. So I think whatever way, whatever path they choose it doesn't put them in a good light."

DespairingLiberal said...

The "leave it to the police" line is fantastic nonsense. It is an absolute odds-on certainty that Smith and the PM were both consulted and also approved. I don't believe their denials and I suspect most don't. To brazenly lie like this merely underscores the Putinesque phase we have entered into.

I actually got quite worried that we didn't hear from you for a while on Saturday Iain, I was concerned that the security services had interfered with your blog or worse.

The latest revelations that MI5 or other agencies are routinely bugging the House merely adds to the picture of a democracy under active seige.

I do seriously wonder if the next election will be a free and fair one. Maybe we should be appealing to the EU and US to send in monitors.

Mrs Smallprint said...

I too have been blogging about this programme and it was particularly noticable how her respiration rate went up when she knew a tricky question was in the offing.

Downwind of the Cock said...

I was reading another person and his take on the 'tells' that politicians have when lying, he reckons Fat Jacq blinks excessively when about to tell a lie.

Dick the Prick said...

Harperson dribbling on Sky - whoopie do!

Vorders was on form - standard operating procedure - this stinks!

Anonymous said...

Iain, they can't do anything else. I haven't seen the interview yet as it's not on the Marr website. But JS is in a invidious position and you know it. I suspect all tories are rubbing they're hands with glee.

You know damn well she can't comment on an ongoing operation. And can't comment on warrants. Nor could your guy if you were in power.

If you're that concerned about democracy maybe you shouldn't be playing the party politics and actually looking for a way through this.

Anonymous said...

Poiltical Junkie

Good name you have, but better to name yourself as Jaqui the jackboot Apologist. This is going to blow up Gordo's socialist face. Even if he did like any Labour leader, Gordo is shameless cyclope. Removing him through ballot box is the best way. The Home Office' smiling assisin', Jacqui the Jack boot and Brown the Stalin all instructed that Beria Asst Commissioner to do what they wanted. This police chap will pay the price for carrying out the Stalin's order.

Andy in Newcastle said...

I agree. There is a world of difference between the Government directing the police to take certain action, which few people would want to see, and the police having to account to ministers and, through them, to Parliament for their actions. The Home Secretary deliberately muddled the two to avoid having to agree that the police are, and ought to be, accountable.

I assume that the present Government will be perfectly happy to receive the same treatment when they are in opposition and receive leaked documents!

I have to say that Harriet Harman came across much better on Sky. I realise it is more her job than the Home Sec's to stand up for MPs' rights, but she is still a Government minister. I thought she sounded very balanced and reasonable, agreeing that there were serious constitutional issues at stake.

Iain Dale said...

Political Junkie: "Jackie Smith is in an invidious position". No shit Sherlock. I wonder why she is in that position, eh?

Ben Gray said...

"Operational Independence" is not a valid excuse to stay silent. This is a political matter. The Home Secretary has every right to criticise and affect the conduct of the police in situations where they are believed to have behaved inappropriately. Smith could have done all manner of things that would have maintained that independence (which is not absolute), yet addressed some of the concerns raised. IPCC referral, public inquiry etc.

Operational independence was no excuse for the way the police behaved in the de Menezes or Steven Lawrence case, and it shouldn't become one now on the basis of shirking responsibility.

If Smith is found to have authorised the arrest in the knowledge of what that would entail, she should resign.

Anonymous said...

It will possibly not have escaped attention that two Indian ministers, who have some integrity and recognise where the buck stops, have proffered their resignations in respect of the events in Mumbai.

When did any New Labour minister ever resign without squirming, ducking & diving, and eventually having to be pushed out? Integrity is not a word in the New Labour vocabulary.

The economic saviour of the world, our Prime Minister, and his shill our Home Secretary, both decline to express any indignation over the trampling of an MPs rights. They do not deserve to hold office in a Parliamentary democracy.

But wait for it... no matter the enormity of Damian Green's treatment, no head will roll bar perhaps that of some junior functionary.

Not that this lot make me want to throw up or anything...

Man in a Shed said...

We all know that Gordon Brown has had to adjust himself to pretending to tolerate the right of the opposition to ask questions.

His rudeness and plain arrogance as Chancellor is a matter of record. He is just unable to debate at PMQs - just reading out his tractor production notes from the colour coded stickers to vent his partisan spite and sheer disdain for Parliament and the people who appointed it.

Labour are now putting the jack boot into their own MPs with thuggery in the chamber and careers crushed for any descent against the leader.

Its no surprise that this Stalinist attitude should be carried over to using the police to crush opposition.

This Labour government ( though not ones before ) have always found it impossible to separate the interests of the state and party - and of the 'the project'. And since Brown sees his party as a big Stalinist fan club where everyone gets their opinions from Gordon its more of a dictatorship - albeit one run by Mr Bean on occasion.

The hope here is from the few Labour MPs who see the bigger issue and won't allow Parliament and opposition politicians to be crushed. After all most of them know its their future too.

Null said...

Iain, I think this morning's interview is a manifestation of the principle of trusting your gut instinct.

My gut feeling about Ms Smith was that there was something about her that I didn't like and that she was both untrustworthy and incompetent. I didn't trust her, and today the evidence to support my gut feeling was provided by Ms Smith herself...

If people can't see the comparison with this administration and the end of the Major government, then the propaganda is working.

Jess The Dog said...

The Met needs to be broken - it is out of control, a rogue State Police force - Staatspolezei or Stasi. Boris Johnson must sack Sir Paul Stephenson. Jacqui Smith must be made to allow this sacking by MPs, through a vote of confidence. The Speaker must be sacked, he is a toothless supine joke. Any ministers who knew of this in advance must resign, or be pursuer relentlessley. The rest of us must support MPs in fighting back. If, for example, the Met try this again, it is incumbent on all in Parliament to resist entry by the police and it is our duty to head for Parliament and form a human cordon to physically prevent them entering. I live in Edinburgh but I would jump on a train south!

The Creator said...

I take grave exception, Iain, to your implication that Jacqui Smith could ever have been thought a 'perfectly decent human being'.

She is, exactly like her boss, a properly nasty person.

How have we sunk so low?


I thought Vorders was wonderful. Marr seemed a little too keen to move on to another topic.

Our Jacqui seemed just a bit too shifty for my liking. Hiding behind the bluster of not interfering in a police operation just doesn't wash with me.

The comparison with Ken Clarke was revealing. Who would you rather have in the Home Office? That's a no-brainer for me. Goodbye Jacqui, you are the weakest link!

Anonymous said...

If the police have such operational independence, as stressed by Gordon Brown & his shill, how come the police enquiry into BAE bribes & slush funds was stopped dead in its tracks when the Saudis complained?

Anonymous said...

What really doesn't stack up for me are the comments by David Normington, the Home Office's Permanent Secretary, that he knew but didn't tell his boss that the arrests were about to happen.

A man on his pay grade must be aware that the arrest of a senior member of the Opposition would look bad for the government and the Home Secretary in particular. Yet if he's to be believed, its better for Jacqui Smith to be entirely ignorant of police actions for which she would be blamed.

One way or the other, Normington has to go. Either he's lying to us, or he can't be trusted to tell inconvenient facts to ministers - which makes him dangerous and untrustworthy.

Anonymous said...

I note the governement's supporters are popping up all over the place with the line 'but what about Ruth Turner being arrested in the cash-for-questions enquiry?'

Quick reminder to everyone - Ruth Turner was only arrested AFTER she had been questioned twice before, once under caution. Damian Green wasn't even given that much opportunity.

Shaun said...

"Quick reminder to everyone - Ruth Turner was only arrested AFTER she had been questioned twice before, once under caution. Damian Green wasn't even given that much opportunity."


That's a point, but not the main one which is she was an employed, unaccountable apparatchik whereas Green is an elected Member of Parliament. One has a mandate and attracts specific protections whereas the other doesn't and has to answer questions relating to alleged crimes committed by those around them in pursuit not of their political goals, but of their narrow party interests.

bryboy said...

It is now time for the Conservative Party to attack with all guns blazing. They now have an open goal to demonstrate how the government in connivance with The Speaker are ignoring the democratic principles of Parliament.

They should stand up one after the other demanding answers from The Speaker as to why parliamentary privilege was ignored. He must be made to deliver an explanation. They should totally disrupt proceedings even to the point of being 'named'.

This will send out a message to the world that the British are very unhappy at the conduct of an unelected PM, an incompetent Home Secretary and an impossibly partizan Speaker.

If they don't do this then I'm afraid they will, once again, be treated with contempt by this government who refuse to answer questions in the House and are therefore not being held to account.

David Cameron is the only person who can stop this nonsense but he need to get rough!

not an economist said...

Has it been explained why the Key Civil Servant in this made the decision not to advise the PM or Home Sec about the planned arrest? It just struck em as odd. It occures to me that this information was very important and therefore sthg to tell the two of them.

I am left with a gut feeling that certain people were aware of what was going to happen but it had been discussed without written records being taken of what was said and strict instructions being given to not formally inform them closer to the event. This so they could then turn round after the event and deny all knowledge and give some credence to the official Labour line "Well there is no evidence that Brown or Smith were in anyway involved in this".

Ben said...

It's ironic that you would accuse her of being out of touch. I am confident that the next few weeks will demonstrate that the politicians, journlists and bloggers working themselves up into a fearful lather about this arrest are the ones out of touch. This is not a story the general public will care about or remember long.

The police suspected an MP no one had heard of had committed a crime no one had heard of. He was arrested and released. Yeah, they'll be manning the barricades.

Brian Howes said...

Jacqui Smith is simply lying.
I have sent David Cameron and Nick Clegg more than enough evidence that MP's are being monitored and via email and phone calls with the US and UK government being at the centre of this.
Here is a link to a trace I sent to both opposition party's that shows that even a Labour party MP was being intercepted. I was called and told that this was being investigated and I sent many documents of proof.
Here is one of those documents in video form if it is allowed to be displayed, if it is click on HD for high definition and maximise the video and see where the email are being intercepted on this accasion on behalf of the US or UK government. If more evidence is needed I have lots that I sent to both opposition parties’.