Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oh Dear! Inverse Snob Connarty

Michael Martin I see that Alan Cochrane in the Torygraph has had a right go at local Labour MP, and speaker's defender-in-chief, Michael Connarty about his utterances on Sunday's Politics Show on BBC Scotland.

Frankly Alan took exception once Connarty went off the cue cards issued from the Whips' office i.e. the points that MPs couldn’t be immune from the law and that serious crimes had to be investigated without fear or favour, and turned it into a class issue. Connarty apparently went on to say that the crux of the matter for his friend the speaker Michael Martin was that he was under fire because he was working class.

"The establishment", said Michael M, choosing to forget that it’s Labour that’s been in power for the past 11 years, didn’t want a "working class man in the job." He said he recalled the Tories putting forward someone for the post of Speaker on the basis that he was an Old Etonian and "of the right class".
Well Cochrane quite correctly pointed out that the speakers during the last 16 years of Tory governments, run by the daughter of a grocer and son of a trapeze artist, including rather more working class speakers that Michael C would like us to remember. George Thomas, later Viscount Tonypandy, 1976-83 was the son of miner and a Labour MP to boot. Bernard "Jack" Weatherill (1983-92) may have been a Tory started his adult life as an apprentice tailor. Then there was the former shop assistant from Yorkshire, who became a high-kicking tiller girl for yes Betty Boothroyd (1992-2000) was also Labour.

Maybe Connarty is going as far back as the previous appointee John Selwyn Lloyd (1971-76) who after all went to a Public School, before going up to Magdalen College, Cambridge. So obviously being a Oxbridge graduate and Old Fettesian must not be the right combination for Michael C and we should all clearly leave off Micheal M. But isn't that just the sort of person that he served under as Prime Minister for 10 years, OK the University is wrong but the school is an exact match.

Personally I think it is a speaker who is a friend of Labour whether willfully, through ignorance or through looking the other way, allowing Labour's draconian anti-terror laws to be used yet again too heavy handedly. That has only one thing to do with class and that is failure to behave with any not how one was "brung up".

I'm only upset that I missed the original airing of the programme, but then again I'm liable to have been shouting at the screen or worse if I'd heard such clearly ungrounded drivel. So I spared my neighbours a good old rant no doubt.


Stuart Winton said...

While I had some sympathy for Damian Green initially, this has evaporated somewhat due to the OTT and party politicaland indeed class-based nature of much of the debate since then, thus to that extent I agree with you.

On the other hand, and with reference to your point about 'ungrounded' comments, you mention the use of Labour's anti-terror laws, but I don't think these were used at all - the search was perhaps conducted by anti-terror officers - but not under anti-terro laws per se - and I think this was because there was considered to be a risk to national security.

(BTW, presumably your quote is attributable to Michael C rather than M?)

Stephen Glenn said...

Yeah definitely a redundant and as pointed out ridiculous argument regarding class. I think there has been far too much reverse snobbery over this, just as I hate the fact that the Nats claim to the be only patriotic Scots here north of the border.

However, Green was arrested under the anti-terror laws. The law to search a premises without warrant, I believe, also came through under the anti-terror laws. It is doubtful that any court would have given a warrant to search Green's offices based on the evidence appears to have been present. Therefore the only option open to get said papers (which as I pointed out earlier were less inflamatory that Brown leaks)appears to have been to arrest the guy.

Stuart Winton said...

Well clearly there's lots of conflicting stuff available on the matter, and I suspect that neither of us have read more than a tiny fraction of the various sources, but as far as I can make out, in particular using this piece from the FT:

- the arrest was made for a common law offence;

- the arrest and search was made under long-standing procedures using the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984;

- no warrant was required because consent for the search was obtained from Commons officers (although what would have happened if this had been refused is a moot point, as the FT article makes clear);

- the officers from the Met's counterterrorism command deal with sensitive investigations other than just terrorism.

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