Friday, November 28, 2008

Are We a Democracy in Disguise

The worrying news of the arrest and questioning of Damien Green, the Conservatives' Shadow Immigration Minister, over Home Office leaks yesterday raises serious questions about the execution of the anti-terror laws that Labour have brought forwards in recent years.

All through the process there has been concern raised that such draconian measures in the wrong hands could lead to major concerns over the democratic process. But who would ever have thought that those wrong hands would actually be those of the Labour party. A party that themselves were often under investigation for communist leanings, as any reader of Tony Benn's diaries will be aware. As Chris Huhne the Liberal Democrat Shadow for Home Affairs said:

"Receiving information from government departments in the public interest and
publicising it is a key part of any MP’s role. This is the most worrying
development for many years, with the potential to shift power even more
conclusively from Parliament to the Government. It is also extraordinary
considering Gordon Brown himself as Shadow Chancellor received and publicised
many leaked official documents."

When the civil rights of an opposition Member of Parliament to carry out his role of scrutinising are threatened because of information he may or may not have become privy to how can we effectively have a parliamentary democracy? Are we any better than that Zimbabwe? As David Davis put it on the Today programme:

"None of this put in any way national intelligence, national security, or international relations at risk - yet we end up with a situation that is in some way reminiscent of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, with an Opposition spokesman being arrested for nine hours. It is extraordinary, frankly."

Where is the government moving the line to? Are they deliberately trying to hinder scrutiny? If so, what do they have to hide?

There are a lot of questions about such legislation being used against a legislator and this latest incident means it is definitely time for the powers invested in these areas are properly addressed. This is just another step along the wrong path where too much alleged need to protect is impinging on civil liberties to go about as normally as possible.


Anonymous said...

"But who would ever have thought that those wrong hands would actually be those of the Labour party."

Well, me, for one.

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Norman C said...

Legal challenged launched against Mandelson.

As their release says: ‘Lord Mandelson, in our view, is acting unlawfully.’


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