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Monday, 8 December 2008

HM's Loyal Opposition prove more loyal than her government

The complex way in which our parliamentary democracy works depends to a large extent on political actors conforming to certain conventions, amongst which are that on matters of democratic importance members of parliament will put aside party differences and, in the words of Sir Patrick Cormack, put country first. Tom Harris, ex junior minister and blogging MP, once claimed on his blog that he does likewise. I shall be interested to find which lobby Mr Harris went through in this evening's Commons vote.

Harman's perversion of Speaker Martin's mea culpa today was disgraceful. Martin was prepared to submit his actions to the scrutiny of an apolitical committee of the house; Harman, as Leader of the House, was entrusted to deliver that committee. Instead she attempted to foist on MPs a partisan whitewash, a classic Labour stitch-up that is anathema to our democracy and a disgrace to the honorary position she holds.

Ming Campbell gently asked members to think how her predecessors as Leader, John Biffin and Robin Cook, would have acted. I think not only MPs know the answer to that question.

Labour ride roughshod over all the great conventions of parliament; abolish the Lord Chancellor, abolish the Lords, abolish anything that places checks and balances on their outrageous assumption of power at the expense of our democracy. Today they attempted to abolish the authority of the Commons to govern itself; Labour want the State to run our parliament like they want it to run everything else.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were absolutely correct in boycotting this travesty of a commission.

Historians are always asked to identify exactly when the 'first shot was fired' in any epoch-defining conflict. Perhaps future historians will name today as that time.

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