I seem to be surrounded by references to the Civil War at the moment. I had a look at some of the key documents the other day. This afternoon’s rather lovely Saturday Play on Radio 4 was about the flight of the future Charles II to France.
“Michael Howard, who clearly gave up history for law quite early, has likened it to Charles I’s attemped arrest of the parliamentary leadership in 1641, though he admits getting the idea from the saucy-but-smart C4 TV series, The King’s Whore.”
The programme is of course actually called “The Devil’s Whore” and very very good it is too. Although, when I heard Michael Howard mention this on the radio the other day he thought it was on ITV.
Someone else who doesn’t seem to know their arse from their elbow, is Geoff Hoon. He was awful on Any Questions, particularly over the Green arrest. But what really wound me up was his statement that we shouldn’t go around criticising the police because they are the people that “protect our civil liberties”.
Alex reminds us today that the “Police should enforce the law, not the Government’s whim”. The police are an enforcement agency. They enforce the law. They should have no other agenda. That includes that it is not their business to “protect our civil liberties”. That is for the law itself, the courts, and yes, Parliament to do so. And we need constitutional safety valves to protect us from the infringement of our civil liberties by the police as much as by anyone else.
Which is why it is so worrying that an MP has been arrested for essentially doing his job.
The fact that a government minister doesn’t understand this, or at least speaks as if he doesn’t, demonstrates that Nick Clegg is right when he says;
“Our political system is already in deep trouble: sinking public confidence in MPs, feeble parliamentary scrutiny, a rigid culture of Whitehall secrecy, and an electoral system that hands unprecedented powers to governments freed from any meaningful scrutiny from other parties.
This unprecedented arrest is a wake-up call. We must save our broken democracy.”
This content was originally posted on my old Process Guy blog.