A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tory double standards

Iain Dale is already getting a bit self-righteous about Damian Green being arrested over alleged Home Office leaks.

I wonder what position Iain took on civil servant Sarah Tisdall, jailed for 4 months for leaking documents, or civil servant Clive Ponting, charged but acquitted of a similar offence? Of course it was his hero Margaret Thatcher who ordered their prosecution, so I'm sure he thought it was justified, and didn't huff and puff like he is now.


Blogger Iain Dale said...

Luke, You are quite right, I didn't comment on those two cases. I didn't have a blog at the time. And I suspect you are also right, that if I had, I might not have been so vociferous in defence of civil liberties. It was a very different age. That's no excuse, just an assessment of my thoughts at the time. I suspect at that time I would have had more trust in the state to do the right thing. I was probably in favour of ID cards too. But I have seen the light.

The thing that most concerns me is the deployment of counter terrorism police and the government's willingness to use counter terror legislation in a way they promised they never would.

As I said in my original post, it is too early to make a full analysis, but surely you, like me, must be concerned at the way this has been done.

11:20 pm, November 27, 2008

Blogger Mark Thompson said...


I thought that too although I was questioning if there was as much protest about the questioning of Tony Blair and the arrest of various of his senior colleagues a year or two back by the Tory blogosphere.

I have made this point on my blog here.

It's good to see Iain's post here but if he has seen the light, was he as vociferous in defence of Blair et al previously? I cannot recall to be honest.

11:46 pm, November 27, 2008

Blogger Jonathan Calder said...

So do you support the arrest of Damian Green by counter terrorism police, Luke?

11:51 pm, November 27, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

The Metropolitan Police said: "The man has been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office and aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office."

To the best of my knowledge that isn't a piece of counter terrorism legislation, even if the police involved may have, as the Tories claim, come from a CT unit - maybe this confusion has arisen because in 2005 Special Branch, who have always looked into crimes involving politics/politicians (such as election fraud), were merged into the Counter Terrorism Command of the Met and badged up as such, even though their remit includes other stuff.

Let's wait and find out what this is really all about before rushing to condemn his arrest - it's unfortunately not unknown for MPs to break the law and deserve arresting. Even when there is a public interest defence for leaking, that's a matter for the courts to determine not the police to anticipate.

11:57 pm, November 27, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


how can I know? None of us know whatever it is the cops think they know. I'll decide if I "support" it when I know if he is charged and convicted or not.

You can't have a blanket rule that MPs should never be arrested. That would put them above the law.

12:00 am, November 28, 2008

Blogger Oncewerefree said...

Only Luke would have the lack of any beleif in freedom to support this police action. Oncerwerefree did stand up for Clive Ponting and indeed he was acquitted by his peers. But for the police to enter parliament and also arrest an M.P. becasue he released documents which the government wanted to hide is the mark of a nascent police state. And where was the fat Speaker when this happened. His predescessors died for liberty, perhaps he was out shopping at the taxpayers expense.

9:11 am, November 28, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...


You really cannot play the 'i dont know card'; from the information in the public domain this arrest and its manner is an outrage and an affront to civil liberties in its heavy-handedness (though it is patent nonsense for Cameron to claim this information was 'in the public interest' when some of it was in the interest of creating hysteria over the issue of illegal immigration).

Two wrongs do not make a right and just because they have happened in the past doesnt make them right now does it??

9:47 am, November 28, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A by-election in Ashford perhaps ?

Ooops, Sorry, Cameron don't like by elections these days.


1:12 pm, November 28, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke, this is about the arrest of an MP and the searching of his offices in Westminster without his knowledge by terrorist Police, with it appears the foreknowledge of Speaker Martin. It is a very worrying development for democracy as a whole in this country and transcends party lines. You should be outraged that our elected representatives can be hauled off by the Police for holding the government to account; not twittering on about Thatcher and the events decades old, for goodness sakes this not the 80s leave Ben Elton behind. Of course you don’t like to Tories, who does, but they have a job to do in opposition that they cannot do if under threat of arrest, this really is a very worrying development and above petty party bickering.

4:08 pm, November 28, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Psst, Luke, your bias is showing...

4:14 pm, November 28, 2008

Blogger Man in a Shed said...

The heart of this has nothing to do with double standards.

At the least it is a direct attack on parliament and its role. It may also have been illegal as a contempt of parliament ( see Tony Benn for details ).

As has been pointed out else where the leaks concerned were about the Labour government deceiving the people about its failures. The people you quote were betraying military secrets of their country, and in Tisdall's case to the potential benefit of our enemies.

But there is an even more sinister possibility - that of direct political motivation.

Why should Cameron and Johnson be informed before the event, but not Brown and Smith ? The suspicion has to fall on the fact its by design.

Also Brown says its a police matter and he has nothing more to do with it. Well this just isn't true. He's leader of the Labour party (you remember the Stalinist election where you all lost your bottle and any self respect by allowing Brown to bully Blair from office and break Labours clear commitment that he would serve a full term ).. As Leader of the Labour party attacks on the privileges of parliament and therefore our democracy impact him directly - and that's before we start listing all the leaks he took advantage of in his years in opposition ( see the Evening Standard ).

It also shows that parliament cannot be seen to be defended by a speaker from the governing party.

Maybe Labour party members yearn for the firm hand and clunking fist of a supreme leader and police state to implement the 'peoples' priorities unhindered by anyone else or any thinking, but the rest of us find it alarming.

Your just trying to justify your naked partisanship without thinking of your country first.

Party before country - very Labour.

This could yet be Labour's Watergate.

5:20 pm, November 28, 2008

Blogger Jimmy said...

Tisdall's case had nothing to do with national security. the successful argument by the Govt on appeal was that even though the leak was harmless, an untrustworthy civil servant might leak something harmful and therefore should be identified.

8:08 pm, November 28, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The governments actions are truly disgraceful, if anything we should be arresting the PM. This has caused immense damage to our democratic process and will limit our access information that would otherwise be accessible.

9:41 pm, November 28, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Labour also have double standards...

Heres a piece that is in this weeks Private Eye Rotten Boroughs on Page 13........


Last month Newham council voted in favour of allowing London City Airport to increase flights from 80,000 to 120,000 a year - an extra 150 flights a day. The protests of east London residents worried about noise , pollution and global warming were brushed aside. Anti-airport campaigners were dismayed at the about-turn of London mayor Boris Johnson, who had said he opposed the airport's expansion and then said he was actually in favour of it.
Newham labour councillor and City Airport consultative committee member Alec Kellaway is a big supporter of the airport, faithfully following the line of Newham mayor "Sir" Robin Wales that it is "good for jobs" and helps regenerate the area. Alas , very little of the business that comes through the airport actually stays in the borough - although there are oppurtunities for cleaners.
City Airport earlier this year hired big-hitting PR firm Hill & Knowlton to spin its case. H&K is owned by the US media/PR conglomerate WPP - in which according to Newham council's register of members interests , Cllr Alec Kellaway happens to own shares worth more than £25,000. No conflict of interest there , then.

9:46 am, November 30, 2008

Blogger eeore said...

The double standards is yours.

Tisdall and Ponting were charged under the officials secrets act. There is no suggestion that this current case relates to official secrets.

Perhaps you would care to aswer why anti-terror police were conducting the operation.

11:40 pm, December 03, 2008


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