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A sinister development

As the terrible events in Mumbai have reminded us – I have some ex-colleagues who work there – terrorism remains an ever-present threat. Even while the economic stories dominated our news headlines in recent months, I had a nagging worry that the jihadis were not going to pass up the chance to strike, particularly with a new US president on the way. So terrorism is back as a topic in the most awful way imaginable.

So it is all the more extraordinary that counter-terrorist police, instead of actually trying to deal with terrorists, were instead employed in the highly dodgy arrest of Tory MP Damian Green, who had received leaked information on immigration into the UK and who, like any half-competent politician, was trying to use this information to add to the debate on immigration. Now whatever one thinks about immigration – and Samizdata has gone over this issue many times – it seems deeply sinister that a man who had received leaked details about the numbers involved should find his collar felt by Pc Plod. Considering all the vast numbers of leaks out of the government, which sometimes have direct impacts on markets and livelihoods, this is bad. This is the first time I can recall that a senior MP has been arrested on what looks suspiciously like an attempt by the authorities to shut up a political party. No wonder that Tory leader David Cameron is demanding action on this. Whether he gets it remains to be seen.

Mr Green’s actions are not remotely in the same bracket as the very serious allegations of receipt of oil-for-food funds that have been levelled against the Saddam apologist, George Galloway. At least in the latter case one could see why Galloway should, at the very least, have had a little chat with the police. As for Mr Green, his treatment looks downright sinister. When people throw around the words “police state” to describe what Britain has become, it all too easy to roll the eyes. But if this case does wake this country up a bit, it will have served some purpose.

Philip Johnston in the Daily Telegraph agrees.

Update: Old Holborn puts up this graphic, via Guido Fawkes.

Suggestion to the Tories: refuse to turn up for the State Opening of Parliament on Wednesday. Seriously. Do not turn up, but tell the government to go and boil its collective head.

Things have really got that bad. Can a no-confidence motion be far off?

28 comments to A sinister development

  • It is worse when you combine it with the bogus arrests of BNP campaigners recently.

    First the came for the BNP and I didn’t care because I wasn’t a racist
    Then they came for the Tory MPs and I didn’t care because MPs are scumbags anyway…


  • Lipsticked Pig

    Arrested for having a non-party thought in 21st century Britain? Taken in by the police for saying something against the State? Daring to want to inform the population of other views?

    Who’d have thought it?

    As we all ought to remind our great leaders, 1984 is not an instruction manual.

  • Sunfish

    Perhaps I’m missing something:

    What law was alleged to have been violated? The blog posts don’t even say. What I (being unfamiliar with UK law) infer is that Mr. Greene was arrested for releasing information that may or may not have been classified.

    Also, what’s so special about the Met’s “anti-terror” police as opposed to any other police? And unless there are supporting facts that didn’t make it into Mr. Martin’s blog, how the hell did the chief of the Met even allow this?

  • permanentexpat

    Despite what we all know, that our freedoms have been curtailed & that the European province of the UK is an ongoing disaster, let us beware the knee-jerk reaction in the Damian Green affair.
    Better wait until the full details are known before passing judgement…good & intelligent folk sometimes do very stupid things in not thinking actions through.

    A German MEP has stated that Indian authorities had told her that British nationals were/are involved in the Mumbai terrorist attack. Should this be true it should also be no surprize. How well we have nurtured our nest of vipers.

  • Gordon

    The police officers who were involved should be sacked together with their heirarchical superiors up to and including senior officials in the Home Office and of course the Minister. They should also lose any accumulated pension rights and be forbidden any occupation other than that of plumber.
    If this seems a little drastic then I will plead that for our survival as a free nation we need to counter the hubris of the state sector by many good doses of humiliation.

  • Ian B

    When people throw around the words “police state” to describe what Britain has become, it all too easy to roll the eyes.

    Well, a police state is a matter of degree. Just as we describe some countries as capitalist, even though there is no pure capitalist economy, or some countries as socialist, even though there is no pure socialist economy, or some countries as religious even though they may contain some secularists, it’s about perception. In a sense it largely comes down to whether the people feel intimidated by the state- clearly many in Britain now do. We may not be a “police state” or we may be, but there are certainly strong police state elements operating- protesters being arrested, covert surveillance, secret policing by all manner of “inspectors” and so on.

    I think the thing is that freedom is like justice; it needs to be seen to be done. A free country needs to be visibly operating like a free country. Britiain isn’t any more; people simply don’t feel they can rely on restraint from and of the authorities as they used to.

    We may not be a police state; I think it is reasonable to say though that whatever our nation has become is not at all acceptable.

  • joe

    Whats wrong with plumbing that these scum should only be allowed to do that?
    Surely the only occupation allowable to these traitors should be that of prisoner at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

    Good honest plumbers do not deserve to be so besmirched.

  • I cannot tell you how delighted I am that this has happened. An MP is arrested… outrage ensues. And if it has not been an MP, I wonder how many newspapers have bothered to report it.

    Perhaps that utter prick Cameron will sniff electoral headway to be made and pause his adoration of Polly Toynbee long enough to start uttering slogans about civil liberties now.

  • Cleanthes

    My understanding of this – and I am very much prepared to be corrected strenuously – is that there are two reasons for his arrest:
    1) for conspiracy to procure misconduct, i.e. that he was enticing someone to leak stuff to him
    2) for pushing this material on to the press.

    It is 2) that is actually the problem. If he had procured the leak then broadcast the information in the HoC, he would have been protected by Parliamentary privilege and to charge him with 1) would look really really petty.

    Unfortunately, and this is the bit that should REALLY worry us, it appears that Green – along with everyone else – has such little respect for Parliament or the notion that the press could report on what he said in Parliament without sanction, that this option was not really worth pursuing.

    That’s the horrid thing – that this administration has so undermined Parliament that opposition MPs cannot hold the Govt properly to account without laying themselves open to this kind of treatment.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Perry, quite. Let’s face it, when the Notting Hill set that runs the Tory Party realise how fucking out of control the Met. Police now is and how deranged Brown and his govt. has become, it might just scare them enough to start behaving like a real opposition.

    The BBC’s coverage of this affair, unsurprisingly, has been lamentable.

  • Would this have happened if the leak (or whatever) had been over something less politically explosive as immigration which the likes of Hazel Blears has her knickers in a twist over – you know succour to the BNP etc. And of course we all know the BNP’s strongholds are in traditionally (i.e. they believe they are their’s by ancestral right back to the High King Keir de Hardy) Labour areas?

    I mean would this have haven’t if it was just another story about yet another umpty billion being pissed-up the wall on PFI?

  • guy herbert

    It is a most curious coincidence that reportedly no ministers were aware, and that the arrest took place on a day when the cabinet had gone to Leeds. Macavity’s not there!

  • Alice

    “the cabinet had gone to Leeds”

    Literally or metaphorically? Is “Leeds” a historic preservation site, where cell-phones do not work, electricity is unheard of, and news does not arrive until spring when the stage-coach from Bradford can finally get through the muck of 19th Century roads?

    Hell, surely the news media have a stringer in Leeds? Or doesn’t the BBC send a junior correspondent to cover the cabinet when it runs & hides in the darkest, most-benighted far-distant provinces?

  • the last toryboy

    Surely a catastrophe for ZanuLabour. If it doesn’t turn out to be a catastrophe for ZNL, then it’s time to emigrate as the British people will have demonstrated their utter hopelessness.

  • DavidNcl

    Green was arrested but not charged with conspiracy to commit a rather odd offence. What appears to be a quite obscure common law offence is being used increasingly in ways that I find troubling.

    See here for example: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/sep/21/pressandpublishing.police

  • Ian B

    What appears to be a quite obscure common law offence is being used increasingly in ways that I find troubling.

    As G.K. Chesterton said…

    “I had thought of calling the next sort of superficial people the Idealists; but I think this implies a humility towards impersonal good they hardly show; so I call them the Autocrats. They are those who give us generally to understand that every modern reform will “work” all right, because they will be there to see. Where they will be, and for how long, they do not explain very clearly. I do not mind their looking forward to numberless lives in succession; for that is the shadow of a human or divine hope. But even a theosophist does not expect to be a vast number of people at once. And these people most certainly propose to be responsible for a whole movement after it has left their hands. Each man promises to be about a thousand policemen. If you ask them how this or that will work, they will answer, “Oh, I would certainly insist on this”; or “I would never go so far as that”; as if they could return to this earth and do what no ghost has ever done quite successfully — force men to forsake their sins. Of these it is enough to say that they do not understand the nature of a law any more than the nature of a dog. If you let loose a law, it will do as a dog does. It will obey its own nature, not yours. Such sense as you have put into the law (or the dog) will be fulfilled. But you will not be able to fulfill a fragment of anything you have forgotten to put into it.”

  • Perhaps the government is sensitive because a number of the terrorists are British born. Whoops,that’s fucked the multiculti open borders poliy of ZanuLabour.

  • James

    Will be interested to see how the papers report this tomorrow. Shouldn’t have thought there will be too many who swallow the ZNL line. The problem is – as an earlier contributor pointed out – if something similar had happened to a normal member of the public, the MSM wouldn’t give a toss.

  • APL

    The Tory party is an absolute outrage. The lot of them should be arrested!

    They have been utterly useless as an opposition.

  • RAB

    When I was a Civil Servant, I leaked like a sieve.

    This was the honourable and noble stance to take!

    After all we Civil Servants were supposed to be beyond politics.

    So I just went with the truth instead…

  • .
    If Labour and the Tories would just be sensible and honest about immigration policies and problems, then non-racist Brits simply concerned with Britain would not be driven to the only party concerned about immigration problems, the BNP; most of whose members are NOT ‘fascists’ or ‘racists’.

    Gordon Brown is clearly a fascist wannabe, and it would be even worse for Boris Johnson to have been privy to this. Hopefully most people will hear about this.
    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    arrest innocent MPs

    for just doing their jobs
    exposing failed policies

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe says
    be a violent leftist

    attack conservatives’ homes
    you brown-shirt NAZI FASCISTS

    absurd thought –
    God of the Universe thinks
    Marx was NOT an idiot

    keep believing and HOPING
    that communism WILL WORK

    All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech there can be no real freedom.
    Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
    Help Halt Terrorism Today!


  • Sunfish

    Okay, so he was suspected of conspiring to commit some sort of official misconduct. That’s a wonderfully-vague term for readers not familiar with UK law.

    Who ordered the arrest? If it was pursuant to a warrant, the warrant should have been issued by a judge. Correct?

    At least here, if the arrest was made without a warrant, then additional justification would generally be needed: inability to identify the arrestee, reasonable basis to believe that the arrestee would flee the jurisdiction or refuse to appear if summoned to court, or reasonable grounds to believe that he’d pose a danger to himself or to the public at large if not arrested.

    Did one of those factors apply? Was it not possible to identify a member of Parliament? Was there a concern that he’d run over people in his car and beat up nuns if not immediately taken into custody? Did he have a secret Namibian passport and a private plane with warm engines waiting?

    My entire adult life as a cop has taught me one thing: the truth generally sounds true, and a lie generally sounds like bullshit. The relevance: when the PM and the HS both claim not to have been informed ahead of time of a police plan to arrest an opposition member of Parliament, I know how that sounds-about like if the US AG had claimed to not know that the FBI was planning to arrest a Democratic representative who was storing eighty grand of bribe money in his freezer.

  • el windy

    Having just got back to the UK from Italy where elected politicians can literally get away with murder and no VIP collars will ever be felt by the gallant Carabinieri or other members of the police force, I find this story refreshing. Whilst I agree that the arrest and raids are outrageous, at least someone here still cares about personal liberty and is prepared to raise a huge stink about it and at the same time being an elected politician or front bench oppposition spokesman doesn’t make you immune to arrest, is also a positive.
    I do wonder, however, about how many of your posters live in urban inner city areas – there seems to be a worrying predominant bunker mentality in the tone of the majority of the comments.

  • Paul Marks

    The last time I heard Hazel Blears, this person was on a radio show claiming that people were too cynical about politicians and that they deserved credit for (for example) “the great improvements in education”.

    The next day a mainstream independent association of scientists (the Royal Society of Chemistry, I seem to remember) reported that science education (in all the sciences) was now a farce at school level – with “A” (advanced) level examination at 18 year of age, having collapsed in the level of knowledge and problem solving the courses teach.

    No doubt H.B. will also deny that the recent arrest has anything to do with trying to create a “chilling effect” on dissent – that would be “cynical” and such a cynical attitude “should not exist”.

  • guy herbert


    Who ordered the arrest? If it was pursuant to a warrant, the warrant should have been issued by a judge. Correct?

    At least here, if the arrest was made without a warrant, then additional justification would generally be needed: inability to identify the arrestee, reasonable basis to believe that the arrestee would flee the jurisdiction or refuse to appear if summoned to court, or reasonable grounds to believe that he’d pose a danger to himself or to the public at large if not arrested.

    Did one of those factors apply?

    No. Police and prosecuting authorities have much more arbitrary power here than in the States. It has been accruing for over 20 years, but has been massively increased in the last decade.

    No warrant is in general required for an arrest, unless the arrest is being made on behalf of a third party such as court whose order is being defied, the HMRC in its tax function (though the Inland Revenue is pushing to get police arrest powers too). No warrant is required for very extensive search and seizure of property associated with the person arrested, provided the reason given for arrest is moderately serious. Police can authorise themselves to bug suspects or to use numerous powers of entry.

  • guy herbert

    Sorry, in the above,

    Who ordered the arrest? …. Did one of those factors apply?

    Should all be italicised, as Sunfish’s question.