It’s all over the top of the news – the BBC, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Times. The Government of the United Kingdom has just upped the totalitarian stakes.
It’s the sort of thing that happens in tinpot dictatorships. The Opposition spokesman on immigration, Damian Green, MP, has been arrested on allegations that he leaked stories to the media that he received from a Home Office whistle-blower. The police raided his home, his parliamentary office, and his constituency office.
There were allegedly four leaks between November of last year and September of this year. Green let the press know about:
an illegal immigrant that had been employed as a Commons cleaner,
a letter from the Home Secretary to the Prime Minister warning that a recession could lead to a rise in crime,
that the Home Secretary was warned that thousands of illegal immigrants had been cleared to work in sensitive Whitehall security jobs but accepted advice from her officials for a news blackout on the affair, and
a list, prepared by Labour whips, of MPs’ likely voting intentions on legislation to extend to 42 days detention without charge.
The Tory Leader, David Cameron has rightly noted, “As Shadow Immigration Minister, Mr Green has, on a number of occasions, legitimately revealed information which the Home Office chose not to make public. Disclosure of this information was manifestly in the public interest. Mr Green denies any wrongdoing.” Instead, he was arrested by counter-terrorism officers.
Those officers came from the Metropolitan Police. It is no coincidence (and even the mainstream media are saying this) that today is the last day in the job for Met Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, forced out of office by the Conservative mayor of London Boris Johnson.
It is also no coincidence that it came as the House of Commons was in recess. The matter would have been immediately raised with ministers. As it is, they can operate without challenge for several days.
George Osborne said moments ago on BBC’s Question TIme, “It has long been the case in our democracy that members of Parliament have received information from civil servants. I think to hide information from the public is wrong.” Labour MP Diane Abbott, not being very supportive of the Government, just said on This Week, “Civil servants have been leaking information to politicians since the dawn of the photocopier. The Metropolitan Police do some daft things. They would never arrest a Member of Parliament without getting some form of political cover.” In other words, as much of the media is saying, this has to have been cleared at a very high level, despite the statement by a Downing Street spokesman that the Prime Minister had no prior knowledge of the arrest.
Green is being questioned on allegations of the offence of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. This carries a possible life sentence.
There is terrorism involved here. The Government is terrorising the Opposition to keep it from raising questions about the Government’s competence and honesty at the highest levels. As one not surprisingly anonymous insider question has been quoted in the media, this is “Stalinesque . . . unprecedented in its high-handedness”.