Monday, December 01, 2008

Tories should boycott the State Opening of Parliament

David Cameron has called this a ‘watershed moment’. Indeed, this is David Cameron’s moment. This is the time for him to take a stand against this authoritarian, repressive, and increasingly totalitarian Labour regime, and to defend the liberties of the people and the sovereignty of Parliament (or what remains of it). This is also the right moment for him to effectively deploy David Davis, and appoint him Shadow Secretary of State for Civil Liberties, regardless of having no opposite number on the Government benches.

The High Court of Parliament enjoys all the privileges of any court in the land, and more. Parliamentarians should be immune from arbitrary arrest and invasive searches. Members of Parliament are not above the law, but the law is certainly not above them in the proper execution of the duties.

Mr Cameron has demanded of the Prime Minister an explanation of why the Shadow Spokesman on Immigration, Damian Green, was arrested and questioned by the police for simply making public information that the Government wanted to keep secret.

Explanation came there none.

Mr Cameron has called on the Prime Minister to condemn this infringement of the sovereignty of Parliament and the privilege of MPs.

Condemnation came there none.

That the Queen’s Prime Minister and Cabinet appear to be complicit in this constitutional outrage demands that Her Majesty be made aware of the severity of the situation. Fortunately, Damian Green was not a member of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council – the Queen’s closest advisors who give confidential advice on secret affairs of state – but there appears to have been little regard for his personal effects had he been so. The police did not ask David Cameron or Boris Johnson if Mr Green was a ‘Right Honourable’. If he were sworn of the Privy Council – as many senior politicians are – and they had confiscated his means of communication and searched through his private papers, we would not be talking merely of police interference but treason.

That aside, it remains a mystery why the police forewarned HM Leader of the Opposition and the Mayor of London, but (apparently) said nothing to the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, or even to a Home Office minister.

This Wednesday, Her Majesty comes to the Palace of Westminster for the State Opening of Parliament. The cellars shall be searched by the Yeomen of the Guard in order to prevent a modern-day Gunpowder Plot, and the Crown will take a member of the House of Commons to Buckingham Palace as a hostage to guarantee the safety of the Sovereign as she enters a possibly hostile Parliament. Her majesty will outline her Government’s legislative agenda in the House of Lords, for no monarch has entered the House of Commons since 1642 when King Charles I entered the Commons Chamber and attempted to arrest five members. Speaker Lenthall famously defied the King, refusing to inform him as to where the members were hiding. As Black Rod tries to enter the Commons’ Chamber, the doors shall be slammed in his face – symbolising the independence of the Commons and its right to debate without the presence of the Queen's representative.

It may all appear to be archaic, obscure and a complete waste of time. But it is steeped in centuries of tradition, and laden with constitutional significance.

If Mr Cameron has not by Wednesday received a satisfactory explanation from Speaker Martin for the arrest of Damian Green and the searching of his parliamentary offices, he should boycott the State Opening and instruct all Conservative members to do the same, on a three line whip.

It has been suggested that Conservative members (along with concerned Liberal Democrats and Labour members) should instead gather instead at Runnymede for a commemoration of Magna Carta.

Cranmer would rather they petition Her Majesty directly, and create one of those ‘Black Rod’ moments which will go down in the annals of parliamentary history.

But, sadly, with the increasing prevalence in the Commons of supine neo-functionaries, there is no sense of theatre, no appreciation of the dramatic, no understanding of the significance of the occasion or any appreciation of an opportunity for making history. Mr Cameron may have accurately identified a ‘watershed moment’, but it remains to be seen if he may be possessed of the mighty spirit of Pitt / Disraeli / Churchill, or even the wise humility of Speaker Lenthall.


Blogger dizzyfatplonka said...

Good post your Grace, you have thrown down the Gauntlet, lets now see if he is man enough to take up the challenge.

Or will he prove to be just another stooge in the grand plan of things.

1 December 2008 at 10:04  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Your Grace

Good post.

It is always interesting to see history in the making but I am not holding my breath.

1 December 2008 at 10:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fat chance, Your Grace.

1 December 2008 at 13:38  
Blogger McKenzie said...

It is a political world, and God moves us in those politics.

1 December 2008 at 14:02  
Blogger Peter O said...

Your Grace,

I want to suggest that there is one action which would make Wednesday an historic day in the political life of this country. The Commons should demand the resignation of Speaker Michael Martin on the grounds that he has betrayed the House by permitting one of it's members' privacy (and that of his constituents who he represents) to be invaded and abused, In his place the Commons should elect the one man who now represents the sovereignty of the Commons above any external power that would attempt to impose its will upon the voice of the people.

I call upon MPs to drag Damian Green to the Speaker's Chair this Wednesday afternoon, to act not only as their chief officer but also as the guardian, and icon, of their historic freedoms.

1 December 2008 at 14:03  
Blogger McKenzie said...

A Biblical perspective:

When Pharaoh called Joseph to interpret his dreams, Joseph told Pharaoh that the images of the fat and thin ears of corn, and the fat and thin cows, represented respective years of good and bad crops, and of years of abundance and famine. And Joseph told Pharaoh that he should put away into storage during the fat years, so as to provide for the years of famine.

Joseph also told Pharaoh that the dream was telling him to search for a wise man!

Now is the time for such a wise man, but he needs to be a man of the heart. Gordon Brown thought he was being a man of the heart, but he was merely trying to ascertain the heart of the nation so he could say the things he thought they wanted to hear. But the nation sensed his insincerity, as they always will.

It was to be a series of calamities and disasters which would reveal the true nature of Gordon, And now look at him:




A leap of faith is now needed, but be true to thine own self.....or be warned!!!!

1 December 2008 at 14:32  
Blogger Damo Mackerel said...

Your Grace, isn't that now Facism rose to power in Italy when the oppositon bycotted the parliment? I don't think the Tory's should stay away from Westminister this Wednesday.

1 December 2008 at 15:17  
Anonymous Dave J. said...

I respectfully disagree, Your Grace. The Tories, and all MP's committed to preserving the sovereignty of Parliament (hopefully including Labour backbenchers), should not abstain, abdicating their duties and thereby allowing this tyrannical Government to continue work its will in their absence. Was it not Burke who said that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph?

They must not boycott. They must ACT. The times demand it. They should shut the door in Black Rod's face and then keep it closed as they demand the resignation of Speaker Martin and, failing that, move a vote of no confidence in him, as well seeking the same of the Government. They must then turn the State Opening into an opportunity to seek a dissolution from the Queen directly.

1 December 2008 at 17:35  
Anonymous church mouse said...

David J - Sounds like a plan to me!!

If our elected representatives don't wake up and do something soon, I really will believe the euSSR's putting soporifics in the water!!!

1 December 2008 at 18:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

I totally agree and as another has pointed out, the gauntlet has been thrown down.

My only dread is that D Cameron does his usual milksop response, walk around and then away from the gauntlet.

That said, he may realise, or be advised if he does, he will blow any chance of credibility and at the same time much of his existing support.

In short, he will be effectively electing himself out of a job.

Interesting times. I wonder how history will record this.

1 December 2008 at 20:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The likely reason the police didn't tell the Home Secretary and Prime Minister of their imminent arrest of Green - they knew the PM & HS were already fully informed.

2 December 2008 at 00:03  
Anonymous judith said...

Your Grace, I have discussed this with my Tory MP.

He said, quite rightly, that insulting Her Majesty would go down like a lead balloon with the electorate. It would make the Conservative Party look like a bunch of babies throwing their toys out of the pram.

Questions will most certainly be asked in the House at the right time; enthusiastic posters here may not be aware that there are strict rules on what may and may not be debated in the immediate aftermath of the Queen's Speech.

Even if the Lib Dems and other minor Parties agreed, a vote of no confidence would be a complete waste of time - the Government still commands an overall majority. While certain Labour MPs are disgusted at recent events, they are not sufficiently
disgusted to risk voting against the Government. They are well aware that many of them will lose their seats at the next General Election, and wish that day to be delayed for as long as possible.

May I respectfully suggest that a large proportion of Her Majesty's subjects are currently far more concerned with the likelihood of losing their jobs or their houses than with the arcana of Parliamentary procedures (and the undoubtedly huge import of Mr Green's arrest).

Mr Cameron may have made mistakes during his time as Party Leader (for who amongst us is infallible?), but he is a canny operator who is playing a long game, and playing it with considerably more success than messrs Hague, Duncan Smith and Howard were able to achieve.

And since I am sprinkling metaphors around with gay abandon, may I conclude by noting that Mr Cameron is negotiating his way through a heavily-seeded minefield - being shouted at, and having missiles thrown at him, is hardly likely to help him maintain his equilibrium and achieve his laudable aims.

2 December 2008 at 00:30  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Far better for the Opposition Parties to stand separate from the ruling clique and show a House divided

2 December 2008 at 08:07  
OpenID curly15 said...

Be careful what you wish for, she's a dangerous woman!

2 December 2008 at 14:33  

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