Is it the case that Prime Minister Brown and the Commons speaker Martin have no understanding and feeling for the English democratic tradition?
'Speaker Michael Martin MP for Glasgow North East, in flagrant defiance of the historic role and meaning of the office he holds, allowed police to enter the House of Commons, raid the office of one of its members, Damian Green, Shadow Immigration Minister, leading to his arrest and beingheld in custody for nine hours. Prime Minister Gordon Brown MP for Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath not only did not protest and not only did not defend the historic constitutional rights of Members of Parliament but instead used his office to express his support for the police action as an indication, so he described it, of their independence from government.
'These things which these two Scottish MPs have done,' Michael Knowles Head of the CEP Media Unit has informed the Campaign membership, 'defy and betray the very heart, meaning and role of what England's democractic achievements are essentially about. England's Parliament was founded 800 years ago to defend the people of England against the excesses of the Crown and the Executive. For all those 800 years the Commons has been both heart and symbol of what England stands for: parliamentary democracy. Parliamentary democracy was achieved by the people of England, not the people of Britain which did not exist until 1707, through centuries of struggle and evolution. The independence of the Members of Parliament from the Crown and the Executive and their freedom and their right to put information before the people of England, and since 1707 before the peoples of Wales and Scotland too, lie at the very heart of the model of democracy which England gave to the world and which is admired the world over.'
'We now have to ask whether or not it is the case that Prime Minister Brown and Speaker Martin have no understanding and no feeling for the model of democracy which is distinctly England's historic achievement and tradition. No one should shy away from that very fundamental question. It is a very uncomfortable one but no less necessary for that. How else can their actions be explained? Martin's predecessor Speaker John Pym 60 years before England's Parliament became the British Parliament risked his very life to defend the freedoms of the members of his House. How does Michael Martin understand his office? As the agent of the incumbant government and nothing else? So it might seem. What Damian Green did was his parliamentary and democratic duty. In matters of immigration he exposed lawbreaking by officialdom and the reluctance of ministers to admit it in public. He has upheld with honour the memory and example of every English 'village Hampden', this time on a national scale. He blew the whistle in a matter of the greatest public interest. In return he has been treated by the executive arm of Mr Brown's Goverrnment like he was a dissident in Russia or Burma or Zimbawe or China or Saudi Arabia.
'It was England's Parliament that gave parliamentary democracy to the world. That is our English inheritance. Absolutely essential to it is the freedom of MPs to speak out. Absolutely essential is the ancient presumption that matters brought to an MP by members of the public and his constituents are protected from any form of Executive interference. Without that basic presumption there can be none of the trust between Members of Parliament and the public on which democratic government depends. That historically is our English inheritance. We have therefore to ask the question: Was the flagrant defiance and betrayal of that inheritance by the Member for Glasgow's North East and the Member for Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath done out of ignorance and indifference concerning what England is about?
Head of CEP Media Unit.
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