May the Government be damned for it

I must admit that over the past few months I’ve neglected keeping up with the news. I’m rarely conscious of the few minutes of Today that whispers at me in the morning, and only ever read a paper at the weekend.

But last night I caught a bit of Brian Sedgemore’s speech in the House of Commons debate on the new Prevention of Terrorism Bill and, wheeee, is it worth a read:

As this will almost certainly be my last speech in Parliament, I shall try hard not to upset anyone. However, our debate here tonight is a grim reminder of how the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary are betraying some of Labour’s most cherished beliefs. Not content with tossing aside the ideas and ideals that inspire and inform ideology, they seem to be giving up on values too. Liberty, without which democracy has no meaning, and the rule of law, without which state power cannot be contained, look to Parliament for their protection, but this Parliament, sad to say, is failing the nation badly. It is not just the Government but Back-Bench Members who are to blame. It seems that in situations such as this, politics become incompatible with conscience, principle, decency and self-respect. Regrettably, in such situations, the desire for power and position predominates.

As we move towards a system of justice that found favour with the South African Government at the time of apartheid and which parallels Burmese justice today, if hon. Members will pardon the oxymoron, I am reminded that our fathers fought and died for liberty


  • Meg Hillier, the PPC for Brian Sedgemore’s constituency, is a PR consultant and former London Assembly member who describes herself as a ‘loyalist with teeth’.

    I’m sceptical: there are plenty of Blairites being shoehorned and parachuted into seats where leftwingers are retiring, to try and prevent power swinging back towards ‘maverick’ backbenchers when Labour’s majority is cut down (as it almost certainly will be). Which is a pity.

  • if anyone has a capture of this speech audio or video please post it in a comment or let Cory at know, I’d kill to hear this.

  • I’ve been thinking very hard about who I’m going to vote for next election, and I’m totally stumped. Not voting isn’t an option: people died to give me the vote.

    My local constituency is currently Labour, but the Tories are in close second. The rest are also-rans.

    Am I really prepared to vote (as I want to) against that god-botherer, Tony Blair, and end up giving support (albeit indirectly) to Michael Howard?

    What if everyone thought that way? It just doesn’t bear thinking about.

  • Yeah, but conversely, if you always vote for the Least Bad Party Likely To Win then nothing will change in the long-term either. If everyone thought rationally long-term and voted for the party they really most wanted to win, regardless of whether they were likely to win in their consituency, I think it would make more difference. But it’s hard to do…

  • Oh, and if anyone’s having trouble viewing the speech from the link above, as Alfie is, then try these instructions for finding it yourselve on the Parliament TV site:

    Search here for meetings between Wednesday 23 February and Wednesday 23 February in the House of Commons, for the word ‘terrorism’. Brian Sedgemore should appear on the first page of results.

    That should be good for a few days. Why they make it so hard to link to their decent content, I really don’t know.

  • For more information about your local MP, have a look at

    For the record, I’ll be voting Labour because they’ve given my sister the chance to earn a living wage (not a big one) and the hospitals and schools have gotten a lot better, but I won’t be voting with much enthusiasm. I still believe most MPs are above average in decency, morality and care for their community (which logically means they’re better than most of you reading this message) but something like this sticks in my gullet. What was that quote from Douglas Adams about voting for lizards?

  • Well this legislation has made my mind up for me - last night I wrote to my MP to tell him that even though he personally had voted against the legislation, I could not in good conscience vote for someone representing the party that intended to introduce it.

24 Feb 2005 in Writing

Server moving… (and Byliner, Overmorgen and Pepys’ Diary) is moving to a new server… so there may be some broken things around over the next few days. Sorry about that.

24 Feb 2005 in Comments elsewhere

Early, Seattle airport on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
That’s lovely. Like some 1950s airbrushed vision of the future….

On this day I was reading