Did you watch Gordon Brown say that this was not a matter for him but for the police? Even if we believe his claims not to have known about Damian Green’s arrest until after it had happened, his answers to Adam Boulton’s questions were wholly inadequate. The Prime Minister expressed no concerns at the simultaneous swooping of anti-terror police on a Member of Parliament’s home, constituency office and parliamentary office. He was silent about the implications of anti-terror police confiscating an MP’s correspondence with constituents, his phone and computer and searching through historic love letters between Damian Green and his wife. He said nothing about the disabling of Mr Green’s parliamentary email service, such that constituents receive an automatic reply saying that the account has been disabled for security reasons. It’s just a matter for the police, Mr Brown kept saying. That was a completely inadequate answer from a man who regularly received leaked documents when Labour was in opposition. The Prime Minister needs to realise that people are very concerned about the integrity of our democracy as a result of Thursday.
Most public anger from the Tory benches is, however, being directed at the House of Commons Speaker, Michael Martin. The Daily Mail records the fury of Douglas Carswell MP – a regular critic of Mr Martin – and also of Iain Duncan Smith:
"If it turns out that the Speaker gave the go-a-head for this raid, I will be demanding to his face, on every occasion that I can, that Mr Martin now quit. The purpose of the Commons Speaker is to preside over an institution that holds government to account – not to give the green light to police raids against legitimate opposition… There needs to be a pretty good explanation as to why he sanctioned this raid. If the Speaker can’t provide one, he should go. I have spoken to MPs on both sides of the Commons who are shocked and outraged by this." – Douglas Carswell MP
"Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith wrote to the Speaker last night to protest at the ‘abuse of the principle of the supremacy of Parliament’. Mr Duncan Smith told Mr Martin that he and other officers of the House had a ‘prime responsibility to make sure that the agencies of government do not consider it their right to treat Parliament like any other department or agency in the land’. He demanded: ‘Who else will our constituents feel they can turn to, to settle legitimate grievances, if they come to believe that the police or any other agency can cow this House into subservience?’ Mr Duncan Smith called for a parliamentary inquiry into the affair and an emergency debate as soon as Parliament returns next week." – Daily Mail
I’ll give Cranmer the last word on Michael Martin:
King Charles I entered the House in order to search for and arrest five
members for high treason, he was met by Speaker Lenthall. The Speaker
did not grant the King permission to search the office of the five or
betray them to the the investigating authority. When asked where these
members were, Speaker Lenthall replied: "May it please your Majesty, I
have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the
House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here."
Speaker Martin’s eyes are misted and his tongue is forked. And he certainly does not serve the interests of the House. If
he will not resign, there must be a confidence motion. Members on all
sides ought to be very afraid of a man who presumes the authority to
sanction arbitrary searches of private parliamentary facilities without
their knowledge, and without regard for secret, sensitive, private and
confidential papers which may routinely be found there. It is time for Speaker Martin to go."