PICTURE the scene: the Home Secretary is furious that Damien Green keeps asking difficult questions about immigration. How to respond? Well, have him arrested, of course.
Now, obviously there are difficulties here. First, she doesn’t have any authority to order the police to arrest someone. Second, even if she did, it would have no effect either on Green or any other MP who wanted to bash the government; if anything it would just make them more determined, and the Home Secretary realises this.
Third, what about the media outcry? At a time when Labour have managed to narrow the gap between themselves and the Tories, is now the right time deliberately to create a media storm in which the government will inevitably be seen as the bad guys and which will have the effect of making a martyr out of Damien?
But such arguments have no effect on her, so she orders her secret police into action…
Meanwhile, back in the real world, there is outrage at the above sequence of events – you know, the events that never happened, and couldn’t have happened, for all the reasons listed above.
Everyone who made comments in the previous thread, warning of the arrival of their beloved and much-heralded police state, were already convinced that such a state arrived in May 1997.
Due process will have to take its course, much as the government’s critics hate such an idea. If it turns out that the police have over-reached themselves, that will become apparent and there will be consequences. Parliament will have its say on the question of whether or not the police should have had access to Damien’s House of Commons office.
Due to the exciteable nature of the media, there’s no doubt this affair has caused Labour some serious political damage. This prospect would have been obvious to the Home Secretary had she been told of Green’s imminent arrest. She would have known that such damage to the government and her party could be avoided by interfering in police operations and insisting that no arrest takes place. But would such a politically partisan motive have been justification enough for this action?
But that’s not a view shared by most of those commenting on this site, by Iain Dale or by the Conservative Party. The real threat to political freedoms in this country doesn’t come from a government unwilling to influence the outcome of a police investigation. It comes from a party which thinks ministers should try to persuade the police who to arrest – and who not to arrest – as part of their investigations.