Tag Archives: damian green

Ming to head police inquiry into Damian Green police raid

Here’s how the BBC reported this under the slightly unappetising headline, Sir Menzies to head Green probe:

Sir Menzies Campbell is to chair an inquiry into the police raid on the Commons office of Tory MP Damian Green.

The former Lib Dem leader will review how the Commons authorities deal with search requests from the police. The cross-party panel also includes former home secretaries David Blunkett and Michael Howard and ex-foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

Commons leader Harriet Harman, who has set up the pane, will ask MPs to approve its terms of reference. She has asked it to report by

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Fixed elections and political policing

Two damning pieces of news this morning.

The first comes from Erith and Thamesmead, where the already controversial Labour selection process has just taken a turn for the sinister. The BBC reports:

A London Labour spokesman said: “It was discovered that the seal on a ballot box containing previously received ballot papers for the selection of Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Erith and Thamesmead was broken.

“In order to maintain the integrity of the process, hustings meeting has been immediately postponed and a new date will be fixed.”

The candidates include Georgia Gould,

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PR in an online world: Boris Johnson’s team at work

There was an interesting little example last week of how the Conservatives are trying to use blogs to set the tone of news reporting, courtesy of Boris Johnson and a report into his behaviour.

The report, into Boris Johnson’s behaviour over the Damian Green affair, makes major criticisms of his behaviour but falls short of saying that he broke any rules. So the battle for good publicity came down to whether the report would be seen as ‘Boris cleared because he didn’t breach the rules’ or ‘Boris criticised for bad judgement and poor choices’. The Conservatives tried to make use of bloggers to pitch for the first, but in the end failed because the mainstream media coverage was far more balanced.

As Tory Troll points out, Boris Johnson got his retaliation in first with a statement welcoming the outcome of the inquiry, emphasising the part about him being cleared of any breach of the rules and glossing over the criticisms of his behaviour in the report, such as the conclusions that his acts:

  • Were “extraordinary and unwise” (paragraph 8.20)
  • Might “inhibit full and free discussion” of high profile cases “between the chief officer of police and a police authority chairman” (6.33)
  • “Placed him at risk of being called as a witness by either the CPS or defence in any criminal prosecution of Mr Green, to the potential detriment of his office as Chairman of the MPA” (8.21)
  • Risked being “perceived as furthering private interests” (8.21)

The Boris Johnson version of events was echoed across a range of friendly-blogs, all of whom ran similar stories: Iain Dale (“Boris is in the clear“), ConservativeHome (“Boris Johnson cleared of wrongdoing over Greengate“) and Conservative GLA member James Cleverly (“Boris in the clear“).

Iain’s piece quotes paragraph 11.1 of the report, but has no reference to the critical parts (his reasoning being, “I quoted that because it was the main conclusion of the report. Surely in these matters, that’s what counts. I don’t deny there were critical comments, and Boris addressed those in his own response”), Jonathan Isaby on ConservativeHome has a smiling picture of Boris Johnson giving a thumbs up, but no mention of the other aspects of the report, and James Cleverly’s piece is similarly glowing.

However, the efforts of Boris Johnson’s team seem to have been largely in vain, because the mainstream media coverage was far better, and in another warning to Boris Johnson about how he may find the Evening Standard a far more hostile paper now that its owner and editor have changed, the Evening Standard headlined its report:

Boris rebuked for his ‘unwise’ contact with Green during inquiry

Similarly, the BBC reported:

Boris Johnson’s role in the Damian Green affair was “extraordinary and unwise” but did not amount to an abuse of office, a new report has found.


This extract summarises the nuances of the report’s findings:

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Opinion: With every week that passes, Brown’s regime becomes more and more Nixonian

As the Green-gate affair rumbles along in the background, it is hard for those of us who remember early 1970s America to ignore the parallel: an increasingly controlling Executive, fears for personal liberty – and a man at the top with serious personality dysfunction.

Richard Nixon and Gordon Brown do share striking similarities of circumstance and character.

They had puritanical backgrounds with domineering fathers, were intellectual prodigies, intensely private – and awkward in company and public. Both gave the impression of being somehow ‘not quite right’. The 1960 anti-Nixon slogan ‘Would you buy a used car from this Man?’ seemed to fit immediately; and I’ve also now lost count of the number of women who find Brown ‘odd’.

Both were manipulative in their cultivation of ‘poor me’: Nixon the small-town farmboy who ‘never had it easy like the Kennedys’, and Brown the young man agonising about potentially lost sight (a fact the politician kept to himself until he needed a sympathetic leadership image). Dicky wrote about ‘Five Crises’, and Gordon continues to insist he is the best man in crises. Nixon had his Kennedy to envy, and Brown has his Blair to hate: ‘it came naturally to them, but I’ve had to work at it’ is also a shared view – displaying an obvious desire to be seen as noble and heroic.

Fellow sufferers from indecisive depression, they instinctively disappeared from the stage when blame was being assigned. They expected people to accept ridiculous explanations of dubious behaviour, and had associates who insisted they were very nice really – but swore obscenely at aides (or screamed at secretaries) in private.

The observations may perhaps be harsh, but there is something abnormally untrustworthy in the dissembling, shifty nature of these men – an ethical doubt borne out in both cases by shadows and clouds after every episode – and strangely locked cupboards where nobody may go.

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Open letter from Unlock Democracy

This open letter dropped into our inbox earlier this week with a request to forward to Lib Dem members. Consider it done!

Dear friend,

David Heath MP (LD – Somerton and Frome) has just come 2nd in the Private Members’ Ballot in Parliament.

We are writing to you as fellow LDs to ask you to lobby him to adopt the Leaked Information (Accountability of Government) Bill – it is vitally important as it concerns the rights of members of parliament to hold the executive to account


You don’t have to be a Tory to find Damian Green’s arrest a couple of …

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Lib Dems to boycott Commons police raid enquiry

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Speaker Martin is safe, says Ming. (But should he be?)

Ming Campbell, the former Lib Dem leader and a possible candidate to be the next Speaker, is in no doubt that Michael Martin will survive in post, despite the controversy surrounding Damian Green’s arrest. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning, Ming observed:

If the Speaker steps down, by convention he or she leaves the House of Commons and goes to the House of Lords. I can’t imagine Gordon Brown looks forward with any enthusiasm to fighting another difficult byelection in Glasgow. I think Mr Martin will remain in the Speaker’s chair until the end of this parliament.”

There is …

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