Thursday, December 04, 2008

Not my fault, guv'nor

There is a well known technique in the world of business - the blame-shower. Something goes wrong, and then the person in charge takes the time (often in a meeting) to pretty much blame everyone else for what has happened and in doing so abdicates all responsibility not just for the problem, but for just about everything else. In the known world. Ever.

And a great example of this is the behaviour of the Speaker of the House of Commons yesterday:

"The Speaker singled out the police for criticism as he sought to explain why they were allowed to raid Mr Green’s Commons office. Mr Martin said that he did not “personally authorise” the search although he admitted that he had been told in advance.

"He told angry MPs that the police advised Jill Pay, the Serjeant at Arms, on Wednesday that they were on the verge of arresting an MP but did not disclose his identity. She told him of the imminent arrest but not the full details. “I was not told that the police did not have a warrant. I regret that a consent form was . . . signed by the Serjeant at Arms without consulting the Clerk of the House,” he said."
It is funny what the Speaker did not know. He did not know there was no warrant. He did not know who the MP was. But let's compare this to what he did know - that the police were going to arrest an MP, and search his office. So, for me, two big questions immediately suggest themselves for the Speaker to have asked in this case. Firstly, "who are they going to arrest?" and then "do they have a warrant?" The failure to ask these questions really does reek of basic incompetence. But fair play, though; it was all the fault of the police anyway. Perhaps what the Commons should do is install some sort of person who can check what the action the police are taking against MPs. Like, say, the Speaker.


And this is not the first time the Speaker has shown himself to be as much use as a chocolate fireguard. He has been accused of partisanship in the past, and seems to use tax money to fund a lifestyle that would be the envy of a pre-revolutionary French monarch. Like the Major government, he gives off an air of being in office but not in power. The Labour ranks can claim class bias against Gorbals Mick as much as they like - I'd imagine I'm not alone in not giving the first fuck about his social status. What bothers me - and what should bother everyone else - is his inability to do his job.

Harry Truman used to have a sign on his desk when he was President saying "the buck stops here." The Speaker's sign would read "the buck stops anywhere and everywhere other than here". Which really does make me question what the point is of having this man in a position of power in the Commons. And I think it is time ask the Commons the question "can we have a different Speaker please?"

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