This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!
Thursday, 4 December 2008
Has Labour forgotten its anti-establishment past?
The whole sorry saga concerning the police raid on Damian Green's office has made me think about Labour's anti-establishment past.
Not all the facts are known and some might appear in the next few days which would make me rethink what I am about to say, but since when should Labour politicians automatically defer to the police?
I'm not a natural supporter of Tony Benn, but he was on Channel 4 News a few days ago and I agreed with what he said. He criticised the police for their heavy-handed actions. He was concerned that it would threaten parliamentary sovereignty and prevent MPs from acting independently on behalf of their constituents. If he had known, he might also have questioned why they acted without a warrant.
For just one second, there was a hint of the old Labour anti-establishment radicalism about his argument.
It should be the role of Labour to question the police force, scrutinise it and provide checks and balances. From the argument over 42-days detention to the raid on Damian Green's office, our senior Labour politicians seem to have accepted what the police say as gospel.
This is not our natural territory - nor should it be.
We all know the police do a great job, sometimes under immensely difficult circumstances. We also know that they need support to ensure that they do their job well. But with every mistake the Met makes, with every PR disaster that unfolds, the public loses confidence.
Labour shouldn't be scared of publicly questioning what is going on. It shouldn't be afraid to challenge the police over its actions.
The police will always be able to look after themselves. They have their own organisations who do that very well and if push comes to shove the Conservatives are usually on hand to help too.
But Labour should always be on the side of the marginalised, the bullied, the voiceless, the dispossessed, the victim even if occasionally that person is an opposition Member of Parliament.
That is the real radical tradition.