Tuesday, 31 March 2009


It isn't that I don't appreciate the importance of free access to the countryside for everyone, I hope no-one will misunderstand me on that point.

But why is the BBC Parliament channel devoting day after day after day to the Marine and Coastal Access Bill?

There are some very interesting debates going on right now in Parliament, such as the use of CS gas by the police during a reception in the shadow cabinet room, hosted by the MP Eric Pickles. I am concerned to find out wether Mr Pickles is ok or not, as he was one of the MPs included in Jack Frost's excellent book, "The Gulag of the Family Courts" - apparently Mr Pickles was threatened with prison for the "crime" of seeking to help one of his constituents who was being persecuted in these illegal secret courts.

I strongly suspect that yet again, we are being hoodwinked by the British Bullsh*tting Corporation.


Zoompad said...

From Times Online
March 31, 2009
House of Commons attack on policeman was 'incredibly violent'
Big Ben and the House of Commons

(Paul Rogers/The Times)

The incident raised fresh questions about Commons security
David Byers and Suzy Jagger

A man who allegedly injured a police officer in an "incredibly violent" assault yards from the Commons chamber remained in custody today as fresh questions were asked about parliamentary security.

The attacker, believed to be a director at a London-based publishing house, had to be sprayed with CS gas after going "berserk" when an officer intervened to stop an argument with another reporter and a woman in a corridor.

The officer received treatment for a split lip after the attack.

With the start of the G20 only days away, questions remain as to how the attacker and another colleague were able to carry their noisy argument to an area directly behind the Speaker's chair, only a few yards from one of the main doors leading to the Chamber.
Related Links

* CS gas used in House of Commons arrest

* ANALYSIS: one huge security effort

* Minister abandons home after protest

The attacker, 40, had been signed into Parliament as a visitor to attend a cocktail party for journalists hosted by the Conservative MP Eric Pickles in the Shadow Cabinet room. He was meant to have been escorted at all times to any other parts of the parliamentary estate. MPs taking part in a night-time debate reported that they could clearly hear the fracas.

A source said: "He had an argument which spilt into the corridor, at which point he was approached by a police officer who asked to see his ID and he completely lost it and went berserk. Clearly, he was not meant to have been in the corridor unescorted.

"The assault was so violent that they had to use CS gas to stop him. It looks like he'll face prison."

Another source said that the attack was "incredibly violent" and was much more than a "simple drunken brawl".

Kerry McCarthy, the Labour MP, wrote on Twitter that she heard the scuffle from inside the chamber. "Was in Chamber when Pickles' guest went on rampage. Much excitement, banging + shouting. Gillie Merron told us someone had set off CS gas," she said.

A Conservative Party spokesman confirmed that the men involved had been guests at Mr Pickles's party. "He was signed in in the normal way as a visitor, and of course no-one had any idea this was going to happen," the spokesman said.

The man's media company was today not responding to messages, while the Metropolitan Police said that the man in question was still in custody in a central London police station, under arrest on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.

A spokesman for the Sergeant-at-Arms, responsible for security in the Commons, acknowledged that both men involved in the argument were "non-pass holders" but said that the office was awaiting further details before making another statement.

The incident marks the latest in a stream of security breaches at the House of Commons. Last year, campaigners of the climate action group Plane Stupid chained themselves to the roof of the Houses of Parliament to protest against the expansion of Heathrow airport.

It is thought that the protesters received the help of pass-holders in the Commons. In 2004, Hunt supporters stormed the chamber of the Commons while MPs were preparing to vote on the Hunting Bill. Eight demonstrators wearing pro-hunt T-shirts evaded all Parliament’s security checks to reach the floor of the House.

Zoompad said...

Punch-up in the Commons: it happens – as I know

The miracle is not that altercations in the Palace of Westminster occur, but that they occur so rarely
Comments (…)

Oh dear, fighting at the Palace of Westminster, and this time it's the hacks in trouble again. Thank goodness I left Eric Pickles's party before they started. Drink and politics, it's a heady brew, as the Guardian's report confirms this morning.

But the miracle is not that it happens, but that it happens so rarely, as Alastair Campbell and I once discovered.

What journalists do to each other is usually of little importance or interest (except to other journalists) unless – as rumoured overnight – they're buying up stolen details of MPs' expenses with which to titillate their customers as the world economy totters.

No, it's the behaviour of elected politicians that matters. Racking my brains, I can only recall witnessing one potentially serious incident between members on the floor of the Commons and that is 30 years ago.

Norman Tebbit, then an ambitious young Thatcherite, made a remark which offended Tom Swain, a Labour MP who had been both a miner and a fairground boxer. Though he must have been over 60 by then, Swain looked like a man who still knew how to throw a punch.

So when he invited the future cabinet minister outside, Tebbit sensibly stayed put. There are two red stripes, two sword lengths apart, on the Commons carpet, to inhibit physicality: MPs are not meant to cross them when speaking. Tommy Swain crossed the line that night, so I recall.

Not much of a story. It's true Bernadette Devlin, the republican MP from West Belfast, slapped the then-home secretary Reggie Maudling in the early 70s and that Ted Heath got his first job in Churchill's whips' office 20 years earlier because his predecessor kicked a stubborn MP downstairs.

But these are rare events, the product of great passions such as the Irish home rule controversy that disrupted the Commons a great deal in the late 19th century. In 1856 shortly before the American civil war, Charles Sumner, the Massachusetts senator and prominent opponent of slavery, was attacked on the Senate floor by a member of the House of Representatives, South Carolina's Preston Brooks.

So savage was Brooks' use of his heavy cane that Sumner suffered brain and spinal injuries that kept him away from Congress for three years. Brooks was treated as a hero in the south, but he only stiffened abolitionist sentiment.

Parliament has never suffered such an incident, and nowadays is greatly feminised by the presence of 100-plus women MPs and the abandonment of long sitting hours. In 2005 Jim Dowd was said to have been involved in a fracas with Bob Marshall-Andrews, a fellow Labour MP, during a tense moment.

"Here's another faggot," BM-A is supposed to have shouted, though the QC later claimed it was "another faggio", which as everyone knows is Italian slang for a menial assistant ie someone voting for his own government. Dowd is actually neither.

What happened last night then? I thought you'd never ask. Eric Pickles, the genial Yorkshireman who is now Tory party chairman, held a "spring drinks reception" for the hacks in the shadow cabinet room somewhere below Big Ben. Charles I's portrait hangs on the wall, but only when the Tories are in opposition. Labour tends to the Cromwellian.

I popped in for half an hour or so after finishing work around 8pm. It seemed quiet, respectable even, though I was surprised to see that among those invited were the Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips and Janet Daley of the Daily Telegraph. There would have been no need for CS spray if those two tough ladies had still been around to restore order when the party ended.

Anyway, I went home for my cup of cocoa and early night, leaving the young bucks – which ones I don't yet know – to embark upon a political disagreement which spilled out into the corridor. Not being political reporters with passes, or known to the police, they got into trouble.

The house was still sitting and the security staff have been jittery ever since pro-hunters sneaked their way into the chamber from behind the Speaker's chair – near where last night's party was held. I suppose we could be pleased to discover young people still getting passionate about politics.

It is a micro-incident which should now be closed. But I should add for completeness that the then-Daily Mirror political editor Alastair Campbell and I had a similar experience, trading blows the night Robert Maxwell died, 5 November 1991.

More than enough has been written about that mythologised incident too, including a 10th anniversary article by me. Google appears to throw up 19,000 references, which seems quite enough. Alastair and I were duly sent a gentle letter of reprimand by Speaker Bernard Weatherill, a nice fellow. We were both at fault that day, as is often so in these cases.

I would like to know what the row was about.