Friday, April 29, 2005

Election Points: Brian Sedgemore

I am off to deliver more of those leaflets soon, but here is today Election Points column from Liberal Democrat News.

Mention the war

This is no longer the Basil Fawlty election. In the last few days of the campaign everyone is mentioning the war. And none more effectively than our newest recruit, Brian Sedgemore.

As I have a lot of leaflets and letters to deliver here in marginal Harborough, I shall let Sedgemore write this column for me. He made his last speech in the Commons on 23 February in the debate on the government’s attempt to introduce house arrest into Britain. Here are some highlights of that speech:

"Our debate here tonight is a grim reminder of how the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary are betraying some of Labour's most cherished beliefs. Not content with tossing aside the ideas and ideals that inspire and inform ideology, they seem to be giving up on values too. Liberty, without which democracy has no meaning, and the rule of law, without which state power cannot be contained, look to Parliament for their protection, but this Parliament, sad to say, is failing the nation badly.

"As we move towards a system of justice that found favour with the South African Government at the time of apartheid and which parallels Burmese justice today I am reminded that our fathers fought and died for liberty – my own father literally – believing that these things should not happen here, and we would never allow them to happen here.

"How on earth did a Labour Government get to the point of creating what was described in the House of Lords hearing as a “gulag” at Belmarsh? Despite savage criticisms by nine Law Lords in 250 paragraphs, I have heard not one word of apology from the Prime Minister or the Home Secretary.

"Many Members have gone nap on the matter. They voted: first, to abolish trial by jury in less serious cases; secondly, to abolish trial by jury in more serious cases; thirdly, to approve an unlawful war; fourthly, to create a gulag at Belmarsh; and fifthly, to lock up innocent people in their homes. It is truly terrifying to imagine what those Members of Parliament will vote for next."

Writing in the Guardian, Michael White described Sedgemore as “well read, music loving and grumpy”. I have the feeling that he will feel at home with us.

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