Friday, March 27, 2009

House Points: Joan Ruddock, Nigel Griffiths and the Met's Ironic Squad

Just after I had sent this off to Cowley Street, Liberal Democrat Voice posted Tony McNulty's attack on benefit thieves". There is a case for the Ironic Squad if ever there was one.

Henry Porter's Guardian piece is here, and the most ludicrous skirmish in the police's war on chalk was that with five-year-old Ryan Badland from Burnham-on-Sea.

Ironic times

Writing on the Guardian website, Henry Porter complained about the arrest of a 23-year-old student. Paul Saville was collared by four police officers after chalking "Liberty: the right to question. The right to ask: 'Are we free?"' on the pavement. He is now awaiting trial for criminal damage.

It is not an isolated case either. There have been several reports of children being threatened with legal action for doing t"hings like drawing hopscotch grids in the street.

Though it’s hard to avoid the thought that Saville is a little old for this sort of thing, the police reaction was ridiculous. Don’t they have more important business to attend to? And what is wrong with saying “Who do we think we are, sir? Jean-Jacques Rousseau?”

Porter complained that the police betrayed “a lack of irony”. But I’m not sure the police do irony. Certainly, it’s not something they test for in new recruits.

Still, maybe the Met should have an Ironic Squad. It could be called in if someone, say, fell from the roof and broke a leg while trying to break into the Health and Safety Executive.

And if there were such a squad, it would have lifted two MPs in the past few days.

The first is Joan Ruddock, the minister who blocked David Heath’s Fuel Poverty Bill on Friday. She complained it took an “absolutist position”.

I’m not sure what good side of fuel poverty she had in mind, but let’s not forget that Joan Ruddock began her political career as chair of the unilateralist Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the 1980s.

The other suspect for the Ironic Squad is Nigel Griffiths. Last November the Labour MP for Edinburgh South was annoyed the Tories had taken Labour by surprise and forced a debate on the pre-budget report. He began his point of order with “Is it in order for MPs to pile into chamber…” and was laughed at from all sides.

It now turns out from the News of the World that, in the same month, Griffiths used his office... Well, let’s just say his career would be looking a lot healthier if he had spent more time in the Commons chamber.

Oh, the irony!

1 comment:

dheigham said...

Can one, as a private citizen, charge police officers with wasting police time?