Hazel Blears Tongue Lashed by Michael Howard By Edward Teague
Charles Clarke’s über babe Hazel Blears, her dazzling smile benefiting from ample supplies from her Avon Lady, sits, with her bright, lustrously shining acrylic, tinted, bobbed and curled hair, attentive, like a Robin waiting for a worm. Her pallid, immobile face, with arched and painted brows, emphasised and incarnadined with a slash of carmine red on her slightly parted and eager lips, with an uptilted unblinking joyless stare, she resembles a cheap blow-up sex doll.
Post war diplomats referred to Molotov, who formed the gateway to Stalin, “Stone Bottom”, an apparent reference to his immoveable and unredeeming support he gave to Stalin. Hazel the sometimes leather clad biker from Bolton, shares a similar solid devotion to her bulky bearded and blustering Minister, provider and defender and always happy, even to lie to defend her friend the Prime Minister.
Reading Hansard reports of the 30 hours of Debate and Division the House of Commons alone devoted to the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, one is struck not only by the sheer industry The Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety displayed in the monstrous assault on personal Liberty that the Government was proposing. It is difficult to deal with her sneering and overarching wish to teach all and sundry and evidently ignorant, of the unsatisfactory nature of our current systems of Justice which are employed to maintain and ensure the safety of the community, and which has worked for several centuries.
“The Orders, as well as being preventive, not punitive, are about anticipating and disrupting terrorism” (Hansard 10 Mar 2005 : Column 1798 et seq) which is of course a novel concept in itself, suggesting a throwback to the old and much despised “suss” laws. We must remember of course that Hazel told a Home Office committee, “It means that some of our counter-terrorism powers will be disproportionately experienced by the Muslim community. I think that is a reality and I think we should recognise that.” To which she added, “The threat is most likely to come from those people associated with an extreme form of Islam or who are falsely hiding behind Islam”. Challenged that this displayed the racist and Islamophobic intent and effect behind this government’s terrorism legislation, she hastily backtracked.
Hazel Blears insisted she did not say that British Muslims are more likely to be targeted by anti-terrorist police. Lamely and with lies and tortuous logic she claimed, “There’s been some misreporting. I made it clear our anti-terrorist laws were aimed at terrorists not any specific communities, religious or ethnic.”
This of course did not prevent the Muslim Safety Forum (a national umbrella organisation of Muslim bodies) the key advisory body for the Police Service who have signed a working protocol with the Metropolitan Police to build better police/community relations who have been advising the police on matters of safety and security from the Muslim perspective for four years from releasing a statement from the Chairman Azad Ali, “The MSF has always maintained that the Police are targeting the Muslim community – we now have the green light for the Police to carry this out even further with the blessing of Hazel Blears, the Police Minister.” He added, “ The Minister Hazel Blears comments (are) outrageous comments irresponsible, unnecessary, damaging and counterproductive.”
Hansard details the minatory tone she applied to Muslims nationwide, applied equally to her Parliamentary colleagues, apparently she feels are ignorant of the unsatisfactory state of the centuries old legal system, “Members have not taken seriously the fact that we are trying to anticipate and prevent rather than simply prove things after the event, which happens in the traditional criminal legal justice system.”
The formidable, rumbustious and blustering Ken Clarke, a barrister, brushed aside this novel, simplistic and dismissive view of our much admired system of jurisprudence based on transparency of charges, evidential rules and trial procedures designed to identify the crime and the criminal rather than to anticipate the crime, dissuade the criminal and on the whim of a Minister confine them to barracks indefinitely or discommode them in a monstrous list of petty rules and regulations and restrictions. Which if they do not prevent terrorists, will certainly absorb much needed policing manpower perhaps better occupied in finding and exposing terrorist plots.
“Could the Minister identify”, enquired the emollient and bulky Nottinghamshire ex-Home Secretary in his silkiest and most civil tones, “The advice (from the Security Services) that we have that burden of proof rather than the balance of probabilities in the case of non-derogating orders? Can she give us an insight into that aspect of Security Service advice that we are said to be ignoring?” The Minister was “happy to confirm that our advice from the Security Service is that, if we use balance of probabilities, we will not be able to secure orders on some of the people about whom it has significant concerns.”
So, not only are the Secret Services able to identify suspects involved in the undefined “terrorist related activities”. They have a fund of legal knowledge and acumen engaged in pre-empting the justice system, for which of course they have neither brief, instruction or statutory responsibility they can say absolutely, (and tell and convince the Minister) that using the stricter evidential rules demanding a “balance of probabilities” they would not be able to “secure Orders”.
Mrs Blears went on to expose further, her inside and apparently in-depth knowledge of the thinking and considered assumptions of the Secret Services in answer to Alan Beith’s enquiry, “will she confirm that when asked in the other place [House of Lords], the Lord Chancellor said that the Security Service had not advised the Government that it would be wrong to have a sunset clause in the Bill? The lady was pleased to answer, “Yes, I can confirm that.”
Which was curious because, as Oliver Letwin, the chubby Shadow Chancellor was keen to point out to the Minister, “I believe that I heard Ministers confirm that the security services had not given advice on the sunset clause. (Hansard 9/2/05 Vol 432 Col 1510) the Prime Minister said:
“we are not prepared to accept … the sunset clause … it would be contrary to the strong advice given to us”.-[Official Report, 9 March 2005; Vol. 431, c. 1510.] Prime Minister in Prime Minister’s questions.
Faced with this apparent contradiction in the Government’s argument, the Lancastrian Blears adopted the stance of the Yorkshireman Boycott at England’s crease and played a straight bat, “It is the advice of the security services that they want us to have control orders.”
Pressed further at 2.00 a.m on Friday morning (although confusingly, this was still Thursday in Hansard) by Mr Heath, Member for Somerton and Frome either tired or re-briefed (in the legal sense) she changed tack, “I have already made it clear-[Interruption.] Yes. The security services have told us that they want control orders. They have not said that they want a sunset clause-[Interruption.]
Heald was not going to let go “On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As page 74 of “Erskine May” makes clear,
“it is of paramount importance that ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity”.
In the light of what has occurred, when the Prime Minister gave a clear account that the security service had said that it was against the sunset clause, yet we now know from the Minister that that is not the case, clearly the Prime Minister must come here and apologise to the House. He must correct the information-[Interruption.]”
The Deputy Speaker pointed out that it was beyond even his powers to demand the presence of anybody in the House, so Mr Heath was swift to respond, “The House can draw a very clear moral from this: never believe a thing that the Prime Minister says he is told by the security services. We have too much experience of this now.”
It appears that our Hazel was stumped by this and the heavy guns were brought in, an evidently tired and aroused (from his slumbers), Home Secretary read from Hansard the whole of the Prime Minister’s statement at PMQ’s on Wednesday. This did not satisfy the Leader of the Opposition, who with full and magisterial lawyers pomp and exquisite forensic skill skewered the hapless, red faced, grumpy and for once, silent Home Secretary, “Is it not essential, in the interests of the body politic of this country, that the Prime Minister now come to the House to withdraw a statement that the Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety this morning, and the Lord Chancellor earlier, said was not an accurate statement of the position?”
Again, a somewhat testy and evidently weary deprived of more sleep than a Guantanamo detainee, the Deputy Speaker was obliged to point out his limited powers of persuasion to make Prime Ministers to attend the House. It was left to the exultant and grinning Mr Gummer with a smile unseen since he was photographed stuffing his offspring with beefburgers, Mr Gummer to conclude, “The problem is that on previous occasions the Prime Minister has appeared not to tell exactly the truth in certain circumstances.”
There is a curious parliamentary custom that demands that no member call another a liar and Mr Gummer was called to withdraw his remarks.
The Deputy Speaker saw this as an opportune moment to call for a Division (No 135) at 2.20 am which the Government won, Ayes 298, Noes 216.
This was followed by further Divisions about these two points (136, 137,138) when it became evident that the Government realised that they had reached the nadir of their fortunes and that they needed accommodate the Lords objections. So at 5.00 am the House was suspended and the horse trading (amidst reported arm-wrestling) commenced in the smoke filled rooms and corridors of the Mother of Parliaments. When the House re-assembled at 7.20 on Friday morning (Thursday according to centuries of tradition and Hansard) the Speaker, refreshed by a few hours sleep was able to declare, “I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that the Queen has signified her Royal Assent to the following Act:
Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.”
There is, Alas! No record of what the Queen’s consort said at breakfast, as he struggled to get his cornflakes out of the Tupperware. Nor can we benefit from the thoughts or comments of his breakfast companion woken so early from her regal bed, so she could endorse the removal of centuries of justice and freedom so hard won and enjoyed for centuries by her subjects as required by Her First Minister.
As the diminutive Ms Blears headed for the quiet and leafy perlieus of her Salford constituency she had no doubt Mr Howard’s request ringing in her head, “Is it not essential, in the interests of the body politic of this country, that the Prime Minister now come to the House to withdraw a statement that the Minister for Crime Reduction, Policing and Community Safety (made) this morning…”.