Thursday 26 March 2015

Only watching the plebs

According to Peter Hain, it is “constitutionally an outrage” that Special Branch continued to keep files on him and 9 other MPs after they were elected to the House of Commons.  It seems to me that he’s outraged about the wrong thing here.
There will always be different opinions about whether, and to what extent, the security services should be keeping an eye on what political groups are doing.  Personally, I think it’s outrageous that they should ever do so unless they have clearly evidenced grounds for suspicion of criminal activity.  Others will disagree; and I accept that.  But using that definition, I really don’t see why anyone’s status as an MP should affect that.
If there’s suspicion that an MP is involved in criminal activity (and recent events over expenses etc. surely prove that MPs are no different to the rest of the population in this regard), then why should they be exempt from the attention of the security services? 
The real outrage here is that any MP should apparently think that it’s OK for the security services to keep files on anyone they like - except MPs.  One rule for them, and another rule for everyone else.  His call for the enquiry to look specifically at the surveillance of MPs misses the point entirely; it’s the fact of the surveillance being undertaken at all which needs review, not who was being watched.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the big story here is that british intelligence seriously thought the likes of jack straw, peter hain and harriet harman were worth monitoring in the late 1990s. This trio in particular had by then long since cut their ties with their more radical days of the 1970s and enbraced 'nulabourism'.

Sadly if anything this story has the effect of giving the likes of hain, straw and harmann a veneer of radicalism they certainly dont deserve.