Friday, February 25, 2005
Read this and weep
I've tried hard not to succumb to temptation and attack Mark Oaten too often. But his dismal performance on Wednesday, in the Commons debate on the second reading of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, was the final straw.
Rather than prejudice you any further, I invite you simply to read the verbatim account in Hansard and then ask yourself these questions:
- Given that the defence of liberty and the separation of powers are fundamental to Liberalism, which MP showed a greater grasp of these principles? Mark Oaten or the preceding speaker, Labour backbencher Brian Sedgemore?
One MP argued for liberty with passion and fire in his belly, while the other spoke in desiccated terms, as if this were a matter of technical administrative detail. Which was which?
One MP needed interventions from Simon Hughes and Alan Beith, plus libertarians on the Tory and Labour backbenches, to make points he had forgotten to make himself. Which was it?
The government has briefed the media to the effect that it plans to pick off its opponents one by one with minor concessions. Which MP is more likely to maintain a principled stand against this Bill and which is more likely to be bought off by Charles Clarke?
- The job of Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson requires an instinctive commitment to liberal values and heavyweight political nous. On this showing, is Mark Oaten up to the job?