I don't buy the claims that the Labour grandees didn't know the arrest was coming. Leg Iron hit the nail squarely on the head when he deconstructed Pa Broon's phrase: "I had no prior knowledge, the Home Secretary had no prior knowledge, I know of no other minister who had any prior knowledge,"
It is a wonderful peice of Sir Humphreyism. You are to believe that Gordon Brown knew nothing about the arrest until after the event. What he's actually saying is that 'we didn't know about the arrest before such time as we knew about it.' Two very different statements.
Anyhow, it would appear that sections of the political world finally get it. Nick Clegg (God save us) described it as being a 'mayday warning for democracy' in the UK. There have been several outpourings of outrage, Ian Dale wrote a decent piece here, Conservative Home have two leaders here and here and the Torygraph's Janet Daley makes similar points as well.
One commenter on Daley's article makes an interesting point:
'I have asked when therefore I should start complaining; when protest is a criminal offence; when opposition MPs are arrested for no good reason; when supporters of oppostion parties are required to wear an identifying symbol; when they are arrested as anti social elements and held indefinately; when opponents of the government start being murdered; or when the murders pass a certain hurdle rate?'
Of course the Righteous would just respond to this as being ridiculous. However, it follows a simple course. Power A is used to regulate, prosecute or to protect from Group B. Power A will never be used for any other purpose.
Power A is then misused to prosecute Person C. Person C is guilty as hell and deserves what he gets so no-one complains.
Power A is then used to inconvenience or intimidate Person D. Complaints are batted away with the explanation that this use, although not what was intended, is perfectly appropriate.
Power A will then be used against Old Granny E who suffers a broken hip when her house is raided by 'anti-terror' police one morning when she is spotted putting an apple core into a hedge. There will be public outcry and lessons will be learned. Of course they won't be learned, a high ranking police officer will dig his heels in and talk about 'correct procedure' and 'regrettable incidents'. A minister will talk about it being a 'matter for the police.'
Indeed, all the above has happened, only now Power A has been used to intimidate 'seditious' Politician F.
The penny has finally dropped about our leaders. Labour do not want power because they have some misguided mission to improve the country. They want power because they want power. It is an end in itself. They will do anything to protect their position, prevent dissent and stamp out anything that acts against them.
The Tories and the LimpDems are the same. They have no real vision, just a lust for control. The disappointing thing is, the outrage doesn't come because it has happened, it comes because it has happened to them.
Should Labour get kicked out in 2010 (and I feel an emergency preventing an election coming on), watch out, their replacements will be no different at all.