Sunday, 17 May 2009

Tony Benn on Broadcasting House 15mins ago

On Broadcasting House Radio 4 today the Beeb decied it was once again time to take the piss out of an MP so they got Lord Sainsbury, Tony Benn, Some Cleric (Church of England, not Moslem) and A Former Editor Of The Torygraph around a table to discuss the sorry mess that is parliament today.

One of the first things Tony Benn said was that he lied seventeen times in order to take his seat in the house. He went on to explicitly state that every time he took the parliamentary oath of allegiance to the sovereign he didn't mean a word of it.

So Tony Benn has admitted taking his seat in the house as an elected MP after by his own admission swearing the oath of allegiance to the sovereign and not meaning a word of it. This is the very same oath that Tam Dalyell took.

When Clive Ponting passed to Tam Dalyell the fact that "The Belgrano" was steaming away from the exclusion zone when it was torpedoed in The Falklands Conflict, Maggie Thatcher had Ponting dragged before a court accused of breaching the Official Secrets Act.

The verdicty of the jury was as groundbreaking as the sledgehammer effect it had on Thatcher.

The jury decided - to her fury - that because Dalyell had sworn that parliamentaty oath pledging his allegiance to the sovereign in order to take his place upon the benches as a member of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition he was bound by a duty to Sovereign, to Parliament and To The Country to hear what Ponting had to say and furthermore by virtue of that oath he became an authorised person under the Official Secrets Acts. So Ponting walked free.

I think it also right to point out that at about the same time as Benn enjoyed life on the green leather (having relinquished his hereditary right to enjoy sitting on the the red stuff next door) a bloke called Bobby Sands died in Long Kesh refusing to take his seat by virtue of refusing to swear that oath of allegiance.

Sands' election forced the Government to bring in the Representation Of The People Act 1981 denying an imprisoned person serving more than 12 months from standing for election as a member of Parliament. An Act of Parliament I trust will see a Justice Minister and a few others handed a P45 and a quite different sort of second home when the police finally finish going through the expense claims.

Until I heard Benn utter those words I actually had some respect for the guy as one of the few who could be counted on to speak his mind as his conscience dictated, especially if the whips dictated otherwise, and damn the consequences.

HOWEVER this flippant confession in mirth made by Tony Benn is no laughing matter. Men - and women have died for the right to utter those words in full sincerity. Millions of lives have been extingished over the centuries by political and military leaders seeking to overthrow either the principle of Parliamentary Democracy as we know it, or to overthrow by force the particular set of current benefactors of that system.

To be allowed to sit in the house holding the principle upon which the institution is established in such utter contempt is an abhorrence.

Until this morning I had thought Benn a man of principle and Sands a criminal of the most foul kind. It is a terrible thing to have your beliefs turned upside down. But as of today I find myself having to confess that my judgement of which of those two is a man prepared to die for his firmly held principles and which a traitor to his country and to its people are truly turned inside out.

Is there anything that can be done to use Benn's confession against him ?