Empty Gestures I & II

13 12 2010

Category; Politics

Empty Gestures I – The Met Commissioner

The Sunday Times has reported that the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police told Prince Charles (or the Royal Household) that if the Prince wanted him to resign he would.

That comes in the wake of the policing failures that allowed the car Charles and Camilla were in to be damaged by  protesters.

Thinking about the offer for a fraction of a second makes the following obvious;

a) he’s not employed by Prince Charles; if he’s offering his resignation it should be to his employer,

b) having a constitutional monarchy means that the Prince of Wales has no say in the management of the Metropolitan Police, and

c) if Prince Charles were to suggest that the Commissioner ought to resign it would provoke a massive constitutional crisis over Royal interference in the democratic process.

In the light of that the Prince could not possibly ‘accept’ the resignation or even comment upon it. Which means that the ‘offer’ was either made because Sir Paul Stephenson is an idiot who did not have the wit to realise the implication of the ‘offer’. Or it was an empty gesture made in the knowledge that it could only be refused.

According to The Sunday Times:

“Sir Paul made it clear that if they [the palace] thought he should resign, he would do so. He did not expect the offer to be accepted but he felt he ought to make it,” the paper quoted an informed source as saying.

Empty Gestures II – The Lib Dems

Liberal Democrat MPs have paraded their hand-wringing torments before us for the past few weeks in the run up to the vote on the raising of student fees.

The eventual result of their very public agonising was that 21 of them ‘voted with their conscience’ or ‘honoured their pledge’ and did not vote for their own government’s motion.

There were many heavy hearts amongst the Lib Dems on this issue but not much heaviness (as Hemingway might have put it…) in the  cahones.

They failed to vote for the motion in the full knowledge that the motion would not be defeated. What displays weakness of political character more than rebelling without consequence?

The government which they are part of does not fall and they can say that they honoured their pledge. It was the cowards way out.

Their mistake was making the pledge in the first place. Once they had done so and the government they were part of introduced legislation that was contrary to that pledge there were two honourable courses.

One was to leave the party whip. The other, and the politically correct course, was to apologise, admit that they should never have signed the pledge, that being the junior partner in a coalition meant you didn’t get your own way all the time on policy and that desperate times call for desperate measures.

Not a great week for those who like their gestures full-strength and meaningful.

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