Thursday, June 07, 2007

The One-Party state spreads

Following on from my previous comments about the one-party mentality of the Labour leadership in Greenwich, it seems the attitude is shared by their comrades in national government.

Gordon Brown's obnoxious crony Ed Balls, an inexplicably high-flying junior Treasury minister, said in the Treasury Select Committee today:

"STEP [The Society of Trust & Estate Practioners] have two choices: they can either brief the opposition ministers to try and reverse legislation that has been enacted in this House, or they can engage in detailed consultation with HMRC [HM Revenue & Customs] to ensure their legitimate grievances and concerns are dealt with...".

At this point Shadow Chief Secretary Theresa Villiers intervened, asking Mr Balls whether he was trying to threaten professional bodies, an approach she described as 'wholly undemocratic'.

You can hear Balls' undemocratic spouting here - the comment is 1 hour, 17 minutes and 16 seconds in. As Tory blogger Iain Dale notes, in a democracy it is not just possible but desirable for organisations with an interest in the effects of legislation to do both! The indignation displayed by some Labour members at the merest suggestion that a lobbying group should consult anyone but the party in power is unhealthy enough. But the implied threat of retribution against organisations whose only crime is to speak to the Opposition is deeply sinister.

A good time, then, for Kenneth Clarke's Democracy Taskforce to publish its latest report, Power to the People- Rebuilding Parliament, which suggests a range of ways that the scrutiny role of Parliament can be strengthened. There has been talk of Gordon Brown taking steps to strengthen the role of MPs in holding the Government to account, but if the words of Mr Balls are anything to go by, this will be an empty promise.

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